Argument against exclusive Psalmody

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CanuckPuritan24

Puritan Board Freshman
Last sunday I was talking with one of the deacons at church about exclusive Psalmody. His view on it was that although the Psalms are rich material they do not take into account the new testament perspective of Christ or our future hope. The Psalms look ahead and in his opinion saw these realities rather dimly at times while many of our classic hymns using new testament perspectives/truths can capture these realities much better. Thus, he advocated a mix of psalms and hymns with the latter being sung more.



Is anyone familiar with this argument? I'd like to hear some responses.

Thanks
 

knight4christ8

Puritan Board Freshman
Well, this argument is far from new. You may take up reading Dabney on the topic. He is very thorough in his treatment of it.

I believe that this argument is seriously deficient in that it fails to remember the eternality of God. Even now, God knew what we needed as an infallible hope, that we might sing in spirit and in truth. The dispensation that is divided by Christ's life, death, and resurrection is no limit to God, who has taken it up to give us already-formulated infallible and timeless content for use in worship.

Christ is not a vague reference in the Psalms, but a living hope that even David was able to cling to. He is the eternal word that caused David, Asaph, the sons of Korah, and others to have hope just as you and I do today. He is present in the Psalms in a very real sense.

Also, the mention of the "future hope" is an interesting one. Most who ascribe to exclusive psalmody, at least that I am aware of, will speak of the imbalance in men's songs as they focus too heavily on "heaven". Yet Christ said that eternal life (i.e. our ever present and increasing hope) is to know God and Christ (i.e. John 16), which we do even now. We ought not to put our hope in something hollow of meaning, and yet this is what is often meant by "heaven". The Psalms see God lifted up before the nations as the Holy One and speak of his truth being obeyed in honor in this life. This is the hope of the exclusive psalmodist. That the very petitions we present in the Lord's prayer would come to be true (i.e. that God's name would be hallowed, that his kingdom would come, and that his law would be obeyed) and that God's church would conquer its enemies through understanding truth. When the Psalms are sung with understanding, they are an antidote from the imbalanced view of fallen man and his lapse toward meaningless worship.
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
I could only add to the excellent comments posted by Mr. Goodrich by saying that we sing the Psalms in the light of New Testament revelation--which is to say that we see Christ there presented--His life, death, resurrection, and present session more fully in those revealed and inspired songs than the Old Testament saints did. This is not to disparage their understanding, but only to show "the glory which excelleth" of the New Testament, as it reveals and sheds greater light upon the Psalms, and for that matter, the rest of the OT.

When I hear this objection presented, I refer the objector to an older commentary on the Psalms, and there are many, which show how the Psalter points to Christ. David Dickson, Bp. George Horne, William Plummer, and even Keil and Delitzsch refer their readers time and again to Christ, in His suffering, death, obedience, intercession, resurrection, yea, His whole work of redemption on behalf of His own, and also His fierce wrath upon His enemies, which no uninspired hymn-writer has yet properly to show.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
EP in my view is legalistic and fails to come to grips with incarnational Theology.But as an Anglican I am thankful it is not something I have to worry about.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
EP in my view is legalistic and fails to come to grips with incarnational Theology.But as an Anglican I am thankful it is not something I have to worry about.
If EP is required by the law of God, then EP is not "legalism" -- hymn-singing would be antinomian. And I wasn't aware of any connection in Scripture between "incarnational theology" and the singing of uninspired, non-canonical hymns. If you could demonstrate such a connection, it would be appreciated.

And if you think this has no relevancy to Anglicanism, you ought to read "An Essay on Psalmody," by William Romaine (a life-long Anglican).
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
EP in my view is legalistic and fails to come to grips with incarnational Theology.But as an Anglican I am thankful it is not something I have to worry about.
It would be prudent of you to define what you mean by "legalistic" as not to overly offend anyone here.

