Singing Uninspired songs--Non EP answers only

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timfost

Puritan Board Senior
The problem I have with psalm singing is that you do not sing about Jesus, the atonement, redemption, salvation or the trinity.
in my opinion, these are generally bad arguments against EP. Psalm 22 immediately comes to mind. If the Trinity is not in view, what God is being revealed? If no atonement, how can the writer speak of forgiveness?

The points about Jesus and the Trinity are valid only if we speak to the fullness of revelation of His Person. If this is the lense through which we make the argument, it holds a little more weight, though I still think they are some of the weaker arguments against EP.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
Chris, my church and my denomination are firmly EP there is no problem there. The problem is with so many families coming into the congregation loving the sermon, the doctrine and the fellowship but at some point they decided that they are not EP and leave. It is just very difficult to see people leave particularly those people who you have developed relationships with outside of church, you've prayed with and prayed for and you've grown to love, it's just heartbreaking.




I don't want to paint a picture that is too grim, our congregation is growing and we have recently secured the services of a minister who is of eminent ability and qualification to preach and teach at our church for which we are extremely thankful.
 
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Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Yes it clearly does. (I am trying to understand the EP perspective), but my understanding is that the term "psalm" isn't solely the 150 psalms in our bible. Doesn't the term "psalm" refer to praise songs? Like the ones the church would sing before the life of David?
Paul uses "Psalms" as the rest of the NT uses it, to refer to the canonical book of Psalms. The word "hymn" in the NT is also used in reference to the canonical book of Psalms: see Matthew 26:30, where Christ and the apostles' singing of the Hallel Psalms is referred to as "hymning"; and Acts 16:25, where Paul and Silas's praise in jail is referred to as "hymning." (There is absolutely no reason to think that Paul and Silas sang anything other than the canonical Psalms.)

Another consideration re: your last sentence: the Hebrew name for the book of Psalms is "Tehilliam," "praise." It was "the Book of Praises." Yes, the church before David always sang the praises of God and they were always and only prophetically inspired songs. The Holy Spirit guided the process of canonizing the final songbook for the church in the book of Tehilliam (or Psalms as the Greek translates it).
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
My resistance to EP sprang from two sources that fuelled my opposition. The first was the heritage that I was converted into ie, the great Welsh tradition of male choirs singing with instinctive harmony the best hymn tunes in the world.( and that's not being biased)! But then through reading I discovered that we were a Psalm singing people until the 1737 Revival gave rise to spiritual poets, whose compositions were gradually set to tunes. Their introduction with tunes of great beauty and pathos gained the ascendancy over the Psalms. To the extent that there is only one Psalm singing church remains in our nation.
The second prevention to the espousal of EP was my own misguided conception of importing my 20 th century acceptance of the separate practice of Psalms, hymns and songs, into the 1st century church. Little realising that that descriptive trilogy concerned the content of the Psalm book,( as Randy has already mentioned). And when I began to read the titles on the Psalms which the Jewish doctors considered inspired, they spoke of a song of David, a Psalm of David a prayer of David, and in the Septuagint , a hymn of David, my scepticism slowly dissolved.
It's nigh on 40yrs since I was fully persuaded that the Psalter is the divinely appointed hymn book for the one church of the Old and New Testamament, and such a persuasion is costly as BG stated. To be the only couple in a church, who through conscience do not sing the hymns, makes you in the eyes of others, as oddities. Nevertheless it is encouraging that here and there individuals are coming to the knowledge of it, for which we praise the sweet Psamist of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
One last question for those of you who are non-EP.

In Randy's post above there is a quote from T David Gordon in which he says that EP is sinful do any of you share that sentiment?
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
The problem is with so many families coming into the congregation loving the sermon, the doctrine and the fellowship but at some point they decided that they are not EP and leave.
This is so sad. Thinking it through, it is, in my opinion, a direct assault on Christ as the Psalms are His words. When people leave the church for this reason alone they are essentially saying they do not like to sing Christ's words....On one hand they love their bibles and on the other...well, as I said.

