Hoagies & Stogies: Exclusive Psalmody

Well, another Hoagies & Stogies has come and gone. The unanimous verdict of those 29 hardy men (is that what Hardy Boys grow up to be?) who braved the cold and risk of rain was, “that was a lot better than I expected!” So kudos to our two debaters (Pr. Mark England of SDRPC, and Jonathan Goundry, Gene Cook’s right-hand-man at Great Oak Church and The Narrow Mind) for their excellent preparation and presentation.

Some highlights:

Mark England opened with a case for exclusive psalmody. One direction he went early on was to explain Col 3:16: “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Those three greek words, psalmos, hymnos, and ode, show up most frequently in the Septuagint (greek old testament) in the titles of the Psalms (I hope I got those right — I couldn’t find any online Septuagint search utilities with psalm titles). Conceding that Psalm titles are not necessarily inspired, and that a statistic is not exegesis, he argued that the original hearers would have heard that triple-iteration as meaning “the three things you Christians need to know about singin’, are Psalms, Psalms, and Psalms!” (As other examples of emphasis by triple-iteration, he gave Lev 16:21 (iniquities, transgressions, sins), and the very common triplet commandments, rules, statutes).

Jonathan Goundry took us on a whirlwind tour of redemptive history, showing how the regulative principle has had varying applications throughout scripture (Adam and the Sacramental Trees, Cain & Abel’s sacrifices, Noah’s clean animals, etc.). Is 42:9-10 shows how, every time God does a new redemptive work, his people are supposed to respond with a new song. In the same way, he argued that “in all wisdom” in Col 3:16 relates to to the whole emphasis of earlier Colossians, that Christians are the recipients of the “Mysterium,” the greater revelation of Christ that the Jews did not have fully, and our worship should reflect the greater body of New Testament truth. And even if “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” refers to the book of Psalms, it cannot be an exclusive command, because in the context of interpersonal relations (not public worship), it would mean that Psalms are the only thing Christians can sing in their whole lives — not just in church!

Anyways, this is just a nutshell of a recap — if you are interested at all, you should listen to the whole thing. If you’ve already heard it, you can drop comments here about your impressions.

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105 Responses

  1. Well, I haven’t heard it, but I still think I have a right to comment. :)

    Anyway, in order to argue that Col 3:15 necessarily means “psalms, psalms, and psalms”, you have to prove that that’s the ONLY THING those words can mean.

    This is an opportunity to mention something I’m only now beginning to understand. In order to argue effectively from a text, you may only argue for what the text FORCES you to acknowledge. The gentleman’s argument you are mentioning is arguing for what the text could POSSIBLY mean, not what it HAS to mean. The text does not FORCE his conclusion, as the rebuttal you mentioned points out. It MAY be a triplet, but does it HAVE to be?

    If it doesn’t HAVE to be, then you haven’t PROVEN anything, you’ve only said that that’s possibly what Scripture is saying. In that case, you have to continue to build a case from other passages of Scripture.

    Meanwhile, the redemptive historical argument has some value, but again, we are not FORCED to this conclusion. To argue from the OT that at every point in redemptive history a new song is made is perhaps valid, but what do we do now that the revelation is closed? Every time we see a new song being sung, it is prophesy of a sort. We know this because it is recorded in Scripture. Even Mary’s song is prophesy. She prophesied.

    Good arguments can be made for inspired only songs, though Psalms only, to the exclusion of the rest of Scripture is really wrong. But good arguments can also be made that songs need not be inspired, though approved by the authority of the minister.

    In the worship service, the minister has the authority to put uninspired words on the lips of God, and does so when he preaches. When the minister preaches, it is the Word of God he is preaching, therefore his sermon is a claim to God’s authority. He speaks for God. God has given him that authority. God has called him to that office.

    He also puts uninspired words on the lips of the people when he prays on behalf of the people. He has this authority. He prays to God, speaking on behalf of the people. That’s why he says, “Let’s pray…”

    If he has this authority, then how can we say that he doesn’t have the authority to have the people sing an uninspired song? If he doesn’t have this authority, then how can he speak to God on behalf of the people? And not only so, how on earth can he speak on GOD’S behalf to the people?

