Still Chewing on EP/Acapella ONLY

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

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  1. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    But most commentators could be wrong, since the Bible does not say so directly. There are commentators who believe in fantastic rubbish like a secret rapture or an earthly millenial kingdom! There are commentators who fall on either side of the baptism debate. We cannot say something is sure because most commentators agree.

    Regarding what is a psalm itself, who's to say that the word cannot now nor ever did refer to an uninspired ditty? A song? a tune? an ode? a hymn? an anthem? See Tim Foster's word study a few posts back.
  2. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I believe it's a doctrinal necessity that Christ would never have the uninspired words of men on his tongue in praise to the Father. His words in Psalm 22 are quoted in Hebrews as speaking of his victory and the paying of his vows, 'I will tell of Thy name in the congregation, in the midst of the brethren I will sing praise unto Thee." Christ sings in the congregation, and we're to speak and admonish one another with those words. The church has always prophesied in her singing. From Moses who was told to put the words of the song into the mouths of the people, to David, the church has sung the words of the spirit of Christ.

    I didn't find Tim's word study but would be interested in it.
  3. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    Rather than presuming my logic and the consequences derived therefrom, you really ought to take time to understand the arguments being presented. You have failed to engage with any of the points made concerning exclusive psalmody. One honestly wonders why respond at all if you'll not reply to what has been said. As you say, no hard feelings. Further, it's not really "my logic". It is, I believe, a consistent application of the Regulative Principle.

    If you want to know my own thoughts on singing psalms and preaching and the differences between them, I can show that "my logic" has them in different categories, regulated differently. Paul commands Timothy to teach things agreeable to sound doctrine. Commands concerning prophecy can often be understood as referring to what we might ordinarily call preaching (ie. 1 Cor. 14:29).

    With respect to the earlier comments you referenced on the meaning psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, they are unconvincing for several reasons. First, they ignore what has been pointed out elsewhere, that Paul uses terms clearly recognizable as Septuagint language, and that he repeats the formula in two different letters. This really should not go ignored. More could be said concerning synonymy.

    Exegesis cannot hang solely on a supposed etymology. Psallo, for instance, means "to pluck (an instrument)" but it should be obvious enough that words can have a range of meaning, and that meanings change.

    An example: Many etymologists have concluded that the Old English circe is the origin of the later English word "church". Related to the word "circle", circe referred to a heathen religious assembly. (It's an etymology I find more convincing than the idea it comes from the Greek ekklesia kyriakos. Whatever your opinion on that, you should be able to see my point.) Should I conclude that "church" is therefore a heathen religious assembly, or that its origins lie in heathen religious assemblies? That would be a ridiculous conclusion, of course.

    Saying that psalmos requires an instrument ignores that words carry different meanings, it ignores that words can and do change over time, and it divorces it from the context in which it was written. Similarly for hymnos and odos pneumatikos, reading them anachronistically and out of context will of course lead to a flawed reading of their intended sense.

    There have been other etymological weaknesses upthread. I wish I had time to get into them more. For now, I'll say that our understanding of worship ought not to rest on assumptions about etymology. Context does matter. Context of the text and context of the audience.

    There is the simple fact that the Jews and Christians knew no other "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" than those in the psalter. But that's enough from me for a while.

    Any engagement with any points I made earlier would be welcome. (Again, see post #112.)
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
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  4. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    Jesus sang the psalms. There's no way around that one. He sang Psalm 118 with his disciples not long before his crucifixion.
  5. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    No brother, not even remotely. If EPers rested solely on "believe this because we are telling you thats what it means eithout any biblical exegetical proof", we'd be idiots to rest our conviction on that. We arent dealing with the color of a pew, or the carpet treads in a church. We are dealing with whether we are idolaters in God's worship, or not. This was why the framers of the WCF, for example, took a great amount of care to frame out the "uniformed" worship for the Reformed Church; which is why they instructed the church in both their section on worship, as wells as public and private directories, to sing psalms. Its why Calvin set religion in his "Necessity of Reformimg the Church" under 2 heads: worship first, knowledge of God second. Worship is paramount (i.e. Jesus' teaching that "the Father seeks" such to worship him).

