General Objections to EP and the culture surrounding it

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by DatOrganistTho, May 1, 2015.

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  1. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    First off, I'm working through the arguments for and against EP at the moment. There have been some close friends in my life who teach at a professional level who have made some objections to EP. I also have some of my own objections.

    I am not out to make straw-men out of EPers. What I intend to do is, however elementary, address some of the concerns I have when embracing an EPp. Here are those objections:

    1. If the Old Testament is about types and shadows, as they do not directly reveal the ministry of Jesus and his earthly time, then why do EPers insist on only keeping the OT revelation of Jesus in their singing, even though NT covenant has been established and we are no longer about types and shadows?
    2. Why do EPers insist on relying solely on the exegesis of an uninspired book (the LXX) for the cogency of their argument (related to the exegesis of Eph. 5, et al)? How is the claim that "Eph. 5 essentially uses 'Psalms, Psalms, and Psalms'" not a non sequitur (i.e. because the only three words used in the account of singing in Eph. 5 (et al) talks about Psalms, therefore those are the only songs they sung.)?
    3. Why do EPers insist on singing "God's inspired hymnal" but do not sing in the original Hebrew, or insist in using metered and poetic variants of the Psalms (as a musician, this is particularly puzzling to me)? This follows from the argument that begs the question, "Why should we sing anything other than inspired scripture, the hymnal of the Bible, which the apostles and early church dared not to stray from?" Also related to this question is that of convenience. If it is easier to sing a metered version of the Psalm because it is easier for a congregation to sing, then this would not be a valid argument. We do not worship God out of convenience, especially if what God requires of us is to sing to him in a manner consistent with the inspired Word of God.
    4. If EPers (in keeping with RPW) believe that Baptism is referencing circumcision (referring to oikobaptists), and that the Lord's Supper is referring to Passover, but the New Covenant order of these sacraments are not all-together the same as their type/shadow counterparts in the OT, then why must the Psalter be exclusively used, as the OT shadow of the NT?
    5. If EPers are committed to the ordained singing of Psalms because they are inspired, then why do we preach uninspired sermons that are based in scripture but are not recitations of scripture?

    Again, I have to frame these questions in such a way that my thinking is on the table for people to examine. I again am not trying to make out straw-men, but rather sharpen my thinking in understanding the RPW and EPers positions. Thank you for considering this, if you respond!
    Last edited: May 1, 2015
  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Moving to EP subforum.
  3. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    I will give a go. Though it will not be thorough.

    1: Types and shadows do directly reveal the ministry of Jesus. To read the book of Leviticus for instance is to understand the work of Christ in a full sense. Christ did so much and to go over all the different types of sacrifices and offerings in Leviticus is to understand that much more of who Christ is and what He did. Our Pastor went through the book of Leviticus recently and the revelation of Christ is amazing. Quotes of the Psalms are abundant in the NT in order to reveal and explain the NT. This is a question of what are types and shadows and indirectly a question of EP I think.

    2: Ephesians 5:19 is what you are referring to specifically. The link below may help you understand.

    3: This argument is the same as why allow the Scriptures to be translated in regional languages, e.g. English, French, Italian, etc.... What I can say on this point, which is not much, is the original language does provide nuances that English or French will have to hurdle in the translation, but this is a point of linguistics, meaning, can Hebrew be translated into English in a way that does not lose the meaning. May God's Word be understood and spoken in other languages by people or are other languages that strange? I do not think so, but my answer is not elegant at all. There is a musician variable that you are looking for as why in this question of yours that I am unable to provide, also.

    4: The substance of baptism and circumcision in the promise of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit in the Father's decree is the same. I do think the Lord's Supper and the Passover are the same in substance, but I am not as learned in this specific topic.

    5: Preaching and the singing of Psalms are categorically different. They are accomplished and acted by people in completely different ways. In other words, the difference is great enough that they are not to be compared in this way.

    This recent debate by two very qualified pastors and professors who have studied both sides of this topic goes over much of what you ask.

    You may scroll down in that thread, Post 3 maybe, for a link to the debate.

