Dave Miller of Apologetics Press

This is an important discussion as many churches around us are accepting this practice more and more. This article can be found in full form at https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=4802. I have included only the section about hand-clapping during singing for this particular article. (Noah Icenhour)

As churches of Christ continue to experience transitional conflict, fundamental commitment to biblical authority wanes, and personal taste and affective creativity assert themselves. Our current social milieu and cultural climate exacerbates and reinforces this increased reliance upon self and personal opinion as legitimate standards of authority. Despite the mad rush to the left in politics, religion, and morality, the faithful Christian is one who remains unshaken by the winds of change (Matthew 11:7; Ephesians 4:14). As change agents proudly and defiantly orchestrate restructuring of values and foundational principles, the faithful follower of Jesus Christ consistently reaffirms the ancient, bedrock truths of biblical religion.

The promoter of change is most conspicuous in his relentless assault upon pure worship—a typical, perennial ploy of Satan (e.g., Genesis 4:3,5; 1 John 3:12; Exodus 32:8; Leviticus 10:1-3; 1 Samuel 13:9-13; 1 Kings 12:28-30; 18:4; 2 Kings 22:17; 2 Chronicles 26:16-18; Psalms 78:58). Since, by definition, worship changes are not rooted in or sanctioned by Scripture, whence do such innovations arise? Obviously, if these items do not find their origin in Heaven, they must originate with man (Matthew 21:23-25). The human heart, unrestrained and unenlightened by divine guidance, inevitably pursues behaviors and practices that satiate fleshly appetites.

Current culture has groomed and conditioned the average person to be entertained. Television and the cinema have so developed in their sophistication that they are able to stimulate us and hold our attention with little or no effort on our part. In his bestseller, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman described how we have allowed ourselves to shift away from rational assessment of truth in exchange for substanceless, emotional stimulation (1985, pp. 49-63). In religious practice, worshippers appear driven by that which is “better felt than told.”

HANDCLAPPING AS MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT

One change that has made its way into worship assemblies is the act of handclapping. Handclapping is occurring in two forms: as applause, and as a rhythmical accompaniment to singing. The latter practice is clearly unacceptable on the scriptural grounds that clapping hands is parallel to the use of any other body part or mechanical device that might be used to supplement vocal, verbal music. Clapping hands, snapping fingers, or rhythmically slapping the pew are logically equivalent to the mechanical instrument of music—all of which lack divine authorization in the New Testament. God authorizes and enjoins worshippers to sing meaning-laden words and to make music in/on the human heart (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Worshippers simply lack scriptural approval for adding other forms of musical accompaniment/expression. Please study carefully the following chart and observe that handclapping falls within the realm of nonvocal, instrumental music and, as such, is not a scripturally approved worship action. Only the left-hand column coincides with biblical specifications as articulated by God in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16.

by Noah Icenhour