EP: Can you actually prove it from SCRIPTURE???

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by kevin.carroll, Jan 3, 2006.

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  1. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I believe I recorded elsewhere on the PB my stated exceptions made to Presbytery upon my reception and ordination. I did take exception to the WCF at this point. I am sorry to say that in my case as well as subsequent cases, the standard operating procedure was effected (and this is a "conservative" presbytery: the presbytery voted to dismiss my exceptions (I proposed two) as "not constituting exceptions the the Standards" by Presbytery's reckoning.

    In other words, they/we didn't vote to admit an exception but not to consider these self-evaluations as exceptions at all. No discussion. This, to me, means that there is entrenched even in essentially solid church bodies (like my own), a mindset that refuses to encourage consistent thinking and aggreed upon definitions.

    One man, a long time minister and by all appearance a solid fellow, gave this exception: God should not be defined as "a spirit," for that is not simply descriptive of his essence, but puts him into a "class" with other "spirits" or "spiritual beings". I thought that revealed a very careful mind, one who by this statement was offering the church an opportunity to clarify itself better. If this is really a deficiency, shouldn't we discuss it?

    But rather than considering the exception and granting it, as expressive of genuine orthodoxy (or as not challenging orthodoxy's vitals), we dismissed it as "unexceptional". Mine was the only vote against this "that's not an exception, move on" vote. Not because I thought the exception was improper or dangerous, but because I thought it was good, and constituted an opportunity to acknowledge a deviation and sharpen ourselves.

    Doesn't that make sense?
  2. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    They were well aware of the controversy, for it is cited in the book Jus Divinum. It was a present controversy already.
  3. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Well, you got me for not remembering what passage you have in mind in JD, so if you think it is relevant by all means post it. But the authors of Jus Divinum are not the Westminster Assembly; when I say it didn't come up, I mean it did not come up in the Assembly's deliberations. Whether they knew or did not know of a controversy is immaterial to the record of what we know the Assembly discussed. Or, can you prove otherwise? If so, I am willing to read.
  4. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I'll have to look it up. It is in a notation.

    The authors of JD were members of the Assembly. The fact that the controversy was contemporary to their era constrains the assumption that it was considered rather than that it was omitted because it did not come up. I would agree if it were to be stated that it was not a contention on the floor. But in arranging the words of the WCF they must have considered well the excesses that were prevalent at that time, if they considered it as such on Biblical grounds. The question, therefore, is not whether the controversy in the Netherlands was on the floor, but whether the question of what constituted proper worship in song was on the floor. And that certainly was.
  5. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    It is referenced on page 112, concerning absurdities that follow upon congregational governments of the church.
  6. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I luv ya brother, but prove it.;) The only passage in JD I am aware of is page 63 which is the only section I recall they mention worship practices, in the context of divine ordinances. My take on the passage is the London Provincial Assembly equated Psalm singing with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. This doesn't prove anything toward allowing hymn singing in my opinion as other authors of the time equate this to the psalms and not psalms and other inspired things. And again, Thomas Ford was a member of the Westminster Assembly, and addresses the subject of psalm singing in a single work, and if I am right in my poor memory, his statement indicates it was not an issue and likely never came up. I mean the idea of singing other things other than the psalms (I do not recall if this was in reference to hymns or other inspired praise, sorry). If anyone has the book, maybe they can provide the quote; otherwise I hope to have a copy in the next month or so. Believe me John, I've looked with the idea of finding something where the Assembly addressed the subject of the "content" of worship song head on, and I have not found a smoking gun yet; at least not something I consider a smoking gun. As it stands, from a practical standpoint, it appears all the Assembly was on record as authorizing was EP, for what all reasons, I cannot say. But we have their actions of wanting to produce a Psalm book to meet the requirement of the Directory, and the later, when mentioning the parts of worship authorized in Scripture, they only speak of Psalms (WCF 21.5). That is why for now, I am content that the Assembly was practically speaking EP. What happened later in other venues was later and in other venues.;)

  7. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks John. And what do you think this proves in regards to discussions at the Assembly?
  8. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    What I am suggesting is, if the singing of hymns was a contemporary issue upon which the Scripture clearly ruled, then they would have stated it. That is, if hymns were forbidden, then they would have said so, since the discussion was already present if not predating the WA.