    If the minister has the right, indeed the authority, to ONLY put inspired words on the lips of the people, then his prayers had better be inspired too. And therefore, preaching should also be done away with, and ministers should only read portions of Scripture to the people in church. This is a necessary consequence of understanding the authority of the minister in this way. Anything other than that is simply inconsistent with regard to authority.

    That said, the minister DOES have these authorities, and should exercise them. Nonetheless, the psalms are seriously neglected in our day, and should be sung more than they are. Psalms are good to sing, and should be sung. Sadly, they often are not.

    There is nothing WRONG with only singing psalms. I say this knowing that the name of Jesus is nowhere in them, and that the fullness of the revelation is not in them – otherwise, why would we need the rest of the Bible? Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with singing psalms only, provided the Word is properly preached.

    Meanwhile, we have to remember that singing is a form of prayer. And while some argue that prayer is a means of grace, we should remember – or perhaps I would like to argue – that if this is so (and I’m not sure that it is), then it is only insofar as God’s RESPONSE to our prayers is to bestow grace on us. We may, by praying, receive a gracious response from God. For example, “Lord, please forgive my sins,” and he does. That is how prayer is a means of grace if it is a means of grace.

    But it is not strictly speaking a means through which GOD acts to nourish us in our faith in the same way that he does through the preaching of the Word and the Sacraments.

    However, another form of prayer is our confession of sin. Should this be inspired as well? Surely not! Surely I should confess my particular sins particularly, as the WCF says. These should be MY words. So can we say of prayer that it must be inspired?

    Nonetheless, our prayers should be a reflection of Scripture, because ultimately prayer is a confession in our belief in Scripture. And our confessions are not inspired.

    Is it enough to say merely that “I believe the Bible?” No – because we have literally no access to what the Bible is saying apart from our interpretation of it. If I say that the Bible says something, I must also interpret what that means.

    To say I believe the Bible carries little meaning. Lots of different views of things can claim to be biblical. True, they cannot all actually BE biblical, but we must confess our faith as it is. We must confess what WE actually believe that the Bible SAYS. That’s why we have confessions. That’s why we pray in our own words. To be sure, these words are a reflection of Scripture and informed by Scripture. That’s what our confession of sin is. It is a confession based on our understanding of the law. If we don’t understand the law, how can we understand how we have broken the law? Therefore, our prayers are a reflection of OUR understanding of Scripture. In prayer, we make Scripture our own, confessing our belief in it back to God.

    So we return to singing only inspired songs. We must, we are compelled, to confess OUR understanding of Scripture. That means our prayers are uninspired, as are our sermons. They are our understanding. God has given us men, having set them apart, to lead us and guide us in this task of understanding the Word.

    Granted, there are a lot of horrible hymns out there. But there are a lot of horrible sermons, and a lot of horrible prayers too. Thank God for sending us Christ, through whom we offer praise to God, and therefore it is acceptable. Apart from Christ, all the psalm singing in the world is meaningless, empty chatter. But in Christ, the smallest manifestation of faith – the size of a mustard seed – is acceptable before God.

    Let us therefore be careful what we say, because our words matter a great deal.

  2. you’ve only said that that’s possibly what Scripture is saying. In that case, you have to continue to build a case from other passages of Scripture.

    Please don’t let my recaplet give the impression that his case was not built from other passages of Scripture!

    In the worship service, the minister has the authority to put uninspired words on the lips of God, and does so when he preaches. …He also puts uninspired words on the lips of the people when he prays on behalf of the people.

    This question came up, and I think England (Pastor Mark England, who defended the Exclusive Psalmody side, whose name I have avoided saying, because the other guy–Jonathan Goundry–is actually English) knocked it down pretty well with an explanation of how the Word and Prayer are different Elements of worship, and thus they come with different rules; same Regulative Principle, different rules. In addition, Goundry (or should I call him “English”?) declined to pick up the attack on that front, saying he didn’t think it was the strongest argument. I think his exact words were “It could be an hour in my quiver, but I wouldn’t go to it first.” Translators on the scene ruled that by “hour”, he actually intended the word “arrow”.

    Granted, there are a lot of horrible hymns out there. But there are a lot of horrible sermons, and a lot of horrible prayers too

    This excellent point also turned up, and was dubbed the “baby and the bathwater” argument.

