If We Should Not Use Instruments: Then Why Does 95% of the Church Use Them?

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Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
[FONT=&quot]John,
Obviously we should not not consult the individual writings of Westminster Divines to expand the meaning or application of the Westminster Standards beyond the Assembly's meaning and original intent. We consult them in due order when after centuries the original meaning (original intent) has been misconstrued or confused or decontextualized by some and controversies arise over meaning. The primary tools for this are the work and productions of the Assembly, but these private/individual writings are useful in their place. We cannot allow historic documents that serve as denominational doctrinal statements to which office bearers subscribe to become a wax nose, which is what happens when original intent is ignored.

I think the Westminster Asssembly was clear on creation (literal 144 hour) and clearer still on singing of psalms (nothing but the psalms).* No, they do not address musical instruments directly in any of their productions. It was a non issue; there were only a few organs and the Parliament had already "de-organized" the disestablished church of England in May 1644, in their order for the demolishing of the cathedral organs, long before the divines produced any documents.
[/FONT][FONT=&quot]However, I"m fairly persuaded, if they were not just faced by a few organs in cathedrals but by musical bands getting up front of the congregations throughout the country during public worship, that we’d have a statement if not a paragraph in the Confession of Faith addressing it! Maybe a chapter! ;)

[/FONT][FONT=&quot]*[/FONT][FONT=&quot]On original intent and [/FONT][FONT=&quot]animus imponentis[/FONT][FONT=&quot] (adopting intent) see Alan Strange’s article, “The Affirmation of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ at the Westminster Assembly of Divines,” The Confessional Presbyterian 4 (2008) forthcoming. On my take on what the Assembly meant by psalms see The Meaning of "Psalm" in the Westminster Standards - The PuritanBoard. See also Mathew Winzer's demolishing of Nick Needham's argument that the Divines meant more than Psalms by Singing of Psalms in [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Review: [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Nick Needham, ‘Westminster and worship: psalms, hymns, and musical instruments,’ In The Westminster Confession into the 21st century, 2, ed. J. Ligon Duncan (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005). 540 pages. ISBN 978-1-857-92878-5. $37.99. Reviewed by Matthew Winzer, Grace Presbyterian Church (Australian Free Church), Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. "Westminster and Worship Examined: A Review of Nick Needham’s essay on the Westminster Confession of Faith’s teaching concerning the regulative principle, the singing of psalms, and the use of musical instruments in the public worship of God," The Confessional Presbyterian 4 (2008) 253-266 (forthcoming). The ordinance by the English Parliament ordering the demolishing of the organs in May 1644 can be found here: [/FONT][FONT=&quot]House of Lords Journal Volume 6 - 9 May 1644 | British History Online[/FONT]

:amen:
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
Too bad my original blog post (the link) did not get all of these comments! Good discussion though. It is nice to know you will all be deORGANizing soon. :rofl:
 

Neogillist

Puritan Board Freshman
First off, the senses belong to the body (the physical) not the soul. No, I am not a trichotomist.

When I said that part of the Reformed focus was a return to simplicity. I did not mean simplicity for simplicity. Just read "What does it mean to be Reformed Really?" What does it mean to be Reformed Really?
Dr. McMahon points out that simplicity is one of the nine marks of being Reformed.



That is a bold statement. The business of the church is to preach the gospel, as that is the sole mark that God has appointed for people to be 'evangelized.' This preaching of the gospel does not require musical instruments. You are arguing here like a Purpose-driven Rick Warren fan, as if the use of musical instruments could bring new converts into the church. Moreover, there is no passage from the NT that compels the church to use instruments. [/QUOote]

I never said that the preaching of the gospel requires musical instruments, nor that this church used them in preaching. Rather they were and are used as a reason why someone who doesn't come to church should come to this one in particular. I also should have mentioned that the church in question, although not technically Reformed, is far from purpose driven. It was and is evangelical Anglican in the sense of the 39 Articles and the organ and choir were used as a draw to bring people to the church where the last two preachers were two of the finest preachers of this increasingly rare species in Canada. The best measure of the soundness of the conversions that took place there is that that church did not follow the local bishop into the approval of homosexual marrages and may lose its million dollar facility in consequence.

"The purpose of instruments is to glorfy God by worshipping him in a fitting way. Although this includes supporting the congregations pitch and rhythm, the instrumental role is not limited to these two functions. They also use tone colour, articulation, and counterpoint to emphasize verbal and emotional elements stated in the texts."



I don't think there is necessarily a contradiction between my statement and yours. A fine and discreet drummer for example makes it easier for a group of people to sing in time than any sung leadership can do.

snip...



The fundamental answer to abuse arguments such as this is right use not throwing out baby with bathwater.
Instuments have no tendencies in themselves, it is the musicians who play the instruments who face temptations to go beyond the words and focus on secondary matters or positive irrelevancies. But just as a preacher can resist the temptation he faces to show off his oratorical or polemical skills, rather than letting God's word speak for itself, musicians can also resist the temptations they face.

