Psalmody and Worship

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Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I had a hunch that a large part of the EP debate had at it's core some competing views about the mechanics of inspiration. I guess my hunch is now confirmed. Thanks for the interactions brothers.
:detective:
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
though Matthew did read in Isaiah, A Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, yet Matthew maketh it not a part of the New Testament, because Isaiah said it, but because the Holy Ghost did immediately suggest it to him, as a divine truth. For a holy man might draw out of the Old and New Testament a chapter of orthodox truths, all in Scripture words, and believe them to be God’s truth; yet that chapter should not formally be the Scripture of God, because, though the author did write it by the light of faith, yet the prophetical and apostolical spirit did not suggest it and inspire it to the author.
Mr. Winzer or anybody familiar with the matter, are there other places where the Reformed address this question of mediate vs. immediate inspiration?
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
I had a hunch that a large part of the EP debate had at it's core some competing views about the mechanics of inspiration. I guess my hunch is now confirmed. Thanks for the interactions brothers.
:detective:
I don't think that the different views of the mechanics of inspiration are at the root of EP, rather I think the root question is whether or not EP is a good and necessary consequence of Scriptural teachings on worship in general and corporate worship in particular. Although I see nothing wrong with a church choosing EP as a circumstantial choice, I have yet to see EP proved to be derived from Scripture as a GNC.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I had a hunch that a large part of the EP debate had at it's core some competing views about the mechanics of inspiration. I guess my hunch is now confirmed. Thanks for the interactions brothers.
:detective:
I don't think that the different views of the mechanics of inspiration are at the root of EP, rather I think the root question is whether or not EP is a good and necessary consequence of Scriptural teachings on worship in general and corporate worship in particular. Although I see nothing wrong with a church choosing EP as a circumstantial choice, I have yet to see EP proved to be derived from Scripture as a GNC.
Oh yes, The primary question is what is commanded. But inspiration becomes a factor in the "inspired" vs. non-inspired rhetoric. Part of deriving what comes from good and necessary consequence may be your view on the mechanics of inspiration. Just an observation. I'm trying to explore not only the central pieces of the puzzle, but also the other presuppositions which go into how those pieces are fit together for either side of the argument. In the very least, the views on inspiration do affect exegesis. How much of the human author's intent and circumstances do we take into consideration in finding the meaning of the text? How did God use the human author to communicate his Word? If you hold a more dictational view, then the human author (in this case the Psalmist) may have understood very little of what he wrote and experienced, and thus your interpretation would be more dependent upon later revelation, rather than his own circumstances. It does have a bearing on what you derive from the text. :2cents:
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Rutherford was flatly unscriptural and clearly wrong if he thought that the conclusion of the Jerusalem council was not immediately inspired.
As noted, I leave you to your own conclusions. The fact that you arrive at your conclusions without giving consideration to Prof. Rutherford's reasons shows that you do not carefully examine evidence and argumentation.
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Mr. Winzer or anybody familiar with the matter, are there other places where the Reformed address this question of mediate vs. immediate inspiration?
Are you asking, are there other loci within which the subject is discussed, or are there other authors who discuss it?
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Both, actually. I'm wondering what I could read to get more statements about the matter. Thanks!
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Both, actually. I'm wondering what I could read to get more statements about the matter. Thanks!
For a collection of statements there is Dr. Warfield's Westminster Assembly and its Work, chapters on Scripture and Inspiration. He regarded the term "immediate inspiration" as "of quite settled and technical connotation." He specifically quotes John Ball for a clear definition: "To be immediately inspired, is to be as it were breathed, and to come from the Father by the Holy Ghost, without all means." (P. 204.)
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Thanks, Mr. Winzer. I'll check Warfield out and see if I can track his quotes back to the sources.
 
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jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
Calvin's Geneva's psalter in french is really beautiful. I love going to a french church. I can sing the same songs as Calvin and the refuges there.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I had a hunch that a large part of the EP debate had at it's core some competing views about the mechanics of inspiration. I guess my hunch is now confirmed. Thanks for the interactions brothers.
:detective:
Patrick (and everyone else too):

I accidentally clicked the "thanks" button on Tim's response to your post. I wanted to answer both of you and hit the wrong button by mistake. Sorry.

