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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
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Joshua,

I have been taught EP till it was coming out of my throat. Historically Hymns and spiritual songs in the church were portions of the New Testament in the early church. Many Reformed Theologians hold this to be true. I have heard other people try to refute this notion. I don't want to argue about it. I use to be a member of an RPCNA church. I've read and listened for years about the subject. EP has it's benefits. I also believe Church Hymn singing has it's benefits also. I actually believe 'Alas' is one Spirit led song with Sound Pointed doctrine that guides the heart right to Christ. It definitely has clearer teaching than most of the Psalms do about the cross and propitiation of Christ.
For what it is worth, I aint going to be schismatic about it. If that is what you see God leading you to, I will encourage you in it. I want to see you built up in the faith. If that does it. I am all for you. You know that of me.

[Edited on 10-18-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally posted by joshua
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
Historically Hymns and spiritual songs in the church were portions of the New Testament in the early church. Many Reformed Theologians hold this to be true. I have heard other people try to refute this notion.
I just want the notion substantiated. Even if what you assert is true (that portions of the New Testament were the hymns and spiritual songs), it still does not allow for non God-breathed hymns (say of Watts, Bonar, Wesleys). I really am trying to find out how I've been combative...I certainly hope that simply defending a position is not considered combative or pharisee-like. :handshake:
Let me use some of Scott's reasoning with you for a minute. If there is a text of scripture that says You must only worship me with God breathed Scripture, don't you believe that many other people such as Duncan, Sproul, Fred Greco, Al Mohler, Al Martin, and many others would be rushing in to obey it for fear that they would be displeasing to God? I don't think you can claim what you said above as being absolutely true. There is no text that says this.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally posted by joshua
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
Originally posted by joshua
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
Historically Hymns and spiritual songs in the church were portions of the New Testament in the early church. Many Reformed Theologians hold this to be true. I have heard other people try to refute this notion.
I just want the notion substantiated. Even if what you assert is true (that portions of the New Testament were the hymns and spiritual songs), it still does not allow for non God-breathed hymns (say of Watts, Bonar, Wesleys). I really am trying to find out how I've been combative...I certainly hope that simply defending a position is not considered combative or pharisee-like. :handshake:
Let me use some of Scott's reasoning with you for a minute. If there is a text of scripture that says You must only worship me with God breathed Scripture, don't you believe that many other people such as Duncan, Sproul, Fred Greco, Al Mohler, Al Martin, and many others would be rushing in to obey it for fear that they would be displeasing to God? I don't think you can claim what you said above as being absolutely true. There is no text that says this.
Randy, you're right. There's no text that says, "Worship me with only God-breathed Scripture." But, according to the RPW, whatsoever is not commanded, is forbidden. There are no commands to sing non-God breathed songs written by men who are not prophets. There are commands to sing the Psalms. Whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden.
There is a command to sing spiritual songs. We could go at this all night and tomorrow. Be careful. You may be grieving the Spirit. I may be also. I have weighed this out as many good men of God have. I am not comparing myself to them. They hold to the RPW also.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
There are a great many early Church documents and writings of the early Church fathers where the psalms of David are referred to as "spiritual songs" and "hymns."
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally posted by joshua
The greek terms for "psalms", "hymns", and "songs" are all found in the Septuagint. Each of them are listed in the Psalms. Furthermore, the term spiritual applies to all 3 terms. You can't read today's meaning of "songs" or "hymns" back into that time.
Joshua,

These terms in the greek imply more than a jewish rendering of the book of Psalms. They were words that the common greek knew and used.

Let me give you an example. The word for justification was also used in the common greek venacular. It didn't come with the Christianizing of it. I simply meant to be innocent or right. It means the same thing in scripture. When I was teaching I was told to use a definition that said, "jusification means to be right with God." Of course that is true in light of understanding the cross but the term itself just means to be in right standing.

My point is that the words for Hymns and spiritual songs meant just what they say. Some have added their own bias upon them and narrowed their definitions just a bit more than the original writers when they say that they are only refering to the 150. These where words of common language in the day they were written. I am pretty sure the greeks reading them wouldn't associate them with just the 150.

[Edited on 10-18-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by joshua
Ok, Randy. So Paul ignored the meanings of the Word as defined by Scripture and intended for them to mean the same thing the Greek heathen writings meant, regardless that the 3 words were each used several times in the book of Psalms.

