Why Exclusive Psalmody?

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timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Brother, with all due respect, you are looking in the wrong place. See the context, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." Where does one find the Word of Christ? But the inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16). It says then "teaching and admonishing"? What ought we to be teaching? See Mt. 28:19-20 and 2 Tim. 3:16. What do we admonish with?
Teaching and admonishing are never divorced from scripture, since this is where God reveals Himself. But my question then would be this: when you teach, do you quote verbatim scripture and nothing more, lest you add something man-made? When you admonish, do you only quote scripture? Or more pertinent to this passage according to the parameters you assign to it, are you only allowed to teach and admonish with verbatim Psalms? Since the answer is obviously no, what you posit against my position is moot. You and I both would affirm that we teach and admonish with both scripture and words which proceed from fallible man. Teaching and admonishing prove more for my position than yours.

But what are the "word of Christ"? Any time we do exegesis, we have to look at the context. First, we would both affirm that teaching and admonishing are not restricted to verbatim scripture, but both scripture and words of human construction. Second, we should look to Paul's own terminology he's setting up in the book. Please consider the following:

1. 1:5-6 "...because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth..."

2. 1:25-26 "...of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints."

3. 4:3 "...meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains..."

The question is, does Paul speak of the word (logos) in this book ever as verbatim scripture? John Eadie rightly asserts that the "word of Christ" here refers to the gospel. The gospel is revealed in scripture and promulgated by fallible men with fallible words. This is consistent with the epistle as a whole as I have pointed out from this epistle. Insisting that Paul refers to verbatim scripture-- or more restrictively to verbatim Psalms-- is an eisegetical convenience, not an exegetical probability.

Well, I think we need to take the context, and what Paul says, what he means.
Agreed.

The answer is the inspired word of God and the inspired word of God alone. And so it is that we are to teach and admonish one another the Word of God, and there it says in 3:16 "...in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs..."
Allow me to ask again: when you teach and admonish as a minister in Christ's Church, do you teach and admonish exclusively with Psalms or inclusively with scripture and your own words that you believe are faithful to scripture?

If the latter, you've made my point clearly.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Allow me to ask again: when you teach and admonish as a minister in Christ's Church, do you teach and admonish exclusively with Psalms or inclusively with scripture and your own words that you believe are faithful to scripture?
To clarify, do you think singing and teaching are the same thing? Singing has aspects of teaching/admonishing because singing conveys information (3:16 - singing is a conveying of information to one another and thus has aspects of teaching/admonishing). But I'll quote from a book, "But if you told someone that you were a teacher in your church, they would never dream that you just meant that you sang..." "A teaching elder is not someone who sings in church. If singing and teaching are not distinct, then we would be perfectly justified in having a songless church as long as teaching in some form is included. The fact of the matter, however, is that the requirement to sing is not satisfied by teaching, no matter how much these two activities have in common." The same requirement to teach is not satisfied by singing...

The observance of the Lord's supper is a proclamation of the Gospel (1 Cor. 11:26), each communicant proclaims Christ's death to one another in partaking. But is the lady or any other lay member who partakes of the supper preaching in the formal sense and thereby fulfilling that element of preaching in worship? No. There are similarities but they are not the same. I'm afraid what you are doing is acting in your questions to me as if they are the same thing. They are not. Singing is singing and is characterized by the commands of God concerning singing. Reading the Bible is commanded by God in Scripture (WCF 21). And reading is speaking word for word the Bible. Does reading God's word teach and admonish? You betcha. So does that mean we can make the argument that in our reading of Scripture we can speak our own words? No sir. Stay in the lane of singing on this question. Does it convey information and in that way teach and admonish? Yes. What information does it convey in which it teaches and admonishes? Again the context is key "Let the word of God dwell in you richly".
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
To clarify, do you think singing and teaching are the same thing? Singing has aspects of teaching/admonishing because singing conveys information (3:16 - singing is a conveying of information to one another and thus has aspects of teaching/admonishing). But I'll quote from a book, "But if you told someone that you were a teacher in your church, they would never dream that you just meant that you sang..." "A teaching elder is not someone who sings in church. If singing and teaching are not distinct, then we would be perfectly justified in having a songless church as long as teaching in some form is included. The fact of the matter, however, is that the requirement to sing is not satisfied by teaching, no matter how much these two activities have in common." The same requirement to teach is not satisfied by singing...
However, I think this totally misses the point that @timfost is making.

