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Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by OPC'n, Jul 12, 2019.
or a hand full of stools
I don't think we are confused and I don't think either side is exalting song worship over the preaching of worship. It's a part of the whole worship service and shouldn't be neglected.
Nope, and neither did Jenny I hope. They were all fed up with Erastianism and Jenny demonstrated (rightly or wrongly).
Robert Godfry tells her story with a little smirk on his face. Anyway, I was referring to the fanciful statement I made which was rude to an imaginary congregation and Susan compared me to Jenny and then you said I had a heart for that....well, you see how I linked your statement to my fanciful statement.
Jenny Geddes did not have a heart of hate. Her action was inspired by a love of the pure Gospel. I admire her.
See comment #64
Indeed this is so true!!!!
In the USA and Canada there are a mere handful of churches that practice EP. Assuming this page is up to date I count 34 in the USA, of which 3 are my denomination, OPC. There are 3 in Canada as well. I'm only referring to the USA and Canada in this,
The OPC Book of Church Order designates singing hymns and psalms as being within the RPW.
From The Directory For Public Worship ;
d. Because God's people worship, not as an aggregation of individuals, but as a congregation of those who are members of one another in Christ, public worship is to be conducted as a corporate activity in which all the members participate as the body of Christ.
From The Parts of Public Worship;
a. Public worship should be conducted in a manner that enables and expects God's people by faith actively to embrace the blessing of the Lord in the salutation and benediction; to pray with him who leads in prayer, so that the prayer being uttered aloud becomes their prayer; to attend, in the reading of God's Word, to what God reveals of himself, his redeeming actions for them, and his will for their lives; to confess together with all the people the faith of the church; to heed the Word of truth as the sermon is preached and to appropriate it to their lives as God, through his servant, proclaims and applies it; to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to the praise of God and the edification of one another; to offer their possessions and themselves together as a living sacrifice to the Lord.
2. Congregational Singing
a. Congregational singing is a duty and privilege to be practiced and cultivated in all the churches. Let every member of the church take part in this act of worship. God's people should sing, not merely with the lips, but with understanding and with grace in their hearts, making melody to the Lord.
c. Congregations do well to sing the metrical versions or other musical settings of the Psalms frequently in public worship. Congregations also do well to sing hymns of praise that respond to the full scope of divine revelation.
Going by the OPC Directory of 2019 I count 308 congregations in the USA, and 3 in Canada. Of these, according to the link above 3, in the USA, are EP.
I do think it is divisive to stand sullenly silent while the congregation sings. How can it be anything other than divisive ? It may be a negative, from my point of view, influence on impressionable children, and it is a tacit statement that the balance of the congregation who are singing 'uninspired hymns' are outside of the RPW. Not divisive ?
A respected member of this board, Dr Strange was the editor of the Psalter/Hymnal. Should he be asked to pack his bags and leave the PB ? I can sympathize with those who hold to EP as a matter of conscience, but I have to wonder how they can maintain that view seeing the vast majority of congregations throughout the USA, and the world who do not.
Surely your not advocating we align all our practices with the majority of the visible church in every detail. We should be bound by the Word, even if we stand alone at times. Think how in the minority the 12 disciples seemed to be at first in their own context.
I currently hold to EP, but I do not withhold my young daughters from singing as the current focus is to help them be still and reverent. I remain silent during hymns, but I also don’t “shush” my five year old and two year old if they sing one of the hymns.
We mostly get the Psalms in with secret and private worship. I also don’t dogmatically forbid my wife to do it either and i try on occasion to discuss my reasonings for being EP. Maybe that makes be a softy, but my family is already seeming to prefer the Psalms as i try to be gracious and patient.
My point is that the majority of the visible church, and the government of the OPC have looked at the facts of the controversy and decided for both Psalms and Hymns as appropriate practices within the RPW. This fact, were I an advocate of EP might cause me to rethink my convictions.
Thanks for clarification on your intent. You are right that was a big barrier for me, which likely caused me personally to dig harder. So, yes that fact did give me much pause being newish to confessional Presbyterianism.