[Edited on 10-18-2005 by joshua]
Josh,

Do you think the OPC, PCA, and the majority of the Reformed Churches missed it as well?
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by joshua
Originally posted by wsw201

Josh,

Do you think the OPC, PCA, and the majority of the Reformed Churches missed it as well?
Wayne, I don't think there has been an active missing of this by the mentioned good Presbyterians; rather, I think it's been a passive departure from and and an ignoring of what their Presbyterian forefathers & predecessors believed, taught, and practiced. We're all guilty of this to some extent or another. I'm not trying to seem "holier than thou", just discussing.
Josh,

I would certainly not take the position that you are trying to be "holier than thou" and that you are simply voicing your position, and thats fine.

Your comment that the vast majority of Reformed churches, both Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed, have "passively departed" from what their forefathers taught is a rather weak argument. It kinda reminds me of those who say that infant baptism is simply a holdover from the RC Church, which assumes that there is no exegetical evidence for that position.

Since we both know that Reformed churches hold to Sola Scriptura, we should not assume that they have no exegetical evidence for the position that they have taken. I believe it would be prudent to seriously consider the position the Reformed churches have taken regarding EP and the reasoning for their position, then determine whether that position stands up to Scripture.
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Where was Deborah commanded to write the song she sang after the victory with Barak ??

Was that acceptable worship ?


I. God is praised by a song, which is, 1. A very natural expression of rejoicing. Is any merry? Let him sing; and holy joy is the very soul and root of praise and thanksgiving. God is pleased to reckon himself glorified by our joy in him, and in his wondrous works. His servants' joy is his delight, and their sons are melody to him. 2. A very proper expedient for spreading the knowledge and perpetuating the remembrance of great events. Neighbours would learn this song one of another and children of their parents; and by that means those who had not books, or could not read, yet would be made acquainted with these works of God; and one generation would thus praise God's works to another, and declare his mighty acts, Psa_145:4, etc.

Matthew Henry
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally posted by joshua
Ok, Randy. So Paul ignored the meanings of the Word as defined by Scripture and intended for them to mean the same thing the Greek heathen writings meant, regardless that the 3 words were each used several times in the book of Psalms.
Why wouldn't they be? I am just saying that the terms are not limited to being defined as the 150.
 

Ravens

Puritan Board Sophomore
I just have a couple observations to make. I'm personally undecided on the issue; I can see merit in the positions of both sides. So I'm here more to read than to debate, mostly because I'm currently studying a few other areas "in-depth", and don't have the time to do an exhaustive study on the issue.

But two things.

1) Usually, when this subject is debated, at least 20% of the posts, once the thread gets rolling, usually contain highly charged emotional language that doesn't really establish any point. I can't count the number of times I've seen E.P. proponents (and I'm authentically undecided, so I'm not picking on them) insert little quips about "uninspired hymnody" or "How could you even sing songs that God didn't write?????????", as if the notion should cause us all to spill our coffee and flee from the keyboard. And I don't think that's an exaggeration, you've all seen them.

Obviously there's nothing wrong with uninspired words in a service *in and of themselves*, since everybody agrees that prayers and sermons contain uninspired words that God didn't breathe out to be infallible Scripture. If hymns are wrong, they are wrong relative to the mandate of God and the regulative principle of worship, not due to the intrinsic fact that they have uninspired words. I just find those posts to bog down a thread and almost border on emotional irrationality. And I'm not trying to "start something", I'm probably not even going to respond. Just from a lurker, and I bet others agree, its not helpful at all in determining the Biblical position.

2) It seems to me that the key "issue" is the interpretation of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs... or, perhaps, spiritual psalms, hymns, and songs. The reason I'm undecided is that I don't think an authoritative case can be made on either side of the issue. And that's not my "final answer", I'm still studying. But I see merit on both sides. Obviously "hymns" and "songs" are used in the Septuagint to refer to the psalms. But I don't think that fact categorically establishes that they have to refer to the psalms. I mean, what other words *would* Paul use to say, "you can sing songs about Christ". I have trouble believing it could be exegetically proven either way, but if someone were to prove it, that would go a long way towards "solving" it. I just find it odd that a passage that allows for either interpretation (but perhaps I am wrong; you have to admit some ambiguity is there) and really rests on a "judgment call" from good and necessary consequence applied to that passage, can lead people to be so stalwart and ratified in their position, on either side.

