EP and Burden of Proof

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NaphtaliPress

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John,
Begging the question? You mean like presuming the Divines could not possibly mean “X” because of their teaching on “Y”?;) I can certainly understand how lonely you feel on this matter.

It seems to me you want to run everything in the Standards through WCF chapter 1, assigning the Divines some level of perfection in upholding that chapter throughout their own work, rather then letting the documents speak for themselves and judging them according to Scripture. Ok. Which is worse? Saying the Divines prescribed a worship practice you won’t presume due to their “integrity” they should be interpreted as laying on the churches, because it lacks clear Scriptural warrant, or prescribing a doctrine to be believed, like that the Pope is that Antichrist, that man of sin? Now, that is pretty clear; but many do not see Scriptural warrant for that teaching. Do you? If you do not, then will you say that the Divines went beyond Scripture at that point? Or will you insist on interpreting this in a way that suits your measure of what is and is not in keeping with the integrity of the Westminster Standards?
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
The cheerleading is getting a bit old.
Why? I only want to encourage a mature and thoughtful brother in examining a "doctrine" that I have found to be presumptuous and outside the mandate of Scripture.

I just don't want him to lose steam!

Why should you care? Unless you feel he is presenting a heretical, unScriptural or illogical counter-argument?

Peace, my brother.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Why should you care? Unless you feel he is presenting a heretical, unScriptural or illogical counter-argument?
Well, I do think he's presenting an illogical counter-argument but I mostly care because it's annoying to see :ditto: :agree: "go team go!" after almost every one of his posts in the thread (and others). Nothing personal, JD. I know you mean well. I'd be bothered by it if someone were doing it to Sean or Rev. Winzer, as well.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Well, I do think he's presenting an illogical counter-argument but I mostly care because it's annoying to see :ditto: :agree: "go team go!" after almost every one of his posts in the thread (and others). Nothing personal, JD. I know you mean well. I'd be bothered by it if someone were doing it to Sean or Rev. Winzer, as well.
Ah, well - I'll pray for you to receive an extra measure of patience...:pray2:
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
JohnV said:
The position that I see you proposing is:

- the majority, and perhaps even a great majority, were of a certain opinion, and

- therefore that opinion is the default or the de facto position of the Church, even though that position is not explicitly stated, and

- therefore that position is authoritative, and

- therefore it is what the Bible teaches,

If this misrepresents your position at all, please set me right about it.
Then consider this a "setting right." :)

John, it is two separate questions, whether Scripture teaches something, and whether the Confession teaches something. I do not consider anything to be true because the Confession says it. The Confession derives its subordinate authority from the Word of God, which is of supreme authority. Doctrines or practices are true because Scripture says so. If the Confession says the same, the Confession is true as well.

I believe that the Confession accurately sets forth the teaching of Scripture, not because it is in the Confession, but because it is in Scripture. If you were able to convince me that the Confession allows for the singing of songs other than the Psalms, or relegates the issue of exclusive psalmody to "liberty of conscience," you would simultaneously persuade me that the Confession is wrong on that point; because I am persuaded that exclusive psalmody is mandated by Scripture (regardless of whether or not that teaching is contained in the Confession).

John, the Confession and Catechisms were not created in a vacuum. They were drawn up by men, and adopted by a national church, that used only the Psalter in worship. How does that not determine the meaning of the phrase "singing of psalms with grace in the heart"?

Let me use an illustration. Suppose I draw up a brief confession of my faith, affirming my belief in "the Calvinistic doctrine of limited atonement." But 360 years from now, after more and more heresies have crept in, men argue in presbyteries and synods (and on Internet forums!) as to how my words should be interpreted. Should they interpret them to mean that the efficacy of Christ's death is limited, or the sufficiency? Should they not turn to the writings of this period, now, to see how we understand this phrase, and see how I personally use this phrase; rather than take their (perhaps heretical) understanding of what Scripture teaches, and force such an interpretation upon my words?
JohnV said:
In the meantime, I'll state my position in like manner:

The Bible teaches a particular proposition, and

- therefore the Church may authoritatively state it, and

- therefore the individual members of the Church must adhere to it, and

- therefore the writings of even the holiest and most highly regarded of the men of the Church must be judged by it, and

- therefore the only authority for determining what God requires is the Word of God only, with all other authority subservient to it, and

- this is what the confessional standards of the Church also assert and reflect.

- therefore, to require EP as necessary for worship must demonstrate express, clear, and plain (words that the WCF uses) revelation of the Bible; any other source is not sufficient as authority to require it.
Hmmm... all good, except for the last part. Your line, "therefore, to require EP as necessary for worship must demonstrate express, clear, and plain (words that the WCF uses) revelation of the Bible; any other source is not sufficient as authority to require it," is rather misleading.

How does WCF use these words?
The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I. Of the Holy Scripture.
VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either EXPRESSLY set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture...
VII. All things in Scripture are not alike PLAIN in themselves, nor alike CLEAR unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so CLEARLY propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more CLEARLY.
In other words, I don't believe that it is necessary that a teaching of Scripture must be, as you say, "express, clear, and plain," in order to be believed or practiced. We may use "good and necessary consequence" in contrast to the "express" teaching of Scripture, which Scripture consequences are just as binding. Those things necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are here said to be "clear," whereas other things taught in Scripture may not necessarily be "plain" in themselves, or "clear" unto all -- and I would not class exclusive psalmody as necessary to salvation. So, no. If exclusive psalmody can be deduced from Scripture (regardless of whether or not it gives the express statement, "Thou shalt sing only the songs contained in the Book of Psalms in public worship"), then it is just as binding on us as if it gave such a statement -- similar to the fact that we deduce the doctrine of infant baptism from Scripture, although there is no express declaration that we should baptize our infant children.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
John,
Begging the question? You mean like presuming the Divines could not possibly mean “X” because of their teaching on “Y”?;)


Chris, I was referring to this statement you made:

"...it is folks who insist the plain sense, taking all their work as a whole, which was of equal authority in their day, is not the true sense, which causes one to move to more sources."

You are making a judgment or a conclusion to prove your premise, the same judgment or conclusion which that premise is supposed to be a grounds for. You are saying X, therefore Y; Y is true, therefore X is true; when it is the truth of Y that we are trying to find.


I can certainly understand how lonely you feel on this matter.
I've been in worse spots. But, no, I don't feel alone.

It seems to me you want to run everything in the Standards through WCF chapter 1, assigning the Divines some level of perfection in upholding that chapter throughout their own work, rather then letting the documents speak for themselves and judging them according to Scripture. Ok. Which is worse? Saying the Divines prescribed a worship practice you won’t presume due to their “integrity” they should be interpreted as laying on the churches, because it lacks clear Scriptural warrant, or prescribing a doctrine to be believed, like that the Pope is that Antichrist, that man of sin? Now, that is pretty clear; but many do not see Scriptural warrant for that teaching. Do you? If you do not, then will you say that the Divines went beyond Scripture at that point? Or will you insist on interpreting this in a way that suits your measure of what is and is not in keeping with the integrity of the Westminster Standards?
There is none of my own measures in this, as far as I can tell. I'm only saying in a more thorough way what I was taught already in catechism when I was young. This is not a new or novel teaching on the church standards. It may be new to you, but it is by far and away not new.

I'm not sure what to make of your "which is better" question. But I am advocating that everything should be run through not only chapter I, but also should be seen for its internal consistency. Chapter XX, for example, should not contradict chapter I or IXX, nor should chapter XXI contradict the Catechism's teachings, together or separate, on the same matters. It is within context of each other, as that they reflect the Bible's teaching, that we determine their meaning and application, discerning the general equity of them in compliance with the Word of God. It is that the Bible's teachings, which the Standards represent, are perfectly consistent and internally coherent that makes the Standards are also internally coherent. And it sticking to them that makes my argument internally coherent, not because I'm any better than any one else. Any one can put forward this argument, just by grasping the articles of faith that the Church has adopted.

