OT Elemental use of musical instruments ceremonial and gone in NT or not?

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by bookslover, Sep 19, 2019.

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  1. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Ha! Great minds.
     
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  2. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    @bookslover
    Before you deal with anything about musical instruments (or anything else regarding worship), I'd gently recommend that you make a study of the Regulative Principle of Worship. If you're going to approach this armed with the Normative Principle, then this conversation will go nowhere.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  3. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Of course. The claim is being made that something that was a ceremonial element in temple worship cannot now be a circumstance, because it was once an element. If that is seriously to be alleged, then my ridiculous comparison must be dealt with similarly. Because it is the same thing.

    It is also a rather monstrous claim to make that instruments were never used by Israelites outside of Temple worship. How did David learn to play the harp as a shepherd boy? Whence came the minstrel that played to soothe the prophet's spirit? Was he a Levite? Was that playing worship? Who commanded Miriam to play the timbrel? How did all the ladies with her have timbrels? We instruments forgotten from the time of Tubal-Cain until Temple worship began? These assertions that only Levites had instruments, and no one else ever played them, really strain credulity.
     
  4. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Ben, nobody has said that no one else ever played instruments. The context of the discussion is the public worship of God (though we’ve brought in private and family worship as well).

    I’m sure there were many musicians, David among them. But it’s necessary to distinguish things in the accounts you mentioned. David played the harp for Saul when the evil spirit came upon him, if that’s what you’re referring to as soothing the prophets spirit. That wasn’t worship.

    Miriam was a prophetess. The occasion was the great deliverance of Israel and an extraordinary one. And we learn from this narrative that they had tambourines! That’s cool.

    This was before the Tabernacle and the pattern God was to give Moses for worship. So a different dispensation for worship was going on.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    @Ben Zartman,

    It does no one any service if you will not engage with the actual arguments presented. No one has said that musical instruments were never employed outside of worship. That itself is clear from the biblical record. No a capella proponent has ever stated such nonsense.

    Please make the effort to understand the opposite view, make an effort to clear away as much as possible whatever biases of your own you might have. These discussions can be fruitful, but they won't be if we throw absurdities and disingenuities at each other.
     
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I have been negligent of the past posts and can probably find the answers. But let me say that I found a lot of those questions and inferences answered by Dr. Bacon years ago on a podcast. I was against EP but became convinced by a Dr. Bacon. I was able to obtain rights to posting that podcast. It convinced me of the historical understanding of Hymn, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs as Paul wrote about and as the Early Church did. I think we need to find out what the early Church did in some way. I bet they weren't playing instruments being persecuted.

    https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/music-and-the-worship-of-god/

    I am also willing to bet when they started to get organized they were looking at what was commanded.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  7. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    The pronouns in Psalm 137 are personal. The writer is speaking of himself and his fellow Israelites in their exilic situation.

    "Private persons in non-offices didn't write the psalms." How could you possibly know this, seeing as many of the psalms are anonymous, including Psalm 137? It's quite possible that many of the psalms were written by private, individual Israelites. You're claiming more than modern scholarship currently knows about how the individual psalms came to be written and how the entire book (including the five smaller internal "books") was edited into its current form. No reputable Bible commentator that I'm aware of would make such a silly assertion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  8. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    I strongly recommend a book called Singing the Songs of Jesus by Michael Lefebvre. In that little book you'll get a lot of information on how the psalms were composed and compiled.
     
  9. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Tom, I just realized that I brought in a claim made elsewhere by other EAP proponents. The claim was made that no Israelites other than Levites owned instruments. Forgive the conflation of two discussions. This thread, from post #77 onward, has every sign of going in the same direction. Jeri goes so far as to say "no one would have dared" to play instruments in private worship. You yourself stated that it was unlikely that instruments were common things as there has always been a special class of minstrels. All these things are assumptions at best, that you latch onto to bolster some pretty weak arguments. Are you saying that all the ladies who played timbrels with Miriam were prophetesses as well? Should we assert that they were Levite women and prophetesses? You see, we start getting pretty leveraged here.
    Did David spring from a special class of minstrels? He was a simple shepherd boy. Were the children who piped for one another in the street in Jesus' parable from a special class of minstrels?
    The fact that these flights of fancy are necessary to support the acapella position really is a testament to its weakness.
    It happens often on this forum that when my arguments cannot be answered, I get rebuked for being disingenuous, or told that I simply don't understand what's going on, or told without explanation that I'm being inconsistent (it happens to others as well, not just myself, of course). Why not simply engage with the objections? Did you find the clothing thing ridiculous? I was making a point to illustrate the logical fallacy before us.
    I'm sorry you feel put upon. Please engage with the objections, which I assure you spring logically from the things here claimed.
     