    God Bless
    Last edited: May 1, 2015
  4. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks! Not sure if that was the best place or this was the best place.
    Last edited: May 1, 2015
  5. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Some sound answers have already been given to these questions. Building on these, please consider,

    1. Does the Old Testament consist SOLELY of type and shadow? There must be MORAL continuity if commandments of the Old Testament continue to be obligatory in the New Testament. See, for example, Ephesians 6:1-2. More to the point, the Psalms are quoted in the New Testament with moral relevance to the new condition of the church. In Hebrews 3-4, we have an example where the words of Psalm 95 are regarded as explicitly pointing to "Today," and "Today" can be taken as referring to nothing other than the gospel administration.

    2. The argument does not depend on the "LXX." The "LXX," as a Greek translation of the Old Testament, is consulted in order to understand the usus loquendi of the terms utilised in the New Testament, and to gain an understanding of what these terms denoted and connoted for Greek speaking people of that time. Anyone who regularly consults technical commentaries will see this is an acceptable use of ancient Greek translations of the Old Testament. Nothing out of the ordinary is taking place.

    3. See WCF 1.8 concerning the validity and authority of translations of the Scriptures. It is noteworthy that the Confession specifically appeals to Col. 3:16 on this point. The exhortation of this text applies both to the matter to be sung as well as the sacred word to be read in the gathering of God's people.

    4. The argument from sacraments confirms the EP position. Christ instituted baptism in the place of circumcision. Christ instituted the Lord's supper in the place of Passover. Christ has not instituted new songs to take the place of the Psalms. There is no office of "sweet Psalmist of Israel" appointed for the church of the New Testament. There are no continual or ordinary gifts in the various listings in the New Testament which compare to the gifting of the sweet Psalmist of Israel. There is no promise of a new psalmody to equal the inspired and infallible nature of the Old Testament psalmody. Quite the opposite is the case. In the New Testament we find a consistent appeal to the Psalms as perpetually relevant because they are the Psalms of Christ Himself. See, for example, Hebrews 2:12.

    5. Uninspired sermons are the work of a single man; the congregation together sings the Psalms. The uninspired sermons are to be "proved" before they are received as the word of Christ. The Psalms are to be sung as the word of Christ. The Psalms are every way fitted for this congregational practice.
  6. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    1. This revelation is directly Messianic in that it speaks the thoughts of the Messiah Himself (e.g., Heb. 2:12). The use of the psalter in the NT shows its direct connection to the NT. We hear of nearness of God and forgiveness of sins in the psalter. Further, types and shadows are a God-appointed way of describing NT realities; the difficulty, and to some degree impiety (by which I mean, the shudder that some Christians feel when they hear some strange new phrase being used to describe God in religious song, which seems to them to be irreverent), of speaking of God in other ways makes its mark on man-made hymns: these will often use the types and shadows to speak of NT realities.

    2. The exegesis of Ephesians/Colossians is not the central point of the EP argument. The central points are the canonicity, the inspiration, and the Messianic nature of the Psalter. You may find the discussion on this previous thread useful:

    But as for the exegesis of Ephesians and Colossians themselves, it should be noted that we always rely to some degree on uninspired texts to determine the meaning of words. I've seen the LXX used in all sorts of ways for establishing the meaning of religious words in the NT, including Paul's "coining" of the word describing the sin of homosexuality. But of course, the LXX is not merely an uninspired text; it is the word of God in Greek insofar as it is faithful. I'm not sure what bearing that has on the exegesis of those texts, but there it is for what it's worth.

    3. Translations have the quality of inspiration. Else no layman could appeal the word of God in English as the word of God and ministers could not speak of their reading of the Scriptures in public worship as "the holy, inspired, infallible word of God." See the early chapters of the book of Hebrews in which a Greek translation of the OT is called the word of God and the word of the Holy Ghost.

    As someone who has been involved with and trained in music long enough to be described as a "musician," I do not follow what puzzles you. It may be best to state specifically what the concern is.

