Still Chewing on EP/Acapella ONLY

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by G, Nov 21, 2018.

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  1. G

    G Puritan Board Junior


    I have been striving over the past months to wrap my head around the EP/AO position as being required by the RPW. I am humbly chewing on this and am just looking for some answers to the questions that have arisen as I have set my mind to this topic.

    The majority of my strategy has been to incorporate Psalm singing (acapella) in our family worship sessions (1650 Psalter). Further, in my private study, I have been reading and praying through the Psalms. Side-note: I plan on switching to the Crown & Covenant Psalter (blue book) to help my Wife and young daughters with a more modern language, also my Church plans to add this Psalter to the pews in the future. The 1650 Scottish Psalter is still beautiful to me, but I find with those not used to English from 400 years ago, each song line of the Psalm needs an interpreter at times.:2cents:

    Below is what I have been chewing on. Please consider that I am not arguing against the position, but more accurately, I am wrestling with it to try and understand the Word and our Lord more clearly. Also, please read my tone as one of being respectful. My thoughts thus far in my journey (I still Highly Respect the EP/AO position):

    1. My understanding of the RPW is that we only worship God in ways commanded by him (putting it simply). Therefore in reading the Psalms there are many positive commands to worship the Lord with singing and with instruments. I understand what anti-instrument people will say: "The instruments were used in the temple worship and are now abrogated". But my questions remains....the RPW looks for positive commands, which it seems we do have for instruments (e.g., Psalm 98). Further, it seems to me that there is not a single verse in ALL of the bible that states that instruments are abrogated or are now forbidden in worshipping the Lord. To be clear instruments should not become idols or a performance.

    2. On the surface at least, it seems to me to be inconsistent to say "instruments are abrogated but all 150 Psalm lyrics should be sung and none of the lyrics are abrogated". I am not advocating for Psalm Singing to be abrogated, but rather trying to work out the logic.

    3. If one takes the position of EP and sings Psalm 98, but forbids instruments, it seems this is a contradiction (with more than 1 of the Psalms).

    Singing Psalms Only
    I fully believe Christians are required to Sing Psalms in Corporate Worship.

    1. I have asked this question before, but I still wrestle with it. It is difficult for me to word, but I will try. All of scripture is True, but at times scripture truthfully documents sinful attitudes. Examples: Pharaoh's rebellion, Jonah's poor attitude, David's actions towards Uriah. Therefore is it not possible that at times the Psalmist expresses an attitude towards the Lord that I myself would not feel comfortable uttering to the Lord? (I hope that makes sense.)

    2. If I apply the same exegetical hermetic to the Psalms as is with the rest of the bible, in only singing Psalms, am I not sometimes expressing things that were true for David, not exactly true for me? For example, when people were literally trying to kill David an take his physical life? When I sing these words, I cannot help but feel I am making comments that are not true of myself before the Lord.

    3. Surely the People of God sang praises to his name prior to the book of Psalms being written.

    4. We have Positive Commands all over the bible that indicate that singing to the Lord is an acceptable form of Worship (so long as we sing things founded on the truth of the bible). This seems to be true both before, during, and after the books of Psalms. Even within the book of Psalms, there are positive commands to make joyful noises to the Lord. I still am uncomfortable saying that EP is the only valid form of corporate singing on the Lord's Day.

    5. Singing Imprecatory Psalms (this maybe ties a little in Point # 1 on Psalm Singing). One example Psalm 137:9 ("Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.") At times I do not feel justified in singing or and calling for curses on people. Is praying imprecations on human foes unjustifiable for me? I know when this was stated in Psalm 137 it shows me that I often have a faulty view of of "true justice" according to the Lord. So I am not saying that I find fault with God in this verse, but I am simply expressing that I do not feel (myself) justified in singing this in a worshipful manner in my current context. All this to say, the context of the book of Psalms is slightly different (other types and shadows were still in play). Any help?

    My current conclusion:
    I am still plan continuing to study this and look forward to any help reasoning through the above points. TODAY, I still think it valid (and within RPW) to sing Psalms and spiritual songs (based on what the bible teaches). I also think we have positive commands for instrument use, but these should NOT be used to to create some performance, but rather to accompany the voice of the saints.

    P.S. No matter your personal position feel free to chime in whether in agreement or disagreement. For those from the EP/AO position, please don't see me as one trying to poke at your position. I am trying to become an EP/AO guy, but I am not there yet. I must be convinced by the Word, which is why I am working through this position. I am looking for how you might explain the above. If you agree with some of my concerns and are an Inclusive Psalmist as I am currently, feel free to chime in.

    P.P.S. Some of you EP/AO advocates may read my points and think “these are the most idiotic questions ever”. Sure they may be, but these are the honest questions arising in my mind as I try to understand. :detective:
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
  2. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    Outside of scripture, have u read any reputable resources on EP?
  3. G

    G Puritan Board Junior


    Thanks for reading my post brother. I guess the answer to your question might be relative.