But anyway, 'nuff said.

Back to reading.

:bigsmile:
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
One thing that I believe both EP and non-EP miss is that the EP argument re: "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" does not rest on the idea that each of those words, in all 1st century literature, refer only to the Biblical psalms. (I know it sounds like I'm shooting myself in the foot, just hear me out.)

It is obvious, especially from the quotes that non-EPs bring up, that there were occasions where those words (especially "hymn" and "song") were used without reference to the Psalter. The importance behind the use of these words, and the emphasis which EPs place upon it, are:

1. The full phrase, "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," indicates that the Psalter is being referred to. This has been maintained either (a) in older writers, where they maintained the Psalter to be broken up into three parts, or the Psalms to be given three classifications; and (b) in newer writers, who emphasize the use of these words in the Septuagint titles of the Psalms.

2. The phrase indicates the use of three synonomous terms to indicate either the emphasis of the one thing to which they refer (the Psalter), or the full range and complexity found within that one thing. This is consistent with other passages in Scripture which use three synonomous terms in a seemingly redundant manner: "iniquity and transgression and sin" (Exod. 34:7); "all the iniquities...and all their transgressions in all their sins" (Lev. 16:21); "walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments" (1 Kings 6:12); "signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds" (2 Cor. 12:12), etc.

3. The burden of proof in this matter does not rest upon the EPs, to prove that the Bible forbids the use of anything other than the Psalms, or that the Bible commands us to only sing the Psalms. The burden of proof rests upon the non-EPs, to prove that the matter of praise to God, which all confess was limited to the Psalms in the time of Christ, was suddenly infinitely and indefinitely expanded to include non-inspired materials of human composition.

First century Christians, as in other matters, would operate under the expectation of little to no change in the matter of praise. Such a radical change as hymn-singers suggest would require an explicit mention of this change. So what do hymn-singers point to? "Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs"; when it is known that each of these words can also be taken to refer to the biblical Psalms.

Imagine a controversy brewing among the Gentile Christians at Ephesus. Some are singing, as the church has done for the last thousand years, from only inspired materials, from the Book of Psalms. Others are beginning to make their own compositions, without the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and insisting that these new songs also be sung in the church. They know that the Old Testament Scriptures give full and clear evidence to the singing of Psalms, and desire that the apostle likewise give authority to their compositions. And the apostle then says, "Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." For myself, if I were one of those insisting on new compositions, I would want something more clearly referring to my non-inspired songs, especially since he used the phrase "spiritual (i.e. inspired) songs."

The historic practice of the Jewish church for a thousand years is what we all need to remember when approaching this issue. The assumption going into the New Testament would have been, "if it ain't broke..."; especially given Christ's example in this matter of singing, not new compositions, but the Old Testament Psalms. Given this starting assumption of New Testament Christians, it would take an incredibly explicit statement on the subject to warrant the use of uninspired compositions. "Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," given the back and forth over the individual words and the phrase as a whole, is not explicit enough. If you want to prove your hymn-singing from the Bible, you will have to turn to a passage other than Ephesians 5:19 or Colossians 3:16.

:2cents:
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
:amen: Sean.

As I also said above, to reiterate, nearly universally the early Church fathers refer to the Book of Praises, the Psalter, as "spiritual songs" of David and the "hymns" of David, along with "psalms," using these three terms for the Psalter practically interchangably with virtually no differentiation in meaning or emphasis.
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
3. The burden of proof in this matter does not rest upon the EPs, to prove that the Bible forbids the use of anything other than the Psalms, or that the Bible commands us to only sing the Psalms. The burden of proof rests upon the non-EPs, to prove that the matter of praise to God, which all confess was limited to the Psalms in the time of Christ, was suddenly infinitely and indefinitely expanded to include non-inspired materials of human composition.
Easy. Mary singing the magnificat. Similar to the song of Hannah in the Old Testament.

Why was her first instinct not to sing a messianic Psalm ? ?

If she was blessed and chosen among women, surely she would have followed the RPW.
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
Randy even if they are all greek terms used in everyday language as Joshua pointed out earlier the adjective "spiritual" modifies all three nouns. So these are not ordinary songs they are spiritual songs.

Someone mentioned Deborah. She was filled with the holy spirit as they were at penecost. It prophecy that was sung. Much like David.

