Sorry, but another question about the RPW

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

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  1. YXU

    YXU Puritan Board Freshman

    Rev. Winzer,
    I admire your acuteness in logic and excellent rhetoric in all of your statements. I read some old posts and noticed your powerful arguments in those debates, although other have some good grounds.

    You say that I confused religious devotion with worship, I didn't. On the contrary, I confirmed that religious devotion is different than worship. You have already confirmed that singing of praise is an element of worship, and then you are making singing of praise a devotional activity, or at least suitable to devotional activities. There is no scriptual proof that a devotion is conducted by singing of praise. I see reading of God's word as applicable to both an element of worship as well as devotion, but not the singing of praise, for there is no biblical support.

    On the other hand, modern hymns are ways invented by men to praise and worship God according to their own imagination. It is an arbitrary statement you made to say that a man singing such hymns designed for such an obvious purpose is not an act of worship.

    Anyway, I maybe wrong, if you can provide me with scripture to support your view, I will submit to the scripture.


  2. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Rebellion is a strong word. It has specific meaning in scripture.

    No matter what side of the EP debate a person is on they should not accuse the other side of rebellion. We certainly can state that we believe the brother with whom we disagree holds a contrary view and is in error. That is fair game. We need to watch our rhetoric beyond this.
  3. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    going to bed now - see ya'll tomorrow sometimes :)
  4. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    For the record, my post never said or implied that either side of the EP issue is rebellious to God's Word -- and if it did, I am recanting it now.

    I said that my lack of understanding was due to my rebellion. I was trying to figure what I wanted the RPW to be prior to figuring out what it was. I was trying to conform God to myself rather than the opposite. Fortunately, God opened my eyes.
  5. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior


    I believe you misunderstand Rev. Winzer's stance. He is not advocating for hymnody in worship -- he is merely saying why singing a hymn on my own when, for instance, taking a walk, is not breaching the RPW. Although, I don't want to misrepresent him, and I will therefore stop at that.
  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I apologise if I implied you were confusing the two; that wasn't my intention. I only meant that the categories you were using were a conflation. Such a mixture of ideas would mean that all singing must fall under the genus of "worship." If that is the case, then an individual would not be permitted to "sing" except when he had the specific intention of drawing near to God with body and soul. This would make for a very restricted devotional life.

    It might be helpful to distinguish what uninspired hymnodists intend by the composition of their songs, and the use an exclusive psalmodist might make of those songs. If I am preaching, and in a poetical strain quote the words, "Were the whole realm of nature mine," it cannot be said that I am engaging in that part of worship called "singing." If on a Monday morning I hum the tune of Rockingham while on my daily walk and muse on the same words, that cannot be called worship, but is really meditation. If on Tuesday morning I replace the humming with the words themselves, it doesn't cease being meditation simply because I have joined words and tune together.
  7. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    But if it's Wednesday morning...

  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    You will have to tune in tomorrow. :)

    Seriously, personally I am content to devotionally meditate on the Psalms, especially because they are not so theologically abstract as the old hymns, and they have a boldness of expression uninspired men dare nor employ; but if I benefit from those theological abstractions as a source of personal meditation, I cannot see why this would be blameworthy while profitting from a good theological book is recommended.
  9. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I think I can agree with this request.

    But it seems that you perhaps mistook my meaning. So let me explain a bit.

    I was not saying that "Amazing Grace" is far too God-exalting to be reasonably excluded from worship. I was not appealing to or relying on any emotional or personal conviction. I was answering to the assertion that writing a song of praise is expressing dissatisfaction with the Psalms, that it is as if saying that the Psalms are not good enough. This assumption is peculiar to EP; it is what EP-ers say and not what non-EP-ers say. And certainly John Newton's "Amazing Grace" is a good example of this.

    But let me go back a few steps so as to make my point clearer.

    The RPW is not itself a doctrine, but is a formula stemming out of the Second Commandment. The command to see to God's commands, and to neither add to nor subtract from them, is part of the Second Commandment. The RPW itself received a proper name only recently in church history.