    • Hello, Rube Rad-

      Well, you and anyone else from the Confessional Outhouse knows how I feel about the notion of Exclusive Psalmody. As a result of protracted debate, I now feel that it is an even deeper error than I had thought. At a strictly musical level, it fails to realize that a hard line of demarcation between speaking and singing is a post-Enlightenment Western cultural concept. It’s definitely not a first-century Middle Eastern concept; and there’s no evidence for it in the Bible. On the contrary, the Psalms are referred to as prayers (Psalm 72:20); in Acts 16:25 Paul and Silas are [literally] “praying and hymning God”; in I Corinthians 14:14-15 Paul regulates praying and singing praise in the same way (both must be done with the “spirit” and the “mind”). Perhaps even more seriously, it takes the book of Psalms, which includes supplications, expressions of contrition for sin, etc. and squeezes it all, Procrustes-like, into the category of “sung praise”. Plus it takes David’s heart-cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” and -heedless of the fact that Christ spoke these very words _in the place of His chosen people_-and claims that God has nevertheless commanded His people to tell Him as much in worship…
      I could go on. It’s an impossible position.

  3. There is nothing WRONG with only singing psalms…provided the Word is properly preached.

    I’m not sure I would even go that far; I think Goundry made a convincing case that our worship must directly reflect N.T. revelation.

    Now, in the opposite direction, I asked him a question predicated on the assumption that there is something WRONG about singing NO psalms at all, and he hedged on that. He seemed to want to say that it’s not a good idea to avoid all Psalms, but with enough understanding and discernment, it could be possible to have Psalm-free worship (much in the way I see you saying that it is possible to mitigate the pitfalls of psalm-only worship by sufficient preaching of the Word).

    I’m not comfortable with that; I would say that if a congregation never sings any psalms at all, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed. First off, I can’t see how a church–even a hardcore CWM church–could avoid psalms altogether without trying pretty hard. It is literally impossible for me to read more than a page or two of Psalms without running across some praise chorus or another based on a Psalm snippet. But if a church were to somehow have a stated (or unstatedly observed) policy not to sing Psalms, well that just seems unnecessarily dispensational.

  4. Well, when I sing many of the Psalms, I’m interpreting them in the light of NT revelation, so I find that they are Christ centered, if a little veiled. But I mean, we don’t get FED by the singing. We get FED and instructed by the sermon. God instructs us, you see.

    Our singing should reflect our understanding, our faith, but like I said, if I’m singing Psalm 23, and thinking about Christ, my Shepherd, I think I’m expressing my faith in Christ just fine.

    But that said, all I’m saying is that singing only Psalms is a valid form of worship, but I just refuse to allow myself to be bound to that rule.

    For example, if the only decent reformed church in town only sang psalms, I wouldn’t like the situation very much, but I could certainly live with it. It’s not like my worship becomes invalid in such a setting. God is still pleased with such worship – because it is through Christ. And hopefully that’s taught in the law-confession-pardon bit, as well as the sermon.

    You said: “knocked it down pretty well with an explanation of how the Word and Prayer are different Elements of worship, and thus they come with different rules; same Regulative Principle, different rules.”

    Echo: I don’t see what the one has to do with the other. Ok, Word and Prayer are different. Fine. But prayer and singing aren’t. The pastor has the authority to put uninspired words on the lips of the people when he speaks to God for them. So why can’t he put uninspired words on their lips when they’re singing? That he can put uninspired words on the lips of God is just icing on the cake.

    However, I think this “different rules” business sounds like something someone made up. If a man has the authority to put uninspired words on the lips of God before the people of God, if he has the authority to say in the holy convocation, the holy assembly, the covenantal dialogue between God and his people, “Thus says the Lord…” and then he is permitted to say whatever he judges to be best – then I am highly, highly, highly offended at the very notion that such a man WOULDN’T be able to tell the people, “Thus you shall respond to the Lord”!

    Different rules.

    Ha! Of course there are different rules! That’s my point. One is putting words on the lips of God, and the other is a bunch of smelly, filthy, worm-like sinners like me. Which requires MORE authority? Isn’t it putting words on the lips of GOD?

