Here is the "Longer Post"…

Ok I am ready, after finally getting my internet to work, to post my “longer post” on Exclusive Psalmody. I want to start off by saying I am not an EPist. However I have found the arguments put forward by the RPCNA to be convincing and sound and that is what I want to present for you today. First I want to define how the Westminster Standards define the Regulative Principle of Worship and I want to state this is the definition I will refer back to when I speak of the RPW. I believe this definition is biblical when discussing what is proper in worship, especially for the Reformed wing of the Church universal. So here we go:

Reformed Principle of Worship

Chapter 21.1 in the Westminster Confession:

The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all ones might.[1] But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.[2]

1. Rom. 1:20; Psa. 19:1-4a; 50:6; 86:8-10; 89:5-7; 95:1-6; 97:6; 104:1-35; 145:9-12; Acts 14:17; Deut. 6:4-5
2. Deut. 4:15-20; 12:32; Matt. 4:9-10; 15:9; Acts 17:23-25; Exod. 20:4-6, John 4:23-24; Col. 2:18-23

The underlined and bolded portion of WCF Ch. 21 above is the definition that I will follow in this discussion. One may (and some do) disagree with this definition of the RPW but this is undoubtedly the way 99% of the descendant denominations of Westminster define it.

Further Reading on the RPW:

Banner of Truth
Theopedia
D.G. Hart and John Frame Debate Long, but well worth the time

Moving On to the Heart of the Matter

Having established that the Westminster Confession states that God has prescribed how it is that we should worship him as the New Testament church I want to begin by saying that from now on we will stay in Scripture and I will not use secondary sources and I would appreciate it if when we discuss this we all do the same because I believe this is primarily a primary text question.

Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19

The two main texts in question are Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19, both having the refrain “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”. Interestingly enough both camps use these verses as keystones in their argument, even more interesting is that the 1780 Presbyterian psalter uses these two verses as source texts on its title page. So why is it that both parties can use these verses to prove their point? Well to give a little background the RP’s and the forefathers of nearly all American presbyterians gave greater credence to the Greek Septuagint than the Hebrew Masoretic text (this is vital to understand and there are many reasons for it but that is not the purpose of this post). Therefore when an RP takes the New Testament Greek words ψαλμοις, υμνοις, and ωδαις πνευματικαις (Psalms, Hymns, and spiritual songs) and sees their use in the Septuagint Book of Psalms one notices that all three are used to describe the Psalms themselves. For example Psalm 72:20 says “The prayers of David the Son of Jesse are ended” and in the Greek Septuagint the word translated “prayers” is υμνοις or “hymns”. Also the intro to Psalm 76 (Psalm 75 in the Greek) uses ψαλμος and ωδoς interchangeably referring to Asaph’s Psalm as a song. This same thing can be seen in the introductions to Psalm 65, Psalm 66, Psalm 67, Psalm 68, Psalm 75, and Psalm 76.

Therefore what Paul is saying in Col. 3:16 and Eph 5:19 can be seen as a hendiatris, or in plain English, it is nothing more than a Greek figure of speech intended on saying one thing through three words. Furthermore Nehemiah 12:27 and Nehemiah 12:46-47 are also key verses for the EPer in this defense of the hendiatris. Lets look at them now.

Verse 27: Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites from all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem so that they might celebrate the dedication with gladness, with hymns of thanksgiving and with songs to the accompaniment of cymbals, harps and lyres.

Verses 46 and 47: For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, there were leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God. So all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah gave the portions due the singers and the gatekeepers as each day required, and set apart the consecrated portion for the Levites, and the Levites set apart the consecrated portion for the sons of Aaron.

Compare the two and ask the question: What were the songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving led by David and Asaph? Ergo what might Paul be referring to in Colossians 3:16 but the Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs of David and Asaph? Again Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 are not commanding them to sing the Psalms and Hymns and spiritual songs but is specifically telling them to sing the Psalms to each other.

Now I want to end there to allow for some more in depth discussion in the comments.

Update: Here is a good site for some quotes on EP

http://www.cprf.co.uk/quotes.htm#psalmsinging

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “Here is the "Longer Post"…

  1. What we lack here is an unequivocal Scriptural passage that tells us to exclusively use material from the inspired writings for our worship.

    It just isn’t there.

    Sure, there seems to be a clear warrant for our using Scripture as the norm in our prayers, songs and praises. That’s what makes us Reformed!

