Synagogue Worship, Musical Instruments, and the Regulative Principle

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Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by puritansailor
I'm not asking for you to show where they are forbidden. Acapella is a form of singing. Instrumental music is a form of singing.

How are you saying that these are forms? Are you defining a "œform" by the culture? Or by Scripture?

How I see it, if it is commanded, it is an element, or a required circumstance that is not left up to our discretion.

Originally posted by puritansailor
Neither is specified outside OT temple worship. In order to make something an element of worship you need a positive command to do so. Where is that command?

I really don´t understand your reasoning here.

Instruments are a commanded part of temple worship, but not for N.T. worship. It is that simple.

Acapella is just fancy terminology for "œwithout instruments."

If we argree that:

Acapella=without instruments

Then we can say your argument is:

"œWere is your positive command to sing without instruments (or acapella)?"

In this, you are requiring me to provide a positive command that forbids the use of instruments in singing, but this is the NPW, not the RPW.

It doesn't seem as if we are getting anywhere. :um:
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Jeff,

I'm requiring you to show that instruments are an element of NT worship and not a circumstance.

Requiring me? :lol::cool::bigsmile::banana:

In that case, I'll let Brian Schwertley speak for me:

Others who object to the thesis of this book will claim that the use of musical instruments in public worship is a discretionary matter"”that is, it is just a mere "œcircumstance of worship common to human actions and societies."106 Such an assertion must ignore the whole Old Testament where it is clearly established that the use of instruments in worship was by divine authority. The use of musical instruments, their very design, and the various Levitical families who played them all were appointed by express commandment. This point is unquestionable. But, it is argued, could not the use of instruments be of divine appointment for the temple and be discretionary for the public worship in the synagogue and the Christian assemblies? No. The regulative principle was never limited to the temple (cf. footnote 104). Furthermore, something incidental to worship by nature is incidental or discretionary in all circumstances. The fact that the Jews in biblical times (indeed until 1810) regarded musical instruments as needing divine warrant for the synagogue should dispel the music-as-circumstance argument. "œIf, as some imagine, the apostles employed instruments of music in public worship, their instruments must have been buried along with them.

As I see it, the status of a particular action (either elemental or circumstantial) does not change from dispensation to dispensation. Worship is worship. The only distinction the Bible makes is between ceremonial worship, and non-ceremonial worship (which does not involve the redefining of elements to circumstances etc.).

If this is the case, the question is not weather instruments are now circumstantial (something that would need to be proved given it's "elemental" status in O.T. worship), but if they are ceremonial or not. I for one, believe that they are.
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
John L. Girardeau

on instruments being circumstantial:

(2.) It is contended that instrumental music is to be ranked among
the circumstances allowed by the Confession of Faith, and that this is
proved by the fact that it is on the same foot as other circumstances
about which there is no dispute: such as houses of worship, reading
sermons, the length of sermons, of prayers and of singing, bells, tuning-
forks and pitch-pipes, tune-books, and the like.
One would be entitled to meet this argument upon the general
ground already so often and earnestly maintained, that all the circumstances
remitted by the Confession to the discretion "” the natural
judgment "” of the church are common to human actions and societies,
and are such as belong to the natural sphere in which the acts of all
societies are performed, and, therefore, cannot be distinctively spiritual
or even ecclesiastical. As instrumental music, used in professedly
spiritual and actually ecclesiastical worship, cannot possibly be
assigned to that category, it is for that patent reason ruled out by the
very terms of the Confessions statement.
192 This ground I hold to be impregnable. But inasmuch as it is a fact that
certain minds do consider instrumental music as saveable to the
church for the reason that it may be viewed as standing on the same
foot with the circumstances which have been mentioned, I will
endeavor to meet their difficulties, albeit at the conscious expense of
strict logical consistency, by following this argument into its minute
details; and I pray that the Spirit of God may bestow his guidance in
this last step of the discussion.
First, It has been argued, that the use of instrumental music is a circumstance
of the same kind with the building of a house of worship
and the selection of its arrangements; that it is not an absolutely necessary
condition of the church´s acts that it should hold its meetings in
edifices: they might be held, as has often in fact been done, in the open
air. To this the obvious reply is, that this circumstance is one common
to the acts of all societies. They must meet somewhere, and it is of
course competent to all of them to determine, whether they shall be
subjected to the inconveniences of open-air assemblages, or avail
themselves of the advantages afforded by buildings. So of the arrangements
and furniture of the edifices in which they convene. Every society,
even an infidel society, has this circumstance conditioning its
meetings and acts, either as necessary to any performance of them or
as necessary to their decorous and orderly discharge. But instrumental
music is not such a circumstance: it is not common to human actions
and societies. This destroys the alleged analogy, and consequently the
argument founded upon it fails.
193 Secondly, The same disproof is applicable to the assumed analogy
between the alleged circumstance of instrumental music and that of
reading sermons. It is urged that a sermon must be delivered in one of
two ways: either with or without reading, and there is discretion left to
the church to elect between them. If she thinks reading the better way,
she is at liberty to employ it. So with the choice of instrumental music
as a mode in which praise shall be sung. There might be, as there has
been, some discussion in regard to the legitimacy of reading sermons.
But that question aside, and the argument being considered on its own
ground, it is sufficient to reply that the analogy asserted does not
obtain. The delivery of discourses, speeches, reports and resolutions is
an act common to all human societies. Now, it is competent to all societies
to say whether they shall be simply spoken or read, whether the
delivery shall be extemporaneous or from manuscript. They can, each
for itself, determine the circumstance of the mode in which an act
common to all shall be performed. But the singing of praise in the
worship of God is not an act common to all societies. It is therefore
not one in regard to which the Confession grants the liberty to the
church of fixing the circumstance of the mode in which it shall be
done.1
Thirdly, The same line of argument, it is contended, holds good
with reference to the discretionary power of the church to order the
circumstances of the length
of sermons, of prayers, and of singing. But, it is replied, all societies
must, of necessity, fix the time allotted to their several exercises, or
their meetings would be failures. Nature itself dictates this. The
church, therefore, has the natural right to order this circumstance in
connection with all her services. But the question of determining the
length of an exercise is a very different one from that of introducing
the exercise at all. There is no analogy between the determination of
the time to be allowed to all acts, and the determination of the legitimacy
of some special act. The adjustment of the length of its exercises
is a circumstance common to all societies. The employment of instrumental
music, as a concomitant of worship, is a circumstance peculiar
to the church as a distinctive society. The analogy in every respect
breaks down.
Fourthly, If the church has bells, it is asked, why may it not have
organs? They are both instruments of sound which serve an ecclesiastical
purpose. The answer is so obvious that one feels almost ashamed
to give it. The bell is not directly connected with worship; the organ is.
The bell stops ringing before the worship begins, the organ accompanies
the worship itself. There is not the least likeness between them, so
far as this question is concerned. A bell simply marks the time for
assembling. So does a clock; and we may as well institute a comparison
between the hands of the clock at a certain hour and instruments
music in worship after that hour, as between the sound of the bell and
it. The question is in regard to a concomitant of worship, not as to
something that precedes it and gives way to it.
195 Fifthly, It is by some gravely contended that if tuning-forks and
pitch-pipes may be used, so may organs. The same answer as was
returned to the immediately foregoing argument is pertinent here. Did
those who submit this argument ever notice the use made of a tuningfork
or a pitch-pipe by a leader of singing? It is struck or sounded in a
way to be heard by the leader himself, and when by means of it he has
got the pitch of the tune to be sung, it is put into his pocket, where it
snugly and silently rests while the singing proceeds. It no more
accompanies the worship than does a bell. Like it, it stops sounding
before the act of worship begins. What analogy is there between it and
an instrument that accompanies every note of the singing by a corresponding
note of its own. Assign to the organ the same office as the
humbler tuning-fork or pitch-pipe, namely, merely to give the leader
of the simple singing the pitch of the tunes, and who would object to
it? The question of organs would be as quiet as they would be. One
toot before the singing, and then they would be, what they ought to be
during the public singing of praise, as silent as the grave. One cannot
help wondering that the admirers of this "œmajestic instrument" would
employ a comparison which reduces it to a pitch so low!
Sixthly, There is only one other argument of this minute class
which will be considered. It is one which I have known some brethren
to maintain as men do a last redoubt. It is argued that instrumental
music is just as fairly entitled to rank among the circumstances indicated
by the Confession of Faith as is a tune-book.
196 Does a tune-book assist the singing of praise? So does an organ. If the
church has discretion in employing one kind of assistance to singing,
why not another?
Has it not occurred to the minds of those who insist so strenuously
upon this view that they may be using a tune-book to accomplish an
office to which it may be inadequate, when they wield it to knock
down arguments derived from the Old Testament and the New Testament
Scriptures, from the old dispensation and the new, from the practice
of the Jewish synagogue, of the apostles, of the whole church for
twelve hundred years, and of the Calvinistic Reformed Church for
centuries? Does it not occur to them also that there may be a flaw in
the statement of their argument? Expanded, it is this: Whatever assists
the singing of praise is a legitimate circumstance; the tune-book and
the organ alike assist, etc., therefore they are alike legitimate circumstances.
The true statement would be, whatever is necessary to the
singing of praise is a legitimate circumstance; the tune-book and the
organ are alike so necessary; therefore they are alike legitimate circumstances.
It behooves them to show that the organ is necessary to
the singing of praise. It is not enough to say that it assists it. They cannot
prove its necessity. Praise has been and is sung without the organ.
But it also behooves me to show that the tune-book is necessary to the
singing of praise, that it is a condition without which it could not be
done. If this can be evinced, as the organ is not necessary to singing, it
does not, as is assumed, stand on the same foot with the tune-book,
and the argument is unfounded.
197 It will be granted that a tune is necessary to modulated singing "”
that is, to singing which is not merely the prolongation of a single
note, and that could not be denominated singing. But the tune-book
gives the tune. The tune is necessary to singing; the tune-book is necessary
to the tune; therefore the tune-book is necessary to singing.
Need this simple argument be pressed? Whence the tune, if not from
the tune-book? Is it improvised by the leading singer? Suppose that it
may be, and he would be the only singer. It would be impossible for
others to unite with him.
It may be replied that the organ also gives the tune. This is a mistake.
The organ is as much indebted to the tune-book for the tune as is
a leading singer. If the organist should improvise the tune, where
would be the singing? It will hardly be contended that a solo on the
organ would be the singing of the congregation, or that the organ sings
at all.
It may still be said that the tune-book is not necessary to singing,
since it is a fact that singing is often done without it. This is a mistake
also. The tune-book may be absent as a book, but the tune it contains
is present in the mind of the leading singer, he remembers what he got
from it. It is a necessity to him, whether literally absent or present, he
cannot sing without the tune, and the tune is in the tune-book.
Finally, the mighty contest may yet be maintained on the ground
that some leading singers do not know the musical notes, and, therefore,
cannot depend on
198 the tune-book for the tune. True, there are some who are ignorant of
the notes, but all the same they depend on the tune-book, not immediately,
but mediately and really. For the tune is learned, in the first
instance, only from some one who does know the notes and got the
tune from the book. The tune-book is the first cause of the tune, and is
necessary to its existence. Of course, tunes are learned by the ear.
Most members of a congregation so learn them. But these persons
acquire them from the leading singer, and he received them from the
tune-book. So that, look at the matter as we may, the tune-book is necessary
to the singing of praise: it conditions its performance.
If, now, it be objected that the tune-book is a circumstance not
common to human actions and societies, and is equally, with instrumental
music, according to this argument, excluded from the discretionary
control of the church, I answer, That is true. It is circumstances
in the natural sphere, those which attend actions as actions, and not
this or that particular action of a distinctive society, that fall within the
discretion of the church. Consequently both of these circumstances "”
the tune-book and instrumental music "” fall without that discretion.
They both condition the performance of an act peculiar to the church.
But the difference between them is this: One is necessary to the performance
of a commanded duty, namely, the singing of praise, and the
other is not. The singing of praise is undoubtedly a commanded duty,
and it follows that what is a necessary condition of its discharge
comes also under the scope of command. It is, therefore, not discretionary
with the church to employ it; it is obligatory. It must be
employed, or the commanded
199 duty fails to be done. It is not so with instrumental music. It is not a
condition necessary to the commanded duty of singing praise; neither
is it a natural circumstance conditioning the acts of all societies. It is,
therefore, neither obligatory upon nor discretionary with the church to
use it. It is consequently excluded.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Jeff,
How was any element in Synagogue worship acceptable by the above standard?
Yet Christ participated in it.
You wrote:
2) Can something that was an element of worship in the O.T. become circumstantial in the N.T.?
Instruments were an element in Temple worship but were they an element in Synagogue worship?