The Westminster Confession is internally coherent, not because the men of Westminster were so great, but because they were faithful to stick to the Bible alone as their source for authority. And I believe they also sought the illumination of the Spirit, so that nothing at all would be added that was not first revealed in the Word.

(I'm going to evade the Pope part of the question. That's another discussion, I think.)
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks Sean. This helps a great deal. We're not that far apart now. Let me go into it, point for point, and maybe we'll get closer yet.

Then consider this a "setting right." :)

John, it is two separate questions, whether Scripture teaches something, and whether the Confession teaches something. I do not consider anything to be true because the Confession says it. The Confession derives its subordinate authority from the Word of God, which is of supreme authority. Doctrines or practices are true because Scripture says so. If the Confession says the same, the Confession is true as well.
We're agreed on this point.

I believe that the Confession accurately sets forth the teaching of Scripture, not because it is in the Confession, but because it is in Scripture. If you were able to convince me that the Confession allows for the singing of songs other than the Psalms, or relegates the issue of exclusive psalmody to "liberty of conscience," you would simultaneously persuade me that the Confession is wrong on that point; because I am persuaded that exclusive psalmody is mandated by Scripture (regardless of whether or not that teaching is contained in the Confession).
That would be consistent with your precommitment. I agree that this is what you would initially think. I think that you would agree that we should go on from there to see whether our precommitments are true precommitments, and not try to place these over the Scriptures on our own.

Just as you would have me rethink what I am persuaded of, so you ought to also require this of yourself. That's what I expect of myself in discussions like this. If I expect to change someone's mind, I have to be twice as ready to have mine changed. It is the truth that we are after together. And none of us is without need of correcting or further education.

John, the Confession and Catechisms were not created in a vacuum. They were drawn up by men, and adopted by a national church, that used only the Psalter in worship. How does that not determine the meaning of the phrase "singing of psalms with grace in the heart"?
I'm saying that this betrays a contrary notion to what you said before. But let me go on to show this to you from the next part...;

Let me use an illustration. Suppose I draw up a brief confession of my faith, affirming my belief in "the Calvinistic doctrine of limited atonement." But 360 years from now, after more and more heresies have crept in, men argue in presbyteries and synods (and on Internet forums!) as to how my words should be interpreted. Should they interpret them to mean that the efficacy of Christ's death is limited, or the sufficiency? Should they not turn to the writings of this period, now, to see how we understand this phrase, and see how I personally use this phrase; rather than take their (perhaps heretical) understanding of what Scripture teaches, and force such an interpretation upon my words?
If the intent was to determine what Sean meant, then yes they would certainly be interested in everything else you wrote. But why would synods be interested in that? Why is what you or I wrote deemed at all normative or necessary? Would they not turn to the Bible for more illumination rather than your or my other writings?

They might be interested in how we believed if they wanted to show to others that people in our time also understood the Bible the same way as they propose. It would add to the argument "the Church has always believed it this way", but it would not prove that argument. Our writings would show that we agree with the Church's confessional standard, or maybe not, but that would be all it would yield for them. It would be of interest as a historical note, but that's all. They would not turn to our writings for authority on doctrine. At least I hope they wouldn't. I shudder at the thought, every bit as much as Calvin shuddered at it. (Well, maybe it scared Calvin more)
Hmmm... all good, except for the last part. Your line, "therefore, to require EP as necessary for worship must demonstrate express, clear, and plain (words that the WCF uses) revelation of the Bible; any other source is not sufficient as authority to require it," is rather misleading.

How does WCF use these words?

In other words, I don't believe that it is necessary that a teaching of Scripture must be, as you say, "express, clear, and plain," in order to be believed or practiced. We may use "good and necessary consequence" in contrast to the "express" teaching of Scripture, which Scripture consequences are just as binding. Those things necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are here said to be "clear," whereas other things taught in Scripture may not necessarily be "plain" in themselves, or "clear" unto all -- and I would not class exclusive psalmody as necessary to salvation. So, no. If exclusive psalmody can be deduced from Scripture (regardless of whether or not it gives the express statement, "Thou shalt sing only the songs contained in the Book of Psalms in public worship"), then it is just as binding on us as if it gave such a statement -- similar to the fact that we deduce the doctrine of infant baptism from Scripture, although there is no express declaration that we should baptize our infant children.
Sorry, the quote from the Confession with your emphasized words didn't come through.

I believe that when you read these articles you will find that it does not point to using means of interpretation in contrast to each other, but that the less clear must be subservient to the more clear. There are things that are clear; things that are less clear, but can be cleared up through the more clear; things that are not clear, but can be cleared up by necessary inference; and things that are less clear that cannot be cleared up by more clear passages. This is the order. The last one cannot be normative to the first, but must fall under those preceding it. The weight of normativity is in the order given, not in reverse order for any two of the groups. What is left out altogether is the writings of men, (BC says, "however holy these men may have been"), traditions, antiquity, councils, majority opinon, decrees and statutes, and history. Though derived at by the general equity of the Word, they are from the light of nature and Christian prudence at best. These are good, helpful, and blessed by God in their places, but are not authoritative in determining doctrine or the teaching of the Word of God.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
John, I'm not sure I understand what the problem is here.

Men wrote the Confession. The Church of Scotland adopted the Confession. These men, and that church, practiced exclusive psalmody. How does this not determine how they would have understood the phrase "singing of psalms with grace in the heart," appearing in the Confession, 21.5? My illustration was meant to show this to you; and you missed it entirely. We are spending a great deal of energy arguing over the meaning of the Confession of Faith, which is not the Word of God. I likened this situation to men 360 years from now attempting to understand the meaning of my words, which are not the Word of God. I was not meaning that these later presbyteries, synods, etc. would understand my words to be the Word of God, or on a par with Scripture; I imagined them doing as we are now doing, attempting to determine the meaning of Confessional language.

As I said before, there are two separate questions here: what the Confession teaches, and what Scripture teaches. As I said before, while the determination of the first question is interesting, the determination of the second question is important. If Scripture teaches exclusive psalmody, but the Confession does not, the Confession should be changed to be in accord with Scripture. If Scripture does not teach exclusive psalmody, but the Confession does, the Confession should be changed to be in accord with Scripture.

Your statement, "I believe that when you read these articles you will find that it does not point to using means of interpretation in contrast to each other, but that the less clear must be subservient to the more clear," is again misleading. That is the teaching of the ninth article, not the sixth and seventh articles. And in your breakdown of the "order", (1.) I question the applicability of your "order," beyond addressing points which you believe fall into the last category. (2.) I do not believe that the sixth paragraph or article of that chapter warrants placing "express" statements of Scripture in a higher "order" than doctrines deduced by "good and necessary consequence." (3.) Since this "order" is not set forth in the Confession, I cannot see why you are arguing based upon this "order." Apparently, because it is not found in the express teaching of the Confession, it falls under "liberty of conscience"; so I am not bound to recognize it. :D
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I don't think I missed it, Sean. What you're saying, in effect, is that "RPW => EP" because the Church of Scotland practiced EP, and that's good enough authority for us.

You're saying that the Church of Scotland must have understood the Confessions to be saying that EP is required of all churches because the Bible requires it. That's how they understood it, so that is authoritative for determining what the WCF actually says, and for what the Bible actually says.

You're saying that we don't have to look for internal consistency in the Confessions, but that Chapter I, for example, is quite separate from Chapter XXI: we do not have to understand Chapter XXI in light of Chapter I.
I don't think I missed that.

You're saying that church councils can take precedence over Scripture's limitations, by decreeing as doctrinal what the Scriptures do not require.

You're saying that the limitation which the RPW enforces may be broken by the RPW, by commanding what the Bible does not command.