You know, in the end I really love the organ of my church. It just sounds like 'church' to me:lol:.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[FONT=&quot]John,
Obviously we should not not consult the individual writings of Westminster Divines to expand the meaning or application of the Westminster Standards beyond the Assembly's meaning and original intent. We consult them in due order when after centuries the original meaning (original intent) has been misconstrued or confused or decontextualized by some and controversies arise over meaning. The primary tools for this are the work and productions of the Assembly, but these private/individual writings are useful in their place. We cannot allow historic documents that serve as denominational doctrinal statements to which office bearers subscribe to become a wax nose, which is what happens when original intent is ignored.

I think the Westminster Asssembly was clear on creation (literal 144 hour) and clearer still on singing of psalms (nothing but the psalms).* No, they do not address musical instruments directly in any of their productions. It was a non issue; there were only a few organs and the Parliament had already "de-organized" the disestablished church of England in May 1644, in their order for the demolishing of the cathedral organs, long before the divines produced any documents.
[/FONT][FONT=&quot]However, I"m fairly persuaded, if they were not just faced by a few organs in cathedrals but by musical bands getting up front of the congregations throughout the country during public worship, that we’d have a statement if not a paragraph in the Confession of Faith addressing it! Maybe a chapter! ;)

[/FONT][FONT=&quot]*[/FONT][FONT=&quot]On original intent and [/FONT][FONT=&quot]animus imponentis[/FONT][FONT=&quot] (adopting intent) see Alan Strange’s article, “The Affirmation of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ at the Westminster Assembly of Divines,” The Confessional Presbyterian 4 (2008) forthcoming. On my take on what the Assembly meant by psalms see The Meaning of "Psalm" in the Westminster Standards - The PuritanBoard. See also Mathew Winzer's demolishing of Nick Needham's argument that the Divines meant more than Psalms by Singing of Psalms in [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Review: [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Nick Needham, ‘Westminster and worship: psalms, hymns, and musical instruments,’ In The Westminster Confession into the 21st century, 2, ed. J. Ligon Duncan (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005). 540 pages. ISBN 978-1-857-92878-5. $37.99. Reviewed by Matthew Winzer, Grace Presbyterian Church (Australian Free Church), Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. "Westminster and Worship Examined: A Review of Nick Needham’s essay on the Westminster Confession of Faith’s teaching concerning the regulative principle, the singing of psalms, and the use of musical instruments in the public worship of God," The Confessional Presbyterian 4 (2008) 253-266 (forthcoming). The ordinance by the English Parliament ordering the demolishing of the organs in May 1644 can be found here: [/FONT][FONT=&quot]House of Lords Journal Volume 6 - 9 May 1644 | British History Online[/FONT]

Thanks, Chris. But I don't see how this makes a difference to my point. If you reread your post carefully you might be able to see my point a bit clearer.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I dunno. I may not understand you, but I do think I understand myself.;)

Thanks, Chris. But I don't see how this makes a difference to my point. If you reread your post carefully you might be able to see my point a bit clearer.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Basically John, I think we disagree that there is really any imposing individual opinion of the divines upon the Westminster standards. There's a proper place to use such writings to inform our understanding of their final productions when controversies arise. Do you deny that?

I dunno. I may not understand you, but I do think I understand myself.;)

Thanks, Chris. But I don't see how this makes a difference to my point. If you reread your post carefully you might be able to see my point a bit clearer.

Fair enough, Chris.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Basically John, I think we disagree that there is really any imposing individual opinion of the divines upon the Westminster standards. There's a proper place to use such writings to inform our understanding of their final productions when controversies arise. Do you deny that?

I dunno. I may not understand you, but I do think I understand myself.;)

Fair enough, Chris.

In order of your comments:

No, that's not where the difference is, as I understand it, though it certainly is related. I put greater emphasis upon leadership by the Spirit than that of men. Or, to say it another way, it is the Spirit's witness to and through the Church (upper case).

Yes, I deny that, and no, I do not deny that. That is, I put limitations upon their use. They can be instructive in various ways, but we may not build anything upon them. Let me explain a bit by way of example.

I knew a man who claimed that his conscience bade him embrace Presuppositionalism. He was a preacher of the Word. So he not only taught it, he preached it. He said he was preaching what his conscience bade him to preach. Yet it wa found out that he neglected to inform his Session. (His Session was a regional Session because the church was too small to have its own elders.) On the one hand he felt it was so important to his ministry that he emphasize this particular persuasion of his, yet on the other hand, on a matter of greater importance, he didn't seem to have a conscience. Yet he built his ministry ever more upon this matter of adiaphora. So the non-binding and less important matters became pivotal, while those things which should have bound his conscience became peripheral to him. He built his ministry more and more upon what he claimed he was conscientiously convicted of, obviously to the neglect and cost of that which the ministry of the Word ought to built upon.

Do you see the connection? Sure, those men of Westminster may have had opinions on matters, and these might have played a part in several ways. But you can't build anything on them. They're peripheral compared with those writing produced in the Church under the auspices of the Holy Spirit.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
They're peripheral compared with those writing produced in the Church under the auspices of the Holy Spirit.

Amen - they are uninspired writings and should thus fall under deepest presuppositional skepticism. :)

Seriously, though - the confessions are the best attempt by godly men to establish and codify the clear teachings of Scripture. I think it was very wise of the divines to establish what they could and leave "wiggle room" where Scripture is not explicit.

