Regulative Principle

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Reformed 78, Dec 1, 2016.

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  1. Reformed 78

    Reformed 78 Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm listening to some really good teaching arguing for the regulative principle of worship. For the most part I'm agreeing, I think what I'm struggling with the most is the absence of instruments.

    Still learning and willing to change though...
  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    You have to be willing to leave them (instruments); otherwise just how honest are you dealing with the question? Fine if you in good conscience find the Scripture for it after working through it; but to be unwilling upfront to a certain conclusion does an injustice to God's Word. Go where you find the Word leads you and don't be led by any sort of implicit faith in others. I say that being in the acapella camp (suffering modest accompaniment in the church I belong to).
  3. Daniel M.

    Daniel M. Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm in the exact same boat about the RPW, and I'm horrified of exclusive psalmody, but I'm just not well-studied enough to swing one way or the other just yet. One thing I was aware of even before God led me into the Reformed tradition is man's fallacy in his approach to understanding God.

    Imagine a one thousand piece puzzle of a park. Now take an empty picture frame and hold it over the part you like best, and constrain yourself to only look at that part and ignore the rest. That's how the vast majority of people view God, and I was just as guilty as anyone else of doing it.

    May the Lord bestow His wisdom and strength upon us to first learn what is right and then do it with thanksgiving.
  4. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Ditto what I said as for uninspired hymns. Why the horror? Sounds like you first need to get a grip on just how wonderful the psalms are for our worship; then let the chips fall as they may as to the words of men for worship song.
  5. Daniel M.

    Daniel M. Puritan Board Freshman

    Amen - funny you say that. I read a response by Andrew P.C. to Lee Irons regarding EP, and while I still haven't proclaimed a stance, I was completely overcome by how well he made the case against one of my personal objections: the "absence" of Christ in the Psalms. Unbelievable just how much the book focuses on Him!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. Reformed 78

    Reformed 78 Puritan Board Freshman

    "you first need to get a grip on just how wonderful the psalms are for our worship; then let the chips fall as they may..."

    Good word! Pretty much the bottom line...
  7. Reformed 78

    Reformed 78 Puritan Board Freshman

    "May the Lord bestow His wisdom and strength upon us to first learn what is right and then do it with thanksgiving."

  8. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Link? I know Andrew from online.
  9. Daniel M.

    Daniel M. Puritan Board Freshman
  10. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    And frankly, EPs need to be content if they get others to get more psalms if not exclusively into their worship. I've already lived through if not participated in a lot of cranky EP promotions. Believers know the difference and psalms will win out long term. My church is working to get a pew psalter to go with the Trinity Hymnal; it ain't the Scottish psalter but after harping on Hezekiah's serpent I'm not about to make an idol of one translation if it means getting all 150 psalms in the pews.
  11. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    I agree. If I could get my congregation to sing a Psalm, every now and then, I may be content along with serving a little wine with the grape juice. :)
  12. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    So ALL Presbyterian/Baptist Reformed churches woukld have same style of worship then?
  13. Parakaleo

    Parakaleo Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm not a cranky-EPer by any means (we currently allow hymns in our worship), but the church that doesn't sing Psalms at all is just as disobedient to Eph. 5:19 as they believe the EP proponents are being. "Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs..." We can debate on whether that means Psalms only or more than Psalms only, but it's beyond debate that "Psalms" means "Psalms".

    I concur with Chris that getting the church to sing more Psalms is the way to go. In my experience, earnest singing the Psalms causes man-made hymns (as theologically sound as they may be) to lose a bit of their luster. I'm at a point where I believe the Psalter to be fully sufficient for the praise of God's people, but my view is that hymns are also allowed under the RPW.
  14. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am brand new to hearing about the RP, but as far as no instruments, the first thing my mind comes to is in the Psalms where there is a call for making beautiful noises with Harps (not to mention dancing)... I know this hasnt gone noticed by you all and am sure you have a quick response, but i see that and dont see why you wouldnt actually encourage instruments?