It would do well to study the catholicity of the church. Is it more divisive to run fellow Christian brethren out of a congregation because they cannot participate in an element of worship without sinning, or is it more divisive to let them have their views? The division is already there: you believe one thing, and they believe another. I would think that the course of action that best expresses the unity of the Spirit that the Scriptures say we have would be to let them unite with the congregation as much as they can, as indeed pastors and elders in the OPC often decide to handle the matter. Besides, people in a Presbyterian congregation have not all arrived at the same place. It is expected that teaching needs to be given to all who are in attendance, and therefore, that not all will be compliant initially. If hymn singing is of such an important issue that one is willing to drive some people away from the congregation if they will not sing, then I would hope that pastors and elders would bear patiently with them and work with them to try and bring them to what they see to be the truth.
In my experience, the influence on children is negligible. Most people follow what the pastor teaches, especially in certain congregations where ministers instruct the EPers to never talk about their views. It is true that their action of being silent can be interpreted as a tacit statement that those who are singing hymns of mere human composure are outside of the RPW (although that is not the intent of the action), but by the congregation singing the hymns of mere human composure, they too can be tacitly interpreted as saying the EPer is outside the RPW.
No one has asked that. I think a study of the church's catholicity is important. See especially the articles on Napthali Press from Rutherford concerning separation. There are degrees of separation. One need not separate or cause a separation as an "all or nothing" affair. By being separate from the PCA in government, the OPC is not entirely separate from them and saying members of the PCA should pack their bags and leave. Instead, the two denominations are not entirely separated: they agree in much in doctrine, worship, discipline, and practice, and they are willing to participate in each other's congregation's worship and Lord's Supper.
One can play the majority game conveniently in all sorts of ways. Most Christians do not observe the Sabbath in accord with the WCF or even believe in the RPW. How can one maintain one's view that the Reformed faith is correct, when the majority of good bible believing Christians do not? If the OT history is any indication, changes in worship often happen, and it is possible for a minority to be correct, especially in a day when everyone admits is a time of great declension. Because the majority game can be played in all sorts of way, while not ignoring the church catholic's views, it's best to keep the arguments to Scripture.
If my posts above are interpreted as a desire to "run fellow Christian brethren out of a congregation", that was not in any way, shape, or form my intended purpose.
I wonder how negligible the influence on children, and adults is ? I certainly was made curious enough by one member's silence during the singing of hymns to ask him what his reasons were. Are The Book of Church Order's instructions for the RPW to be taken as suggestions or as rules for the congregation to follow ? Taking another look at # 2. Congregational Singing ... it says
"a. Congregational singing is a duty and privilege to be practiced and cultivated in all the churches. Let every member of the church take part in this act of worship. God's people should sing, not merely with the lips, but with understanding and with grace in their hearts, making melody to the Lord."
I read that, "duty and privilege" as an imperative. It is about being part of the body and assisting the whole in worship. At the same time, if an individual due to matters of conscience cannot participate I do not suggest that they be compelled to leave, or even confronted in a disciplinary manner, only to examine their position more closely, giving charity to the possibility that the majority may be right.
I repeat, if I came across implying that holding one view or the other required separation that was not my intent. On the other hand, remaining silent during the congregational singing is de facto separation in a sense.
I would have to do some digging myself, but I'm thinking that when the OPC's Directory For Public Worship was compiled arguments from Scripture were likely considered in deciding what the procedures expressed would be.
On the fifth membership vow in the OPC see:
I think it is an extreme read as Bruce said there to insist 100 percent agreement and I think others such as Dr. Alan Strange would be in line with Dr. Duguid's position. There are OPC sessions that will not allow EPs to be members which is the extreme read leads to among other reasons.
I teach my son not to sing in our church. At three he already knows that God's command is to sing only psalms in public worship. At our church, though, the songs are often so bad that probably many of the hymn-singers here would also decline to sing them.
Really? That is very interesting.
Just a point of clarification: you are reading the page wrong. It includes entire denominations as well as individual congregations. The RPCNA is I think the largest EP church in the US and it has close to 300 churches I think? I could be a little off, so forgive me if I am. Your basic point that EP churches are few and far between is still valid, but not quite as extreme as you suggest. In some parts of the country (Western PA I'm looking at you), they might even be said to be common.
