Singing Uninspired songs--Non EP answers only

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BG

Puritan Board Junior
For those of you who do not hold to an exclusive view of psalm singing.

If you are given a choice between singing a song written by God or a song written by man, why do you prefer the one written by man?

What is it about singing a song of uninspired human composition that is so pleasing to you?

Do you believe that songs of uninspired human composition are:
1) somehow more pleasing to God
2) enhances your worship and if so how?
3) do you find the words of scripture (psalms) in some way lacking or insufficient?

This may be a little repetitive, but I guess my big question is why sing the song written by Bob from Missouri when you can sing a song written by Christ, can someone help me out with why the songs of human composition are better or to be preferred?
 

Jake

Puritan Board Junior
So let's be charitable and assume here that both sides believe in the regulative principle:

If you believe God commands you to do something, then why wouldn't you do it?

I say this not to say the elements are the same (I believe they're different), but I'll answer the questions in terms of prayer. I believe that God commands us to sometimes pray using a specific prayer written by him (i.e., pray the Psalms or the Lord's Prayer) and also commands us to pray words out of our own hearts or from/with others. It's obviously not a perfect analogy, but I think it shows how weird the question is in terms of the RPW.

So then, if we look at these questions:

Do you believe that prayers of uninspired human composition are:
1) somehow more pleasing to God

No, but I believe they are pleasing to God because he commands us to pray.

2) enhances your worship and if so how?

I don't know what enhancing worship is. Worship is directed by and to God and so it is his will that dictates if.

3) do you find the words of scripture (psalms) in some way lacking or insufficient?

No. The sufficiency of one (e.g., The Lord's Prayer) does not mitigate the command and sufficiency of what God also commands elsewhere.

The Lord's Prayer is more perfect than my prayers. One is inspired and one is not. But that doesn't mean that we are not commanded to pray in words outside of Scripture. Other elements in worship are also based on man's word which are not perfect in and of themselves, such as preaching, despite there being sermons in the Bible.

Now of course, there is the question of whether other songs are commanded, but for those who do use one of these lines of argument (e.g., that we should sing of the completed work of Christ as in Rev. 5:9; that we are to sing new songs based on further elements in God's revelation as T. David Gordon, that the songs or hymns referred to in Col. 3:16 or Eph 5:19 are outside of the Psalter), I think the questions you presented don't make sense. Whether these are valid arguments is another question.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
I think this question assumes individuals in churches have the power to decide what is sung in their church. Also, the way you phrased all your questions does not sound very loving. I don't think anyone here feels songs written by humans are better than Holy Scripture.

To answer your question: No, I don't think anything humans have written is superior to Holy Scripture, but individuals do not pick what is sung at our church. Given the choice I probably would prefer Psalms over human written songs. However, I don't lament over this issue. I don't believe the songs we sing are heretical. One of my favorites songs is "Not What My Hands Have Done" which is very Biblical in its theology.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
For those of you who do not hold to an exclusive view of psalm singing.

If you are given a choice between singing a song written by God or a song written by man, why do you prefer the one written by man?
I do not wish to enter into an EP debate, but I will try to answer your questions (some answers similar to Jake's above).

We have the choice of reciting inspired prayers (1 Sam. 2, etc.) or inspired sermons (books of Deut. and Hebrews). Yet the RPW demands that we not only recite but shows a pattern of interaction. Not only do we read inspired sermons, but we interact with them. Yes, when we preach uninspired sermons or pray uninspired prayers, we run the risk of error. Yet we are commanded to interact with the Scriptures in this way.

God looks at the heart. One can recite scripture with an evil heart (e.g. Satan tempting Christ), or interact with scripture with a good heart.

Why make singing praise in worship the exception to the rule? Col. 3:16 says we are to sing "with grace in [our] hearts to the Lord." Our praises are not the anomaly to worship, but consistent with all of the other parts of worship that God commands.

What is it about singing a song of uninspired human composition that is so pleasing to you?
The same thing that is so pleasing about uninspired sermons or uninspired prayers. The uninspired words interact with God's word.

Do you believe that songs of uninspired human composition are:
1) somehow more pleasing to God
No

2) enhances your worship and if so how?
Because of the principle of interaction that we find necessary in both preaching and praying. "Enhancing" is a biased word. We are not seeking to add something extra-biblical to "spice" up the worship service.

3) do you find the words of scripture (psalms) in some way lacking or insufficient?
Only in the same way we find the OT lacking concerning the full revelation of God and His works. Uninspired words in song interact with the whole of scripture, not just the OT.