    So, to say that most of the Reformed church rests solely on EP as a result of shotty, or no exegetical prowess, (by men God blessed the church with who are far greater in ability or intellect that most today), would be, again, too dismissive; and it would be theologically irresponsible, not to mention, dangerous if they were right.

    Have you read these:

    Singing of Psalms the Duty of Christians - by Westminster Divine Thomas Ford (1598–1674)

    The Glory of Evangelical Worship - by John Owen (1616-1683) with Edward Hutchins work on psalmody

    A Christian’s True Spiritual Worship to Jesus Christ - by Stephen Charnock (1628-1680) with Jonathan Clapham's work on psalmody

    Singing of Psalms a Gospel Ordinance - by John Cotton (1585-1662)

    Gospel Music: or the Singing of David’s Psalms by Nathaniel Holmes (or Homes) D.D. (1599–1678)

    A Gospel-Ordinance Concerning the Singing of Scripture Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs - by Cuthbert Sydenham (1622–1654)

    What did they say about their exegesis that was unconvincing?
  6. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    If Jesus sang one the hallel psalms at Passover, 113 to 118, and Matthew called the psalm a "hymn", I wonder if Paul was familiar with that Gospel? Would Paul, a Pharisee of Pharisees, 14 years in applicable study of Christ in the OT (his bible) after his conversion, would have considered Christ singing a hymn, a psalm? If the OT was his bible, would he refer the Ephesians or Colossians to something other than Scripture to declare to them the whole counsel of God, or, is the whole counsel of God found in the OT?

    "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." Acts 20:27.

    I'd imagine the whole counsel of God included worship.

    Let me say it this way, SINCE the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD is found preached by Paul to the Ephesians from the Scriptures, which was the OT, why would Paul, suddenly, mysteriously, refer the Ephesians, and Colossians for that matter, to some other uninspired place to inform them what "psalms, hymns and songs meant?" Unless of couse he was mistaken, and the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD is not found in the OT, in his bible, which he preached Christ from.

    Would the Jews have sung anything other than the Hallel psalms for Passover? Does Rabbinic Judaism show any sign of some mysterious uninspired set of songs that the Jewish Pharisees, or Rabbis, would have used instead of the Hallel psalms for Passover?

    And if the Jews, at the time, sang only psalms and hymns, (or psalms and psalms), and they had no uninspired hymns to sing, what would Paul have meant by, at least "psalms and hymns"? Did Paul have a songbook unknown to James who summarizes the joyful singing of psalms?

    I think, at this point, all we really need is to see is if the Jewish Psalter had any "songs" in it. Then at a very cursory thinking about this, we would have psalms in the psalter, hymns in the psalter, and songs in the psalter.
  7. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    If every time that I engage with your objections and answer them you simply claim that I am not engaging, and then ask me to prove it again, we'll only keep going in circles.

    But I'll ask this further: you insist that Paul can only be using septuagint language in one sentence to mean precisely what you need it to mean for your argument, then admit in the next sentence that the meaning of words changes over time! Forgive me if this is "presuming your logic," but that's kind of illogical.

    And finally, if you're going to assert that Jews and Christians knew no other songs than those in the psalter, you'll need to prove that. The Bible nowhere states that: you're assuming it based on what I find to be sketchy exegetical acrobatics.
  8. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for the references, I only wish I had time to read them all. No doubt many commentators can be appealed to from either side (as I've mentioned before), yet the debate rages on. It is the same with infant baptism. I do not doubt the conviction or sincerity of the EP or paedobaptist; I do not accuse them of un-careful exegesis. But I disagree with their conclusions, and many others far more erudite and intelligent than me do so as well. With careful and prayerful study, we reach a different conclusion.
    I will say, though, that I'm grateful for the time people take to engage on these matters. This forum is a breath of fresh air in the landscape of internet forums where charity does not reign, and I do enjoy our times of discussion here.
  9. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    No one denies that Christ sang Psalms. But we don't know that he sang ONLY psalms. Further, it is only an assumption that Christ sang psalm 118 just before his crucifixion: the Bible does not state that directly. But what if He did? that doesn't demonstrate one way or the other if uninspired songs are lawful.
  10. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    You still have not really responded to the arguments, apart from rejecting them without discussion. You shifted the topic to preaching, when we were not talking about preaching. You presumed my logic.

    Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm not sure you understand these issues. Etymology and semantic range on one hand and synonymy on the other are two very different matters.

    Like it or not, they knew no other songs in worship. We know this from historic Jewish and Christian practice. (There are good books on this. See Sing a New Song (ed. Beeke) for one that includes historical overviews and different perspectives on the psalmody issue.) If you think careful attention to words and phrases as well as to church history amount to "sketchy exegetical acrobatics" then there's not much I can do to help you.
  11. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    I must apologize for not being clearer. I was responding specifically to your claim that we don't know whether the hymn Christ sang was a psalm. In fact we do, from known Jewish practice at Passover, and the fact that the Hallel psalms were known as hymns.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  12. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior


  13. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I’d like to post one more time, not to debate or argue for EP, but just to give a brief bit of testimony. I was always part of the music in churches we were part of. I began to feel the weightiness of Christ’s will that there be unity in his churches, and that a major part of that must be uniformity of worship. I saw the impossibility of that happening as long as there was not a regulatory principle of worship- surely God has spoken to this in his word. He would not have left us wondering and trying this and that, or left it up to us to try to “hold it down” to as much simplicity and decorum as each congregation thinks proper. Once I was convinced that God, being good, had to have spoken, I looked for it and found it in the simple and sincere singing of His word.

    I saw unintentional arrogance in the position that more confessional reformed churches take, when they say that this or that level of decorum and simplicity is proper, but don’t see the trouble their poor brethren in less confessional congregations are in. Without a uniform regulative principle being held to and testified to- i.e., a sure word from God- the churches are without guidance. Everyone does what’s right in their own eyes.

    In a brief testimony to the Psalms, and the singing of them exclusively in public worship- they contain just the truths we need to sing to one another and to the Lord. They are perfect and perfectly equip the church. We need to say and sing and know the things they confess and teach about Christ and his work. They are all about Christ.

    I realize these will be seen as assertions but I do pray for the day that God will grant once again a wide knowledge and reform back to this. It will be such a great blessing to his church and will greatly glorify him.
  14. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    It demonstrates to you more clearly that psalms are hymns. All of this is an issue of good hermeneutics and the analogy of faith. Everything we need to understand the NT is in the OT. The meaning of psalms, hymns, and songs is an OT concept, not a NT one. (As a hermeneutical aid, see Edward Hutchins' excellent work on Gentile conversion prophesied in the OT to sing psalms.)
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  15. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Unless Jesus and the Jewish disciples ignored the tradition and worship of God for centuries, they sang Psalms 113-118 (or selected stanzas from them) at Passover, both during and after.

    There were 4 cups during the Passover meal. Jesus changed the tradition to become the Lord's Supper, one cup, with a final to be had in the consummated kingdom. After cup 2, they would have sung the Hallel. "Most likely" Jesus would have sung a line, and the disciples would have in unison, responded. What was the content of those Lord's Supper hallels?

    What might Christ have been thinking by singing Psalms 113-118?

    The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118: 22-23).

    Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15). (He was going to die.)

    The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? (Psalm 118:6)

    I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord
    . (Psalm 118:17).

    To say Christ didn't uphold synagugue Hebrew Psalmody, is 1) a denial of the OT, and 2) would be to say he didn't uphold the Jewish RPW, which was psalmody. Salvation ends on that point where Christ would have done something in violation of worship.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  16. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." (Mat. 26:30).

    More properly, "sung the hymn" is an intransitive. If it were transitive, it would be "sung a hymn" which would include an object. Like saying, "sung psalm 113".
    Intransitive has no object, which would render it more generally. A clearer rendering would be "sung the hymn". What would "the hymn" be to be sung at the Passover? Certainly, Christ and all the disciples sung it, and it had to be what they were acquainted with. Did the Jews know what "the hymn" would be? Yes, it was the second part of the Hallel. The Passover was observed by the Jews by singing Psalm 113-114 at the start, and then 115-118 at the close (Keep in mind the Jewish Text stands one psalm back 112-117 because of their division). It was "the" section to be sung at the close of the ordinance; "the hymn."

    This 118th psalm was already quoted by Matthew in 21:9 and 21:42, "Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD." (Psa. 118:26). Would that have applied to Christ's institution of the Supper? Most assuredly.