Also, as I mentioned in the past; considering Nadab and Abihu, Uzzzah, my family was EP for prudence sake alone in the past. Now we have the conviction that it is commanded and so, we now do not even consider the alternative, given that hymnody is questionable. If God never changes, it is quite possible that he strikes us down in our tracks for singing uninspired song. This is enough for me to not sing uninspired song and I would think that it is a valid argument against singing uninspired song in worship; but to leave over that issue when everyone knows that ep is a valid and biblical contrast, is in my opinion, unthinkable.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would humbly suggest that this attitude is one reason why non-EP people might not feel comfortable at an EP church. If to disagree over EP necessarily means that "they do not like to sing Christ's words" and "everyone knows that EP is valid and biblical", how could they stay? It's like telling a baptist who comes to visit your church that they hate babies and everyone knows that paedobaptism is the true biblical position; what is more, if they want to join your church, they can only do so under church discipline until they repent and have their children baptized. If you want to persuade people of your position, it will be easier to accomplish if you try to understand the (Biblical) reasons why people might come to a different view and seek charitably to persuade them otherwise.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
If to disagree over EP necessarily means that "they do not like to sing Christ's words" and "everyone knows that EP is valid and biblical", how could they stay?
I would bet that most non-ep folk agree that God's word is illumined and that the psalter is just for that, singing, given to the church by Christ Himself. I don't believe anyone would argue against that. To leave a church for the reason being that a particular church only sings the Psalms is an indictment against God's word. How could u take that otherwise? It's essentially saying, 'I don't like to sing God's words'.

It could be said that I am making these claims on charitable love for my brethren...When I discipline my daughter for sin, is that not charitable?
 

kainos01

Puritan Board Senior
I would bet that most non-ep folk agree that God's word is illumined and that the psalter is just for that, singing, given to the church by Christ Himself.
You don't get out much... ;)

Most of the broadly evangelical world holds the Psalms in the same very high regard as the rest of the Bible - but not as a songbook for the church. They would see it as Israel's songbook (as in OT Israel), but not for the church (as in the NT church) - except as Scripture, generally (though of the "poetic" variety).

I know that you are referring, principally, to the Reformed churches, but I would surmise that much of this view of the Psalms has migrated into the Reformed churches, as well.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would bet that most non-ep folk agree that God's word is illumined and that the psalter is just for that, singing, given to the church by Christ Himself. I don't believe anyone would argue against that. To leave a church for the reason being that a particular church only sings the Psalms is an indictment against God's word. How could u take that otherwise? It's essentially saying, 'I don't like to sing God's words'.

It could be said that I am making these claims on charitable love for my brethren...When I discipline my daughter for sin, is that not charitable?
All I can say is that if an elder of an EP church I was attending said that to me, it would make it virtually impossible to stay, as someone who is not convinced Biblically of EP. You think "I don't like to sing God's words", I'm in sin and need to be disciplined like a child. It would actually be your attitude, not the singing of Psalms that was driving me away.

Of course, it is true that EP folks do think I'm in sin. I understand that. We paedobaptists think our baptist friends are in sin when they don't baptize their children. But the question is pastorally how do we approach real Christians who disagree with us? I would want to come alongside them and assure them that, while I differ from them in my understanding of the Bible (and that's important), they are welcome to come to our church while they try to figure that out. If after a while they decide to leave, because they aren't convinced that baptizing children is Biblical, I'll try to help them find a good Reformed Baptist church to go to and seek to remain on good terms with them. They haven't left the body of Christ. And at the end of the day, as John Newton reminds us frequently, it's the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to Biblical truth, so if they haven't seen what I see I need to pray for them and trust that the Spirit will give them as much light as he chooses to, in due season.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
But the question is pastorally how do we approach real Christians who disagree with us? I would want to come alongside them and assure them that, while I differ from them in my understanding of the Bible (and that's important), they are welcome to come to our church while they try to figure that out.
Well, practically speaking, your suggestion is how I have approached this. I don't assault the non ep person, ever, though it is hard to elaborate on the doctrine without offending someone. If the conversation comes up, I am patient, kind and gracious about the subject and generally understand that I myself was not always ep. So yea, there is grace.

My position on it is if u want to sing hymns, sing hymns. Follow your conviction.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
It would actually be your attitude, not the singing of Psalms that was driving me away.
I gave that a 'Like', but it deserves more than that. So I'll throw in :applause:.
.
There is a reason most EP congregations are small, and it isn't because of what they are singing.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Do you know most EP congregations? One could allege that "this" is the reason all churches that actually believe and follow the regulative principle of worship regardless of position on song are small. It could be argued for many other positions, all the way up to Calvinism. For some percentage of any of those positions, it is true. Throwing the whole of those holding a position under the bus is simply of the same spirit that is being condemned.
There is a reason most EP congregations are small, and it isn't because of what they are singing.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
All I can say is that if an elder of an EP church I was attending said that to me, it would make it virtually impossible to stay, as someone who is not convinced Biblically of EP. You think "I don't like to sing God's words", I'm in sin and need to be disciplined like a child. It would actually be your attitude, not the singing of Psalms that was driving me away.
Rev. Duguid,