This is the issue I'm wrestling with. Within the Sanctuary, it would be inappropriate for anyone but a Levite to be involved in any aspect attending to the sacrifice. Singing of the Psalms, in fact, was only performed by the Priests in the Temple. One could argue, as you seem to have, that Psalms are a commanded element in Temple worship thus they could not be sung in worship by any but the Priests in the Old Testament.
OK so that's one type of OT worship.
What about Synagogue worship however? That is another type of OT worship. It's elements, however, are not prescribed in the Old Testament but there is merely the command to assemble every Sabbath (as noted above). The congregation in Synagogue worship sang Psalms! This means that what was an element reserved solely to the Priests in Temple Worship was not restricted to a specific group in Synagogue worship!

It is logically fallacious to assume that an element in Sanctuary Worship is an element in Synagogue worship. Priests would have to superintend the former while a Rabbi superintended the latter. There are many other differences. An instrument might be a circumstance to Synagogue singing had the Rabbis decided it to be so. Given the lack of any clarity from the Word as to what constituted the elements of worship I wonder yet again whether its parts were all circumstances.

The logical extension you are making from Temple to NT worship (i.e. instruments are elements) is fallacious as well unless there is some sense in which NT worship is Temple worship and, therefore, instruments are an element because of the equivalency of the two.
[Edited on 4-27-2006 by SemperFideles]
I'd like to address whether Synagogue worship was regulated or not. I have to say that given the fact of the RPW, we have to accept that it was regulated. They couldn't have even held synagogue unless God commanded it (and he clearly did). We are left to glean certain facts of such worship from Scripture itself (if God saw fit to include a scrap of description, it makes sense that it is prescriptive), and extra-biblical recorded practice (which has to be compared to Scripture).

But I believe the place to begin is to say that what was allowable in Synagogue worship was basically: Temple worship, minus the sacrifices and anything else that could only be lawfully performed at the central shrine. I can't think of anything that Jesus did (never mind what anyone else may have done) at synagogue for which one cannot fine warrant in the OT. And if warrant cannot be found for something Jesus or one of the apostles did, then that behavior should be classed as "circumstancial".

Musical accompaniment is an integral part of some (at least) of the Psalms. We have to accept the fact that instrument isn't always pure ceremony. Often it is accompaniment, and it keeps people singing in time and on key. Psalm 12 (for example), in the title, includes musical direction "upon the 8-stringed lyre". Why is it more regulative to say that "we can't use instruments" or "OK! as long as you use an 8-stringed lyre, (whatever that is!)"--than it is to admit that some form of accompaniment is scripturally unobjectionable?

