Boswell-Hardeman Discussion on Instrumental Music in the Worship

The Stark Warlick Debate was a result of the Christian Church which had a school at the time working really hard to "transistion" peaceable Churches of Christ into Instrumental Christian churches: that and the Sand Creek attempt at a hostile takeover confirmed that Churches of Christ could not have fraternal fellowship with those who had an agenda of 'unity through elimination." Unity means that those who had never used "machines for doing hard work" in recorded history MUST yield or be labeled "antichrists."

O.E. Payne Father of Instrumental Music Authority  refusing to comply "is a distinct reproof for that narrowness which mistakes itself for loyalty."

Boswell-Hardeman Summary
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A few men calling themselves "The Commission on Unity, Nashville, Tenn." placed O.E.Payne's book with select preachers: unity meant according to Payne that God COMMANDS instrumental noise in what Churches of Christ called A School of Christ."  Once revealed, this stealth effort brought about a debate.

In June 1923, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville was the scene of a now-classic debate on the subject of using instrumental music in worship.

These are some of the steps which led to the NACC of independent Christian Churches secting out of the Disciples they had defended.

Ira Boswell's Principal Arguments

Boswell based his premise on the meaning of the Greek verb "psallo," which appears five times in the New Testament (NT). He quoted from numerous Greek lexicons and Bible scholars, most of which or whom implied that the word meant to touch or strike, regardless of what was struck, either literally or metaphorically, but that it did include plucking an instrument.

To Boswell, "psallo" always implied use of an instrument, and especially singing with instrumental accompaniment. But because he had "liberty" in Christ, it was scriptural to worship with or without musical instruments, and that Paul allegedly gave apostolic example of resisting encroachment upon liberty in Christ.

Boswell, who based most of his arguments on a book by O. E. Payne, "Instrumental Music Is Scriptural," also claimed that Jesus worshiped in the temple where there were musical instruments. If they had been wrong, He would have driven them out like He did with the moneychangers.

Here are a few examples of scholars whom Boswell quoted. It is clear that he relied heavily on human scholarship:

From Prof. Maurice Hutton, University College, Toronto: "This general truth is certain: 'psallein' does not only not preclude a musical instrument, but it necessarily implies one, and most naturally a harp, though the word might cover less naturally a flute, or even a modern organ or piano, since it means to strike with the fingers." He is talking about the classical and Christian use of the word as accompaniment to the stringed instrument.

From Benjamin W. Bacon, Prof. of New Testament Criticism and Exegesis at Yale:

"Of the meaning of the word 'psallein' at the time [when the NT was written] there can be no question. The meaning, 'play a stringed instrument,' is primary; the application to 'sing,' secondary. If the revisers knew Greek, they must have known the word in New Testament times did allow the use of the instrument. If not, their opinion is valueless."

Psallein means "play an instrument" but it is NOT in the New Testament.  Heredotus notes the difference between the word plallo PLUCK and psallein meaning PLUCK a string with your FINGERS but never with a plectrum or guitar pick. It can never be used of anything that does not contain a STRING or ROPE or HAIR. Cyrus was told how to NEUTER males:

Grant, then, forgiveness to the Lydians, and to make sure of their never rebelling against thee, or alarming thee more,
send and
forbid them to keep any weapons of war, command them to wear tunics under their cloaks, and to put buskins upon their legs,
..........and make them bring up their sons to cithern-playing (Kitharizein), singing (psallein),
..........and shop-keeping (Hucksterism). 
So wilt thou soon see them become women instead of men,
and there will be no more fear of their revolting from thee."

-[4] Ludoisi de sungnômên echôn tade autoisi epitaxon, hôs mête aposteôsi mête deinoi toi eôsi: apeipe men sphi pempsas hopla arêia mê ektêsthai, keleue de spheas kithônas -[khiton  David's garment] te hupodunein toisi heimasi kai kothornous hupodeesthai, proeipe d' autoisi -kitharizein te kai psallein kai kapêleuein [prostitutes, petty trade, playing tricks, corrupting] paideuein tous paidas. kai tacheôs spheas ô basileu gunaikas ant' andrôn opseai gegonotas, hôste ouden deinoi toi esontai mê aposteôsi."

The word kitharizo means to PLAY THE CITHARA and does not include singing.