    We believe we are commanded to sing the Psalms in worship. Singing the Psalms is the element. To sing the Psalms requires some form suitable for singing. Historically, that has been either done through chanting a translation or singing a metrical version. If a translation or metrical version (a translation into meter) is faithful, then one is chanting, reading, or singing the inspired word of God.

    4. If we are speaking of the RPW, it is better to look at what is commanded rather than what seems to us to be fitting based on continuity/discontinuity. The answer then is simple: we see the Lord's Supper and Baptism coming in the room of the Passover and circumcision (although strictly speaking, Christ was the fulfillment of the OT ordinances), but we see no evidence of new compositions or a new office for composing songs to supplement or replace the Psalms; instead we find an almost universally recognized command to sing at least the psalms. If the psalms were pure type and shadow, as this argument requires them to be, we could not sing them at all, or we would be debtors to the whole of the ceremonial law and stating by our actions that Christ has not come.

    5. This objection depends on what the objector is getting at, since it is given for a variety of reasons. One possible answer is that God did not provide a book of sermons from which to preach. Neither did God command sermons to be of inspired quality. For song, we see the opposite: they were songs of inspired quality and a book has been provided from which we have been commanded to sing.

    Another answer (but it is not a necessary argument; it is only an answer if the initial objection was given for a particular reason) is that song is put on the lips of all the congregants. There is no way for them to test what is being said but they must implicitly accept it. Implicit faith can only be in the word of God, thus requiring inspiration. Preaching can be tested for its truth and is spoken by one while the rest hear.
    Last edited: May 1, 2015
  7. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The above posts from Nicholas, Rev. Winzer, and Raymond are spot on. That being said, I think your concern about the use of metrical translations deserves attention.

    Our metrical translations are just that: translations--not paraphrases in the modern sense of the word. Oftentimes it is assumed that the integrity of the original Hebrew is lost when a translation is given in meter. Though that may be true for some translations (which aim for smoothness rather than accuracy), it is not true for the best translations. Indeed, the Scottish Metrical Version is known for being, in many places, more strict and literal than our prose translations.

    To put it plainly, the reasoning goes:
    1. We are commanded to sing the Psalms.
    2. We must sing them in a known tongue (as with the rest of the public handling of the Word).
    Ergo, they must be translated in a form that is suitable for singing.

    Implicit in a command is the requirement to do what is necessary to obey that command.
  8. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior


    Do you see yourself as holding to the RPW? I'm not trying to make an argument out of it, as this thread does not immediately concern that issue. I just want to know where your're coming from in general.
  9. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    I do see myself holding to RPW. The questions I have should flow from it.
  10. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    In response to 1: When I refer to type and shadow, it is speaking in direct relationship to the significance of the NT. If the OT is "pointing to Christ" and the NT, "is interpreting the OT via the fulfillment of Christ," Then wouldn't it be backwards to think that singing what was "pointing to Christ," (yet we have Christ's actual reigning ministry to sing about, come now and fulfilled) is the only valid mode of corporate song? I don't think what I'm saying here falls outside the bounds of RPW.

    In response to 2: It seems to me that the cogency of the EPers argument would be far less weighty in the event that Eph. 5 (et al) refers to three words that, without the LXX, would never mean "Psalms, Psalms, and Psalms." Correct me if I'm wrong here.

    In response to 3: Fair enough.

    In response to 4: I'm not sure I follow: Is your point not making an argument from silence?

    In response to 5: This is rather clear, and this makes a point, but only as far as we sing "inspired psalms." I think in other comments that I'll respond to that point will become clearer.
  11. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    On 1-2: I was under the impression that, once given the NT reality of Christ that the Old Testament doesn't bring light to the New, but the other way around. My understanding (from Systematics when I took them in my B.A.) is that The OT did a great job pointing to Christ, but we need the NT to interpret the OT. So, in this instance, it seems backwards to have such a close view of the OT as if we don't need the NT in corporate worship. In fact, it makes me wonder, in this instance, if the NT is any use if the OT is so complete in terms of its Christological patterns.

