Question on basic EP argument

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Casey, Oct 21, 2006.

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  1. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Is this the basic argument for exclusive psalmody?

    1. The regulative principle of worship derived from the Second Commandment (WCF 21.1): "[. . .] But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture."

    2. We are commanded to sing psalms (Eph. 5:19 & Col. 3:16) in the NT. (This supposes and even requires that "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" is a description exclusively of the psalter.)

    3. Therefore, although there are other songs throughout Scripture, since we are only commanded to sing psalms we may only sing psalms. All other songs in Scripture may not be sung, though they are inspired, because we were not commanded to sing those songs.

    If this is deficient, please offer corrections -- I'm just wanting to understand the basic 1-2-3 argument. Thanks.
  2. Croghanite

    Croghanite Puritan Board Sophomore

    That seems to be the basic argument to me. You can catch a pretty in-depth discussion in the Worship forum. The threads created by austinbrown2, (4) of them, deal with specific issues that alot of people have with the exclusive Psalm position.
    The argument makes sense to me. I dont see an example or a command in Scripture that would allow us to sing anything other than the inspired Psalms in public worship. I remain very open to be shown the contrary.
  3. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    That is probably the foundational argument, although there are many more which only confirm the position in my mind.

    For example, the argument that all of the elements of worship God has instituted have either been given a specific ordained office (i.e. preaching/minister) or the specific promise of the Holy Spirit for immediate help (i.e. prayer). What about the composition of song? Neither exist for composing our own worship songs. In my understanding, making up our own songs to worship God is the epidemy of worshipping God by our own imagination.
  4. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks, friends, for the replies. ;) I'm just trying to make sure I know the primary argument and can frame it as an EPer would.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2006
  5. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Now I have a question about the logic of the argument above: What prevents the same logic from being used to argue that we may only and exclusively pray the Lord's Prayer?

    Argument for Exclusive Lord's Prayer Use

    1. Ditto on regulative principle of worship.

    2. We are commanded to pray the Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:2) in the NT.

    3. Therefore, although there are other prayers throughout Scripture, since we are only commanded to pray the Lord's Prayer we may only pray the Lord's Prayer. All other prayers in Scripture may not be prayed, though they are inspired, because we were not commanded to pray those prayers. Everything we ought to pray for is contained in the Lord's Prayer (e.g., when Paul prays for an open door, really all that is required is the Lord's Prayer to be prayed, since "thy kingdom come" is synonymous with praying for an open door).
  6. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    Westminster Larger Catechism
    Question 186: What rule has God given for our direction in the duty of prayer?
    Answer: The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in the duty of prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which our Savior Christ taught his disciples, commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer.”
    Question 187: How is the Lord’s Prayer to be used?
    Answer: The Lord’s Prayer is not only for direction, as a pattern, according to which we are to make other prayers; but may also be used as a prayer, so that it be done with understanding, faith, reverence, and other graces necessary to the right performance of the duty of prayer.
  7. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Greg, please read the question in my post above.
  8. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    Sorry, I thought the answer to question 187 did answer your question. The Lord's Prayer is both to be prayed and is a form for how we are to pray. Paul tells is in Rom 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." If the Lord's Prayer is the only prayer commanded to be prayed then this verse wouldn't make much sense. Other verses and examples wouldn't make much sense either.
  9. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate


    Good question. Interestingly enough, John Owen actually makes the case that we are NOT to recite the Lord's prayer in public worship (see THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN PRAYER) because we are not commanded to pray this prayer, but to "pray in this manner."

    Mat 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray: ​
    I don't agree with his conclusion, but nontheless, it is an interesting argument.

    But, Owen's premise holds true. The fact that God has indeed promised the Holy Spirit as a divine guide for us to pray our own prayers, and has given us a guide (not an absolute form, but one that may be used).

    Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[2] with groanings which cannot be uttered.​
    We are also commanded in scripture to pray for certain things not specifically mentioned in the Lord's prayer.

    Mat 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,​
    Mat 9:38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."​
    Mat 24:20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.​
    1Ti 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 1Ti 2:2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.​
    These are just a few examples.

