Bad arguments against EP.

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Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
I recently read an article that had made an argument (made many times by others) that goes something like this:

"The EP proponents singing metrical Psalms in English are not singing the inspired Psalms, because they are not singing the original Hebrew."

So, I decided to put this in perspective.

"The bible proponents reading The Bible in English are not reading the inspired Bible, because they are not reading the original Hebrew."

Apparently, the logical conclusion is that we don't have the inspired word of God.

I'd like to point out that this is contra confessional:

"VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;aso as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them.bBut because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,ctherefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,d that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner,e and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.f

a. Mat 5:18. • b. Isa 8:20; John 5:39, 46; Acts 15:15. • c. John 5:39. • d. 1 Cor 14:6, 9, 11-12, 24, 27-28. • e. Col 3:16. • f. Rom 15:4."
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
"The EP proponents singing metrical Psalms in English are not singing the inspired Psalms, because they are not singing the original Hebrew."
So the statement should read ""The EP proponents singing metrical Psalms in English are not singing the authentical Psalms, because they are not singing the original Hebrew."?

If you are going to make a confessional argument, you might be better sticking with XXI. 5.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
So the statement should read ""The EP proponents singing metrical Psalms in English are not singing the authentical Psalms, because they are not singing the original Hebrew."?

If you are going to make a confessional argument, you might be better sticking with XXI. 5.

I could use 21.5, but for the specific argument I used 1.8.

The statement still begs the question. What makes the English translation of God's Word not real or unauthentic?
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
These guys think of inspiration as some kind of strata where the autographs (which we don't have) are the most inspired and what we have now is inspired to a high enough degree to call it the Word of God. This is both subconfessional and kind of crushing when you think about it. Do we have 100% of God's Word right now? Are Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic the only languages capable of communicating God's Word?
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
These guys think of inspiration as some kind of strata where the autographs (which we don't have) are the most inspired and what we have now is inspired to a high enough degree to call it the Word of God. This is both subconfessional and kind of crushing when you think about it. Do we have 100% of God's Word right now? Are Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic the only languages capable of communicating God's Word?

It seems to me that this argument is only consistent (not correct though) if the minister reads in Greek and hewbrew to his congregation. Otherwise he is not reading the inspired Word of God.
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
It seems to me that this argument is only consistent (not correct though) if the minister reads in Greek and hewbrew to his congregation. Otherwise he is not reading the inspired Word of God.
If I had to choose between reading the English near-Word of God to my family vs. reading the Greek actual-Word of God, I would be busy in teaching my family Greek.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
To be fair, part of the argument against EP that you presented relates to their being rendered into metrical format. This tends to require a bit of liberty to be taken towards the text, which has caused some to wonder if this liberty has not taken them too far from the original to be considered truly as God's word. I'm not saying I agree, I just want to make sure we are understanding the fullness of the argument.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Having just finished a psalter project now at the press for my local PCA church, I can say that the approach to translation for singing can vary widely. I perhaps naively thought all would be strictly literal. I'm not talking about 1912ish renderings that take a Watts making David sing like a Christian approach where things are left out or simply rewritten. It turns out many including the Genevan take liberties by adding words or as I came to call it, padding the thought out to force the words to the meter or what have you. Even some of the Scottish and derivative renderings will occasionally do far more of this than I was expecting. In fact we replaced a lot of the 1912 selections that had been selected, with new renderings that we aimed for a strict approach and it became apparent how hard it is. But it can be done.
So I ask, can someone read the NIV in public worship and proclaim, hear now the very word of God? If you say yes, then it seems the objection is undone at that point. If you say no, then maybe for that person there is a point to answer.

To be fair, part of the argument against EP that you presented relates to their being rendered into metrical format. This tends to require a bit of liberty to be taken towards the text, which has caused some to wonder if this liberty has not taken them too far from the original to be considered truly as God's word. I'm not saying I agree, I just want to make sure we are understanding the fullness of the argument.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Junior
To be fair, part of the argument against EP that you presented relates to their being rendered into metrical format. This tends to require a bit of liberty to be taken towards the text, which has caused some to wonder if this liberty has not taken them too far from the original to be considered truly as God's word. I'm not saying I agree, I just want to make sure we are understanding the fullness of the argument.
Still, it's always struck me as an odd argument for a couple of reasons:

1. While the Reformed tradition since Calvin has emphasized metrical psalmody, few would argue that chanting, which can be based on prose translations people already trust, is not allowed; it's just less familiar/practical for many congregants. If there is truly not good metrical versions available, chanting can be used in its place. It's common in some Protestant churches (Lutheran and Anglican) and used sometimes in some Reformed churches.