Earlier, it was claimed Psalms only because of the part of the passage that says "Word of Christ." That was then taken to mean it must be Scripture only by the argument of EP. However, you don't apply that same argument to the teaching. It seems inconsistent.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
However, I think this totally misses the point that @timfost is making.

Earlier, it was claimed Psalms only because of the part of the passage that says "Word of Christ." That was then taken to mean it must be Scripture only by the argument of EP. However, you don't apply that same argument to the teaching. It seems inconsistent.
Yes, thank you. I'm not planning on replying to @Romans922 because that's a whole different issue and I don't want to defend inclusive psalmody from every angle. It's not that the conversation couldn't go that way, I simply don't have the time/desire to do so.

Thank you all for another interesting discussion!
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Sophomore
Peter says:

"Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

Are our spiritual sacrifices also inspired? If not, you would need to prove that this specific example in Col. 3 means inspired (most uses of this term in scripture are not referring to the inspired word).

On the other hand, if the Spirit works in me, can I not say that my praises are spiritual as I can say my sacrifices are spiritual? After all, praise is a sacrifice (Heb. 13:15). Is man-made praise without a melody spiritual, but adding a melody makes it not spiritual?

This is a very odd, speculative and strange line of reasoning, in my opinion...
It's worth pointing out that the "spiritual house" and "spiritual sacrifices" are not made by men. That's Peter's point: whereas the Temple was made by hands, the spiritual house is built up by the work of the Spirit and the presence of the Spirit in the souls of believers. Likewise whereas before physical sacrifices (of animals) were offered, now the believer is enabled to offer a spiritual sacrifice by the Spirit, through Christ. The Holy Spirit takes the groanings of the soul to God.

So granted spiritual does not have the exact same object in mind (the Scriptures) in both contexts, however in both contexts spiritual does refer to something originating not in man but in God. Scripture, after all, was produced by the Spirit working in men: David and others composed the Psalter, under the inspiration of the Spirit.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
It's worth pointing out that the "spiritual house" and "spiritual sacrifices" are not made by men. That's Peter's point: whereas the Temple was made by hands, the spiritual house is built up by the work of the Spirit and the presence of the Spirit in the souls of believers. Likewise whereas before physical sacrifices (of animals) were offered, now the believer is enabled to offer a spiritual sacrifice by the Spirit, through Christ. The Holy Spirit takes the groanings of the soul to God.

So granted spiritual does not have the exact same object in mind (the Scriptures) in both contexts, however in both contexts spiritual does refer to something originating not in man but in God. Scripture, after all, was produced by the Spirit working in men: David and others composed the Psalter, under the inspiration of the Spirit.
And I believe that even my singing of man-made hymns is a demonstration of the Spirit's work in my life.

Does the Spirit work in your life? Does that produce in you simply quoting scripture? See my point?
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Sophomore
And I believe that even my singing of man-made hymns is a demonstration of the Spirit's work in my life.

Does the Spirit work in your life? Does that produce in you simply quoting scripture? See my point?
But the work of the Spirit in our life is of a different category altogether. It is not by a work of revelation or inspiration in the way the Scriptures were inspired. We have Scriptural precedent for preaching and prayers which are not inspired in the way Scripture was. The very nature of preaching and praying requires this. We have no Scriptural precedent for songs sung in worship which were not composed by the Spirit and we don't even have a record of such inspired songs being sung in worship other than those in the Psalter.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
But the work of the Spirit in our life is of a different category altogether. It is not by a work of revelation or inspiration in the way the Scriptures were inspired. We have Scriptural precedent for preaching and prayers which are not inspired in the way Scripture was. The very nature of preaching and praying requires this. We have no Scriptural precedent for songs sung in worship which were not composed by the Spirit and we don't even have a record of such inspired songs being sung in worship other than those in the Psalter.
This gets to the core beliefs of EP. I was only interacting with Col. 3:16. Please know that I understand your position. Though I don't find it persuasive, I respect those who believe this way.

Blessings,

Tim
 

Prolocutor Twisse

Puritan Board Freshman
I would like to echo what Jake has said above 100%. I am still relatively new to EP (Just over 1 year). You can see my wrestling here:

1.https://puritanboard.com/threads/still-chewing-on-ep-acapella-only.96773/

2.https://puritanboard.com/threads/kfc-cheeto-chicken-sandwich.98688/#post-1206817 (oops:rolleyes:)

In the end I did become convinced of Acapella Only and Exclusive Psalmody. I would also like to say that since I have set out on learning the Psalms (for singing) and using them exclusively in secret and family worship, the spiritual blessings have been truly magnificent. The extent of this has been so joyful. We currently attend a church that is 95% hymns only.