This may be a little repetitive, but I guess my big question is why sing the song written by Bob from Missouri when you can sing a song written by Christ, can someone help me out with why the songs of human composition are better or to be preferred?
Singing inspired music is incredibly important to worship, just as is reading the word in the context of preaching. As an aside, we sing verbatim Psalms in every worship service along with hymns. But from our perspective, why does one have to exclude the other? We are making no statement as to which is better. We are seeking to interact with all parts of worship. From our perspective, this line of reasoning is very strange.
 

Romans5eight

Puritan Board Freshman
Here is my laypersons perspective:

Is our worship of God acceptable to Him because it is according to a correct formula, or is it acceptable because we worship in the name of Christ? Our worship and good works are only accepted because we are accepted in Christ.

Our prayers aren't more legitimate if we pray only the verbatim words of our translation of scripture. Our prayers are heard because we belong to Christ. He alone is acceptable and we are acceptable in Him.
 

KeithW

Puritan Board Freshman
I agree with Jake, Sarah, Tim, and Jesse.

I have never been to a church which only sings Psalms. Also, I am a lay-person and therefore am not the one who decides what songs are sung in any given church. Therefore, from both of these, I find your questions unanswerable. But I will offer an opinion in my own words.

Personal anecdote: Years ago something completely unexpected happened to me. Without conscious choice a song welled up within my heart with words of praise to Jesus Christ. This had never happened before. And even more startling was I had not yet at that time come to understand that Jesus being the Son of God meant that He was God. (I was previously taught poorly.) I am thankful every time since then when my heart is willing to sing direct words of praise to Jesus Christ. Should I be judged because I am not singing Psalms? Does Scripture give me warrant to sing simple songs like this within my own heart?

Eph. 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;​

My only point is, have you read all of Scripture regarding songs and singing, like others mentioned?

Do I give an automatic pass to all modern songs sung in a church which has the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not. I pay attention to lyrics. Most songs I simply am unwilling to sing along with because of the meaninglessness or the self-centeredness of the content. I instead quietly under my breath sing words of praise to Jesus Christ, the Lamb Of God.

Someone else on the forum recently had a question about song lyrics (not Psalm lyrics). Everyone agreed that if the lyrics are not following the contents of Scripture then they are meaningless in the church. I've always thought that if you can sing a song outside of the church context and no one realizes it is a "Christian" song then something is defective with it.
 
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yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
The evangelical churches don't want their worship services directed by the Word of God alone. They are enamored with trendy liturgical resources about Charlottesville, or whatever the media tells them the hot issue of the day is. After such liturgy Kumbaya Lord fits in nicely. I don't know what Psalter selections you would put before and after such liturgy.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Why do we need any uninspired song in the church when Christ has given us the Psalter to use?

Do I give an automatic pass to all modern songs sung in a church which has the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not.
You do understand by following this logic, you take on the responsibility of assumption that you have the capacity to determine what God would approve of in His prescription of the RPW. It essentially opens up the flood gates....
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
You do understand by following this logic, you take on the responsibility of assumption that you have the capacity to determine what God would approve of in His prescription of the RPW. It essentially opens up the flood gates....
Again, the "flood gates" are no more open than they are with preaching and prayer, all of which are regulated by the RPW.

From our perspective, EP advocates promote discontinuity in the RPW in making Psalms the anomaly to worship.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Do I give an automatic pass to all modern songs sung in a church which has the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not. I pay attention to lyrics. Most songs I simply am unwilling to sing along with because of the meaninglessness or the self-centeredness of the content.
So what we are to sing in worship is based on you (or other men) paying attention to lyrics? I'm not sure about you, but I already sin in God's holy worship before His throne plenty. And knowing man's propensity for sinning and false worship, why should I trust a man, including myself as an elder, to determine what we should and shouldn't sing? After all the leaders of your church, you have shown, have erred in allowing unbiblical songs in the Worship of the Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. Do you think other churches or even the godliest of churches are immune to what you experience at yours (with your leaders)?
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Again, the "flood gates" are no more open than they are with preaching and prayer, all of which are regulated by the RPW.
The Reverend Matthew Winzer writes:

“Another point worth considering is that the congregation as a whole does not preach, but one preaches and the rest listen and judge what is said. The same applies to prayer. In sung praise, however, the congregation sings together as one. This necessitates having a form that all sincerely believe is warranted by the Word of God and can be followed wholeheartedly. As such, it is more akin to reading than to preaching or prayer. And what is read in public worship? The answer is, that which God has inspired — the Scriptures.”
Calvin

As for public prayers, there are two kinds: the one consists simply of speech, the other of song Now, what Augustine says is true, namely, that no one can sing anything worthy of God which he has not received from him. Therefore, even after we have carefully searched everywhere, we shall not find better or more appropriate songs to this end than the Psalms of David, inspired by the Holy Spirit. And for this reason, when we sing them, we are assured that God puts words in our mouth, as if he himself were singing through us to exalt his glory.
Objection: “When the pastor preaches, his message is not inspired! In that, it being that the preaching is during the call to worship, why can’t we sing non inspired song in like manner?”

