Personally thinking through the EP no instrument position-

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by austinbrown2, Oct 7, 2006.

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  1. austinbrown2

    austinbrown2 Puritan Board Freshman

    I am currently wrestling with the EP no instrument position. As I listen to lectures and read literature certain questions come to mind that I would like interaction with.

    Please consider the following point:

    Point one: The basic contention of the cessation of instruments in public worship is as follows:

    1. The Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) is affirmed.
    2. Instruments were commanded by God to be used by the Levites.
    3. The Levites were part of the Temple and sacrificial, ceremonial system.
    4. This system has been fulfilled in Christ and the old way has therefore passed away.
    5. There is no command to use instruments in the public worship of God.
    6. Therefore, the Church is not to use instruments in the public worship of God.

    One of the principle points of concern centers on the RPW and non-public worship. What is it that governs all non-public worship?

    Is it:
    (A) The RPW?
    (B) Some other principle?

    I would like to know what the implications are for answering with (A). Can we only sing Psalms for worship- in any context? And if we answer with (B), I would like to know how it is that the RPW doesn’t have dominion over non-public worship. The answer to this question will have direct bearing upon Point 2. This is to say that how one answers these questions may or may not highlight inconsistencies in their paradigm, or at least the application of their paradigm.

    Point 2: How does one distinguish between commands or examples in the NT that pertain to public worship and commands or examples in the NT that pertain to non-public worship?

    Why is the command to greet one another with a holy kiss not an element for public worship? (Rom_16:16; 1Co_16:20; 2Co_13:12; 1Th_5:26; 1Pe_5:14). Should women not braid their hair? (1 Timothy 2:9). Why don’t all men lift up holy hands when they pray? (1 Timothy 2:8). Why isn’t the Lord’s Supper observed in the midst of a meal? (1 Corinthians 11). Is weekly observance of the Lord's Supper an element? When an example can become normative, which is granted by those of the Psalms only no instrument position, the issue becomes highly complex. Of course, complexity doesn’t disprove a doctrine, but a failure to adequately provide a sound methodology which can handle the various strands of data might mean that doctrine is wanting.

    Along these lines, how does one determine whether or not Ephesians 5:19 is for public worship or simply for non-public worship? Is there really a command to sing Psalms in public worship in the NT? And if Ephesians 5:19 is used to establish that Psalms are only meant, then why is it that non-public worship can sing non-Psalms for worship?

    If we admit that non-public worship isn’t governed by the same standards as public worship, and we recognize that the NT doesn’t spell out with much regularity when it is talking about public worship and non-public worship, then might we wonder if the principles which govern non-public worship might actually apply to public worship in the NT? If this is so, and if the looser requirements for non-public worship are coordinate with public worship, methodologically speaking, and if instruments are permitted in non-public worship, then why not public worship? It may be the case that there has been a significant historical redemptive shift that can account and explain why the NT doesn’t legislate public worship in the same way that the OT prescribes various elements.

    All of this points to what I think is a fundamental question. What is our methodology for distinguishing between public and non-public worship in the NT? How do we determine application of NT data and OT data for NT worship... and consistently?

    Thank you,
  2. austinbrown2

    austinbrown2 Puritan Board Freshman

    Personally thinking through the EP no instrument position-2

    Point 3: It is often advanced that instrumental music in present day public worship is distracting, conjures up emotions or draws attention to the one playing the music. I think it should be admitted that all such lines of reasoning are weak. It is true that Joe musician could be enamored with playing his guitar and misplace his attention in worship. However, what is potentially true for the one in the NT is also potentially true for those in the OT. But the potentiality of that error in the OT doesn’t nullify it’s being acceptable and proper. Unless one is willing to argue that it is impossible to play an instrument without being unduly distracted, then the argument should cease. And it should be granted that this is not impossible given what we see in the OT.

