The Correlation Between the 2nd Commandment and EP Only

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by OPC'n, Jul 12, 2019.

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  1. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm starting this post because I'm the one who hijacked Chris' post. He wants us to wait for comments until he can move the unrelated comments on his posts to this one.

    This post will be two-fold:

    1. How does the 2nd Commandment correlate with EP only?
    2. Can you stay in a church that violates your conscience concerning the EP?

    I'm not convinced of the EP only stance for reasons I'll list. I'm not against being EP only but I believe that is only because of my own personal preferences. I, therefore, cannot demand this of others.

    My reasons for not being convinced on this subject are

    1. that the psalms were not written during the time of Moses who wrote the commands for worship by God's authority. There are some people who believe that Moses wrote any where from 2 to 11 of the Psalms (ch. 90-100) but this cannot be proved. If God's people did not have the Psalms until much later to sing during worship, then I cannot say EP only is part of the RPW.

    2. Because of #1 I don't see a correlation between EP only and the 2nd Commandment.
  2. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    1) The 2nd commandment requires we do in worship only what God commands. God commands us to sing only Psalms, therefore, we must only sing Psalms.
    2) As a Pastor, no I could not. But sometimes we are put in situations we can't get out of based in where God has placed us in our habitations. In such a situation, I would only sing unaccompanied Psalms.

    If I could, to get at the foundational principle to which you are basing your conclusion, I'd ask you when was singing first commanded to be done in the worship of the Lord (in the OT)?
  3. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    This isn't really answering my question. Probably because I didn't state my question very well. Maybe I should have asked this: We know the 2nd Commandment gives us a command to worship God according to the positive instructions he has given, where is our proof that EP only is a positive instruction since Moses and the Israelites didn't have the Psalms to sing?

    I don't know what you mean sorry. Maybe because I've only had 4 hours of sleep. But this didn't make sense to me.
  4. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    In other words, where, in the OT, does God command His people, Israel, to sing in public (ceremonial) worship?

    As to your clarifying question (from the OP), I would love to walk through that with you, but I'd like to be on the same grounds as you in regards to the question I'm asking you. As we can probably agree, we are better off starting with "Where did God command the OC people to sing in public worship at first?" and then moving on to the question, "What did God then command them to sing?" Fair?

    From this, I find that most people are ignorant of the question I'm asking, and have not thoroughly considered it. Again, where does the Lord command Israel (OT) to sing in public (ceremonial) worship? What I'm not asking is "Where in Scripture is singing first done?" because that won't get to the part of the question of "in public/ceremonial worship".
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  5. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Did not Professor John Murray hold to EP while being a minister in the OPC? From what I have heard, he stood in silence whenever uninspired hymns were sung and it was not a problem for the rest of the denomination. In fact, does the OPC itself not tolerate difference of opinion on this subject within the denomination? Is there not an OPC congregation in San Francisco which is EP?

    Also, I have known people who are definitely not EP but have refused to sing certain hymns chosen by the oversight owing to the doctrinal content of the hymns. Should these people be censured for a simple matter of conscience?
  6. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, it's a fair question to ask (where, in the OT, does God command His people, Israel, to sing in public (ceremonial) worship?). I'll go research it because I don't know. Unless you want to give me the Scripture to save time :)
  7. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Well, I think you'll find it doesn't happen until the time of David. By necessity, the Levites before David were carrying the ark/tabernacle, etc. But when David brought the Ark to Jerusalem and began the transition of public worship in Jerusalem, the Levites were not left without a job (theirs was to carry the ark/tabernacle, which now they wouldn't carry), there's a transition described in Chronicles from carrying the ark/tabernacle by certain Levites to singing and playing instruments.