You're saying that some commandments which are determined by the light of nature and Christian prudence, for worship and governance, may be taken as direct commands of Scripture, even though the Bible does not command them, nor are derived at by good and necessary consequence, but instead by the understandings of men.

I believe I answered that specifically, in stating how I believe the Confessions state the order of authority. I think this order is self-evident, and forced by good and necessary consequence. But maybe if I expand on it a bit, it may be clearer that this was what I addressed.

Because of the unity of truth, therefore in matters of doctrine:
- what is plain may not be violated;
- what is less plain is open to explanation only by what may not be violated;
- what cannot be explained may only be understood to the best of our ability without violating the plain, the clear, the express texts.
- what is in the Bible can only be cleared by the Bible, because there is no higher authority;
- what is in the Bible cannot be cleared up by external sources, not the writings of men, however holy they may be, nor church councils, nor tradition, nor by historical evidence or example.

This pertains to matters of doctrine, the thing that the Standards deal with. The light of nature is given its place in matters of governance, circumstance, prudence, and conscience, matters beside that of doctrine. None of these may violate or be normative to doctrinal matters beyond appeal to the plain meaning of words in the vulgar languages of the people. This means that the teachings of the Bible for what is necessary for the glory of God, the salvation of man, faith and life, are simple enough so that they are ordinarily understood by the learned and unlearned alike.

So the order of importance in determining doctrine is stated clearly enough in the WCF. Let me put it another way, if it helps:

- Councils of the church are subject to correction, if it can be shown they are in error, by appeal to the secondary standards (the Orders and Forms), or by appeal to the Confessions, or by appeal to the Word of God.

- The secondary standards may be corrected by appeal to the Confessions, and by appeal to the Word of God.

- The Confessions may be corrected only on appeal to the Word of God.

- The Word of God can only be correctly understood by appeal to the Word of God.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I acknowledge, however, that members of the RPCNA are subject, to a degree, to the rulings of the Church of Scotland. They should not violate their oaths. And I would not be party to people violating their oaths. EP is what they believe, and I respect that.

This does not mean that therefore EP is true for some and not for others. It only means that EP is a commendable policy and practice in some places and circumstances, while not necessarily in all places and circumstances. The best that can be said is that the Church of Scotland ruled a practice of EP, and that they understood the WCF in that way. By denying that it is a doctrinal requirement I do not violate or recommend a violation of vows of submission to the Church of Scotland.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Rom. 15:5, 6. -- "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't think I missed it, Sean. What you're saying, in effect, is that "RPW => EP" because the Church of Scotland practiced EP, and that's good enough authority for us.

You're saying that the Church of Scotland must have understood the Confessions to be saying that EP is required of all churches because the Bible requires it. That's how they understood it, so that is authoritative for determining what the WCF actually says, and for what the Bible actually says.

You're saying that we don't have to look for internal consistency in the Confessions, but that Chapter I, for example, is quite separate from Chapter XXI: we do not have to understand Chapter XXI in light of Chapter I.
I don't think I missed that.

You're saying that church councils can take precedence over Scripture's limitations, by decreeing as doctrinal what the Scriptures do not require.

You're saying that the limitation which the RPW enforces may be broken by the RPW, by commanding what the Bible does not command.

You're saying that some commandments which are determined by the light of nature and Christian prudence, for worship and governance, may be taken as direct commands of Scripture, even though the Bible does not command them, nor are derived at by good and necessary consequence, but instead by the understandings of men.

I believe I answered that specifically, in stating how I believe the Confessions state the order of authority. I think this order is self-evident, and forced by good and necessary consequence. But maybe if I expand on it a bit, it may be clearer that this was what I addressed.

Because of the unity of truth, therefore in matters of doctrine:
- what is plain may not be violated;
- what is less plain is open to explanation only by what may not be violated;
- what cannot be explained may only be understood to the best of our ability without violating the plain, the clear, the express texts.
- what is in the Bible can only be cleared by the Bible, because there is no higher authority;
- what is in the Bible cannot be cleared up by external sources, not the writings of men, however holy they may be, nor church councils, nor tradition, nor by historical evidence or example.

This pertains to matters of doctrine, the thing that the Standards deal with. The light of nature is given its place in matters of governance, circumstance, prudence, and conscience, matters beside that of doctrine. None of these may violate or be normative to doctrinal matters beyond appeal to the plain meaning of words in the vulgar languages of the people. This means that the teachings of the Bible for what is necessary for the glory of God, the salvation of man, faith and life, are simple enough so that they are ordinarily understood by the learned and unlearned alike.

So the order of importance in determining doctrine is stated clearly enough in the WCF. Let me put it another way, if it helps:

- Councils of the church are subject to correction, if it can be shown they are in error, by appeal to the secondary standards (the Orders and Forms), or by appeal to the Confessions, or by appeal to the Word of God.

- The secondary standards may be corrected by appeal to the Confessions, and by appeal to the Word of God.

- The Confessions may be corrected only on appeal to the Word of God.

- The Word of God can only be correctly understood by appeal to the Word of God.
John,

I don't know how many times I can say this. I get the feeling that you are either deliberately misrepresenting me, not reading what I am saying, or not understanding what I am saying -- and I believe I am being quite clear.

I do not regard our doctrinal standards as having greater or equal authority to the Holy Scriptures. I believe that the Confession of Faith, the decisions of synods and councils, the opinions of men, etc. must all be corrected by the Word of God.

As I have understood it, there are two questions being examined here:

1. Does the Westminster Confession of Faith set forth exclusive psalmody?
2. Do the Scriptures set forth exclusive psalmody?

I answer "yes" to both of these. But that does not affect my understanding of confessional authority, and its subordination to Scripture. No council, church, confession, man or men, can decree beyond what Scripture has said. If Scripture does not teach exclusive psalmody, it is SIN on our part to require it.

I really do not see why we are addressing the question of confessional authority, in the first place. Scripture can require something not mentioned in Westminster, and we would still be bound by it (whether or not you voluntarily bind yourself to Westminster). And if Westminster requires something not required in Scripture, it is your duty to follow Scripture. The real question with regard to exclusive psalmody is, Does Scripture require it? As an "introductory" examination of that question, I introduced a syllogism which still has not been dealt with. I believe that we are getting rather off-topic in our examination of this other question (confessional authority). Let us examine this question (whether Scripture requires it), if that is okay with you. :2cents:
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Slight Mod hat on: We should strive to think nothing sinister is at play David; that would be evil surmising. We all get carried along by our views, particularly when we think they are of the utmost importance. At the same time, speaking as a participant, I think this thread is unprofitable, and those posts I have written, not yet posted, will die in my draft basket. Others feel free to carry on; that's my :2cents:.

John,

I don't know how many times I can say this. I get the feeling that you are either deliberately misrepresenting me, not reading what I am saying, or not understanding what I am saying -- and I believe I am being quite clear.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Slight Mod hat on: We should strive to think nothing sinister is at play David; that would be evil surmising. We all get carried along by our views, particularly when we think they are of the utmost importance. At the same time, speaking as a participant, I think this thread is unprofitable, and those posts I have written, not yet posted, will die in my draft basket. Others feel free to carry on; that's my :2cents:.
Thank you, Chris. I will rephrase myself and say, that while I believe I am being clear enough in my posts to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding, I do assume the best of John, and believe that he is simply not understanding what I am saying. I spake in frustration, and do apologize, John. I forgot, for a moment, that charity "thinketh no evil" of others.

And if it cannot be brought back to one of the original questions (1. Is EP taught in WCF? 2. Is EP taught in Scripture?), I will have to agree with Chris, and say that it is becoming/has become unprofitable.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
John,

I don't know how many times I can say this. I get the feeling that you are either deliberately misrepresenting me, not reading what I am saying, or not understanding what I am saying -- and I believe I am being quite clear.

