Exclusive Psalmody

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Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:5609b265c5="Dan...."][quote:5609b265c5]
John, you still don't understand the RPW. I think our disagreement is partially verbal. The EPer's case is that the advocate for uninspired hymnody doesn't have a case. What is not commanded is forbidden Sing Psalms is warrented by Scripture (everyone concedes this). Where are new songs warrented by Scripture? That's why the burden of proof is on you. You are attempting to introduce something into worship, you need to prove it is commanded in Scripture.
[/quote:5609b265c5]

To question whether the non-EP understands or adheres to the RPW is a diversion.

You say, "[i:5609b265c5]Sing Psalms is warrented by Scripture (everyone concedes this). [/i:5609b265c5]" I do not concede this. I concede that "singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" is warranted by the scriptures. To go beyond the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs would be a violation of the RPW. To limit "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" to the Psalms alone, apart from proven necessary inference is to bind the conscience of men without scriptural warrant. The RPW is not at issue here. What is at issue is whether it must be [b:5609b265c5]necessarily inferred[/b:5609b265c5] that "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" is limited to the Psalms alone. If someone can show why this must be necessarily inferred, then we can get somewhere.[/quote:5609b265c5]

Dan,

We use cultural historical information because it is part of the context of the scriptures. The scriptures do not exist in a vacuum. They exist in time. In a place. With people. With a culture.

To deny the relevance of those resources and the importance of using them is to hamstring biblical interpretation altogether.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:27244286a3="Dan...."][quote:27244286a3]
John, you still don't understand the RPW. I think our disagreement is partially verbal. The EPer's case is that the advocate for uninspired hymnody doesn't have a case. What is not commanded is forbidden Sing Psalms is warrented by Scripture (everyone concedes this). Where are new songs warrented by Scripture? That's why the burden of proof is on you. You are attempting to introduce something into worship, you need to prove it is commanded in Scripture.
[/quote:27244286a3]

To question whether the non-EP understands or adheres to the RPW is a diversion.

You say, "[i:27244286a3]Sing Psalms is warrented by Scripture (everyone concedes this). [/i:27244286a3]" I do not concede this. I concede that "singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" is warranted by the scriptures. To go beyond the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs would be a violation of the RPW. To limit "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" to the Psalms alone, apart from proven necessary inference is to bind the conscience of men without scriptural warrant. The RPW is not at issue here. What is at issue is whether it must be [b:27244286a3]necessarily inferred[/b:27244286a3] that "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" is limited to the Psalms alone. If someone can show why this must be necessarily inferred, then we can get somewhere.[/quote:27244286a3]

Like I said previously, the EP argument does not hinge on this passage. I'm perfectly happy with the present ambiguity.

[quote:27244286a3]"[i:27244286a3]Sing Psalms is warrented by Scripture (everyone concedes this). [/i:27244286a3] I do not concede this. I concede that "[i:27244286a3][b:27244286a3]singing psalms[/b:27244286a3][/i:27244286a3], [my emphasis] hymns and spiritual songs" is warranted by the scriptures." [/quote:27244286a3]

Wait, I thought you said you didn't believe Psalms were warrented by scripture? :puzzled: Whatever else is uncertain one thing is for sure: Eph 5 & Col 3 at LEAST permitts sing Psalms. Further we have Jas 5:13, and the very fact the Psalms are a canonical book of songs merits their divine approbation. You must show necessary inference that we are commanded to create new songs. Please stop shifting the burden of proof.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:19b34ea3af="Contra_Mundum"]My position pretty much parallels webmaster's.

The EP position, if held to as [i:19b34ea3af]THE[/i:19b34ea3af] only, truly biblical position, must be held at the most extreme position definable. (A possible suggestion: a literal translation, absolutely no metricization, unison chanting, minimal intonation, extremely simple; I'm sure there could be something more extreme...) Nothing less will do. Otherwise someone who is [i:19b34ea3af]more[/i:19b34ea3af] strict than the last fellow will, according to the nature of the argument, correctly define the "less pure" position as strictly non-EP.

The effect of this observation I believe shows that all or most of us in this forum are holding to some form of [u:19b34ea3af]a non-EP theology of song in worship[/u:19b34ea3af], [i:19b34ea3af]even those who only use some version of the Psalter they happen to be comfortable with, rejecting hymnbooks.[/i:19b34ea3af] If this is a correct observation, then we all--hymn-singers and non-hymnsingers alike--are holding to positions that are found on a [b:19b34ea3af]continuum of deviation[/b:19b34ea3af] from an extreme standard. Where you draw the line must be at a "peace of conscience" position that you find biblically defensible. At a minimum in the Reformed church, that means making some appeal to abiding by the RPW (as classically defined--see GIW above).

Obviously by this definition we are virtually all non-EPers. Therefore, it makes [i:19b34ea3af]zero[/i:19b34ea3af] sense in my view to snub anyone who does not come up to the limit of one's own conscience position, as if by choosing that [i:19b34ea3af]pou stow[/i:19b34ea3af] he had defined the limit of the RPW for everyone. Nearly everyone here would find themselves "outside" by somebody's definition! Better to say, "My understanding of the RPW won't let me go there. I hope you understand."

Not everyone will be found properly within bounds in this area on Judgment Day. But I believe this perspective keeps the whole matter of singing and the RPW in view, and keeps us humble, even as we try to persuade others of the limits and allowance of our position.[/quote:19b34ea3af]

Bruce, Patrick has already dealt with this argument that EP supposedly necessitates use of the original languages earlier in the thread. The confessions to which we all hold unmistakably explain, justify and necessitate the translation of the Scriptures into the commom languages [i:19b34ea3af]for all their intended uses[/i:19b34ea3af], which is why that argument simply doesn't fly.

[quote:19b34ea3af="JohnV"]Notice, if you will, what has been done and what has not been done. We can argue until the cows come home about burden of proof, but what still has not been shown is a direct command or necessary inference. This is called shifting the burden of proof. It is an inferential error. I am not positing another claim; I am asking for the substantiation of the caim EP-ers make, that God commands only the singing of the Psalms. If you shift the burden of proof, where are you shifting it onto? I cannot be on my position without your assuming I have one, and what it is.

I am asking for you to tell me, without reference to man's opinions no matter how scholarly, that the Eph. and Col. texts are telling us what EP-ers say. The inferences have to be direct, not circumstantial.[/quote:19b34ea3af]

John, you're not hearing me. What I'm trying to explain is that EP-adherants openly confess that there is no direct command to only sing the Psalms, and the EP argument is not based on the existence of such a command. Perhaps an analogy will help: You surely believe that it would be biblically forbidden for the elders of a church to institute and administer seven sacraments, rather than two. I may say, "Show me a direct command or necessary inference in the Bible that prohibits the administering of seven sacraments." However, the reason it would be wrong to include such a thing in the worship service is not due to any direct command forbidding it, but due to the lack of a direct command permitting it. There are countless other practices I could come up with that are nowhere forbidden in Scripture, but which would be improper to include in the worship service simply because they are not expressly commanded in Scripture. In the case for EP, the singing of non-Psalter songs is analogous to the administering of seven sacraments; there is neither a command saying "Thou shalt only sing songs from the Psalter" or one saying "Thou shalt only administer two sacraments." But because of the "forbidden unless commanded" nature of the RPW, adherants to EP believe that we are no more permitted to sing songs from outside the Psalter in the worship service than we are to administer more than two sacraments in the worship service, simply because we believe neither of them to be commanded in Scripture. Thus, the argument for EP is not a specific forbidding of non-Psalter songs in the Bible, but rather the lack of a specific permitting of non-Psalter songs in the Bible.

[quote:19b34ea3af="JohnV"]You have attributed to me things that I do not hold to. You do not have the warrant for asserting that my stance is similar to that of the RCC, the Lutherans, or the Greek Orthodox. I have given no indication to that end. It is a conclusion on your part, based on your understanding of my postion. Also, you have equated the RPW to EP, again without warrant...Simply assuming that EP is a Scriptural mandate does not make it so. Repeating it over and over does not make it so. Diverting attention does not make it so. Shifting the Burden of proof does not make it so. Begging the question does not make it so. Only a direct command or necessary inference does. And that has not been done.[/quote:19b34ea3af]

First of all, I am not associating you with the RC, Lutheran or GO church in terms of what you believe is permitted in worship. I am only pointing out that you really seem to be taking the [i:19b34ea3af]mindset[/i:19b34ea3af] of "permitted unless explicitly forbidden," whereas the RPW mindset is "forbidden unless explicitly commanded." If you do not agree with the former mindset, and are actually of the latter, please say so. Of the above two mindsets, with which one do you agree?

Furthermore, I am not equating the RPW with EP. I [i:19b34ea3af]am[/i:19b34ea3af] saying that the RPW is the [i:19b34ea3af]foundation[/i:19b34ea3af] for EP, and by that I mean that the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset is the foundation upon which EP-adherants build their case. I'm not automatically equating the RPW with EP, but only saying that if someone doesn't believe the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset to be biblical, they will certainly [i:19b34ea3af]never[/i:19b34ea3af] logically hold to EP.

John, I understand if you're feeling too physically weak due to your FM to give your full energy to this. I still intend to reply to your statements, but don't feel pressured to get into it any more than you feel up to.

[quote:19b34ea3af="Abd_Yesua_alMasih"]I have not been able to read all the way through but I have read 90% of what has been said. I have a question. Did the early church fathers say anything concerning this? While they may not be inspired they atleast would have carried on some of the very obvious traditions of the apostles. This can not apply to everything but obviously if we are to say the Church should only sing from the Psalms etc.. and other inspired songs then it would stand to reason that at some point early on the church changed this to singing uninspired songs also. Do I make sense? (It is 1am)[/quote:19b34ea3af]

Fraser, Williamson discusses this as well in his article. We do know that no hymns were ever found produced by the early church, which is at the very least noteworthy. Furthermore, not until a few centuries did such hymns begin to show up in the record, and even then the first ones were written by heretics such as Arius to combat the church.

[quote:19b34ea3af="Dan...."]To question whether the non-EP understands or adheres to the RPW is a diversion.

You say, "Sing Psalms is warrented by Scripture (everyone concedes this). " I do not concede this. I concede that "singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" is warranted by the scriptures. To go beyond the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs would be a violation of the RPW. To limit "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" to the Psalms alone, apart from proven necessary inference is to bind the conscience of men without scriptural warrant. The RPW is not at issue here. What is at issue is whether it must be necessarily inferred that "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" is limited to the Psalms alone. If someone can show why this must be necessarily inferred, then we can get somewhere.[/quote:19b34ea3af]

Dan, Peter was not saying that all non-EP's don't understand or adhere to the RPW. What I believe he was questioning, since I too am questioning it, is whether John agrees with the mindset "forbidden unless explicitly commanded," because quite honestly, he seems to not be holding to that mindset since he keeps asking for a direct command to sing only Psalms, when the EP case is not based on that but rather on the lack of a direct command to sing anything else.

When Peter said that everyone concedes that Scripture warrants the singing of Psalms, he meant just that - he did not mean that everyone concedes that Scripture warrants the singing of [i:19b34ea3af]only[/i:19b34ea3af] psalms, but rather that we know we're at least supposed to sing some Psalms, which everyone does concede. From there, again relying on the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset, he proceeds to ask for a similar warrant to sing some other songs, since that is what would be needed to disprove EP.