    Hughes Oliphant Old and his work must be consulted, as he deals with this much more thoroughly than I can. But basically the argument goes: Scripture, in its patterns, images, language, thought processes and doctrine is what shapes all that we offer in worship. THAT, in the Reformed estimation, is the heart of the Regulative Principle–do what is commanded in the Word and conform all that is in our worship by the teachings of the Word.

    All that the exclusive psalmnists have to offer is a narrow, questionable reading of ONE verse really.

    What about Paul’s use of a hymn in Philipians?

    I think we should discuss the lack of real conclusive admonitions to only use psalms for worship.

  2. Toby,

    Their defense to the first point would be that if you look at the Greek of Colossians 3:16 Paul makes a more strict pronouncement per the “singing” than the teaching of God’s word. It seems as if Paul is circumscribing the content of of our singing more closely than he does our teaching. We must not only sing the content of Scripture, Paul directs us to sing Psalms. While the content of the teaching must be Scriptural the content of the singing must be the designated Scripture, which is the 150 Psalms.

    I’ve read Old’s “Worship: Reformed according to Scripture” and he does a fair job refuting this point. However he does make the case that the early Church (until the end of the 4th century) were for vast majority EP’s.

    They would also say that it is also quite apparent that Jesus and the disciples in Matt 26:30 and Mark 14:26 as well as Paul and Silas in Acts 16:25 were singing the Psalms when the word umnos is used.

    As far as Philippians 2 it is worth noting that the idea of this being a hymn is a quite recent thought. It shows up in no commentary until the 20th century.

  3. hmm.. there’s probably some space limit.

    While I realize I am not offering the Puritan or exclusive Psalmody interpretation of the RPW, I believe the application of it that results in exclusive Psalmody is in error.

    To use the RPW to regulate instrumentation is over-reaching into things indifferent.

    Even to use the RPW to regulate sung music to only words from the Psalms (not even the rest of scripture?!) does not seem consistent with biblical teaching or example.

    When God’s Word is preached, we do not simply read scripture, but interpret and apply it to the community of believers.

    When we pray, we do not only pray scripture, but pray our own words, with every hope and intention that God’s will be done… our best prayers hope to align our wills with His.

    As I study scripture, I see a consistent quality to worship from Genesis to Revelation, upheld in Eden, Old Testament, New Testament, and Revelation. In each case, God invites human worship and allows human beings to participate out of their humanity. PARTICULARLY with Jesus (see Hebrews), we gained a perfect mediator so that imperfect humanity was granted access to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would augment our imperfect prayers and Jesus would present them (and us) holy and blameless to the Father.

    To focus the RPW on instruments, style, or limit words to the Psalms is, in my view, to become legalistic about a matter in which the Son has set us free.

    We should be diligent to uphold biblical PRINCIPLES of worship, like humility, obedience, service, repentance, offering, obeisance, etc…, and should be diligent to seek to worship in Spirit and Truth (Jn. 4) and in community (Acts 2:42), but in Christ there is great freedom as well, rooted in God’s Word and Spirit.

  4. Rev. Austell,

    I believe they would counter the “preaching/teaching vs. singing” argument with Col. 3:16 saying that Paul does define what can be sung, that being Psalms and recognizes the difference between Preaching/Praying and singing. They would agree with what you say on Praying and Preaching wholeheartedly.

    However they would also say that there is no positive command to write new songs or hymns for the New Testament Church but that Paul says here and in Eph 5:19 that the “hymnbook” is already present.

  5. Benjamin,

    That is the counter-argument, but it reminds me of the interaction between Jesus and some religious leaders after he and his disciples picked grain on the Sabbath, then he healed a men. Neither was permitted explicitly by their scripture either.

    This is not an argument that can be solved by proof texting… and as Darryl Hart demonstrates, it may not even be a study that can be engaged in good conscience by some who have vowed to uphold Westminster.

    But I see the RPW pinning it’s theology on several examples in the OT (of worship gone wrong), several examples in the NT (of early worship), and not looking at principles of worship throughout scripture. In my view, these more than address the question of appropriate content and bounds of acceptable practice.

    One critical NT passage that must be examined is not the example passage of singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, but the worship-principle passage in John 4:20-24. Jesus talks about the Samaritan and Jewish precedents for worship and how he has inaugurated a new era of worship, where what the Father seeks is Spirit and Truth.

    Yes, Truth is what puts the Bible at the very heart of our worship, but I do not understand the NT anywhere to teach that God’s Truth or the Gospel is limited to the Psalms.

    That the early church MAY have only sung Psalms (though I think there is good evidence to the contrary), it doesn’t mean that the practice is explicitly commanded, particularly when other communication of God’s Word was broader than the Psalms.

