Well, by now the news has gotten around that the Free Church of Scotland has voted to allow for the use of hymns and musical instruments in their churches. For the cause of Biblical worship, this is certainly a disappointing decision. I cannot comment on the state of the Free Church itself, though I don’t have a favorable impression that they’ve been a strong church in recent years. I could be wrong.
For those who haven’t heard, this is the statement from their website:
Worship Statement (Updated)
November 20, 2010
Free Church of Scotland Decides to Allow for the Singing of Hymns and the Use of Musical Instruments in its Congregations
The Free Church of Scotland, at a special Plenary Assembly, which took place on 18th and 19th November, decided to give liberty to its congregations to sing hymns and use instruments, if individual Kirk Sessions so choose. The special Assembly, which consisted of all its ministers with an equal number of elders, met in Edinburgh and debated over whether to overturn the 100 year old prohibition, which has identified the Free Church as a psalm-singing church.
The debate over its form of worship has lasted for the last five years, since the Moderator at that time, Rev. Donald Smith questioned the prohibition of musical instruments in its services.
The main motion which came from the Church’s Board of Trustees sought to retain the “status quo”, which is the ”avoidance of uninspired materials of praise and musical instruments”, but give more flexibility in understanding as to what is meant by that. But this motion was opposed by Rev. Alex MacDonald, who proposed that the Free Church give liberty to individual congregations to sing scriptural hymns, as well as psalms, if their elders so chose.
The debate, which lasted Thursday evening and most of Friday, was harmonious throughout. Rev. MacDonald’s motion carried by a majority of 98 to 84.
A statement intended for Free Church congregations regarding its decision (including the exact finding of Assembly) on sung praise can be found by clicking this link:
We’ve seen this type of decision many times in the recent history of the church. The end result of allowing hymns usually ends up with the exclusion of the Psalms altogether. It also means an openness to other questionable practices into the worship of the church.
What are your thoughts on this recent decision?