Some of the Reformed on the board takes this epithet as the greatest of insults as it denies Christ's perfect complete sacrificial atonement and continual intercession for his redeemed.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
It would be prudent of you to define what you mean by "legalistic" as not to overly offend anyone here.

Some of the Reformed on the board takes this epithet as the greatest of insults as it denies Christ's perfect complete sacrificial atonement and continual intercession for his redeemed.
Perfect! You just gave a nice borderline "fundie" definition of legalism.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
{Mod on}

Let's keep the discussion on-track with the original issue, and not let it slip into a debate on whether or not EP is "legalistic," and what different people mean by that term.

{/Mod off}
 

Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
Oh Man........

Good thing I looked before posting....... :rofl: I was about to type my "Pharisee" clause to the Non-Eppers to counter their Legalism Clause to us Eppers........ :p

I will refrain....... :handshake:


{Mod on}

Let's keep the discussion on-track with the original issue, and not let it slip into a debate on whether or not EP is "legalistic," and what different people mean by that term.

{/Mod off}
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm non-EP too, but I don't think I would give an answer like which the deacon gave. I would say the same thing, but I would insist on saying it differently. I would labour to avoid the track that the deacon seemed to be on, as if arguing directly against EP as if they were singing the OT Psalms. Todd rightly points out that when EPers sing the Psalms, they're singing the Psalms in light of the NT revelation, and that they fully know that there is no going back on the revelation of the mystery of faith revealed in Christ. In other words, I would not argue like that because I think he has the "either/or" in the wrong place.

I do think, though, that the remark about legalism is not really off the track of this discussion. I am a bit inclined to say that the question itself is a bit baiting in that direction. But at the same time, it is not helpful to go there.

I can well understand the deacon's response. Maybe its Josiah's rendition of what the deacon said, and maybe not. I know what's behind that kind of response, and I think it suffers from being engineered too much by the polemical atmosphere than by sound grounding. What he says is right; how he says it is too geared to the present debate, and is not very helpful.

Just my two cents.
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Greetings:

I read everywhere in the New Testament that we should be singing Psalms. I do not read anywhere in the New Testament that we should be singing uninspired songs.

Grace and Peace,

-CH
 

CanuckPuritan24

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you very much for your replies. If any of you could recommend a website or book which might go further into this issue in general and my earlier question specefically; that would be great.

Thanks.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
As I began to study the issue more, in light of the Regulative Principle of Worship, I realized that it is not about what I think is best. The question is: what has God authorized? That's why I don't think that issues such as these are even helpful; they rely on the opinions of men, what they think will please God. It's somewhat of a red herring, a non issue. We are certainly in no position to degrade the value of God's hymnal if it is what He has prescribed for use in worship. If God commands us to cluck like chickens in worship, then we must do that even if we don't immediately see why. Even though I'm convinced of Exclusive Psalmody because of the issue of authorization, I am learning more and more about the superiority and sufficiency of the Psalter daily. In discussions I prefer to begin with the former and move to the latter, showing after the foundation of authorization has been laid that objections raised about superiority and sufficiency are invalid.
 

sotzo

Puritan Board Sophomore
This topic is oft-discussed on PB with little to no resolution or understanding from either side...are there any representatives from either side that would be willing to debate the resolution below in the new, bright and shiny debate forum?

Here is the resolution I would propose:
"Exclusive Psalmody is the clear teaching of Scripture such that those who do not practice it are sinning."

Any other proposed resolutions from the crowd?

peace
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
A debate is in the works; but life intervenes and I'll get back on getting it going when I can. If we do this we do want to "do it right."

This topic is oft-discussed on PB with little to no resolution or understanding from either side...are there any representatives from either side that would be willing to debate the resolution below in the new, bright and shiny debate forum?

Here is the resolution I would propose:
"Exclusive Psalmody is the clear teaching of Scripture such that those who do not practice it are sinning."