    Calvin treated music as prayer. As a musician and a preacher, I see only a blurry distinction between the two. At what point does speaking change to singing? I preach with different dynamics, pitch, and intensity. Is it the instrument that suddenly would shut my words off and require me to only recite Psalms?

    One of the underlying theological bulwarks for the RPW is the belief in human depravity. We can’t be trusted to choose the words with which we sing to God. (again, how can we then preach and pray?) I am 100% convinced of utter human depravity… but I see throughout Scripture and history that we can take even the good commands and Word of God (worship me alone!) and twist that command into a distortion and diminished version of what God intends.

    Scripture resounds with exhortation that we are to worship and love God with all we have – heart, soul, mind, strength, talents, time, … everything. Those principles of worship FILL God’s Word from start to finish. Yet we have taken a handful of example verses where pepole worshiped or didn’t worship in a particular way and written an overarching principle of worship?

    Reading Daryl Hart’s correspondence with John Frame saddened me. While I have no doubt of his faith, obedience, and diligence, I see that vows taken prevented him from doing one of the very things at the bedrock of his theology… always reforming and being reformed by God’s Word. Frame brought that up graciously, but I’m afraid that many folks have painted themselves into an inescapable corner.

    Like every other area of life, we can err to the side of liberty and we can err to the side of bondage. While the Psalms will be a great source of blessing to all who sing and dwell in them, I think those who sing them exclusively are missing out on much with which God would grace them.

  6. I found one snippit from a paper I wrote that is a little more concise and speaks more to the comparison between preaching and music.

    Westminster’s regulative principle should be applied with some interpretive guidelines. What Scripture prescribes for all times and places are God-revealed PRINCIPLES, whose application may vary from time to place to culture. For example, in 1 Timothy 2:8, the situation demonstrates this: “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” What does Scripture prescribe there? Certainly, it prescribes prayer in worship. Must hands be raised whenever men pray? No, the context indicates the principle involved is worshiping without “wrath and dissension.” Lifting hands up in this passage may have been in contrast to laying them on one another. The principle prescribed for prayer in worship is that attention and focus be on God, and that believers seek to be at peace with each other.

    A careful distinction must be maintained between PRINCIPLES and APPLICATION when talking about biblical worship. In all practice of worship, one must seek to be faithful to worship principles described in Scripture, mindful of worship application described in Scripture, and prayerful about worship application in the present setting. This is, essentially, no different from the preaching task of proclamation of biblical principles, study of their contextual application, and exhortation to their observation in the contemporary context.

  7. Rev. Austell,

    I know the arguments against the use of musical instrumentation a little better than the EP ones and from that platform I wonder if your last point, concerning principles not application, would be better argued from that perspective. In saying that I reference the examples of Temple Worship. David first establishes the use of instruments around 1000 BC, under the guidance of God. Then 300 years later Hezekiah reestablishes the instruments, then Josiah 500 years later, and then Nehemiah 550 years after David. In doing so they all point to the positive command given to David by God for the specific usage of instruments in temple worship. Why do I bring that up? Well one would assume that the style and type of instruments used by David’s culture would vary greatly from Nehemiah’s yet when Nehemiah reestablishes temple worship he brings back exactly that which David had set forth 550 years earlier. We see with the examples of instrumental use in public temple worship that God regulates the public worship of himself. This really is where the crux of the argument lies for me.

    Given the RPW how does God wish that he is worshiped in our New Testament context? Well as is the case with instruments (and there are no examples of instruments being used in NT worship in the Gospels, Acts, or the rest of the NT). Now you may say that arguments from silence are specious (and I would agree) but the real question why would a God who cares so much about the particulars of his worship in the OT suddenly not be concerned in the NT unless the OT provides a guide for us to follow?

  8. Of course you could always become Quaker and just sit waiting for the Spirit.
    Calvin: As to public prayers, there are two kinds: the one consists of words alone; the other includes music. And this is no recent invention. For since the very beginning of the church it has been this way, as we may learn from history books. Nor does St. Paul himself speak only of prayer by word of mouth, but also of singing. And in truth, we know from experience that song has a great power and strength to move and inflame the hearts of men to invoke and praise God with a heart more vehement and ardent. One must always watch lest the song be light and frivolous; rather, it should have weight and majesty, as St. Augustine says. And thus there is a great difference between the music that is made to entertain people at home and at table, and the Psalms which are sung in church, in the presence of God and His angels. Therefore, if any wish rightly to judge the kind of music presented here, we hope he will find it to be holy and pure, seeing that it is simply made in keeping with the edification of which we have spoken, whatever further use it may be put to. For even in our homes and out of doors let it be a spur to us and a means of praising God and lifting up our hearts to Him, so that we may be consoled by meditating on His virtue, His bounty, His wisdom, and His justice. For this is more necessary than one can ever tell.