    If we put our own presuppositions in first place, and then read these into the texts of the Bible, then we would be breaking this commandment. That is, if we have our minds made up before we read Scripture, then we are in violation of the Second Commandment. Putting anything before God and His Word is breaking this commandment.

    If, as some have asserted, EP-ers presuppose their conclusions, imposing preconvictions onto the texts, reading the texts to mean that we sing only the Psalms when this very interpretation is the thing in question; and if EP-ers insist that they have the RPW as grounds for their convictions, then EP-ers are breaking the Second Commandment in claiming to uphold the RPW, an obvious contradiction.

    If, on the other hand, the verses themselves indicate clearly that we are to sing only the Psalms, then it should be enough that EP-ers should stand on Scripture.

    However, EP-ers have unanimously agreed that they cannot cite any Scripture as proof, but stand instead on the RPW. They claim that the Bible does not command new songs, so new songs are forbidden. (If they are going to stand on the RPW then let them say what they believe the RPW to say: new songs are forbidden.) How do they know that new songs are not commanded? By imposing their conclusions on all the texts that refer to songs. They see no command to sing songs in addition to the Psalms, though they are found in many places.

    But before you get stuck on the obvious question, "Where does it say that?" I would like to show you that song writers like John Newton do not despise the Psalms when they write their own songs.

    You have suggested that someone who writes other songs shows a dissatisfaction with the Psalms, that this insinuates that the Psalms are not enough. Thus someone like John Newton openly declared dissatisfaction with the Psalms when he wrote his own song. I'm pretty sure that this would be news to John Newton, but that's not the point. The point is that there is nothing in Bible or in the Catechisms or the Confession to indicate to John Newton that God was not pleased with his worship by means of that song "Amazing Grace". The Standards try to cover all the elements of worship adequately, so as to lead to proper instruction in faith and worship, and to guard the church as to pure doctrine. And yet not a word that John Newton may turn to so that he may be warned that he has despised the Word of God by writing his own song. Not one word. He did exactly as WCF, XXI, v directed, word for word. By what direction was he to know that writing his own song was a despising of the Word of God? When has the church ever made such a ruling, that he may turn to it and be instructed?

    Such a thought would have been far from his mind. If he had had in mind that the Psalms were not good enough to express what he felt, then why would he have stuck to strenously to the Psalms in his verses? Why would he have also been such a champion of Scripture as he was? Why would he be remembered so fondly and warmly in the histories of the Reformed churches? I hardly know about him, and yet it comes as a shock to me that he was one to despise the Word of God. I am sure that he had the highest of regard for the Psalms and all of God's Word.

    I am writing this also JD. JD, be careful in commending new songs that you do not to say that the Psalms are not good enough. John Newton would never have said that, feeling strongly opposed to such a notion. And yet he felt quite free to write a new song. I am sure that in his heart he had the highest regard for the Psalms as fitting praise, and had no intention of detracting from them, nor had the slightest thought that he did so by writing his own song.
  10. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    In my understanding, meditating on God's Word is mulling it over, contemplating what it says, applying it to my heart.

    Worship, as you said previously, encompasses the entire being in adoration. Apart from corporate worship, for the believer, is not every act of whole-hearted obedience and living worship of God? Even our work is to be whole-hearted for the Lord.

    So then, couldn't even mediatation on God's Word or a song of adoration to God be worship? Or do I have to be in a particular setting, in a particular position of my body and using speciific words when I worship? Are not our whole lives to be worship to God?

    As I read your posts, I get the impression (and I may be wrong) that you believe worship is a compartmenatized activity. So then what difference does it make if I say with my whole heart in love to my God (as I believe the writer meant) "where the whole realm of nature mine that were an offering far to small, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all" or if I sing it? If it is done in adoration of my God with a pure heart? Does the fact that it is not verbatim from the Psalms make it sin? I find nothing doctrinally wrong with those words.
  11. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    2 quick points:

    1. I never, ever, ever want anyone to think I am proposing that the Psalms are not "good enough" - the Psalms are magnificent in their scope, spiritual depth and comfort.