-Kitharizô 1 [kitharis] to play the cithara, phormingi [Apollo] kitharize Il., Hes.; lurêi eraton kitharizôn Hhymn. (so that there can have been no great difference between the kithara, lura, and phorminx ); kitharizein ouk epistatai, of an uneducated person,

-Kithar-isis , eôs, hê, playing on the cithara, Pl.Prt.325e; k. psilê, i.e. without the voice, Id.Lg.669e, cf. Pae.Delph.15; aulêsis kai k. Phld.Mus.p.23 K.

-Arassô ,of any violent impact, with collat. notion of rattling, clanging, as of horses, hoplais, pound in a mortar, strike with a shower of stones.
a). kitharēn strike the lyre, Orph.A.382; humnon, melos, etc., Nonn.D.1.15,440, etc.
2. c. dat. modi, arassein tina oneidesi, kakois, assail with reproaches or threats,
II. Pass., to be dashed against, dash one against the other
Pound in a mortar, “holmō a.Nic. Th.508

Therefore, it could not be redundant. The word psallo means to PLUCK or to make a noise by a harp string or bow string. It later came to mean JUST SING. Without the word KITHARIZEIN Heredodus would have had to used PSALLO and then define WHAT is to be plucked.

-Ovid Elegy 2.6: On the Death of His Mistress's Parrot. By Creech.

Alas! poor Poll, my Indian talker, dies!
Go, birds, and celebrate his obsequies;
Go, birds, and beat your breasts, your faces tear,
And pluck your gaudy plumes instead of hair;
doleful tunes the frighted forest wound,
And your sad notes supply the trumpet's sound.
Why, Philomel, dost mourn the
Thracian rage?

Orpheus is the Thracian who invented musical "worship" called threskia.

Psittacus, Eois imitatrix ales ab Indis,
Occidit -- exequias ite frequenter, aves!
Ite, piae volucres, et plangite pectora pinnis
Et rigido teneras ungue notate genas;

Horrida pro maestis lanietur pluma capillis,
Pro longa resonent carmina vestra tuba!
Quod scelus Ismarii quereris, Philomela, tyranni,

-In Plato's Ion 881 we see both the singing and playing

O you, who cause a voice to sing from your seven-stringed lyre, a voice that lets lovely-sounding hymns peal forth in the rustic lifeless horn,


ô tas heptaphthongou melpôn
kitharas enopan, hat' agraulois
kerasin en apsuchois achei
mousan humnous euachêtous,

-Hepta-phthongos , on,
A. seven-toned, kithara E.Ion881 (lyr.); sumphônia Nicom.Exc.6 .

-Melpô, Verb, celebrate with song and dance, 2. intr., sing, aulôi play on, to dance a war-dance in honour of Ares, by a bold metaph. for to fight on foot

-Enopê A. crying, shouting, as of birds, especially war-cry, battle-shout,,
Agraulois: field
. crying, shouting, as of birds, “Trōes men klaggē t' enopē t' isan, ornithes hōsIl.3.2; esp. war-cry, battle-shout,makhē enopē te12.35, 16.246, et
3. of things, sound,aulōn suriggōn t' enopēnIl.10.13; iakhēn t' enopēn te, of thunder, Hes.Th.708; “kitharas e.E.Ion882 (anap.); “sarkōn e. ēd' osteōncrushing, Pi.Fr.168.—Ep. and Lyr. word, used by E. in lyr.

-Keras I. the horn of an animal, in Hom. mostly of oxen. III. anything made of horn,
2. of musical instruments, horn for blowing, “sēmēnai keratiX.An.2.2.4, cf. Arist.Aud.802a17; also, the Phrygian flute, because it was tipped with horn (cf. Poll.4.74), “aulein k.Luc.DDeor.12.1; “kai kerati men aulein Turrēnoi nomizousiPoll.4.76, cf. Ath.4.184a.

Apsuchois achei lifeless sound

Mousan Muses under Apollo, Abaddon or Apollyo
Humnos in praise of gods or heros

[885] son of Leto, I will blame you before this light. You came to me, your hair glittering with gold, when I was plucking into the folds of my robe yellow flowers [890] to bloom with golden light; grasping my white hand in yours, you led me to the bed in the cave, hearing me call on my mother, god and consort, [895] shamelessly paying homage to Aphrodite. I, the unhappy one, bore you a son, whom in fear of my mother I placed in that bed of yours, [900] where you joined with me, the miserable, the unfortunate one, in unhappy union. Alas! and now my son and yours, oh cruel one, is gone, torn apart, a feast for birds;

[905] but you are singing to the lyre, chanting hymns.