    Particularly 1 Ch. 6:31, 9:22-33, 15:22, 23:5-6, 25:1-7, 28:11-21; 2 Ch. 29:25-32, 35:15-16. Then after the exile - Neh. 11:22-23, 12:44-47, and Ezra 3:8-11.
  8. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Are you saying that the Israelites did not sing during worship until David wrote the Psalms? That's a long time for the people of God to not worship God via song especially when worship instructions were given to Moses to give to the people.
  9. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    I'm commenting on what Scripture reveals. Do you have anything to suggest that singing in public worship happened prior to the time of David? Also, it's God who determines when things happen in His worship. You'll find that instruments were also not used, which means music as a whole was not part of public worship until the time of David. So if you go back to Moses and the Lord revealing all the worship instructions, do you see anything about music or singing in particular (since that's our question)? I'm confident you won't see anything about singing. The only instrumental use was not for the purpose of music. Trumpets were used to signal the time of the sacrifices, and that's it (Num. 10:1-3), that's the only 'music' which wasn't really music that there was until David. This trumpet use is very similar to Josh 6:4ff which was used to muster the people. Same in Judges 3, 6, and 7.
  10. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Hmmm, that's interesting. I'll go with that for now so we can agree to move on. Which Scripture can you give me which shows the introduction of singing to worship?
  11. G

    G Puritan Board Junior


    I share the below thoughts very thankful for you challenging these things as it forces others (like myself) to think through their convictions. Warning I may have typos:coffee:, but I have read my post at least 5 times to reduce that seemingly inevitable likelihood.

    Remaining silent during hymns (from an EP perspective) is NOT a neglection of worshipping God, it is the opposite and is upholding proper worship. Remember ultimately God defines how he is to be worshiped and not ultimately Elders. Further, and again from an EPers perspective, singing hymns in corporate worship IS seen as a neglection of how God has commanded worship. Thankfully, and I am sure reformed Elders will agree from both sides, it is not ultimately up to them to decide the “how” because God has told us in his Word.

    From either perspective (ep/non-ep) the sin actually comes from worshipping God in ways he has not commanded. That is the foundational command we are discussing before we get to the more practical matter of “what if the Elder commands it?” And foundational to the first commandment is more of WHO we worship and not so much as HOW. No one here is arguing against the WHO, but we are dealing with the HOW.

    Q1: Sarah, if your congregation began dogmatically/unrelentingly singing “Jesus your my super hero” during a service every Lord's Day, would you sing it? or would you just turn in your 2 weeks notice on the spot? Or would you remain silent, reverent, and patent? (and no I am not saying all hymns are the equivalent, just trying to select a song I think Sarah would say inappropriate for corporate worship).

    We must weigh things against scripture. We must also recognize degrees of corruption as the NT and the Westminster standards rightly describe. The Elders have a given authority, but each believer should be bound by the supreme authority the Word. Further, Elder's have not been given some ultimate authority to decide how God is to be worshiped, they are called as we are to Worship God how HE has Commanded and to lead as far as the Word allows. Most reformed Elders I know are VERY thankful God has told us the "how" in light of the 2nd Commandment, both EP and non-EP varieties.

    Q2: If a session member asked you to light a candle during service would you do it? or politely decline? Or leave the church (Assuming they felt it biblical)?

    None of my questions (Q) are rhetorical BTW, I am curious as I am trying to understand your position.

    Sarah you seem to be conflating and oversimplifying. Where is the apostles command for members to flee membership when the elders are teaching or allow corrupt things? Where is this command to submit to corrupt things against conscience?

    Do you think Paul told the faithful to submit to the drunkenness that was occurring in 1 Cor. 11? No. Did he command the faithful to separate? No. Surely this example of corruption is worse than the example of toleration you give of members using Jesus images at home in private. Paul commanded correction and that is what we should seek in a patient manner and some corrections do not take place over night, even if we want them to. He often rebuked those in the congregation who behaved wrongly and commends those who remained faithful, within the SAME body. If immediate correction is our motto in all things, then we will likely spend a lifetime in Church hopping.

    Look at the NT examples filled with churches that at times have seasons of corruption. The command most often, even with extremely egregious corruptions, is often repentance not "flee, flee for your lives and abandon one another!" when it comes to the local body. If faithful members constantly bounce from their own perception of corruption, then we are missing opportunities to sharpen one another. We are commanded to attend and be a part of a "church" not a "church with 0% corruption as one perceives it". Does your congregation actually conduct everything according to your convictions (rhetorical)?