Very good then! And yes, you are correct. It is a negative separation from that particular act of worship, but it is a separation still.
Perhaps some will be curious, but people still follow the lead of the minister and elders, in my experience. The only ones who noticed and asked me were those who had already had exposure to the position and were wondering if that was the reason why I did not sing.
Perhaps it is a difference in church culture, but in the Covenanter circles I've been in, people have been free to express their views, even if they disagreed with the official position of the church, although they certainly were not free to cause trouble in the congregation by such expressions. If there really is a good argument for including hymns of mere human composure in worship, I do not see the harm in people merely being exposed to the view (although of course, one ought not to intentionally expose their congregation to error for the mere sake of it, especially rabbit trail issues; but if it happens, then it happens). I would hope that EPers will show deference to the church's official position especially in the case of children and new converts (in a child's case, I don't think I would even give a reason if asked, I would just say, "Ask your parents!"). Indeed, the greater the influence that EPers have in the public sphere, the better it would be to introduce them to the position and refute it as the error it is said to be.
They probably did, which is good. It is different than arguing from a majority contemporary practice.
See the thread link; I've been told by more than one person. Now, the other shoe is I know there can be unhelpful boneheaded behavior and miscues, cage stage, etc. by EP advocates. It's a two way street, particularly if an EP wants to remain for whatever reason a member in an non EP church. When I joined my local PCA, granted there were family connections, I made it clear I was not a revolutionary.
I recently did likewise.
Here is one practical way for EPers who have to attend hymn singing congregations to avoid being divisive: Before you start attending on a regular basis, ask those in leadership if your position will cause a problem?
Most faithful ministers, if they know that you are not being divisive and are seeking to follow scripture and your conscience, will not have a problem with you. If they do have a problem, then that is a red flag that you are dealing with an authoritarian who is seeking to be a lord over your conscience.
I do not mean to cast aspersions at the OPC as a denomination, but the sentiments uttered by some of its members in this thread are genuinely alarming. Given that two of your most celebrated ministers (John Murray and G. I. Williamson) were/are exclusive psalmody and defended staying in the denomination notwithstanding their convictions on the issue, one would have thought that a little bit more charity could be extended to others of like opinions.
So... I should put the cannons back in the garage, then?
And the OPC (and the wider presbyterian church and others) have Professor Murray to thank for the clear statement of the regulative principle of worship, which would not have been the case if we had only the majority report on worship song from the OPC and not his contributions to those reports.
If that is a serious question I'm not sure what you are asking. I joined my church in 2007, ten years later with no specific campaigning or activity on my part that I'm conscious of, my church has its own full psalter I was asked to help produce from which we sing 60-70% of the time in public worship.
If I understand your post correctly you do not mean to cast aspersions at the OPC as a denomination, but you do mean to cast an aspersion at OPC members who've participated in this thread as being uncharitable ? If by chance I may be one of those who you have so judged, please point out where in my posts I've been so.
It was not a serious question. I do not in fact own any artillery pieces.
As I stated above, I don't believe this song was for public worship. Though Moses received it at the tabernacle, it seems implied that he went out to all Israel and taught them this. For what purpose? Was it worship? No, it seems rather the purpose "that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel." Also, later under David, in ceremonial worship who sang in public worship at the tent of meeting? It was the Levites who alone sang and played instruments. To believe this then was a command for all of Israel to sing in worship would then go against the Scriptures that are absolutely clear in Chronicles (that only the Levites sang). So we need to use Scripture to interpret Scripture as well when we consider the song given to Moses in Deut. 31. It seems to be a catechetical tool to teach the people, not a command for all of Israel to sing in public worship.
Jimmy, I have a hard job understanding what you and Sarah have advocated above as anything other than implicit faith in the authority of one's elders. Given that the OPC has EP ministers and EP congregations, I cannot see why it should have that big a problem with having peaceable EP members in non-EP congregations.
I think you’re right. It does show that prophetic song was an instrument for instruction and admonition prior to David, which seems interesting. That idea wasn’t a brand new thing.
Yes, Song of Solomon would be similar, especially for the Church today.
I hope the Church in Birmingham is going well and hope you will gain a Pastor soon!