It has been a challenge to learn Psalm Singing, especially since I was raised only being taught they were good for mediation and prayer only. However, the work has been worth it. As my family and I walk through the meaning of a new psalm, we then learn to sing it. After experiencing their richness, I just can't see selecting a hymn selection over a Psalter selection. In my singing of the Psalms I really have not found anything lacking by way of expressing my experiences before the Lord through a Psalter selection. I really just wanted to weigh in as a newbie, who really tries hard not be be a curmudgeon on this topic. I wanted to echo Jake and encourage you @David Taylor to listen to sermons on both sides, search those scriptures used for both positions, and pray. I pray more of the church will find the Psalms again for the element of singing (even if not exclusively). The Psalms have fallen on hard times, even in some large Confessional congregations. Oh how we need them!
:detective:
Thank you for this post. I found it thoughtful and challenging. I have attempted to incorporate more Psalm singing into our Family Worship time. I echo your sentiment that it has been a challenge to engage the Psalms in singing, especially since the church I attend rarely sings Psalms. However, I have found the reality of the Psalms covering the gamut of human emotion, passion, and experience and the joy of singing God's very words back to him a wonderful blessing. Thank you for your encouragement to keep plugging along.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
But the work of the Spirit in our life is of a different category altogether. It is not by a work of revelation or inspiration in the way the Scriptures were inspired. We have Scriptural precedent for preaching and prayers which are not inspired in the way Scripture was. The very nature of preaching and praying requires this. We have no Scriptural precedent for songs sung in worship which were not composed by the Spirit and we don't even have a record of such inspired songs being sung in worship other than those in the Psalter.
But that builds on the whole presumption that Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, only reference Psalms. And yes, that is a presumption. The fact that the three are qualified in of themselves do not necessitate that to be the Psalms only. It is also of note that Spiritual only precedes Psalms. It is inconsistent logic to arrive at EP based on this verse.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you for this post. I found it thoughtful and challenging. I have attempted to incorporate more Psalm singing into our Family Worship time. I echo your sentiment that it has been a challenge to engage the Psalms in singing, especially since the church I attend rarely sings Psalms. However, I have found the reality of the Psalms covering the gamut of human emotion, passion, and experience and the joy of singing God's very words back to him a wonderful blessing. Thank you for your encouragement to keep plugging along.
Amen! One thing I do as the dad is work to learn the Psalm first myself and then introduce it to the family. We use the Blue Crown & Covenant Psalter. I like the 1650 but to be honest I have not found it very practical for introduction purposes for my inexperienced family (myself included).

There is also an Iphone App for the Blue Psalter. There is also a Free Spotify Channel for the Blue Psalter. We first learn it with tune assistance and then go acapella once we have it nailed down. We actually use the 1650 Psalter App as well, but currently we just use the commentary feature to help up capture a clear mindset of what we are actually singing.

Feel free to send me a Private Message if you want to continue the conversation.:detective:
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Sophomore
But that builds on the whole presumption that Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, only reference Psalms. And yes, that is a presumption. The fact that the three are qualified in of themselves do not necessitate that to be the Psalms only. It is also of note that Spiritual only precedes Psalms. It is inconsistent logic to arrive at EP based on this verse.
I don't think anyone has argued that this verse is the basis of the EP position. It was brought up in the debate and people have been addressing it. I myself said above that even if this verse cannot be one hundred percent proven to be referring exclusively to Psalms, the phrase itself and the context make it a very shaky basis on which to argue that songs of purely human composition are allowed in worship. It's clearly a contentious verse and so it shouldn't be used as the basis of a doctrine either way. We need to compare it with the rest of Scripture and when one does that the EP interpreation of the verse is far more persuasive and consistent than the hymn singers'.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
We need to compare it with the rest of Scripture and when one does that the EP interpreation of the verse is far more persuasive and consistent than the hymn singers'.
In your opinion, yes. The non-ep viewpoint believes otherwise.

Again, this is not a slam against EP. If that is your conviction you MUST hold to it. But so far, I have not seen any evidence of EP from a Scriptural standpoint. It all seems like tradition, assumption, and taking a restriction to a level that is not actually found in Scripture.

It also seems that it takes the RPW to a level that was not intended and that the viewpoint only uses good and necessary consequences when it is convenient to that viewpoint.