    Now, with song, where are we exhorted to sing our own songs? We are we commanded to compose songs outside the Psalter? With such an element of worship, can we be assured that God will help us with such a task?

    Richard Bacon has this to say in his article Exclusive Psalmody FAQ:

  10. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Well, perhaps I should be more clear: I don't actually believe what I'm arguing above -- it's for sake of argument. If we are commanded to sing Psalms and therefore may not sing anything else, why if we are commanded to pray the Lord's Prayer may we pray anything else? I'm just consistently applying the logic of exclusive psalmody to another aspect of worship, namely, prayer. I hope that helps to clear things up some.
  11. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    Understood, I think Jeff addresses your question in his post. Singing in worship and praying in worship are two different elements of worship. How the RPW applies to one dosen't necessarily apply to the other. When I see this argument used I usually give the example of preaching and prayer. Just because men and women are to pray doesn't mean that both are to preach. What Scripture teaches about each element of worship is different.
  12. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for your reply, Jeff. :)
    I disagree with Owen on this point, too -- mainly because Luke 11:2 does not say to "pray in this manner" but, So He [Jesus] said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, etc."
    I could just as well argue that every one of those items are summed up rather well in the Lord's Prayer itself. (Just as the EP proponents would argue that every aspect of our "New Testament faith," if you will, can just as well be summed up in the words of the psalter.) It's true that the Spirit helps in every aspect of our worship (including singing), not only in our prayers. If this fact prevents us from composing our own songs, why ought we be allowed to compose our own uninspired prayers?
    I will respond to each of his points:

    1. This is a subjective argument.

    2. "but no book of Prayers" -- yes, we have been given the Lord's Prayer in our NT dispensation. (Side comments: And am I to believe with Bacon that the Psalms are not also prayers? Were all the Psalms meant to be sung?)

    3. This is a false dichotomy -- the Psalms themselves express both our own wants and the praise and glory of God, it's not an either/or. Are not our prayers, just as our songs, to reflect the glory and praise of God? If we cannot compose songs to express God's glory, how can we presume to compose prayers that will?

    4. This breaks down with the false dichotomy in #3 is realized -- prayers can be sung and Psalms can be prayed.

    5. Again, this makes little sense. Our prayers should not express the unchanging glory of God? Who actually believes this? Do the Psalms not express wants?
  13. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    This is where your parallel intersects. It may be true that all valid subjects of prayer may be "summed up" in the Lord's prayer (like all law is summed up in the 10 commandments). However, the EP position is not advocating that all worship song is "summed up" in the Psalter. Rather it is advocating that all worship song is EXPLICIT in the Psalter. You switched by arguing first in this thread that only the Lord's prayer should be prayed, to arguing that all prayer subjects are summed up in the Lord's prayer. That's a big jump. I think I have shown that other prayers are commanded to be prayed than just the Lord's prayer. All one has to do is a simple search in the N.T. to see all sorts of commands to "pray for us" as Paul commanded etc. etc.

    Please give any evidence that the Holy Spirit has promised immediate help in composing worship songs. I believe that Rom. 8:26 explicitly states immediate help for prayer, but it is the position of EP, that the Holy Spirit has already given His help in the composition of worship song, and we call it the Psalter.
  14. providenceboard

    providenceboard Puritan Board Freshman


    A favorite defense of EP of mine is the "not burdening the conscience of another" argument. This argument sort of follows on the arguments of Mr. Bartel above.

    Simply stated, a reason that we sing only hymns that are written by the Holy Spirit is because the singing of praise is the only portion of worship that is done CORPORATELY and IN UNISON.

    The preaching is done by ONE man, who HAS instructions and warning in Scripture concerning how it is to be done, AND we are not required to agree with every word that comes ot of his mouth while he is preaching, because it is not perfect.

    Prayer is done by One man, who HAS instructions and promises is Scripture, AND we are not required to say the amen at the end if we do not agree with the prayer. This is why we do not use prayer books (think of the Great Expulsion). Certainly IF we were going to say a prayer corporately, it would have to be the Lord's Prayer.

    Since praise is done CORPORATELY and in UNISON, and we have no instructions, warnings, promises concerning the composing of new hymns, we MUST only use perfect hymns, and the only perfect hymns are in the Psalms.