I'm all for ditching instrumental music as "filler"; we don't need "leaders in worship" (often women, unlawful) who are making spectators out of the assembly. There are good reasons to question the legitmacy of "instrumental sacrifices" under this administration. But I have a hard time even reducing accompaniment to a single instrument, when Psalm 150 practically explodes with orchestration. So, I don't see a place in NT worship for instruments alone, or drowning-out or upstaging the singing. But to me, they belong as accompaniment.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
That is a good point Bruce. If someone argues that instruments must be regulated the same way, then so must the meter of the songs. For often the psalms are commanded to be sung to specific meters. That makes meter a matter of the RPW as well, if we accept the premise that OT temple worship makes instruments a RPW issue outside the temple. I don't hear of any modern Psalters fighting for a Specific Meter Only position.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
I'm open to considering the use of instruments for keeping tune. Such usage would permit keyboards (but not Organs, drums, horns etc.) and wouldnt be too different then the use of a pitchpipe. This use of instruments is worth considering as it indeed appears to make instruments a circumstance (ppl need to define and demonstrate they understand what a 'circumstance' is before they cleave to that hackneyed argument). In this situation the instruments would assist in the preformance of commanded worship (singing) and would not be a part of the religious worship itself. though you will notice Girardeau addresses this line of reasoning by saying that although it assists it is not necessary. He also anticipates Patricks argument on meter by pointing out that a tune is necessary to singing. You cannot sing w/o a meter you can sing w/o an organ.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
1. The Old Testament clearly identifies musical instruments as an ordinance, appointment, institution, etc. of God. That being the case, God was obviously regulating their use under the Old Testament. Where has God relinquished His authority to regulate the use of instruments in worship? It is incumbent upon those who argue for instruments to show this; otherwise, God still regulates the use of musical instruments in His worship. For instrumentalists to point to Old Testament commands to use musical instruments, to justify New Testament permission for musical instruments, is not a valid argument.

2. The command (not allowance) to use instruments under the Old Testament, being a command of God under the Old Testament, must be either moral or ceremonial. Neither position is taken by those who argue for instruments.

3. The fact that the command to use instruments is not repeated in the New Testament is significant. (I'm not arguing like a Baptist or Campbellite; just wait.) This is because of the severe limitation of their use under the Old Testament, where they were played upon by Levites, in the Temple, during the sacrificing of animals, etc.

Many of these things are true of the singing of Psalms under the Old Testament; however, with the repetition of the command to sing Psalms under the New Testament, their use is expanded to all members of the church generally (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Jas. 5:13). The command to sing Psalms is moral. Under the Old Testament, it was limited by certain ceremonials that existed under that dispensation; but with the introduction of the New Testament, and those ceremonials being stripped away, it is continued in its morality. With the command repeated in the New Testament, it is shown to not be limited to the ceremonial law.

But the command to use instruments is not repeated in the New Testament. Because of this, if we were to continue using instruments in this dispensation, the standing rule is for them to be used by Levites, in the Temple, during the sacrifice, etc. There is no New Testament command introduced to free it of those ceremonials, to expand their use to church members generally, or anything else wherein it might parallel the singing of Psalms. If there is no New Testament command introduced to free it from the ceremonial law (as occurs with Psalmody), it is still bound to the ceremonial law, and must have perished with the expiration of that dispensation.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
...and I also reject the appeal to the Psalms for instrumental music. Anything appearing in the Psalms (particulars of Temple worship) were themselves regulated by God's particular appointment; i.e., the mentioning of instruments in the Psalms did not indicate that everyone was to play upon those instruments. The Psalms themselves were (many of them) written during the Temple period, and certain particulars that they mention have passed away.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by puritansailor
That is a good point Bruce. If someone argues that instruments must be regulated the same way, then so must the meter of the songs. For often the psalms are commanded to be sung to specific meters. That makes meter a matter of the RPW as well, if we accept the premise that OT temple worship makes instruments a RPW issue outside the temple. I don't hear of any modern Psalters fighting for a Specific Meter Only position.
To which Psalms (and meters) are you referring? I don't remember "C.M." or "10.10.10.10.10" appearing in the titles of any Psalms. At least not in my version.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Kaalvenist
Originally posted by puritansailor
That is a good point Bruce. If someone argues that instruments must be regulated the same way, then so must the meter of the songs. For often the psalms are commanded to be sung to specific meters. That makes meter a matter of the RPW as well, if we accept the premise that OT temple worship makes instruments a RPW issue outside the temple. I don't hear of any modern Psalters fighting for a Specific Meter Only position.
To which Psalms (and meters) are you referring? I don't remember "C.M." or "10.10.10.10.10" appearing in the titles of any Psalms. At least not in my version.

Several of the psalms were written, "to be sung to the tune of..." then insert title of a contemporary song in their day, whatever that was.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Peter
I'm open to considering the use of instruments for keeping tune. Such usage would permit keyboards (but not Organs, drums, horns etc.) and wouldnt be too different then the use of a pitchpipe. This use of instruments is worth considering as it indeed appears to make instruments a circumstance (ppl need to define and demonstrate they understand what a 'circumstance' is before they cleave to that hackneyed argument). In this situation the instruments would assist in the preformance of commanded worship (singing) and would not be a part of the religious worship itself. though you will notice Girardeau addresses this line of reasoning by saying that although it assists it is not necessary. He also anticipates Patricks argument on meter by pointing out that a tune is necessary to singing. You cannot sing w/o a meter you can sing w/o an organ.

But what kind of meter? :)
I would never argue instruments are essential to song. They are and only should be an aid or accompaniment to help those less musically gifted in song. I detest "special music" or instumental solos. I see no place for those in worship. I'm only trying to point out that in order to make accapella an element of worship, there must be a clear command. The fact that instruments were at one time mandated for singing several of the psalms would, at least to me, require clarification in the NT as to the fact that instruments were now forbidden, especially when no such prohibition is made in the OT for non-temple worship. You would think that the God of the RPW who was so specific in the OT would give stricter guidelines if it was suppose to be an essential element of worship in the NT.