    Among all the other things that are proper for the recreation of man and for giving him pleasure, music, if not the first, is among the most important; and we must consider it a gift from God expressly made for that purpose. And for this reason we must be all the more careful not to abuse it, for fear of defiling or contaminating it, converting to our damnation what is intended for our profit and salvation. If even for this reason alone, we might well be moved to restrict the use of music to make it serve only what is respectable and never use it for unbridled dissipations or for emasculating ourselves with immoderate pleasure. Nor should it lead us to lasciviousness or shamelessness.
    So Ben it is what is being sung is for the glory and edification of God that is the only criteria. There are many hymns that fit this criteria that are not in the OT. There are many though out the NT in praise of God and was good enough to include in the various books.
    To finish CAlvin:
    Then, too, we must keep in mind what St. Paul says, that devotional songs can be sung well only by the heart. Now the heart implies intelligence, which, says St. Augustine, is the difference between the singing of men and that of birds. For though a linnet, a nightingale, or a parrot sing ever so well, it will be without understanding. Now it is man’s gift to be able to sing and to know what it is he is singing. After intelligence, the heart and the emotions must follow, and this can happen only if we have the hymn engraved in our memory so that it will never cease. We should have the intelligence to tell the difference and trust God to filter out the questionable ones.

  9. Thanks for the Calvin quote. You may have inadvertently helped the EP case.

    Look at this section from the Calvin Quote:

    And thus there is a great difference between the music that is made to entertain people at home and at table, and the Psalms which are sung in church, in the presence of God and His angels.

    Calvin makes a distinction, just like the EP’s do, between the music sung on occasion and the music sung in the stated service of the Church on the Sabbath.

  10. Wow – I just got the comment from “Dad” and thought my Dad had somehow found these posts… then I realized it was probably your Dad. 🙂

    The arguments from silence might be more persuasive if all we had was silence on the matter of worship, but the New Testament does teach principles of worship, many or all of which are consistent with principles in the OT (like worshiping in obedience, humility, repentance, obeisance, etc…). Jesus teaching on worship (as in John 4) is consistent with his teaching on the Law in Matthew 5. He has not come to do away with the OT teaching, but to fulfill or complete it.

    So, Jesus does not say to use or not use instruments or to sing or not sing Psalms, he says to worship in Spirit and in Truth. We no longer worship through sacrifice as Israel did in the OT (which is the context of the “strange fire”), but Christ is our Great High Priest who has made a “new and living way” into God’s presence. (Heb 10:19ff)

    It also makes far more sense to me to sing the songs of Heaven from Revelation (note the “harps” – 5:8, 15:2) and are focused explicitly on the Lamb and are in God’s Word than to exclusively depend on the shadowed Gospel of the Psalms. Even the worship in Revelation bears the consistency of biblical worship principles that stretch from Genesis through to Revelation (obedience, service, obeisance, community, etc…). I believe we err to get fixated as we do on the motions, circumstances, and adiaphora, and miss the essential principles of worship.

    Ultimately, I find the weight of scripture not supporting exclusive Psalmody. In fact, I haven’t seen much scripture directly mustered to support it at all… just implications from the historic RWP, and not a lot of direct scriptural explanation.

  11. The word “psalms” defines itself as instrumentation doesn’t it?

    Is it just me or do the Psalms themselves often imply that singing and making music in praise of God is something that “will” be done on advice of the and beyond the psalm and from instruction in the psalm rather than something always being done in the psalm? In other words David is instructing singing and making music in worship/praise beyond and in addition to the psalms.

  12. I don’t think David had the “psalms” as we know them so which ones did he use and which ones were written after he died? Since he can’t have used the ones after he died are they no good for singing?
    By the way “and thus there is a great difference between the music that is made to entertain people at home and at table, and the Psalms which are sung in church, in the presence of God and His angels.” doesn’t not mean that only psalms were sung to the exclusion of any other music it is used as an example since Calvin didn’t give us an exclusive list of “OK” ones to use. If he did I’d like to know which ones so as not to err. Who made up the list of the ones that are used in the EP churches? and which composers melody are we suppose to use?