And as you said, the RPW is not at hand when people are arguing against EP by trying to show that "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" includes non-Psalter songs. That is indeed the argumentation that would be needed to refute EP, and we acknowledge that those using that argument hold to the RPW just as much as we do. However, the RPW [i:19b34ea3af]is[/i:19b34ea3af] at hand when someone tries to argue that the lack of a direct command forbidding non-Psalter songs refutes EP - by demanding a direct prohibition of other songs, and a direct command to sing [i:19b34ea3af]only[/i:19b34ea3af] Psalms, by using that as an argument against EP, one shows that they do not understand the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset, which is key to the RPW.

[b:19b34ea3af]Heidi[/b:19b34ea3af], your "added later" comment is correct. What I was arguing before in terms of the three words is not that specific Psalms correspond to Paul's words, but indeed that since the three terms were all used in various Psalms, they were virtually synonymous. As Williamson said, "Just as the Holy Spirit speaks of His "˜commandments and his statutes and his judgments"(tm) (Deut. 30:16, etc.), and of "˜miracles and wonders and signs"(tm) (Acts 2:22), so He speaks of His "˜psalms, hymns and songs"(tm)."

[quote:19b34ea3af="Dan...."]I understand the approach that Williamson takes and agree that quite possibly both Paul and his audience understood the use of the three terms as referring to the Psalms. However, such an historical argument is not enough to necessitate that this is the only logical interpretation of these three words. Hence such an inference is not a "œnecessary inference." And, if such can not be shown explicitly from the scriptures or by necessary inference, then the most that can be said is "œthis may be what he meant". "œThis may be what he meant" is not good enough to establish EP as binding.[/quote:19b34ea3af]

Dan, the historical argument is not the only part. There is an entirely separate exegetical argument as well, showing the synonymous Hebrew titles to the different Psalms and their correspondance to Paul's words. Furthermore, historical and cultural analysis in inevitable in the task of exegesis. Someone who has lived on an island all their life and learned no history, for example, would not be able to properly understand most of Scripture until he had a cultural and historical lesson. But again, even aside from that, the meat of the argument is exegetical.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Chris,

With regard to Williamson's historical argument I believe it is flawed. See, for instance, Iain Murray's "The Psalter - The Only Hymnal?" Pliny's letter to Trajan is also important in this connection.

You are, of course, correct that there needs to be a positive case for songs other than those in the Psalter. Again that brings us to the exegesis of Ephesians and Colossians, because if "hymns and spiritual songs" cannot refer to the Psalter they necessarily refer to something else. I am forced to reject the EP exegesis because it deconstructs itself (by the way, Calvin did not adopt that exegesis, neither did Matthew Henry or Charles Hodge: Thomas Manton says "I confess that we do not forbid other songs; if grave and pious, after good advice they may be received into the Church. Tertullian, in his Apology, showeth that in the primitive times they used this liberty, either to sing scripture psalms or such as were of private composure" Complete Works, v.4, p.444). But if that exposition is not correct, some other necessarily is. The only other exposition I know of is one that allows hymns of human composition, so I see warrant for them.

My pastor has talked extensively with people on the EP issue, and he says that the reaction he has always gotten to any argument he puts forward is "Speculative at best". My difficulty is that the EP exegesis of Ephesians and Colossians partakes of that speculative character. I have read Williamson and the OPC Minority Report --which is much better than Williamson, in my view.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Ruben,

As regards the interpretation of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," when I compare the two options, the non-Psalter interpretation honestly seems to me to be the far more speculative interpretation. In the OT, apart from a couple songs God commanded his people to sing at specific redemptive occasions (e.g. the song of Moses), we have no indication of regular congregational singing in the OT - the closest thing we have to such an indication is the fact that there is a book of melodic poems to God in the middle of the OT that we know were sung at times; and the songs in this book were titled by all three of the Hebrew words for psalms, hymns and songs.

So in the NT, when Paul reminds God's people to sing "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs," which is more speculative: 1) assuming that he was referring to that book of melodic poems to God sung in the OT, which were in their own text described by all three of Paul's words, or 2) assuming that he was referring to the composition and singing of new, well-intentioned songs written by men, even though there is no record of those types of songs being composed or used in the OT.

The first option has the evidence of the Psalter's melodic and poetic nature, the explicit mention of Psalms being sung at times throughout the OT, and the matching usage of title words, and so there is definitely some positive evidence pointing toward the possibility of Paul referring to that type of song. The second option has the evidence of...well, there is no indication in the OT that miscellaneous, man-made songs were ever composed or used in a regular congregational setting, and so the assumption that there even was such songs, and furthermore that they are the type of songs to which Paul was referring, could hardly be more speculative, lacking any positive evidence.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Chris, you understand the EP position and represent it honestly. And you articulate it better than I can! If there is anything else you need help with or explained if I can I gladly will, but you've already read Williamson ... If you're interested buy "Songs of Zion".
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks, Peter. Your input on this thread is definitely part of what helped me with the objections I had to it. Basically my last objection was cleared up just as this third page was started, so I just decided to continue the discussion without a need to make a big deal of my shift - I figured it would be obvious in my arguments from that point on.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
It appears to me that the objection has not yet been answered, as to why (unlike every other element of worship) it is actually a SIN to sing God's Word.

For if I lead my congregation in a singing of Exodus 15, or if I set Romans 1 or Ephesians 2 to music (even using the common meters of the Scottish Psalter) I have just sinned and caused my congregation to sin. Not because of theological content, not because of human invention, but because of the logical conclusion of the EP position. To sing ANYTHING, including the very words of Scripture itself is a sin.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Fred,

I'm sure you would consider the following acts to be sinful: 1) a pastor to regularly preach historical sermons (such as those given by Puritans, Spurgeon, etc.) on some weeks, and his own on others, or 2) a church to anoint every member in the congregation with oil at the same time at the beginning of every service, and give a general prayer that God would heal every member who needs it, within His will.

The reason those practices would be unbiblical, of course, is that while biblically good in and of themselves, they would be being practiced outside their biblically-assigned purposes. Sermons are commanded, but already-existing ones are not intended to take the place of fresh sermons studied and prepared by the preacher himself. And anointing members with oil in prayer that God will heal their sickness is biblical, but it is not commanded to be done to the entire congregation at once without knowing who does and does not need healing. Likewise, the non-Psalter Scriptures are intended to build up and instruct God's people, but they are neither commanded nor demonstrated to be used for worship through song, which has a different role in worship than the preaching of the Word.
 

Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Fred,

When God sanctified the Sabbath day for worship, it was a law based on his own arbitrary command. It is sinful to work on the Sabbath not because there is something innately wrong about doing work on Sunday but because God set that day up for us to be refreshed in it. There are plenty of arbitrary and at times temporary commands given by God that he is perfectly free and just to set down for his creatures that are shown in scripture. Do we really have to even crack open the book of Leviticus to prove this? The tassels in Numbers 15? The exact type of animals required for worship? The way that animals had to be prepared for sacrifice? So many elements of worship are arbitrarily set down by God, JUSTLY, so that his worship is regulated not by our reason or feeling but by the plain and sometimes arbitrary institution of the LORD. Calvin acknowledges this fact in his book the Necessity of Reformation.

Secondly, as you know EP does not deny the liberty of Christians to sing the songs in scripture. But it does deny the right to sing songs not intended by God for use as the substance of our congregational worship in a New Testament context.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
PERHAPS THE PURPOSE OF MY POST WAS MISSED

[quote:5191ba84a8="Ianterrell"][quote:5191ba84a8="Contra_Mundum"]My position pretty much parallels webmaster's.

The EP position, if held to as [i:5191ba84a8]THE[/i:5191ba84a8] only, truly biblical position, must be held at the most extreme position definable. (A possible suggestion: a literal translation, absolutely no metricization, unison chanting, minimal intonation, extremely simple; I'm sure there could be something more extreme...) Nothing less will do. Otherwise someone who is [i:5191ba84a8]more[/i:5191ba84a8] strict than the last fellow will, according to the nature of the argument, correctly define the "less pure" position as strictly non-EP.[/quote:5191ba84a8] Your definition with all due respect is arbitrary. There is no command to sing in chant. As to meter, the hebrew language is very easily made into metrical hymnody. This was the practice of 1 century Jews in their synagogues. Why minimal intonation as opposed to complex inotation? Again an arbitrary standard.[/quote:5191ba84a8] It might be more accurately stated that my "suggestion" for defining the [u:5191ba84a8]most[/u:5191ba84a8] extreme position was arbitrary, as indeed it is, and any other definition someone else might offer as to what is the most extreme position. Appealing to innovations of 1st Cent. Judaism as a positive justificational principle is itself arbitrary. And the "simple" aspect of the debate cannot be dismissed when its inconvenient, and brought up when it is convenient. "Innovation" or "complexity", which is antithetical to "simplicity", is at the heart of the debate. As I defined the terms, the question is, what degree of complexity can I live with?

I simply reiterate: Can someone, even a hypothetical person you haven't met yet, look at what you are doing, compare it with his own practice, and find your practice less "pure"? Less true to the ideal of simplicity as he defines it? Including more "inovations" than are included in the Word? If so, then you are going to find yourself in the same position as we are--defending your practice as falling within the bounds of the RPW. You can plead "necessity" for including 150 (+/-) tune variations in your psalter, but really that's [i:5191ba84a8][b:5191ba84a8]not[/b:5191ba84a8][/i:5191ba84a8] necessary, not one bit. Its [i:5191ba84a8]arbitrary.[/i:5191ba84a8]

Chanting is "simpler" than singing, that's all my suggestion points out. If you aren't going to absolutely rule out anything beyond utter simplicity (and four part harmony is definitely several innovations removed from the purity of the text), [i:5191ba84a8]then you are making allowances.[/i:5191ba84a8] You are saying, "I'm comfortable, and within the RPW I think, this far removed from that extreme position."

As long as we are agreed on what the RPW states, we have to honestly see this as an intramural debate about its limits in this particular area, and not as a defense/overthrow of the RPW itself.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
[quote:d0a1ceef26]I simply reiterate: Can someone, even a hypothetical person you haven't met yet, look at what you are doing, compare it with his own practice, and find your practice less "pure"? Less true to the ideal of simplicity as he defines it? Including more "inovations" than are included in the Word? If so, then you are going to find yourself in the same position as we are--defending your practice as falling within the bounds of the RPW. You can plead "necessity" for including 150 (+/-) tune variations in your psalter, but really that's not necessary, not one bit. [u:d0a1ceef26][i:d0a1ceef26][b:d0a1ceef26]Its arbitrary[/b:d0a1ceef26][/i:d0a1ceef26][/u:d0a1ceef26]. [/quote:d0a1ceef26]

Well said Bruce.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:8dcb209e8d="Ianterrell"]Fred,

When God sanctified the Sabbath day for worship, it was a law based on his own arbitrary command. It is sinful to work on the Sabbath not because there is something innately wrong about doing work on Sunday but because God set that day up for us to be refreshed in it. There are plenty of arbitrary and at times temporary commands given by God that he is perfectly free and just to set down for his creatures that are shown in scripture. Do we really have to even crack open the book of Leviticus to prove this? The tassels in Numbers 15? The exact type of animals required for worship? The way that animals had to be prepared for sacrifice? So many elements of worship are arbitrarily set down by God, JUSTLY, so that his worship is regulated not by our reason or feeling but by the plain and sometimes arbitrary institution of the LORD. Calvin acknowledges this fact in his book the Necessity of Reformation.