    Remember what all is involved with the various alternative propositions. That is what they considered I would assume; and that is what we should do as well. It is saying too much to say more than that the Psalms should be sung; but that does not preclude hymns from worship. To impose that hymns could be sung is to open the door to many abuses. We should not make such a statement. What is required is that songs be sung, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. That is what the Word requires. We should not impose what the Word does not impose.
  9. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    John, I don't buy it. No one disputes we should not impose what the Word of God does not impose. The question here is historical. What did the Divines intend, whether anyone disagrees with that as far as what Scriptures require or not. Frankly, what I read just now in JD falls in the corner of indirect evidence that the Westminster Assembly was EP and would not have authorized hymns. If Philip Nye, who was a vocal and even bothersome member of the Westminster Assembly thought hymn singing was a sin, we'd have a record of that dicussion I am pretty sure, either as a note or in detail or something somewhere if he thought the Assembly was allowing for it. This is the assembly that spent weeks on debating the necessity of a communion table after all. And this coupled with the fact that the Independents were enthusiastic along with the Scots (minus Baillie) for removing the uninspired doxologies which had a customary place in the psalters of the period prior to the Assembly also makes it unlikely their omission of condemning uninspired hymns was their approving of them!.

    For what it's worth a tidbit of publishing info. Jus Divinum was probably published no later than December 2, 1646 (the date Thomson bought his copy). It thus postdates any discussions of the Directory for Public Worshp by a bit, which set the content of worship, which Chapter 21.5 was a doctrinal expression of what the Directory laid out practically. WCF 21 was debated throughout 1646 and during the months Jus Divinum was probably in the press, but there is no indication the Divines discussed the problem of hymns from the standpoint of worship song; the point JD is making is that of church polity; there was not a way to end the dispute.
  10. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    1673 Puritan Preface to the 1650 Psalter

    The text of the Preface to the 1673 English edition of the Scottish Psalter that I've seen (most recently above) and also at this link--
    --lists Edmund Calamy as a signer. A note at the link says this connects the preface to the Westminster Assembly given Calamy was a Westminster Divine. Unless this preface was written before Calamy's death in 1666, the signer would have to be Edmund Calamy's son, Edmund Calamy the younger. I have not found anything saying the preface is older than 1673, though it may be. Has anyone? I do not think Calamy Sr. would have disagreed with the substance of this; would be interesting to see if any of the above were part of the London Provincial Assembly (like Calamy Jr?), or if any died before 1673 as well. As it is we do have Calamy Sr's/ the LPA's comment on p. 63 of Jus Divinum which equates Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19 to Psalm Singing, though this preface would have been nice to tie back since it is more explicit.
  11. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    This is where I see two seperate debates going on. Those who value highly what the divines taught, or historicists, and those who like me, read them with a spirit of semper reformanda, and question them frequently when their ideas simply cannot be found in scripture.

    If Paul meant by Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, to mean only the O.T. Psalter of 150, then as we all know how Paul writes, he would have been much more specific.

    He seems to me rather to be using the three types of musical composition to broaden the scope of how diverse we may be in our praise. And when we couple that with the phrase in Col 3:16 "word of Christ" exclusively used there, we get the picture that he intends all of scripture to be used for song, and the underlying themes of non-inspired songs as well. Just as we admonish each other with the word, but add non-inspired anecdotes and parables, and analogies from our own lives in preaching and teaching, we may do so in worship music.

    Worship must be God-centered, reverent, and scripturally sound.