  13. Well what David did is really a non-sequitar for this conversation becasue we are discussing what is proper for the New Testament Church to do.

  14. You didn’t answer my question “since Calvin didn’t give us an exclusive list of “OK” ones to use. If he did I’d like to know which ones so as not to err. Who made up the list of the ones that are used in the EP churches? and which composers melody are we suppose to use?”

  15. While I’m arguing against exclusive psalmody, I think I can answer your Dad’s question about Calvin.

    Calvin and the Reformed churches used all 150 Psalms for singing in worship.

    Calvin did not use instruments, but did compose the melodies, which raises interesting questions for the non-instrumentalist people. You still have human beings creating tunes since they couldn’t recover the original tunes.

    But, I think Benjamin’s main question is over the exclusive use of scripture for musical worship rather than one of instrumentation.

    As I mentioned, I think the significant issues around exclusive psalmody stem from how one interprets and applies biblical teaching…

  16. “Well what David did is really a non-sequitar for this conversation becasue we are discussing what is proper for the New Testament Church to do.”

    Well I’m out of my depth but to it shows there were songs and music of worship beyond the psalms in the OT. Also the NT seems to me is referring to distinct types of worship song/music; there are “and”s/”kai” in the NT text cited: “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”. Correct me if I’m wrong but even if the texts were a hendiatris it is three distinct things taken together to express one idea beyond the three distinct things and not three distinct things expressing one of the three distinct things.

  17. I’ll try to save Cameron some time. 🙂

    The English version of what I think he was saying is that a list of things – psalms, hymns, spiritual songs – would not be describing one of the things in the list (psalms). Lists describe something else (like worship).

    As to the Greek: Eph. 5:19 has ‘and’ (Gr. kai) between each term. Col. 3:16 does not. I’m not sure it makes a difference (which Cameron said).

    The exclusive psalmody folks do have a response to this, however. If you want it, I can find it pretty easily tonight at home. But they do say that each terms in those passages is a technical term for the psalms. So (they say) it’s more like saying “inspired musical text” three different ways. Arguing that point gets beyond biblical interpretation and into the shaky ground of ancient near eastern musicology.

    I’d press back to biblical ground. Eph. 5:19 is in the midst of a long, developing argument on how to walk (which is worship broadly, not narrowly) in the Spirit. Col. 3:16 is closer to the context of worship, but notice all the additional qualifiers: the primary content is the “word of Christ” not just the Psalms… it’s the gospel message that is consistently the content of teaching/preaching in the NT. And we are to teach and admonish with it, even by singing. It’s a hard sell to me to then make the psalms/hymns/spiritual songs a technical and specific prescription for exclusive Psalm singing.

  18. What Rev. Austell said much better. Thank you.

    I anticipated that qualification of the language of the 3 words Rev. described; but not proficient in Greek beyond consulting Strong’s. So when Luke and Acts use psalmos for the book of Psalms or the Psalms in the Book of Psalms, it does not necessarily mean the Psalms of the Book of Psalms when Paul says it. Interesting.