I am sure they would not encourage dogmatic subscription, even though they would passionately defend their own positions.

The fact remains, though, Sola Scriptura, not Sola Profiteor, is our common banner and the rule by which any Man's (or group of Men's) thoughts and deeds are measured.

(Latin scholars, forgive my effort, if it is incorrectly applied! :))
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
John,
I guess I think you may have let your personal situation over inform the matter in my opinion. I have no idea what your first point means in the context of a confessional body, which I should hope is made up of regenerate men steeped in the Scriptures. Nor do I see what the minister's behavior has to do with a body interpreting the standards they subscribe to.

As far as the individual writings, you will note I have limited their use as well; the primary documents are, well, are primary. However, in controversies over the meaning of subscribed standards there has to be a means to determine meaning; it cannot be "what it means to me"; that is what I mean by wax nose. So I strongly agree we should not allow an individualistic approach to subscribed standards; that simply negates subscription altogether.

In controversies over the meaning of anything in an historic standard such as the Westminster symbols we first have to understand what the authors meant. How do we do that if the pimary usage is not determinative, at least if a significant minority question that? Can we go to the Minutes? Well, they may not record anything but the original word already in question. Can we use the Oxford English Dictionary? Well, Oxford relies on individual writings to illustrate word meanings. Again, the productions and work (illustrated in the Minutes and records such as Baillie, Lightfoot and Gillespie) are primary; but the individual writings can be illustrative of what was going on and help illustrate meaning (such as the phrase "singing of psalms") if that is not the end of the matter. I would concede that if all the weight of an argument is on matter that has nothing in the primary sources to bolster, then original intent for that issue may not be settled definitively. Then it is up to the deliberative body to make a decision and then adopting intent binds in that particular matter.

Basically John, I think we disagree that there is really any imposing individual opinion of the divines upon the Westminster standards. There's a proper place to use such writings to inform our understanding of their final productions when controversies arise. Do you deny that?

Fair enough, Chris.

In order of your comments:

No, that's not where the difference is, as I understand it, though it certainly is related. I put greater emphasis upon leadership by the Spirit than that of men. Or, to say it another way, it is the Spirit's witness to and through the Church (upper case).

Yes, I deny that, and no, I do not deny that. That is, I put limitations upon their use. They can be instructive in various ways, but we may not build anything upon them. Let me explain a bit by way of example.

I knew a man who claimed that his conscience bade him embrace Presuppositionalism. He was a preacher of the Word. So he not only taught it, he preached it. He said he was preaching what his conscience bade him to preach. Yet it wa found out that he neglected to inform his Session. (His Session was a regional Session because the church was too small to have its own elders.) On the one hand he felt it was so important to his ministry that he emphasize this particular persuasion of his, yet on the other hand, on a matter of greater importance, he didn't seem to have a conscience. Yet he built his ministry ever more upon this matter of adiaphora. So the non-binding and less important matters became pivotal, while those things which should have bound his conscience became peripheral to him. He built his ministry more and more upon what he claimed he was conscientiously convicted of, obviously to the neglect and cost of that which the ministry of the Word ought to built upon.

Do you see the connection? Sure, those men of Westminster may have had opinions on matters, and these might have played a part in several ways. But you can't build anything on them. They're peripheral compared with those writing produced in the Church under the auspices of the Holy Spirit.
 
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JoelYrick

Puritan Board Freshman
Basically John, I think we disagree that there is really any imposing individual opinion of the divines upon the Westminster standards. There's a proper place to use such writings to inform our understanding of their final productions when controversies arise. Do you deny that?

Fair enough, Chris.

In order of your comments:

No, that's not where the difference is, as I understand it, though it certainly is related. I put greater emphasis upon leadership by the Spirit than that of men. Or, to say it another way, it is the Spirit's witness to and through the Church (upper case).

Yes, I deny that, and no, I do not deny that. That is, I put limitations upon their use. They can be instructive in various ways, but we may not build anything upon them. Let me explain a bit by way of example.

I knew a man who claimed that his conscience bade him embrace Presuppositionalism. He was a preacher of the Word. So he not only taught it, he preached it. He said he was preaching what his conscience bade him to preach. Yet it wa found out that he neglected to inform his Session. (His Session was a regional Session because the church was too small to have its own elders.) On the one hand he felt it was so important to his ministry that he emphasize this particular persuasion of his, yet on the other hand, on a matter of greater importance, he didn't seem to have a conscience. Yet he built his ministry ever more upon this matter of adiaphora. So the non-binding and less important matters became pivotal, while those things which should have bound his conscience became peripheral to him. He built his ministry more and more upon what he claimed he was conscientiously convicted of, obviously to the neglect and cost of that which the ministry of the Word ought to built upon.

Do you see the connection? Sure, those men of Westminster may have had opinions on matters, and these might have played a part in several ways. But you can't build anything on them. They're peripheral compared with those writing produced in the Church under the auspices of the Holy Spirit.

I'm curious if you are trying to connect presuppositionalism with psalm singing and instruments. If you are, you are assuming something we are not. That is, that both of these things are circumstantial. However, this is not circumstantial and is thus not "a matter of adiaphora" or "non-binding." As this is in reference to the RPW, and these things are elemental or part of the elements themselves, to be wrong is to be in sin. We argue these points as if they were Roman innovations such as incense, or a reinstitution of sacrifices.

