Sorry, but another question about the RPW

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Confessor, Oct 24, 2008.

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  1. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    I am wondering how a certain observation fits in with the fact that only what God orders is permitted in worship: there are no written songs in the Bible, only lyrics.

    This really is quite puzzling, as it seems to mean that we are commanded to sing, yet we must necessarily bring in a song's musical notation from outside the text. How is this not some form of will-worship? And how far does it allow outside influences to go?

    Also, how does the fact that we can sing psalms in a different language from the original tie in with the RPW?
  2. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for the response. And before I go on, I want to say that I am not arguing for the falsity of the RPW, but rather I want to know how it stands against certain objections. I am not very knowledgeable about it, and I therefore request that my questions are not taken as attacks but are only from curiosity and for my discernment.

    What else qualifies as circumstantial?

    Are the psalms that do indicate a tune only to be sung in that tune?

    Does the Bible state anywhere that we are only to sing psalms specifically?

    I have to go now, but I have some more questions that I need to articulate. Thank you.
  3. YXU

    YXU Puritan Board Freshman

    My friend,

    Tunes are circumstances of psalm singing, it should be easy to sung at the corporate worship.

    The Bible records singing of psalms as an element of worship and commands us to sing praises to God, and there cannot be found any record in Bible about uninspired pieces be sung at the worship of God.
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The question of tunes has been answered, but this is also interesting:

    Please consult Hebrews 3:7-11, where the Hebrew text of Psalm 95 is rendered in Greek (English in our translation), and is still credited with being the speech of the Holy Ghost.
  5. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for the answers so far, guys. I just got a few more questions...

    Does "circumstantial" essentially entail some part of a command (explicit or implicit) in which the details are not given, but which must be present?

    What else qualifies as circumstantial?

    (From before) What are the psalms that indicate a tune? Are these psalms only to be sung in that tune?
  6. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    We are commanded to be taught by the Psalms.
    The Psalms command new songs.
    We are commanded to sing new (uninspired) songs.
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The brother has stated that he is seeking to understand the RPW -- "that only what God orders is permitted in worship."

    According to this understanding of the RPW, if we were commanded to sing "new" songs, then we would not be at liberty to sing "old" songs.
  8. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    non sequitur - we are commanded to sing the Psalms and be taught by the Psalms, which command new songs.

    All perfectly aligning to the RPW.
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    It is only a non sequitur on your understanding of the RPW which allows for freedom to do or not to do. On the traditional understanding -- which it is the brother's desire to understand -- if God orders it then that is what we are to do and we are not at liberty to do otherwise. If God had have ordered us to sing new songs in the way you understand it, then we would not be at liberty to do otherwise, and therefore would not be at liberty to sing "old" songs.

    Let's be kind to our brother and help him with his enquiries regarding the traditional understanding of the RPW.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2008
  10. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    Presuppositions aside, the RPW states negatively that "what is not commanded is forbidden" and positively "what is commanded is required" in worship.

    The previous statements support both and allow for old/inspired song as well as new/uninspired song.
  11. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    Also - I do not believe it kind to leave out credible arguments, even if they challenge beloved traditions. 1 Thess 5:21
  12. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    To the question of translations of the psalms. Just as we translate the scriptures into all tongues to go out to all nations, so we also translate the psalms to go out to all nations.

    1 Corinthians 14:15
    What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
  13. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    If you have found a world where you can meet the requirement to sing a "new" song by singing an "old" song I wish you all the happiness that world has to offer; in this context, however, let's try and help the brother with his enquiries.
  14. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    :) - I am going to abandon this discussion, as I know where this invariably leads, but any serious inquiry into details of singing Psalms, such as alignment of tunes and language to the RPW, seem to indicate an interest in the validity of EP claims, thus the posting of the EP rebuttal.

    The brother may now take the rebuttal into account, and, if he finds merit in it, the other inquiries are moot.

  15. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Alright, this has been going remarkably smooth for me -- earlier, when I was trying to discern what exactly the RPW entailed, I could not decide on anything, but after reading a couple of Rev. Brian Schwertley's articles and clearing up some other things (thanks to you guys!), I am convinced that instruments ought be withheld in worship and that exclusive psalmody is true. The counter-arguments of my own and of others did not seem adequate.

    My sinful rebellion against God's Word was evident before me now. I had thought that these ideas were ridiculous, and I tried reconciling them to my feelings before searching for what Scripture taught, rather than the other way around. I wanted to see what "felt right" and was in line with "common sense" before seeing what was in line with God's Word. By God's grace I prayed before this search, and He enlightened me rather quickly.

    Otherwise, I am sifting through some nuances of the RPW, namely, if and how God can be corporately worshiped on days other than His instituted Lord's Day. For example, is it alright to meet on Wednesday nights with about 10-15 Christians for praise and worship (I'm assuming yes)? If so, does the regulative principle of worship apply to such a meeting?

    To answer this question, I am making my way through this previous thread I created and the links which are branched from there, but I would appreciate any extra input.