    Christ intended to instruct his church in this, (for he does nothing by accident, especially a reconstituting an old ordinance into a new one) where the Lord's Supper is a service of thanksgiving and joy. Is the church instructed to act a certain way when joyful? Will Scripture furnish us through the analogy of faith as to what both Christ and his disciples sung, and why they sung it? Again, most assuredly. The Christian is to give thanks to God. Singing is an external action which has as it substance the word of God, (i.e. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom," (Col. 3:16), where Christ has appointed singing to express the inward joy and thankfulness of our hearts. That is a very basic OT concept. This is why James says, "Is any merry? let him sing psalms." (Jam. 5:13). Merry means, "gladdened in the heart, joyful or cheerful in mind." Were the disciples joyful at Christ's institution of the Lord's Supper? We know they were not afflicted, because they would have prayed, not sung. How do we know this? "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray." (Jam. 5:13). They were not afflicted. How do we know this? They sung, not prayed, at the Passover, which Christ reconstituted into a glorious sacrament of thanksgiving and joy. Jesus institutes the sacrament of thanksgiving, and so they sing. What do they sing? To keep in step with not violating Scripture, if they are joyful, they sing psalms. James says that such singing surrounds singing psalms. Jesus did not make up a new song at the Passover, rather, he sung "the" hymn, the psalm, per James, the OT and the Evangelical meaning behind the word hymnos. (James's statements on praying and singing were always the case (in the OT). He does not invent something new, and Christ would have known that already.)

    At the very least, every time the Lord's Supper is instituted and taken in a church, that church should end with singing a psalm, because they are merry and joyful otherwise they violate James 5:13.

    Further, though, this CLEARLY shows that hymn means psalm in this passage per Jesus' use of the ordinance of singing while joyful, and James' subsequent instruction to that end, otherwise, Christ would be in violation of the direct command of God to sing psalms when joyful.

    (Side note: consider Psalms 34:4, 107:6, 13, 28, etc., for afflicted prayer. Consider being merry in Psalm 28:7; 65:1; 108:1, etc.)
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
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  17. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Sophomore

    I know what you are trying to explain here, but I think there's a better way to do it. You keep saying "intransitive has no object" (which is true) but you keep describing it in "verb + object" terms anyway.

    The best, and most literal rendering would be something like, "... and having hymn-sung, they went out..." or even "... and having praise-sung, they went out ..."

    You are right to say that ὑμνήσαντες has no object, but it seems to me that neither "a hymn" nor "the hymn" nor "psalm" would be strictly appropriate, since ὑμνήσαντες is a word-in-itself that means "to sing praise".
  18. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Tom, I was using preaching as an example to further my argument about psalmody. Surely examples are allowed in discussions?

    It is very likely that I do not understand these issues. But if they must be understood in order for the EP position to make sense, then EP is hardly the obvious position that you seem to claiming it is.

    [/QUOTE="Tom Hart, post: 1183185, member: 9842"]Like it or not, they knew no other songs in worship. We know this from historic Jewish and Christian practice. (There are good books on this. See Sing a New Song (ed. Beeke) for one that includes historical overviews and different perspectives on the psalmody issue.) If you think careful attention to words and phrases as well as to church history amount to "sketchy exegetical acrobatics" then there's not much I can do to help you.[/QUOTE]

    This is a sketchy thing to assert, with so many years intervening and so little information recorded.
  19. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ha ha, I should have said: "I do not accuse them all."
  20. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    I do sincerely appreciate your taking the time to spell this out. While I remain unconvinced, you have done much to show that EPs are not as far into left field as they appear. I understand these are matters not to be taken lightly, and I'm grateful for the explanations of your position.
  21. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    I like the use of hymn-sung or the extrapolation of either "the hymn", or even praise-sung, since the OT and Evangelical use refers, still to the same thing, which refers back to singing OT praise. Maybe even, "hymn-ning". The OT praise informs the use of that word, and its roots, as it does Paul's use and James' use. I just dont want people to think that "a hymn" as translated in many of our English versions was something just Christ knew about, at the expense of everyone else. That couldn't exegetically work, which was part of the point there, as if Jesus "made up his own personal hymn to sing" using current conceptions of what that idea of singing hymns means today. That doesnt work in either the Greek nor Hebrew use of the idea, much less during and at the close of the Passover. Jewish Psalmody itself is overwhelming on that Point in relationship to its Talmudic depictions of the Hallel sung at Passover.