I agree with Tim that the EP proponents have found a way to bypass Scripture, but that does not mean that I disagree with you. But I would add to what you say because I think there's more to it than that.

What follows is just my being honest with everyone about what I firmly believe. I'm not trying to throw grenades at anyone. This is what is at stake, I think. The EPers have made their sentiments known, believing those who sing more than the Psalms in worship are displeasing to God; I think it is fair that they also know that I think that their use of the Word, the Confessions, and the RPW is not right. I'm sure there are others who also have problems with the EP arguments.

I've already made known my feeling concerning the EPers' use of the RPW, namely that I believe you cannot use the RPW as an exception to itself so as to make the Bible say what it does not say, to make the Bible say what cannot be proven from the Bible. So of course I agree with Tim on that score.

But this has further ramifications that worry me also. This issue is driving an ever widening gap between our different churches. Instead of dialoguing to get closer to each other we're actually drawing firmer lines of separation, making it ever more definitive and impregnable.

You're right, I think, that there is a different "mechanics" of inspiration at work here. But I would go further and say that this cannot be unless there is behind it a different view of Scripture. There are no different "mechanics" of inspiration, just different views on it. Only one can be right. And we have the WCF to back up our view, especially the chapter which EPers reinterpret after their convictions. Isn't that really the crux of the matter, namely that they make their convictions first and then interpretation comes afterwards? Is that not why they may rely so heavily upon outside things for key determinitive pieces to the issue rather than keep to what is outlined in chapter one of the WCF?

They do rely on outside authorities in very key areas, namely the personal writings of men (the men of the WA) to define the terms, antiquity (the ancient use of the synagogue) to establish precedent, and tradition (how many men of old practiced EP, regardless of why they practiced it) to establish orthodoxy, etc.; doing all this while at the same time acknowledging that they do not have Scriptural proof.

So there is a matter of "mechanics" at work here, surely, but I would say that there is much more than mechanics at work here. And that's what worries me. We need to get over this hump; we need to find a ground upon which we can rebuild a common confession between us. It is no good calling the WCF a common confession if we have such irreconcilable views on key articles.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Rutherford was flatly unscriptural and clearly wrong if he thought that the conclusion of the Jerusalem council was not immediately inspired.
As noted, I leave you to your own conclusions. The fact that you arrive at your conclusions without giving consideration to Prof. Rutherford's reasons shows that you do not carefully examine evidence and argumentation.
That I did not present my reasoning after Rutherford's reasons, but before them, does not mean I did not consider his arguments any more than your habit of not quoting my full posts in your replies necessarily means that you have not considered the evidence I provided. But I did state that I thought John 14:26 and Acts 15:28 testify directly against Rutherford's view and prove that the man from Anworth has clearly erred. I thought the application of these Scriptures to the situation would be self-evident to any who considered the matter. But since this does not seem to be the effect, let me elucidate.

We can be certain the Jerusalem council did not learn the truth that Gentiles were not to accept the burden of the Judaizers from the OT or by GNC therefrom. The matter is never directly commented upon in Scripture, nor can the council's stance be shown to be a necessary consequence deduced from Scripture. Nor did they learn this truth from any other books. I couldn't believe anyone would attempt to argue that the council's ruling is based on natural reason, moral truth, a truth of heathen morality, or a truth of sense, and I suggest that attempts to do so will not stand. Nor will an attempt to argue that it was a truth of experience hold up either: Peter's experience at Cornelius' house did not raise the question of Gentile obedience to the law. Therefore, none of Rutherford's defined ways of mediate inspiration operated in this case. By elimination then, the doctrine that Gentiles were not under the burden of the Judaizers must be a truth of revelation. Where then, was it revealed? It was reveled in the middle of the council by the Holy Spirit to the Apostle Peter (Acts 15:10). Apostolic statements are authoritative for establishing doctrine, for as Jesus promised in John 14:26, the Spirit would be given to the apostles to lead them into all truth. And the Spirit's role in revealing the matter, in the council, ("It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us...") was specifically recognized by the Council (Acts 15:28).