    On 3. You know as much as I do that a Psalm that even is "translated" into meter has great amounts of interpretation, much like Peterson's Message Bible. A metered psalm requires a great deal of interpretation and finesse, in order to "make it fit" into a mold such as a meter or rhyme scheme.


    My issue is that, for an EPer, in order to sing "God's perfect hymnal," One would need to get their singing as close to the original text as possible. Metered poetry is a far cry from that.

    Some might ask, "Why is it so important to him that he sings what is obviously difficult for a congregation to do, and circumstantially requires modification of the Psalm in order that it may be sung?" My point is, as I see it, that EPers are committed to EP not simply because RPW warrants it, but because of the nature of what is being done. In my mind, an EPer is committed to singing God's hymnal because it is a perfect hymnal (Hence why Paul says so), and not to less than perfect "other music." But, what metering and other things do to Psalms is make them far from perfect, and in fact make them much like Sermons, and place them in a category that separates them from the perfect Word of God. It then makes the point of singing songs only an exegetical one, and there I'm still not sure the case is made as sure.

    Following me? I can try re-explaining.

    On 4: This is still an argument from silence. This is bolstered by the commitment that what Paul was saying was in fact thrice reiterations of Psalm.

    On 5: This is all conclusive depending on the proof that we are only supposed to sing the Psalms.

    This is not true in the slightest. Its only implicit if you tell your congregation to accept it that way. But, in most circumstances I've seen any kind of hymn or Psalm singing, there is a great deal of passivity within the singer. You are no more forced to accept the tenants of the song than the words preached by the sermon. In fact, I think it's backwards: A sermon is implicitly admonishing the believer, and thus when people take issue with it they seek the pastor to rectify the situation. Where there is acceptance of what is being said there is also inherent authority of accountability. Where there is accountability there is the binding of the conscience. Song singing cannot do that nearly as directly as sermonizing can.

    Thanks for the link! I will read into this.
  12. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    Perhaps what I've said has been a bit of misnomer (believe me this is not a red herring). What I mean by translated I do not mean the same for Bible translations.

    It is poetry made from poetry. It requires exegesis and finesse. When I say "translations," what I mean is "approximations." Just like with Bible translation we do everything possible to retain the original meaning of the words along with syntax to mimic the original wording so that we can stay as close to the original as possible. There are no constraints, in this context, to finesse the text into another language (at least no more than what is necessary).

    But with a Psalm, ah, that's very different. I've composed lyrics based on texts and even compared Psalters that we sing from today. I've studied composition and do it professionally. Whenever any text is taken and converted into song, a great deal of modification and finagling takes place. This is because sung words are interpreted with their songs, and thus greater care and attention must be taken to where the syllables fall and at what point emphasis is made in the text.

    So, even for the Scottish Metrical Psalter, Not only is there translation, but also poetic license. Since we cannot re-arrange the Psalm's words in such a way as to make them singable and intelligible, we must now interpret them. We must exegete meaning from them, and we must do it in such a way that it is intelligible and singable. Now, we are defining boundaries around the Word of God, that which cannot be bound.

    This... This... is the heart of what I'm trying to understand on this point. We've turned our metered Psalms into sermons, in order that a congregation might sing them! In this manner, we ought to know that what we've translated, whether it's strict like the 1650 Psalter, or more pros like the mid to late 19th century writers, is wholly imperfect. Not only is it imperfect, but it has been given permanent meaning and we are claiming that what we are doing is just what the early church and the Apostles did.

    Do you follow?

    So, your syllogism is true. I don't mind singing metered Psalms (in fact, what I think the Genevan Psalter did was rancorous from a lyrical and musical perspective). I love the 1650 Psalter. But going from "We at least sing Psalms" to, "We only sing Psalms because we are singing the perfect Word of God" is not logical from a musical perspective...

    That is, unless we start singing the Psalms from the Bible like the Anglicans do.
  13. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    What you have done above is not translation. What we have with our metrical Psalters is a fresh translation of the Hebrew, not a versification of the English.