    Side note: Interestingly, today, Jewish Psalmody debates dont surround what should be sung (i.e. psalms) but debate followd rhthe e Hebrew breathing marks on the actual words themselves to figure out how they should be sung rhythmically. Or, if it would be allowable to use new tunes that they make up today.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  22. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    Whether He did or not does not really change the argument. But it would be churlish of me to thank Dr. Mcmahon for his time and not to thank you as well for the many patient replies you've posted on this thread. I do appreciate the interactions, and I recognize that I'm probably not the easiest person to argue against.
    I will leave the discussion here (we have flogged it quite threadbare), but look forward to seeing you around the forum in future.
  23. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    In reading through the preface to the Genevan Psalter from the below link:

    1. I find that it "could" support instruments (music) use so long as it was orderly and simple. Am I reading it wrong?

    2. Further it seems to lump singing into the element of prayer...would this alone not allow for uninspired hymns since we can say uninspired prayers?

    Now to be clear, I am becoming more and more convinced of the EP/AO position, but in reading this preface for the Genevan does raise some questions about Calvin's view.

    P.S. Kinda #3- It would seem also that Calvin and his congregation were not EP only...I think I have read from numerous sources that they did sing other portions of scripture, which by definition would not make them EP, but not necessarily supporters of uninspired Hymns.....right?
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
  24. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I don't see where the preface addresses the question of musical instruments, and we know Calvin does consign them to the ceremonial law in his exposition in the Psalms.
  25. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Further it would seem that from sources I have read that they would on occasion sing the Apostles Creed (I think this could be considered an uninspired Hymn).

    Just thinking out loud.
  26. G

    G Puritan Board Junior


    When the preface discusses "music" under 2 headings, is this merely speaking of "tunes" (our voices) or is it implying the use of instrumentation to make tunes to sing along to?
  27. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    As a reminder of Calvin's position on musical instruments:

    "To sing the praises of God upon the harp and psaltery," says Calvin, "unquestionably formed a part of the training of the law and of the service of God under that dispensation of shadows and figures, but they are not now to be used in public thanksgiving."[1] He says again: "With respect to the tabret, harp, and psaltery, we have formerly observed, and will find it necessary afterwards to repeat the same remark, that the Levites, under the law, were justified in making use of instrumental music in the worship of God; it having been his will to train his people, while they were yet tender and like children, by such rudiments until the coming of Christ. But now, when the clear light of the gospel has dissipated the shadows of the law and taught us that God is to be served in a simpler form, it would be to act a foolish and mistaken part to imitate that which the prophet enjoined only upon those of his own time."[2] He further observes: "We are to remember that the worship of God was never understood to consist in such outward services, which were only necessary to help forward a people as yet weak and rude in knowledge in the spiritual worship of God. A difference is to be observed in this respect between his people under the Old and under the New Testament; for now that Christ has appeared, and the church has reached full age, it were only to bury the light of the gospel should we introduce the shadows of a departed dispensation. From this it appears that the Papists, as I shall have occasion to show elsewhere, in employing instrumental music cannot be said so much to imitate the practice of God's ancient people as to ape it in a senseless and absurd manner, exhibiting a silly delight in that worship of the Old Testament which was figurative and terminated with the gospel."[3]

    1. On Ps. lxxi. 22.
    2. On Ps. lxxxi. 3.
    3. On Ps. xcii. 1.

    The organ was characterized as the “Devil’s Bagpipe,” the “Pope’s Bagpipe,” the “Devil’s Trumpet,” and a “Seducer to the Worship of the Roman Anti-Christ.”

    Historian Sharp reported that in various cantons of Switzerland, pipes were melted and recast. In Schauffhausen, pipes became wine cans; in Winterthur, a new roof for the prison tower; and in Geneva dinnerware for the city hospital by order of reformer John Calvin.

    Calvin was against musical instruments in worship.

    From my reading, he sometimes incorporated the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments into song for memorization in worship. That would make him "almost" EP.
    Considering the early time of the Reformation, the scarcity of early bibles in the hands of people, and the need for actual bibles, one can see why he did this.