I do not regard our doctrinal standards as having greater or equal authority to the Holy Scriptures. I believe that the Confession of Faith, the decisions of synods and councils, the opinions of men, etc. must all be corrected by the Word of God.

As I have understood it, there are two questions being examined here:

1. Does the Westminster Confession of Faith set forth exclusive psalmody?
2. Do the Scriptures set forth exclusive psalmody?

I answer "yes" to both of these. But that does not affect my understanding of confessional authority, and its subordination to Scripture. No council, church, confession, man or men, can decree beyond what Scripture has said. If Scripture does not teach exclusive psalmody, it is SIN on our part to require it.

I really do not see why we are addressing the question of confessional authority, in the first place. Scripture can require something not mentioned in Westminster, and we would still be bound by it (whether or not you voluntarily bind yourself to Westminster). And if Westminster requires something not required in Scripture, it is your duty to follow Scripture. The real question with regard to exclusive psalmody is, Does Scripture require it? As an "introductory" examination of that question, I introduced a syllogism which still has not been dealt with. I believe that we are getting rather off-topic in our examination of this other question (confessional authority). Let us examine this question (whether Scripture requires it), if that is okay with you. :2cents:
Sean:

My heart smote me after I posted my last post, and I'll tell you why. There are three reasons.

First, when I said all those, "you're saying...(such and such)" things, some of them were what you were directly saying, though perhaps not meaning to, by the way you understand things. Other things are not what you're saying, but are necessary logical conclusions of what you're saying. You are and you aren't overtly saying that antiquity or the writings of men are sufficient authority to ground EP as required. I thought that maybe I said too much. And yet also, when I thought about it, I was also convinced that I did not misrepresent your views. But though I believe I did not misrepresent you, I may still have been a bit too hard.

What is needed to be able to say that EP is required of the Church by the Word of God is the Word of God requiring it. There are two ways to show that: express command; or good and necessary consequence.

So, if there was a decision of, let's say, the Church of Scotland that EP is commanded by the Word, then show to us the Church of Scotland's grounding of that decision, so that we may all likewise be convinced. That's what I'm saying about burden of proof. It's not good enough just to say that others were convinced; we need to know what they were convinced by, not just that they were convinced. And we are allowed to be convinced by only one source, the Bible.

Next, you wonder in this last post exactly what I was thinking about. I had two purposes for this thread: I wanted to show exactly where the burden of proof lay for the "RPW => EP" position. There is another position that I did not address, but which came to me later. It goes like this: "p(RPW) ~=> ~EP". Sorry, but that's the best I can do for symbolizing it, for now. I'm still working on it. What it means is that "the propositional implication of the RPW does not imply non-EP. Very simply put, it means that there is a sub-primary approach that is yet open to a doctrinal EP that I have not fully covered in my argument. I'm working on it. So I'm not really done working through my first purpose yet.

But I had a second purpose for this thread. This was also a way to bring out the place and importance of Chapter I of the Confession. Things like FH, FV, and I can and have named a bunch of things elsewhere, are interesting topics, but have no place in the offices or the ministry until GA says so. So if a minister is preaching that FH is what the Bible teaches about creation, it's not the FH hypothesis that I am directly pointing to, but the fact that he said the Bible said or taught something that the Bible does not say or teach: whatever may be true or false about the FH, he is breaking with WCF I. I'm must picking one of the topics as an example. I thought that discussing the burden of proof for a doctrine was a good way to bring this out. So to me, this was an important point of what I was attempting to get across.

Lastly, I'm trying to show through the witness of the Church, i.e., the WCF, that all]/b] things that are necessary for the glory of God, man's salvation, faith and life are either expressly written in the Word, so that it is clear to the learned and unlearned, or deduced by good and necessary consequence. This last statement almost defines itself, since it is itself deduced by good and necessary consequence. You don't find that expressly stated in the Bible, do you? And yet it is Biblically true; it can be no other way. Our reason is subjected to it; it is not derived from our reason in addition to the Bible.

To establish that the Bible teaches EP it has to be clearly and solely taught in the Bible. It can't come from somewhere else, like the FH does. It can't even come in part from somewhere else, not even a little. It came to me that maybe I hadn't stated that clearly enough.

Right from the start of the discussion on EP I asked for Scripture for it. Then I asked for good and necessary consequence. I still think we need that, one or the other, and those alone, to establish that the Bible requires EP.

By going at it from a burden of proof standpoint, I am allowed to skip over the may other arguments which, good as they may be, are not authoritative to establish EP as doctrinally required.

But now a third way has occurred to me, one that the WCF allows for. I don't think anyone has put that argument forward, but it is a possible answer. And I need to look at that. I'll need some time to sort through the texts for it.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
JohnV said:
Sean:

My heart smote me after I posted my last post, and I'll tell you why. There are three reasons.

First, when I said all those, "you're saying...(such and such)" things, some of them were what you were directly saying, though perhaps not meaning to, by the way you understand things. Other things are not what you're saying, but are necessary logical conclusions of what you're saying. You are and you aren't overtly saying that antiquity or the writings of men are sufficient authority to ground EP as required. I thought that maybe I said too much. And yet also, when I thought about it, I was also convinced that I did not misrepresent your views. But though I believe I did not misrepresent you, I may still have been a bit too hard.
John, I'm trying to tell you how I "understand things." I have consistently maintained a distinction between whether something is taught in Scripture, and whether it is taught in the Confession. I have never said that "antiquity or the writings of men are sufficient authority to ground EP as required."

In discussions on eschatology, I frequently mention the original of WCF 25.6 to show people the historic nature of belief that the Pope is the Antichrist; but I would never expect someone to believe such a doctrine because it is in the Confession, but only because it is in the Word of God. Likewise, I refer to 21.5 to show the historic nature of the practice of exclusive psalmody; but I do not expect you, or anyone else, to believe in and practice exclusive psalmody because it is in the Confession, but only because it is in the Word of God.

If I have ever spoken contrary to this, or in such a way as to confuse the two, I repudiate such statements right now. If it can be shown me that my statements logically, necessarily, and of their own accord lead to such a conclusion, let it be shown to me, so that I may likewise amend in my statements what needs to be amended.
JohnV said:
What is needed to be able to say that EP is required of the Church by the Word of God is the Word of God requiring it. There are two ways to show that: express command; or good and necessary consequence.

So, if there was a decision of, let's say, the Church of Scotland that EP is commanded by the Word, then show to us the Church of Scotland's grounding of that decision, so that we may all likewise be convinced. That's what I'm saying about burden of proof. It's not good enough just to say that others were convinced; we need to know what they were convinced by, not just that they were convinced. And we are allowed to be convinced by only one source, the Bible.
Agreed.
JohnV said:
Next, you wonder in this last post exactly what I was thinking about. I had two purposes for this thread: I wanted to show exactly where the burden of proof lay for the "RPW => EP" position. There is another position that I did not address, but which came to me later. It goes like this: "p(RPW) ~=> ~EP". Sorry, but that's the best I can do for symbolizing it, for now. I'm still working on it. What it means is that "the propositional implication of the RPW does not imply non-EP. Very simply put, it means that there is a sub-primary approach that is yet open to a doctrinal EP that I have not fully covered in my argument. I'm working on it. So I'm not really done working through my first purpose yet.
I think I understand what you're saying here, but not entirely sure, since you don't really expand on this one that much. At least, up until the talk about "a sub-primary approach," etc.
JohnV said:
But I had a second purpose for this thread. This was also a way to bring out the place and importance of Chapter I of the Confession. Things like FH, FV, and I can and have named a bunch of things elsewhere, are interesting topics, but have no place in the offices or the ministry until GA says so. So if a minister is preaching that FH is what the Bible teaches about creation, it's not the FH hypothesis that I am directly pointing to, but the fact that he said the Bible said or taught something that the Bible does not say or teach: whatever may be true or false about the FH, he is breaking with WCF I. I'm must picking one of the topics as an example. I thought that discussing the burden of proof for a doctrine was a good way to bring this out. So to me, this was an important point of what I was attempting to get across.
You might have to clarify this a bit. Are you saying that, in their preaching, ministers cannot say anything that is not laid down explicitly or implicitly in the doctrinal standards of their church? See, even here, I'm not speaking clearly. Let me try again...