    Have you ever sung from the SMV? There has frankly not been much care given to making the psalms fit strictly into the chosen meter. Oftentimes, a syllable will have to be stretched over two spaces, or two syllables will have to be given in the place of one. Emphases are sometimes on an awkward syllable. Our Psalter is humble, but it is faithful. There is very little license taken here.

    This bit from the preface to the Bay Psalm Book is apropos:
  14. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Josh, I'm pretty the things you have raised have all been been discussed before, numerous times, in the EP forum. Peruse the old threads and you'll see what I mean. The 'you are not really singing the Psalms unless you sing from the Hebrew' and similar arguments based upon interpreting from one language into another have been dealt with many times in particular. See this recent thread, And also see, And And See offsite, Psalmody Objections Answered: Paraphrases.
  15. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Junior

    Josh, great answers have been given. Just a few years ago I was a musician and soloist in the church, but I began to wrestle with why there is such lack of unity in the practice of the churches where singing and "music" are concerned, and in the end it was definitely the Scriptures themselves (OT and NT) that convinced me we're to sing the Psalms. I would just add (if it's even an addition to what's already been said):

    1. I think it's right to say that the Psalms don't fall into the "types and shadows" category at all- they are outright the words of Christ, the prayers of Christ, or direct words about Christ, though metaphor may be used (Psalm 118:27) as it is also used in the NT (1 Corinthians 5:8). One consideration in our singing together that is often overlooked is, 'what does Christ will to sing with his congregations?', since it is his will to sing with us in the congregation! (Hebrews 2:12, quoting Psalm 22:22). His will is to "tell of [the Father's] name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise" (Hebrews 2:12). Will Christ sing his own words in telling of the Father and singing his praise, or will he sing our uninspired words? Something to think about.

    2. We have no evidence that Christ and the church in the apostolic era did not sing the Psalms exclusively as the means of praising God in song. In Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26, Acts 16:25, (and I believe in Hebrews 2:12 as well), the Greek "hymneō" was used to describe what we know was the singing of a Psalm. So it's not just from the LXX (which of course was read and used and quoted from by the apostles) but from the NT text itself that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 can be said to mean the Psalms.

    3. For a year or so I've been looking at chanting (as opposed to singing metrical translations) the actual text of the Psalms, straight from the Bible. I'd love to see that catch on and not seem weird to us in the West; I'm convinced that would be the ideal. But I'm so thankful we have increasing efforts at more and more faithful (to the Hebrew text) and singable Psalters. These can't be compared to the Message! The best Psalter translations succeed in accurately conveying the meaning of the Psalm and they keep an appropriately reverent tone.

    God bless you in your sincere studies on all this!
  16. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for humoring me. I am obviously new to this forum, and I'm trying to collect my thoughts.
  17. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your gracious replies.
  18. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    I have sung from the SMV. I've written tunes for the SMV. It is very well done. You are right, the lines aren't always the same. But, for the most part, it is common meter.

    One objection, though, is that is that it is still interpretation. It is not an argument supporting translation to insist that not all the words fit.

    Versification of English or any other language is not the pre-requisite for a song to be considered interpretive. Versification of any text, whether it is translated or not, is interpretation. This is musical fact. It is because in order to make the meter work one must derive meaning from the text and impose meaning in the poetry. Does this make any sense?

    I will be looking at the other things NaphtaliPress has suggested. Hopefully my objection here will be answered.
  19. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    I don't know that I fully understand what you are saying. The principles of translation require the translator to choose appropriate words that convey the meaning of the original, even if they are not defined the same way etymologically. An appropriate example is the use of the word "heart" in the English for the seat of the affections, while it is the word for kidneys in the Hebrew. One might call that interpretation. But if it is true to the spirit of the original in every way, and true to the verbiage of the original as much as possible (i. e., without sacrificing the spirit or meaning of the original, as in "kidneys"), then it is a faithful translation.

    These principles have been observed in the translation of our metrical Psalters as well as in our prose translations.

