Are uninspired worship songs permissible in any circumstances at all, given EP?

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Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
I know I have not posted here in a while, but I have a question which can probably best be answered by those here. I think this might have been answered a while ago, but I honestly cannot remember and just spent some time looking.

Given EP, are uninspired songs permissible in any circumstances at all? Here's my line of thought: If the singing of uninspired worship songs were always an act of worship (private worship, at least), then the RPW would be in force, in which case an uninspired worship song could never be sung.

For example, would it be permissible for a Christian rock band to have a concert with a song that glorified God? Or that would constitute worship, and therefore be a violation of the RPW?

Or as another example, what if a guy was in his car and decided he wanted to sing, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"? Would that constitute worship?

The only solutions, it seems, are to affirm that non-psalm worship songs are universally sinful, which is hard to swallow, or to make a sufficient distinction between corporate and private worship. The latter is usually done by appealing to the RPW with respect to liberty of conscience: ecclesiastical authorities may not bind the consciences of laymen to perform religious actions not authorized by Scripture. In this case, with the ecclesiastical authorities absent in private worship, the RPW would not be in force. But of course the problem with this is that the RPW is never presented as applying only to corporate worship -- the liberty-of-conscience argument is usually placed as an addendum to the argument from the equity of the second commandment. And therefore private and corporate worship cannot be sufficiently separated to allow for the use of uninspired songs anywhere, at all.

I would appreciate hearing your collective wisdom on this, where I might have gone wrong with this reasoning, where this might have already been addressed, etc.
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
hmm given I do not affirm EP, it is funny that I would say that the it seems logical (Just my thoughts here) that those who would advocate EP should be against all uninspiried song given:

1. The argument stems from the sufficiency of Scripture in all aspects of life (WCF1:2; prooftexts LUke 16:29 / eph.:20/Rev. 22:18; and especially 2 tim 3:16which says ''All scriptue is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness....)
2. Instruction for Righteousness, while having a churchly aspect, has a clear implication to going outside the preached word in the Church.
3. If Scripture is really sufficient for all of life, then it is sufficient for outside the church in the christian life.

Am I wrong here?
 

sdesocio

Puritan Board Freshman
Popularly the argument would say that the regulative principle does not restrict song or instrumentation outside of Corp worship, but in practice many ep tend to use them elsewhere frequently and almost exclusively.
 

FCC

Puritan Board Freshman
I would recommend meditating and applying Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:16-17 for starters. These are well known EP supporting Scriptures, but their application is to all of life. They are known as "household rules." This would make them applicable to not only public worship but also to private and daily worship activities.

I know that few will take up the stand that the Psalms are to be the only songs we sing, but my family and I have taken up that stand in our own lives. I can't say it was "hard to swallow," it was instead refreshing and liberating! We now sing the Lord's songs during the days of our pilgrimage! It keeps the Word of God constantly before us, it drives us to meditate continually on God and His amazing grace and it helps to fill our mind with the Word of the Lord at all times. All of these things are encouraging to my heart and spiritual well being.

How can we sing the world's songs when we have been given songs that provide us with wisdom that is from above? Anyway let the battle begin!

:sing:
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
The only prescribed worship songs come from the Psalms of the Bible. An uninspired song has no place during times of worship. If sung at other times it would be proper to consider it recreation or meditation. I think Rev. Winzer has commented thus in other threads.

You might be getting off track in your thinking when you take a view that "all of life is worship". This is true in one sense, but this becomes ludicrous if worship, in this sense of the word, is regulated. For then we would need a positive command for every activity of our life.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
If you're EP then your conviction is psalms only in worship. Outside of worship there is liberty. Of course, just because it's lawful doesn't mean it's expedient. Is it beneficial for a Christian to listen to profanity laced music, even if it's outside of worship? What does common sense tell you?

sent from my most excellent Motorola Atrix.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Some EP-ers are more restrictive in their interpretation of the Scriptural data than others. Some would say it was a sin to compose or sing a post-canonical song, maybe to compose spiritual poetry, maybe to sing a non-Psalmodic Scripture song or a paraphrase of a piece of Scripture (?) Maybe some consider putting a CD of Handel's "Messiah" on, wrong.

There is an area of (more) informal worship somewhere between the fact that "all of life is worship", and formal and corporate worship, where other appropriate songs can supplement the Psalmody without supplanting it - which supplanting of the Psalmody is the case in so many denominations and independent congregations.

I don't think it is to be denied that it is "worship" it is just worship in a different context - we can call it other things than "worship" if we wish. E.g. Temple worship in the Old Covenant was different from the convocations for worship in the various localities around Israel; the agape feast as a form of worship was disconnected from the formal Lord's Supper by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians, yet eating together over holy conversation is a peculiar - if informal - form of worship.

Clearly the commands of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 make the Psalms central and foundational, but they also have to be seen in the background context of the fact that there are other songs in Scripture. There may be a limited and supplemental role for other songs of Scripture, paraphrases and post-canonical songs in certain contexts provided that these are of the requisite quality, orthodoxy, etc.

But these shouldn't be allowed to supplant the Psalms of David as the song book of the Israel of God.
 
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Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
I think that an appropriate question to ask is what purpose would uninspired worship songs serve if not to worship God?
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you all for responding.

I know that few will take up the stand that the Psalms are to be the only songs we sing, but my family and I have taken up that stand in our own lives. I can't say it was "hard to swallow," it was instead refreshing and liberating!
Do you believe it is sinful to sing any song other than a psalm, or just any worshipful non-psalm? I would totally reject the former position, but my question is whether or not the latter position is entailed by EP.