2. There are many good metrical Psalter translations that do not take liberties with the text. While some Psalters are notoriously paraphrasic (e.g., Psalter of 1912), many are generally good. The 1650 Scottish Metrical Version, while it has some weak spots, has many sections nearly identical with the KJV and in some places I would argue improves on its translation. There's even been some work in some modern Psalters such as the Book of Psalms for Singing and Book of Psalms for Worship to put music to words of translations like the ESV and KJV directly.

I think everyone here, EP or not, agrees we should sing the Psalms. I would assert its possible to faithfully sing the Psalms, just as we can faithfully read the Bible in English, which is what I think the OP is getting at.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
The 1650 Scottish Metrical Version, while it has some weak spots, has many sections nearly identical with the KJV and in some places I would argue improves on its translation.
This reminds me of a thought I have often had. It goes like this. Since the Psalms were designed for singing, would it not be a better practice to translate them in a way that makes them conducive to singing?
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
This reminds me of a thought I have often had. It goes like this. Since the Psalms were designed for singing, would it not be a better practice to translate them in a way that makes them conducive to singing?
Isn't that what the 1912 has done? Many of its selections are easily singable, and many appear in the Trinity Hymnal as well. Another very 'singable' Psalter is the Reformed 'Psalter Hymnal'. My family has sung through the 1650, the Psalter Hymnal, the Trinity Hymnal, and we're chewing through the 1912. The Genevan tunes and meters are beyond my musical abilities, except for the several which have remained popular and appeared in other collections.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Having just finished a psalter project now at the press for my local PCA church, I can say that the approach to translation for singing can vary widely. I perhaps naively thought all would be strictly literal. I'm not talking about 1912ish renderings that take a Watts making David sing like a Christian approach where things are left out or simply rewritten. It turns out many including the Genevan take liberties by adding words or as I came to call it, padding the thought out to force the words to the meter or what have you. Even some of the Scottish and derivative renderings will occasionally do far more of this than I was expecting. In fact we replaced a lot of the 1912 selections that had been selected, with new renderings that we aimed for a strict approach and it became apparent how hard it is. But it can be done.
So I ask, can someone read the NIV in public worship and proclaim, hear now the very word of God? If you say yes, then it seems the objection is undone at that point. If you say no, then maybe for that person there is a point to answer.
Can you make your Psalter project available for purchase?


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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Can you make your Psalter project available for purchase?
Actually, I cannot. To get all the permissions for use (we use selections from the Canadian Reformed, both versions of the RPCNA and others) we had to limit the print run to what we could use and not offer for resale. But I may be able to give one away or sell at cost without violating that. In any case we will have a limited printing of around 300-330.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Actually, I cannot. To get all the permissions for use (we use selections from the Canadian Reformed, both versions of the RPCNA and others) we had to limit the print run to what we could use and not offer for resale. But I may be able to give one away or sell at cost without violating that. In any case we will have a limited printing of around 300-330.
Please keep me in mind if you're able to do so! But I understand if not, or if someone else might be able to put a copy to greater use.


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BGF

Puritan Board Sophomore
Actually, I cannot. To get all the permissions for use (we use selections from the Canadian Reformed, both versions of the RPCNA and others) we had to limit the print run to what we could use and not offer for resale. But I may be able to give one away or sell at cost without violating that. In any case we will have a limited printing of around 300-330.
Please keep me in mind if you're able to do so! But I understand if not, or if someone else might be able to put a copy to greater use.
If possible, I'd be interested as well.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
1 Corinthians 14 provides sufficient warrant to translate the Psalms into the common tongue. This is a silly objection to EP, and I say that as a non-EP. The real crux of the debate is what Paul meant by "psalms, hymns, and spirital songs". That is the positive command for the element of singing in the NT and where the difference in practice emerges among those who hold to the RPW.
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
1 Corinthians 14 provides sufficient warrant to translate the Psalms into the common tongue. This is a silly objection to EP, and I say that as a non-EP. The real crux of the debate is what Paul meant by "psalms, hymns, and spirital songs". That is the positive command for the element of singing in the NT and where the difference in practice emerges among those who hold to the RPW.
Interesting! By my reckoning, you should be EP. Or at the very least you should be non-instrumental, Scripture songs only. Not only is there a dearth of evidence that "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" were anything other than compositions inspired by the Holy Spirit, numerous EP authors have made the point that the doctrine of exclusive use of the Psalms in worship is not dependent upon these verses at all. Even if it could be proven that uninspired compositions are intended by Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 (that's a daunting task), you'd have to reason from passages that refer to private and perhaps family worship to get a command for something you want to do in public worship. The RPW doesn't work that way.