    It seems absolutely out of this world crazy to me that someone could say “Thus says the Lord…” but cannot say “Thus you shall respond…” Is he a minister or isn’t he? Is he the worship leader, the instructor of God’s people or isn’t he?

    Oh, but they say, “Preach the Word.” Very well, you exegete the Word carefully, and you let the Word hem you in, you let the text speak through you. Very well, so let only ordained men write hymns if it is so important. Whatever. Our church has approved our hymnal, and those who voted were all ordained, and they have the authority to do exactly, precisely that. And a minister has the authority to do this in the worship service of the local body.

    So yeah, pastors will answer to God for the songs they chose. If they chose some horrible hymn about how I wanna touch Jesus and stuff, then they’ll answer to God for it to be sure. But God has given them that authority, even if they abuse it. It is still given by God.

    Period.

    Different rules.

    Ppppbbbttt

  5. I am looking forward to listening to this debate but not this weekend….what with the WCF caroling party (I hope carols are ok??) tonight, the cantata practice (I hope catatas are ok??) tomorrow and the cantata service (extra) Sunday (as I said, I hope catatas are ok?? or does it depend on who composed them because then ours is not ok even though it weaves in a bit of Vivaldi).

  6. I hope carols are ok??

    No question, outside of church, Christians have the liberty to sing whatever they want!

    I hope cantatas are ok??

    I’m sure everybody would agree that in a concert hall cantatas are great, and probably in the church on non-Sundays. I think it would definitely be a problem to incorporate it into primary Lord’s Day worship (i.e. The Sunday Morning service). Some strict sabbatarians might not like doing it on Sunday at all, but I’m not bothered, as long as it is not interfering or confused with corporate gathering for worship. Replacing a Sunday School session would be perfect. My church will be having “Choral Christmas Worship” on Sunday Night, which is pushing it for me — but then I’ve always been a little uncomfortable about how my church tends to relax on “the rules” for the evening service.

  7. Amen!

  8. Thanks again for your productive contribution to the conversation!

  9. I love you guys…Merry Christmas.

    Do me a favor and re-read all the comments and see you if you don’t agree that we can smell the whiff of legalism (straining at a gnat)…I can almost hear the Pharisees lecturing Jesus, “You can’t do THAT on the Sabbath!”, or screaming at Jesus — “Tell the people to shutup!” when they were screaming Hosanna and spreading palms at his feet. So out of order. Not by the book.

    Ugh.

  10. It would seem you object to the possibility that there are any rules restricting worship, so there is certainly no point for you to participate in a discussion on what those rules are. Maybe the right place for you to complain is over here

  11. Be flexible. The letter of the law kills but the spirit gives life…wait, who said that?

  12. Every heretic that ever sweated under too much scrutiny.

    That verse is not a license to do whatever you feel like — in life or in church.

  13. And what if the letter of “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs” kills, and the the spirit of the law is actually “sing only psalms in worship”? Then exclusive psalmody is what will bring life. We better search the scriptures to see what the spirit behind the letter really is — hey wait, that’s what we were already doing when you came in and contributed an “Ugh”!

  14. Boy, for ostensibly being all about grace and Gospel, you guys sure love laying down the “law” when it comes to worshiping God. Let everything that has breath, Praise the Lord. Come on, you know you want to…HALLELUJAH!!!

  15. How do you evaluate your days of violin duets during the morning service at the Mennonite Church in Kidron?

  16. Ill-advised. I have imposed a policy (on myself) of no art for art’s sake in church, which means, for instance, no Handel Sonata/Bach double vln cto movements as preludes or offertories. If I don’t think what I play will bring biblical Words to the minds of the congregation, I need to choose something else.

  17. Are there other (classical) pieces you can choose that meet your criteria? I haven’t listened to the debate yet (there may be a chance this week), but what is missing for me–though it might not fit into the criteria of the debate–is the attitude of a person’s heart. If someone is bringing the best that he or she can to the Lord as an offering of love and devotion, even if it doesn’t fit within what you have defined as the RPR, then do you think the Lord will be displeased? From another perspective, it is possible, of course, for the singers of Psalms to sing (however subtly) to their own glory and not God’s, to confirm their own righteousness and not to bring an offering of a broken and contrite heart. In reality, most of us have very mixed motives all the time.