Another way of reading your post might be comparing this minister's preaching presuppositionalism to the use of secondary sources to whether things are confessional. Or something more along those lines. If that's the case, you can ignore me. :) Of course, I'll be thinking we've wondered off topic a bit.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
John,I guess I think you may have let your personal situation over inform the matter in my opinion. I have no idea what your first point means in the context of a confessional body, which I should hope is made up of regenerate men steeped in the Scriptures. Nor do I see what the minister's behavior has to do with a body interpreting the standards they subscribe to. As far as the individual writings, you will note I have limited their use as well; the primary documents are, well, are primary. However, in controversies over the meaning of subscribed standards there has to be a means to determine meaning; it cannot be "what it means to me"; that is what I mean by wax nose. So I strongly agree we should not allow an individualistic approach to subscribed standards; that simply negates subscription altogether. In controversies over the meaning of anything in an historic standard such as the Westminster symbols we first have to understand what the authors meant. How do we do that if the pimary usage is not determinative, at least if a significant minority question that? Can we go to the Minutes? Well, they may not record anything but the original word already in question. Can we use the Oxford English Dictionary? Well, Oxford relies on individual writings to illustrate word meanings. Again, the productions and work (illustrated in the Minutes and records such as Baillie, Lightfoot and Gillespie) are primary; but the individual writings can be illustrative of what was going on and help illustrate meaning (such as the phrase "singing of psalms") if that is not the end of the matter. I would concede that if all the weight of an argument is on matter that has nothing in the primary sources to bolster, then original intent for that issue may not be settled definitively. Then it is up to the deliberative body to make a decision and then adopting intent binds in that particular matter.
Chris:As the the example which I chose, I could have chosen another but I chose one in which I could be assured of accuracy of the situation. What it has to do with our discussion is to show several things at once, but mostly how wrong we can go when we build on shifting ground. Whether the teaching was right or wrong is not the point at this moment, because if I believed that Presuppositionalism was right I'd beside myself with this presentation of it: I'd have had more confidence in truth upholding it than to have stoop to such underhanded and disreputable methods. But that's another point from this example; I wanted to point out that building on other ground than the Word of God leads to disaster. If there is a question about the wording of the Confession then we are called to do just as the faithful churches over the years have done, namely consult God's Word. The Church's standards never (NEVER) point to themselves, to the leaders, not even to the Church, for authority, much less to the opinions of men. The Confessions say that the supreme judge of all matters of controversies of religion, decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, and the sentence upon which we are to rest, can be no other than the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures. In other words, even with the authoritative confessional standards as our witness, we still may confidently affirm that the Bible and the Bible alone is our guide on any matter of difference in the churches. How about another example? I knew a man who claimed to be fully convinced of Presuppositionalism/Theonomy/Postmillennialism, the teachings of Bahnsen. He claimed to know what he was talking about. He also claimed, though, that Bahnsen was greater than the Apostle Paul. Now all that anyone can know of the Apostle Paul's thought is what is written in the inspired Word, so he was actually saying that Bahnsen was greater than the Holy Spirit. Do you see the gross things that well-meaning men are led to when they build anything at all upon the works of men?
Whether these individual views are right or wrong, you just can't go about things that way and expect that the Holy Spirit is going to support it. And if this individual may not do so, especially the Church may not do so. On the issue of singing the psalms, the fact that arguments rely too much upon appeals to the writings of men as in any way determinitive is the very reason why I have been persuaded against EP, and the same with the arguments for no-instruments.

It's no longer about EP or NI for me, but about the confessional standards of the Church. If matters are to be settled by appealing to the writings of men instead of appeal to the Word of God, then it no longer matters whether EP or NI is right or wrong, because the Confession of Faith clearly tells me I may not join in on this type of thing, this type of approach to revealed truth. If I were EP I'd be irate; if I were NI I'd be irate. But I'm not either one, and many of the arguments presented on this Board only make it harder to consider the issues themselves.

But I've said enough on this. This has been about my own conscience, and I've said far too much already. I don't want to impose myself on another's conscience.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm curious if you are trying to connect presuppositionalism with psalm singing and instruments. If you are, you are assuming something we are not. That is, that both of these things are circumstantial. However, this is not circumstantial and is thus not "a matter of adiaphora" or "non-binding." As this is in reference to the RPW, and these things are elemental or part of the elements themselves, to be wrong is to be in sin. We argue these points as if they were Roman innovations such as incense, or a reinstitution of sacrifices.

Another way of reading your post might be comparing this minister's preaching presuppositionalism to the use of secondary sources to whether things are confessional. Or something more along those lines. If that's the case, you can ignore me. :) Of course, I'll be thinking we've wondered off topic a bit.

Joel:

I think you misread my post. I know that it might be a bit hard to understand the corelations I'm making. It's not about either psalms or Presuppositionalism, but about how you build understanding on any issue. It's the difference between solid ground and shifting sands that I'm pointing to.