Welcome to the family!
 

Parakaleo

Puritan Board Sophomore
A better place (in my opinion) to go to find a positive command for singing as an element of NC worship is, as you have mentioned already, 1 Corinthians 14.

When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm...
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Interesting! By my reckoning, you should be EP. Or at the very least you should be non-instrumental, Scripture songs only. Not only is there a dearth of evidence that "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" were anything other than compositions inspired by the Holy Spirit, numerous EP authors have made the point that the doctrine of exclusive use of the Psalms in worship is not dependent upon these verses at all. Even if it could be proven that uninspired compositions are intended by Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 (that's a daunting task), you'd have to reason from passages that refer to private and perhaps family worship to get a command for something you want to do in public worship. The RPW doesn't work that way.

Welcome to the family!
I don't want to hijack the thread, but just to comment breifly. I'm not EP anymore because I don't think it can be proven conclusively that Paul meant the Book of Psalms by that expression. It certainly is a possible interpretation, but you must rely upon a lot of other extra-biblical assumptions to get to that conclusion. Further, I do not find the whole rhetoric of "inspired" vs. "uninspired" song to be helpful in the discussion but rather distracting from the real issue of what is commanded. Scripture does not talk about the content of song with those categories. "Spiritual" does not mean "inspired". Spiritual songs could easily refers to "spiritual matters" or "spiritual truths" which the Word teaches, and can be expounded and proclaimed via song just as they are via preaching. Regarding instruments, the very definition of the term "psalm" means a song with musical accompaniment, and that is how they were practiced in the temple. That alone I think provides grounds for use of instruments as a negotiable circumstance of worship.
But these have been discussed much in other threads so I will not pursue it further in this thread.

But one thing more related to this thread, is the difficulty I think advocates of EP must reconcile, and that is to acknowledge the fact that certain tunes are commanded as part of particular psalms, and thus part of inspired Scripture (and the "inpsired songbook") and are thus still commanded today, if in fact Paul is commanding the use of the Book of Psalms alone as written. If you have an answer for why those commanded tunes are no longer binding while the rest of the Psalm text continues, I'd be glad to hear it. Certainly the case for translation is clear from 1 Corinthians 14. But what about the case for the continuation of those commanded tunes? And if you argue that they are lost, then why did God not see fit to preserve them along with the rest of the inspired song book? This is not intended to be a "gotcha". I genuinely would like to know how EP brothers deal with that issue. It seems inconsistent to claim the continuation of the text as the inspired songbook, but to leave out the commanded tunes in that text.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
This is not intended to be a "gotcha". I genuinely would like to know how EP brothers deal with that issue. It seems inconsistent to claim the continuation of the text as the inspired songbook, but to leave out the commanded tunes in that text.
There are a number of considerations. Here are a few.

1) This is not distinct to the EP position. All who believe we ought to sing psalms will have to deal with this because the tune has been said to be commanded as part of the psalm.

2) The command is to sing psalms, hymns, and songs, i.e., words and content. There are no tunes singled out, showing that tunes must be circumstances.

3) If God did not preserve them, perhaps the tunes were not inspired. At the very least, if the Lord wished us to use such tunes, they would have needed to be preserved. Their lack of preservation shows they are not part of the perfection of the book of Psalms as used under the NT; even as the lack of preservation of David's instruments are not part of the perfection of the OT Scriptures under the NT; or the lack of preservation of the charismatic utterances (to which certain commands are attached, e.g., seek the best gifts) in the NT are not part of the perfection of the NT after they have passed.

4) Tunes cannot edify, so they must be circumstances of worship; we do not worship God by tunes.

5) As a further observation on 4, tunes are "lifeless things," so their use as an element (if they were used as an element) must have passed away with the OT, just like instruments and incense (which is also commanded as part of the psalms).

6) That the titles are referring to tunes is speculation. The AV does not refer to them as tunes. Some older commentators viewed them as identifying literary units in the Psalms. Because it is speculation, it cannot form a rule of worship for believers.
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Going back to the OP, the important thing to remember is that even if this objection were valid, it would not provide biblical warrant for uninspired hymns under the regulative principle of worship. All it would prove is that exclusive psalmody advocates are inconsistent with their principles, which is not an argument for uninspired hymns.
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
It is the Word that is inspired not the music, that's why the one is to be retained and the other is a circumstance. If the titles are considered the names of tunes, does the fact that some Psalms have no titles, then they cannot be sung? E.g. A Psalm of David. A Prayer of David.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
The answers to the "gotcha" has confirmed my faith in EP. What I find interesting is every question against EP I have seen on the PB has been answered with rock solid logical consistency to the principle.
 
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