Therefore it seems to me that a successful argument that Rutherford is correct can only be mounted after one or more links in the chain of reasoning given in the previous paragraph are shown to be incorrect.

Quite frankly, on the basis of the Rutherford excerpts provided, I am at a loss to understand how Rutherford could have chosen the Council to exemplify mediate inspiration (but we have all seen cases of godly men who clearly erred in one thing or another).

So what am I missing?
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Quite frankly, on the basis of the Rutherford excerpts provided, I am at a loss to understand how Rutherford could have chosen the Council to exemplify mediate inspiration (but we have all seen cases of godly men who clearly erred in one thing or another).

So what am I missing?
The excerpts were only concerned with how he defined "immediate inspiration." One will have to consult the Due Right to examine his arguments for why the Council of Jerusalem should be considered an ordinary presbytery under the influence of mediate inspiration.

Some of the indisputable facts he presents are these: the council took the matter under human deliberation and arrived at a conclusion which sought to gain the consent of the brethren and was only applicable where Moses was preached. In contrast, the apostle expressly maintains that he did not confer with flesh and blood; the apostolic epistles are canonical scripture on the basis of the authority of Jesus Christ with which they wrote; and what the Holy Spirit infallibly declares in one church is applicable in all churches.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Both, actually. I'm wondering what I could read to get more statements about the matter. Thanks!
For a collection of statements there is Dr. Warfield's Westminster Assembly and its Work, chapters on Scripture and Inspiration. He regarded the term "immediate inspiration" as "of quite settled and technical connotation." He specifically quotes John Ball for a clear definition: "To be immediately inspired, is to be as it were breathed, and to come from the Father by the Holy Ghost, without all means." (P. 204.)
So where would Bavinck's "organic inspiration" (Reformed dogmatics Vol. 1) fit in this discussion?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Round and round we go.... I said this thing few posts back. If the command in Eph and Col is to use songs in general (not Psalms) to teach (i.e. expound), then that is a command to write new songs in order to "teach" and "admonish", the same terms used to describe preaching. But hey, I've already said that a while back.
Well, I wasn't wanting to engage in yet another discussion on this topic. I think if you centre on that point of what is commanded in NT worship then it might just turn out to be a fruitful discussion. I would only add that a command to sing/use does not equate to a command to write; that is an implication which requires proving, and would help clarify issues if you somehow managed to succeed. Blessings!
I think we might be missing some points here, and thereby missing each other in discussion. I'd like to address just one of them.

Let's compare the singing of songs to our own writing here on the Puritan Board. Most of us aren't ordained preachers, yet we write..., and write, and write, and write; all of us, ordained and unordained alike. (Have you looked at the number of posts lately?) We are teaching, admonishing, learning, discussing, etc., doing all this with words.

These words are not set to music, yet without the music we do our best that they fall in line with what we are taught in Eph. and Col., as well all of the Bible including the Psalms. Yet can it be said that we are "composing" in the sense that we are writing additions to Scripture? Or anything equal to Scripture? Not even the Westminster Assembly in writing the Confessions would dare to assert that. Here we are writing prodigiously and endlessly, teaching and admonishing one another, and never once even thinking that our words are equal to Scripture.

So what's the difference if we set music to these words of ours? Why is that so wrong? Because this discussion board in not formal worship? But then why would not approved songs for worship, songs approved by the elders, be used as such? How is that so different than prayers or sermons? Ministers don't think that their sermons or prayers ought to be added to the canon, do they? So why are approved songs thought to be additions to the canon?

Where do we get the notion that a written song for worship dares to call itself equal to Scripture? We all dread at the thought of that, and I think we're all on the same page on this issue: NO WAY!!!!

In reading through our Book of Praise (the CanRC songbook) I find often that the Psalms are interpreted so as to advocate the use of putting our words of praise to music. It is music itself in worship that God is blessing. And the normal sense of that seems to be what both the OT and the NT have in mind, putting our praises to music. That doesn't mean that all these musical words are acceptable. But why couldn't the acceptable ones be used? No one is saying that they are equal to Scripture.