We should not forget also the context of both passages that speak of these spiritual songs. One specifically mentions being filled with the holy spirit via singing these spiritual songs. Ephesians 5:18-19. The other Colossians 3:16 talks about letting the word of God dwell in you richly.

I think the people getting emotional are the ones who are hearing this position defended. It is as if we were defending some horrible doctrine and forcing it on people. Did it ever occur to anyone that we have been convinced not only of its benefits but also the scriptural mandate of it. Are we only supposed to defend our positions on acceptable topics that are vague and not important in the scheme of things? If we actually think it should be practiced we shouldn't say so because it might bother someone who disagrees? You know what we will say so if it vexes you overly then don't read the EP threads.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Saiph
3. The burden of proof in this matter does not rest upon the EPs, to prove that the Bible forbids the use of anything other than the Psalms, or that the Bible commands us to only sing the Psalms. The burden of proof rests upon the non-EPs, to prove that the matter of praise to God, which all confess was limited to the Psalms in the time of Christ, was suddenly infinitely and indefinitely expanded to include non-inspired materials of human composition.
Easy. Mary singing the magnificat. Similar to the song of Hannah in the Old Testament.

Why was her first instinct not to sing a messianic Psalm ? ?

If she was blessed and chosen among women, surely she would have followed the RPW.
This is a red herring, as far as the RPW argument goes, I believe.

RPW applies to actual worship of God in a corporate, familial, or individual sense, with overarching regulations and stipulations for each context based on Scripture.

Mary was not writing a song to be used in corporate worship. Same with any other "song" found in Scripture outside of the Psalter.

But, and most importantly, there is also no direct or implied COMMAND FROM GOD to sing any of these non-Psalter compositions in worship (corporate, familial, or private).

Their mere existence in the canon of Scripture in no way overthrows the primacy of the Psalms in Christian worship. We must have very clear commands from God to sing these compositions (I would argue strongly they are all private prayers and nothing more, nothing less - not actual sung songs [say that 10 times fast]). Otherwise, we're arguing from silence and saying we CAN or COULD sing these songs. That type of mentality has no place in worshipping the one true Creator. Our relationship to Him and His sovereignty over all things should not allow for a seemingly, in my estimation, flippant approach to worship; that is, something (perhaps not so sarcastically) akin to: "Well, it is possible this is a song meant for worship, so let's sing it! Better yet, lets write our own songs just like Mary did! I'm sure that is okay with God. I'm pretty sure, at least."

[Edited on 10-18-2005 by WrittenFromUtopia]
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
RPW applies to actual worship of God in a corporate, familial, or individual sense, with overarching regulations and stipulations for each context based on Scripture.
Ill trade you my red herring for your artificial distinction. If we are living sacrifices, then whatever is commanded corporately is commanded privately.


I challenge any RPW or EP to do the following:

1. Show me in Scripture where this distinction between corporate and private is spelled out. (Was Cain's sacrifice private ?)

2. Show me where the distinction between "element" and "circumstance" is defined in Scripture.

3. Show me where song and music is an element, and NOT a circumstance.


Mary was not writing a song to be used in corporate worship. Same with any other "song" found in Scripture outside of the Psalter.
The point is, if we are never commanded to sing songs other than the Psalms, and the distinction between private and corporate is artificial, why did she do it, when there were many messianic Psalms to sing ?

[Edited on 10-18-2005 by Saiph]
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Therefore, we know for CERTAIN that we are COMMANDED to sing the Psalms. From my study of God's Word, I do not believe at all that we can argue in such a certain manner that we are to sing anything else but the Psalms. There are possibilities, and vague ones at that, I will concede and admit. However, from my viewpoint of who God is and who I am not, I do not have the right to worship my Creator on the basis of possibilities, only certainties. To do otherwise would be, as I previously mentioned, careless and flippant at the very least (or most). I cannot, in good conscience and out of faith, worship God with anything but His praises (the Psalter), as a result. This is how the Regulative Principle does and should work in our lives on a real-world, daily basis. It is not about strict legalism, but humility before an awesome, terrible God who has, for some reason, decided to make a covenant with me and call me into fellowship with Him through His Son. I can do nothing but what He wants me to do from that point forward, so much as His Spirit gives me the strength to do so. :2cents:
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Saiph
RPW applies to actual worship of God in a corporate, familial, or individual sense, with overarching regulations and stipulations for each context based on Scripture.
Ill trade you my red herring for your artificial distinction. If we are living sacrifices, then whatever is commanded corporately is commanded privately.