    Think about it, Would a pastor make everyone stand up at the end of a sermon, raise is/her right hand and swear that they agree with every word of the sermon? Would a person after prayer make everyone raise the right hand and swear that the prayer was perfectly agreeable to everyone in the service? Of course not. But when people are told to stand up and sing a man made hymn their only choices are to 1) Agree with the words and sing, 2) disagree with the words and lie to God, or 3) don't sing. No member should be put into this situation.

    Jeff George
  15. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    I wouldn't say that's the "basic argument" at all, at least not a good one, in my opinion. Sounds a little too dependent on NT command.
  16. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    :agree: Very good argument, that is a new one for me. It goes along with worshipping in spirit and in truth. Both things that sinful man would pollute.
  17. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Between 1 and 2 there needs to be added the fact that the Psalter itself was given to be an inspired manual of praise for the church of all ages.

    Also, point 3 is quite weak. The fact is, these "other songs" were not intended to be sung in corporate worship.
  18. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    1. Christ the King of the church is the only one who may institute divine worship
    2. The Spirit of Christ has included a book of Praise in the scriptures
    3. We should worship with Christ's book of Praise.
  19. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    That is it in a nutshell.
  20. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    You have not shown that other prayers are commanded to be prayed -- you have merely shown what ought to be prayed for. We are commanded to pray but one prayer in the NT: the Lord's Prayer. So, no jump is taking place. I'm merely applying all the logic of exclusive-psalmody to exclusive-Lord's-Prayer-praying.

    Isn't it true that EPers would argue that what has been newly revealed in the NT doesn't really matter in the argument of composing new songs since all those aspects of our faith are just as well summarized in the Psalms? Well, everything that we have been commanded to pray for is just as well summed up in the Lord's Prayer.
    I'm not convinced by this argument. Am I to suppose that the Holy Spirit helps me compose my prayers but doesn't help me in my singing, even in the singing of Psalms?

    On a side note, I find it interesting that you've ignored all my responses to Bacon's "points." They were all either completely subjective or based entirely on a false dichotomy between song and prayer. (The very claim that "God has given us, in the Bible, a book of Psalms, but no book of Prayers" is honestly offensive to me! Are not the Psalms also prayers!?)
  21. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior


    I don't think your post actually address my arguments at the beginning of this thread. Corporate prayer is just that: corporate prayer -- we all pray right along with the leader (how is that different from singing?). I'm not convinced that the distinction you're making is even a healthy one. You're acting as though (in some way) there is no human component in singing (because you believe we shouldn't compose the words), but it seems there is in prayer and preaching. You are turning singing into an oasis, of sorts, where man has no say (I mean, to put it crassly--as though man has some say in prayer and preaching).

    If you want true liberty of conscience, perhaps your services should not only be limited to the Psalms for singing: but to the Lord's Prayer for prayer and merely to the public reading of God's Word as preaching (with no uninspired comment whatsoever). This seems to me to be the logical conclusion of your "not burdening the conscience of another" argument. If you don't want to burden anyone's conscience, then simply resort to using only inspired words through the entire service! Exclusive-psalmody is, in my opinion, the "easy way out."
  22. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    I'd be happy to be corrected in my 1-2-3 "basic argument." :) Should there be another step or two?
  23. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    What "both things" do sinful man pollute? I don't quite see what you're referring to. :p
  24. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    And where is this "fact that the Psalter itself was given to be an inspired manual of praise for the church of all ages" come from? Did Adam, Eve, Abraham, etc., sing this very same Psalter? :wow:
    So, we are allowed to worship God in other settings with uninspired songs? I didn't know EPers thought that. Also, if you can strengthen my point 3, I'd appreciate it. :) Thanks!
  25. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Okay, let me work with this then:

    1. Christ the King of the church is the only one who may institute divine worship
    2. The Spirit of Christ has included a prayer (specifically the Lord's Prayer) in the scriptures
    3. We should pray with Christ's prayer.

    (I suppose you don't mean to suggest that prayer isn't an aspect of our worship.)
  26. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    I meant that we are not "truthful" in fact we are liars. And to worship in "Spirit" we need Spirit inspired songs. We are supplied with both. We would pollute any song we tried to write.