The Larger Catechism seems to be saying that we are to esteem and regard the sermon as if it were the Word of God, yet clearly maintaining a clear distinction between God's closed canon and the sermon. Why can't we do that with our songs? Why are songs in a class by themselves, apart from sermons and prayers? Why are we so confused when it comes to songs?

As Patrick has already pointed out the Psalms seem to have been gathered into the final form of 150 and canonized after the exile. Matthew Henry says it was likely Ezra who did that. Patrick carefully portrays that this is not proof, but only supposition based on evidence: not that this is proven, but rather is an indication of something else, namely that it indicates that the worship before the exile included more songs than the 150. And the reference to Hezekiah's reforms (in another post by someone else) also proves that there were at least some unacceptable songs included among the acceptable ones, and had become included over time in the formal worship; showing that acceptable songs along with the Psalms were no strangers to the worship of God's people.

I think it is the dichotomy that is assumed that troubles us here. If it can be shown that EP does not advocate a dichotomy here, that songs put to music for formal worship is not in a class by itself; or if it is in a class by itself so show how this is so when the Confessions and Catechism gives no such indication; then we might go forward with this. Otherwise, like Patrick says, we keep going round and round.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
So where would Bavinck's "organic inspiration" (Reformed dogmatics Vol. 1) fit in this discussion?
It certainly has an affinity with the concursus view, but seems to me to be one step closer to the traditional teaching. Still, I find both views to be providentially mechanical, which fares poorly in contrast to the criticism that immediate inspiration is verbally mechanical. To remain true to the idea that the words of Scripture are God's words, "mechanism" must be brought into the process somewhere, and it is only appropriate that the mechanism should refer to the words rather than the persons who penned the words. To suppose that the penmen did not rise higher than what providence made them is contrary to the fundamental idea of revelation, in which God makes bare His arm in a miraculous manner. I do not believe it is safe to remove the idea of miracle from inspiration -- miracle, that is, in its true conception, as a supernatural act. In order to secure the divine quality of the words we are bound up to the conclusion that God performed a miracle in the communication of His words to the penmen of Scripture.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The Larger Catechism seems to be saying that we are to esteem and regard the sermon as if it were the Word of God, yet clearly maintaining a clear distinction between God's closed canon and the sermon. Why can't we do that with our songs? Why are songs in a class by themselves, apart from sermons and prayers? Why are we so confused when it comes to songs?
"Songs" are in a class by themselves because they are sung by a whole congregation by means of a set form of words. Decency and order demand that the individual who speaks according to the gifts of God's Spirit should be the one to speak what he is given and that those who hear him be afforded the opportunity to judge what he says. Many discussions on this board are confused about songs because certain people refuse to acknowledge the basic difference between an individual preaching or praying according to the Spirit's assistance and a congregation singing a set form of words.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
"Songs" are in a class by themselves because they are sung by a whole congregation by means of a set form of words. Decency and order demand that the individual who speaks according to the gifts of God's Spirit should be the one to speak what he is given and that those who hear him be afforded the opportunity to judge what he says. Many discussions on this board are confused about songs because certain people refuse to acknowledge the basic difference between an individual preaching or praying according to the Spirit's assistance and a congregation singing a set form of words.
It seems to me that the last sentence is something we have in common. Now the question is how you get to the first two sentences. You seem to suggest that songs require greater or stricter fencing than the preached Word. This idea does not come from Scripture (what Tim is saying), it doesn’t come from the Confessions (what I am saying), but rather seems to come from a personal precommitment (what Patrick is saying).