[Edited on 4-28-2006 by puritansailor]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Jeff,
How was any element in Synagogue worship acceptable by the above standard?
Yet Christ participated in it.
You wrote:
2) Can something that was an element of worship in the O.T. become circumstantial in the N.T.?
Instruments were an element in Temple worship but were they an element in Synagogue worship?

This is the issue I'm wrestling with. Within the Sanctuary, it would be inappropriate for anyone but a Levite to be involved in any aspect attending to the sacrifice. Singing of the Psalms, in fact, was only performed by the Priests in the Temple. One could argue, as you seem to have, that Psalms are a commanded element in Temple worship thus they could not be sung in worship by any but the Priests in the Old Testament.
OK so that's one type of OT worship.
What about Synagogue worship however? That is another type of OT worship. It's elements, however, are not prescribed in the Old Testament but there is merely the command to assemble every Sabbath (as noted above). The congregation in Synagogue worship sang Psalms! This means that what was an element reserved solely to the Priests in Temple Worship was not restricted to a specific group in Synagogue worship!

It is logically fallacious to assume that an element in Sanctuary Worship is an element in Synagogue worship. Priests would have to superintend the former while a Rabbi superintended the latter. There are many other differences. An instrument might be a circumstance to Synagogue singing had the Rabbis decided it to be so. Given the lack of any clarity from the Word as to what constituted the elements of worship I wonder yet again whether its parts were all circumstances.

The logical extension you are making from Temple to NT worship (i.e. instruments are elements) is fallacious as well unless there is some sense in which NT worship is Temple worship and, therefore, instruments are an element because of the equivalency of the two.
[Edited on 4-27-2006 by SemperFideles]
I'd like to address whether Synagogue worship was regulated or not. I have to say that given the fact of the RPW, we have to accept that it was regulated. They couldn't have even held synagogue unless God commanded it (and he clearly did). We are left to glean certain facts of such worship from Scripture itself (if God saw fit to include a scrap of description, it makes sense that it is prescriptive), and extra-biblical recorded practice (which has to be compared to Scripture).

But I believe the place to begin is to say that what was allowable in Synagogue worship was basically: Temple worship, minus the sacrifices and anything else that could only be lawfully performed at the central shrine. I can't think of anything that Jesus did (never mind what anyone else may have done) at synagogue for which one cannot fine warrant in the OT. And if warrant cannot be found for something Jesus or one of the apostles did, then that behavior should be classed as "circumstancial".

Musical accompaniment is an integral part of some (at least) of the Psalms. We have to accept the fact that instrument isn't always pure ceremony. Often it is accompaniment, and it keeps people singing in time and on key. Psalm 12 (for example), in the title, includes musical direction "upon the 8-stringed lyre". Why is it more regulative to say that "we can't use instruments" or "OK! as long as you use an 8-stringed lyre, (whatever that is!)"--than it is to admit that some form of accompaniment is scripturally unobjectionable?

I'm all for ditching instrumental music as "filler"; we don't need "leaders in worship" (often women, unlawful) who are making spectators out of the assembly. There are good reasons to question the legitmacy of "instrumental sacrifices" under this administration. But I have a hard time even reducing accompaniment to a single instrument, when Psalm 150 practically explodes with orchestration. So, I don't see a place in NT worship for instruments alone, or drowning-out or upstaging the singing. But to me, they belong as accompaniment.
Bruce,

I hope you know I'm not trying to be cute or difficult in any of my objections but there are some apparent weaknesses, in my estimation, to your assertion about Synagogue worship.

As I see it, you see Temple Worship as containing the full "set" of regulated elements while Synagogue worship only contained a "sub-set" of those. In other words, you see Synagogue worship as "Temple worship minus sacrificial portions". A few problems:

1. I don't believe there was any portion of Temple worship prescribed (or historically recorded) where the reading of the Law and the targumin (explanation) of the Priests took place. In other words, the most central part of Synagogue worship is not prescribed as present in Temple worship. Not only are things taken away (sacrifices) but something central is added (teaching of the Law). This is primarily Christ's activity in the Synagogue.

2. Was the superintendent of worship immaterial? That is, priests are a key element of Temple worship. Why was the superintendent of Synagogue worhsip immaterial in terms of tribe? I'm unclear as to why, in OT worship without any presciption, they could ommit this consideration. Simply saying "Well he wouldn't be sacrificing..." wouldn't answer that. There were Levites "in the neighborhood" after all that were available to be teachers and were geographically too distant to be part of the Temple.

3. What's up with the lack of any rebuke in the OT toward the Synagogues? God everywhere condemns a violation of the RPW wrt Sanctuary worship but there isn't one place I can find where He condemns their false Synagogue worship.

There are many "trails" in this discussion and I'm trying to not to engage them all but, to Jeff, that second point addresses your issue that an "element in OT worship is an element in OT worship". No it was not so. Where only a Levite could superintend in the Temple, one from Judah could superintend in the Synagogue. Schwertley and your contention is overthrown by that fact.