There are many parallels to be made here. I'm just pointing to one of them. I'm not going off topic. I was trying to convey what I was saying about the groundwork of the Confessions for us as church members, so that these authoritative documents of the Church in no way set themselves up against the foundation of Sola Scriptura. The Confessions themselves say that there is no other source to appeal to, none at all. And it clearly mentions the Holy Spirit in the same breath. That means the Spirit leading through the means of the church, the plurality of elders, without ever meaning that the elders themselves are in any way the source of the teachings.

That's where this parallel comes in. The Presuppositionalist minister was doing the same thing, appealing to the writings of men as arbiter in the matter of whether his view was Biblical or not. In the end it was built upon personal convictions, not on the Word of God. So of course it couldn't stand the heat of close scrutiny.

I didn't want to leave your post without an answer, Joel. I've said too much already, and wish rather to let everyone wrestle with his own conscience on these matters.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
They're peripheral compared with those writing produced in the Church under the auspices of the Holy Spirit.

Amen - they are uninspired writings and should thus fall under deepest presuppositional skepticism. :)

Seriously, though - the confessions are the best attempt by godly men to establish and codify the clear teachings of Scripture. I think it was very wise of the divines to establish what they could and leave "wiggle room" where Scripture is not explicit.

I am sure they would not encourage dogmatic subscription, even though they would passionately defend their own positions.

The fact remains, though, Sola Scriptura, not Sola Profiteor, is our common banner and the rule by which any Man's (or group of Men's) thoughts and deeds are measured.

(Latin scholars, forgive my effort, if it is incorrectly applied! :))

Wow, JD!! I clicked on that word to see what it meant and I was refused because too many requests were being processed. EVERYONE'S READING YOUR POST!!!!
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
John,
The individual example is again beside my point. I really think your line of thinking tends to be antithetical to any kind of doctrinal subscription. If we are to have man written creeds, when controversies arise over what that creed means, we have to take the tack I've outlined (again see Alan Strange's article noted above). We must do that before then going about challenging and changing those standards in light of the word of God. Doing that does not equate to relying on the words of men or appealing to them.

For instance, the whole case of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ; is that a doctrine the church is to uphold or not? It has been challenged that the Westminster Standards leave that open. To answer that the standards have to be studied, again as outlined. Depending on the answer or at least a majority consensus on an answer, then challenges may be made or changes to secondary standards proposed based upon appeals to the primary standard, the word of God.

As far as EP, I don't believe anyone on PB has ever asked you to believe EP based on any man's authority. That is requiring an implicit faith and a great sin and error.
.
John,I guess I think you may have let your personal situation over inform the matter in my opinion. I have no idea what your first point means in the context of a confessional body, which I should hope is made up of regenerate men steeped in the Scriptures. Nor do I see what the minister's behavior has to do with a body interpreting the standards they subscribe to. As far as the individual writings, you will note I have limited their use as well; the primary documents are, well, are primary. However, in controversies over the meaning of subscribed standards there has to be a means to determine meaning; it cannot be "what it means to me"; that is what I mean by wax nose. So I strongly agree we should not allow an individualistic approach to subscribed standards; that simply negates subscription altogether. In controversies over the meaning of anything in an historic standard such as the Westminster symbols we first have to understand what the authors meant. How do we do that if the pimary usage is not determinative, at least if a significant minority question that? Can we go to the Minutes? Well, they may not record anything but the original word already in question. Can we use the Oxford English Dictionary? Well, Oxford relies on individual writings to illustrate word meanings. Again, the productions and work (illustrated in the Minutes and records such as Baillie, Lightfoot and Gillespie) are primary; but the individual writings can be illustrative of what was going on and help illustrate meaning (such as the phrase "singing of psalms") if that is not the end of the matter. I would concede that if all the weight of an argument is on matter that has nothing in the primary sources to bolster, then original intent for that issue may not be settled definitively. Then it is up to the deliberative body to make a decision and then adopting intent binds in that particular matter.
Chris:As the the example which I chose, I could have chosen another but I chose one in which I could be assured of accuracy of the situation. What it has to do with our discussion is to show several things at once, but mostly how wrong we can go when we build on shifting ground. Whether the teaching was right or wrong is not the point at this moment, because if I believed that Presuppositionalism was right I'd beside myself with this presentation of it: I'd have had more confidence in truth upholding it than to have stoop to such underhanded and disreputable methods. But that's another point from this example; I wanted to point out that building on other ground than the Word of God leads to disaster. If there is a question about the wording of the Confession then we are called to do just as the faithful churches over the years have done, namely consult God's Word. The Church's standards never (NEVER) point to themselves, to the leaders, not even to the Church, for authority, much less to the opinions of men. The Confessions say that the supreme judge of all matters of controversies of religion, decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, and the sentence upon which we are to rest, can be no other than the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures. In other words, even with the authoritative confessional standards as our witness, we still may confidently affirm that the Bible and the Bible alone is our guide on any matter of difference in the churches. How about another example? I knew a man who claimed to be fully convinced of Presuppositionalism/Theonomy/Postmillennialism, the teachings of Bahnsen. He claimed to know what he was talking about. He also claimed, though, that Bahnsen was greater than the Apostle Paul. Now all that anyone can know of the Apostle Paul's thought is what is written in the inspired Word, so he was actually saying that Bahnsen was greater than the Holy Spirit. Do you see the gross things that well-meaning men are led to when they build anything at all upon the works of men?
Whether these individual views are right or wrong, you just can't go about things that way and expect that the Holy Spirit is going to support it. And if this individual may not do so, especially the Church may not do so. On the issue of singing the psalms, the fact that arguments rely too much upon appeals to the writings of men as in any way determinitive is the very reason why I have been persuaded against EP, and the same with the arguments for no-instruments.