Secondly, as you know EP does not deny the liberty of Christians to sing the songs in scripture. But it does deny the right to sing songs not intended by God for use as the substance of our congregational worship in a New Testament context.[/quote:8dcb209e8d]

Ian,

With all due respect, we are not talking about types and figures here (e.g. Leviticus). What the EP position is, is that those expressions of an element of worship - namely congregation praise and song - that were permissible before the completion of the Psalter are now SINFUL. So were Moses to sing his song from Deuteronomy 32, or the song of Israel in Ex 15 in worship, he would be sinning. The same goes to true for anyone who wished to sing the songs from Revelation.

I see nowhere in the Bible where this change in an element occurs. Note I am not talking about a change in the removal of a permissible element, i.e. animal sacrifices. But we are saying that something that was permissible to do in an element is no longer. And we are not talking about circumstances, but an element. It is still permissible to read Leviticus during worship. It is still permitted to pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is still permitted to preach from the OT. But now we have an element - song - that is no longer permitted as it was.

I also understand that worship is not a matter of feeling but command. But other than appeals to Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16, which I still believe to be exegetical gymnastics (would we ever set down another doctrine from superscriptions?), there has been no positive command that limits song to the Psalter. I have seen much in the way of feeling and preference - the Psalter "feels complete" "Luther called it a little Bible" etc., but nothing by way of prescription.

Now I do not deny the goodness of the Psalter. I teach it to my children. And I do not deny the RPW nature of song. I see the command there in Scripture. But what the EP advocate MUST do, is show a command that the Psalms are the only songs to be sung. It is the EP advocate who seeks to make matters of circumstance (the content of song, musical accompaniment) on the level of an element. So the burden is clearly on the EP. While we live by the rule - [i:8dcb209e8d]not commanded is forbidden[/i:8dcb209e8d] - we must also show why something is an element and not a circumstance. I can do that with preaching, reading Scripture, prayer, drama, animal sacrifice, etc. I have not seen it done with music, instruments and the Psalter. I must see a command (or good and necessary consequence) from Scripture to elevate the specific words of song to an element.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:bb86429dfb="Me Died Blue"]Fred,

I'm sure you would consider the following acts to be sinful: 1) a pastor to regularly preach historical sermons (such as those given by Puritans, Spurgeon, etc.) on some weeks, and his own on others, or 2) a church to anoint every member in the congregation with oil at the same time at the beginning of every service, and give a general prayer that God would heal every member who needs it, within His will.

The reason those practices would be unbiblical, of course, is that while biblically good in and of themselves, they would be being practiced outside their biblically-assigned purposes. Sermons are commanded, but already-existing ones are not intended to take the place of fresh sermons studied and prepared by the preacher himself. And anointing members with oil in prayer that God will heal their sickness is biblical, but it is not commanded to be done to the entire congregation at once without knowing who does and does not need healing. Likewise, the non-Psalter Scriptures are intended to build up and instruct God's people, but they are neither commanded nor demonstrated to be used for worship through song, which has a different role in worship than the preaching of the Word.[/quote:bb86429dfb]

Chris,

You are missing the point. First, why would it be sinful to preach Edward's sermons? Would it be preaching? If not, there is your answer. If it would, then it would NOT be sinful. Second, the anointing issue does not apply. It would be sinful because it runs [u:bb86429dfb]counter[/u:bb86429dfb] to the Biblical command, which is: [i:bb86429dfb]"[b:bb86429dfb]Is anyone among you sick[/b:bb86429dfb]? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."[/i:bb86429dfb] So if we call for the elders and anoint those that are not sick, we are not following James' injunction.

Once again, the burden is on the EP to show that the other Scriptures are NOT to be sung.
 

luvroftheWord

Puritan Board Sophomore
1 Corinthians 14:26--
"What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has [i:7db90af9f6]a hymn[/i:7db90af9f6], a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up."

This verse is evidence, to me, that when the New Testament speaks of "psalms, hymns, songs, etc" that it is not necessarily speaking of the 150 Psalms of the OT. In the context of this passage, Paul is giving instruction on how the church should properly use their spiritual gifts in worship. Thus, the content of the hymns in this verse as they relate to the other things being mentioned (tongues, interpretations, lessons, revelations) must be that it is [i:7db90af9f6]fresh[/i:7db90af9f6] revelation. The hymns in this verse are not to be understood as charismatic selections out of the OT Psalter, since this runs contrary to the nature of the other things mentioned.

Schwertly addresses this passage and says, "If 1 Corinthians 14:26 refers to Christians composing songs for public worship, these songs were "œas is universally admitted, charismatic songs and therefore products of the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit." He refers to Bushnell for support of this argument. But this still doesn't help the EP position because we still have an example of singing songs in worship that are NOT from the OT Psalter, even if they are divinely inspired. It would at least add force to Fred's argument that if divine inspiration is required, then we should be able to put Exodus 15 to music and sing it in worship. So again, I am not convinced that the uses of the words "psalms, hymns, etc" in the NT are all referring to the OT Psalter.

Also, I have a question. It has been mentioned before the the song of Moses, song of Mary, etc were special songs given for particular times that are not to be used today. But how do we know that the 150 Psalms [i:7db90af9f6]themselves[/i:7db90af9f6] were not given for a special time in the history of God's people that are not to be sung today in worship? In reading over this thread I don't think this question has been asked.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Fred, with regard to the instances in the OT such as Moses' song, as Patrick pointed out in answer to my question earlier, there is no indication that they were used regularly in a congregational setting, or had a broader purpose than commemoration of one-time redemptive events. And since, by the "forbidden unless..." principle, it is the non-EP position that must build a constructive case for uninspired hymnody, a couple one-time events at significant times in the OT simply don't establish something as a regular, congregational practice. And with regard to the "new songs" In Revelation, of course there will be new songs in the period of which it is speaking, since there will indeed be new revelation then as well.

Furthermore, I cannot honestly agree that the burden of proof is on the EP-advocate to show that other Scriptures are not to be sung. I think you know and trust that I don't have a biased agenda in defending EP, since I came into this thread not even expecting to be persuaded of it anyway. But my arguments against it kept falling one-by-one, until I unexpectedly realized that I had no more. There's even a part of me that still somewhat wishes I wasn't persuaded of it, or that I could mentally justify placing the burden of proof on the non-EP position, since I'm so attached to singing other songs in worship. But when I connect the dots, [i:3346d9c20f]I simply don't see either a command or a demonstration to sing any other songs in regular, congregational worship[/i:3346d9c20f], and I thus can only conclude that the burden of proof is on anyone who would say that there is such a justification.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I will admit at the outset that I have not read all the posts. I fully realize that I am committing the fallacy of sympathy. I need to be committed to responding to the answers to my objection, and to continue to try to hold the EP position to account.

You must see this as a benefit, not an opposition. If EP is binding, then you should thank me for my efforts in making you do all the hard work to show that it is. If it cannot be bound, then you should likewise thank me for that. I am not objecting from an opposing view: I am objecting that what has been asserted has not been established.

Peter:
[quote:a3685bc303]John, you still don't understand the RPW. I think our disagreement is partially verbal. The EPer's case is that the advocate for uninspired hymnody doesn't have a case. What is not commanded is forbidden Sing Psalms is warrented by Scripture (everyone concedes this). Where are new songs warrented by Scripture? That's why the burden of proof is on you. You are attempting to introduce something into worship, you need to prove it is commanded in Scripture. [/quote:a3685bc303]

I will concede one point, and that is that a misunderstanding is involved here. I am not appreciating the full extent of your position in my responses. But it is a mistake to think that I don"(tm)t understand the RPW. I have indeed taken the prohibition into account. I would suggest that the other part of this is also valid, that EP has not taken my objection fully into account, that it has not yet been understood.

Why has there not been a proof of the doctrinal position of EP? If, for example, Williamson"(tm)s dissertation of EP is so convincing, why has not the OPC adopted it? Why do they still have the Trinity Hymnal? Why, as good as it is, is it still not as good as the blue Psalter Hymnal of the old CRC? (OK, I concede, this is a value judgment, but what lies behind is still a valid point: the Trinity Hymnal is cherished by the OPC and others, like myself. )

[quote:a3685bc303][i:a3685bc303]from Michael Bushnell[/i:a3685bc303]
The most important practical consequence of the prohibitory character of the regulative principle is that it places the burden of proof squarely on the shoulders of those who would introduce innovations or disputed practices into the worship of God.[/quote:a3685bc303]
This is called taking the high ground. It is a fallacy. It is nice to assert something like this, but it completely ignores the claim that the OT is filled with commands to sing in faith, and is seen by many to be included in the Eph. and Col. verses. These are discounted because of personal interpretation, but not out of necessity. The word, "œinnovative" makes underhanded charges against the inclusion of Scriptural hymns, and even invokes disparaging connivances against men like John Newton, who wrote [u:a3685bc303]Amazing Grace[/u:a3685bc303]. Whether or not [u:a3685bc303]Amazing Grace[/u:a3685bc303] is included in a worship service, it is called an innovation in a disparaging way. The word invokes more than is necessary for the case.

I am not running down the work of Bushnell. Don"(tm)t misunderstand. I am only saying that because Bushell says this does not make it so. It does not establish the necessity required.

But, and this is the point I will always get back to: this objection to my objection is a diversion. I asked for EP to be shown to be doctrinally established, and this evades this. The onus remains on EP to make their case. [u:a3685bc303]I have made no other case[/u:a3685bc303]. There cannot be any burden on proof on me or some imaginary case. If you have a platform, show it. Thusly: first you say EP is part of the RPW, and therefore Scriptural, and then you say it is Scriptural, and therefore part of the RPW. So you are arguing in a circle.

[quote:a3685bc303][i:a3685bc303]from Dan[/i:a3685bc303]
You say, "Sing Psalms is warrented by Scripture (everyone concedes this). " I do not concede this. I concede that "singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" is warranted by the scriptures. To go beyond the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs would be a violation of the RPW. To limit "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" to the Psalms alone, apart from proven necessary inference is to bind the conscience of men without scriptural warrant. The RPW is not at issue here. What is at issue is whether it must be necessarily inferred that "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" is limited to the Psalms alone. If someone can show why this must be necessarily inferred, then we can get somewhere.[/quote:a3685bc303]
I did not miss your point, Dan. I wish I could be so concise. I see what it is that you are not conceding: the proposition of "Singing Psalms is warranted by Scripture" being equated to "œScripture warrants only the singing of the Psalms." If the latter is meant by the former, then you do not concede; if the latter does not necessarily mean the former, then you do concede. The RPW is not at issue in the discussion, for both parties hold to the exact same position. I am in agreement with that. The non-EP view is taken to be a non-RPW view, and even an anti-RPW view, when in fact it may even be a stricter RPW view. I believe it is stricter. In fact, if we understand one another, it is the RPW that forbids EP until it can be established as necessarily inferred from Scripture.