Let me start off by saying that I'm not going to defend everything Scott said--I have a mix of agreement and disagreement there. However, note that he was not saying that people don't hold to EP because they don't like singing God's Word. What he said was that if someone leaves a church because only Psalms are used, they are leaving because they don't like to sing God's word. Barring someone having a conviction that uninspired songs are required, I can't see where Scott is wrong here.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Aside: If uninspired songs are required then how can one not sing them every Lord's day? It would be a sin not to sing said "hymns" if they are required.
We are commanded to preach the Word. This doesn't mean from all be 66 books each week. Praises are commanded and they are derived from psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
We are commanded to preach the Word. This doesn't mean from all be 66 books each week. Praises are commanded and they are derived from psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
I didn't say sing every single (uninspired) hymn in existence... I said to sing a hymn, if God commands us to sing hymns, then it must be done in worship (though no one would suggest the totality of all such hymns be sung). Just as He does command the preaching of the Word, the Word then must be preached (not the totality of Scripture), just as the Word must be read (not the totality of Scripture).
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
One could allege that "this" is the reason all churches that actually believe and follow the regulative principle of worship regardless of position on song are small.
I thought the argument was that one couldn't follow the RPW if one held a different position on song.

It could be argued for many other positions, all the way up to Calvinism.
And if someone were to advocate that position, I probably wouldn't argue with them. Certainly history has shown, at least on the Presbyterian side, a greater propensity to split than to unify among those who hold to Calvinism. That seems inevitably to lead to 'smaller'.

I considered the original post to be uncharitable and the questions founded on false premises, while Mr. Ray commended
Bill on his good questions and his desire to be charitable.
Given starting points that far apart, it is probably impossible to find any common ground for meaningful discussion.

I actually think that the EP folks can make a good historical case (but perhaps a weaker Biblical one) and could advance their cause if they approached it in a more winsome manner. But their approach is likely to win them only a few converts will lead to many closed ears.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
I didn't say sing every single (uninspired) hymn in existence... I said to sing a hymn, if God commands us to sing hymns, then it must be done in worship (though no one would suggest the totality of all such hymns be sung). Just as He does command the preaching of the Word, the Word then must be preached (not the totality of Scripture), just as the Word must be read (not the totality of Scripture).
Not sure if you understood my point. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

Preaching, prayer and praise are all requirements of worship. If one sings all Psalms one week and all hymns another, praise was offered both weeks, though not all of the same category.

Perhaps it would be equivalent to saying that both an expository and topical sermon should be preached every week if we are to follow the command to preach the Word. I think we'd all agree that would be silly.

Hopefully that clarifies...
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Rev. Duguid,

Let me start off by saying that I'm not going to defend everything Scott said--I have a mix of agreement and disagreement there. However, note that he was not saying that people don't hold to EP because they don't like singing God's Word. What he said was that if someone leaves a church because only Psalms are used, they are leaving because they don't like to sing God's word. Barring someone having a conviction that uninspired songs are required, I can't see where Scott is wrong here.
You'e just proved my case, which is that some (not all) advocates of EP have a habit of expressing their opponents' position in terms that they themselves would never use and would in fact strongly deny. In their minds, they would probably say that they are leaving because they prefer to sing the full range of God's revelation. I know you think that their response is silly but my point was that the attitude expressed in this post itself may become an obstacle to people who don't (yet) believe in EP attending EP churches because they perceive them to be judgmental and condescending. I am glad that Scott said that in person he tries to be patient, kind and gracious. But the language he used in his post is none of these things.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
I think this thread has for now run its course. For those of you who are non EP if you have any good questions for proponents of EP please send them to me in a pm, I plan on asking the same type of questions to the other side of the issue next.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Not sure if you understood my point. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

Preaching, prayer and praise are all requirements of worship. If one sings all Psalms one week and all hymns another, praise was offered both weeks, though not all of the same category.

Perhaps it would be equivalent to saying that both an expository and topical sermon should be preached every week if we are to follow the command to preach the Word. I think we'd all agree that would be silly.