Modern scholars agree that the basic facts of Aspasia's life as recorded by Diodoros the Athenian (FGrHist 372 F 40 ), Plutarch (Plut. Per. 24.3 ) and the lexicographers are correct. She was born in the city of Miletus between 460-455 B.C., the daughter of Axiochus. Miletus, part of the Athenian empire, was one of the leading cities in Ionia, an area of Greek settlement located along the coast of Asia Minor.

It was probably in Ionia, before she left for Athens, that Aspasia was educated. Women in that part of the Greek world were generally given more of an education than women in Athens.

As a hetaira she would have been trained in the art of conversation and of musical entertainment including singing, dancing and playing instruments.

Oh! son of Leto, I invoke you, who send forth your holy voice from your golden seat,

su de kitharai klazeis
paianas melpôn.

Melpon celebrate with song and dance

ton Latous audô ,
host' omphan klêrois
pros chruseous thakous


Psalmos , ho, twitching or twanging with the fingers, psalmoi toxôn E.Ion173 (lyr.); toxêrei psalmôi [toxeusas] Id.HF1064 (lyr.).
Psalmus , i, m., = psalmos, i. q. psalma,
I. a psalm (eccl. Lat.; cf.: carmen, hymnus), Vulg. Isa. 38, 20.--Esp., the Psalms of David
Barbitos , m. (f. in the spurious epistle of Sappho, Ov. H. 15, 8;  barbiton -os), a lyre, a lute  Latinum, Barbite, carmen 

Psal-tikos A. of or for harp playing, ps. organon a stringed instrument, (of the magadis); andra psaltikên agathon a good harpist, Ael. ap. Ar.Byz.Epit.84.8.

Phallikos , ê, on, of or for the phallos: to ph. (sc. melos) the phallic song, Ar.Ach.261, Arist.Po.1449a11; restd. in IG12.187.33; also a dance, Poll.4.100.

Of the Performers:
Phallikos,, of or for the phallos: to ph. (sc. MELOS) the phallic song, Ar.Ach.261, Arist.Po.1449a11; restd. in IG12.187.33; also a dance, Poll.4.100.
Galliambus, i, m. [3. Gallus, II. A.] , a song of the priests [a castratos] of Cybele

Epi-psallō ,
A. play the lyre, S.Fr.60, Poll.4.58(Pass.); “melesi kai rhuthmoisPlu.2.713b ; sing,tous humnousLXX 2 Ma.1.30:—Pass., Ph.1.626.
Anti-psallô , a stringed instrument in accompaniment of song, a. elegois phorminga Ar.Av.218 .

Josephus: they advised them to inquire of such a one, and observe when these demons came upon him and disturbed him, and to take care that such a person might stand over him,

One: and play [psalein]
Two: upon the harp
Three: and recite hymns to him....skillful in
........... playing [psalein]
........... ........... on the harp, and
........... in singing [exadein]
........... ........... of hymns,...
........... whensoever it was that it came upon him, and this by

One: reciting of hymns, and
Two: playing [psalein]
Three: upon the harp... -Antiquities, Bk. 6, chap. 8, #2; Pages 185-186. (6.166 Whiston)


That if any person could charm those passions by singing, and playing upon the harp, they advised them to inquire for such a one, and to observe when these demons came upon him and disturbed him, and to    
        take care that such a person might stand over him,
        and play (psallein)
        upon (epi)
        the harp, (Kinura from bewail, lament)
        and recite (Keleuo urge
        hymns to him.

If you want to PLAY and instrument you must use the word PSALLOO and KROUO (strike) and PLEKTRON.