Answer: This is true. A few items to address: We know that the means of grace are the word, sacraments and prayer. When the word is preached, it is infallible and inspired-the preacher is reading the actual words of God. The extrapolation of those words, by the pastor is not inspired but illuminated. As well, Preaching and singing are not one and the same. My good friend Rocky Simbajon does the idea justice when he says:

[T]he Psalms should not be equated with preaching. We know that the Psalms have the following criteria (1) they are God’s Word, and (2) they are inspired. Preaching and exposition on our pulpits do not qualify those criteria. But there is a close similarity of preaching and singing. We are not allowed to sing the uninspired words of men, just as we are not allowed to preach from the uninspired words of men. The only difference between preaching and singing is this, that we preach from the 66 books of the Bible, whereas in singing, we only sing the songs, the inspired songs of the Church, that is.
Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 21:5

V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as, also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: besides religious oaths, and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasion; which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman
By singing Psalms, I do not have to discern the words as I sing along, it is all theologically correct (assuming you have a decent Psalter!)

And if the church is too be united across all cultures we have to unite ourselves with the Psalms.

I am still studying EP, but for now I am SP (Superior Psalmody). No reason to sing more hymns than Psalms.
 
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JimmyH

Puritan Board Junior
A friend of mine is a deacon in a Baptist (SBC) congregation, and he also plays electric guitar in the band during the worship service. He is expert in his playing and the other members play keyboards, drums, bass, saxophone. It is a cacophony as far as I am concerned with the congregation viewing large screens displaying the lyrics for them to follow in singing. I could not stand to attend such a service but he is quite happy and defends this. Saying that churches are dying and if you want to bring young people in this is what you must have. A sentiment I disagree with.

I have always felt at home in churches such as my own OPC congregation where we hold a hymnal and sing the hymns of Isaac Watts, Charles and John Wesley, Philip Doddridge, and the like. Hymns that Reverend Martyn Lloyd-Jones frequently quotes in his sermons.

I have never had the pleasure of attending a church that practiced EP. I would very much like to attend such a congregation, but since there are only three (3) OPC congregations in the USA that are EP it is unlikely that I ever will, as I don't get around much. Here is a map of the USA showing all practicing EP congregations throughout. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewe...0&ll=39.10027307175783,-97.21224968750005&z=4
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
I address these comments in my own words, though the substance may be found in McNaughters book, The Psalms in Worship. The argument that if one can pray with our own words, then the same principle pertains to singing praise, fails to recognise that there are distinct elements ordered by the Almighty as to how He is to be worshipped. Preaching is the declaration and explanation of the gospel to men; prayer is the supplication of men; praise in singing is the adoration of God.
Now we have the sanction of scripture to call upon God in prayer, but no sanction to invent and compose hymns for Divine worship.( Psalms and their composers were authorised by God. Who gives the warrant and prerogative to an uninspired man)? We have Inspiration as the originator of Psalm praise, but we have no such warrant for prayer only it's principles delineated in the Bible. Prayer is rendered when needful, necessary and providentially required.
Further, there is Divine assistance promised to aid us in prayer, for we know not what to pray for. No such help is promised for the composition of hymns and chorus mantras. Also think on this, that if one equates the singing of praise, with prayer, then as prayer is extempore so ought the singing. The congregation must be extemporaneous in their offering of praise, and what confusion would result. But the hymn singing church recognises the difference, and provides hymnbooks, thus shooting itself in the foot if it holds to this equality.
Preaching and praying are warranted for different aspects of worship, and so is singing. Singing for instance necessitates a different manner of using the voice. Should then we sing our prayers? When we sing we are rendering the calves of our lips in praise of His moral excellences, His Being and Nature, His provision and providence, His manifestation of His grace , mercy and love in Jesus Christ. Prayer is primarily making our requests, petitions and supplications known unto God, with thanksgiving. But singing is the offering of praise to the High, and Lofty One. When we sing Psalms we sing inspiration, but then that is not true when we pray.
 

Romans5eight

Puritan Board Freshman
This issue has been debated so many times it seems like there is an underlying theological doctrine that divides the two sides. What is that doctrine?

Is the central question: "Does the advent of Christ change the way we should publicly worship?"

is this or isn't this the core issue?
 