    The phrase Paul used certainly includes the Psalter, but it does not limit Godly worship to the Psalter alone. You cannot convince me he would have been so cryptic with what seems to the EPer so detrimental an element.

    [Edited on 1-8-2006 by Saiph]
  12. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    This assumes, then, that what the commissioners personally believed was what they intended to mean, and therefore what we have and should adopt, as opposed to what they had written being the extent of what they meant. That is going too far.

    Let's put it this way. Let's say that you and I are commissioners on the Assembly. We are charged with penning a universal confession for all the churches, one which unites all true churches into a common faith. You believe in EP, and I don't. But it is neither of our charge, our commission, to force our views on others, but only to write what the Word indicates, either through direct command and example, or through the necessity of sound reason. That is, in the latter case, only that for which there is no other alternative, even though the Scripture does not directly speak to it. ( E.g.: the Word does not call God a Trinity, but it does speak of three distinct persons and of one God, thereby necessitating the Trinity doctrine; these two otherwise are contradictory propositions. Since both propositions are true, there must be a third, and thus prior [not mitigating, but unifying], proposition, namely that God is three persons in one God. )

    Who of us is in the majority is hardly relevant, for we do not vote on that basis. It is not who has the most votes creating extra-Biblical doctrine; for that would be what we then stand in danger of doing. No, we vote on propositions based on the limits of God's Word, and no more. It is not that we may all be EP, but whether or not we can ground EP soundly in the Word, even if we are all convinced it is Biblical.

    So here is our mandate: formulize a doctrine of worship in song, the extent, limit, freedom, and consciencious boundaries. Write only what can be grounded in the Word, and what from the Word can be necessarily deduced, taking into account all the rulings of previous authoritative and accepted rulings of the Church in history, starting from the Jerusalem Council to the present day. We must be in agreement with the church in history, her rulings; and we must keep in mind that our decisions are to regarded not as our opinion but as the true teaching of the Spirit through the Word and through the witness of the whole church, in the present as well as in the future ( although the truth of the Word is not created or formed by the church, but rather ratified and witnessed to by the church. )

    I would then ask you to write something on the matter for consideration, not exceeding the mandate. What would you say about hymns, not based on your personal conviction but on the Word, and perhaps in spite of it. What would you say? I can tell you what I would say as a non-EP: exactly what the Assembly wrote. I can't go further than that, and I am suggesting that you can't either. That is, as I believe, that they also believed they could go no futher. If they were not willing to impose their personal convictions beyond what Scripture enjoined, then that would be the more wrong for us to impose their personal conviction beyond what they meant to impose and beyond what Scripture enjoins.

    As I understand it, the commissioners at the Westminster Assembly had at least this kind of high respect for what they were doing, for their solemn commission. That was what I tried to show by example of Postmillennialism. Though they were of a certain opinion, and perhaps even quite convinced that it was Biblical, yet good sense made it necessary that they not impose what the Word did not impose. Their own convictions could fall short of the necessary requirements for formulating sound doctrine, even though they personally believed it to be so. They knew their limits and did not surpass them. The WCF is accepted universally on that basis, that it taught only what the Word taught and no more.

    Therefore, what is not said by them, considering the firmness of their conviction on the matter, is also of import to the discussion. If they were one and all EP, then it is significant that they did not forbid the singing of hymns but firmly enjoined the singing of Psalms. Simply assuming that their convictions are to be superimposed upon what they wrote is not always correct. We may not add their personal convictions to authority, as if citing their other writings is of some weight to the matter of doctrine. The WCF is firm on that score, that no doctrine depends on man, or even on the church, but only on the Word.

    The short of it is this: some may believe that they can shift the balance of weight to the EP side by citing the "original intent" of the authors, namely the commissioners of the WA; but what is done by doing this is to create a bigger problem than the singing of hymns: it is an undermining of the authority of the WCF as a church document for unification. The only original intent that we must be concerned with is that of the Spirit, not of the members of that noted Assembly.