Psallo II. mostly of the strings of musical instruments, play a stringed instrument with the fingers, and not with the plectron, “psēlai kai krouein plēktrō

Psallo AND Krouo 
2. strike one against another, strike together, k. kheiras clap the hands, E.Supp.720; “ta hopla krouomena pros allēlaTh.3.22; “tas aspidas pros ta dorataX.An. l.c.: metaph., allēlōn tous logous tois logois ekrouomen an would have knocked their heads together, Pl.Tht.154e.
5. strike a stringed instrument with a plectron, Simon.183, Pl.Ly.209b: generally, play any instrument (v. krouma, kroumatikos)“, aulei . . krouōn iastiCom.Adesp.415: c. dat., k. krembalois, = krembalizein,
Plēk-tron , Dor. plaktron , to/,
A. anything to strike with:
1. instrument for striking the lyre, plectrum,khruseou hupo p.h.Ap.185, cf. h.Merc.53, Pi.N.5.24, E.HF351 (lyr.); “keratina p.Pl. Lg.795a; “p . . . xulinonIG22.1388.80; “krouein p.Pl.Ly.209b; “p. es lurēn rhapsaiHerod.6.51; “plēktrō . . plēgōn gignomenōnPl.R.531 b

From Prof. John H. C. Fritz, [then] Dean of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis: "The word 'psallo' in Greek originally means to play on a stringed instrument, and then it also has the meaning to sing, especially to sing praises to the Lord. It can, therefore, mean to sing with or without musical accompaniment. We know that in the Old Testament service musical instruments were used. It is, therefore, likely that he who used the world 'psallo' rather had in mind singing with musical accompaniment."

From Dean Alford: "The word [psalmos] properly signified those sacred songs which were performed with musical accompaniment. 'Hymn' is the word for a song without accompaniment. James 5:13: 'Psaletto,' let him sing praise; literally, let him play on an instrument; but used in Romans, First Corinthians, and elsewhere of singing praises generally."

Boswell believed that there could not be the shadow of a doubt about the proper meaning of "psallo" and of its original use in the apostolic age. He agreed with Dean Alford, who believed that it came to be carelessly used and generally as "songs of praise"; but it properly means melodies, tunes of praise played on an instrument, and, naturally, upon the harp in particular.

He asked these questions: 1. Since Ephesians, which mentions making melody in the heart, was written in the year 62-63, some years after James (44-60), Romans (58-59), and 1 Corinthians (57) were written, the latter three of which mention only "singing," how could those earlier Christians have known anything about making melody in the heart? 2. All sincere worship comes from the heart, but that does not exclude using mechanical instruments. What wrong is there in using them? 3. What makes them bad?

Aristophanes, Acharnians (ed. Jeffrey Henderson)


How often have I chewed my heart with rage!
My pleasures? Very few; in fact just four.
My pains? Far more than all the grains of sand.
Let's try to recall a case of real euphoria.
I know! It's something my heart rejoiced to see:
that million-dollar fine coughed up by Cleon.1
That really gave me joy! I love the Knights
for that indictment: a banner day for Greece!
But then I had another pain, quite tragic:
I was waiting for a play by Aeschylus,2
then heard, "Theognis, bring your chorus on."
Imagine how that shook up my poor heart!
Another joy was after Moschus played:
Dexitheus did some Theban country-tunes.
But recently I died and went to hell,
when Chaeris played the Anthem on his flute.5
But never since I first began to wash
with soap have I cried such tears as I cry now,
whenever the Assembly holds a meeting
and all the seats are empty, just like now,
while everybody's gossiping in the market
and trying to avoid the summoner.

Eucl.    (excitedly) It means something-- that raven cawing on my left just now! And all the time a-clawing the ground, croaking away, croaking away! The minute I heard him my heart began to dance a jig and jumped up into a throat. But I must run, run! (Exit into temple)

The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow's heart sing. Jb.29:13

So my heart laments for Moab like a flute;
it laments like a flute
for the men of Kir Hareseth. The wealth they acquired is gone. Je.48:36

My heart laments for Moab like a harp,
my inmost being
for Kir Hareseth. Is.16:11

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.Lu.1:47

Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Ac.2:26

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. Lu.10:21

There is NO connection between psallo (melody) and music. Because psallo is PRIMARILY a shooting with an arrow to hit the literal heart, and because "hymns" impact the heart or feelings, "shooting out hymns" was a metaphor and you "twang" the heart strings.
The bowstring touch'd her breast, so strong she drew;
Whizzing in air the fatal arrow flew.
At once the twanging bow and sounding dart 
The traitor heard, and felt the point within his heart.
Thy scarlet-tinctured foot? or from my bow
The lyre of Phoebus [Apollo, Apollyon] to thy notes attuned
Will not protect thee; farther stretch thy wings;
Go, wanton, skim along the Delian lake,
Or wilt thou steep thy melody in blood.
Look, what strange bird comes onwards; wouldst thou fix
Beneath the battlements thy straw-built nest?
My singing bow shall drive thee hence; begone,
Or to the banks of Alpheus, gulfy stream, grace
Or to the Isthmian grove; there hatch thy young;
Plautus, Curculio CAPPADOX My spleen is killing me, my reins are in torment, my lungs are being torn asunder, my liver is being tortured, my heart-strings are giving way, all my intestines are in pain.