    Thank you guys again. Thank you so much.
  16. RTaron

    RTaron The Grandpa (Affectionately Called)

    Amen brother, Praise His name. May the Lord raise up a new generation of those who fear him.
  17. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    When you sing uninspired songs you are singing what some man "thinks" about God. When you sing Psalms you are singing what God says about Himself. I believe that God gives us explicit instructions on how He is to be worshipped. Has a singer of uninspired hymns for many years I have only begun to see this in the last year.
    If Psalms are the best for singing and showing praise unto God why would you want to use anything else? I fear we have been guilty of offering "strange fire" before the Lord. Has Brian Schwertley said in one of his messages on this subject: "Why can't you just do what your told to do?"
    Why do you have to rebel against God?
  18. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    Here is a note from the Geneva Bible on Psalm 150:3

    150:3 Exhorting the people only to rejoice in praising God, he
    maketh mention of those instruments which by God’s commandment
    were appointed in the old Law, but under Christ the use
    thereof is abolished in the Church.
  19. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Upon reading through the other thread, I am still unsure of how to make distinctions between regulations for public, family, and private worship. Andrew Meyers and Rev. Winzer explained the distinction between specific/stated and general worship, but I still find the distinction fuzzy.

    For instance, the RPW mandates that everything commanded in Scripture pertaining to worship is necessary, and everything not commanded is forbidden. Therefore, in public worship, if we subtract the sermon or the sacraments, we are obviously violating the RPW. Yet, we are not violating the RPW if we do not administer such parts of worship in family or private worship. One could argue that these are simply impractical (as we don't have ordained persons to do such things), but does that really excuse a blatant absence? That is, even if such a reason actually excuses the absence of these things, in effect the criteria are being lessened. "Do whatever I command you, as long as it's pragmatic," or "as long as you're comfortable doing so." Where do we draw the line? We need more clear-cut rules between the three different spheres of worship.

    Implicit in the blurry distinction is the question, When am I engaging in private worship? A question raised in one of the threads linked from the "Extent of the RPW" thread asked if one would be sinning for simply picking up his guitar and singing a praise song. When exactly does specific private worship begin and general worship end? If I am on my to class and I start singing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," am I profaning God's worship by bringing in human inventions? If I make myself so that I'm not singing towards God but merely singing the song for my enjoyment, am I better off than singing an uninspired song directly to God?

    Sorry, but I really want to nail down the intricacies of the regulative principle. :)
  20. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Come on, guys... :D
  21. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Alright, this has been really bugging me, as there are two separate extremes to be avoided: strict adherence to the RPW in non-public worship (which would then include a sermon, sacraments, etc.), and a NPW which would open the floodgates for incense, etc. I can't find a way to balance this.

    It is obvious that public worship ought to strictly adhere to the RPW. It is not so obvious for the other two.

    For instance, it would be impossible for family and private worship to have the sacraments if no family member were ordained. But how exactly does that play into the RPW? Where is Scriptural justification for removing that aspect of it, even for such an obvious removal?

    It seems that part of the solution is to understand that private worship is synonymous with general worship, although I'm not too sure how many would agree with that. Then, it is at least possible for a non-ordained person to worship God by himself, since if an ordained person had to join him to administer the sacraments it would no longer be private worship; therefore, private worship by a non-ordained person could not exist if strict adherence to the RPW were required. But if private worship is equated with general worship, then what forbids us from incense, shrines, etc.?

    This leads to another question: in general worship, are we allowed to offer incense and do other things allowed by the NPW? I'm assuming part of that solution is that as soon as one begins to have any type of ceremony at all, it ceases to be general worship and becomes specific, private worship. But with this distinction back in the fold, it seems that private worship cannot exist strictly under the RPW, and therefore we have to find some justification either explicitly or implicitly from Scripture that allows for RPW "reductions."

    Can anyone help me sort through this?! :worms:
  22. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    It makes for an informative study to look at the difference between the Hebrew words generally translated "meditation" and "worship." Meditation is not merely mental, but verbal also. The Hebrews did not simply think things through, but they uttered their deep thoughts. Worship, on the other hand, is a prostrating of oneself before a superior. According to Scripture, it is an exercise of the whole man, soul and body, not just a meditation. I would classify singing A Mighty Fortress as one walks to class as a meditation, not as worship.
  23. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Thank you so much for this distinction!

    When exactly would you say that meditation becomes worship? Would it be when a certain time is planned? Am I not prostrating myself in a sense whenever I am singing of God's greatness on my way to classes?
  24. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If prostrating oneself before a superior is the entire meaning of worship, then shouldn't we all prostrate ourselves when we worship each week? (I really am not trying to be sarcastic, but am asking this honestly)
  25. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    One thing that could help in determining the grasp of the RPW over different spheres of worship is the fact that the Lord's Supper is not administered in every public worship service. We are commanded to partake in it, but does that mean that we are commanded to partake in every instance? If so, the new observation doesn't really help much in my discerning; if not, it can help a ton.

  26. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Worship contains the circumstance of time and place, which meditation is not restricted to. So it might be said that worship in the formal sense of the term requires the setting apart of time and place for the purpose of engaging in specific acts of devotion as prescribed by God.

    Walking to class requires the exercise of the body and at least some part of the cognitive ability, and hence you cannot be prostrated before God; prostration requires the complete occupation of the individual so as to be fully at the disposal of God.
  27. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Prostration per se is not required, but the full exercise of body and soul is fundamental to the act of worship.
  28. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    So why would singing "A Mighty Fortress is our God" (a paraphrase of a Psalm) be meditation rather than worship if it is sung in a worship service?
  29. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    It wouldn't be. I was asking if singing the song on the way to classes (for example) would be allowable within the RPW.

    In a way, I knew it was, but not how, but Rev. Winzer graciously explained it.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2008
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