    [Edited on 1-8-2006 by JohnV]
  13. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    We're talking past each other and no time for any reply of substance. Mark is right that there are two subjects, and I am arguing the historical and fully grant we have to rest in the scriptural in the final analysis (just that I hold to EP). On the historical, I do not have to go to secondary sources to posit my position, which is simply this: the divines authorized psalm singing, they authorized nothing else. The did not discuss the subject of hymns as far as we have record. Imposing an allowance for hymns on their words because they did not condemn them is going beyond their words and their actions, which is why those who want uninspired hymns have changed the standards over the years. My final :2cents:
  14. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    With that, then, Chris, we shall leave it. Thank you for the exchange; it is very much appreciated.
  15. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Now that the Westminster history has been covered, lets try to get back to biblical arguments for EP.

    The OT synagogue worship has no bearing on the legitimacy of the Puritan model of the RPW. They are two different dispensations of worship. The OT lived in the shadows. Their worship was different, centralized around the temple, but the RPW remained. Whether synagogue worship was legitimate or not, and which traditions were legitmate or not, does nothing to undercut the Puritans view since they must build their understanding of worship on what is commanded in the NT with the coming of Christ and founding of the new covenant people of God. I think you would agree that the acts of worship fundamentally were altered with the coming of Christ correct? I happen to think there must have been some legitimacy to synagogue worship since Jesus participated in it. I'm sure their may have been many corruptions which God allowed (though did not approve of) from the traditions of men but still Jesus partook. But the psalms were not restricted to synagogue worship. They were used in the feasts and ceremonial worship of the temple. They were the songs of Zion. And we do not read of their use being discarded with the coming of Christ, nor do the apostles explain any insufficiency in them which new hymns must supplement. Most other aspects of OT worship were cast out as shadows, fulfilled by Christ. But the use of psalms continued, and was even commanded.

    So here is where the non-EP advocate must work from. Where is the precedent set for new compositions outside the psalter? Where are the psalms explained as insufficient for worship or needing amendment for the worship of God?
  16. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate


    I think this is an important consideration to remember. Given how particular God has laid out the way in which He desires to be worshiped, one would think that He would have laid out CLEAR intruction that we are to make up our own songs in worship.

    We have clear instruction that preaching is to be done. In fact a particular office is set up expressly for that purpose. We also have clear instruction for the reading of the Word, prayer and the sacraments.

    What we do not have, is clear instruction that we are to compose our own songs in worship. The command to sing "hymns and spiritual songs" has been shown not to be clear. Using scripture to interpret scripture (the primary rule of interpretation), this becomes a clearer command to sing psalms in worship.

    Also given the fact that a particular office has been given to read the Word, Preach the Word, and adminster the sacraments, and the fact that God has promised us help from the Holy Spirit to compose our own prayers (Rom. 8:26), BUT NEVER has God promised help, or instituted a particular office to compose our own songs, it only seems logical that God has not changed the O.T. element of singing Psalms, to singing uninspired songs.

    To compose elements of worship ourselves goes strictly against the RPW unless God has clearly commanded us to do so. With the elements of worship that he has commanded us to compose, he has promise help and/or instituted offices in the church to compose these (i.e. sermons). This just isn't the case with singing uninspired songs.
  17. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    Perhaps so...but I've seen plenty of guys stand before Presbytery and claim to take no exceptions, all the time NOT being EP...
  18. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

  19. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Of course. The PCA does not hold to THE ORIGINAL WCF but the American PCUSA version with the attending changes in worship on this score, and thus the original comment is rather pointless to respond to from that perspective. The PCA standards hold the exception as the norm and what I believe to be the original intent is the exception in the PCA, if that makes any sense!;)
  20. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    As non-EP I agree that hymns must not be as replacement songs for the Psalms. On that score we are agreed. That does not preclude hymns in worship, though.