    If all the churches today took up Calvin's position, I'd be happy with that, over usurping biblical commands in women leading worship by singing Fanny Crosby, or Isaac Watts' Unitarian / Arian leanings having captured so many churches today in singing their hymns.

    Calvin's position on instruments in worship was upheld by the Westminster Assembly. May 20, 1644, the commissioners from Scotland wrote, "We cannot but admire the good hand of God in the great things done here already, particularly that the covenant, the foundation of the whole work, is taken, Prelacy and the whole train thereof extirpated, the service-book in many places forsaken, plain and powerful preaching set up, many colleges in Cambridge provided with such ministers as are most zealous of the best reformation, altars removed, the communion in some places given at the table with sitting, The great organs at Paul's and Peter's in Westminster taken down, images and many other monuments of idolatry defaced and abolished, the Chapel Royal at Whitehall purged and reformed; and all by authority, in a quiet manner, at noon-day, without tumult."
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  28. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Correct; don't assume musical instruments whenever music is mentioned. Matthew has just posted Calvin's position on instruments.
  29. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    "there is a great difference between music which one makes to entertain men at table and in their houses, and the Psalms which are sung in the Church in the presence of God and his angels."

    The music he states is the "Psalms which are sung".

    "Moreover, in speaking now of music, I understand two parts: namely the letter, or subject and matter; secondly, the song, or the melody. It is true that every bad word (as St. Paul has said) perverts good manner, but when the melody is with it, it pierces the heart much more strongly, and enters into it; in a like manner as through a funnel, the wine is poured into the vessel; so also the venom and the corruption is distilled to the depths of the heart by the melody."

    The letter - The words of the Psalm itself.
    The song/melody - The tune. Melody influencing the heart.
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  30. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    The main problem with Calvin's position is that it simply doesn't work. There are essentially two arguments against instruments here:

    1) instruments were part of the "childish" phase of the church's existence during the Old Testament, and are not appropriate for the "grown up" phase of the NT.
    2) instruments are a "shadow" or a "type" from the OT period of types and shadows and are not appropriate in the NT era of fulfillment.

    Both of these are assertions rather than arguments, and flow from a deeper hermeneutical position that we might term "liturgical dispensationalism": OT worship (God's plan A for Israel) is deficient and leads not to NT worship to Romanism (though it is symbolically revived in Revelation, which has no more to do with us than millennial worship in the Jerusalem temple on the dispensationalist view); NT worship, however, is fundamentally different from OT worship (God's plan B for the church). OK, it's not really dispensationalism, but it is a different hermeneutic from the one we adopt elsewhere, for example with circumcision and baptism.

    In response to 1) we might ask why, if instruments belong to the infant stage of the people of God, they are introduced so late into OT worship? The youngest stages of the churches existence, the patriarchs and the Mosaic period are largely non-instrumental in their worship (and largely non-singing); why later introduce something unnecessary into worship because of the immaturity of God's people? That makes no sense.

    2) There are plenty of types and shadows in OT worship, whose use is discontinued in the NT. For example, I would argue that incense fits that category: it constantly ascended from the incense burner before the lampstand in the tabernacle, representing the prayers of the saints going up to God. But you can't just assert "This is a type". You also need to show that there is an antitype to which it corresponds. Girardeau understands this and argues that instruments are a type of..."spiritual joy". But that won't work either. Was there no joy in the worship of the Tabernacle? Instruments are not always joyful in the Bible; often they convey sadness and grief. So the line "instruments to joy"seems to me as allegorical as the line that joins the sachet of myrrh between the Beloved's breasts in the Song of Songs to Christ coming between the testaments (Cyril of Alexandria). Just saying it, don't make it so.

    Of course, there are plenty of other arguments against instruments. They are worldly (everyone from Cyril of Alexandria to 1960's fundamentalists, with some Biblical warrant from Gen 4); but then why did God institute them at all? They are an element and therefore need explicit sanction (but of course they are explicitly sanctioned in the OT). If you allow instruments as an element of worship, they are mandatory in every worship service (but of course the sacraments are elements of worship and we don't always have those). They are associated exclusively with sacrifices and therefore they pass away with the sacrifice. Except they aren't...see Nehemiah 12.

    So I don't think Calvin successfully makes his case here.
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