    I have read respectable (in my opinion) positions and linked resources from here on PB from proponents of EP. I cannot cite specifics. I read a few articles on your website. Mostly though I have been reading the Psalms. I hope this answers your questions.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
  4. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    So far as instruments go, may I ask if they were only used in temple worship why would one to sing them in church (synagogue) today? So far as singing Imprecatory Psalms one should have in mind that the situations change and the degree of hardships are indeed different than David experienced, but the hardships one experiences (be they less or more than David, or as Our Lord Jesus) is enough warrant to sing what is commanded.
  5. G

    G Puritan Board Junior


    Thanks for reading my post. As far as an answer, I have not read a Psalm or a verse that says “Praise the Lord with an instrument only in temple worship”. So the best answer I can give right now, is that I do read of positive commands for instrument use when the Saints gather to worship in the Psalms, so I would think that it could continue. At least those are my thoughts right now.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
  6. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Do you apply the same principle to animal sacrifices and the Temple, both of which are mentioned in the Psalms? Surely you acknowledge that these things have been abrogated without it requiring us to believe that the words of the Psalms that contain them are abrogated. I think that it is important to remember the principle enshrined in Westminster Confession 19.3 to this question. Namely, that moral principles may be set forth under a ceremonial form.
  7. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Yes because in the NT it is clearly stated that Christ’s Sacrifice was once and now is done. I do not currently see the current positive command for instruments to be abrogated. Again I am not advocated (as stated in my op) that Singing any of the Psalms is abrogated.

    Example: infant inclusion in the covenant (infant sign giving) is never abrogated in the NT, which is one of the several reason we (Presbyterians) baptize the infants.
  8. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    My point is that because a certain practice is now abrogated it is a non-sequitur to presume that there is anything incongruous about singing a psalm that mentions that practice without literally doing the same thing ourselves. Does that make sense?
  9. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    A question about musical intruments:

    Whose duty was it to play musical instruments in temple worship? (See 1 Chronicles 25 for a start.)
  10. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    I think. But not sure it resolve what I was trying to exspress, which I likely did poorly.

    Let me try again:
    Singing and Playing instruments to worship the Lord are both positively commanded in the OT, neither is specifically abrogated in the NT, as opposed to animal sacrifice, so why do we keep one (psalm singing) and not the other (an instrument). My point being does this not show that we should keep both Psalm singing and instrument accompaniment?
  11. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Just by way of direction for your own personal study:

    Jesus fulfilled and abrogated the entire ceremonial law (I'm sure you believe that, but now you need to define what that actually means); and everything associated with temple worship has been done away with (sacrifices, choirs, instruments, etc.) (i.e. all the ceremonial law).

    With what you have stated above, (forget EP for a minute) you'll have to prove from Scripture: 1) that the voice does not now take up what instruments did then by proxy (i.e. Paul's explanation of now making melody in the heart in worship), 2) you will have to prove out that worship by proxy is still instituted (i.e. a band or choir or special music is still acceptable and not attached to temple worship), 3) that instruments, choirs, or anything else associated with worship by proxy, are not attached to temple worship, or ceremonial worship; they are some other form of worship, which you will have to define.

    Westminster's view was that 1) worship by proxy is concluded, all temple worship is done (i.e. ceremonial), at Christ's command, "It is finished;" and 2) temple worship was attached to all worship by shadows and proxy, which included choirs, special music, instruments, etc.

    You'll want to spend some considerable time really digging into John chapter 4, where Christ both infers and explains the end of all temple worship (not some temple worship) to the Samaritan woman. There were 2 temples (Jerusalem (Jewish) and Girizim (Samaritan)), lots of baggage, some underlying arguments about it and such, that Jesus deals with in his explanation of "spirit and truth". Everything associated with the shadows of temple worship is done. Instead, now, it is by spirit, and truth, which is his main argument to her. But that phrase is often oversimplified today by just saying "worship anywhere in truth" which is not what Christ was saying. It's not a simple read there. There is a lot going on with what the Samaritans thought (yet, they worship they know not what) and what the Pharisees and Jews thought (only recognized temple was in Jerusalem).

    I would suggest reading John Wilson's "The Simplicity of Holy Worship" where his entire first chapter is dedicated to the background of temple worship with the Jews, and the temple worship at Garizim. This is the heart of Christ's discourse to the Samaritan woman and the new manner in which God would now setup worship spiritually, and simply, changing both the mode of worship and the manner of worship (pertaining to the temple(s)) as "in spirit and in truth."
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  12. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    In that case, the argument would be that musical instruments are abrogated by implication, as the use of them (so the argument goes) was part of the ceremonial law. The ceremonies are abrogated as a category of law, so that not each and every ceremony needs to specifically or explicitly abrogated in order to be abrogated.
  13. G

    G Puritan Board Junior


    Thanks. I just read. Singing was also assigned in this chapter. But we do not limit singing to only certain saints.