    To reiterate, the way the discussions have gone the general approach has been that EP must establish Biblical legitimacy; if it fails to do that then non-EP is the standard. Maybe that has shifted?

    All non-EP means is that Exclusive Psalmody is not the Biblical command for worship in song. Well, at least that's it for me. By introducing, for example, Amazing Grace into the worship service, there is no intended or actual slight against the Psalms, nor even against the idea that the Psalms are enough. For me it is related elsewhere, as in the text in Romans 6:13,

    noting that the word "instruments" here does not refer to musical instruments, but that the same word in either case refers to a common meaning.

    Thus the voice, the heart, the mind, the capabilities, and the talents are instruments for righteousness. Therefore a work of composition done in servitude and righteousness, with thanksgiving, is an acceptable offering to God every bit as much as a carefully crafted cabinet from my shop done with a mind to the beauty of holiness was also an offering to God. There is no deliberate disparaging of the Psalms in this.

    Some of the work of my hands have stood in the front of the church as instruments of worship ( i.e., furniture ), namely a lectern, three pulpits, an offering box, a Communion table, etc. Especially the ones that I made myself, as opposed to doing it with others, were made with dedication and joy in the Lord, and with a heart to worship and service.

    Songs too are a work of the heart, perhaps more so than furniture made with wood. As someone who dabbles in music, I know that the Psalms are an inspiration, and that the composition of songs is not in any way a dissatisfaction with the Psalms, but rather an attempt at reaching to that holiness for oneself. I would give up music altogether if I did not have the hope that the musical expressions of my being are acceptable worship in God's eyes every bit as much as my prayers are acceptable, every bit as much as the meditations of my heart are acceptable. Sure, they are not so in every case; but my prayer always is that these things may be acceptable before God.

    Songs in worship are communal, not personal. To write my own songs is not the same as writing songs for communal worship. Nor is the intent ever to replace or supplement the Psalms. It is a giving over even of these talents to submission to God. In so doing some men have written communal songs that have given people who cannot write songs very expressive and identifiable words to lay before God in song. Can they be improved upon? Most certainly. Does that mean that they are not acceptable in God's eyes? The songs themselves are a secondary consideration here, as the hearts of the people is the main focus: are they singing with a sincere heart?

    I know that there are a lot of problems with songs in our day. There is a lot of innovation going on. As a non-EP I oppose that every bit as much as an EP proponent. But it is the innovation that we oppose. If all we have to do is write Biblical lyrics, and put them to the latest craze in music, and think that this is acceptable, then we have fallen far short of our task of overseeing these things. But that is also true if we think that the solution is throw out all songs that are not the Psalms. For in doing that we are also casting aspersions on people whom God has specifically granted talent to write songs that are identifiable for larger groups of people for unified singing.

    Some have argued that this is all the versifications of the Psalms are too. In a way they are right, because even with the Metric Psalms, which has been attested in this thread as being every bit as much, and perhaps even more, close to the original as the translation that is in our English Bibles, even this book is a separate book than the Bible, and is not the Bible itself by that inference. I would not go along with that argument, however, because it quite misses the point. I will not say anything against the Metric Psalms, for I have seen it for myself, and the man who showed me it also explained it, and provided examples by singing from the book with his family. It is an elegant work, to be sure.

    If we are to bring all things into obedience, taking every thought captive, then it merely follows that a songwriter ought to take his work of writing songs into obedience, taking every thought expressed into captivity. As such, he may write songs that people identify with, so that when they sing such a song they are singing their own heart. So they too are bringing their thoughts into captivity, and their worship into obedience.

    I do not cast these things out of the commandments of God, simply because there are already Psalms, and therefore to write songs then would be pretentious in the least, and outright impudence otherwise, no matter how submissive or thankful to God one was. As someone who has some ability in music, I take the same principles of every-day life teaching into that capability too. And just as my pulpits can make it to the front of churches, even so some of the songs that stem from a God-given talent and inspiration can too, without saying anything against the Psalms.