I’m just trying to summarize. I was reading through the posts of this thread so as to recap how we got to discussing “inspiration”. I’m not trying to stop that digression, but hoping that the main idea is still in focus.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It seems to me that the last sentence is something we have in common. Now the question is how you get to the first two sentences. You seem to suggest that songs require greater or stricter fencing than the preached Word. This idea does not come from Scripture (what Tim is saying), it doesn’t come from the Confessions (what I am saying), but rather seems to come from a personal precommitment (what Patrick is saying).
The idea of "stricter fencing" might be a criticism from the nonEP side, but it is not inherent in the EP defence. Inherent in the EP defence, and clearly stated by the Westminster Confession, is that there are ordinary parts of worship. By heeding what God has spoken about different parts, we lean upon His wisdom as to what is appropriate in worship. We do not argue from one part to another, as if one sets a precedent for another, but we allow God to regulate how each part is to be performed to His glory.

The only wise God knows what is best for a whole congregation to sing in praise to His name and regulates that action accordingly. It is not an argument for EP, but it is an observable fact, that in the regulation of this activity the Lord has required greater strictness in one sense, and that this can be explained on the basis that the "set form" requires it. Likewise, He knows what is best when an individual authoritatively addresses the congregation from His Word, or offers prayers on their behalf. He has allowed greater freedom in these, but only in terms of the form. The reality is that He requires others to judge what is spoken by the individual, and in this sense the individual activity of preaching and prayer is more strict than congregational singing. Freedom from scrutiny allows liberty of heart in the form which God has prescribed. So, in this sense, congregational singing actually allows greater freedom than preaching and praying.
 
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Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
John, to state it another way by way of true story, when we sing psalms in worship my conscience is totally clear since they are the very words of God. When, however, one of the songs chosen is Softly, Softly Jesus is Calling it wounds my conscience because I know that is not a song that I can sing in Spirit and truth because it is clearly not the truth as stated in scripture. The person picking the song is binding my conscience because I am commanded to sing with the congregation in praise to God. But I can't.

I know that you know what it is to have someone try to bind your conscience from the pulpit. It is the same with songs that are written by goodness knows who and I am commanded to sing praise to God with those words. It's just not possible.

This is how the RPW protects my liberty to sing praise to God in the manner that he has commanded in His own words and not the words of mere men who may or may not be theologically sound. I am not free in my conscience when the praise in not vetted, to borrow a term. I trust God to have already done that with the psalter.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
John, to state it another way by way of true story, when we sing psalms in worship my conscience is totally clear since they are the very words of God. When, however, one of the songs chosen is Softly, Softly Jesus is Calling it wounds my conscience because I know that is not a song that I can sing in Spirit and truth because it is clearly not the truth as stated in scripture. The person picking the song is binding my conscience because I am commanded to sing with the congregation in praise to God. But I can't.

I know that you know what it is to have someone try to bind your conscience from the pulpit. It is the same with songs that are written by goodness knows who and I am commanded to sing praise to God with those words. It's just not possible.

This is how the RPW protects my liberty to sing praise to God in the manner that he has commanded in His own words and not the words of mere men who may or may not be theologically sound. I am not free in my conscience when the praise in not vetted, to borrow a term. I trust God to have already done that with the psalter.

:amen: Well Said...
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
John, to state it another way by way of true story, when we sing psalms in worship my conscience is totally clear since they are the very words of God. When, however, one of the songs chosen is Softly, Softly Jesus is Calling it wounds my conscience because I know that is not a song that I can sing in Spirit and truth because it is clearly not the truth as stated in scripture. The person picking the song is binding my conscience because I am commanded to sing with the congregation in praise to God. But I can't.

I know that you know what it is to have someone try to bind your conscience from the pulpit. It is the same with songs that are written by goodness knows who and I am commanded to sing praise to God with those words. It's just not possible.

This is how the RPW protects my liberty to sing praise to God in the manner that he has commanded in His own words and not the words of mere men who may or may not be theologically sound. I am not free in my conscience when the praise in not vetted, to borrow a term. I trust God to have already done that with the psalter.
Yes, I do know what it is like to have someone bind my conscience. It was much the same as this. Someone is trying to tell me, "Thus saith the Lord" when in fact it is not the case.

In the true story example you give we would have a lot of agreement, a lot in common. There's the niggling point of whether you refer correctly to the RPW, but on the whole we would be agreed. Just as in the case during the century following the Reformation, though not to the same extent, we are up against an insidious tradition. Psalm 150 has been used like a blank cheque from God so that there is far, far too little oversight exercised over songs. So we have songs like the one you pointed out where sentiment overrides Biblical care. And many such songs are rooted in our North American tradition of worship. It's not part of the Reformed tradition, but we have been too silent and too lax about songs, and have fallen far too easily into the cultural drift in music.