    Am I missing something?
  20. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

  21. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Here are a few quotes by notable men on the accuracy of the Scottish metrical translation:

    "[The Scottish Psalter is] an accurate rendering of the original ... and is even less liable to the charge of inaccuracy than our generally faultless English Bible. Where it differs from the prose, competent judges pronounce most frequently in its favor as really the more accurate." -Rev. Dr. Henry Cooke

    "It is truly an admirable translation from the Hebrew, and is frequently more correct than the prose version." -Rev. Robert Murray M'Cheyne

    "It is so terse, so true to the original, and so natural." -Dr. William Cunningham

    "It proceeds on the principle of giving every though in the original, and nothing more; and in this it has succeeded to an extent that is marvelous." -Dr. John Ker

    All of these quotations are taken from Psalms Only: Objections Answered by M. C. Ramsay.
  22. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman


    Perhaps it is best explained with another question: Why don't we read the 1650 Psalter from the pulpit instead of our translations? Why don't we read books like Peterson's "The Message" from the pulpit? It's because there is creative license used in both, to certain degrees. In the 1650 Psalter, great care has been taken to translate it as painstakingly as possible into meter, but it still requires a great deal of poetic license to make it so. I'm not saying there is a lot in the 1650 Psalter, but the fact remains that there is.

    My understanding of God's Word is that, to a certain extent, when man attempts to extend or creatively impose a new way of reading it, you ultimately have not read God's word. Metered poetry made from God's word is just that - poetry derived from the strictest standards of translation. When I read the scriptures faithfully translated in my tongue, faithful transmission of its meaning is facilitated by the Holy Spirit. But, when I read a poetic interpretation of said scripture, no matter how close in it's accuracy of meaning, I believe impairs the faithful witness of the Holy Spirit to its meaning.

    Am I wrong here? Have I missed something?
  23. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    I have taken note and already opened new tabs of your content. I appreciate your work and dedication to this topic. :)
  24. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    I would have no problem with the SMV being read from the pulpit. It is generally thought to be as faithful, if not more so, than the prose translations of the Psalter. That can't be said of "The Message."
  25. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    OK. But Hebrews 3-4 makes it clear that David speaks TODAY. The words of the Psalms are directly relevant to New Testament believers.

    Those words do not mean Psalms, Psalms, and Psalms. They are synonyms for the Hebrew, Tehillah, which are found throughout the Old Testament. The "LXX" is only brought in as one stream of evidence that the terms used by the apostle are the Hebrew words as ordinarily translated into Greek. The same argument can be made from contemporary Jewish and early Christian writers that the terms were not regarded as indicating a different corpus of song.

    According to the RPW, what is not commanded is forbidden. So the silence is decisive. If the form of worship is not instituted there is no divine warrant for its observation.
  26. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Though others have given excellent answers, as someone who came to the EP position later in life I thought I might take a stab at it. I hope it's helpful!

    1. The short answer is that it doesn't matter if we're "no longer about types and shadows". Psalms were instituted in the Old Testament and according to the RPW, the burden is on someone wanting to depart from them to prove that something else has been instituted in their place.

    2. As others have pointed out, it's not just the LXX. Usually this is brought up because non-EPers say "but Col 3:16 says 'hymns', therefore we can sing hymns.". Again, the burden of proof would be to show that this word does not indeed refer to the book of Psalms. By the way, here are some similar examples of "triads":
    Exo 34:7 "iniquity and transgression and sin"
    Deu 5:31 "commandments and statutes and judgements"
    Mat 22:37 "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind"
    Act 2:22 "miracles and wonders and signs"
    So it's not completely off the wall to suggest that "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" is particularly emphasizing one thing.

    3. A metrical translation is a translation. You seem to think that a regular translation is objective while a metrical translation is subjective. Is the NIV the word of God? The ESV? The KJV? Each translation has some subjective element. Synonyms are used and interpretation is made. With a metrical translation, the same thing is true but with additional guidelines of meter and possibly rhyme. I contend it is no less the word of God because of it (I've probably spent more time than most comparing psalters and trying to judge their accuracy). Now there certainly are some bad paraphrases, but let's leave those aside just like we would leave aside "The Message".