    Along these lines it would seem improper to discredit the use of instruments for their psychological effects upon men. Again, instruments in the OT surely moved the hearts of men, and if this effect isn’t intrinsically wrong, then neither would this effective usage be wrong now (in every respect). We might put it like this:

    1. Musical influences aren’t necessarily wrong in non-public worship.
    2. Therefore, musical influences aren’t necessarily wrong in public worship.

    The use of musical instruments may be improper for public worship on other grounds, but when the musical influences upon man are considered narrowly, there is no necessary negation of their validity if premise 1 is accepted.

    If the instrumental cessationist is correct, then they should content themselves with the exegetical data proving their position. To argue from the potential problems of musical instruments doesn’t advance their cause. They cannot argue convincingly from such points unless their position is (1) already proven to be true, and (2) their position entails the negative results of musical instruments mentioned above. But these negative results don’t follow necessarily once it is granted that such results can be acceptable and proper in non-public worship. Therefore, they either need to (A) Quit advancing such points as though they have a bearing upon the issue, or (B) demonstrate that the psychological effects of instruments in public worship is negative in such a way as to be distinguished from non-public worship.

    The same would seem to pertain to the “beggarly” or “immature” or “childish” or “elementary” statements made about instruments. Consider the following:

    1. There are many examples of instrumental praise outside of the public worship of God in the OT.
    2. These instances are proper for the people of God.
    3. Instrumental praise outside of the public worship of God in the NT is proper for the people of God.

    Given these points, I don’t see how it follows that blanket statements about instruments as being “elementary” or “carnal” are at all acceptable and logical deductions. These statements are true if and only if it can be demonstrated that such instrumental accompaniment in NT public worship is directly connected with the Levitical Temple public worship in the OT (and we assume all of the necessary points argued for by EP no instruments), and as such there is a direct parallel to present day instruments in public worship.
  3. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    I can't find a book of Leviticus in the New testament. I believe the New Testament gives us a lot of liberty in the worship of our Lord. Having said that, I love the old hymns without music. Some of those old hymns in the Gadsby hymnal are beautiful. Pity only the old school Primitive Baptists use it.
  4. Croghanite

    Croghanite Puritan Board Sophomore

    Austin has layed out a great line of questioning that MUST be answered. WOW!
    Can anyone reply to his questions, please. myself and a friend of mine have the same questions.
  5. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    As with the difference that exists between brothers concerning baptism, so also is this dispute over instruments and the singing of only Psalms. As I disagree with my Baptist brothers, believing them to be wrong about baptism, so I believe EP-ers and non-instrumental-ists to be wrong also on those matters. All the same, they are no less brothers in Christ in spite of those differences.

    I don't know why some people are convinced of things that have no convincing value to me. Yet it is true that they are convinced. It would violate their consciences to deny that which they are truly convinced of out of Scripture. It is assumed that they believe as they do because they are desirous to do God's Will, to follow the Spirit as He illumines the Word to them. And it may yet be that I just don't see the logical connections, that it is presumptuous of me to declare that these connections really are not there just because they have not shown them to me or that I do not discern them. Yet for all that, I also expect to have my conscience respected as well; to have my faith, my discernment, my dedication, and my seriousness in following Christ taken as real. Just as I am not ready to dismiss brothers from my fellowship too easily, especially by imposing my own standards, so also I expect that I will not be dismissed from any fellowship because I don't follow arbitrarily imposed standards.

    The oft-mentioned RPW is not the RPW that I have grown up to know out of the Continental Reformed setting. What has been attributed to the RPW at times is, to me, a violation of that principle. It is my view, for example, that it doesn't really matter whether one agrees with Frame or Girardeau, for they both end up in the same place in relation to the RPW. The debates themselves are no longer of interest to me, except that it helps me to keep up with how modern-day views of worship are slowly decaying, sometimes in the name of preserving it.