    Your advise seems unwise in many ways. If I as a husband and father jumped ship every time "I" detected corruptions I should at the end of my life be deemed a fool and failed to see how many times I was rejecting fellowship with the bride of Christ, that still experiences corruption while here on earth. A good reading of Song of Solomon shows that despite seeming impurities, he views the bride as quite lovely. Differences WILL exist and there is NO perfect visible church yet. 1 Corinthians 11:18-19

    The 1st and 2nd commandments do not contradict one another, but I know that you know this. The body at times goes through short and long seasons of dealing with corruptions, Satan does not sleep. There are times to flee, but that should be done very rarely and with solemnity. We must also be willing to fight with the fruits of spirit. If we packed up and moved every time our church was plagued with corruptions, we indeed would be acting foolish and sinful.

    No one here is advocating neglecting meeting together. However, I think you are, hopefully unintentionally, neglecting the category of the authority of Christian Conscience, which if done is a great sin.

    From Westminster Chapter 20:

    I will grant that I resonate with your sentiment in many ways as we are discussing a difficult topic that is not limited to EP: "When to Leave? & Christian Conscience related to Submitting to Providentially Appointed Authorities "

    In thinking about marriage, I think I am right in saying that my wife is called to humbly submit to my headship in all things unless I ask her to do something in direct violation to God's moral law. Right? Again, she would not be called to immediately leave me right because we are in covenant, but further I do not think she would be morally obligated to submit if I asked her to violate God's Law, nor could she be faulted for "not submitting". So again, this discussion is far more complicated than you are allowing and lacks Pastoral wisdom in the matter asked in the OP. Which brings me to my last point:

    If one finds himself/herself in the scenario discussed the best advice is go talk to your Pastor. Remember that we are all called to submit to the Elders in all things, which do not violate God's Law. This does not mean you always automatically leave when you detect error, because you should be in tune with your own proneness to wonder. But it likewise does not mean each and every Lord's Day you should wake up and rejoice that today you will blindly submit and spend the morning violating Christian Conscience. Any Pastor who is truly salty will recognize that each sheep is different but still a part of his God given flock. Remaining silent during certain songs supports unity far more than always leaving. What happens when that new EP church starts allowing a single hymn? off you go? I think not so fast. Hymn singers (in an non-EP body) should be Pastored to extend the same patience towards those who are being reverent and silent (EPers) and vice versa.

    I am really not trying to address what you have stated to defend EP (Andrew is handling that), but rather to more generally defend Christian Conscience and our proneness to wander. These are much more foundational principles to get right before we get to an exegetical case for EP & Acapella Only.:detective:

    P.S. Sorry if I was long winded. This topic has been heavy on me as of late, because I am a Deacon in the PCA and relatively new to EP, further there is a likelihood I would be nominated to RE. I am pondering these things with much care and caution.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
  12. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    To back up what @Grant Jones is saying, see the posts on Separatism. I have a big backlog of posts, so there are more to come on the subject (DV).
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  13. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Well, I don't give you one proof text, but a body that shows the doctrine, and that's all the ones I provided above from Chronicles (essentially). Chronicles is written to those coming out of the exile showing them - This is how you are to worship the Lord --> See what David and Solomon did and how the Lord spoke through them and instructed concerning His worship.

    I will add that if the command to sing in public worship did not come until the time of David, then your second question is moot with the concern that Moses didn't have a whole body of Psalms, as well as Israel until the time of David. In the time of David, because there is where we find the beginning of the command to sing in public worship, you see an explosion of songs written by prophets (David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun).
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  14. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    There is an A'Brakel quote regarding the Church and corruption. I would like to share below as it sobered up some sinful attitudes in my heart. Now you and I many not agree 100% with the below, but I think it does check some of my own fleshly tendencies.:detective:

    A' Brakel (Preface in A Christian's Reasonable Service) in a response to Labadism (in case that is a foreign term