Hecuba Alas! a dreadful trial is near, it seems, [230] full of mourning, rich in tears. Yes, I too escaped death where death had been my due, and Zeus did not destroy me but is still preserving my life, that I may witness in my misery fresh sorrows surpassing all before. But if the bond may ask the free of things that do not GRIEVE them or WRENCH their heart-strings, you ought to speak in answer to my questions and I ought to hear what you have to say.

Quoted by Adam Clark

A most beautiful and chaste allusion to this fact and fable is made by an eminent poet, while praying for his own success as a Christian minister, who uses all his skill as a poet and musician for the glory of God:-

Thy own musician, Lord, inspire,
And may my consecrated lyre
Repeat the psalmist's part!
His Son and thine reveal in me,
And fill with sacred melody
fibres of my heart.

So shall I charm the listening throng,
And draw the LIVING STONES
along By Jesus' tuneful name.

The living stones shall dance,
shall rise,
And FORM a CITY in the skies,
The New Jerusalem.

Boswell also stated, "While Hardeman has consistently told you what Paul says, what God says, at no time has he made any effort to prove that his interpretation is correct." (This implies that materials other than the Bible are necessary to prove that Paul in Eph. 5:19 means to sing and make melody in the heart without using musical instruments.)

Another interesting Boswell statement: "About our playing the organ during Communion: Grant that it is wrong, grant that it is sinful, grant whatever you please about it, that would not prove that the New Testament does not give us the right to use the instrument in the worship." (This implies that even if you openly agreed that mechanical instruments were sinful, you still couldn't prove that the NT denied the use of them.)  

N. B. Hardeman's Arguments

Hardeman initially posed 13 questions to Boswell, who often evaded them or gave little attention to answering them:

1. "Can Eph. 5:19, 1 Cor. 14:15, Rom. 15:9, and James 5:13 be obeyed without using an instrument?" ANSWER: "The affirmative position is: 'To sing with or without instrumental music.'" Boswell said that the scholarship of the world had answered by saying that "psallo" meant to sing with or without a musical instrument.

2. "Do you agree with Bro. H. L. Calhoun, [then] president of Bethany College, West Virginia, when he says: 'It will be admitted that the New Testament nowhere mentions the use of an instrument in connection with the singing in the church. This fact settles, beyond all dispute, that the use of an instrument in connection with the singing in the church cannot be an act of acceptable worship, for it fails to fulfill one of the essential conditions of an act of acceptable worship, and that condition which it fails to fulfill is the thing that differentiates an act of acceptable worship from an act which is not acceptable. Worship by means of instruments to-day is not in truth, and, therefore, cannot be such as God seeks or accepts'?" ANSWER: "I do not agree with him."

3. "Do you believe that instrumental music is demanded, commanded, or authorized in Christian worship?" ANSWER: "I believe that it is scriptural."

4. "Is it authorized by God or man?" ANSWER: "Answered in # 3."

5. "(a) If by God, can the instrument be omitted with impunity? (b) If by man, is it, therefore, scriptural?" ANSWER: "Answered in # 3."

6. "Is instrumental music a part of the worship?" ANSWER: "Answered in my definition at the beginning of the discussion; that is, 'instrumental music is in the worship only in the sense of being an item to the public service or ritual of worship.'"

7. "Do you agree [with those who say]: 'Instrumental music is in the church, but not in the worship'?" (For answer, see # 10).

8. "Do you agree with O. E. Payne, in whose compilations numbers of lexicons have been quoted, when Bro. Payne says, 'It is impossible to "psallein" without a musical instrument,' and that 'if we forego musical instruments, we cannot conform to the divine injunction to "psallein"'?" (For answer, see # 10).