    Further is Psalm 98 not admonishing us to worship the Lord with instruments? Who was that charge to in your opinion?
  14. G

    G Puritan Board Junior


    Thanks for taking the time to type this out. This provides me with another angle to consider. I look forward to re-reading and meditating on the scripture passages you mention. Again, thank you!
  15. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Was psalm singing a part of the ceremony?
  16. G

    G Puritan Board Junior


    To put it in my own terms, what you are asking me to consider to help reconcile potentially all of my current speed bumps with Acapella Only:

    If I believe and confess the 3-fold division of the law, which I do, then I need to study to see IF instruments were strictly ceremonial in worship. If scripture shows that they were, then confessing that the ceremonial aspects of the law have been abrogated in Christ should cause my Acapella Only speed bumps to vanish.

    Is that fair?
  17. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Grant, the command to sing is repeated in the New Testament (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19). With that, the command to sing psalms is repeated - as such they could not be ceremonial.

    However, when it comes to instruments, there is literally, silence - other than making music by the heart (Ephesians 5:19) or giving the fruit of our lips (Hebrews 13:15).

    All of this makes sense that as instruments are associated with the sacrificial system and Levites and so cease, but psalm singing does not. It is not an argument from silence, but rather an argument connected with the abolition of the Temple.

    Also, in contrast to the heart, musical instruments are seen negatively by Paul when he states that they are things without life (1 Corinthians 14:7) and names the flute and the harp. In contrast, a few verses later, Paul tells you to sing with the Spirit and understanding (14:15).
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  18. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Not really. Lay aside EP for a minute, and deal with just the basics of what is or isnt the ceremonial law.

    Then deal with Christ's explanation of spirit and truth.

    Those ideas pave theological roads that allow you to think about EP later, without being weighed down by concepts that will in fact be confusing.
  19. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    It seems to me you've answered your questions in these two statements. Since the Bible contains no statements - either expressly stated or implied - that instruments cannot be used, your problem is solved. Musical instruments may be used in worship.

    So, since you've discovered what the Bible teaches in this area, I don't see what the problem continues to be for you.
  20. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    We must acknowledge that the Scriptures speak differently of singing and the use of musical instruments. There are in the New Testament very clear instructions for the former, while none for the latter.

    While both singing of psalms and musical instruments were part of temple worship, it is clear from passages such as Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 that singing of psalms is not only appropriate for the whole body of believers, but is indeed commanded. There is no such command regarding musical instruments in the New Testament. If we say that musical instruments in public worship are to be carried over from the Old Testament, it must be proven that musical instruments are not associated solely with the levitical priesthood, and that they have not passed away with those ceremonies.

    Many of the psalms speak of musical instruments. Psalms 33, 98 and 150 come to mind. You've asked, "To whom was the charge to sing with musical accompaniment?" I would answer, "To all believers." But we of the New Covenant are to understand the charge spiritually. We can read and sing these words in light of the New Testament, much as we read and sing about animal sacrifice. These shadows pointed to Christ. Now fulfilment has come. See especially Ephesians 5:19 on music in worship.

    Finally, I'd recommend that you do some digging into church history on this. It was rather interesting to discover that for the first thousand years of the church she sang unaccompanied.
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  21. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Because your OP invites opinions from both sides... My opinion is that you should stop chewing on it and spit it out.
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  22. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    That is most certainly not the Regulative Principle.
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  23. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Tom to be fair, I think he posted with the notion that we all agree that musical instruments do recieve positive commands in the OT.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
  24. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

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  25. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

  26. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    @Grant Jones Another question:

    Do you think instruments are positively commanded? The references you have given to Old Testament passages (such as Psalm 98: "Sing unto the Lord with the harp...") would seem to indicate that musical instruments are required. In that case, it would be sinful to absent musical instruments from worship. Consider carefully the logical consequences of your views.
  27. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Yes I have considered this. Thanks for asking. I am still working through this and praying that I will land concretely on a stance one way or the other.
  28. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    This is a good question. And further if I would allow instruments does that mean i must also allow dance (honest reflection)?
  29. Cedarbay

    Cedarbay Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Grant, I listen to online services of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, Ireland. Rev. Stewart is a smart, articulate man and has answered various questions of mine over the years. I imagine he would enjoy emailing with you on this subject since they are EP and beautifully accapela. The harmony and children's voices is divine. He has many articles and even a debate you may enjoy. God bless your studies.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  30. John Yap

    John Yap Puritan Board Freshman

    Something to think about, would God be displeased if you sang Christ's name while singing Psalm 2 or psalm 72?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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