    The only criticism here is not against the Psalms, or the Bible, or against the RPW, but against those who have added the command of Exclusive Psalmody. If such songs are acceptable to God in private, then, if they are worthy of communal singing, and sound in admonishment and teaching, then why would they be unacceptable before God simply because the setting has changed, and the number of people partaking has changed?
    We have not added any command by including hymns in worship, but simply have brought this God-given capability of man under the authority of the Word too, so that the complete man may submit himself.
  21. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    This is all well and good to submit all our abilities to God. No disagreement there. But this submission of musicians to the Word could simply be limited to sanctifying our cultural music, just as Christian business men raise the standards of ethical business practices, or Christian politicians increase the integrity of political office. But where in Scripture are we given the precedent to use this ability to add further songs in worship when the psalms are not characterized by the apostles as requiring supplementation? Even if that is not your intent to supplement the psalms, that is what is being done. Psalms are sung less and replaced by hymns. The question is, what are the biblical grounds for that in worship? I will not argue against the fact that some hymns are more clearer in expressing NT truths or deny the good intentions of Christian musicians to glorify God. Certainly God accepted their worship, not because of any perfection on their part, but because it was accepted on behalf of Christ. But we must be able to give a biblical reason for what we do in worship. What is the biblical reason for adding new hymns from these godly men? There intentions alone are not enough to include their work in worship. I could understand that if the apostles explained the necessity for these new hymns, because of a need to bring them into greater conformity to Christ, and to modify our worship to reflect the new covenant realities. But, at least to me, I don't see the apostles doing this with music in the NT. Nor, do I see it in the OT for that matter. The musicians and songwriters were appointed by God for their respective gifts and duties. So, all I'm looking for is the biblical precedent to add new hymns. Hope I made my question more clear.

    [Edited on 1-9-2006 by puritansailor]
  22. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Its just that the Psalms themselves have admonitions and inspirations to that effect.

    When I did studies in music, the history of the organ, the origins of hymns, the introduction of certain modes of music, and so on, I kept running into references dating back as far as history itself goes. Hymns are not a stranger to any era or culture. And they are the origin of musical advancements where ever you turn. That impression has been left with me. This seems to me to be the implication of the Psalms as well.

    I do not want to suggest that your view is less than mine when I say that writing music to the glory of God in no way slights the Psalms as inspirational, glorifying, and worthy praise. I just cannot imagine Handel, for example, thinking that he has improved at all on the Psalms, or even that such a thing entered his mind when he wrote 'The Messiah'. I believe that he, as well as men like J.S. Bach, had in mind the superlative nature of the Psalms, and they were inspiration and teaching to them for their music. And I do not believe, as some would have it, that the Messiah is of such a quality that it is heavenly music as it is, without amendment. But is such not fitting to do with one's talents, according to the admonitions of the Psalms themselves? Offering songs of thanksgiving, making melody in you heart, expressing in art form what mere prose cannot, are these not also commands under the dominion mandate? Or is this one area to which this mandate does not refer? Are these talents and abilities exempt from bringing under the service of Christ?

    Just erase from your mind that there is any intention to supplement, replace, or slight the Psalms. If that is what hymns do, then I too am opposed to them. As such, we are united in our opposition to the careless use of music in our day, even to adding that to worship as if worship were man centred, or that lame and marred sheep will do for offerings while we keep the best for ourselves. Such is not the case with all hymns. And here we need to be more diligent in our oversight, to be sure.

    All I am saying, not to defend hymnology, is that the reasons given for EP are not sufficient. We need Biblical grounds. Original intent of the authors of the WCF only undermines the WCF as men's testimony rather than the church's testimony. And still, it needs adequate Scriptural grounding. EP is not a default position, not when you give it the wider consideration it is due.

    [Edited on 1-9-2006 by JohnV]
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