The serious question is asked by many Christians and non-Christians if it is acceptable in Christian worship to add the clapping of hands and other noises to singing worship. Let’s look at a few Biblical principles that guide us in this question.
Following the principle of not adding to what God has prescribed, I would say NO. God said not to add to or take away from His Word, (1 Cor. 4:6, Rev. 22; Pro. 30:6). Certainly these noises are an addition.
And following the principle that silence is not a license to approve of something, I would say NO to clapping. When God said to eat unleavened bread and drink fruit of the vine, He didn’t say all of the things you couldn’t (i.e. silence) include in the communion. Silence shouldn’t be construed as a license to do something. If your boss says to be at work at 8 a.m., you can’t construe that 7 a.m. is also acceptable just because he didn’t exclude that time.
And following the principle that a specific command negates all others, I would say NO to clapping in the worship to God. This is similar to the principle of silence, but this is looking positively at what God commands. God said to be baptized into water. No other element but water will do for Christian baptism. When God says to “sing” (Eph. 5; Col. 3), then the Christian sees no point of doing anything else. Singing in Christian worship is clearly God’s will. And playing a banjo is clearly not singing, so it is clearly not doing what God said to do.
And following the principle that EXPEDIENTS are not ADDITION, but are necessary to complete God’s commands whereas additions are not, I would have to say NO to clapping in worship. This is a place where the novice gets confused by those who advance their position via confusion. So pay attention please so that I can explain it to you as best I can. A building or a songbook are ways to EXPEDITE God’s command to Christians to assemble on the Lord’s Day and to sing together. An EXPEDIENT helps to EXPEDITE God’s commands. A song book is not an ADDITION to the musical worship God commanded. When God commanded to sing spiritual songs to each other, He did not give the specific songs. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude from the limited direction which God gave – sing spiritual songs that speak the Truth – that Christians were to compile the songs in some manner (e.g. the song book). That allowance by God is called an EXPEDIENT. Make a note of that and remember it. Another expedient is the church building. God said to assemble but He didn’t say where: by the river, in someone’s home, at a public biulding, etc. When Christians purchase a building or when they meet in a home, they are not adding to God’s Word. They are doing the natural and logical necessity which fulfills the command to assemble. Again, that’s an EXPEDIENT and you should remember that. But the defenders of musical instrument do is very slyly try to lump their pianos and guitars in with such expedients which they are not. When God said to “sing”, all of the instrument that is required is already present in the voice and in the heart. If you have the voice and the heart, then you can sing and fulfill the command. A piano or other mechanical instrument or clapping to produce similar sounds are an ADDITION to God’s Word, and not EXPEDIENTS.
What about clapping in the general sense. Let me clarify though. All clapping is not an attempt to duplicate mechanical instruments. When clapping for someone for an achievement, the honoring of those who deserve it – as your parents do and as do many others – the applause is merely a means of expressing that honor. I don’t particularly like it in the worship because it seems to promote the wrong attention for the period. However, in general, it’s not a sin.
Let me further clarify. The clapping, or popping the lips, or clucking the tongue, or woofing of the armpit,… ( made that one up), or the stomping of the feet, or the blowing the trumpet lips, or the twanging the guitar lips is the vain attempt to skirt around that the Scriptures which only authorize vocal music unto God. So No is clearly the only answer to this kind of clapping. And this follows one more principle that it is IMPOSSIBLE to have unity when men justify such things.
God bless you!