It's no longer about EP or NI for me, but about the confessional standards of the Church. If matters are to be settled by appealing to the writings of men instead of appeal to the Word of God, then it no longer matters whether EP or NI is right or wrong, because the Confession of Faith clearly tells me I may not join in on this type of thing, this type of approach to revealed truth. If I were EP I'd be irate; if I were NI I'd be irate. But I'm not either one, and many of the arguments presented on this Board only make it harder to consider the issues themselves.

But I've said enough on this. This has been about my own conscience, and I've said far too much already. I don't want to impose myself on another's conscience.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
John,
The individual example is again beside my point. I really think your line of thinking tends to be antithetical to any kind of doctrinal subscription. If we are to have man written creeds, when controversies arise over what that creed means, we have to take the tack I've outlined (again see Alan Strange's article noted above). We must do that before then going about challenging and changing those standards in light of the word of God. Doing that does not equate to relying on the words of men or appealing to them.

For instance, the whole case of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ; is that a doctrine the church is to uphold or not? It has been challenged that the Westminster Standards leave that open. To answer that the standards have to be studied, again as outlined. Depending on the answer or at least a majority consensus on an answer, then challenges may be made or changes to secondary standards proposed based upon appeals to the primary standard, the word of God.

As far as EP, I don't believe anyone on PB has ever asked you to believe EP based on any man's authority. That is requiring an implicit faith and a great sin and error.
I'm sorry, Chris. I don't understand your first paragraph. Would you rephrase it for me please?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm saying what I am saying because I oppose changing the standards of the Church. Unless of course the light of Scripture demands it.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
John,
When questions about a doctrinal standard arise, we have to clarify what that standard says (i.e means) before determining if it needs to be changed.
John,
The individual example is again beside my point. I really think your line of thinking tends to be antithetical to any kind of doctrinal subscription. If we are to have man written creeds, when controversies arise over what that creed means, we have to take the tack I've outlined (again see Alan Strange's article noted above). We must do that before then going about challenging and changing those standards in light of the word of God. Doing that does not equate to relying on the words of men or appealing to them.

For instance, the whole case of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ; is that a doctrine the church is to uphold or not? It has been challenged that the Westminster Standards leave that open. To answer that the standards have to be studied, again as outlined. Depending on the answer or at least a majority consensus on an answer, then challenges may be made or changes to secondary standards proposed based upon appeals to the primary standard, the word of God.

As far as EP, I don't believe anyone on PB has ever asked you to believe EP based on any man's authority. That is requiring an implicit faith and a great sin and error.
I'm sorry, Chris. I don't understand your first paragraph. Would you rephrase it for me please?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
John,The individual example is again beside my point. I really think your line of thinking tends to be antithetical to any kind of doctrinal subscription. If we are to have man written creeds, when controversies arise over what that creed means, we have to take the tack I've outlined (again see Alan Strange's article noted above). We must do that before then going about challenging and changing those standards in light of the word of God. Doing that does not equate to relying on the words of men or appealing to them.
The bolded part is what I don't understand
For instance, the whole case of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ; is that a doctrine the church is to uphold or not? It has been challenged that the Westminster Standards leave that open. To answer that the standards have to be studied, again as outlined. Depending on the answer or at least a majority consensus on an answer, then challenges may be made or changes to secondary standards proposed based upon appeals to the primary standard, the word of God.
This is unacceptable to me. I would hope that no church goes about things this way.
As far as EP, I don't believe anyone on PB has ever asked you to believe EP based on any man's authority. That is requiring an implicit faith and a great sin and error.
Thank you for that.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
John,
If officers are going to be bound to a confession and a question gets raised on what statements in that confession allow, we of course have to determine what that confession means and allows before determining if what it allows/disallows raises a doctrinal issue that may require changing that standard, measured against the primary standard, the Word of God. I don't really understand what your problem is here. To deny that simply denies any kind of deliberative process about secondary standards.

John,The individual example is again beside my point. I really think your line of thinking tends to be antithetical to any kind of doctrinal subscription. If we are to have man written creeds, when controversies arise over what that creed means, we have to take the tack I've outlined (again see Alan Strange's article noted above). We must do that before then going about challenging and changing those standards in light of the word of God. Doing that does not equate to relying on the words of men or appealing to them.
The bolded part is what I don't understand
For instance, the whole case of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ; is that a doctrine the church is to uphold or not? It has been challenged that the Westminster Standards leave that open. To answer that the standards have to be studied, again as outlined. Depending on the answer or at least a majority consensus on an answer, then challenges may be made or changes to secondary standards proposed based upon appeals to the primary standard, the word of God.
This is unacceptable to me. I would hope that no church goes about things this way.
As far as EP, I don't believe anyone on PB has ever asked you to believe EP based on any man's authority. That is requiring an implicit faith and a great sin and error.
Thank you for that.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
For instance, the whole case of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ; is that a doctrine the church is to uphold or not? It has been challenged that the Westminster Standards leave that open. To answer that the standards have to be studied, again as outlined. Depending on the answer or at least a majority consensus on an answer, then challenges may be made or changes to secondary standards proposed based upon appeals to the primary standard, the word of God.
This is unacceptable to me. I would hope that no church goes about things this way.
Precisely how do you propose a Church go about settling a matter of controversy then?