1. I do not believe in FH (if by "FH" you mean framework hypothesis) or FV. I believe that they are contrary to the Scriptures. So, I believe that it would be wrong to preach those doctrines, or argue for those doctrines, because they are contradicted by the Scriptures.

2. I happen to believe in Amillennialism. But most Presbyterian churches that I know are open to either Amillennialism or Postmillennialism. (I'm not even going to touch Premillennialism.) Some Presbyterian churches are exclusively Postmillennial; some other churches (I think mostly Dutch Reformed) are exclusively Amillennial. In a church that admits of either opinion, the church does not take a definite stance on either position, and understands the doctrinal standards so as not to preclude either one. Does this mean that pastors are forbidden from preaching either Amillennialism or Postmillennialism from the pulpit? Heck no. Although the church does not explicitly decide on the matter, and the doctrinal standards are not understood to explicitly decide on the matter, they are allowed to preach items that go beyond these decisions.

3. This last point could be multiplied indefinitely. Is it proper to argue for a certain doctrine from this or that text or Scriptural concept? For example, Calvin did not understand the OT statements of God, "Let US make man," etc., as providing proof for the Trinity. A Reformed pastor I know from Canada, David Linden, argues from a chiastic construction of John 1:1-18 that the passage is primarily concerned with setting forth the doctrine of our salvation being by faith alone. I have argued for a while now that the doctrine of infant baptism can be sustained by understanding that the principle of "covenanters and their children" exists in all divine-human covenants (covenant of redemption, covenant of works, covenant of grace). None of these things are mentioned in the Reformed creeds. Are we therefore forbidden from saying them, or are ministers forbidden from preaching them?
JohnV said:
Lastly, I'm trying to show through the witness of the Church, i.e., the WCF, that all things that are necessary for the glory of God, man's salvation, faith and life are either expressly written in the Word, so that it is clear to the learned and unlearned, or deduced by good and necessary consequence. This last statement almost defines itself, since it is itself deduced by good and necessary consequence. You don't find that expressly stated in the Bible, do you? And yet it is Biblically true; it can be no other way. Our reason is subjected to it; it is not derived from our reason in addition to the Bible.
Agreed; and I believe whole-heartedly in good and necessary consequence.
JohnV said:
To establish that the Bible teaches EP it has to be clearly and solely taught in the Bible. It can't come from somewhere else, like the FH does. It can't even come in part from somewhere else, not even a little. It came to me that maybe I hadn't stated that clearly enough.
Now, I have to ask for some clarification here. This principle could be seen as working against both "sides" in this debate.

1. Against hymn-singers, and for psalm-singers, this could be seen as deciding the interpretation of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. If we cannot turn to the pagan literature of the time in order to determine the interpretation of the three words there, but must turn only to Scripture (like the Septuagint available to Paul and the early churches), this would probably lead us to understand all three terms as referring to the psalms, hymns, and songs of the Psalter.

2. But against the psalm-singers, this could be seen as arguing against our interpretation of Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26; since we rely on external sources to determine the "hymn" that was sung (or more literally, what they "hymned"). But then I don't see how anyone could then determine what was sung on that occasion, since the text does not say.

I'm sure there are other points, but these readily spring to mind. Questions of linguistics, or how certain words are used, have ordinarily been understood to be allowed to examine similar extra-scriptural writings of that period, or a similar period, to assist in determining certain questions; and questions regarding certain points of custom or culture that appear in Scripture may also require extra-scriptural sources for clarification.
JohnV said:
Right from the start of the discussion on EP I asked for Scripture for it. Then I asked for good and necessary consequence. I still think we need that, one or the other, and those alone, to establish that the Bible requires EP.
I don't remember this; unless it was at "the beginning" of the Board itself. I would be happy to go through a discussion of the Scriptural ground of the position.
JohnV said:
By going at it from a burden of proof standpoint, I am allowed to skip over the may other arguments which, good as they may be, are not authoritative to establish EP as doctrinally required.
Ummmm... I don't follow. You started off by distinguishing between Stivason's "ecclesiastical EP burden of proof" and a "doctrinal EP burden of proof"; but I don't remember how you clarified the latter, or upon whom that burden of proof rests, whether hymn-singers, psalm-singers, or both.
JohnV said:
But now a third way has occurred to me, one that the WCF allows for. I don't think anyone has put that argument forward, but it is a possible answer. And I need to look at that. I'll need some time to sort through the texts for it.
By all means, let us turn to Scripture on this subject. I am curious as to whether you are speaking of WCF 21.5, when you say "one that the WCF allows for"; or whether you are speaking of chapter 1 (or your understanding of chapter 20). But, regardless of whether it is "one that the WCF allows for," please let us turn to Scripture in this discussion.

I do believe that, following the syllogism I presented, the burden of proof rests upon hymn-singers to demonstrate either that (1.) each hymn or hymnbook that they employ is particularly appointed by God for use in public worship, or that (2.) the divine regulation in regard to the appointment of song in worship has been specifically relaxed, abrogated, or (insert some other altering-type word here). Failing at this, the only remaining controversy would be between those arguing for exclusive psalmody, and those arguing for "inspired songs only."
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Sean:

I'm going to break up my answer to your last post. I'm going to quote the part that I'm answering for each answer. OK?

John, I'm trying to tell you how I "understand things." I have consistently maintained a distinction between whether something is taught in Scripture, and whether it is taught in the Confession. I have never said that "antiquity or the writings of men are sufficient authority to ground EP as required."

In discussions on eschatology, I frequently mention the original of WCF 25.6 to show people the historic nature of belief that the Pope is the Antichrist; but I would never expect someone to believe such a doctrine because it is in the Confession, but only because it is in the Word of God. Likewise, I refer to 21.5 to show the historic nature of the practice of exclusive psalmody; but I do not expect you, or anyone else, to believe in and practice exclusive psalmody because it is in the Confession, but only because it is in the Word of God.

If I have ever spoken contrary to this, or in such a way as to confuse the two, I repudiate such statements right now. If it can be shown me that my statements logically, necessarily, and of their own accord lead to such a conclusion, let it be shown to me, so that I may likewise amend in my statements what needs to be amended.
Acknowledged. Again, I know that you are not intending to say some of the conclusions that I believe necessarily follow from what you did say. That's what I'm pointing out. I'm not charging you with heresy, or even of promoting heresy. I trying to head the discussion in exactly the direction that you've taken here.

OK, I acknowledge that you believe the Bible teaches EP, and that you don't want to bind others' consciences if they don't believe that. Then you are not holding the doctrinal EP that I am challenging. I'm challenging the EP that would bind others' consciences, demanding that the Bible teaches EP, and even that the Confession declares EP. You're not holding that position, then.

I think I understand what you're saying here, but not entirely sure, since you don't really expand on this one that much. At least, up until the talk about "a sub-primary approach," etc.
I know, I used somewhat cryptic language. I'm not exactly sure yet how to put it so that it is clear. What I'm saying is that I'm taking an honest approach to this. I'm not only interacting with arguments that others put to me, but I also have to deal with ones that come up in my own wrestling with this.