For example, I don't know how one can logically hold to infant baptism while also holding to EP.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Sophomore
In your opinion, yes. The non-ep viewpoint believes otherwise.

Again, this is not a slam against EP. If that is your conviction you MUST hold to it. But so far, I have not seen any evidence of EP from a Scriptural standpoint. It all seems like tradition, assumption, and taking a restriction to a level that is not actually found in Scripture.

It also seems that it takes the RPW to a level that was not intended and that the viewpoint only uses good and necessary consequences when it is convenient to that viewpoint.

For example, I don't know how one can logically hold to infant baptism while also holding to EP.
I would counter that by saying that there is an assumption and tradition that "hymns and spiritual songs" means songs of purely human composition. The onus is actually on the hymn singers to prove their point from Scripture. We know Psalms were sung during Biblical history. The church continued singing psalms for a very, very long time after the close of the canon. There is no record in Scripture of a song of purely human composition being sung in worship or any explicit command to sing such songs. So with all that the logical conclusion is that at the very least songs of purely human composition shouldn't be sung. Hymn singers are the innovators. It is incumbent upon them to prove their case and really the closest they come to having explicit command to sing such songs is this phrase "hymns and spiritual songs" and that's it. And that is a rather shaky foundation on which to build a doctrine.

Now I grant the hymn singers have the upper hand because their position is the widespread position of the church. The psalm singers lost the argument. But that shouldn't matter in a debate about what Scripture actually teaches.

And it's also worth pointing out that very few churches which sing hymns also sing psalms. So despite what we often hear in Reformed circles about singing both or being an "inclusive" psalm singer, in practice that position is pretty non-existent. And actually it is far more common to come across opposition to singing Psalms. So even if the phrase "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" does allow for singing songs of purely human composition as well as psalms, no one really does that and so people who make this argument are actually in violation of Scripture anyway.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
And it's also worth pointing out that very few churches which sing hymns also sing psalms. So despite what we often hear in Reformed circles about singing both or being an "inclusive" psalm singer, in practice that position is pretty non-existent. And actually it is far more common to come across opposition to singing Psalms. So even if the phrase "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" does allow for singing songs of purely human composition as well as psalms, no one really does that and so people who make this argument are actually in violation of Scripture anyway.
I don't think this is accurate at all. Do they sing the Psalms in the way the EP position thinks that we should? Probably not, but to say those churches do not sing them I do not think is something that is reality. Every church I have ever been in sings the Psalms in some fashion.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
I would counter that by saying that there is an assumption and tradition that "hymns and spiritual songs" means songs of purely human composition. The onus is actually on the hymn singers to prove their point from Scripture. We know Psalms were sung during Biblical history. The church continued singing psalms for a very, very long time after the close of the canon. There is no record in Scripture of a song of purely human composition being sung in worship or any explicit command to sing such songs. So with all that the logical conclusion is that at the very least songs of purely human composition shouldn't be sung. Hymn singers are the innovators. It is incumbent upon them to prove their case and really the closest they come to having explicit command to sing such songs is this phrase "hymns and spiritual songs" and that's it. And that is a rather shaky foundation on which to build a doctrine.
But this works against the very arguments that you would also use for Infant Baptism. That is a logical inconsistency.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't think this is accurate at all. Do they sing the Psalms in the way the EP position thinks that we should? Probably not, but to say those churches do not sing them I do not think is something that is reality. Every church I have ever been in sings the Psalms in some fashion.
What do you mean "in some fashion"? Do you mean how some psalms were used as a basis for a hymn? That is not singing a psalm. I can tell you that in the UK the only churches which sing psalms in every service of worship are very few in number and outwith the various presbyterian denominations in Scotland I don't know of any that sing them at all.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
What do you mean "in some fashion"? Do you mean how some psalms were used as a basis for a hymn? That is not singing a psalm. I can tell you that in the UK the only churches which sing psalms in every service of worship are very few in number and outwith the various presbyterian denominations in Scotland I don't know of any that sing them at all.
I mean it may be one verse out of a Psalm and not the entire Psalm. I know that is not what you view as acceptable, at least from what I can tell.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Sophomore
But this works against the very arguments that you would also use for Infant Baptism. That is a logical inconsistency.
No it's the same argument. In the Old Covenant infant (boys) were admitted to the church through circumcision, in the New Covenant, therefore, children should be admitted through the rite of membership which is Baptism. The explicit command or precendent which was required was to extend that to females and so we have examples of females being baptised. We have no explicit command to restrict the rite of membership to adults and therefore, following the same hermeneutic, we should continue the established practice of initiating infants as well as adults.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
No it's the same argument. In the Old Covenant infant (boys) were admitted to the church through circumcision, in the New Covenant, therefore, children should be admitted through the rite of membership which is Baptism. The explicit command or precendent which was required was to extend that to females and so we have examples of females being baptised. We have no explicit command to restrict the rite of membership to adults and therefore, following the same hermeneutic, we should continue the established practice of initiating infants as well as adults.
It is not the same thing, but that you don't see it as the same thing explains a little of how you arrive at your positions. Thank you for that.
 