Ian:

[quote:a3685bc303]JohnV,

You see the problem is that we are arguing with scripture, you simply are re-stating again and again that we must do so. John, no offense but your tactics are simply frustrating simply because you are holding people to a standard that they have been clearly dealing with honestly the whole time while you continue to interject "sola scriptura, sola scriptura!"[/quote:a3685bc303]

I will concede that this is frustrating. But, Ian, this does not answer the objection. What has been done is that EP has been asserted, but it has not been shown to be a binding doctrine. What is frustrating is that I won"(tm)t let it get derailed. I am not falling for all those distracting issues. I know that this may be taken as an offence, but you have to realize that that also does not change the main issue here. I am not going to destroy your faith with my objections, but at the same time, I ask you to have consideration for mine. I think that I hold higher ground, but I am not the one making the assertions. Do you understand how pivotal a thing it is to assert doctrine? What ought to be scaring you is not whether I am right, but whether you are right. You are bearing a heavy responsibility by asserting as doctrine what may only be a precept of man, by superimposing preconceived ideas upon Scripture. This needs to be frustratingly tedious. I may be wrong in not being an EP-er, but that is totally beside the point here. Let me say it again. [u:a3685bc303]I am not arguing my objection as a non-EP-er, I am asking for the Scriptural proof for EP.[/u:a3685bc303]

[quote:a3685bc303]
We always must deal with historical information to support our interpretation of texts written by men who lived thousands of years before us. This "solo scriptura" idea that you and Fred are using for the sake of this particular argument is self defeating. Since when do we not refer to other relevant materials from the Bible times to help us more consistently interpret their language and cultural references? Do you always dismiss the use of such "extra-biblical" sources. Again I'm asking you to be consistent.[/quote:a3685bc303]
You are right, we do take into consideration the relevant materials along side of Scripture. And we are always seeking more of it. But we have not, and hopefully will not, establish doctrine by them, unless by necessity from Scripture.

I thank you for bringing this up. For this is the licence used by many in our day to argue for things like the Framework Hypothesis, NPP, A-4, Presuppositionalism, Theonomy, the Analagous Day Theory, and the list goes on endlessly. This is exactly why I am adamant about this particular issue. I think that we have lost the clear distinctions between good and proper speculation and the Word of God. The FH, for example, is a nice idea perhaps, but it does not belong in the churches for discussion on the level that it is being discussed. It is an imported idea imposed upon Scripture, nowhere does Scripture necessitate it, nor does creational necessity require it. It is just a possibility, and that is all. If proven as a viable explanation, all it can do is take the creation account out of our Confessions, [b:a3685bc303]nothing more: [u:a3685bc303]it cannot be added to them[/u:a3685bc303][/b:a3685bc303]. That is because it is bound up by speculation, not necessity. So where do people get the gall to mix this in with our Confessional standards? What it means to me is that these people don"(tm)t know what our Confessional standards stand for, that they confuse the Biblical necessity of the six-day view (whether we understand it or not, whether we agree with it or not) with other man-originated views.

But this is a whole other topic. We are dealing with EP, and getting it established as doctrinally binding. You must see me as helping you, by insisting upon the clear Sola, not Solo, Scriptural warrant for it, utilizing properly the extra-Biblical material.

Chris:
[quote:a3685bc303]John, you're not hearing me. What I'm trying to explain is that EP-adherants openly confess that there is no direct command to only sing the Psalms, and the EP argument is not based on the existence of such a command. [/quote:a3685bc303]
This is quite a concession. Can we all agree on this concession? If so, then what has to be proven Scripturally is the obviation of all other songs than the 150 Psalms.

[quote:a3685bc303]Perhaps an analogy will help: You surely believe that it would be biblically forbidden for the elders of a church to institute and administer seven sacraments, rather than two. I may say, "Show me a direct command or necessary inference in the Bible that prohibits the administering of seven sacraments." However, the reason it would be wrong to include such a thing in the worship service is not due to any direct command forbidding it, but due to the lack of a direct command permitting it. [/quote:a3685bc303]
I hope you can see the inconsistency with the previous quote, Chris. I agree with you that we should not be adding, willy nilly, to the worship service whatever suits our fancy. But you are assuming the narrowing of the definitions to the EP view in suggesting that the singing of hymns is not part of the commands for worship. In the previous quote you intimate a concession that this is ambiguous at best, but now you assume again that it is not. This example, then, has the opposite effect that you intended. If I were assuming the non-EP position instead of just calling for the establishment of the claims of EP, I could use the very same example against EP.

[quote:a3685bc303]There are countless other practices I could come up with that are nowhere forbidden in Scripture, but which would be improper to include in the worship service simply because they are not expressly commanded in Scripture. In the case for EP, the singing of non-Psalter songs is analogous to the administering of seven sacraments; there is neither a command saying "Thou shalt only sing songs from the Psalter" or one saying "Thou shalt only administer two sacraments." But because of the "forbidden unless commanded" nature of the RPW, adherants to EP believe that we are no more permitted to sing songs from outside the Psalter in the worship service than we are to administer more than two sacraments in the worship service, simply because we believe neither of them to be commanded in Scripture. Thus, the argument for EP is not a specific forbidding of non-Psalter songs in the Bible, but rather the lack of a specific permitting of non-Psalter songs in the Bible. [/quote:a3685bc303]
I think we would do well, in maybe another thread, to talk about what the words "œpsalms, hymns and spiritual songs" may include aside from our preconceived notions. I think that some assumptions are attached to what you say here. And that is particularly what I am asking for, the logical tie of these assumptions to Scripture. The above quote, in which you concede the definitions, is important to all of us. It makes an incredible difference. We need to know whether the Eph. and Col. texts are now commands to sing songs out of faith, or to sing only the Psalms, or to sing only songs that are recorded in the Bible. All three are possible from the texts, from the definitions as given by scholars, and from the side issues which to date have not been fully addressed, such as Hebrews 11:6 and the theonomic effect. (I don"(tm)t like using that term because of recent connotations placed on it, but it is still the best term if understood rightly. Again, I am not asserting, but only showing viable objections. )

[quote:a3685bc303]First of all, I am not associating you with the RC, Lutheran or GO church in terms of what you believe is permitted in worship. I am only pointing out that you really seem to be taking the mindset of "permitted unless explicitly forbidden," whereas the RPW mindset is "forbidden unless explicitly commanded." If you do not agree with the former mindset, and are actually of the latter, please say so. Of the above two mindsets, with which one do you agree? [/quote:a3685bc303]
I was suggesting that you were assuming my position without warrant. Why would the inclusion of hymns fall outside of the RPW, the prohibition of unwarranted songs? I am just keeping you from arguing in a circle, by assuming the conclusion in the premise. Is it indeed true that EP only is the expression of RPW? That has yet to be settled. The non-EP position also recognizes that prohibition, and is the grounding for objecting to EP.

[quote:a3685bc303]Furthermore, I am not equating the RPW with EP. I am saying that the RPW is the foundation for EP, and by that I mean that the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset is the foundation upon which EP-adherants build their case. I'm not automatically equating the RPW with EP, but only saying that if someone doesn't believe the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset to be biblical, they will certainly never logically hold to EP.[/quote:a3685bc303]
Agreed. The RPW is indeed the foundation for EP. Perhaps you misunderstood. I was not suggesting the EP is the totality of the RPW; I was suggesting that there was a confusion of the RPW as a foundation for EP and the RPW binding EP upon all. There is a difference, but you seemed to be confusing the two. There can be no other foundation for EP, if it holds, than the RPW. The reliance upon the definitions has been conceded. However, now it has to be shown that the RPW allows no other than the Psalms, without relying on the definitions; that EP is what the RPW demands. It may yet be that the RPW forbids EP as an extra-Biblical command. In other words, the RPW may also be the defence of the non-EP view. Don"(tm)t assume the identification of EP with the RPW worship, for that is what is being requested.

[quote:a3685bc303]John, I understand if you're feeling too physically weak due to your FM to give your full energy to this. I still intend to reply to your statements, but don't feel pressured to get into it any more than you feel up to. [/quote:a3685bc303]
Thank you for calling me on my poor excuses, Chris. You must needs be answered seriously, seeing as how you are putting a great effort into this. I am going to pull up my socks and give it my best shot. You indeed are a true friend.

[quote:a3685bc303]When Peter said that everyone concedes that Scripture warrants the singing of Psalms, he meant just that - he did not mean that everyone concedes that Scripture warrants the singing of only psalms, but rather that we know we're at least supposed to sing some Psalms, which everyone does concede. From there, again relying on the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset, he proceeds to ask for a similar warrant to sing some other songs, since that is what would be needed to disprove EP.

And as you said, the RPW is not at hand when people are arguing against EP by trying to show that "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" includes non-Psalter songs. That is indeed the argumentation that would be needed to refute EP, and we acknowledge that those using that argument hold to the RPW just as much as we do. However, the RPW is at hand when someone tries to argue that the lack of a direct command forbidding non-Psalter songs refutes EP - by demanding a direct prohibition of other songs, and a direct command to sing only Psalms, by using that as an argument against EP, one shows that they do not understand the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset, which is key to the RPW. [/quote:a3685bc303]
This is the "œtheonomic principle" that I was referring to. If this is the stand for EP, then we still have the same call for warrant, but we now have added to it the theonomic warrant. In capsule form, the same argumentation for the basis of law undergirding the Christian"(tm)s freedom is involved in this very issue as well. The inclusion of hymns, even of John Newton"(tm)s [u:a3685bc303]Amazing Grace[/u:a3685bc303] does not go against the prohibition of the RPW under this principle. And yet it is assumed, by connotation, that it does. We now need an argument to show that John Newton was not using God-given talents to express his soul-wrenching experiences, and that is was not under the auspices of Scriptural freedoms under the law.

You have the right to call into question my adherence to the RPW. But that being done, it provides you with nothing more than an ad hominem. Widening the considerations only makes is more difficult, and eases the non-EP burden.



I have answers to some of the rest of the posts as well, but as they are not directed at me per se I will leave them for Dan, Fred, and CM to answer.

Fred:
I would remind you of the distinction between what was commanded to symbolize God"(tm)s work in redemption, (i.e. the sacrifices demanded by law, and which was fulfilled by Christ ) and the called-for responsess of a sanctified people; and therefore an extreme difference exists between that and the songs of worship, as they are not in compliance with any such sanctifying commands, but called for of a sanctified people. Therefore the comparison made in response to your objection was illegitimate. I only say this to aid your responses. Chris was comparing apples to oranges.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Chris:
[quote:e9656d4283]And since, by the "forbidden unless..." principle, it is the non-EP position that must build a constructive case for uninspired hymnody, a couple one-time events at significant times in the OT simply don't establish something as a regular, congregational practice[/quote:e9656d4283]
What I am objecting to, Chris, is that this is not good enough by a country mile for what EP claims.

Let me put it another way. You have to be ABSOLUTELY sure, and not just for yourself, that it is God who commands this. What if He did not, but you have put this in His mouth? The non-EP side has not yet contended for putting words in God's mouth. All that the objections have done is to call for verification that it is from God, and not human conjecture.

Look at your post again. Maybe it is true that a couple of one time instances have not established the rule, but that does not establish EP. In fact, it does not address EP, strictly speaking.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
The RPW and burden of proof

[quote:b599834fc2="Me Died Blue"]Fred, with regard to the instances in the OT such as Moses' song, as Patrick pointed out in answer to my question earlier, there is no indication that they were used regularly in a congregational setting, or had a broader purpose than commemoration of one-time redemptive events. And since, by the "forbidden unless..." principle, it is the non-EP position that must build a constructive case for uninspired hymnody, a couple one-time events at significant times in the OT simply don't establish something as a regular, congregational practice. And with regard to the "new songs" In Revelation, of course there will be new songs in the period of which it is speaking, since there will indeed be new revelation then as well.