    2. There is no either/or concerning the Psalms as songs of worship - there is only both/and. Just as we have the liberty of blending inspired and uninspired words in other elements of worship, so we have been given this liberty in singing praise.

    The benefit of this liberty is that we may sing praises that explicity address the new covenant in our song, just as we may do in our prayers, preaching and practice.

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2008
  12. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Reguarding the fact that we should be taught by the Psalms is set in 2 Timothy 3:16.

    And if one is violating the EP principle set out by the RPW then they are accused of Rebellion and violating the RPW. I have seen this more than not. But we don't need to use the sharpness of tone in discussing it.

    BTW, I have been taught EP from Covenanters when I was a member in the RPCNA and I am not EP.
  13. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    I am not saying that John Newton was malicious or spiteful of God's Word in any way, and I thought I transmitted that successfully earlier. People can be sincere and incorrect. We can worship in Spirit but not in truth. That is possible, as the story of the unauthorized fire in Leviticus 10 tells us. Nadab and Abihu were slain by God not because they were emotionally averse to Him, not because they were wanting to profane His word, not even because they did what was explicitly forbidden -- but because they did not do as He explicitly commanded.

    Likewise with John Newton. His lyrics are great. The song is great. I enjoy it much, and I know that he wrote it from the bottom of his heart out of deep affections for God. But if it were contrary to God's command, then it is contrary to God's command and forbidden in worship. Period.

    On the contrary, I would vehemently state that we know new songs are not commanded because all the texts speaking of "new songs" are not mandates to compose new songs, and this is contextually evidenced. As I said before, do not be akin to the Arminian and exclaim, "New means new!" If you want to demonstrate that our presuppositions are distorting the text, then please evince it. Otherwise it is nothing but a divisive ad hominem.

    I think the text is fairly clear. We do not add to or subtract from God's command, and God tells us exactly how He is to be worshiped. He gave us an entire book of worship songs, and He commanded us to sing them, and He did not command anything else. Therefore, everything else is forbidden. Of course, if you disagree, let it be in the fact that God did command something else and not that we are letting our presuppositions blind us.
  14. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Yes; I believe you did.

    Moderator note: Folks, this thread will not continue down this particular avenue. It will be done if that is the case. EP folks think they are right; and non EP folks think they are; each obviously thinks there are ramifications to the opposing view that involve sinning. It's not personal. Discuss the issues.
  15. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    Also - I will repeat.

    In this context:

    "All means all"


    "New means new"

    Are not equivalent arguments.

    God's election and singing new songs as new covenant believers are contextually mystery vs liberty in God's decrees.

    Has God ever NOT elected? No.

    Has God ever required new songs from His people? Yes.

    Does He require them today?


    New covenant believers are to be taught by the Psalms in regards to worship songs.

    The Psalms teach that we should sing new songs and act as the model for these new songs.

    This is not mysterious.
  16. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I am finding the statement above hard to fathom in the context of this thread. There is a false worship and a worship that is accepted. There is a false faith that does look like a true faith but is found out to be void and empty in the end. And I am not so sure that Nadab and Abihu were not emotionally averse to God. I can't make that distinction since the scripture is silent on this issue, unless I have missed something.

    Concerning the Spirit and Truth, they go hand in Hand.

    Personally, I don't think you can separate the Spirit and truth.

    Now Concerning NEW SONGS....

    I am also not convinced that the phrase new songs (as in a plural sense) is biblical. The New Song still has the same mystery of redemption but now in the New Covenant it is revealed in Christ.

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2008
  17. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    I'm not saying that they necessarily are. I am merely asking that we ensure that the passages speaking of new songs are truly commanding us to compose new, uninspired song. I am only requesting an evidenced hermeneutic. That is all that I meant by what I said. Not only should we give prooftexts that speak of new songs, but also we should say what exactly the "sing a new song" means. Surely you can agree with this.
  18. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Leviticus 10:1 states that fire consumed them because they had not prepared the fire as God commanded them. I would say that it said nothing about their emotional state because God acted irrespective of their emotional states.