KeithW

Puritan Board Freshman
...praise in singing is the adoration of God.
You are equating "praise" with all singing in the church. I used to think the same thing. Then I read,

Col. 3:16 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.​
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
That's true, but it's a consequence of the magnifying of God. And really your verse taken in its strictest sense, would prohibit the woman to sing as she is not suffered to teach and ought to keep silent in the church! But it is the inspired word that teaches, and its congregational harmonious use informs each other of the glory and magnificence we approach.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
1. The Regulative Principle. This group can be divided into those who believe in:
a. exclusive Psalmody,
b. those who believe the creeds, the Ten Commandments and other scriptural canticles can be sung in worship
c. those who believe in non-instrumental worship.
d. those who are organ, piano tolerant.
2. The Normative Principle. What has historically been done in worship shall be maintained unless it can be found to be contrary to the Word of God.
a. Lutheran Mass.
b. worship in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer
3. The Church is at liberty to worship in any manner they believe the Spirit leads.

What ever ones position is on worship the original question is relevant.
For those of you who do not hold to an exclusive view of psalm singing.

If you are given a choice between singing a song written by God or a song written by man, why do you prefer the one written by man?

What is it about singing a song of uninspired human composition that is so pleasing to you?

Do you believe that songs of uninspired human composition are:
1) somehow more pleasing to God
2) enhances your worship and if so how?
3) do you find the words of scripture (psalms) in some way lacking or insufficient?
With some hesitation let me suggest that the most appealing thing for me about singing hymns is they offer something the Psalter does not. The Psalter does not sing about substitutionary blood atonement, the virgin birth and nativity of our Lord, or expressly about the Trinity. That is an advantage to singing hymns, like the Te Deum laudamus. They function as sung creeds.

Those who understand the words, hymns and spiritual odes to refer to something other then the Psalter, still have to explain why they are neglecting to sing Psalms.
 
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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Again, the "flood gates" are no more open than they are with preaching and prayer, all of which are regulated by the RPW.

From our perspective, EP advocates promote discontinuity in the RPW in making Psalms the anomaly to worship.
Tim,
Neither the preaching nor the prayers are put into the mouth's of God's people. They are able to run the words of the minister through a filter before affirming what they hear. This is not the case during congregational singing.

As for the "anomaly" question, have you considered that the public reading of God's Word is an element of worship? We cannot substitute the reading of the Scriptures with the words of man. We would argue that the same is true for the singing of the Psalms (note--this isn't intended to be an iron-clad argument for the EP position; it's only an answer to your "anomaly" charge).
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Dear all,

I was hoping that this would be a platform to address the specific questions to non-EP advocates as explicit in the OP.

For those of you who do not hold to an exclusive view of psalm singing.
If this is a thread to counter advocates of hymnody in worship (which the OP didn't suggest), I respectfully decline any further interactions on this thread unless the original questions could remain intact without using the platform for an anti-hymnody agenda.

Believe me, those who use "uninspired" music in worship are well aware of EP arguments if they've spent any time on this board.

Let's not:deadhorse:


:2cents:
 
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BG

Puritan Board Junior
For those of you who are not EP:

Does it matter to you who writes the song you sing in worship?

Can a song writer be living in open sin?

Can they be a cult member?

Does the songwriters intended meaning matter?

It seems to me that one of the criteria for songs of worship is that they teach and admonish, does this mean that only biblically qualified men can write them?

What is the scriptural criteria for determining what songs should be sung in the worship to God?

Is it troubling to you that other brothers possibly in your church might be offended by the singing of songs other than the psalms? ***( not trying to make anyone feel guilty here )***
 
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Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
You make an uncharitable rash assumption unsupported by evidence.

For those of you who do not hold to an exclusive view of psalm singing.

If you are given a choice between singing a song written by God or a song written by man, why do you prefer the one written by man?
Sort of like assuming that all TRs are uncharitable because some are.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
You make an uncharitable rash assumption unsupported by evidence.



Sort of like assuming that all TRs are uncharitable because some are.
Not exactly sure what you mean by uncharitable I'm simply trying to get answers for honest questions I have, this has become an issue at my church.

I would be glad to rephrase any of my questions, although given the nature of the topic I think a little sharpness should be acceptable
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Not exactly sure what you mean by uncharitable
Your basic premise is that anyone who sings psalms and hymns and spiritual songs prefers the latter two over the former.

Some may, but unless you can prove that all do, then I'll stick with my point.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
For those of you who are not EP:

Does it matter to you who writes the song you sing in worship?

Can a song writer be living in open sin?

Can they be a cult member?
It is Well with My Soul was written by Horatio Spafford, a cultist. I will not sing it.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
I agree. Starting a thread with a loaded question is not a way to get people on your side.

I will rephrase the question.

For all of you who are non EP:

When it comes to singing in worship which do you prefer:

1) Inspired Psalms written by God

2) Songs Written By Man

3) A Third Option
 
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