    I can't remember where exactly but in the OT someone was going to build an altar for God and God told him not to put any tool to any of the stones but to use them as they were, because he would have polluted the alter by his handiwork. God's work is of course perfect thus the rocks as they were, were fitting for an altar of worship to Him.
  27. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman


    I'm afraid that you're comparing apples and oranges here. You can't apply what Scripture teaches about one element of worship to another element of worship. If you want to argue that only the Lord's Prayer should be prayed, then present your argument and see it crumble when compared to the teaching of Scripture. You seem to be the one ignoring the arguments that have been presented to you. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26 that the Holy Spirit aids us in our prayers because, "for we know not what we should pray for as we ought". If the Lord's Prayer is the only prayer to be prayed, then we would not need the Spirit's assistance in reciting it. Paul does instruct us to, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." in Col 3:16. Uninspired hymns are not the word of Christ, but words of man offered up as Cain's unacceptable sacrifice was or the strange fire of Nadab and Abihu. Another example I could give you in Scripture does address both prayer and singing psalms in the same verse. Jam 5:13 "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms." Now James does not instruct us to pray the Lord's Prayer, but he does instruct us to sing Psalms. He doesn't say, Is any merry? let him sing, he says sing psalms. We have no example of Christ or the Apostles singing anything other than the Psalms of David in Scripture, but we do have examples of them praying prayers other than the Lord's Prayer.
  28. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    This shows your inadequate understanding of the regulative principle. The RPW does not suggest that we must recognize elements of worship from command only, but rather treats examples in scripture of elements as authoritative commands as well. For example, we see Christ praying in John 17, Paul prays in Phillippians 1, John prays in 3John 1 etc. etc. I have showed how there are examples to "pray for us", "pray over him" etc. etc. that EXPLICITLY command subjectivity in prayers.

    This all not to mention you basing your argument off of faulty logic of Luke 11:2.

    Matthew Henry on
    The WLC agrees:
    Throughout your argument, you have ignored the clear implication of Matthew 6:9, while trying to form a straw man from Luke 11:2. Matthew implies that the Lord's prayer is to be used as a model, and therefore implies our command to compose new prayers, while Luke clearly shows that the Lord's prayer MAY be used as a form.

    Now the Lord has not given us a model to compose new songs as he did in prayer (Matt. 6:9) or anywhere hinted "sing like this" in reference to composition of new songs. We have guidlines for prayer all throughout the scriptures. Where are the guidlines for composition of song?

    We both agree that there is AMPLE evidence in scripture to compose subjective prayers. Command after command has been shown, and the mere existence of Matt. 6:9 implies that the Lord's prayer is to be used as a model, and hence a model to compose our own prayers via the Holy Spirit (per Romans 8:26)

    Attacking the use of subjective prayers is a faulty attempt at the use of an argument ad absurdem against EP.

    It may be true that everything we are commanded to pray for may be summed up in the Lord's prayer, but your argument negates the AMPLE evidence in scripture that clearly implies composing subjective prayers.

    This is because you still do not understand it. The Holy Spirit may indeed help you in SINGING, but NOT in COMPOSING song. This is the crucial distincition which you still have not grasped. The Holy Spirit has
    1) Promised help for COMPOSING subjective prayers
    2) Promised an ordained OFFICE for composing subjective sermons

    BUT NOWHERE has he promised help to compose new songs. Help in singing inspired song? Sure. Help in composing new songs? This is where the burden of proof is on you.

    That's because I feel no need to defend Bacon. I will however comment on your statement in ():

    I have proved that prayer is commanded to be subjective to our situations. That means that per the RPW, if we do not pray subjective prayers (i.e. for OUR king, for OUR needs etc. etc.) we are in sin. Does that mean that we cannot pray the Psalms? I have never heard anyone object to that. However, where the Lord has provided clear direction to compose our own prayers (and even given us a model!), he has not given any clear direction on composing new worship songs.
  29. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Just as a note of correction and information, the Psalmody FAQs are taken from The True Psalmody. Dr. Bacon did not write them.
  30. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    Thanks for the correction! :up:
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