Let me try it again, in another way. See what you think. I could use your help with this:

If "B" stands for "express Biblical directive (or principle)", which then includes all that is necessary for God's glory, man's salvation, faith and life, etc., and,

"C" stands for "Biblical conclusion", or declarable doctrine, which really is what the Confessions state, and,

"A" stands for "Biblical conclusions deduced by good and necessary consequence", and,

"s" stands for "stated", and

~ stands for "not",

then the first way to determine doctrine is:

B => C; or, express Biblical directive gives us declarable doctrine.

The next one is:
sB + sB => ~sB => C, or, a stated Biblical directive plus another stated Biblical directive can yield a non-stated Biblical directive, giving us a declarable doctrine. e.g.: God is one, God is revealed in three persons, therefore God is Trinity: therefore the WCF declares the Trinity as a doctrine.

The one that I am proposing goes like this:

sB + sB => ~C, or, a stated Biblcal directive plus one or more other stated Biblical directives yields an impossibility of a position we might think the WCF allows for. In other words, non-EP might yet be an impossibility.

There are two immediate problems with it: it asks too much; and/or it yields too much. But these might not be insurmountable. I'm looking into it.

You might have to clarify this a bit. Are you saying that, in their preaching, ministers cannot say anything that is not laid down explicitly or implicitly in the doctrinal standards of their church? See, even here, I'm not speaking clearly. Let me try again...

1. I do not believe in FH (if by "FH" you mean framework hypothesis) or FV. I believe that they are contrary to the Scriptures. So, I believe that it would be wrong to preach those doctrines, or argue for those doctrines, because they are contradicted by the Scriptures.

2. I happen to believe in Amillennialism. But most Presbyterian churches that I know are open to either Amillennialism or Postmillennialism. (I'm not even going to touch Premillennialism.) Some Presbyterian churches are exclusively Postmillennial; some other churches (I think mostly Dutch Reformed) are exclusively Amillennial. In a church that admits of either opinion, the church does not take a definite stance on either position, and understands the doctrinal standards so as not to preclude either one. Does this mean that pastors are forbidden from preaching either Amillennialism or Postmillennialism from the pulpit? Heck no. Although the church does not explicitly decide on the matter, and the doctrinal standards are not understood to explicitly decide on the matter, they are allowed to preach items that go beyond these decisions.

3. This last point could be multiplied indefinitely. Is it proper to argue for a certain doctrine from this or that text or Scriptural concept? For example, Calvin did not understand the OT statements of God, "Let US make man," etc., as providing proof for the Trinity. A Reformed pastor I know from Canada, David Linden, argues from a chiastic construction of John 1:1-18 that the passage is primarily concerned with setting forth the doctrine of our salvation being by faith alone. I have argued for a while now that the doctrine of infant baptism can be sustained by understanding that the principle of "covenanters and their children" exists in all divine-human covenants (covenant of redemption, covenant of works, covenant of grace). None of these things are mentioned in the Reformed creeds. Are we therefore forbidden from saying them, or are ministers forbidden from preaching them?
Agreed; and I believe whole-heartedly in good and necessary consequence.
Now, I have to ask for some clarification here. This principle could be seen as working against both "sides" in this debate.
For the most part I agree with you. Here is my concern:
A minister is called to preach the Word. Preaching the pure Word is one of the marks of the Church. The office is Christ's office, and He delegates His authority over the means of grace, that is, preaching, to ministers. The office of elder is Christ's office, and He delegates His authority to rule to elders. Neither of these, either minister or elder, represent themselves in their of office.

The pulpit is not a place to be propagating personal views. Its what we used to call "soapboxing": standing in the public square on some handy platform, and stating ideas you think everyone should go for. The pulpit is no place for soapboxing. It is a holy commission. No minister wants to appear before Christ's judgment seat and be told that Christ never told this minister to teach as he taught. The minister has to be sure of what he teaches, and he only knows that from the Bible.

Whether the FH, FV, Reconstructionism, or any of its five parts, or whatever: if there is a heretical teaching in it, like FV, then that is also wrong; but it doesn't have to be heretical for it to be wrong to preach it as God's Word. All that has to wrong with it is that it isn't God's Word. It might be a position that the GA has said does not interfere with or contradict the WCF, but that does not mean that the Bible declares it. A minister has no right, even if he himself is convinced, to say that the Bible teaches something based only on his own conscience.

But in addition to this, a minister has no right to be teaching as representative of his denomination's stand on doctrine what the denomination doesn't stand for. A denomination might say that Premillennialism is OK, but that doesn't mean they teach it or support it. It certainly doesn't mean that their OK of it as a personal view, that it should not keep somebody from being a member or an elder, makes it a doctrine. They're not saying the Bible says it; they're saying that the Bible doesn't specifically condemn it.

The Bible might not condemn, say, Premillennialism (I'm using that one because it seems that you have your doubts about it), but that doesn't mean that it supports it either. So a minister can't add his own conscience into the mix to declare that the Bible says it. He is misrepresenting the Bible, and he is also misrepresenting the denomination that licenced him.

Here's the funny thing about some millennial views, Sean. I thought I held to Amillennialism, though I didn't make a big deal about it. It didn't matter to me which view others held. But then someone introduced me to Postmillennialism, as if this view was historically tied to being Reformed. My first thought was that maybe my church in which I grew up didn't tell me everything that I should know. But as I looked into it I found out the following.

There was a difference between Amillennialism and the Postmillennialism that was introduced to me. But it wasn't so much the difference between the "A" and "Post" as it was in the meanings put into "ism". I held to a millennial view in a far different way than this man held to his millennial view. There was a world of difference. Never mind the "A" or "Post", I absolutely would not swallow his idea of "ism".

If you look at them closely, you will see that there's a number of differences not related to the prefix of the millennial views argued for. Watch for them.

But this man preached it as the Word of God. It wasn't the denomination's position, nor was it from the Bible. Yet he got away with it. That's my point: he should never have gotten away with it. The pulpit is no place for soapboxing.

I hope that explains it a bit. A minister's duty it to the gospel of Christ, and to the church that ordains him, and is quite apart, separate, from his personal views on matters besides.

1. Against hymn-singers, and for psalm-singers, this could be seen as deciding the interpretation of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. If we cannot turn to the pagan literature of the time in order to determine the interpretation of the three words there, but must turn only to Scripture (like the Septuagint available to Paul and the early churches), this would probably lead us to understand all three terms as referring to the psalms, hymns, and songs of the Psalter.

2. But against the psalm-singers, this could be seen as arguing against our interpretation of Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26; since we rely on external sources to determine the "hymn" that was sung (or more literally, what they "hymned"). But then I don't see how anyone could then determine what was sung on that occasion, since the text does not say.

I'm sure there are other points, but these readily spring to mind. Questions of linguistics, or how certain words are used, have ordinarily been understood to be allowed to examine similar extra-scriptural writings of that period, or a similar period, to assist in determining certain questions; and questions regarding certain points of custom or culture that appear in Scripture may also require extra-scriptural sources for clarification.
I don't remember this; unless it was at "the beginning" of the Board itself. I would be happy to go through a discussion of the Scriptural ground of the position.
Ummmm... I don't follow. You started off by distinguishing between Stivason's "ecclesiastical EP burden of proof" and a "doctrinal EP burden of proof"; but I don't remember how you clarified the latter, or upon whom that burden of proof rests, whether hymn-singers, psalm-singers, or both.
By all means, let us turn to Scripture on this subject. I am curious as to whether you are speaking of WCF 21.5, when you say "one that the WCF allows for"; or whether you are speaking of chapter 1 (or your understanding of chapter 20). But, regardless of whether it is "one that the WCF allows for," please let us turn to Scripture in this discussion.