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David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
Please explain. A moment ago you said it wasn't the same thing, that I was being logically inconsistent.
I mistyped, I edited. What I mean is that it is not the same thing. You do not see infant baptism anywhere in Scripture, yet you accept it as good and necessary. Yet, you refuse to accept anything other than Palms for worship. THAT is the logical inconsistency.

There is just as much, if not more, reason to believe that there should be hymns based on Scripture as there is for Infant Baptism. Yet you reject hymns and accept infant baptism. That is logically inconsistent. It is also an inconsistent hermeneutic.

Now, I am not trying to make this about credo vs paedo baptism, but I am pointing out that it seems like you pick and choose which traditions to follow in an inconsistent manner.

That is why I say I do not see how someone can be consistent in their theology and hold to Infant Baptism and EP at the same time.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Sophomore
I mistyped, I edited. What I mean is that it is not the same thing. You do not see infant baptism anywhere in Scripture, yet you accept it as good and necessary. Yet, you refuse to accept anything other than Palms for worship. THAT is the logical inconsistency.

There is just as much, if not more, reason to believe that there should be hymns based on Scripture as there is for Infant Baptism. Yet you reject hymns and accept infant baptism. That is logically inconsistent. It is also an inconsistent hermeneutic.

Now, I am not trying to make this about credo vs paedo baptism, but I am pointing out that it seems like you pick and choose which traditions to follow in an inconsistent manner.

That is why I say I do not see how someone can be consistent in their theology and hold to Infant Baptism and EP at the same time.
Following the hermeneutic I use for Baptism I would look for an explicit command to sing songs other than Psalms in worship. My argument is that there is no command because I do not interpret the colossians verse the way you do and I don't see any other place in Scripture which either by command or precendent allows for songs of purely human composition. Thereofore, following the same hermeneutic, the conclusion drawn is that we should continue singing Psalms and only Psalms. So yes it does come down to how we interpret that verse. My argument is that at best the verse is not conclusive to establish EP but it certainly doesn't establish non-EP and beyond that verse there is nothing I see which remotely comes close to establishing the non-EP position.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
I mistyped, I edited. What I mean is that it is not the same thing. You do not see infant baptism anywhere in Scripture, yet you accept it as good and necessary. Yet, you refuse to accept anything other than Palms for worship. THAT is the logical inconsistency.

There is just as much, if not more, reason to believe that there should be hymns based on Scripture as there is for Infant Baptism. Yet you reject hymns and accept infant baptism. That is logically inconsistent. It is also an inconsistent hermeneutic.

Now, I am not trying to make this about credo vs paedo baptism, but I am pointing out that it seems like you pick and choose which traditions to follow in an inconsistent manner.

That is why I say I do not see how someone can be consistent in their theology and hold to Infant Baptism and EP at the same time.
David,

A significant portion of Reformed Church History maintained both positions (including forbidding instrument use in worship). Alexander is not making these things up and for him and others their logic is consistent.

We do not expect you to see them as logically consistent since you reject them both.:detective:

:2cents: Take a break. This thread will not settle the debate. Spend some time with the sources linked.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
Following the hermeneutic I use for Baptism I would look for an explicit command to sing songs other than Psalms in worship. My argument is that there is no command because I do not interpret the colossians verse the way you do and I don't see any other place in Scripture which either by command or precendent allows for songs of purely human composition. Thereofore, following the same hermeneutic, the conclusion drawn is that we should continue singing Psalms and only Psalms. So yes it does come down to how we interpret that verse. My argument is that at best the verse is not conclusive to establish EP but it certainly doesn't establish non-EP and beyond that verse there is nothing I see which remotely comes close to establishing the non-EP position.
And that is precisely my point. You are EP because of no explicit command to sing anything other than Psalms. Yet, you hold to Infant Baptism which also has no explicit command. It is that which is the inconsistency I am talking about.
 
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