Furthermore, I cannot honestly agree that the burden of proof is on the EP-advocate to show that other Scriptures are not to be sung. I think you know and trust that I don't have a biased agenda in defending EP, since I came into this thread not even expecting to be persuaded of it anyway. But my arguments against it kept falling one-by-one, until I unexpectedly realized that I had no more. There's even a part of me that still somewhat wishes I wasn't persuaded of it, or that I could mentally justify placing the burden of proof on the non-EP position, since I'm so attached to singing other songs in worship. But when I connect the dots, [i:b599834fc2]I simply don't see either a command or a demonstration to sing any other songs in regular, congregational worship[/i:b599834fc2], and I thus can only conclude that the burden of proof is on anyone who would say that there is such a justification.[/quote:b599834fc2]

Chris,

Please show me one instance in the Scriptures where it has a psalm being sung in a congregational worship setting. There is none. The fact is that we do not have any detailed descriptions of congregational worship. THis is simply an unwarranted assumption on the EP side. After all, they say, we know that the Psalter was the hymnbook of the Jews, and even of the Jews of Jesus' day. We have no firm evidence that it was the exclusive hymnbook of the early church, but that should be enough. The problem is that we know with even more certainty that musical instruments were used to accompany singing in the OT. The Bible is explicit about that. And yet EP advocates will construct an entire argument about the nature of OT worship passing away, and the lack of need for musical accompaniment in the NT, etc. But they will not allow for any assumed "progression" with respect to the content of the songs.

Put another way - the EP position requires that the psalms only be sung in NT era, in a way in which they were [b:b599834fc2]almost never[/b:b599834fc2] sung by the OT saints to whom the psalter was delivered. If David himself desired to worship in an EP church as he did when he was alive, he would be charged with sinning because he desired accompaniment on his harp.

I have heard you about the "not commanded is forbidden." But what you have not heard is:

[quote:b599834fc2="WCF 20.2"]God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; [b:b599834fc2]or beside it[/b:b599834fc2], if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.[/quote:b599834fc2]

and

[quote:b599834fc2="WCF 1.6"]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: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men[/quote:b599834fc2]

The Puritans never foisted an element on the RPW on others without explicitly showing warrant for it in Scripture. They would not even leave the morning and evening worship to the "commands of men" but rather sought to justify it from both the texts speaking of morning and evening sacrifice and the worship we see in Acts in the evening. To simply say, you must show me where un-inspired songs are commanded is to beg the question. We see clearly that God requires and commands the [b:b599834fc2]element [/b:b599834fc2]of song in Scripture. Thus far we agree. But if we are to [i:b599834fc2]define[/i:b599834fc2] the [i:b599834fc2]content [/i:b599834fc2]of the element of song in [u:b599834fc2]such a fashion as to bind the consciences of men[/u:b599834fc2], then we must also find Scriptural warrant for that binding content. The EP advocate has a two pronged task: (1) to show per the RPW the warrant for the element; and (2) to show, per the RPW the exclusive content of the element. It is the EP advocate who seeks to bind the conscience of the believer. He is seeking to restrict the element. No where else in any other element are we restricted in such a manner: not in prayer, not in reading the Scriptures, not in preaching, not in religious vows, not even in the administration of the sacraments (cf. WCF 28.3 on mode of baptism and the lack of any language describing how the Lord's Supper is to be distributed).

The entire premise of the RPW and its expression in WCF 21 is premised on the doctrine of Christian Liberty and WCF 20. It was not by accident that the divines put Christian Liberty right before Worship. It is one of the basic premises of the RPW - that God alone is Lord of the conscience, and only He can bind men as to His worship.

You have not even attempted to show that this specific restriction of an element is commanded in Scripture. The non-EP says that God has not restricted the element, just as He has not restricted to form any other element of worship. The non-EP position does not need to show warrant from Scripture, because it is sufficient to show warrant for the element, any more than it would be required to show warrant for preaching from OT and NT, or praying for 10 minutes instead of always 20. The Scriptures command congregational praise. In fact, there are texts that clearly uses the word hymns in them (both Eph, Col and now Craig's 1 Cor.). The EP-advocate is forced to toss aside the plain Greek word in favor of a uninspired superscription to a translation of the Hebrew Bible. We would never allow that in any other worship context.

So please show me where [b:b599834fc2]in the Scriptures:[/b:b599834fc2]

  • [*:b599834fc2]Musical instruments are shown to be forbidden where they once were commanded (e.g. Psalm 150)
    [*:b599834fc2]Where song is specifically prohibited to the Psalter, without reference to superscriptions in the Septuagint, which is not Scripture.
    [*:b599834fc2]Where commanded song is show to be distinct from the public, [b:b599834fc2]congregational [/b:b599834fc2]song of Exodus ("Then Moses [b:b599834fc2]and the children of Israel [/b:b599834fc2]sang this song to the Lord" Ex. 15:1), and hymns of praise like Isaiah 12.
    [/list:eek::b599834fc2]

    I am not hostile to careful, restrictive worship. I love the RPW. I love WCF 21. I just also love WCF 20 also.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:55f2ad3b51="JohnV"][quote:55f2ad3b51]John, you're not hearing me. What I'm trying to explain is that EP-adherants openly confess that there is no direct command to only sing the Psalms, and the EP argument is not based on the existence of such a command. [/quote:55f2ad3b51]
This is quite a concession. Can we all agree on this concession? If so, then what has to be proven Scripturally is the obviation of all other songs than the 150 Psalms.[/quote:55f2ad3b51]

EP-adherants readily confess that there is no direct command to only sing the Psalms, and that there is no direct declaration of an obviation of all other songs than the 150 Psalms, either. That is not, nor has it ever been, what the case for EP is based on. It is centrally based on the universally-accepted claim that 1) we see commands and demonstrations in the Bible of the singing of Psalms, and the debated claim that 2) we see no such commands or demonstrations in the Bible of the singing of any other songs.

Since the first claim is universally-accepted, the argument is over the second claim, which is why EP must then be accepted unless it can be shown that Scripture commands or demonstrates the regular, congregational singing of non-Psalter songs. And when EP-advocates are arguing for EP, it is the claim that such commands can be found in Scripture against which we are arguing. Likewise, the only consistent argument against EP is the argument that such commands can indeed be found in Scripture. And the crux of the debate at that point becomes the exegesis of passages like those in Ephesians and Colossians.

[quote:55f2ad3b51="JohnV"][quote:55f2ad3b51]Perhaps an analogy will help: You surely believe that it would be biblically forbidden for the elders of a church to institute and administer seven sacraments, rather than two. I may say, "Show me a direct command or necessary inference in the Bible that prohibits the administering of seven sacraments." However, the reason it would be wrong to include such a thing in the worship service is not due to any direct command forbidding it, but due to the lack of a direct command permitting it. [/quote:55f2ad3b51]
I hope you can see the inconsistency with the previous quote, Chris. I agree with you that we should not be adding, willy nilly, to the worship service whatever suits our fancy. But you are assuming the narrowing of the definitions to the EP view in suggesting that the singing of hymns is not part of the commands for worship. In the previous quote you intimate a concession that this is ambiguous at best, but now you assume again that it is not. This example, then, has the opposite effect that you intended. If I were assuming the non-EP position instead of just calling for the establishment of the claims of EP, I could use the very same example against EP.[/quote:55f2ad3b51]

Indeed, in speaking of this sacrament analogy, I [i:55f2ad3b51]am[/i:55f2ad3b51] assuming that the singing of non-Psalter hymns is not part of the commands for worship. I'm not using the sacrament analogy as support for EP, but only to clarify the nature of the EP argument, and its implications if true. In other words, what I'm trying to show by the analogy is that [i:55f2ad3b51]if[/i:55f2ad3b51] EP is biblical, it is not biblical because of a command forbidding the singing of non-Psalter songs or a statement that the Psalms are the only songs sanctioned for worship, but rather, [i:55f2ad3b51]if[/i:55f2ad3b51] EP is biblical, it is biblical for the very same reason that the administration of seven sacraments is unbiblical.

[quote:55f2ad3b51="JohnV"][quote:55f2ad3b51]There are countless other practices I could come up with that are nowhere forbidden in Scripture, but which would be improper to include in the worship service simply because they are not expressly commanded in Scripture. In the case for EP, the singing of non-Psalter songs is analogous to the administering of seven sacraments; there is neither a command saying "Thou shalt only sing songs from the Psalter" or one saying "Thou shalt only administer two sacraments." But because of the "forbidden unless commanded" nature of the RPW, adherants to EP believe that we are no more permitted to sing songs from outside the Psalter in the worship service than we are to administer more than two sacraments in the worship service, simply because we believe neither of them to be commanded in Scripture. Thus, the argument for EP is not a specific forbidding of non-Psalter songs in the Bible, but rather the lack of a specific permitting of non-Psalter songs in the Bible. [/quote:55f2ad3b51]
I think we would do well, in maybe another thread, to talk about what the words "œpsalms, hymns and spiritual songs" may include aside from our preconceived notions. I think that some assumptions are attached to what you say here. And that is particularly what I am asking for, the logical tie of these assumptions to Scripture. The above quote, in which you concede the definitions, is important to all of us. It makes an incredible difference. We need to know whether the Eph. and Col. texts are now commands to sing songs out of faith, or to sing only the Psalms, or to sing only songs that are recorded in the Bible. All three are possible from the texts, from the definitions as given by scholars, and from the side issues which to date have not been fully addressed, such as Hebrews 11:6 and the theonomic effect. (I don"(tm)t like using that term because of recent connotations placed on it, but it is still the best term if understood rightly. Again, I am not asserting, but only showing viable objections. )[/quote:55f2ad3b51]

I'm unsure what you're referring to when you say that I "concede the definitions" - could you clarify?

[quote:55f2ad3b51="JohnV"][quote:55f2ad3b51]First of all, I am not associating you with the RC, Lutheran or GO church in terms of what you believe is permitted in worship. I am only pointing out that you really seem to be taking the mindset of "permitted unless explicitly forbidden," whereas the RPW mindset is "forbidden unless explicitly commanded." If you do not agree with the former mindset, and are actually of the latter, please say so. Of the above two mindsets, with which one do you agree? [/quote:55f2ad3b51]
I was suggesting that you were assuming my position without warrant. Why would the inclusion of hymns fall outside of the RPW, the prohibition of unwarranted songs? I am just keeping you from arguing in a circle, by assuming the conclusion in the premise. Is it indeed true that EP only is the expression of RPW? That has yet to be settled. The non-EP position also recognizes that prohibition, and is the grounding for objecting to EP.[/quote:55f2ad3b51]

I am not questioning your adherance to the RPW [i:55f2ad3b51]because[/i:55f2ad3b51] you are questioning EP, but rather [i:55f2ad3b51]because[/i:55f2ad3b51] of the type of argument you're using to question it. One [i:55f2ad3b51]can[/i:55f2ad3b51] totally understand and consistently hold to the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" principle and say, "But I don't hold to EP because I believe that the exegesis of Scriptures such as those found in Ephesians and Colossians supports the interpretation that non-Psalter songs are commanded to be sung." But one [i:55f2ad3b51]cannot[/i:55f2ad3b51] totally understand and consistently hold to the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" principle and say, "But I don't hold to EP because there is not a direct command to sing only Psalms or a direct statement forbidding the singing of non-Psalter songs."