    Also, I would love to have the desire to sing Psalms, but as I read them they seem very much Old Covenant and rooted in the Kingdom of Israel (break the teeth of my enemy)... How do you guys proceed with this?
  15. PastorMichael

    PastorMichael Puritan Board Freshman

    Ephesians 5:19- how are you guys exegeting the text? Three distinct musical identifiers.

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  16. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Right. It seems all too often the answer to exclusive-psalmody is excluded-psalmody.
  17. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Sophomore

    Adult Coloring Book To Feature Favorite Imprecatory Psalms
  18. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior


    The instruments mentioned in the Psalms are ones that were played by Levites during temple worship. David had those specific instruments built, and commanded a certain segment of the Levites to play them, all under Divine inspiration. The temple, the Levites, and the instruments were all put away with the rest of the OT ceremonial system.

    To illustrate the point, we wouldn't encourage the use of instruments any more than we would encourage someone to "bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar" (Ps. 118:27). We do, however encourage the "offer[ing] the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips" (Heb. 13:15). The references to ceremonial worship in the Psalms must be read and sung with understanding.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  19. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ahhhh I see. That makes complete sense. Thank you :)
  20. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Senior

    They are usually understood to all be references to the book of Psalms. Often, a parallel is drawn between "laws, statutes, and judgments" and "signs, wonders, and miracles" to show how this device is used. There are a number of threads on this that give more detail in the PB acapella psalmody forum.

    However, one should note that the exact exegetical understanding of the terms is not that important to the argument for exclusive psalmody. The argument for exclusive psalmody rests on more general principles and noting the development of the psalter through OT history.

    To add on to what has been said, the NT treats the Psalms as in fact having the religion of the NT and full of Christ. Indeed, Hebrews 2:12 assumes that Christ is the psalmist.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  21. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    How does it regulate "spiritual songs" though, as there are many worship songs performed that are spiritual in meaning/terminology?
  22. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    I think, exegetically, that spiritual refers to all three. Also, it would best be seen as Psalms, Hymns, and Songs of the Spirit (inspired). That's my take, and others as well.

    Here are some others who have commented on these passages:

    John Calvin: “Now St. Paul sets down here songs, psalms, and hymns, which scarcely differ at all from one another, and therefore there is no need to seek entertainment for ourselves in setting forth any subtle distinction among them.”(Sermons on Ephesians (5:18-21), pp. 552-553)

    John Cotton (1584-1652), New England Congregationalist theologian: “In both which places (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16), as the apostle exhorteth us to singing, so he instructeth us what the matter of our song should be, to wit, Psalmes, hymnes, and spirituall Songs. Now these three be the very titles of the Songs of David, as they are delivered to us by the Holy Ghost himself: some of them are called Mizmorim, that is Psalmes; some Tehillim, that is Hymnes; some Shirim, that is Songs, spirituall Songs. Now what reason can be given why the apostle should direct us in our singing to the very titles of David’s Psalms, if it were not his meaning that we should sing them? … The words of David and Asaph, as they were the words of Christ in the mouth of David and Asaph: so they were the words of Christ also in the mouths of the sonnes of Corah, or any other singers in the Temple.”

    David Dickson: “The reason of the Precept is from those better fruits which spiritual joy produceth, such are all sorts of spiritual Songs, especially those which are in the holy Scriptures, with which they should mutually edifie one another, and glorifie God from their heart or spiritual affection. A Psalm is a sacred song in general, especially that which is by playing on the harp. A Hymn properly contains Gods praise. An Ode or Song, is a common name.”(Commentary on Eph. 5)