The only prescribed worship songs come from the Psalms of the Bible. An uninspired song has no place during times of worship. If sung at other times it would be proper to consider it recreation or meditation. I think Rev. Winzer has commented thus in other threads.
This is what I'm looking for. (I remember Rev. Winzer discussing meditation a while back, but I cannot remember the thread.) Now, here is my question in relation to this: What is the difference between meditation and worship? Let's say the song in question is "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Would it be okay to sing that in a state of meditation, but not in a state of worship? And if so, does that mean that with a sufficient transition of mind (say, I started focusing on God while singing), the singing becomes sinful?

There is an area of (more) informal worship somewhere between the fact that "all of life is worship", and formal and corporate worship, where other appropriate songs can supplement the Psalmody without supplanting it - which supplanting of the Psalmody is the case in so many denominations and independent congregations.

I don't think it is to be denied that it is "worship" it is just worship in a different context - we can call it other things than "worship" if we wish
This also is very helpful. Richard, would you say that this might be tantamount to the "meditation" that Tim mentioned? What are the boundaries that delimit more formal worship from more informal worship?

It seems too broad to say that there are only two categories, formal worship (when the RPW applies) and worship-as-all-of-life (when the RPW doesn't). In fact, given the biblical doctrine of the Sabbath, there cannot be only two categories -- unless someone is willing to say that the RPW is in force for the entire Sabbath, in which case we'll need a lot of bread and wine to stave off hunger and thirst. :)

But if there are in-between categories of worship, then what is the difference between them? This seems to be the crucial question.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
For the sake of the discussion, I'll just insert some catechism items:

Question 104: What are the duties required in the first commandment?

Answer: The duties required in the first commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly, by thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honoring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of him; believing him; trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in him; being zealous for him; calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please him, and sorrowful when in anything he is offended; and walking humbly with him.

Question 108: What are the duties required in the second commandment?

Answer: The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God has instituted in his Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one's place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.


---------- Post added at 09:01 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:59 PM ----------

...because it seems that now the discussion centers around the question "what is worship". The 1st and 2nd commandments seem fundamental here.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Confessor said:
(I remember Rev. Winzer discussing meditation a while back, but I cannot remember the thread.)
The threads you are probably thinking about.

http://www.puritanboard.com/f124/sorry-but-another-question-about-rpw-39027/

http://www.puritanboard.com/f54/specific-vs-general-worship-sabbath-58564/


Edit: I would think that meditation would need to be explained carefuly, for instance, if a song leads one to worship, is that not worshipping by a means not appointed, much like a cross?
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
I don't think the question is about what constitutes proper worship, so much as what constitutes worship in the sense that the RPW kicks into gear. We can say that a Sunday meeting at 10 AM in a hymn-singing church constitutes worship, in the sense that the RPW is in gear.

I am asking if there are ever times when one can sing uninspired worship songs (e.g., hymns), such that, in the circumstances, the RPW would not be in force.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Think of them as "worship" songs in the sense that people intend to use them in the worship of God. Or, if you want, just use the word "hymn," or "praise song," or something else.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
I appreciate the link, Joshua. Thank you.

Maybe this would get my point across: imagine a song which other people think is fit for corporate Sabbath worship, but you do not. Are there are any circumstances in which that song may be sung?

If such a song is permissible to be sung during "meditation" rather than (individual/private) "worship," then what is the substance of that distinction? For instance, say that I was singing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" while in a state of meditation (whatever that is). Would it become sinful for me to change my mental state from one of "meditation" to one of "worship" -- since, when I change to a state of "worship," at that point the RPW kicks in?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Certainly the stated services of the gathered congregation and the regular family worship shouldn't have post-canonical songs in them, because since these meetings are required by God's Word, God's command to use psalms, psalms and psalms (Eph. 5:19; Col 3:16), would be violated and the consciences of those who don't believe it is right to sing certain of these post-canonical songs or any of these post-canonical songs would be violated.

Otherwise there can be a degree of liberty according to people's consciences informed by God's Word. No-one is obliged to take part in a fireside hymn singing, or go to a Christian concert, and people have freedom to select songs that they believe aren't sinful in the sense of being erroneous or heretical, or "sinful" in having cornball lyrics or being semi-skimmed pap like many modern songs.

But no-one should sing a non-Psalmodic Scripture song, paraphrase or post-canonical song - or a particular one among them - if he believes he is doing wrong (Romans 14).
 
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KevinInReno

Puritan Board Freshman
The other side of the coin:

If you believe you are transfered to Zion in corporate worship

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." - Hebrews 12:22-24

Do you think the Angels are busy singing Chris Tomlin, Rock of Ages, etc?

As for normal day to day life, we aren't in Mount Zion. So the same logic doesn't apply for brothers who make the Zion distinction. For the record Psalmody is only one persuasion of the argument, songs are found elsewhere in the Bible - so Bible Only songs is another argument.

And remember Bible only/Psalm only songs have the benefit of no potential for singing heresy within them.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Well the Psalms were given to Israel.

The Church is the Israel of God now and Gentile believers (and their children) are part of the Commonwealth of Israel:

remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Eph 2:12, ESV)
And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Gal 6:16)
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Heb 8:10)
Therefore the Church, Jews and Gentiles, being Israel, should sing the Psalms.

The typology of the Psalms dating back to the childhood of Israel in the period between Moses and Christ also teaches the mature Israel to become more mature, just as the adult woman can never do without the lessons which she learnt in childhood.

The Psalms should never be supplanted, whatever use or lack of use, we make of non-Psalmodic Scripture songs, paraphrases of Scripture and post-canonical songs.
 
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