[quote:55f2ad3b51="JohnV"][quote:55f2ad3b51]Furthermore, I am not equating the RPW with EP. I am saying that the RPW is the foundation for EP, and by that I mean that the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset is the foundation upon which EP-adherants build their case. I'm not automatically equating the RPW with EP, but only saying that if someone doesn't believe the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset to be biblical, they will certainly never logically hold to EP.[/quote:55f2ad3b51]
Agreed. The RPW is indeed the foundation for EP. Perhaps you misunderstood. I was not suggesting the EP is the totality of the RPW; I was suggesting that there was a confusion of the RPW as a foundation for EP and the RPW binding EP upon all. There is a difference, but you seemed to be confusing the two. There can be no other foundation for EP, if it holds, than the RPW. The reliance upon the definitions has been conceded. However, now it has to be shown that the RPW allows no other than the Psalms, without relying on the definitions; that EP is what the RPW demands. It may yet be that the RPW forbids EP as an extra-Biblical command. In other words, the RPW may also be the defence of the non-EP view. Don"(tm)t assume the identification of EP with the RPW worship, for that is what is being requested.[/quote:55f2ad3b51]

Indeed, it must now be shown that the RPW either demands EP or else forbids EP as an extra-biblical command. And the issue then centers on the issue of whether or not there is a command or demonstration to sing any songs from outside the Psalter in regular, congregational worship. And again, the crux of that argument centers down to the exegesis of such passages as those found in Ephesians and Colossians.

[quote:55f2ad3b51="JohnV"][quote:55f2ad3b51]John, I understand if you're feeling too physically weak due to your FM to give your full energy to this. I still intend to reply to your statements, but don't feel pressured to get into it any more than you feel up to. [/quote:55f2ad3b51]
Thank you for calling me on my poor excuses, Chris. You must needs be answered seriously, seeing as how you are putting a great effort into this. I am going to pull up my socks and give it my best shot. You indeed are a true friend.[/quote:55f2ad3b51]

Thank you for putting so much effort into this as well. The blessing is mutual.

[quote:55f2ad3b51="JohnV"][quote:55f2ad3b51]When Peter said that everyone concedes that Scripture warrants the singing of Psalms, he meant just that - he did not mean that everyone concedes that Scripture warrants the singing of only psalms, but rather that we know we're at least supposed to sing some Psalms, which everyone does concede. From there, again relying on the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset, he proceeds to ask for a similar warrant to sing some other songs, since that is what would be needed to disprove EP.

And as you said, the RPW is not at hand when people are arguing against EP by trying to show that "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" includes non-Psalter songs. That is indeed the argumentation that would be needed to refute EP, and we acknowledge that those using that argument hold to the RPW just as much as we do. However, the RPW is at hand when someone tries to argue that the lack of a direct command forbidding non-Psalter songs refutes EP - by demanding a direct prohibition of other songs, and a direct command to sing only Psalms, by using that as an argument against EP, one shows that they do not understand the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" mindset, which is key to the RPW. [/quote:55f2ad3b51]
This is the "œtheonomic principle" that I was referring to. If this is the stand for EP, then we still have the same call for warrant, but we now have added to it the theonomic warrant. In capsule form, the same argumentation for the basis of law undergirding the Christian"(tm)s freedom is involved in this very issue as well. The inclusion of hymns, even of John Newton"(tm)s [u:55f2ad3b51]Amazing Grace[/u:55f2ad3b51] does not go against the prohibition of the RPW under this principle. And yet it is assumed, by connotation, that it does. We now need an argument to show that John Newton was not using God-given talents to express his soul-wrenching experiences, and that is was not under the auspices of Scriptural freedoms under the law.

You have the right to call into question my adherence to the RPW. But that being done, it provides you with nothing more than an ad hominem. Widening the considerations only makes is more difficult, and eases the non-EP burden.[/quote:55f2ad3b51]

See my response earlier in this post in which I explain that it is not your questioning of EP that I was saying is at odds with the RPW, but rather that it is the type of argument you were using to question EP.

[quote:55f2ad3b51="JohnV"]Fred:
I would remind you of the distinction between what was commanded to symbolize God"(tm)s work in redemption, (i.e. the sacrifices demanded by law, and which was fulfilled by Christ ) and the called-for responsess of a sanctified people; and therefore an extreme difference exists between that and the songs of worship, as they are not in compliance with any such sanctifying commands, but called for of a sanctified people. Therefore the comparison made in response to your objection was illegitimate. I only say this to aid your responses. Chris was comparing apples to oranges.[/quote:55f2ad3b51]

All I was trying to show is that we don't think there is anything [i:55f2ad3b51]intrinsically[/i:55f2ad3b51] wrong with singing other portions of Scripture, in that there is nothing wrong with those portions and there is nothing wrong with singing. The reason we are against their singing is simply because we believe that is not God's intended purpose for them, even though that may seem arbitrary to us.

[quote:55f2ad3b51="JohnV"][quote:55f2ad3b51]And since, by the "forbidden unless..." principle, it is the non-EP position that must build a constructive case for uninspired hymnody, a couple one-time events at significant times in the OT simply don't establish something as a regular, congregational practice[/quote:55f2ad3b51]
What I am objecting to, Chris, is that this is not good enough by a country mile for what EP claims.

Let me put it another way. You have to be ABSOLUTELY sure, and not just for yourself, that it is God who commands this. What if He did not, but you have put this in His mouth? The non-EP side has not yet contended for putting words in God's mouth. All that the objections have done is to call for verification that it is from God, and not human conjecture.

Look at your post again. Maybe it is true that a couple of one time instances have not established the rule, but that does not establish EP. In fact, it does not address EP, strictly speaking.[/quote:55f2ad3b51]

Don't you likewise have to be ABSOLUTELY sure that the Bible permits (through command or demonstration) the singing of songs from outside the Psalter in order to not accept EP?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:e9cc55a072="Chris"]EP-adherants readily confess that there is no direct command to only sing the Psalms, and that there is no direct declaration of an obviation of all other songs than the 150 Psalms, either. That is not, nor has it ever been, what the case for EP is based on. It is centrally based on the universally-accepted claim that 1) we see commands and demonstrations in the Bible of the singing of Psalms, and the debated claim that 2) we see no such commands or demonstrations in the Bible of the singing of any other songs.

Since the first claim is universally-accepted, the argument is over the second claim, which is why EP must then be accepted unless it can be shown that Scripture commands or demonstrates the regular, congregational singing of non-Psalter songs. And when EP-advocates are arguing for EP, it is the claim that such commands can be found in Scripture against which we are arguing. Likewise, the only consistent argument against EP is the argument that such commands can indeed be found in Scripture. And the crux of the debate at that point becomes the exegesis of passages like those in Ephesians and Colossians[/quote:e9cc55a072]

Chris, this is flawed, as I said above. How can you say [i:e9cc55a072]"there is no direct command to only sing the Psalms"[/i:e9cc55a072] and then say in the next breath that you will [b:e9cc55a072]bind the consciences of men[/b:e9cc55a072] upon penalty of sin and discipline if they violate a command that is nowhere in Scripture? Because that is the logical conclusion of EP if you take the RPW seriously. It means that if I sing a hymn in worship, I have sinned before God Almighty, broken the 2nd commandment, and I should be disciplined. Puts it in a bit of a different context now, doesn't it?

Also, you say:

[quote:e9cc55a072="Chris"]Indeed, in speaking of this sacrament analogy, I am assuming that the singing of non-Psalter hymns is not part of the commands for worship. I'm not using the sacrament analogy as support for EP, but only to clarify the nature of the EP argument, and its implications if true. In other words, what I'm trying to show by the analogy is that if EP is biblical, it is not biblical because of a command forbidding the singing of non-Psalter songs or a statement that the Psalms are the only songs sanctioned for worship, but rather, if EP is biblical, it is biblical for the very same reason that the administration of seven sacraments is unbiblical[/quote:e9cc55a072]

But the 7 sacrament analogy is flawed. Because each sacrament is an element, each sacrament is specifically commanded by God in the Scriptures. We don't [i:e9cc55a072]assume [/i:e9cc55a072]that there are two sacraments instead of one sacrament, we see [u:e9cc55a072]specific Biblical command[/u:e9cc55a072] for two and only two. The EP only position is much more akin to requiring immersion as the only mode of baptism. We can infer that immersion was the mode from the "much water" of John's baptisms, from the Greek prepositions, etc. We have the Didache and its "living water." We even have Calvin saying that the early church used immersion. But the problem is that we do not limit the mode because Scripture does not explicitly limit the mode. We further do not limit because the implication of Scripture with respect to various sprinklings and pourings imply other modes. In the same way, Ex. 15 (which IS congregational - read the text) and Eph 5:19, Col 3:16 and 1 Cor 14 each imply congregational singing that is not exclusively ad only the psalms.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Chris, Fred and JohnV,

I must say that I am in admiration of all of your responses with regard to lucidity, doggedness and charity. This discussion is indeed, as Patrick said earlier, much better than anything else I have ever seen on EP. Thank you all.

I know you already have a lot to reply to and think about Chris, but since, as you say, it all comes down to the exegesis of Ephesians and Colossians and a couple of other crucial texts I thought I would try to address that a little bit more fully.

You say,

[quote:b9b9c961e1]As regards the interpretation of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," when I compare the two options, the non-Psalter interpretation honestly seems to me to be the far more speculative interpretation. In the OT, apart from a couple songs God commanded his people to sing at specific redemptive occasions (e.g. the song of Moses), we have no indication of regular congregational singing in the OT - the closest thing we have to such an indication is the fact that there is a book of melodic poems to God in the middle of the OT that we know were sung at times; and the songs in this book were titled by all three of the Hebrew words for psalms, hymns and songs. [/quote:b9b9c961e1]

Here I would interject what Fred said, and Iain Murray also points out, that you cannot, at the very least, demonstrate that all of the Psalms were sung, or that they were sung regularly. There is good evidence to believe that some of them were, I think --but we have no indication that Psalm 119, for instance, was ever sung.

[quote:b9b9c961e1]So in the NT, when Paul reminds God's people to sing "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs," which is more speculative: 1) assuming that he was referring to that book of melodic poems to God sung in the OT, which were in their own text described by all three of Paul's words, or 2) assuming that he was referring to the composition and singing of new, well-intentioned songs written by men, even though there is no record of those types of songs being composed or used in the OT. [/quote:b9b9c961e1]

The problem is that this argument breaks down due to the fact that Paul heaps up words. For one thing, this is not a characteristic of Pauline style. When Paul has a list, the things on the list are different --see for instance the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. The list of triadic arrangements given by Schwertley is not sufficient to overcome this objection for two reasons:
1. None of those lists is from Paul, except for the disputed passages
2. Those lists mention things that are either one thing viewed from three aspects, or things that are distinct, though related. In other words, there is no genuine sample of redundancy to be given
Another difficulty is that there is a leap from applying descriptive titles given to some of the psalms, or even descriptions mentioned within the text, to the rest of the psalms. Surely there is a reason those descriptive words were used in some cases and not in others? As I have understood you, this is how you avoid the difficulty of not being permitted, according to the terms of EP argumentation, to sing all of the psalms.
Then again, while perhaps secondary, the paucity of commentators understanding the texts this way should give us pause, at the very least.
Again, the indication that we have that the psalms were sung rests heavily on the inscriptions. By what right then do we exclude Habakkuk 3 which contains within its own text words that indicate it was also to be performed? If the titles of Psalms 8 & 9 for instance indicate that they were to be sung, then so also does the end of Habakkuk 3. If I am to keep the worship of God pure and entire, by what right do I exclude that?