    That is to say, then, Austin, that I don't think too much of your arguments in opposition to non-instruments and non-EP. They take for granted the non-instrument and EP version of the RPW, which I cannot appreciate. The RPW cannot be used to violate the RPW, simple as that. To impose it one must show necessity from Scripture, and so far that has not been shown. So far what has been forwarded are a philosophical necessity, or logical necessity, or some other similar necessity, but not a proper Biblical necessity. Instead, they follow Girardeau's methodology in circumventing the prime issues with innumerable secondary issues.

    For me it is quite simple: perspicuity, sufficiency, and a clear historical confessional lineage. As such, I would disagree with your arguments as I would disagree with EP arguments, because I believe that both sides of the debate will result with the same ending. I have come to believe that the discussions themselves are degrading to the RPW of the historic Church.

    I just wanted you to know that there is a third side to this discussion. I respect my brothers who believe they are following the Word to the best of their abilities, and I support them. If they happen to be Baptist, EP, or non-instrument, then I know how to support them in their faith without necessarily taking sides or supporting their beliefs in these matters. I will not be unsettled, and neither will I be instrumental in unsettling others. It is Christ's business how much each of us is given in our talents, faith, and understandings; it is not my business to impose my own on others. It is not as if Christ were giving me to others instead of the gifts He wishes to bestow on others through me; nor is it as if others' gifts are not for me to appreciate for their full value. Just as Baptists are a long way from convincing me, so also EP is far from convincing me: but I will not let that get in the way of following Christ's command to seek the good of others, especially those of the household of faith. It is my conviction that this discussion, carried on under the present intellectual conditions, is detrimental to how we regulate worship as the Church, therefore abstinence from such discussions, with my reasons why, is my contribution.
  6. jaybird0827

    jaybird0827 PuritanBoard Honor Roll

    Dr. McMahon has addressed this question in a related thread that you started, here.

    -- James Dick, Hymns and Hymnbooks

    [Edited on 10-8-2006 by jaybird0827]
  7. austinbrown2

    austinbrown2 Puritan Board Freshman


    Thanks for the comments. I can appreciate what you say, and I can especially appreciate your concern over "over-wrangling." With that said, I haven't personally come to a stopping point on this discussion. In fact, I have only begun to really think about the issue more recently. I need to acquire my own convictions on the matter. Therefore I have to engage in debate and discussion, and that discussion must be logical and the like.

    I'm hoping that if I take up the assumptions of the EP position and follow them out I will be able to detect inconsistencies or inadequacies in the paradigm.

    This issue is also more than academic for me. I have made a switch from more Baptist circles to the RPCNA. I am also seeking to enter the ministry someday (professionally). My future in the RPCNA, as a leader, is obviously contingent upon some of these issues.

    Again, thank you for your comments, but I trust that you will agree with my needing to work out these issues in my mind to the best of my ability.

  8. jaybird0827

    jaybird0827 PuritanBoard Honor Roll


    Thank you for clarifying your intentions as you did in your recent reply to JohnV. Up until that point I had been very concerned about where all this was going. Initially it had come across (to me anyway) as having a purpose in putting us EP+no instruments to defend our doctrine and practice leading to an eventual conclusion that if we couldn't articulate our argument well enough, then the "why not hymns and instruments" win and therefore they must be right.

    I hope that you will find confidence and comfort in God's word on this, and in all things.
  9. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    You might find this thread useful:

    I've been silent on this for a while because I'm waiting to read and reflect before I re-engage on this. If you haven't read where I commend the Confessional Presbyterian Journal then I would, again, commend it to your reading. It's been dealing with that (and other) issues for the last two issues. It's a yearly periodical and has very scholarly articles.

    Honestly, I have not studied the EP satisfactorily to be strongly critical but I have noted more of a party spirit on the issue than something that someone can clearly defend with Scripture. I've said this before and I'll say it again: when someone challenges us on the doctrines of Grace - doctrines key to the marks of a true Church - none of us have trouble articulating the passages that defend the doctrines nor do we have trouble relating the concepts in many ways that the average person can understand.