So I agree that there are songs which are unacceptable. And I would agree that it bothers some that such songs as these are forced upon us; while we would love to sing with the congregation at a time like this why do they have to spoil it by bringing in a song like this?

But that does not address the issue that I am concerned about here. I'm still wondering how we get from a good policy for this time, an excellent discretionary ruling, that we should sing the Psalms, how we get from that to God commanding that the church is to sing only the Psalms? That it is your personal conviction I have no doubt. That is bothers you that a church sings more that the Psalms, that too I can believe. But how do you get from that to a declaration by God that we may not sing other songs than the Psalms?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
It seems to me that the last sentence is something we have in common. Now the question is how you get to the first two sentences. You seem to suggest that songs require greater or stricter fencing than the preached Word. This idea does not come from Scripture (what Tim is saying), it doesn’t come from the Confessions (what I am saying), but rather seems to come from a personal precommitment (what Patrick is saying).
The idea of "stricter fencing" might be a criticism from the nonEP side, but it is not inherent in the EP defence. Inherent in the EP defence, and clearly stated by the Westminster Confession, is that there are ordinary parts of worship. By heeding what God has spoken about different parts, we lean upon His wisdom as to what is appropriate in worship. We do not argue from one part to another, as if one sets a precedent for another, but we allow God to regulate how each part is to be performed to His glory.

The only wise God knows what is best for a whole congregation to sing in praise to His name and regulates that action accordingly. It is not an argument for EP, but it is an observable fact, that in the regulation of this activity the Lord has required greater strictness in one sense, and that this can be explained on the basis that the "set form" requires it. Likewise, He knows what is best when an individual authoritatively addresses the congregation from His Word, or offers prayers on their behalf. He has allowed greater freedom in these, but only in terms of the form. The reality is that He requires others to judge what is spoken by the individual, and in this sense the individual activity of preaching and prayer is more strict than congregational singing. Freedom from scrutiny allows liberty of heart in the form which God has prescribed. So, in this sense, congregational singing actually allows greater freedom than preaching and praying.
You state this in terms I can agree with. I find no trace here of asserting that God demands that we sing only the Psalms, but rather that singing only the Psalms is good for the church due to the need for order and decency. There indeed are rules in the Confessions of the Church which guide us into making good discretionary rulings. And our time calls for it, though it surely was needed more after the Reformation. They had many centuries of "orthodox tradition" to overcome in the people, and songs were very much part of that tradition. So too today, though the trend seems in the opposite direction yet it is the case that songs today are not what they should be. So its the same problem, though not to the extent of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. The need is there.

We are all concerned about the modern trends in the churches. Being non-EP does not dispose one in favour of a carte blanche over music and songs as practiced in many churches today.

So we are in agreement as to the need for careful oversight of the music of the church.

My question is still outstanding, though: how do you get from this to the declaration that God permits only the Psalms to be sung?

I know your noble reasonings. I don't disagree with many of them. They truly are noble. I agree that the Psalms stand in a class by themselves as songs for worship. But that's not the question here. This does not obviate other songs. You need either express Biblical directive or necessary deduction to show that God commands that only the Psalms be sung in worship, and you give neither. Texts have been given which indicate that God blesses the expressed praises of His people, and that when these are put into song He regards them as worship. He even commends that we teach and admonish each other via songs. It is more than just possible that there is Biblical directive here; your arguments have not eliminated that possibility.

The point I'm making here is that no one doubts that EP is your personal conviction. I think that is pretty clear. It is a whole other thing, though, to assert that this is God's conviction.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
John, to state it another way by way of true story, when we sing psalms in worship my conscience is totally clear since they are the very words of God. When, however, one of the songs chosen is Softly, Softly Jesus is Calling it wounds my conscience because I know that is not a song that I can sing in Spirit and truth because it is clearly not the truth as stated in scripture. The person picking the song is binding my conscience because I am commanded to sing with the congregation in praise to God. But I can't.