I believe that Fred hinted at this in one of his replies, but I think it should also be stated explicitly. We know that what we are doing when we are singing "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" is teaching and admonishing. In all non-sung teaching and admonishing we add our own words. If it be objected that this singing is to take place in the context of the "word of Christ" I would point out that according to Peter speaking is to be "as the oracles of God". In song we do pray and we do teach --where, then, as Fred asks, is the warrant for restricting the entire content of sung worship as is done by EP, when we do not similarly restrict the content of prayer and of teaching?

I'll be eager to see where we've got to on Monday.
I trust you all have a spiritually profitable day of rest.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:0a5f552dbc="Me Died Blue"]Thanks, Peter. Your input on this thread is definitely part of what helped me with the objections I had to it. Basically my last objection was cleared up just as this third page was started, so I just decided to continue the discussion without a need to make a big deal of my shift - I figured it would be obvious in my arguments from that point on.[/quote:0a5f552dbc]

[quote:0a5f552dbc="VirginiaHuguenot"]Way to go, Chris! [/quote:0a5f552dbc]

Praise be to God! I attended an OPC mission church for a while that did not sing exclusively Psalms. When they sung I just stood respectfully and followed the words in the hymnal (might as well get some profit from it). I believe this was the practice of John Murray, who thought tolerating the presence of a small idolatry was worth the visible unity of the church. I'll keep praying for everyone's continued sanctification.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:4b483bb1f1]Don't you likewise have to be ABSOLUTELY sure that the Bible permits (through command or demonstration) the singing of songs from outside the Psalter in order to not accept EP?[/quote:4b483bb1f1]

Ahhh! Good one. Well put, Chris. It just a return volley, but still a very good one. There is no formal onus on me to answer, but I will anyways, by way of explanation below. Let's say you earned that with this response, although it is my fault I did not extend the courtesy to you sooner.

[quote:4b483bb1f1]I am not questioning your adherance to the RPW because you are questioning EP, but rather because of the type of argument you're using to question it. One can totally understand and consistently hold to the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" principle and say, "But I don't hold to EP because I believe that the exegesis of Scriptures such as those found in Ephesians and Colossians supports the interpretation that non-Psalter songs are commanded to be sung." But one cannot totally understand and consistently hold to the "forbidden unless explicitly commanded" principle and say, "But I don't hold to EP because there is not a direct command to sing only Psalms or a direct statement forbidding the singing of non-Psalter songs." [/quote:4b483bb1f1]

Chris, I think maybe you are misununderstanding my "type of argument." I am not sure how you are taking it, but from my vantage point you are taking an automatic higher ground position, and I am questioning that. Don't attribute to me the latter. I am not making that stand (yet); I am saying that EP is putting into Scripture what is not necessarily there. And I emphasize the word "necessary."

I can refute the "But one cannot totally understand and consistently hold to the 'forbidden unless explicitly commanded' principle and say, 'But I don't hold to EP because there is not a direct command to sing only Psalms or a direct statement forbidding the singing of non-Psalter songs.'" But the establishment or de-establishment of EP does not hinge on that. The very best that can be done with what has been given so far in defence of the EP position is that it appears best to hold to EP, but it is not commanded or binding. As I recall, the denominations that I know of that hold to an EP view take that stand, but refrain from making it doctrinally binding. In other words, it is not a sin to sing spiritual hymns, but the denomination will not do so; they will not bind the consciences of the people, but they covenant together to sing only from the Psalms. I think that this is as far as it has been taken, if I am not mistaken.


By "conceding the definitons" I am referring to the exact nature of the words in the texts from Eph. and Col., "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs", what they mean; or at least that they do not necessarily refer exclusively to just the 150 Psalms. It seems that it is not pertinent to the EP position. I think I understand that. I am questioning the claim that there is a direct command that can be inferred from the texts as you imply, namely that the absence of necessity of commands to sing other songs necessarily infers EP. I stand by the theonomic principle.

By way of explanation, I don't think we could avoid the theonomic principle, but it is a tough subject to throw in here. It does not militate against the prohibatory part of the RPW, nor does it have to open wide the doors to electric bands. But because it is so hard, given our cultural circumstances, it may be best to leave that for now, or to discuss this in another thread. Be that as it may, it is only an answer to your response, to show the validity of my original objection. We use it in sermons, in prayers, in practical matters throughout our vocations and our lives. It permeates every facet of our lives. So why not singing too? "By faith it is impossible to please God", which means that even EP-ers may not please God, while the simple playground ditty may, if done in faith. We extend that to all areas of our lives, sometimes in convoluted ways. But "For freedom Christ has made us free" is not an empty axiom.


Let me explain something of where I am coming from, to put it in modern parlance. This is not an argument against EP, but an explanatory note.

Who says that lyrics and music are innovations? Where is the grounding for that? All music, even that of unbelievers, is an attempt at pure music. That is the criteria to tell the difference between music and junk. Sure, there is more to it than that, but it boils down to that in its barest form. We have witnessed this countless times: the fumbling musician being more pleasing than the expertly polished one. Not because music is an innovation, but because music and lyrics are to communication beyond the spoken word what logic is to reason, so to speak. It can be done better or it can be done worse, but it is not originally a worldly endeavour; it is a heavenly one. Rather than Biblical songs other than the Psalms being obviated from the worship of God, it is most proper. It is not the world's province, even though they have taken it over by our standards. It is not an innovation to worship God with freely expressed, doctrinally correct songs (Biblical songs); it is an innovation to use music, a gift from God, for worldy ends.

Augustine comes to mind here. In his book, [u:4b483bb1f1]On Christian Doctrine[/u:4b483bb1f1] notice the fine line he takes. He does not take Luther's licence, but he does say that all things of creation are for the use of praising God and is therefore permissible; and if it is used otherwise, either for our own ends or for the sake of the use or pleasure of them themselves, then it is sin. He couches this in the command of God in Corinthians, "All things are permissible, but not not all things are helpful," and not the lack of it as Luther has been stated as understanding it. I will look up the quote so I can cite it; or if someone has it handy, I would appreciate the shortcut. The gist of it is, even EP can be seen as sin under the same principle that upholds EP; while John Newtons hymn may be plesing in God's sight because it is espressed with tears in the heart to God, in faith.

What does God view as worship? Is He pleased with the formally correct worship? Who can attain to that? Even EP does not, as has been amply shown by Matt. Of course EP needs to be practiced with faith. I am not questioning the faith of EP-ers. Then you misunderstand this. What pleases God, even those who refrain from eating meat though it is permissible, is that they do it unto God. Those who venerate days, do so unto God. Those who sing songs of praise, on the spur of the moment, do so unto God. This is not formal worship, I admit. But the principle extends to formal worship, since the singing of songs refers to the voluntary response of a sanctified people of God. How can [u:4b483bb1f1]Amazing Grace[/u:4b483bb1f1] be wrong in God's sight, when some people do indeed sing only the Psalms, but plod through them, sometimes grumblingly? It does not depend on our attained erudition, but on the heart of faith.

I would suggest that this is the reason you see a void in the commands of God concerning the singing of particular songs: the over-riding theonomic principle. Therefore, the absence of commands to sing songs outside the Psalter, if the texts of Eph. and Col. do not include them, is not a warrant for EP.

But besides that, it has not been shown yet that these texts do not mean songs other than the Psalms. If they cannot be difined with exclusivity, then inclusivity is the default, if anything. It cannot be in between. This sounds to you like the "what is not forbidden permissible", but it really is not so, as I explained above. And it is not what you imply above in the second option, (which is really just another way to say the same thing, but cloaking it in the RPW. You rightly deserve credit for pointing that out. Excellent work. )

Again, this is an explanatory note. It is therefore up for debate as a separate issue, but does not take the onus off EP to show that the prohibatory clause implies EP. This just gets our feet wet for the theonomic principle.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I apologize for the length of time it"(tm)s taken me to reply, which is mainly due to school-work. Furthermore, I may not be able to reply to the next few posts as quickly as I normally would for a day or so, since my laptop"(tm)s internet connection is having problems, and I"(tm)m in the campus computer lab at this time.

Bruce, as regards the claim that the singing of all 150 Psalms is inconsistent with EP"(tm)s other arguments, that is simply not the case, because of deduction. While, say, the verses and most of the chapters of the modern Bible were grouped by men, that is not so for the books. And the book of Psalms is a complete biblical book, which also means it is [i:58eac2e340]gestalt[/i:58eac2e340], being more than the sum of its parts. Therefore the Psalter, being a complete, gestalt book of the inspired holy Scripture, cannot be broken down into parts and each part tested for specific reference elsewhere in the Bible, even under the "œforbidden unless explicitly commanded" principle. For if that was required in order to establish its authenticity for worship purposes, we would have no case for the unity or inerrancy of the entire Bible, since no such case could ever be made by trying to prove each Scripture by itself as supported from all the others. The fact is, we are commanded and shown in the Bible to regularly sing various songs from the Psalter, and because of its gestalt nature as a complete book of the Bible, it is thus sanctioned as being authentic for worship purposes.

Fred, you asked, "œHow can you say "˜there is no direct command to only sing the Psalms"(tm) and then say in the next breath that you will bind the consciences of men upon penalty of sin and discipline if they violate a command that is nowhere in Scripture?" I am saying that on the same basis that we forbid well-intentioned interpretive drama in the worship service. Either one of us could come up with countless acts or practices which are nowhere directly forbidden in Scripture, but which would be absurd for which to claim biblical sanction. In such cases, such as the drama example, are you unbiblically binding the conscience by forbidding the use of interpretive drama in worship? No. Scripture doesn"(tm)t say "œYou shall [i:58eac2e340]only[/i:58eac2e340] do A, B, C and D in worship" simply because it doesn"(tm)t [i:58eac2e340]need[/i:58eac2e340] to "" for God, ceasing to specify any other elements besides A-D is enough.

Craig and Fred, in light of our claim that songs such as that of Moses have no biblical ground on which to be considered for use beyond the single act in redemptive history at which they were sung, the grounds we have for knowing that the Psalms were intended for the use of generations extending to our time is that, for one thing, the singing of Psalms is undeniably found in the New Testament, whereas the existence of such hymnal singing is a highly-debated issue. Furthermore, another reason for distinction between the Psalms as being for regular, congregational worship and the Old Testament non-Psalter songs as not is that the only [i:58eac2e340]definite[/i:58eac2e340] mention in Scripture we see of the latter is a few isolated examples, whereas we see general commands to sing the former.

And Fred, I never once said I advocated the forbidding of musical instruments in worship, and if that is something that many EP-advocates hold to, it is something of which I have yet to be convinced.