  10. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    I was speaking of Elisha in 2 Kings 3. But I see what you're saying. Still, the question comes up: Did David worship God with his psalms before instituting Temple worship? Was David banned from accompanying a Psalm after he had handed it off to the Levites?
     
  11. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Ben and Bookslover, there are some theological issues running in the background that will make our conversation fruitless unless they can be brought out and understood. The issues involve the nature of prophecy and Scripture (Psalms are Scripture and David and all who wrote the Psalms were prophets, known and unknown, and ultimately Christ, the greater David, and his church are the speakers in the Psalms); the fact that Israel was the church in the wilderness, and the continuity that exists between OT and NT in this regard; how the RPW works and the ramifications that flow from it. It’s a grand sweep thing, a beautiful flow of redemptive history that’s necessary to grasp somewhat before these kinds of queries and protests such as Ben and Richard are making can begin to be answered. You both wouldn’t even be bringing these kinds of things up, your questions and protests would be of a different nature. The prophetic nature of the Psalms leads to the nature and calling of the inspired men who penned them.

    I suggest if you really want to get a good background that you get and read the book Tom suggested; not just as an argument for EP but to understand theologically the issues at stake. I think it would be a blessing to you both.
     
  12. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    Er... Sure.
    Feel free to reread my post.
    You might want to consider what other people are telling you. I myself have noticed something of a pattern. (See "flights of fancy", above.)
    If there is a logical fallacy, demonstrate it. You did not do that. You attempted a reductio ad absurdum without having first understand the argument of those opposite you.
    "Feeling put upon" has nothing to do with it. You are not being as logical as you seem to think you are. Nor, apparently, are you as informed as you think you are. You are not dealing with actual arguments, you are only misunderstanding the ones presented here. Your tone, however it may sound in your head, comes across as uncharitable.

    Now, I have no interest in carrying on with you. I might reply to others. All that I have needed to say so far has been said.

    Above all, I'd encourage an appreciation of the Regulative Principle. Then I would encourage putting in some effort to actually grasp the opposite opinion. Without these we'll get nowhere.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  13. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Don’t know that it will be fruitful but just to address this: everyone acquainted with the RPW agrees that the use of the musical instruments was specifically appointed by God for the temple, and the musical instruments themselves were part of the collection of holy vessels (the keliy), not just the vessels themselves but the use of them was set apart and holy. The musical instruments were holy, consecrated keliy just as the altar and the laver, and all else. So for a family or a synagogue in their set apart (holy and consecrated!) time of worship to mimic the Temple’s holy use of a musical instrument, where it was an element of the worship and was prophetic in nature (and that’s key) would be unthought of, surely; it would be the same as if they decided to fashion a replica of one of the other keliy and use it in private or family worship or in the synagogue. The musical instruments, it would have been understood, played an integral prophetic role; they were vital to worship in the Temple, they were only for the Temple, they were a priestly Levitical ministry, and the aim in using them wasn’t to accompany congregational singing. To bring musical accompaniment in to gathered, holy, consecrated times of family or synogogue worship would have been unthinkable. Other occasions, by all means.

    I do music and did music both in and outside the church for many years; that’s where my great interest came beginning around 10 years ago. Knowing there had to be a biblical solution to the terrible problem of the current hymnody of much of the visible church I began to search for what God has said, for surely he has spoken to it. I’m sure you know that left to ourselves, we make a mess and a disaster of things. Christ’s cause is the issue; therefore what did God say, how did he regulate worship so that the whole visible church might be best edified, might have peace, might be pleasing to God and honor Christ, worshipping in uniformity of practice (which is his will)?
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  14. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Another book recommendation which is the best thorough treatment of the issue of musical instruments I’m aware of, written by a Baptist pastor in NY: Old Light on New Worship by John Price. It’s been recommended many times here on the Puritanboard.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
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  15. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    According to who? You? You keep making these broad, sweeping statements regarding exactly how musical instruments were or were not used in the Old Testament. How, exactly, a non-verbal thing like a musical instrument can play a "prophetic role" of any sort is, of course, left unexplained. As I've said, no reputable scholar that I'm aware of would make these kinds of sweeping, unsubstantiated claims.

    "Will make our conversation fruitless" (post 101). "Don't know that it will be fruitful" (post 103). I guess that, until I've reached the broad, sunny uplands of your great knowledge and understanding, I'll never truly understand how the Book of Psalms works.
     