I do believe that, following the syllogism I presented, the burden of proof rests upon hymn-singers to demonstrate either that (1.) each hymn or hymnbook that they employ is particularly appointed by God for use in public worship, or that (2.) the divine regulation in regard to the appointment of song in worship has been specifically relaxed, abrogated, or (insert some other altering-type word here). Failing at this, the only remaining controversy would be between those arguing for exclusive psalmody, and those arguing for "inspired songs only."
If I may, I'd like to answer this a bit later. You raise some points that this thread does not deal with, since it's about burden of proof. I have myself now also proposed a possible argument that obviates non-EP. I think I've already answered your burden of proof question, but I'll go over it again, just in case I missed something.

But it's time for me to get some rest now.
 
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JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
1. Against hymn-singers, and for psalm-singers, this could be seen as deciding the interpretation of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. If we cannot turn to the pagan literature of the time in order to determine the interpretation of the three words there, but must turn only to Scripture (like the Septuagint available to Paul and the early churches), this would probably lead us to understand all three terms as referring to the psalms, hymns, and songs of the Psalter.
Appealing to other documents of the same era is quite helpful. It helps us understand how words were used at the time, and so also how they may be supposed to have been used in the Bible. But there is a problem with this too. A number of problems, in fact.

First, one of the problems shows up right here in this thread. We are using words in completely different ways, yet we’re both living in a culture using the exact same language. We’re even having conversation together. My idea of preaching, for example, which is received from what I was taught, is quite different than the idea of preaching as practiced in Presbyterian churches of today. In my almost unanimously Amillennial church, a minister gets in huge trouble for alluding disparagement against a particular Postmillennial view. The elders really rake him over the coals for departing from his ministerial mandate. But in Presbyterian circles it is commonplace to speak from the pulpit of one millennial view as if less than another. Which one of these uses of the word "preaching" would a person living a thousand years from now believe to be common? And would his judgment be right based just on common use of the word? He could still go to the Bible and disagree with one or the other.

The Bible is still normative, and the only normative source. The question is not how men used words, but how the Spirit used words. Some words made it into the Greek language for the first time because of the Bible, such as agape because the language of that day did not have words for that particular meaning which was intended. I don’t know Greek, but I was told this about that word. Whether or not it is true, the possibility of it being true casts enough doubt on the reliability or authority on that method. It is useful and may be helpful, but the limits have to be recognized.

2. But against the psalm-singers, this could be seen as arguing against our interpretation of Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26; since we rely on external sources to determine the "hymn" that was sung (or more literally, what they "hymned"). But then I don't see how anyone could then determine what was sung on that occasion, since the text does not say.
As you say, this goes both ways. This is a good point. I think that what is meant by the word “hymn” is to be understood by considering other parts of the Bible that are more clear. It won’t tell us what they sang, but it might tell us what they didn’t sing. Here the word is used by itself, as compared to the Eph. and Col. texts. This is problematic for those who believe that the three terms used in those texts all refer to the Psalms. Personally, I’ve got to see an appreciation of the problem on the part of EP proponents, otherwise I have to think they’re just shrugging it off. Why was not the word “psalm” used here, if the word “hymn” means the same thing? It’s a real toe-stubber, when you think about it.

I'm sure there are other points, but these readily spring to mind. Questions of linguistics, or how certain words are used, have ordinarily been understood to be allowed to examine similar extra-scriptural writings of that period, or a similar period, to assist in determining certain questions; and questions regarding certain points of custom or culture that appear in Scripture may also require extra-scriptural sources for clarification.
Again, you have to distinguish between “assist” and “authority”. What we’re usually talking about when such questions come up is the less clear or less plain passages. Sometimes such passages cannot be cleared up through other more clear and plain passages. If that’s the case, appealing to word usage of the time might lend itself to a particular meaning, but I don’t recall that type of appeal ever being authoritative. If I’m wrong, please point it out to me.

I would be happy to go through a discussion of the Scriptural ground of the position.
The discussion is always open to such grounds. It would have been over a long time ago if it had been given.

You started off by distinguishing between Stivason's "ecclesiastical EP burden of proof" and a "doctrinal EP burden of proof"; but I don't remember how you clarified the latter, or upon whom that burden of proof rests, whether hymn-singers, psalm-singers, or both.
Stivason’s point was that EP did not hold the burden of proof. He was not arguing for an ecclesiastical position, but a doctrinal position. His position was conceded from the start, and we moved on from there.

I am curious as to whether you are speaking of WCF 21.5, when you say "one that the WCF allows for"; or whether you are speaking of chapter 1 (or your understanding of chapter 20). But, regardless of whether it is "one that the WCF allows for," please let us turn to Scripture in this discussion.
I am referring to WCF, I, ix.

It might appear to be the reduction argument because it has a similar conclusion, but it definitely is not the reduction argument. The burden of proof for asserting that the Bible says something is on the assertion, and not by reduction: it has to be by elimination at the very least. It will be very hard to prove, but it’s the only way for EP if it cannot produce that it is “expressly set down in Scripture”: if they claim it is necessary for the glory of God in worship; and cannot produce it from good and necessary consequence; then elimination of non-EP is the only way open to them. And that will be hard to do. It’s still possible, but it will be difficult. And they will have to avoid confusing it with reduction, or any arbitrary methodology. It has to be shown that the way the Scripture refers to song in worship makes it necessary that songs other than the Psalms are eliminated from consideration.

But if it holds, I am particularly interested in it. That's why I am seriously looking into it.

I do believe that, following the syllogism I presented, the burden of proof rests upon hymn-singers to demonstrate either that (1.) each hymn or hymnbook that they employ is particularly appointed by God for use in public worship, or that (2.) the divine regulation in regard to the appointment of song in worship has been specifically relaxed, abrogated, or (insert some other altering-type word here). Failing at this, the only remaining controversy would be between those arguing for exclusive psalmody, and those arguing for "inspired songs only."
This is the reduction argument. It doesn’t hold. It just has too many question-begging conclusions in it. It already assumes many of the things that would follow from EP, such as a God-appointed book of praise, which is therefore exclusive: that’s what would follow from a proof text of EP. You’re just assuming that the psalm book of the OT was limited to the 150 Psalms.

But just think about it. How many songs does a modern song-writer write? For every one that you know about, there could be a hundred that you don’t. Some they write for money, some they write for fun, some they wrote and threw away, and never sang to anyone; some they wrote for mom, and some they wrote for show, but the one they like the best is the one they wrote for you. (taken from the Statler brothers. song.) But how many did Asaph write? Just a few? Hardly seems likely if that was his job. And why are all of them attributed to David? Is it not possible that the congregation sang a song or two that was not in the 150 Psalms? They did it before David’s time, and they did it after David’s time. The problem maybe was not that they sang songs that were not in the book of Psalms, but that they sang songs that didn’t belong in worship. It cannot be shown, even from the Chronicles text, that singing songs other than the Psalms was unacceptable worship.

I’m not advocating relaxing any regulation concerning singing in worship. In fact, I am arguing the opposite. I have been arguing for a more precise and careful handling of what Scripture teaches concerning worship and song.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Just so I don't get in trouble with these guys, here's the words I was referring to:

Some I wrote for money, Some I wrote for fun.
Some I wrote and threw away, never sang to any one.
One I wrote for mama, and a couple still aren't through.
I`ve lost track of all the rest, but the most I wrote for you.

from
SOME I WROTE
(written by Harold Reid / Don Reid)
The Statler Brothers - 1977
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
John, you might as well assume that the saints had other Scriptures, or at least that they "could have" had other Scriptures, as assume that they "could have" had other psalms written by David and Asaph. When the phrase "the words of David, and of Asaph the seer" is employed, how can you assume that they were also singing psalms of which we have no record? How is this "a more precise and careful handling of what Scripture teaches concerning worship and song"? Is it not more natural to understand this as a synecdochical statement, much as we today refer to "The Psalms of David," referring to the same collection of songs?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
No, Sean. In my way of thinking that would not follow. Absolutely not. We know that other songs were sung, and also know that the Scriptures are God-breathed, and were deemed holy by God's people. To propose another song is not like proposing another Scripture. Not at all.