Fred, correct me if I"(tm)m missing something in the following point: Of course the Septuagint"(tm)s role in exegesis is not to provide us with direct statements and declarations by which to live""for that is the role of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures alone. Rather, the role of historical documents and records such as the Septuagint is to give us needed help and corroboration on how to interpret the words of the Scriptures themselves. And that use of such documents does not go against Sola Scriptura""indeed, there are many Scriptures which we would be unable to conclusively interpret without extra-biblical records and historical knowledge, while those records themselves do not displace the Scriptures properly-interpreted as the sole rule of faith and practice.

Ruben, as to the EP consistency in singing all 150 Psalms as worship-sanctioned, see my response to Bruce at the beginning of this post. And even if it is not often like Paul to write redundant phrases in his writing, the Psalter version with which him and his fellowman would have been familiar uses the three words making up that phrase synonymously. If Paul had been brainstorming without any need for external reference, perhaps you are right that he would not have used repetition as such. But since that culture"(tm)s version of the Psalter used such repetition with regard to those three words, we could only expect him to do the same when attempting to refer his fellow Jews to it.

Also, as Patrick earlier pointed out, the commands we are given on preaching and prayer specifically include instruction to choose their content in light of the moment. But we are nowhere given such instructions for singing. Furthermore, the preached word and sung praise glorify God in different ways.

John, I think I"(tm)m understanding what you mean regarding churches that don"(tm)t sing other songs but don"(tm)t condemn them either. But I still have a hard time accepting that as a biblical option because singing non-Psalter hymns is either biblical or anti-biblical. If EP is true, then it is obviously sinful for anyone to sing songs from outside the Psalter in corporate worship. But if EP is not true, then it is sinful for anyone to neglect the singing of non-Psalter hymns in corporate worship, since the Bible would command them if EP was not true.

(And just to clarify, in "œconceding the definitions," I wasn"(tm)t conceding that the three words don"(tm)t actually refer exclusively to the Psalter. Rather, I was just saying that in that particular example I was giving, I wasn"(tm)t assuming they necessarily did, but was giving the example with respect to the neutral, universally-agreed-upon ground.)

With regard to your talk about the words of songs not being unbiblical innovations, I"(tm)m not denying that there"(tm)s nothing in them that seems to us to be contrary to how God would allow us to worship him - but there is seemingly no such thing in drama either, yet we reject that simply because we don"(tm)t see a biblical warrant for it. I think it would be helpful with this particular issue to again consider Ian"(tm)s mention of the "œseemingly arbitrary" principle of the relationship that God"(tm)s ways often have to our thoughts, even as regenerate believers.

As to all creation being intended for the worship of God, I heartily agree - but that of course does not automatically extend everything to the biblical status of inclusion in [i:58eac2e340]corporate[/i:58eac2e340] worship. For instance, even while singing nothing but Psalms in corporate worship, I would still listen to Christian music with sound words outside of the corporate service. The use of interpretive drama is the same way, as is eating and drinking, since there has always been a biblical distinction between perpetual worship and corporate worship. Furthermore, you are absolutely right about the need for a genuine heart in corporate worship, and the fact that EP-ers may sometimes plod through the Psalms without the right heart. That is why we are commanded to worship "œin spirit and in truth," and while the latter is meaningless without the former, that principle holds vice-versa just as much.

John, you say that in light of the theonomic principle, even the absence of any direct commands or demonstrations to include non-Psalter songs in our corporate worship would not necessarily warrant EP. If that is the case, why would we regard interpretive drama or food consumption in the service as un-permissible?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Chris,

Thanks for your reply and I feel your busy-ness, so I will try and be brief and to the point.

[quote:0c0f086ca9="Chris"]Fred, you asked, "œHow can you say "˜there is no direct command to only sing the Psalms"(tm) and then say in the next breath that you will bind the consciences of men upon penalty of sin and discipline if they violate a command that is nowhere in Scripture?" I am saying that on the same basis that we forbid well-intentioned interpretive drama in the worship service. Either one of us could come up with countless acts or practices which are nowhere directly forbidden in Scripture, but which would be absurd for which to claim biblical sanction. In such cases, such as the drama example, are you unbiblically binding the conscience by forbidding the use of interpretive drama in worship? No. Scripture doesn"(tm)t say "œYou shall only do A, B, C and D in worship" simply because it doesn"(tm)t need to "" for God, ceasing to specify any other elements besides A-D is enough.

Craig and Fred, in light of our claim that songs such as that of Moses have no biblical ground on which to be considered for use beyond the single act in redemptive history at which they were sung, the grounds we have for knowing that the Psalms were intended for the use generations extending to our time is that, for one thing, the singing of Psalms is undeniably found in the New Testament, whereas the existence of such hymnal singing is a highly-debated issue. Furthermore, another reason for distinction between the Psalms as being for regular, congregational worship and the Old Testament non-Psalter songs as not is that the only definite mention in Scripture we see of the latter is a few isolated examples, whereas we see general commands to sing the former.

And Fred, I never once said I advocated the forbidding of musical instruments in worship, and if that is something that many EP-advocates hold to, it is something of which I have yet to be convinced[/quote:0c0f086ca9]

First, drama is something completely different from EP. What EP argues is akin to saying that one type of drama is commanded and another is not. EP draws a distinction WITHIN the element of worship itself. It is not singing that is commanded - which we can find ample evidence of - but rather singing psalms. So the EP advocate cannot lean on the commands to praise God or sing. He must show, from the Scriptures, that the singing of Psalms is commanded. If he cannot, then we are left with either not having singing as an element at all, or singing without such a restriction. The EP advocate is not in the position of being able to ask the hymnodist to show a command to sing hymns. The Hymnodist says that God has commanded song. The EP says that God has COMMANDED psalms, and that is why they are to be sung. The breadth of the command must be established by Scripture. It is not enough to say that the "default" position is psalms only unless established as broader. There is no "default" position in the RPW. Every element - including the element of singing psalms only must be shown from Scripture.

So I ask again - please show me where in Scripture you may bind the conscience of the people of God, because God has commanded only psalms to be sung. I don't want "it is more likely" or "we have several examples" or "it seems reasonable;" I want command or good and necessary consequence (cf. WCF 1).

Second, your argument about a "few isolated examples" is frankly, poor. How many examples do we have of the Lord's Supper? How many of the public reading of Scripture? How many of singing the psalms? There are some, but not many. We only have a handful of such examples.

Third, at least I have never met or read anyone who advocated EP and was not committed to musical instruments being a violation of the RPW. That was the Puritan position, it is Bushnell's, Schwertly's, Murray's et al. If you know someone (honestly) let me know, because I would be very interested to read them. Part and parcel of the EP argument is acappela psalmody.
 

luvroftheWord

Puritan Board Sophomore
Chris,

There may be examples of singing the Psalms in the NT, but this is a far cry from saying that this is what we are limited to. These are case examples, and you don't build principles upon case examples. The opposite is true. The case examples expound upon principles. There are two possibilities that the non-EP camp suggests. Either (1) singing is a form of teaching or praying, in which case singing is itself an element, or (2) singing is an element, but we are not limited to only singing psalms. The fact that there are case examples in the NT of the singing of Psalms only shows that it is PERMISSIBLE to sing the Psalms, but NOT that this is what we are limited to. This is akin to the Baptist argument that since we only have case examples of adult baptisms that therefore infant baptism is forbidden. But we don't baptize infants on case examples, but on principle. The same is true with what we sing in worship.

So where is this principle that ALL we are supposed to sing in worship is from the OT Psalter?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Yeah, what they said!

Seriously though, Chris, I must say that your answers are good. It seems to me, though, that you are arguing in a circle, if I understand you rightly, and you aren't realizing it. You are assuming that the commands to sing the Psalms are commands exclusive to the Psalms. We ask for proof, and you point to a lack of command to sing extra songs. Thus you are assuming the conclusion in the premise, because this answer assumes that these commands refer exclusively to the Psalms, which is what we are asking proof for. So you are standing not on Scripture, but on your interpretation of Scripture. That is not a necessary inference, even if it seems necessary to you.

On the other hand, your answers seem to convey that it is we who are arguing in a circle. I think I understood that before my previous post, which is why I wrote it the way I did, trying to steer clear of that. I think I showed that I am not arguing in a circle, and so by association neither is Fred, Craig, Bruce, or Dan. Maybe my arguments may not always be the best, but all I was asking is for the grounding for the assertion of EP. I was not even taking a non-EP stand.

It is not good enough to define your position into necessity by taking arbitrary stances. The lack of command for other songs is in your definitions, not in Scripture. But you say EP doesn't stand on the definitions of the Eph. of Col. texts. I'm not sure now what you meant by that, but to me that was a concession. You said EP stood on the lack of command for other songs, and that the siging of the Psalms was universally accepted by both sides. But that, you see, arbitrarily defines the EP position into place; and that does not qualify as necessity. The inference is a chosen one, not a necessary one.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:f2f51f6859="luvroftheWord"]
The fact that there are case examples in the NT of the singing of Psalms only shows that it is PERMISSIBLE to sing the Psalms, but NOT that this is what we are limited to.[/quote:f2f51f6859]
[quote:f2f51f6859="JohnV"]You are assuming that the commands to sing the Psalms are commands exclusive to the Psalms.[/quote:f2f51f6859]

LuvroftheWord, John, thanks for sharing your views. You guys aren't arguing consistently with the Regulative Principle. God strictly regulates true worship of Himself by His word. That which God does not command in worship He forbids. God only may institute worship. For us to do something in worship we must have a positive command in Scripture (explicity or by good and necessary consequence). Only those essentially nonreligious things which are natural to human society and aid in the preformance of commanded worship may be instituted by the church w/o the command of God. With that in mind now, it is exactly the EPers argument that the Scriptures command us to sing Psalms and that because we dont have case examples or commands to sing uninspired hymns they are forbidden. Baptism we know to be the NT sacrament replacing circumcision which was administered to children.

[quote:f2f51f6859="Fred"]First, drama is something completely different from EP. What EP argues is akin to saying that one type of drama is commanded and another is not. EP draws a distinction WITHIN the element of worship itself. It is not singing that is commanded - which we can find ample evidence of - but rather singing psalms. So the EP advocate cannot lean on the commands to praise God or sing. He must show, from the Scriptures, that the singing of Psalms is commanded. If he cannot, then we are left with either not having singing as an element at all, or singing without such a restriction. The EP advocate is not in the position of being able to ask the hymnodist to show a command to sing hymns. The Hymnodist says that God has commanded song. The EP says that God has COMMANDED psalms, and that is why they are to be sung. The breadth of the command must be established by Scripture. It is not enough to say that the "default" position is psalms only unless established as broader. There is no "default" position in the RPW. Every element - including the element of singing psalms only must be shown from Scripture. [/quote:f2f51f6859]

Granted EP draws distinctions within the element. But the content of the song still has religious significance, is "substantial" and is regulated by the word of God. True, the EPer must prove that Psalms have God's divine approval for worship. But he has. (1) The very fact the Book of Psalms is a canonical hymnal is proof. The Psalms contain musical terminology and imperatives commanding singing, the obvious intention being that song. (2) Eph 5:19 & Col 3:16 there's some ambiguity surrounding those passages, they may or may not command singing uninspired songs and inspired Psalms, but it is clear that they at the very least they command Psalms. (3) Jas 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

The non-Psalm songs of the Bible were for the particular redemptive historical moment they were sung in (as has been said and repeated many times before with out any refutation). Notice also, those which were used in worship, were sung by prophets inspired by God. Modern hymns are not. The Psalms were written for the church in all ages.
 
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