"An Argument Against Exclusive Psalmody"

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by bookslover, Jun 20, 2017.

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  1. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Rev. Curtis,

    Do you believe that we can replace the reading of Scripture with the reading of mere human compositions closely based on the scripture, and still remain faithful to the command to read the Scriptures publicly?
  2. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    From Steve, Post #27 (Sorry, I tried to reply with the quote but it didn't work): "For instance, in addition to his better-known hymns, Isaac Watts produced a Psalter. In it, he routinely invokes Christ by name and otherwise imports New Testament revelation into the text; yet, it was intended to be a fair restructuring of the biblical texts for use in corporate worship. I assume that you (and EP advocates, in general) would reject Watts' Psalter."

    Steve and all, one thing that was very helpful to me was seeing Christ's own declared purpose for the singing of his congregation in Psalm 22:22, which is quoted again in Hebrews 2:9-12. He has declared that upon his victory in ascending and in the singing of his Church, he himself is among us to sing, and his intention is to declare the name of and sing the praises of his Father. These declarations and praises can only be his own words. Christ will not sing or say the words of man. "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." (John 12:49, 50)

    (I realize this doesn't really address the issue of translations of the Psalms into metrical form but it does answer a common complaint of people that in singing the Psalms we can't sing the name of Christ, etc. I think Rev. Winzer's comment about first determining God's will in whether the Psalms are indeed our only songbook, and then our being as faithful as possible in going about singing them, is right.)
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  3. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Perhaps one can critique the practice of metrical psalms, but that doesn't really get at the strength of the EP position anyhow; which is that only the psalms are to be sung by positive commandment of God.

    Even if you think that the metrical psalms are not good enough (I don't believe that) -- this argument would be akin to saying that the existence of the New Living Translation threatens Sola Scriptura.

    The EP argument doesn't rest upon metrical psalms one-bit. Though circumstantially, that is one way that the Reformed Churches have seen fit to fulfill the divine command to sing the psalms.

    Even if you are not EP, you must acknowledge that God expects us to sing them. If the metrical psalms are not truly singing the psalms then we have to find another way to do it. I'm happy to have that discussion. But it doesn't negate the essence of the EP position and is a different thing entirely.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  4. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Well said! I do think that chanting the Psalms is a viable and good option.
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It weakens Scripture. It robs it of its force, though if that's all there is then use it. Same with metrical psalmody. It is better than singing ditties, but it's also not how the church historically sang the psalms.
  6. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    I was given the same argument by a music professor at Covenant College. Can't now read this whole thread, but the claim is beclouding. I believe I'm hearing the inspired word read in the scripture reading. If you don't think I'm singing the inspired psalms as I'm convicted I ought, help me to do so for my sake and yours too, because it's required of us all, exclusively or not.
  7. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    That is a decision for the oversight of the church. I think men in general have enough common sense to be able to distinguish between types of composition. The literature on the subject certainly demonstrates that the authors had a concrete idea on what distinguished a Psalm from an uninspired hymn.
  8. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Senior

    I have a short road trip coming up this weekend, and I can give it a listen then. From the description of the audio (which includes a reference to Tertullian), it may be that Lloyd-Jones is referring to charismatic utterances via 1 Cor. 14. If I recall correctly, Lloyd-Jones was some sort of continuationist, so this would not be surprising. If one denies that the gift of charismatic song continues, then one cannot say any hymn is inspired in that sense, so this would not be what is under discussion in this thread.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  9. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    Yes he was. Two of his books, The Sovereign Spirit and Joy Unspeakable, express the view that charismatic gifts continue in the church. As noted in a previous post, that is only briefly gone into relative to hymnody, the strongest portion of his argument is the historical AFAIC.
  10. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Senior

    I can confirm that I was (mostly) correct by his term "inspired." He is definitely referring to the Spirit inspiring these things and appeals to 1 Cor. 14. However, he also explicitly says that this "inspiration" is not the same as Scripture, although he does not elaborate as to how. One of his sermons in Ephesians 5:18 (my school library has his commentary, so it was quick to look up) suggests he believed in "Spirit-promptings" to which the Christian must pay heed; it is possible that he viewed "inspiration" by the Spirit to compose hymns as being "Spirit-prompted." Basically, it is a charismatic view, so not what was under discussion in this thread. Oddly though, if one takes his exegesis of Ephesians 5:19 and 1 Cor. 14, but also holds to a cessationist position, then one will only find warrant in those passages for singing the psalms of David and other possible Scripture songs in our modern era (since, from what I understood, he thought they allowed for both "OT Psalms," the other Scripture "songs," and hymns composed by men "inspired" by the Spirit). With an additional careful application of the regulative principle, one will then be left with warrant from those passages for the "OT psalms" only.

    Off-topic, but I found it "tragic" that he spoke of singing only "OT Psalms" as being "drab" instead of filled with "joy" and the Spirit (He was contrasting a meeting where one sang only "OT psalms" with the activity described in 1 Cor. 14)! Any who has sung or heard others in a meeting sing "only" the psalms with grace in the heart and with understanding will know this to be greatly false. The psalms call us to mourn and to praise, but when sung with grace and understanding, they will be found to be at least, yea more, filled with the Spirit than any (modern day) Charismatic revival as they--with the power and words of the Spirit of Christ--encourage the weary believer, give words of expression for repentance and praise, bring the believer's affections into order, and quicken the believer's spirit to love for God, others, and Christ's commands, glory, and kingdom!

    Also off-topic, but of course, history is no guide for worship: the Scriptures tell us how to worship. I would note though that there have indeed been revivals associated with psalm singing, including the great Protestant Reformation. And the historical witnesses brought up do not harm the exclusive psalm singer's position; at best (the passages can be understood in some other ways, if you have not looked into it and wish to look into it), they show that hymns of mere human composition were introduced into the life of some sectors of the church early, although they do not show whether they were sung in public worship also (Protestant history shows corruptions in worship begin in private before they make their way to the public worship services).

    That's all I will say concerning the sermon for now, since I do not want to go more off-topic and already think I've said too much for a thread that died last week. I suppose we could discuss more of the sermon (e.g., the historical stuff) in another thread, but I do not know how much/if I will participate; I have some other things that I need to do and don't know if I will have time/motivation for such a thread.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017
  11. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    Far be it from me to speak for Reverend Lloyd-Jones ....... but ...... I've never personally been to a congregation that was EP. I've heard that there are only 3 in the OPC. So I cannot speak to the practice of EP. All of the congregations I've attended sang hymns such as those found in the Trinity Hymnal. I've heard one complete service by DMLJ in which the service was recorded from beginning to end and includes the hymn singing.
    MLJ's commentaries are peppered with quotations from the great hymns (if you'll allow me that description) of Issac Watts, Charles Wesley, Augustus Toplady, John Newton and others. He loved hymns apparently and in his 50 or so years of ministry he sang them and used them to perform the Great Commission.
    BTW, did you ever get a chance to read that copy of 'Studies In The Sermon On The Mount' by MLJ ? If you did I'm curious as to how you liked it ? If not no matter.
  12. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Senior

    Not yet. I remember I had placed that on my Lord's day book reading list, but something came up: I do not remember what. The first year of grad school was a doozy. And now I have a number of other books that I am working on as various situations have arisen. Hopefully I can get to it soon enough! From the brief perusal of that and his sermons on Ephesians 5:18-20, I do appreciate his clarity, while hesitating on his statements that sound charismatic. I am somewhat thinking about looking at his sermon on marriage, seeing how the Ephesian sermons are so easily accessible in my school library. As an intellectual curiosity, I found it interesting how a number of his illustrations had to do with war.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017
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