    4. Short answer: because we have not been commanded anything to replace it. Even so, is the argument that uninspired writers can do a better job with fuller revelation than the Holy Spirit did with types and shadows? (as an aside, as someone who has become more familiar with the psalter, I don't think the shadows are all that shadowy.)

    5. The more apt comparison would be reading of Scripture. Prayers and sermons are commanded and yet by their nature are not regulated in the same way that reading of Scripture of singing of Psalms is. The EPer has a problem with singing anything other than the psalter, just as they would have a problem with reading the Quran or the Book of Mormon in place of the Scripture reading. Once again, the RPW is very important.
  27. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    It's maybe more like setting aside the reading and study of Scripture in public worship for the reading and study of Calvin, Hodge or Berkhof, rather than the Book of Mormon or the Koran, because most (all?) EP-ers would admit that some hymns are full of truth rather than lies, just that they are not inspired and infallible and they are not authorised by God for a service of worship. Maybe that's a fairer comparison, Logan, between the psalms and some hymns (?)

    As regards Josh's point about reading the metrical versions of the Psalms in public worship, this is done by the minister or elder in introducing the Psalm, and in some congregations the whole of the passage to be sung is read, so Psalm singing congrgations have nothing against reading the prose or metrical versions in worship.

    Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
  28. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    That indeed may be a better analogy. I wasn't trying to compare hymns to false teaching, but more to uninspired "scripture" (or writings). Thanks!
  29. DatOrganistTho

    DatOrganistTho Puritan Board Freshman

    I think I understand what you are saying on most of your points. Thanks for taking time to respond!
  30. Rev. Todd Ruddell

    Rev. Todd Ruddell Puritan Board Junior

    Dear Josh,

    Not to pile on, but I think a couple of points are in order after the great answers you have received above (BTW, this is an irenic thread--keep up the good work guys!)

    First note that Synonymy is not unknown to the Apostle Paul. In Ephesians generally, it is used in 2.2; 5.19; and 6.12. And while there may be nuanced differences in these synonyms, these three instances are all this figure of speech.

    Secondly, as to your objection that the Psalms are types and shadows and therefore inadequate for NT worship of themselves, we must understand that when we call them types and shadows, we are doing so from a position informed by NT revelation, and reading, and otherwise using them according to their NT import. As one who sings the Psalms every Lord's Day, I can tell you certainly that it is impossible for me to sing Psalm 72 apart from thinking of Christ, the King of Kings. This is true of the rest of the Psalter as well. In other words, corporate praise is something we are commanded to undertake with understanding (Psalm 47.7; 1 Corinthians 14.15). If we're doing our due diligence in teaching, as Pastors in the Church, our people will do what you have already done in this thread--recognize the types and shadows of Christ to point to the full orbed Person and Work of Christ revealed in all of Scripture. I can't speak for or against anyone really--but when I hear this objection it is tempting for me to think that the one who offers it has not had much experience singing the Psalms, because once we begin to see Christ in them, they present the work of Christ so fully that we cannot help but to see Him revealed there in His Person and work in accord with the rest of Scripture.

    Finally, as Rev. Winzer pointed out, these words are in the mouths of God's people during the worship service. For an uninspired work, there is always the risk that greater light in our personal or corporate growth in grace might diminish the acceptable repertoire of songs for worship, and reveal that what we used to sing with great vigor now would bring shame and a sense of having sinned against God, promoting and believing error. Also, there is judgment required in this exercise, because we are required to affirm it by singing it. So, we become the judges of the songs we sing. But with Inspired Psalmody, first, we receive the songs as they are, the Word of God, and rather than judging them, they judge us, for they are God's Word. It is once again difficult to describe to a non-Psalm singer the liberty of obedience to Christ found in this understanding. No longer am I wondering about what I'm singing--my effort now is to understand the Psalm sung, and have the Word of God to do its work upon my soul.

    I hope this helps to answer your questions. Keep studying and reading, friend.
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
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