Here is what Chris has stated:

1. First, the Church should define her terms to assure that all are saying the same thing.
2. Second, deliberate over the confession after defining terms, in the light of Scripture.

Are you saying that either the Church should not define terms before deliberation or that the Church has no role in deliberation regarding the confession?

The active obedience of Christ is a perfect example of where not a small amount of equivocation has occurred in recent years. Some have pointed to early Reformers who seem to support their rejection of active obedience but when folks like Piscator are examined it turns out they have a view of passive obedience that is a distinction without a difference. Hence they are using the same terms as early Reformers but in very different ways.
 

jd.morrison

Puritan Board Sophomore
I was under the impression that John Calvin talked about how music associated with worship would change as time progress and that scripture was rather ambiguous in relation to modes or methods of singing hymns during worship. Because of the ambiguity he states that it is a matter of preference. Hence, unless scripture states otherwise I would say that it is a matter of preference. Am I wrong? If so why...
 

Bygracealone

Puritan Board Sophomore
I was under the impression that John Calvin talked about how music associated with worship would change as time progress and that scripture was rather ambiguous in relation to modes or methods of singing hymns during worship. Because of the ambiguity he states that it is a matter of preference. Hence, unless scripture states otherwise I would say that it is a matter of preference. Am I wrong? If so why...

Joshua, that would contradict what Calvin says here in his commentary on the Psalms:

"Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. The Papists therefore, have foolishly borrowed, this, as well as many other things, from the Jews. Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise; but the simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostles is far more pleasing to him. Paul allows us to bless God in the public assembly of the saints, only in a known tongue (1 Corinthians 14:16) What shall we then say of chanting, which fills the ears with nothing but an empty sound?" (John Calvin, Commentary on Psalms 33)
 

jd.morrison

Puritan Board Sophomore
Then it must have been Luther that I read that I can't off hand remember...

I am not in any camp yet for or against, but in order to try and gain understanding. Does it say in scripture that instruments take away from the worship of God, or that it is recommended or explicitly said that they shouldn't be used?
 

Bygracealone

Puritan Board Sophomore

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
For instance, the whole case of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ; is that a doctrine the church is to uphold or not? It has been challenged that the Westminster Standards leave that open. To answer that the standards have to be studied, again as outlined. Depending on the answer or at least a majority consensus on an answer, then challenges may be made or changes to secondary standards proposed based upon appeals to the primary standard, the word of God.
This is unacceptable to me. I would hope that no church goes about things this way.
Precisely how do you propose a Church go about settling a matter of controversy then?

Here is what Chris has stated:

1. First, the Church should define her terms to assure that all are saying the same thing.
2. Second, deliberate over the confession after defining terms, in the light of Scripture.

Are you saying that either the Church should not define terms before deliberation or that the Church has no role in deliberation regarding the confession?

The active obedience of Christ is a perfect example of where not a small amount of equivocation has occurred in recent years. Some have pointed to early Reformers who seem to support their rejection of active obedience but when folks like Piscator are examined it turns out they have a view of passive obedience that is a distinction without a difference. Hence they are using the same terms as early Reformers but in very different ways.

Rich and Chris:

I'm not going to speak for anyone but myself. I would read works by the early Reformers on the question with interest. I would seek any guidance the Spirit may give, any illumination that might come from this reading. But my answer would be on the Word of God alone, not their works; and never beyond the limits of my place in the Church. If these writings have a binding argument at all then I would be a fool not to heed it, but the argument would be nothing other than the Word of God and what is necessitated from it, not their opinions. They themselves would adamantly insist upon that. They'd be pulling out their hair if I did otherwise. That's exactly what paragraph X of chapter I of the WCF says. That's what art. VII of the Belgic Confession says. No other standard. That's exactly what the Confessional Standards stand for: no other standard than the Word of God.

It's not a question of whether things which say more than the clear statements of the Confession are "allowed" under the Confession. The question is whether the Word of God declares it. All that is needed for faith and worship is expressly set down in Scripture, is written in it at length. Anything that is not clear ought to be sought out in other places in Scripture that speak more clearly. "We therefore reject with all our heart whatever does not agree with this infallible rule." (BC, art. VII)

I'm only sticking to my confessions, not arguing something new.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
This is unacceptable to me. I would hope that no church goes about things this way.
Precisely how do you propose a Church go about settling a matter of controversy then?

Here is what Chris has stated:

1. First, the Church should define her terms to assure that all are saying the same thing.
2. Second, deliberate over the confession after defining terms, in the light of Scripture.

Are you saying that either the Church should not define terms before deliberation or that the Church has no role in deliberation regarding the confession?

The active obedience of Christ is a perfect example of where not a small amount of equivocation has occurred in recent years. Some have pointed to early Reformers who seem to support their rejection of active obedience but when folks like Piscator are examined it turns out they have a view of passive obedience that is a distinction without a difference. Hence they are using the same terms as early Reformers but in very different ways.