9. "Was the 'Christian Standard,' the paper representing Bro. Boswell's side of the question, right when it said, regarding Payne's book, that it leads to the 'overwhelming conviction that not only was instrumental music allowed in the worship of the primitive church, but that it was positively enjoined'?" (For answer, see # 10).

10. "Do you agree [with those who say] of Bro. Payne: 'The author intended and aims to prove that instrumental music in Christian worship is scriptural; and when I say his effort is a complete success, I state that case conservatively. He demonstrates (and I use the term advisedly) that when the New Testament was written "psallo" carried with it the idea of the instrument of music.' Was this as a 'privilege' or as a 'duty'?" ANSWER: "It is not germane to this discussion whether I agree with them or not."

11. "Does the instrument inhere in 'psallo'?" ANSWER: (Boswell quotes from an M. C. Kurfees.) "'Baptizo' means to dip, to immerse, regardless of the particular element in which the action takes place; and the word 'psallo' means to touch or strike, regardless of the particular object touched or struck. These are the inherent ideas in these words, running through all their varied uses, and are the key to their meaning in every instance, whether the word be used literally or metaphorically."

12. "Is the use of the instrument in the worship to please God or man?" ANSWER: "It depends upon the attitude of the worshiper."

13. "Please state your position so clearly and define it so accurately that there can be no dispute or possibility of misunderstanding." ANSWER: (Boswell directs attention to a large chart before the audience that reads, "The New Testament Meaning of Psallo, the Word of God for Instrumental Music. The Affirmative Position: To sing with or without instrumental music.") "My position is stated on the chart. What is written can be easily read."

Hardeman argued that "psallo" from the lexicons was defined under two headings:

first, its classical or primary meaning; second, its NT or applied use. Since "psallo" meant to sing to the accompaniment of an "instrument," it was necessary to define the instrument applied from NT context. In Eph. 5:19, Paul said we were to sing to God and "psallo" with the heart, not the fingers or anything else.

Whereas worship in the Old Testament was physical and from without, worship in the NT is spiritual and from within. Therefore, the "instruments" of worship are not physical but metaphorical and spiritual. Without the heart there can be no "psallowing," and beyond that, the NT gives no other authority.

Hardeman further argued that "psallo" always carried the idea of plucking something, but that the word itself did not define that which was specifically plucked. "Psallo" alone could mean to pluck the hair, to pluck a bowstring, to pluck a chalk line, or to pluck a musical instrument.

Application in the NT is to pluck the metaphorical strings of the heart. Is the instrument to be made by the hands of men, as Boswell suggests? Paul specifies that the instrument is the heart.

Since Boswell argued that one could worship with or without a mechanical instrument, Hardeman countered that if by definition "psallo" demanded a mechanical instrument, and you could not obey God without it, then how could anyone worship with OR without an instrument?

When Boswell said that "psallo" meant to accompany with a mechanical instrument, he said that which no living man could prove, and it is not recorded that any dead one ever did. No man could historically show where the apostles ever used a mechanical instrument.

Hardeman further argued that if Boswell could worship with or without mechanical instruments but did not omit them, he was guilty of causing division of unity by insisting that mechanical instruments be a part of the service. But if "psallo," allegedly God's word for instrumental music, demanded mechanical instruments, then Boswell sinned if he omitted them.

What did "psallo" really mean? According to the translators of the KJV and the RSV, most of whom supported instrumental music as such, "psallo" meant to sing God's praise, to make melody in the heart, to sing with the spirit and with the understanding. As far as James, Romans, and 1 Corinthinians being written before Ephesians, Paul said in 1. Cor. 14:15 "ÉI will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." That is the "how." Here, Hardeman speculated that it would be difficult to believe that all the apostles earlier had not taught the other churches the same concepts about singing as Paul did the Ephesians and making melody in the heart. The word "sing" was based on the Greek noun "psalmos" [psalm], which conformed with that of the verb "psallo," which may or may not refer to instrumental music. Its proper meaning was determined by biblical context; in Ephesians and Colossians, it was the strings of the heart upon which melody and music were made.

Regarding the temple, if Christ had participated in instrumental music there, it would be no semblance of authority, for it would only prove that we should continue to burn incense and animal sacrifices, as under the Law of Moses.

The Jews had been "turned over to worship the starry host" because of musical idolatry at Mount Sinai. The worship therefore was of the Astrial gods (Sabazianism) even when the Scribes called THEM Jehovah.