I challenge any RPW or EP to do the following:

1. Show me in Scripture where this distinction between corporate and private is spelled out. (Was Cain's sacrifice private ?)

2. Show me where the distinction between "element" and "circumstance" is defined in Scripture.

3. Show me where song and music is an element, and NOT a circumstance.


Mary was not writing a song to be used in corporate worship. Same with any other "song" found in Scripture outside of the Psalter.
The point is, if we are never commanded to sing songs other than the Psalms, and the distinction between private and corporate is artificial, why did she do it, when there were many messianic Psalms to sing ?

[Edited on 10-18-2005 by Saiph]
You are presupposing, based on your view of worship, that Mary was composing her magnificat as 1. a song to be sung by someone other than her, 2. not simply a prayer to God, and 3. an act of worship in a formal sense. The difference between Worship and glorifying God in how we live and act, as living sacrifices, must be distinguished. Otherwise, we join the liberals and existentialistic seeker-sensitive churches who equate EVERYTHING with Worship, with a capital "W." Finally, what Mary said, along with other such 'compositions' in Scripture, is the Word of God, not Mary, ultimately. It serves a purpose as a means of grace from God for all generations. This is not an uninspired composition, and it does not prove anything remotely close to what you would ultimately conclude from such an example.
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
You are presupposing, based on your view of worship, that Mary was composing her magnificat as 1. a song to be sung by someone other than her, 2. not simply a prayer to God, and 3. an act of worship in a formal sense. The difference between Worship and glorifying God in how we live and act, as living sacrifices, must be distinguished. Otherwise, we join the liberals and existentialistic seeker-sensitive churches who equate EVERYTHING with Worship, with a capital "W." Finally, what Mary said, along with other such 'compositions' in Scripture, is the Word of God, not Mary, ultimately. It serves a purpose as a means of grace from God for all generations. This is not an uninspired composition, and it does not prove anything remotely close to what you would ultimately conclude from such an example.

Provide scriptural evidence for my 3 questions, or your opinion is as good as mine.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
I have provided it before in previous EP/RPW discussions. I hate to be redundant and waste bandwidth. It might help somewhat to do a brief search and scan of previous lengthy EP/RPW discussions on this board.

To briefly answer #3 though, 2 Chronicles 29 shows instrumental use as a clear, commanded, element of worship, not merely a circumstance or as "background noise."
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
Therefore, we know for CERTAIN that we are COMMANDED to sing the Psalms. From my study of God's Word, I do not believe at all that we can argue in such a certain manner that we are to sing anything else but the Psalms. There are possibilities, and vague ones at that, I will concede and admit. However, from my viewpoint of who God is and who I am not, I do not have the right to worship my Creator on the basis of possibilities, only certainties. To do otherwise would be, as I previously mentioned, careless and flippant at the very least (or most). I cannot, in good conscience and out of faith, worship God with anything but His praises (the Psalter), as a result. This is how the Regulative Principle does and should work in our lives on a real-world, daily basis. It is not about strict legalism, but humility before an awesome, terrible God who has, for some reason, decided to make a covenant with me and call me into fellowship with Him through His Son. I can do nothing but what He wants me to do from that point forward, so much as His Spirit gives me the strength to do so. :2cents:
In case this was missed . . .
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by joshua
Quick sincere question:

The Magnificat of Mary. Does it say she "sang" it, in the Greek? Same with Zecheriah.

Furthermore, are all Christians prophets like Zecheriah that they should make their own songs?

Furthermore, even IF these other songs are ok, does it allow for non God-breathed songs in worship?
No.

46 And Mary said,

"œMy soul magnifies the Lord
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Gabriel answered #3 which was:

3. Show me where song and music is an element, and NOT a circumstance.

Answer:

2Ch 29:25 And he 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.
2Ch 29:26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
2Ch 29:27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel.
2Ch 29:28 The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished.
Both SONG and MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS are elements of worship.

Now how about questions 1 & 2. It should not be that difficult.


1. Show me in Scripture where this distinction between corporate and private is spelled out. And why is there more freedom in private worship ? (Cain's sacrifice seemed private to me)


2. Show me where the distinction between "element" and "circumstance" is defined in Scripture.
 
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