  16. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Giving this thread a pause over the weekend and a reminder of one of our rules that is certainly based on the many exhortations that we in all that we do seek to edify. 1 Thess. 5:11, 1 Cor. 14:26, etc.
    1 Thess. 5:11, 1 Cor. 14:26, etc.
    3. Pause Before You Post​

    This is something that everyone can benefit from. Before you send the latest jab, punch, tweak, etc into cyberspace, take a minute (or two, or five) to make sure that you are doing so in a spirit of Christian maturity (cf. #4 below). Study first, pray, post after.
     
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  17. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Reopened. Please see the previous post if you have not.
     
  18. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    @bookslover

    Richard,

    Would you think it permissible to use candles, dance, bowls, and incense in our corporate worship services today? Why or why not (I am trying to understand your position)?

    Hoping we can dialogue charitably. Part of what makes this difficult at times is how some get into auto-defense mode (not saying this is you) when one starts talk of removing instruments. The Acapella position is a new one for me, but i often can’t even discuss it, let alone try to defend it, in my peer circles because we live in a day where instruments have become an element. Our modern church culture has a strong and strange attachment to instruments that I find to be suspect in light of the ceremonial passing and zero NT evidence of their use in the gathered NT Church.:detective:

    @Ben Zartman
    I and @Afterthought have both addressed the issue you raise with clothing. If you have concern or question about that logic please quote the statement. Otherwise the clothing question you raised seems to have been addressed. I am glad you are at least working through this thread and giving pushback. This is how all sides learn, even if conclusions stay the same for today.
     
  19. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    The church's attachment to musical instruments may be strong, but it certainly isn't strange. Again, Psalm 137 shows that the Israelites took their lyres with them when they went into exile to Babylon after the Temple was destroyed. So, obviously, they intended to play them there (why else take them?) - indeed, Psalm 137 itself (meant to be sung and played) is a product of the exile - and completely unattached from any Temple service.

    As for instruments allegedly being abolished after Old Testament times, I would still like to know who made that decision and why. Calvin? Someone before him? Jesus fulfills the sacrificial system, so the sacrificial system ends. But musical instruments were used to praise God in the Temple services (and at other times and places). The instruments accompanied and enhanced the singing. In other words, instruments served a function that went beyond just being attached to the sacrificial system, and so had a musical function that went beyond just the sacrificial system. Old Testament Israelites could sing and play to the praise of God even when sacrifices were not being offered.

    As in the Old Testament, so in the New. It's natural to assume that instruments continued to be used in the New Testament for both corporate and private worship. The fact that they are rarely mentioned in the New Testament can, I think, be attributed to two causes: (1) their use was so common as to be assumed by the New Testament writers, and (2) the purpose of the New Testament documents was (and is) to establish the basic doctrinal teachings of the church (based on the Old Testament and Jesus' teaching, of course). This being their purpose, the New Testament writers probably felt no burden to address this topic (which, again, was doubtless assumed and approved of anyway). Doctrinally, for the purpose of establishing churches in the Mediterranean area, they had bigger fish to fry, so to speak. If the Lord had intended for the use of instruments to be stopped, don't you think that some New Testament writer, somewhere, would have been inspired by the Spirit to note that fact? The fact that such a command does not appear anywhere in the New Testment is telling, I think.
     
  20. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Richard,

    You stated much of the same earlier in the thread. Again I am trying to hear your answer for the below if you will offer it:

    “Richard,

    Would you think it permissible to use candles, dance, bowls, and incense in our corporate worship services today? Why or why not (I am trying to understand your position)?”
     
  21. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Dance is out, as it is entirely interpretively subjective in nature (John Frame to the contrary). Bowls and incense were intimately connected with the sacrificial system, having active parts to play in the mechanics of that system, so they're out. Candles - too Catholic! Heh.

    The use of musical instruments, however, is not completely subjective as to interpretation because they support the words that are being sung.
     
  22. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Richard, as to who made the decision to abolish musical instruments: “Philip Schaff writes, ‘As the Christian Church rests historically on the Jewish church, so Christian worship and the congregational organization rest on that of the synagogue, and cannot be well understood without it.’ The elements of Christian worship, while under the authority of Christ and his apostles, were patterned after the worship of the Jewish synagogue. This included the unaccompanied singing of the Psalms.” John Price page 65.

    These are well-accepted facts by commentators. Under the apostles, the churches sang a capella Psalms. The Reformers desired to return to apostolic practice in worship, believing that it’s the practice that reflects God’s will (and also able to make biblical arguments for it). Price also quotes some of the early church fathers who were “unanimous and vehement in condemning musical instruments in the worship of the church.”
     