I know that you know what it is to have someone try to bind your conscience from the pulpit. It is the same with songs that are written by goodness knows who and I am commanded to sing praise to God with those words. It's just not possible.

This is how the RPW protects my liberty to sing praise to God in the manner that he has commanded in His own words and not the words of mere men who may or may not be theologically sound. I am not free in my conscience when the praise in not vetted, to borrow a term. I trust God to have already done that with the psalter.
Whatever other arguments may be true for EP, I'm afraid that this one is a straw man. The postulate that only God can competently "vett" what is sung before we sing it is clearly unbiblical. For a necessary consequence deduction of John 8:32 and 1 Thess. 5:21,22 is that biblically trained Christians not only have the ability to do their own vetting, but are also under biblical command to do so. If it is possible for us to know the truth, then it is equally possible for a Christian to test the words of a song new to him or her against Scripture before singing it.

I have never seen a non-EP church where one didn't have the opportunity to "vett" the music before singling it; all of them announced the music in the service beforehand, either via bulleitn or hymnboard. In addition most churches are usually found mostly repeating already known songs with maybe one new song in a service. So if there is a song in the service that I don't already know, I spend less than 5 minutes testing it against Scripture truth. If it conforms to Scripture I sing it, and if it doesn't, I don't.

(One can make the separate point, and every non-EP'er must make the point that our churches and worship leaders should teach that it is the individual's responsibility to sing only texts he or she believes biblical and should question anything that appears to be unbiblical. But that is a separate argument from whether EP is or is not biblical).

If the church has a well trained worship leader, Christians will find themselves remaining silent only on very rare occasions. I have served in 5 churches over the past 34 years, and I cannot now remember ever having to question the choice of particular songs on doctrinal grounds. If the worship leader at my church were to employ a song or hymn using unbiblical doctrine, I would share my concerns. If song choices persistently present unbiblical doctrine, one can make that fact known as well and if no change is forthcoming, then one can leave.
 
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timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Quite frankly, on the basis of the Rutherford excerpts provided, I am at a loss to understand how Rutherford could have chosen the Council to exemplify mediate inspiration (but we have all seen cases of godly men who clearly erred in one thing or another).

So what am I missing?
The excerpts were only concerned with how he defined "immediate inspiration." One will have to consult the Due Right to examine his arguments for why the Council of Jerusalem should be considered an ordinary presbytery under the influence of mediate inspiration.

Some of the indisputable facts he presents are these: the council took the matter under human deliberation and arrived at a conclusion which sought to gain the consent of the brethren and was only applicable where Moses was preached. In contrast, the apostle expressly maintains that he did not confer with flesh and blood; the apostolic epistles are canonical scripture on the basis of the authority of Jesus Christ with which they wrote; and what the Holy Spirit infallibly declares in one church is applicable in all churches.
Thank you for providing the pertainent reasonings of Rutherford. I am not sure however that they hold.
1) That the council took the matter under human deliberation may have been an exercise of Godly wisdom. It was the Jerusalem church that the false teachers belonged to: it was necessary that they be disavowed by that church. Sometimes it is better to persuade people than to order them if that be possible. The Jerusalem church leaders may have decided to go this route and attempt to pursuade the Judaizing party first.

2)That the concil's conclusion is only applicable where Moses was preached proves nothing: the problem the council was addressing was the unbiblical preaching of Moses in the Christian community and their conclusion - that living according to Moses was unnecessary for Gentiles - would be applicable in all Gentile churches, as the letter the council wrote makes clear.

3) There is no evidence that Peter conferred with flesh and blood before coming out with his speech of Acts 15.10 and as I previously noted an Apostolic declaration must be considered authoritative according to John 14:26. From the moment Peter finished his remarks the outcome of the council was a foregone conclusion.
 