Any other proposed resolutions from the crowd?

peace
 

Nse007

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm non-EP too, but I don't think I would give an answer like which the deacon gave. I would say the same thing, but I would insist on saying it differently. I would labour to avoid the track that the deacon seemed to be on, as if arguing directly against EP as if they were singing the OT Psalms. Todd rightly points out that when EPers sing the Psalms, they're singing the Psalms in light of the NT revelation, and that they fully know that there is no going back on the revelation of the mystery of faith revealed in Christ. In other words, I would not argue like that because I think he has the "either/or" in the wrong place.

I do think, though, that the remark about legalism is not really off the track of this discussion. I am a bit inclined to say that the question itself is a bit baiting in that direction. But at the same time, it is not helpful to go there.

I can well understand the deacon's response. Maybe its Josiah's rendition of what the deacon said, and maybe not. I know what's behind that kind of response, and I think it suffers from being engineered too much by the polemical atmosphere than by sound grounding. What he says is right; how he says it is too geared to the present debate, and is not very helpful.

Just my two cents.
Dear John V,

You offer no insight into what your argument against exclusive psalmody is. If it is borderline legalism, then explain how it is so.

As far as a new debate on EP vs. non EP please review the regulative principal of worship. There are tons of threads about that on the board.
 
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JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Dear John V,

You offer no insight into what your argument against exclusive psalmody is? If it is borderline legalism, then explain how it is so.

As far as a new debate on EP vs. non EP please review the regulative principal of worship. There are tons of threads about that on the board.
The OP was a question about a certain argument, and I spoke to that.

I spoke also to Max's inclusion of the word "legalistic".

I made no statements either for or against EP itself. I did not intend to.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
As I began to study the issue more, in light of the Regulative Principle of Worship, I realized that it is not about what I think is best. The question is: what has God authorized? That's why I don't think that issues such as these are even helpful; they rely on the opinions of men, what they think will please God. It's somewhat of a red herring, a non issue. We are certainly in no position to degrade the value of God's hymnal if it is what He has prescribed for use in worship. If God commands us to cluck like chickens in worship, then we must do that even if we don't immediately see why. Even though I'm convinced of Exclusive Psalmody because of the issue of authorization, I am learning more and more about the superiority and sufficiency of the Psalter daily. In discussions I prefer to begin with the former and move to the latter, showing after the foundation of authorization has been laid that objections raised about superiority and sufficiency are invalid.
:agree: , except for the underlined portion... ;)

Seriously though, I think you hit the nail on the head in that the EP debate comes down exclusively to what God has commanded. Our thoughts, no matter how well meaning, do not bear upon the matter if God has already addressed it.

Hence if God has commanded EP, than arguments regarding not using the name of Christ in worship, being overly focused on the OT etc etc are all irrelevant.

On the other hand, if God has not commanded EP, than arguments regarding the superiority of the psalms to man-made hymns or songs are equally irrelevant.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
:agree: , except for the underlined portion... ;)

Seriously though, I think you hit the nail on the head in that the EP debate comes down exclusively to what God has commanded. Our thoughts, no matter how well meaning, do not bear upon the matter if God has already addressed it.

Hence if God has commanded EP, than arguments regarding not using the name of Christ in worship, being overly focused on the OT etc etc are all irrelevant.

On the other hand, if God has not commanded EP, than arguments regarding the superiority of the psalms to man-made hymns or songs are equally irrelevant.
:agree: :D :handshake:

All except the underlined portion. ;) I agree with it but would go further. If God has not commanded EP, we still have to show that he has commanded us to write our own songs. If he has done neither, then we're in some real trouble! :lol:
 

elnwood

Puritan Board Junior
:agree: :D :handshake:

All except the underlined portion. ;) I agree with it but would go further. If God has not commanded EP, we still have to show that he has commanded us to write our own songs. If he has done neither, then we're in some real trouble! :lol:
I would argue that the bible does in fact command neither. Correct me if I am wrong, but the EPer does not argue that the Scripture specifically commands "sing only Psalms," but says that the Scripture says to sing Psalms, and that the absence of commands to sing anything else, per the RPW, constitutes a restriction.