    “Who would not weep when he thinks upon Zion and perceives that the Lord is departing from her?” Yet, departure from a church which is that corrupt is not permitted! “May we say that she is no longer the church of Christ due to her corruption? Shall we despise her? Shall we walk away from her? No, that is foolishness. It is certain that a corrupt church is nevertheless a church and that from the beginning until the present God has always permitted His church to be filled with many corruptions. Therefore, he who despises a church for its corruption acts contrary to God‟s Word and all experience, thereby denying her to be a church.”
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  15. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Sadly we have become more prone to more divisions and more splits at the denominational level. Sometimes they seem warranted other times not so much. I wish we also heard more news of conservative reformed denominations merging. I am not promoting unity over doctrinal compromise 100% of the time, but the splits seem to have no end and do not always seem to fit in with NT instructions.:oops:
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  16. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps we are seeing this in two different lights. You are seeing it through the lens of what your church sings and what my church sings. If your church sings mostly Psalms and they only sing one hymn like once a month, I don't see a problem with remaining silent for that one song once a month. If, however, you came to my church you would have to remain silent for most of the year. We used to sing out of the Psalter before we had to share a church. Now that we are using the Chinese church we cannot put out the Psalter and we put songs in handouts. We rarely sing a Psalm. Remaining silent in my church would lead to RARELY singing meaning you wouldn't be worshipping God via song for the rest of your life. Why would you remain in my church?

    I agree that it is up to God how we worship and not the elders. However, it is obvious that EPers have not convinced the majority of reformed churches that EP only is what God has prescribed otherwise they would do it. So on that bases, if you decided to become a member of my church, the elders can require you to participate in song worship according to the 5th vow you take to become an OPC member. However, they would probably just encourage you to find a different church so as to not violate your conscience.

    I agree.

    My church would never sing this song so it's a fanciful question to which I'll answer with a fanciful answer. I would stand up and denounce them on the spot. :) However, if we want to speak in real terms I will. If I am converted to EP only, then I will move and find a new church. I will not stay in a church where I never worship God and have to listen to people sing songs that I now feel dishonor him. I also would not want to be non-submissive to my church and God and break the 5th vow I took when I became a member.

    I agreed to this earlier, but stated many reformed churches don't believe EP only is RPW.

    Again, this is a fanciful question because no one in my session would ask us to do that. This sounds RC really. I also wouldn't run up and down the aisle on a broomstick nor would I build a castle out of sand on the pulpit.

    My position is plain and simple. You must worship God. You may not stay silent in song worship for the rest of your life. God has commanded his people to worship him in unity. Do not try to pretend you are worshipping God according to his commandments by staying silent in worship for the rest of your life and do not be unsubmissive to the authority in your church. If you cannot adhere to this because of your conscience, find a church that worships according to your convictions.

    The commands are positive commands for you to worship God Heb 10, Col 3, Eph 4, Acts 2 & 9, Rom 10, Matt 16, 2 Tim 4,. This is a command for us to come together in order to worship God. There are many positive commands where God gives authority to the church elders over the congregation 1 Peter 5, Acts 20, John 21, Eph 4, 1 Tim 3 & 5, Titus 2, Rom 12, 1 Thess 5. If you feel you cannot worship God by participating in the song worship and cannot be submissive to your church authority because your elders are corrupt and are leading the flock astray, you must rectify this by joining a church that promotes the commands I listed above. The Apostles gave these commands it's your job to find a church adheres to them. You won't find a Scripture that tells you to stay away from the Jehovah's Witness or Mormon churches. It does tell you throughout Scripture to flee from false teachings.

    This is a great example of elders having authority over the church. Paul saw people breaking the Lord's Supper and corrected them sternly and without delay. They were submissive to Paul and corrected their behavior. This isn't an example of an issue that is not settled among the reformed of which we are speaking. This is a blatant sin committed against the Lord's Supper which he demanded immediate correction. You're contention is that you want to stay in a church which believes (and you haven't proven them incorrect) they are keeping the RPW and you want to do your own thing by not participating in worship.

    It has never been my advice for people to leave their church at the drop of a hat for any little bit of corruption in a church. It is my advice to leave a church where you never get to participate in the worship of God.



    It was very long..........I have to admit when I read the word "marriage" I stopped reading. Sorry.
  17. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm going to respond to this after a bit. Grant's comment was super long and I've had little sleep so between the two I need a break from reading. But I'll come back.
  18. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Worship is not limited to singing so this is a false dilemma, when you say "never".
    No it is not. It occurs in Presbyterian churches throughout the USA during certain seasons (think December). If you don't wish to answer that is fine.