I'm not trying to get rid of the RPW but I do see some logically weak ways in which it is being extended toward the Synagogue. From the non-instrumental EP position I see "selective logic" when it suits their case. There is an unwillingness, on their part, to develop the prescriptions for Synagogue worship. It is not enough to barely assert that what God prescribes in one sphere of worship extends to the other. The lack of a Priest in Synagogue worship is glossed over when he is the most central element in Temple worship!
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Rich,
Colonel,
Maybe your Marines think you're cute, but I never said anything like that!

(Back to seriousness)
1) I don't think analysis that separates Temple/synagogue is going to go anywhere. The fact that RPW is in effect, coupled with precious little data on synagogue particulars, to me forces the two together. They are of one piece. So even if reading the Law didn't fit into a regular sacrificial work-day, I fail to see how that excludes it from Temple worship entirely.

Besides, as for Law-reading in the Temple, it was definitely to take place at least once every 7 years, (Deut. 31:9-11). See also Neh 8. This was to take place in the place designated for the national assembly. It was to take place, then, in the vicinity of the Temple, in the largest available gathering place. (I add this, in case it is objected that in Neh., the gathering takes place in the square beyond the formal temple precincts.) The Deut. passage clearly indicates that the holy environs encompass the whole gathered people, come together for the purpose, whatever the space limitations.

2) I would argue a fortiori, that if the Law governed the whole OT system, and if it was permitted/demanded at the "lowest" level, then from the greater to the lesser, the reading of the Law must have been part and parcel of the larger worship, at least on special occasions, as noted above. It was the governing document, the Constitution. Its too incredible to suppose it formed no part of the regular business, or that the priests and Levites present for duty, but not on the "rotation", were not taken up in such studies

The fact that the book of the Law was dragged out (2 Ki. 22:8) after being neglected indicates that if it was not attended to, it would eventually be ignored.

3) Superintendence of synagogue worship was in the hands of the "elders", just like it is today. There's nothing immaterial about that, in my book. I believe its Edersheim who points out that when the priest was present in the synagogue, he was called upon to read. So, there does appear to be a recognized priority to the priestly dignity in that case, but if a priest was not present, well, the Law must still be read! The Law is of greater importance than the minister.

4) Why no condemnation of abusing the synagogue? Perhaps there was little overt to condemn, if the synagogue service remained simple, and keyed around reading and teaching the Law. The people are frequently condemned for neglecting the Law. So, this is an indirect condemnation, and probably indicates that synagogue was simply neglected, not perverted. Given the people's penchant for idolatry, they forsook the synagogues for the high places.

I would say, secondly, that by condemning their sacrifices, at the central shrine, the whole edifice was under condemnation, since it was a whole cloth.

That there was provision for this worship (neglected or not by the majority) seems rather clearly indicated in Psa 74:8 "They said to themselves, "We will utterly subdue them"; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land."

The founding command: duty of the priests to instruct the people:
Lev. 10:11 "And you {Aaron, and by extension the all priestly class henceforth} are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the LORD has spoken to them by Moses."

An interesting side note, and light it casts on previous practice:
2Ki 17:27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, "Send there one of the priests whom you carried away from there, and let him go and dwell there and teach them the law of the god of the land."

And 2 Chron. 15:3, the "teaching priest":
2Ch 15:3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest and without law,
see also 17:7

Ez. 44:23 "{The priests} shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean."

Eze 7:26 "Disaster comes upon disaster; rumor follows rumor. They seek a vision from the prophet, while the law perishes from the priest and counsel from the elders."

Isa 28:7-9 "These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment. For all tables are full of filthy vomit, with no space left. "To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast?"

Jer 14:18 If I go out into the field, behold, those pierced by the sword! And if I enter the city, behold, the diseases of famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade through the land and have no knowledge.'"

Jer 18:18 Then they said, "Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words."

Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Mal 2:7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

[Edited on 4-28-2006 by Contra_Mundum]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Fair enough Bruce. I always appreciate the seriousness and thoroughness that you treat these things with. I think I'm comfortable with your description.

I don't think the analysis of Synagogue & Temple worship distinctions is entirely fruitless. Once one admits elemental distinctions between the two that are obvious (particularly the fact that Priests are "optional") then it is harder to just blithely apply everything we know about Temple worship and say "...well NT worship can't be that way."

I think I mentioned earlier as you did above that the neglect of the reading of the Law was pretty manifest (even if Josiah wasn't getting it yearly from the priest he should have been hearing it in Synagogue but neither was occuring).

Can we retain the RPW while admitting that Temple worship, just like the whole of the ceremonial law, was much stricter in every sense than that which we find in the NT? My problem is not in admitting that the RPW exists but perhaps there is more liberty as to the circumstances of the RPW in the New Covenant. Much less has been spelled out regarding elements. For instance, it would not do in the Temple to just choose to use any kind of implements or cups or basins but they were very much prescribed. In the NT, we must serve bread and wine but there is much more liberty as far as the circumstances (one communal cup or a bunch of plastic ones is but one of many examples).

Without neglecting the principle of the RPW, I would argue that the principle is carried out now with more prudence rather than precept. I see in some of the EP and instrumental pleadings a sort of "weak and beggarly" form of the RPW itself.

[Edited on 4-28-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Can we retain the RPW while admitting that Temple worship, just like the whole of the ceremonial law, was much stricter in every sense than that which we find in the NT?

In a sense yes, and in a sense no.