When pressed repeatedly to name a biblical source authorizing instrumental music in worship, Boswell did not quote Ephesians or Colossians but 2 Chronicles 29.

Hardeman immediately countered that this was under the Mosaic Law, which had allowed polygamy, infant membership in the temple, burning incense, and offering animal sacrifices. Since none of the latter are practiced in Christianity, neither should instrumental music.

Hardeman also made reference to the Greek Church, which never had any instrumental music in all its history and still does not, because they know the precise meaning of "psallo." "Professor Sophocles, a native Greek himself, of high standing, defines [psallo] as it is used in the New Testament, and suggests that it means 'to sing the praise of God, to chant the songs thereof.'"

Hardeman brought written evidence from a Greek Christian, who after conferring with his priest, submitted a letter stating that the American Revised Version provided a faithful translation of "psallo" as "sing" and "psallendi" as "to make melody." (By that, the KJV is also faithful, for the same translation is present there.)

Boswell's representatives privately confronted the Greek Christian and presented him a Greek lexicon for him to translate "psallo" in English. He produced

"to pluck, to touch, to twitch, to play with the fingers, as a stringed instrument, singing to the cithara, to play and sing."

Then Hardeman revealed that this man had privately told him, "I don't believe that the lexicon is right," and that the man said that he had told the same to Boswell's representatives.

This they earnestly denied, and a major argument erupted. The man was in the audience and confirmed publicly what he had told Hardeman privately. So one or more people were outright liars. Boswell contended that the Greek Church broke from the Roman Catholic Church and, to be different from the Catholics, abstained from instruments.

How could the Ephesians and the first-century Christians know anything about the organ, when it wasn't introduced until hundreds of years later by the Catholics? The Restoration Movement began in 1801-1804, yet the organ didn't infiltrate this Movement until 1869.

Boswell's brethren learned of the organ from the denominational world, who got it from the Catholics, who first got it from the heathen.

Regarding "liberty," how can "psallo" and "liberty" both be authoritative? Boswell believed that he could do as he pleased, could act according to this own will and pleasure. Hardeman argued that liberty is in harmony with the "law." We are at liberty to serve God under His authority, or we are at liberty not to. Beyond that, there is no liberty.

Hardeman further charged that Boswell lacked the spirit to take God at His word, believe just what He said (especially regarding Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16), become just what He required, live inside the authority of God's directions, and trust Him for guidance, rather than to exercise his own preferences regarding sacred matters. If God had simply said "make music," then liberty would grant that any kind of music would suffice, because He would not have been specific. But of the two general kinds of music, vocal and instrumental, God said "sing," and the man who uses instrumental music in worship is in rebellion against God.

Regarding what is wrong with mechanical instruments, there's nothing inherently wrong with them, just like there's nothing inherently wrong with crucifixes, rosary beads, and incense, until you bring them into Christian worship, for the NEW TESTAMENT DOES NOT AUTHORIZE THEM.

Hardeman: "If God says have it, it is right; if He doesn't say have it, it is wrong. But the Bible doesn't specifically forbid instruments. Neither does the Bible forbid infant baptism. Why is it excluded? God says to baptize believers, which forbids babies by the ordinary law of exclusion. When God says 'sing' and 'make melody in the heart,' that forbids using mechanical instruments." How can anything be scriptural and left to man's fancy at the same time? Can anything that is scriptural be omitted? Absolutely not.

Hardeman also made the analogy between "circumcision" and "psallo." In Abraham's day, "circumcision" meant to cut physical flesh with a physical knife. In the Gospel age, "circumcision" is used metaphorically of the heart, as in Col. 2:11. So it is with "psallo," which means singing to the metaphorical instrument of the heart.

An on-line biography of N. B. Hardeman contains the following comments:

"The Boswell-Hardeman debate" broke the back of digression in Tennessee, and was the greatest single factor in ending all further efforts by Christian Church preachers to justify scripturally their innovations." "Every gospel preacher should have the Boswell-Hardeman discussion in his library, and should thoroughly familiarize himself with the arguments made." "Although he was well versed in the American Standard Version, and most of the modern translations, Professor Hardeman always stuck to the King James Version when quoting from the Bible. He was well aware that quite a few words in the King James Version were archaic, but he was equally aware that many modern translations are not translations at all, but rather a commentary on, or else a substitution for, the original.",nb.htm

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