    Could you give me a reference to a church that does this perfectly?
    Again, this is not true as there is more to worship than singing. And again remember God defines what IS worship. Just because Christian's sing hymns in the corporate gathering does not automatically make it worship, unless it has been commanded by God (staying neutral). Think of the Golden Cow, that certainly happened in an attempt at corporate worship and the God appointed priest lead the charge.
    Again, no one here who remains silent during hymns is "never" participating in worship.

    This sounds more divisive than remaining reverently silent.

    I will digress as it sounds like you need sleep:handshake:
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  19. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I think public worship with song was first recorded when God commanded Moses to write a song and teach it to Israel. So the people sang it, and they sang it as they were gathered for worship. This story, and the song written and sung by Moses and taught to the people with the command to learn it and sing it, is recorded in Deuteronomy 31:14-32:43.

    Most dispensationalists believe the Sabbath was only instituted by Moses, but we know this is not true. Likewise is there evidence that song was already in use by the church even before Moses’ song? Remember that Miriam and the women sang prophetically after the Red Sea. Could this intimate that prophetic song for the church was already known? I don’t know, but it’s intriguing.

    There were other prophetic songs (Deborah’s for one) before David instituted the temple worship. You will always find that all songs to God in the Bible were composed by prophets. When we sing the Psalms we are sounding forth the prophecies God caused to be collected together for us to sing. This is powerful and amazes me at times with a very weighty amazement because his word will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent.
  20. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Some of the confusion on this point seems to stem from an overly high view of song as an element of worship. How many times after a church service have you heard someone say, "That was a great service - the singing was wonderful!"? What we should really be saying is, "That was a great service - the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments was wonderful!"

    The Westminster Confession lists the "singing of psalms with grace in the heart" (21.5) as one part of ordinary religious worship, not the be all and end all of worship. The idea that you are not worshipping God simply because you abstain from one part of the worship in which you believe the command of God has been set aside, does not mean that you are not worshipping at all.
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  21. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    But I wouldn’t want to take away from its place either. It’s an element of worship as much as preaching and the sacraments. I think this is innately understood and why the issue brings such consternation.
  22. Susan777

    Susan777 Puritan Board Freshman

    You are reminding me of Jenny Geddes;) At least you wouldn’t throw a stool!
  23. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    How gross:rofl:
  24. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I think Sarah has that heart and spunk!
  25. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    It is an element of worship, but it is not as important as the preaching of the word and the administration of the sacraments. That is why the latter has been historically recognised as marks of the church, while the former has not been so recognised. That point is also a reason why a difference of agreement over baptism is a reason to move from a Baptist church to a Reformed church, but a difference over psalmody is not necessarily a reason to leave a church that professes the Reformed religion.
  26. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    This is my fault for not saying "never worship via song" but since we are talking about EP I just assumed you understood I meant the song worship of worshipping.[/quote]

    You didn't ask me about every other Presbyterian church in the USA. You asked me what I would do if my church session asked me to light a candle, and I answered it is a fanciful question since my church wouldn't ask us to do that. It's unfair to ask questions about what I would do in an imaginary scenario. My church doesn't do this I don't have to imagine what my response would be. If I went to a church that did this, I would leave that church and worship at the church I am at now.

    Sure, the Only Perfect Church that I can think of is.......well, you might disagree with me because we're not EPers. :D But seriously I believe my church adheres to the RPW and therefore we are following the instructions of the Apostles.

    Again, my fault for not telling you that we are speaking specifically about the song worship part of worship I just felt you understood this since we are speaking of the EP only topic. Again, I agree that God defines what is worship. On that, we will always agree. We just don't agree that EP only is what God has defined as worship nearly did it again!

    They are "never" participating in song worship :)applause:I remembered) if their church only sings hymns.

    It does sound super divisive and super rude and super disrespectful. But I told you it was a fanciful answer to a fanciful question. I would never do this because my church would never sing that song. I answered you instead with a realistic question.

    I just needed to walk away for some time. If I sleep now, I won't sleep tonight.
  27. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    This was a fanciful answer to a fanciful question. I would never be that disrespectful even to a church that was really out to lunch on their worship.
  28. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    I knew that was coming:rolleyes:

    Thanks for the interaction:cheers2:
  29. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    This is interesting. Romans922 feels they didn't sing until David brought singing into worship. It's a good study I'll have to search out in order to answer him.
  30. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I hope I don't have a heart full of hatred.
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