Is God less strict regarding the commands that he has laid down? I would suggest that Christ blew the doors wide open and in fact expounded the law, instead of reducing it's "strictness." Whereas in the O.T., the 2nd table of the law regarded one to "love thy neighbor", but Christ pointed that it was not merely the external, but the internal as well. I realize that this is a moral command, but I believe the same applies to elements of worship.

Christ's kingdom instituted a type of worship that is radically different from the overly outward forms of the temple. Rather, the inward man is emphasized, and meditation/singing with grace in the heart etc. are all points of emphasis in the N.T. That being said, today's culture often devalues the outward elements as if they are useless as long as your heart is ok (even if they are commands in scripture). The RPW accounts for both of these.

So, are we burdened by the outward ceremonial rites of a worship that is passing away? Thanks be to God that we are not.

Are we still left with valid outward elements that require as meticulous obedience as the command requres (this being the same as temple worship)? Absolutely.

Originally posted by SemperFideles
My problem is not in admitting that the RPW exists but perhaps there is more liberty as to the circumstances of the RPW in the New Covenant.

It depends on what kind of "liberty" you are talking about. Are we free from the clothing laws that the priests must wear in public worship? Absolutely. But not because we have a greater liberty in degree, but a greater liberty as to type. The ceremonial circumstances have passed away, but there are nonetheless some which remain obligatory on the church today:

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I
Of the Holy Scripture
VI.
...and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.[14]

14. I Cor. 11:13-14; 14:26, 40

With regards to the circumstances not included under this section (that are still obligatory), they have just as must "strictness" as all of the temple worship.

I think that this also proves that even if one were to grant that instrumental music was circumstantial in temple worship, it was obligatory, and would then remain an abligatory circumstance in the N.T. Therefore, throw out that electric lute and break out the lyre (and be sure to get the number of strings right, 'cause that can be tricky). :p

Originally posted by SemperFideles
Much less has been spelled out regarding elements. For instance, it would not do in the Temple to just choose to use any kind of implements or cups or basins but they were very much prescribed. In the NT, we must serve bread and wine but there is much more liberty as far as the circumstances (one communal cup or a bunch of plastic ones is but one of many examples).

As I stated above, God has not required such meticulous laws in the New dispensation, but in the laws he does command, he is just as meticulous in the obedience he requires. The commands are fewer, but just as important to keep.

I believe that one of the reasons God required so many specific laws, was to teach us that he is jealous for his worship, and cannot be worship falsely without dishonoring his holy name.

I get the impression that some of your post implies that instruments are assumed to be circumstantial, but In my humble opinion, the status of elements do not change into non-obligatory circumstances, but once an element, keep their status as an element.

Please forgive me if I've rambled a bit on this post, but I hope that it will at least clarify my thoughts a bit.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Jeff,

I completely agree that we need to be strict to obey what God has commanded. I just sense in the instrumental worship issue a step backwards where the form of the ceremony is presented as more important than the substance. Where the Pharisees obeyed with respect to the edges of their garments in worship, Christ was more concerned with the posture of their hearts. I know that's not what the spirit for the more thoughtful is but I think it comes across that way for some others. Schwertley is a good example of someone who says very uncharitable things and I feel like saying "Dude, worry less about the organ in your Church than the fact that you like to hurl insults at your Brothers and call them Popish." Perhaps that's the Spirit that this focus brings...

I don't agree with the logic that "an element is an element" for the aforementioned reasons (a priest was an element in one but could participate without being a priest in the Synagogue).

I guess the difference is this: I assume they're circumstancial because I don't see that their use in the Temple automatically makes them elemental for all other forms of worship. You assume that once something is an element it is forever an element.

Just because the only example of plates in Sanctuary worship were all prescribed elements, it doesn't make them elements in NT worship. Christ, after all, never commanded that we serve the bread on a plate. We could just as easily be punctilious and say: "Well it is clear that there is no command to use plates in the Lord's Supper. Plates were an element in Sanctuary worship and cannot be a circumstance in NT worship. Use of plates to distribute the Lord's supper is strange fire and God hates it! We can have no unity until the Reformed Churches stop using plates in worship." I could come up with many examples and turn myself into a Pharisee of the Regulative Principle.

It simply does not do for me to take an article for common use and forever freeze it as an element of worship because it was used in the Sanctuary.

I'm not arguing for Rock bands and the like. I'm arguing for prudence. That's what Elders in the New Covenant are for. All the ridiculous "slippery slope" arguments that are presented about puppet shows or doing "anything you like" ignore that we have Elders and a regulative principle that already guides them in circumstances surrounding the elements that already exist. Law does not ensure obedience but prudent liberty acting in love.

[Edited on 4-28-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I appreciate the grace exhibited in all sides in this discussion. Thanks to the main participants here: Rich (for starting the thread), Patrick, Jeff, Sean.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by puritansailor
But what kind of meter? :)
I would never argue instruments are essential to song. They are and only should be an aid or accompaniment to help those less musically gifted in song. I detest "special music" or instumental solos. I see no place for those in worship. I'm only trying to point out that in order to make accapella an element of worship, there must be a clear command. The fact that instruments were at one time mandated for singing several of the psalms would, at least to me, require clarification in the NT as to the fact that instruments were now forbidden, especially when no such prohibition is made in the OT for non-temple worship. You would think that the God of the RPW who was so specific in the OT would give stricter guidelines if it was suppose to be an essential element of worship in the NT.