  23. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Richard,

    Thank you for answering. I am at least glad that you admit the bowls and incense as being out and that you recognize their, as you say "intimate" connection with the sacrificial system. I think you are correct on this point. Sure we can still use bowls to eat that 3rd consecutive bowl of Captain Crunch and further we can still use incense to cover up the smell after going # 2; however, we should not use either of them as a worship element today.

    Would this be a fair proposal:

    If you can be convinced by the Word of God that instruments likewise had an intimate connection with the OT sacrificial system, would you then support the acapella position? Again, I am just trying to make sure I understand your current thinking.:detective:
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
  24. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Is this provable or based on the presupposition that only Levites were allowed to offer praise with instruments?

    (By the way, I'm planning on presenting some research when I have the time.)
     
  25. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Additional question: does anyone believe that women were permitted to play instruments or sing in the temple?
     
  26. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Are you asking if it's provable that no musical instruments were used in the synagogues? I think that's as provable as many other things we accept as factual due to the research and concensus of respected scholars. Here are a few quotes from the Price book:

    Robert Douglas, Church Music Through the Ages: "Instrumental music is not known to have been used in connection with this [the synagogue's] music." James McKinnon, The Church Fathers and Musical Instruments: "Early Christianity inherited its musical practices and attitude from Judaism, especially the synagogue. Unlike the Temple, the synagogue employed no instruments in its services...instruments had no function in the unique service of the synagogue... the synagogue's rites were absorbed into the early Christian Mass, and the vocal music of the synagogue, especially Psalmody, was fostered with considerable enthusiasm." (McKinnon is RC obviously.)

    I quoted Philip Schaff in the comment above. Girardeau, Douglas Bannerman, William Maxwell, Hughes Oliphant Old, and Robert Douglas are some other resources named or quoted by Price. The Douglas Bannerman book cited is available at Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Scripture-Do.../ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=.

    I wish I had access to this:
    The Exclusion of Musical Instruments from the Ancient Synagogue by
    James W. McKinnon at https://www.jstor.org/stable/765928?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
  27. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I don't (obviously :)). Do you have reason to think they were?
     
  28. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    I don't think there's any doubt about the absence of musical instruments in the synagogues.

    Organs began to be used in some synagogues in the mid-19th cenury, not without controversy. Today, many Orthodox Jews still do not use musical instruments in their synagogues, although the trend has been to introduce musical instruments of all kinds to Reform and Conservative synagogues.
     
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  29. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    You could start with Ezra 2:65, which records 200 male and female Levitical singers returning from the exile. Psalm 68:25 for women playing tambourines in a worship context in the temple.

    And in answer to the earlier threads, most modern research does not think that singing was a part of the synagogue service prior to the fall of Jerusalem in AD70; it likely was carried over along with benediction into the synagogue after the destruction of the temple. We actually have very little evidence of what the earliest synagogue services were like, but they were unlikely to be anything like modern Reformed worship, except in the most general terms (reading of Scripture and an exposition of the text).

    As to who banished instruments, you can find people against them from the early church onward, for a variety of reasons: they are worldly and associated with pagan worship - the OT texts should be interpreted allegorically as representing the human voice (Clement of Alexandria); accommodations to the dullness of the Jews (Chrysostom). But neither explanation addresses why God would deliberately introduce them into worship in the temple, when they were apparently unnecessary in the tabernacle. The Jewish explanations for the absence of instruments from the synagogue are quite different (naturally - neither explanation works in a Jewish context). For them, the absence of musical instruments is associated with sorrow over the loss of the temple.

    None of this proves or disproves the argument one way or another but does add a little necessary corrective to some erroneous statements that are often repeated.
     
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  30. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Tom, I agree that it's probably best we not discuss this further, but I will push back against your claim that I don't understand the issue--I understand it, and I understand the Regulative Principle perfectly. The issue at hand is whether something that was elemental to OT worship can be circumstantial in NT worship. I brought up the example of clothing: in the OT it was a circumstance of everyday life; it was a circumstance of worship, and there was certain clothing that was elemental to worship. In the NT the wearing of clothing is circumstantial to everyday life; it is circumstantial to worship--only it's ceremonial use has been abrogated. As with clothing, so with instrumental music. We no longer have ceremonial music, but it remains as a legitimate circumstance of life and worship.
    If you refuse to respond to this I will understand--some threads one just gets fed up with. I simply wanted to try one more time to help you grow in your understanding of this issue. The other controversy we were having about the common use of instruments is too convoluted to pursue--I simply don't have the energy to argue against assumptions without basis.
    Please be assured of my kindest regards for you, and forgive any impatience I might have displayed.
     
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