In order to prove his case, an EPer needs to show:
1) That "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" must mean the 150 Psalms of the Psalter exclusively, and cannot be inclusive of any other songs, in Scripture or otherwise.
2) That, in absence of a specific command regarding worship in the New Testament, it is sin to include anything as an element of worship (RPW).

Failing either of these destroys the EP argument.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
I would argue that the bible does in fact command neither. Correct me if I am wrong, but the EPer does not argue that the Scripture specifically commands "sing only Psalms," but says that the Scripture says to sing Psalms, and that the absence of commands to sing anything else, per the RPW, constitutes a restriction.

In order to prove his case, an EPer needs to show:
1) That "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" must mean the 150 Psalms of the Psalter exclusively, and cannot be inclusive of any other songs, in Scripture or otherwise.
2) That, in absence of a specific command regarding worship in the New Testament, it is sin to include anything as an element of worship (RPW).

Failing either of these destroys the EP argument.
:agree::agree::agree:
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Here's an interesting follow-up, though. Why are people who outright reject the RPW even allowed on the board if they aren't interested in reforming? Isn't a desire to move toward greater confessionalism a requirement for membership?
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
Here's an interesting follow-up, though. Why are people who outright reject the RPW even allowed on the board if they aren't interested in reforming? Isn't a desire to move toward greater confessionalism a requirement for membership?
Censorship.........commrade David? If I happen to be a Christian who disagrees (strongly) on the subject of EP I should be out on my ear? Shame.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Mr. Pell, I was not even educated on the RPW and was questioning all of the Messianic teachings I had had...actually struggling with it to out and out debate. It wasn't that I wasn't willing to reform...but without understanding, I literally had to be convinced, ie., convince me or I will continue to stand where I do.

I'm EP, btw ;) After having been raised a hymn-singing baptist.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
Mr. Pell, I was not even educated on the RPW and was questioning all of the Messianic teachings I had had...actually struggling with it to out and out debate. It wasn't that I wasn't willing to reform...but without understanding, I literally had to be convinced, ie., convince me or I will continue to stand where I do.

I'm EP, btw ;) After having been raised a hymn-singing baptist.
Good point. It is like a courtroom David, if you could convince me beyond a shadow of a doubt that EP is a NT COMMAND I will embrace it, otherwise it is fair game in tearms of debate.:2cents:
 

Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
Hmmmmm,

I am a Psalm Singing Presbyterial Reformed Baptist.....

After of course being raised a Hymn Singing (Which are really only 19th century gospel songs), 4 point Arminian, Dispensational, Fundamentalist, Independent, Antinomian Baptist....

:smug::smug::smug::smug::smug:
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
:agree: :D :handshake:

All except the underlined portion. ;) I agree with it but would go further. If God has not commanded EP, we still have to show that he has commanded us to write our own songs. If he has done neither, then we're in some real trouble! :lol:
That's fair enough.

I would respond, of course, that in the absence of a command to sing only the psalms, writing our own songs is implied by the command to sing, in the same way that making up our own prayers or sermons is implied.

And yes, I am aware this has been addressed previously on other threads.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
That's fair enough.

I would respond, of course, that in the absence of a command to sing only the psalms, writing our own songs is implied by the command to sing, in the same way that making up our own prayers or sermons is implied.

And yes, I am aware this has been addressed previously on other threads.
Gotta agree. Burden here is on the pro-EP folk. By the way if you are EP this is not "personal" debate is a way to learn and sharpen our minds...........one of you good EP types might throw out a defense so solid that I accept EP. I used to be Dispensational....I admited that position was wrong and took up covenantal theology. What I am saying is I am not too proud to admit I am wrong I have done it before. It just has not happened in the EP realm yet. Grace and Peace.
 
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