If someone were to propose an additional book to the Bible, we would know immediately that it's not in the Bible, therefore it's not of the Bible. Other books don't gradually make it into the Bible, even when the churches are decaying spiritually. Even the RCC, which has included the Apocrypha in their bibles, has not included any others besides what they regarded as the Word of God. Songs have changed, many times over, but the Word of God does not change. Even people who hold to EP have to admit that we're not singing the Psalms the same way that they were sung a thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, or more. We have many versions of the Psalms for singing in our churches now, both in music and words; it's not even the same from denomination to denomination. Yet we all have the same Word of God.

This does touch on something that I am much more concerned about than whether we sing only the Psalms. I wonder why a stricter singing is proposed in our day, but a stricter guarding of the pulpit and the offices as to the gospel that is represented is not. But I won't go into that.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
JohnV said:
No, Sean. In my way of thinking that would not follow. Absolutely not. We know that other songs were sung, and also know that the Scriptures are God-breathed, and were deemed holy by God's people. To propose another song is not like proposing another Scripture. Not at all.
John, what do you call a "Psalter-Hymnal," if not an adding of uninspired hymns to the Psalter? Is not the Psalter a book of the Bible? How is there a radical difference between adding songs to a music-version metrical Psalter, and adding songs to the Psalter in the middle of your AV, NKJV, NASB, etc.?
JohnV said:
If someone were to propose an additional book to the Bible, we would know immediately that it's not in the Bible, therefore it's not of the Bible. Other books don't gradually make it into the Bible, even when the churches are decaying spiritually. Even the RCC, which has included the Apocrypha in their bibles, has not included any others besides what they regarded as the Word of God. Songs have changed, many times over, but the Word of God does not change.
You're begging the question. I might as well say, "When people propose additional songs to the Psalter, we know immediately that they aren't in the Psalter, therefore they're not of the Psalter." What would you call the Romish acceptance of the Apocrypha if not "books gradually making it into the Bible, when the churches were decaying spiritually"? And haven't you heard of Psalm 151, in the Septuagint?
JohnV said:
Even people who hold to EP have to admit that we're not singing the Psalms the same way that they were sung a thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, or more. We have many versions of the Psalms for singing in our churches now, both in music and words; it's not even the same from denomination to denomination. Yet we all have the same Word of God.
You're not distinguishing carefully here, John. You say, "We have many VERSIONS of the Psalms for singing," etc.; and then say, "Yet we all have the same Word of God." I happen to use the AV (KJV) for a "regular" Bible version; the church I'm currently attending uses the old NASB; my church back in the Springs uses the ESV, etc. Yes, it's (generally speaking) the same Bible, but different versions. Likewise, in comparing different metrical or musical Psalters, we have the same Book of Psalms, but different versions.

And I still think that it is irrelevant whether we sing the Psalms the way they did "a thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, or more." Just as most church-goers don't read the Psalms (or the rest of the Bible) in Hebrew or Greek, they don't sing the Psalms in those languages, either.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Well, Sean, I did think about that, and carefully too. I don't think you're seeing the meaning that I was pointing to. There is quite a difference between "versions" of the Bible and "versions" of the Psalms for singing.

But I'll get back to you a bit later about the adding thing. I want to say it differently so that I get my meaning across a bit better. Thanks for you critique, Sean.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
OK, I've got a bit of time, just a few minutes.

You're right that I have a different view of what the Psalter is, of what you call "uninspired hymns", and about more things, and also about terms which I would call pejorative the way they are sometimes used.

We are straying into other arguments for EP, which I didn't want to go into. I wanted to stick with WCF, I, and "burden of proof". I don't think that this changes, even with your meanings of some of the terms you are using. In order to assert EP as necessary for the glory of God, you have to show express revelation, or good and necessary consquence, or negation of non-EP. Whether you think of the Psalter as God's hymnbook or book of praise for the church or not, whether you think that adding other hymns is the same as adding to the Scripture, that it is in fact adding to the Scripture (which is what you are implying) or not, the burden to proof remains fully intact, I think. All you've done is add things that need to be proven. These things too have to be shown to be what the Bible says about itself and about worship.

My intent for this thread was to argue for the fact that a proposed doctrinal EP bears the same burden of proof that any other doctrinal assertion bears, that EP is no exception. I'll concede that introducing a song besides one of the Psalms bears a burden of proof, but not of the same kind. No one is suggesting adding it to the Bible by adding it to worship. It's not like ministers saying the Bible teaches such and such when all that the such and such represents is the minister's own conclusions and not what the Bible actually says. That would be ten times as wrong as adding another song, I believe. But I can see that to you it would be the same thing: if someone suggests adding a recently (a thousand years or less) composed song to the worship of God, that would be the same in your eyes as a minister preaching Presuppositionalism from the pulpit as God's assigned apologetic methodology; either one is adding to the Bible.

Let's be clear about this, Sean. I am all for a policy of EP for most, if not almost all churches. When I see the divisions of genres ascribed to music, noting especially how we divide the hymns, spiritual songs, and psalms into categories, I think we're better off for the time being just going back to basics. Until we can get control of the situation again, I'm for a policy of EP. In effect, it will be no different than what you're suggesting, but just for different reasons. The practice will be the same. I just want to also change something that I think is more important, and that is to regain the first mark of the Church in our churches.

So I expect that other arguments for a doctrinal EP have to come into this for you, just like my arguments for the first mark of the Church have to come into this for me. I'm trying to keep them in their place, and trying to stick to the basic argument, that the burden of proof is on the proposed or suggested doctrine to prove itself as doctrinal, just like any doctrine would have to. That's still the focus, even when I allude to or mention the first mark of the Church: it's the burden of proof upon doctrine that is central to it all.

That's my focus. I am interested in your focus too, though. It has to be part of our interaction as well. I hope that I'm helping you to understand my approach, that it comes from faith and not from faithlessness. I too have a high respect for the Psalms. I just don't put adding a hymn on the same level as adding to Scripture. If this has been helpful at all, it has been so to both of us.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I guess, to summarize what I'm saying another way, it's OK for a minister to add to God's Word without going through the rigors of WCF I to establish what he's saying, nor does he have to seek approval from the denomination he represents, which licenced him, but only has to answer to them after the fact; that's all OK with everyone in Presbyterianism. But if a plaintive song of 'Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found; was blind, but now I see" is raised in the congregation, even though every word of it is in the Bible, and can be found even in the Psalms themselves, yet it is forbidden to be sung because it is not exactly one of the Psalms.

And the grounds are exactly the same for each: the ruling class of the church has all kinds of liberty to rule as they see fit, to rule whichever way their own conscience leads them, to dare to speak on behalf of God whatever their own thinking believes to be true whether or not the Bible expresses it, or whether or not the denomination rules it so, because WCF I is ignored; and an arbitrary restriction is put upon what is acceptable worship to God on the same basis, namely establishing a Psalms-only rule for singing without first going through the rigor of WCF I.

I'm not saying that EP is wrong, or that Presuppositionalism is wrong either for that matter. What I'm saying is that ignoring the rigorous regulations for declaring things in God's name, which we find in WCF I and elsewhere, is wrong. What I need to have in order to believe EP is not Girardeau-type arguments, no matter how high you pile them, but a going through the tests of WCF I, satisfying its demands. They are a summary of what the Bible demands.

If we were paying attention to WCF I, there would be no FV controversy: Wilkins et al would have been up on charges of inciting schism long ago. And I can think of other things that would not have happened, or would have happened a lot differently; this hits very close to home for me. There would be less controversy over some matters, because they would be more easily settled; or at least it would be harder to make controversy over something that is opinion or personal convictions beyond what it required to be believed.

But most important of all, we would be upholding the first mark of the Church.
 
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