    When it comes to the finer points of the RPW, specifically Exclusive Psalmody, that some claim are no less important than the doctrines of Grace (because anything else is "strange fire") then the defense is markedly different. It becomes a mountain of historical theology and appeals to authority challenging your fidelity to "What it is to be Reformed...." As I note in the thread above, the arguments repeatedly center around Temple worship, which our worship is not patterned after.

    I'm still waiting to collect more info but that's where I'm at right now. I have deep affinity and respect for my Reformed forebears and I need to be careful lest I claim myself wiser than they in a rash way.
  10. austinbrown2

    austinbrown2 Puritan Board Freshman


    Thanks for the kind words. Honestly, I am finding this study to be less than enjoyable. I was the "worship leader" at my previous assembly (In the Christian and Missionary Alliance) and had a few debates over worship there. We struggled over how much contemporary vs. Hymns should be used, sound volumes and other related issues. We didn't know about the RPW. So, now that I am in an RPCNA and know more about the RPW and the like, I am confronted with some with some new issues that need serious study. Unfortunately, it is becoming apparent that the RPW doesn't evaporate disagreements over worship. Where one sinner and another sinner get together, there you will find all kinds of trouble :) Don't get me wrong, however, I VERY MUCH enjoy the assembly I am part of. It is a good group of people, has strong and godly leadership and I thoroughly enjoy singing the Psalms... even without instruments.

  11. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for the plugs Rich.:)
    For more info on getting the 2005 and 2006 (current) issues of The Confessional Presbyterian journal, see here:
    Rich is I think refering to two articles that generally deal with what has come to be tagged in the last century with the moniker, the regulative principle of worship. The psalmody and acappella issue may be touched on in a passing way since the author(s) hold those positions, and they naturally come up in a survey of literature, but there has not been a formal dealing with either.

    The two articles are:

    "Reframing Presbyterian Worship: A Critical Survey of the Worship Views ofJohn M. Frame and R. J. Gore" by Frank J. Smith, Ph.D., D.D. and David C. Lachman, Ph.D. The Confessional Presbyterian (2005) 116-150.

    "The Regulative Principle of Worship:Sixty Years in Reformed Literature Part One (1946–1999) by Frank J. Smith, Ph.D., D.D. with Chris Coldwell, The Confessional Presbyterian (2006) 89-164.

  12. austinbrown2

    austinbrown2 Puritan Board Freshman

    To Always Faithful

    I could not agree more with what you said. You stated it very well. If my EP brothers are right, and maybe they are, the issue isn't terribly plain, at least it isn't to me. One can't help but chuckle if you step back and really consider how many layers there are to the issue:

    You have to first:

    (A) Adhere to Covenant theology.
    (B) Understand the Kingly Rule of Christ.
    (C) Exegete Ephesians 5:19 to death.
    (D) Study the use of all instruments in Scripture.
    (E) Understand how the Levites and instruments and formal, public worship are connected.
    (F) Understand the RPW
    (G) Understand the debate to the RPW (Frame, Poythress, Bahsen, etc., just to name contemporaries).
    (H) Understand how the Church is connected with Temple worship?
    (I) Be convinced that things like instruments in Revelation and Psalm 150 don't entail the non-EP position.
    Etc. Etc.

    AND YET!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Michael Bushell states in the preface to the first edition of his book, "The arguments for EP are simple, cogent and biblical; so simple, cogent and biblical, in fact, that nothing less than an epidimic of spiritual blindness can explain the well-nigh universal expulsion of the psalter from the Reformed Churches in this country."

    Wow. If he means the complete explusion of the Psalter from Reformed Churches, well, then I might tend to agree. But if he means the rejection of Psalms only, well, I guess I am groping about with a thick veil of spiritual torpor engulfing the slightest shreds of light that might spark in the corners of my eyes. Uhg. That is scary. But I know that the Lord has been wonferfully gracious in moving me to better understand His truth and love His Word. So I don't fret, the Lord is my Shepherd.

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