Patrick, You're arguing for instruments three ways.

I'm only trying to point out that in order to make accapella an element of worship, there must be a clear command.

This argument I categorically reject. There is no light in it. Jeff has demonstrated that this is contra- the RPW under the cloak of RPW language. You misconceive acappella singing as positive institution when it is infact properly negative. The non-use of instruments is not an element, it is by definition the rejection of an element. Negative statements about worship cannot be made to bear the scrutiny of the RPW. Viz Statements about what is not in worship are not subject to the principle. Propositions such as no instruments can be in worship, or no insense, or no praise choirs, or no clowns and circus tricks are not elements; They do not need a clear command to be regulative b/c they are rejections of elements in absense of clear command.

The fact that instruments were at one time mandated for singing several of the psalms would, at least to me, require clarification in the NT as to the fact that instruments were now forbidden, especially when no such prohibition is made in the OT for non-temple worship.

The a cappella argument for this, which I hold to and has already been explained, is that, in the NT with the repeal of the Temple sacrifice system the instruments that were part of it went with. Also, in the Psalms, I consider many such mention of instruments to be hyperbolic expressions of praise as some of them were forbidden in the temple worship.

But what kind of meter? :)
I would never argue instruments are essential to song. They are and only should be an aid or accompaniment to help those less musically gifted in song.

This, I would admit, there is some weight to, but as my objections have not been answered I am not fully pursuaded. You acknowledge instruments are not essential to singing, yet music is and music requires a meter. What kind of meter doesnt matter so long as it makes the words of the song singable. I think maybe instruments might be allowed under the condition no one in the congregation could sight read music.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Thanks Peter.
I would agree, if instruments are allowed, then it is only an aid not an essential, and they are only to be used with congregational singing. Singing is the required element for certain. But its also a simple fact, and I'm sure it was the same back then, that some simply are not gifted with singing. They need help to guide their melody. The whole "just make a joyful noise" argument in my mind simply doesn't work. Bad singing is distruptive. Granted people can improve with practice. But the aid of an instrument sure helps.
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Those of you who hold that instruments in worship are merely circumstantial in the new dispensation:

What would you tell the Catholic who said that images of Christ aided him in prayer/worship? How would you go about convincing him that images were wrong (using a method consistent with your position on instruments)?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Those of you who hold that instruments in worship are merely circumstantial in the new dispensation:

What would you tell the Catholic who said that images of Christ aided him in prayer/worship? How would you go about convincing him that images were wrong (using a method consistent with your position on instruments)?

"Thou shalt not make any graven images..."
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Bruce,
My suspicion is that if you were to put that position into practice, or try to, that in 99.9% of PCA churches, you might as well be in the a cappella camp for the reaction you'd get.;) What, my Sally can't play the offertory!...

Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
I'm all for ditching instrumental music as "filler"; we don't need "leaders in worship" (often women, unlawful) who are making spectators out of the assembly. There are good reasons to question the legitmacy of "instrumental sacrifices" under this administration. But I have a hard time even reducing accompaniment to a single instrument, when Psalm 150 practically explodes with orchestration. So, I don't see a place in NT worship for instruments alone, or drowning-out or upstaging the singing. But to me, they belong as accompaniment.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by puritansailor
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Those of you who hold that instruments in worship are merely circumstantial in the new dispensation:

What would you tell the Catholic who said that images of Christ aided him in prayer/worship? How would you go about convincing him that images were wrong (using a method consistent with your position on instruments)?

"Thou shalt not make any graven images..."
Just to add on, I would preach the Gospel to convert the heart. Idolatry flows out of the heart. It is not for a lack of precepts that the Roman Catholic Church is idolatrous.

I addressed this question earlier when I mentioned elders and the prudent application of liberty. There are many different circumstancial ways that leaders can be unwise even in the circumstances that are undisputed among us.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Yeeeeess, that's for sure, Chris. I'm just stating my druthers, as someone who takes a high view of the RPW, in a RPW church. I do not like choirs either, and yet (!) we do have a children's choir on occasion.

I admit to humming along frequently to a tune being played for offertory. I'm not unappreciative of the work these folks put into it, and they do make the "break" pleasant. I also find it a bit tedious when I'm leading worship to wait for it to be over. The collection takes about 2 minutes, max, in this small church. The music often takes 3 minutes or more. What are we all just waiting for... ?!? The music has become the purpose for those minutes.

Someone who thinks instrumentals are no big deal, even praiseworthy, it never even occurs to them, I suppose. But since I have a conscientious objection, I just endure it (although someimes it doesn't seem to bother me). Semper Reformanda.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Thanks to all who contributed to this. I'm very gratified, as Bruce noted earlier, that this thread was so gracious considering how uncompromising both positions were. I really appreciate my EP brothers on this thread who displayed the mind of Christ and that, where we disagreed, it was expressed with love. I have to admit I'm sometimes the chief of sinners in my impatience.

I know this didn't settle anything or even break new ground but I learned a lot as we didn't have to spend all our time responding to ad hominem arguments.

Thanks to all for your patience and participation. I have learned much from this thread but especially from this Board in general.

[Edited on 4-30-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
If instruments were only allowed in temple worship then why does Nehemiah use the "instruments of David" (Neh. 12:36) at the dedication of the rebuilt wall (i.e. not in the temple)?
 
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