Hopefully that clarifies...
Yes, that clarifies. What I'm getting at is, if uninspired hymns are required by God to sing what if you never sing them? Then it is sin. Sorry for my specificity getting in the way of my overall point (if I were to grant you what you say here, though I'm not sure I can. I have to think about that more).
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I actually think that the EP folks can make a good historical case (but perhaps a weaker Biblical one) and could advance their cause if they approached it in a more winsome manner. But their approach is likely to win them only a few converts will lead to many closed ears.
We agree on the need for winsomeness; I disagree in your universal statement that no EPs are. Again, that is simply returning like for like as far as the manner of the opening post to which you object. And, while I believe eventually many holding to hymn singing do often get off track and argue normatively, I don't think EPs should automatically throw those arguing for uninspired hymns off the RPW bus (or under it).
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
You'e just proved my case, which is that some (not all) advocates of EP have a habit of expressing their opponents' position in terms that they themselves would never use and would in fact strongly deny. In their minds, they would probably say that they are leaving because they prefer to sing the full range of God's revelation. I know you think that their response is silly but my point was that the attitude expressed in this post itself may become an obstacle to people who don't (yet) believe in EP attending EP churches because they perceive them to be judgmental and condescending. I am glad that Scott said that in person he tries to be patient, kind and gracious. But the language he used in his post is none of these things.
Rev. Duguid,

I see your point. It is important to see it from the perspective of the one objecting to the practice. I do not, however, think that someone is justified in leaving a church over mere preferences. Further, if someone prefers to sing something other that Psalms in worship enough to leave a church over it (note that we're talking about preferences, not convictions), then something is deeply wrong, in my opinion.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I considered the original post to be uncharitable and the questions founded on false premises, while Mr. Ray commended
...
Given starting points that far apart, it is probably impossible to find any common ground for meaningful discussion.
Please note that I spoke of Bill's desire to be charitable. I did not say that I thought that everything he had written sounded charitable. Take my post for what it says, please.
 

Joshua

Administrator
Winsomeness should work both ways, too.

There is no category of theology that I have found wherein both sides of a particular angle didn't have one of "those guys" who beats the dead horse, rarely seeks to uphold a charitable esteem, so on and so forth. I think we are all idolaters, BTW, Psalm-singers (only) or not. We'll never rise to the level of perfection that God requires in our approach unto Him. We all need the mediation of Christ in our worship. If it's not the manner in which we draw night unto God, it may be the matter. If not the matter, it may be the motive. We'll never get every aspect of any act of obedience completely right. Manner, matter, motive, thoughts, words, deed, personally, perfectly, perpetually. There is only One who fulfilled that perfectly, and it is His perfect obedience we need. This is no excuse not to endeavor toward perfection in all our duties, but an acknowledgment that we will not reach that this side of glory.

Psalm-singers (only) ought not surmise evil of the motivations of pious brothers and sisters who are inclusive of hymns in the singing, and yet, hymn-singers ought not surmise evil of the motivations of the questions and gentle assertions of the wrongness of hymn-singing in the worship of God. Accusations of willful disobedience to the Regulative Principle by Psalm-singers (only) against hymn-singers is certainly not a charitable esteem. Meanwhile, painting all Psalm-singers (only) of being blood-thirsty heretic-hunters which think wickedly of all hymn-singing brethren will not be helpful (I am not saying that has happened in this thread, but I have seen it elsewhere in the past). Yet, does this mean a Psalm-singer (only) may not call what he perceives biblically to be a breach in the correct application of the Regulative Principle sin? This can be done charitably, and if we really believe what we believe, this ought not be thought to be insensitive.

Presbyterians' own confession calls the neglect or contemning of the ordinance of baptism a great sin, yet this does not stop charitable discussion even within the soteriological Reformed context. One would hope that Baptists -in being consistent with their beliefs- assert that the baptism of infants also to be a sin and a breach of its rightful administration, according to their understanding. I would not be offended by this. Likewise, for the brother who believes hymn-singing to be in according with the RPW, with such passages as Eph. 5 and Colossians 3, I am not offended if they think that exclusion of hymns from worship to be a sin. It is not beyond the realm of conversation, and it is far better to discuss these things with brotherly care, than to leave them alone as the Elephant in the Room, even if we do not come to agreement.

The Lesson: Let us acknowledge our imperfection in worship, regardless of where we fall, but allow one another the right to call a position wrong, if buttressed by Scriptural arguments and our respective Confessions. Though I am convinced that the Confession is clear on Psalm-singing in worship, that does not mean the same is clear to everyone, and we'll never come to agreement if we do not at least agree to come together charitably and discuss the matter, especially in a larger ecclesiastical setting (Presbytery, GAs, Synods, etc.). Our whole carriage in this affair might drastically be changed if it was always carried out with a desire for our brethren's souls, instead of to win an argument. I know I have certainly have had my share of breaches in this regard. Lord have mercy.

Let us keep in mind that jewel from Mr. Sibbes (Works, Vol. I, p.52):

It were a good strife amongst Christians, one to labour to give no offence, and the other to labour to take none.​
 
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