My church teaches that it is wrong and unbiblical to use musical instruments in the assembly. I know there are instances of instrumental music in the Old Testament, but those were just human developments. God never commanded such a thing! The Lord said, "Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps" (Amos 5:23). Do you have instruments in your church? — M.C.

Probably we both prefer harmonious à cappella singing, but we don't agree on whether this should be a matter of dogma or fellowship. Although I'm sympathetic with your position, I take issue with the use of Amos 5 to make your case.

Let's examine the passage, Amos 5:22-24, in context:

22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
    I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!

The problem wasn't the harps. It was that worship that tolerates injustice is unacceptable to the Lord. God is no more rejecting instrumental music than he is condemning burnt offerings!

As for the absence of a command to use instruments, what do you say about 2 Chronicles 25?

And [Hezekiah] stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king's seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the Lord through his prophets (2 Chr 29:25).

So God did command it! (The prophets mentioned aren't false prophets, but his (the Lord's).

Of course that doesn't mean we should or shouldn't use instruments under the new covenant. Usually I wish we didn't—especially when it's too loud to hear myself singing, let alone the person in the pew next to me! It was the practice of the historical Christian church, at least well into the Middle Ages, to sing without instruments. However, I am unaware of any scripture against instruments. (Though I sometimes wish there were.)