Rich and Chris:

I'm not going to speak for anyone but myself. I would read works by the early Reformers on the question with interest. I would seek any guidance the Spirit may give, any illumination that might come from this reading. But my answer would be on the Word of God alone, not their works; and never beyond the limits of my place in the Church. If these writings have a binding argument at all then I would be a fool not to heed it, but the argument would be nothing other than the Word of God and what is necessitated from it, not their opinions. They themselves would adamantly insist upon that. They'd be pulling out their hair if I did otherwise. That's exactly what paragraph X of chapter I of the WCF says. That's what art. VII of the Belgic Confession says. No other standard. That's exactly what the Confessional Standards stand for: no other standard than the Word of God.

It's not a question of whether things which say more than the clear statements of the Confession are "allowed" under the Confession. The question is whether the Word of God declares it. All that is needed for faith and worship is expressly set down in Scripture, is written in it at length. Anything that is not clear ought to be sought out in other places in Scripture that speak more clearly. "We therefore reject with all our heart whatever does not agree with this infallible rule." (BC, art. VII)

I'm only sticking to my confessions, not arguing something new.

So, if you're in a discussion with a Mormon about what salvation is and he says that Jesus saves him from his sins then common definitions are immaterial?

You state that you are sticking with what the Confessions state. How do I know you are defining terms the same way I am or do definitions not matter in the least? Is it sufficient for you to actually demonstrate that you and I are using the same definitions or do I just need to trust that JohnV's understanding of the Scriptures and the Confessions is normative?
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Precisely how do you propose a Church go about settling a matter of controversy then?

Here is what Chris has stated:

1. First, the Church should define her terms to assure that all are saying the same thing.
2. Second, deliberate over the confession after defining terms, in the light of Scripture.

Are you saying that either the Church should not define terms before deliberation or that the Church has no role in deliberation regarding the confession?

The active obedience of Christ is a perfect example of where not a small amount of equivocation has occurred in recent years. Some have pointed to early Reformers who seem to support their rejection of active obedience but when folks like Piscator are examined it turns out they have a view of passive obedience that is a distinction without a difference. Hence they are using the same terms as early Reformers but in very different ways.

Rich and Chris:

I'm not going to speak for anyone but myself. I would read works by the early Reformers on the question with interest. I would seek any guidance the Spirit may give, any illumination that might come from this reading. But my answer would be on the Word of God alone, not their works; and never beyond the limits of my place in the Church. If these writings have a binding argument at all then I would be a fool not to heed it, but the argument would be nothing other than the Word of God and what is necessitated from it, not their opinions. They themselves would adamantly insist upon that. They'd be pulling out their hair if I did otherwise. That's exactly what paragraph X of chapter I of the WCF says. That's what art. VII of the Belgic Confession says. No other standard. That's exactly what the Confessional Standards stand for: no other standard than the Word of God.

It's not a question of whether things which say more than the clear statements of the Confession are "allowed" under the Confession. The question is whether the Word of God declares it. All that is needed for faith and worship is expressly set down in Scripture, is written in it at length. Anything that is not clear ought to be sought out in other places in Scripture that speak more clearly. "We therefore reject with all our heart whatever does not agree with this infallible rule." (BC, art. VII)

I'm only sticking to my confessions, not arguing something new.

So, if you're in a discussion with a Mormon about what salvation is and he says that Jesus saves him from his sins then common definitions are immaterial?

You state that you are sticking with what the Confessions state. How do I know you are defining terms the same way I am or do definitions not matter in the least? Is it sufficient for you to actually demonstrate that you and I are using the same definitions or do I just need to trust that JohnV's understanding of the Scriptures and the Confessions is normative?

Rich

You are trying to compare apples and oranges. In a discussion with the Mormon, what is required is common definitions of biblical words, and those common definitions are utterly essential, if the two of you want to discuss the same subject. In a discussion between unaccompanied sung praise and accompanied sung praise advocates, the debate is over the extent of what is confessionally mandated. No informed student of the matter can doubt that the writers of all the Confessions believed and practiced unaccompanied psalmnody and the confessions were written against that background which the writers almost certainly presumed.

But the confessions and standards do not explicitly mandate the unaccompanied method; they only explictly mandate sung praise. Even though their authors believed and practiced USP, the fact that they did not manadate their practice in the Confessions leaves the matter up for debate, once the difference is raised. While accompanied sung praise may be a non-confessioinally mandated innovation in Reformed Churches, it is not, by definition, contrary to the confessions. It will only be anti-confessional if the confessions are amended to specifically exclude the practice.

An illustration may serve to make the point. Am I right in thinking that some US territories that became states faced a choice between becoming slave or free, because the US federal constitution did not prohibit slavery in the territories? And am I right in thinking that those states that did choose to become slave did not have their stance rendered illegal until and a civil war and subsequent amendement to the constitution prohibited slavery nationwide?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich

...common definitions are utterly essential, if the two of you want to discuss the same subject.
Bingo! It doesn't matter if we're discussing the Gospel with Mormons or what words two people are using when discussing worship, until we agree on definitions then we are not discussing the same subject.
 
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