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JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Whatever other arguments may be true for EP, I'm afraid that this one is a straw man. The postulate that only God can competently "vett" what is sung before we sing it is clearly unbiblical. For a necessary consequence deduction of John 8:32 and 1 Thess. 5:21,22 is that biblically trained Christians have the ability to do their own vetting. If it is possible for us to know the truth, then it is equally possible for a Christian to test the words of a song new to him or her against Scripture before singing it.

I have never seen a non-EP church where one didn't have the opportunity to "vett" the music before singling it; all of them announced the music in the service beforehand, either via bulleitn or hymnboard. In addition most churches are usually found mostly repeating already known songs with maybe one new song in a service. So if there is a song in the service that I don't already know, I spend less than 5 minutes testing it against Scripture truth. If it conforms to Scripture I sing it, and if it doesn't I don't.

If the church has a well trained worship leader, Christians will find themselves remaining silent only on very rare occasions. I have served in 5 churches over the past 34 years, and I cannot now remember ever having to question the choice of particular songs on doctrinal grounds. If the worship leader at my church were to employ a song or hymn using unbiblical doctrine, I would share my concerns. If song choices persistently present unbiblical doctrine, one can make that fact known as well and if no change is forthcoming, then one can leave.

This is well said. I have the unusual responsibility (for a woman) of choosing the music we sing each Sunday. Don't worry, I don't lead worship, and I am completely under the authority of the pastors and elders. I do, however, spend a lot of time going over the lyrics of everything we sing, then I send the lyrics to the pastor who also looks over them before they are printed in the bulletin. I have on occasion changed a word or two or cut out a verse that was not biblical. In addition to our praise music, I try to include the Psalms in our singing every week.

I belong to a network of worship leaders who take a very similar approach to the music they sing each week. Nearly every worship leader I know is also an ordained elder. They do not treat music in worship lightly, which is the idea that is often projected by EPers.

I say this, not to "toot my horn", but in defense of those reformed non-EPers who are often looked down upon as if they don't care about what is sung in worship. It is quite the contrary.

While it is true that much of the evangelical world is careless about music in worship, I do not find that to be the case among the reformed non-EPers that I know.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Calvin's Geneva's psalter in french is really beautiful. I love going to a french church. I can sing the same songs as Calvin and the refuges there.
Have you ever sung some of the French hymns that came out of that same era? They are amazingly rich and heavily influenced by the Psalms.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
This is well said. I have the unusual responsibility (for a woman) of choosing the music we sing each Sunday. Don't worry, I don't lead worship, and I am completely under the authority of the pastors and elders. I do, however, spend a lot of time going over the lyrics of everything we sing, then I send the lyrics to the pastor who also looks over them before they are printed in the bulletin. I have on occasion changed a word or two or cut out a verse that was not biblical. In addition to our praise music, I try to include the Psalms in our singing every week.
To be a persnikety nitpicker; by your own testimony, you don't have the responsibility of choosing music, you recommend and your pastor chooses. These are the policies presently followed in my own chuch which also has a woman in position similar to yours.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
This is well said. I have the unusual responsibility (for a woman) of choosing the music we sing each Sunday. Don't worry, I don't lead worship, and I am completely under the authority of the pastors and elders. I do, however, spend a lot of time going over the lyrics of everything we sing, then I send the lyrics to the pastor who also looks over them before they are printed in the bulletin. I have on occasion changed a word or two or cut out a verse that was not biblical. In addition to our praise music, I try to include the Psalms in our singing every week.
To be a persnikety nitpicker; by your own testimony, you don't have the responsibility of choosing music, you recommend and your pastor chooses. These are the policies presently followed in my own chuch which also has a woman in position similar to yours.
Thanks for that little clarification. I see it as a responsibility only in that if I don't do it, it probably won't get done. :lol:
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
My question is still outstanding, though: how do you get from this to the declaration that God permits only the Psalms to be sung?
If the argument is traced carefully, it will be seen that we get to this from the fact that we restrict ourselves only to what God has commanded to be sung. In other words, the exegetical consideration is first, and from there we come to the issue of order and decency. Exegetically, we can see where God commands the singing of psalms with grace in the heart. From there we can see His wisdom in binding us to His set form so that we can sing with the full assurance of faith.
 
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