  19. Ben:
    I’m enjoying your posts and the comments by friends. As you know, I practiced Exclusive Psalmody for about 20 years, and believed in Exclusive Psalmody as the safest application of “inspired praise” for about 12 years.
    Col 3 and Eph 5 have been called the “venus fly trap” of EP – they seem to offer an argument for singing three diferent things: THe 150 Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. But then the EP advocates show us that the three titles, are used in the titles of the LXX Psalter – Some are called all three, e.g. Ps. 67. But, note a few things that need to be argued to make the case air tight:
    1. Pneumatikais must mean not just “Spiritual” but “inspired,” or directly given by the Spirit. If you look at the various instances of Pneumatikias in the NT you find spiritual men, spiritual gifts, as well as spiritual odes. Spiritual does not, ipso facto, mean “inspired,” nor does it carry the force of inspired. Certainly all and any inspired (God-breathed) songs are Spiritual, but not all spiritual songs are necessarily inspired.
    2. Ps, Hy, Songs SPIRITUAL – Spiritual is to be taken distributively, applying to Psalms and Hymns as well as Songs. I agree that this works. But, are the Psalms of Solomon Psalms, or not? Are they spiritual, though uninspired? They are not scripture, nor fully inspired in the sense that Scripture is. But, they certainly seem spiritual. Same with the Odes of Solomon.
    3. Even more difficult for EP is the fact of other INSPIRED songs in the Bible. Those in Revelation are undisputable. May we sing them, or not? EP folks are afraid to sing them. WHy? Because they are not in the 150 Psalms in the OT Book of Psalms. But, they are certainly spiritual and inspired songs. So are the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy, which was commanded to be taught to the children of Israel before any of the other Psalms (90 possibly excepted) were even written.
    What follows was written in a long paper I’ve sent you:
    * * * * * * * * * *
    Those, however, who insist upon Exclusive Psalmody (150) have the burden of showing how God can reveal NT inspired praises, in the form of songs, which are not allowed to be sung. We have divine command to sing ‘hymns and spiritual songs’, such as those in Rev. and Luke; we have approved example. What we do not have is any indication that such Inspired songs are not included in the canon of spiritual songs to be sung so that the word of Christ may richly dwell within his people.
    Therefore we have warrant of the strictest sort to sing these new songs since we have (a) inscripturated content, (b) approved example, (c) divine imperative, and (d) redemptive historical fulfillment in context, form, and content. Are not the saints in heaven singing a spiritual song, a hymn, a song? Indeed they are. While we may take Eph. 5 and Col 3 as calling us to sing songs of the Psalter, we have to choose particular songs to sing, one by one. We never sing the whole Psalter in a given service! If the imperatives of Eph and Col. are to betaken as a command to sing the Psalter, then that is impossible without doing it over time, sequentially. However, if the command is taken as what it appears – to sing each kind of praise – then the songs of Revelation qualify without question. For, they are even more so the Word of Christ, redemptive-historically, than the Psalms of the Old Testament. It seems an odd sort of disobedience for us to exclude from our sung praises, in the name of an uninscripturated doctrine, those songs which God has included in the canon of the New Testament.
    Here we have no argument against the sufficiency of the Scriptures. It is an argument against the sufficiency of the Old Testament to do all the work of both Testaments. To imply that the saints on earth, must not, upon pain of sin, sing the songs which are fully inspired, inerrant and given by the Holy Spirit to be sung, stands upon the shifting sands of a rationalistic derived doctrine. Here humanism asserts itself in the name of God. The EP position as presently stated in the RPCNA Testimony fails in that (a) it is not stated in the Scriptures themselves, nor (b) is it a good or necessary consequent of any set of scriptural teachings. It is an historic innovation, going beyond the wording of any previous Confession or dogmatic statement. It tightens our doctrine to suit our practice, so as to explicitly exclude, not only hymns of human composure, but hymns of Divine inspiration, put by God into the mouth of saints in heaven and on earth for our instruction & use:
    2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable …for every good work.
    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Of course, this is not an argument for writing new hymns or songs or Psalms. But, once one cracks the Exclusive Psalmody interpretation of Eph 5 and Col 3, then a different set of questions emerge. They have to do with the nature of sung praise vs. other prayers. Remember, the five books of the Psalter carry titles such as “The prayers of David” and the “Prayers of Asaph” as much as “Songs” or “Psalms.” The Psalter is as much an inspired prayer book as it is an inspired song book. And, I firmly believe that we ought to, must, sing the PSALTER in an ordered and complete fashion. But, if the Prayer/song analogy is shown to have power (vs. the disanalogy of the EP advocates: Song is one “Element” of worship distinct from “prayer” or “preaching,” and therefore has unique rules, i.e. EP!) then we are left with the conclusion that our songs and prayers and sermons must all be Biblical in Content. Certainly, the more biblical they are in FORM is the better. However, in prayer we certainly must make contemporary application. We should pray the Psalms as well as Luke and Revelation and Isaiah, etc. But, we are right to adjust these prayers to our congregational circumstances.
    What is wrong with taking the Scriptures, like Phil. 2 or Col. 1, or Eph. 3, and turning them into song? Calvin allowed for the singing of the 10 commandments and the Lord’s Prayer, even the Apostles’ creed. (Some argue that he thought the Apostles’ Creed to be inspired – fine with me, though I disagree!) Exclsuive Psalmody was not practiced until Westminster. Even the Scots had not only paraphrases, but sentences which they sang in addition to the Psalter. That’s all in my longer paper as well.

    So – a few ideas to throw into the mix. I wish all the churches sang all the Psalms all the time, but I cannot see it to be a sin, rather I see it to be commanded, that we also sing at least the other inspired songs of Scripture. And, I see no more danger in singing good Scriptural hymns than in hearing good Scriptural sermons and praying solidly bible-based prayers, not ONLY repeating the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayers of the Psalter, Nehemiah, Nunc Dimittis, Magnificat, the Sanctus, etc.
    Blessings,
    Tony

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s