    I have always seen this described as having great affections and great doctrine being taught. Could you tell me what else these can refer to?

    The Bible verses you brought up spoke of true worshipers worshipping in both spirit and truth, but not that it is impossible to have one without the other. They do say that it is impossible to have one without the other and maintain true worship, but they do not say that only one can be lacking in any given situation.

    I'm not sure what you're saying here. How are you tying this in with EP? What do you mean that the phrase isn't biblical?
  19. G.Wetmore

    G.Wetmore Puritan Board Freshman

    This point begs the question. Of course you can argue that nothing no uninspired song is recorded in Scripture, because we presuppose that everything in Scripture is inspired, therefore if it is recorded in Scripture, it is inspired. But traditionally exclusive psalmists do not argue that we can sing any inspired text, but only the psalms. The question then is do we see people singing songs outside of the 150 psalms, and the answer is yes.
  20. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    You say that this is "explicit command", and "fairly clear", that we can know "exactly" that God forbids other songs. John Newton went against "explicit command", you say; and "God tells us exactly how He is to be worshiped". Until now I understood that EP stood on your version of the RPW, and that EP did not have specific Scripture to prove itself. May I ask then that you provide this "explicit command", and/or show us the Church's doctrinal instruction so that we may know "exactly" that this is the case?

    It makes no difference whether you assert that John Newton despised the Psalms or that he worshiped untruthfully, or that he went against explicit command. It works out the same: John Newton does not belong in our Reformed histories as someone to look up to as a shining example of faith.
  21. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I am using John Newton as an example of what is being said against all true believers and worshipers of God who do not follow the EP arguments. If it is said against him then it is said against us who sing his great hymn in worship. If you allow the EP to suggest a charge of unfaithfulness against those who are not EP, then you should also allow non-EP to charge the EP people with unfaithfulness. The point is, if it is wrong to do so, then it should be wrong for both sides.

    I came to the defense of good Reformed folk who worship God with all their heart, who do not despise the Psalms at all, not one bit, and who believe from Scripture that God calls us to express our praises in the form of song. We do not despise the Psalms or think any less of them, nor are dissatisfied with them in any way when we are inspired by them to write songs of worship to God. That is a notion peculiar only to the EP people, not to us.

    Fair is fair. Do not comdemn us who are also faithful to God but disagree with you.
  22. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Drop the Newton topic and kindred.

  23. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    The only passage that commands that we be filled with the spirit is attached to singing music, thanksgiving, and submission. These are not devoid of truth in the least.

    (Eph 5:18) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

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

    (Eph 5:20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

    (Eph 5:21) Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

    This was addresed towards panta dokimazete. I am not sure I am correct here but new songs in a plural sense seems a bit overboard. But I might be mistaken. I am struggling with the command that we are to write new songs for worship. Especially in light of the stuff that people are singing in Churches today.

    I referenced the following to show what the New Song for the New Covenant should be. It is the type fulfilled and the anti-type revealed. Most modern worship music doesn't do this in my opinion. It also seems to hypnotic unlike the songs revealed in scripture.

  24. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Doctrinal positions have some consequence of error and sin. The baptists here don't get bent out of shape about the consequence of padeobaptism belief to their position. I suggest you do likewise on this topic and stick to the discussion of the doctrine in question.

  25. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    We should keep a distinction between what's going on in many churches in the way of modern music and practices. Just because I am not EP that does not mean that I am not opposed to bringing guitars and drums and empty repetitious songs into the worship services. I am not in favour of overhead projections of lyrics either. "New songs" does not necessarily mean approval of modern trends in music writing and music presentation either.
  26. Spinningplates2

    Spinningplates2 Puritan Board Freshman

    As a Puritan Board Freshman I will wade into this water with caution. Our God is a Mystery and we can't know His every thought. But why would the God who never changes and seemed to enjoy being Worshiped with musical instruments; who has declared in His Word that there is music in Heaven where He will be Worshiped eternally, make a choice not to be Worshiped with music during the Kingdom age?

