by Harold M. Best., D.S.M. & David K. Huttar, Ph.D.
If one were to take the position that only those things that Scripture specifically allows are allowable and those that Scripture does not specifically mention are prohibited, then the perimeters of musical practice in the New Testament would be severely limited. There are two basic reasons why this cannot be the case and why the “philosophy” of church music in the New Testament is, in fact, exceedingly broad.
First, the Old Testament was still considered the scriptural authority for the early church (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Hence its broad principles and practices were normative, though now Christ-centered. Second, by maintaining the perspectives on righteousness, faith, and lawfulness inherent in God’s revelation throughout the Old Testament, the writers of the New Testament are careful to maintain these by extension. Hence Paul’s conclusion in Romans 14 that nothing is impure in itself is an extension and a further filling out of the concept of the goodness of creation found early in Genesis. To Paul, the ultimate right was to avoid the offense of one’s own conscience or that of one’s neighbor by the superiority of quality of life over categories of creation. The Judeo-Christian worldview is unique in that it refuses to locate moral causation in the created order. Rather, it places moral responsibility squarely within the human heart. For this reason the Greek ethos, which ultimately says that both the creative and the created orders have an inherent power and which implicitly allows humankind to locate virtue or its opposite in the created order, is by principle out of place in the Judeo-Christian worldview. Therefore, what the New Testament leaves unsaid about music, among other things, has a healthy quality.