    John Gill: “By psalms are meant the Psalms of David, and others which compose the book that goes by that name, for other psalms there are none; and by “hymns” we are to understand, not such as are made by good men, without the inspiration of the Spirit of God; since they are placed between psalms and spiritual songs, made by men inspired by the Holy Ghost; and are put upon a level with them, and to be sung along with them, to the edification of churches; but these are only another name for the Book of Psalms, the running title of which may as well be the Book of Hymns, as it is rendered by Ainsworth; and the psalm which our Lord sung with his disciples after the supper, is called an hymn; and so are the psalms in general called hymns, by Philo the Jew; and songs and hymns by Josephus; and, “songs and praises”, or “hymns”, in the Talmud: and by “spiritual songs” are meant the same Psalms of David, Asaph and the titles of many of them are songs, and sometimes a psalm and song, and song and psalm, a song of degrees; together with all other Scriptural songs, written by inspired men; and which are called “spiritual”, because they are indited by the Spirit of God, consist of spiritual matter, and are designed for spiritual edification; and are opposed to all profane, loose, and wanton songs: these three words answer to the several titles of David’s Psalms”(Commentary on Eph. 5)

    Matthew Henry: “We must admonish one another in psalms and hymns. Observe, Singing of psalms is a gospel ordinance: psalmois kai hymnois kai odais—the Psalms of David, and spiritual hymns and odes, collected out of the scripture, and suited to special occasions, instead of their lewd and profane songs in their idolatrous worship. Religious poesy seems countenanced by these expressions and is capable of great edification. But, when we sing psalms, we make no melody unless we sing with grace in our hearts, unless we are suitably affected with what we sing and go along in it with true devotion and understanding. Singing of psalms is a teaching ordinance as well as a praising ordinance; and we are not only to quicken and encourage ourselves, but to teach and admonish one another, mutually excite our affections, and convey instructions.”(Commentary on Col. 3)

    Thomas Manton (1620-1677): English Puritan, commenting on Ephesians 5:19: “The learned observe, these are the express titles of David’s Psalms, mizmorim, tehillim, and Shirim, which the Septuagint translate, psalmoi, humnoi, and odai, ‘psalms, hymns, and songs,’ [and] seem to recommend to us the book of David’s Psalms.”

    Here is a site to start on these particular passages (includes our Rev. Winzer's article on The Westminster Divines as well):
  23. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

  24. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Excellent quotes! Thanks, Andrew!
  25. Reformed 78

    Reformed 78 Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for the quotes!!
  26. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    If the OP author wants to get this back to the RPW fine; otherwise this needs to be moved to the EP subforum.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  27. PastorMichael

    PastorMichael Puritan Board Freshman

    As a musician (and former music teacher/band director with a particular interest in music history) coupled with my seminary studies on biblical history, I might disagree.

    The instruments mention in worship through the OT and especially the Psalms are not unique to worship n that time period. All of them long pre-date biblical worship. I won't deny that a David likely had instruments specially crafted specifically for worship, but they were not new inventions by any means. In fact, no small number were actually instruments the Hebrew people brought from Egypt.

    The best case you could possibly make with what you are trying to argue is for organ, piano, guitar, or even drums to be used in worship, only if the were made specifically for worship and not secular music- and that brings a special level of absurdity with it.

    And does not get me wrong. I very much desire to worship our completely holy and worthy God appropriately. But in that desire is the biblical picture of worship that focuses FAR more on the intent of the heart than the instruments (or lack of) or specific music form.

    Priority #1 that should "regulate" our worship- true worshippers will worship in Spirit and Truth.

    Psalms are a wonderful treasure trove for this, but they are not the exclusive source. I believe one must take a serious look at what "songs and spiritual songs" would include.

    Too many are becoming quite literally pharisetical in their RP interpretation.

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  28. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior


    Sorry for the misconception--I wasn't arguing that the instruments were new inventions. Rather, I was arguing that they were especially appointed for use in worship by the Holy Spirit through David, and that they were constructed under inspiration (like all the other accoutrements of OT worship) for that purpose. As I noted, it was the office of certain Levites to play those instruments in the temple.

    For contextual support:

    I Chronicles 23:3-6:
    II Chronicles 7:5-6
    II Chronicles 29:25-26:
  29. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Sophomore

    I know Luther wrote Hymns... And, out of curiosity, without much looking, see that Google maintains Calvin wrote a few hymns as well...
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