    Could it be that He wants the trumpet that marks His Christ's return to be the first musical instrument to be heard in Worship? Or could it really be as simple as God testing the writers of the Creeds with a tricky doctrine to see if people could be tricked into actually worshipping with music not made only in their hearts but possibly with a drum? But God could take no pleasure in this drummers sin, for God takes no joy in sin. But still some would say that this drummer did sin because he drummed during Worship, something that God was only pleased with in the Past, and will be pleased again with in the future. (Unless some say, "There is no proof that those harps in Rev. 5:8 were played.")

    My mind is spinning after reading this thread. I never dreamed i would hear, "when does new mean "new?" I once heard someone argue over what the meaning of the word "is" is but that was argued by a person simply wanting to win a arguement, not really trying to get people over to his side.

    So my default position is that the Bible makes it's doctrines clear and the more clear a doctrine is, the more sure the doctrine is to be taught. I'll stick with what is clear to me. I think God has clearly said He enjoys being worshiped with music and song.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2008
  27. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    Hi John, I just wanted to ask you about this statement. I wonder with what scriptural argument do you keep guitars and drums out of worship? Why do you think they are not appropriate and while other instruments are? Do you think that what is appropriate is relative to each persons opinions as to what is appropriate?

    I ask these questions because it seems that many who say they agree with the RPW are very arbitrary in applying it. I don't think worship is a thing that we should be arbitrary about. :detective:
  28. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    This is an aside from the topic of this thread. I'll answer, but I don't know if it is appropriate.

    As you may likely be able to tell, I play the guitar myself. I have learned to play some psalms and hymns in a very appropriate manner. I have played for my daughter's wedding being very, very careful as to how I presented it. I know what it is to play a musical instrument in worship. I've played both the organ and the piano for worship services.

    Being arbitrary about it is something I learned early to work against. I had an excellent mentor.

    I find nothing wrong with the guitar itself, or drums themselves. There is so much more that can be done with them than what is being done with them today.

    Experience tells me, though, that people do not know how to differentiate properly. Bringing in the guitar has little to do with the guitar itself; it brings in a whole new cultural influence. This is not about the guitar, but about the music that people automatically think is justified just because the guitar is OK for worship services.

    So I would use Scriptures which address the appropriateness of what is being sung and how it is being sung. I would also argue about the limitations of the guitar, although those limitations are being pushed back more and more. If we can divorce these abilities from the cultural influences, then we're talking a whole different thing.
  29. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The use of "worship" in the NT includes physical gesture and action.

    1 Cor 14:25, "And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth."

    Rev. 3:9, "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee."

    Rev. 4:10, "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne."

    Rev. 19:10, "And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

    Worship is primarily a matter of the heart, but it also includes the preoccupation of the body. At work one can serve the Lord by doing all unto Him, but if the body is occupied milling timber it cannot be also utilised to worship Him in the proper sense of that term.
  30. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    Surely I do - I also believe a hermeneutic should be as simple as it needs to be and not one shred more complicated than it must.

    In fact, I have conceded (grudgingly) one potentially faulty premise that the EP'er has constructed. That is the synonym usage of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as primarily and exclusively referential to the 150 Psalms.

    However, I take the words of the apostle literally when he says to be taught by the Psalms.

    I then examine the Psalms for what they teach in context as a new covenant believer desiring to worship God in Spirit and Truth.

    Those Psalms teach a variety of things concerning worship and praxis.

    Among them are several instances of the positive command - sing to the Lord (or Him) a new song.

    I then ask myself in a non-skeptical manner, since this is the Lord speaking in His Word - what is the simplest interpretation of these positive commands?

    Well, as a new covenant believer, it seems a good and necessary consequence that the NT church may compose and sing new songs of praise in the fullness of understanding that the old covenant only spoke of in types and shadows.

    So, new and "uninspired" songs along with the 150 Psalms are required and commanded for sung worship and thus aligned with the RPW.
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