  18. Other classical pieces? They abound — Jesu, joy of man’s desiring; Sheep may safely graze; I know that my redeemer liveth… But these are all songs that people will mostly recognize, and the title alone gives them some Word to meditate on. For more obscure pieces, there is the useful step of having words printed in the bulletin, or a short mention of what the piece is about.

    If you listen to the debate, you will hear “the attitude of a person’s heart” addressed right off the bat; certainly the psalm-singing of the hard-hearted is not acceptable. But that does not imply that anything done with sufficient sincerity is appropriate.

    Do you think if Cain had enough love and devotion, his vegetables would have been an acceptable sacrifice? Saul brought the best he could to the Lord as an offering, but it seems pretty clear that no amount of love or devotion would have made it acceptable. (Also check out WCF 21.1 and LD109)

    You are right though; all of us have mixed motives all the time. Thanks to Echo’s feedback on my early draft, in my opening statement, I made the point that it is only through Christ’s mediation that any of our worship can be acceptable anyways.

    What it comes down to, is that worship is about Word and Sacrament. Whenever music is present, it needs to be in service to Word, not there for its own sake. And (as my pastor pointed out this past Sunday night), there is no need for Drama in church; God has already provided us with all the Drama we need in the Sacraments — visual portrayals of his grace. As for visual arts, it may be questionable whether they should make an appearance in the sanctuary, but certainly to use them for worship is idolatry. And as for dance, let’s not get into that again!

  19. what is missing for me–though it might not fit into the criteria of the debate–is the attitude of a person’s heart. If someone is bringing the best that he or she can to the Lord as an offering of love and devotion, even if it doesn’t fit within what you have defined as the RPR, then do you think the Lord will be displeased?

    The attitude of the Israelites who made the golden calf was exemplary. They were performing their idolatry in sincere devotion to the Lord. The attitudes of Nadab and Abihu were also exemplary. So based on the only testimony we presently have available – scripture – yes the Lord is displeased.

  20. You think that by naming the calf as “the God(s?) that brought us out of Egypt“, they were sincerely attempting to use the calf to worship the true God?

  21. That God might be displeased even though “our hearts are in the right place” goes completely against the grain of the rational mind. Those that reject the clear speaking of scripture here and place their rational mind above scripture as the authority that thus judges scripture are what is known as rationalists. Broad evangelicalism has relegated scripture in this way to become a servant to their magisterial reasoning selves.

  22. Speaking of broad Evangelicalism, reason, self and scripture: where Liberalism places reason over revelation, Revivalism places experience over revelation (to wit, I submit our dear Albino’s comments). Both are children of Modernity that may be seen as comporting under Evangelicalism. Thus, the antidote to Spong sure isn’t Albino Hayford…that would be like wiping grease off one’s nose with an oily rag.

    Zrim

  23. Ahhhh, it warms my heart at Christmas time to hear zrim call me “dear Albino”. Let’s down another frosty mug of eggnog and sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”.

  24. I am neither separating heart and mind (and will) nor am I believing that every act of worship that is sincere is right. Just to set the record straight. In fact, I am using the heart as a word to symbolize the whole person. Reuben, if you believe as it seems you do, then you were not just “ill advised” (who advised you? the general evangelical culture??) but sinfully wrong to have played the music you did in Salem Mennonite (or Northview CMA). I don’t think you were, but that seems to be a consequence of your beliefs.

  25. Aunt Barbara, you don’t know the half of it. If our newly reformed bretheren were to make a list of all the ways the rest of us our “sinning” in our forms of worship, it would make our heads spin.

    The weird thing is, they don’t agree with each other either. Much like the holiness legalists that I grew up around, each reformed group has their own set of forms of worship that are “sin” and “acceptable”. It just hangs on which combination of letters of the alphabet you belong to: RPC PCA, etc. My cousin belongs to yet another offshoot in Georgia who consider all the others to be wrong.

    It’s a gift that will keep on giving.

    As Rube knows, I believe this has much more to do with culture and preference than they are admitting.

    Merry Christmas!

  26. Ahem.. you forgot that your cousin from Georgia sometimes reads this blog. The charge of denominational divisiveness is a cross we all have to bear, not just Presbyterians.

    In the area of worship – there is probably not a hair’s worth of difference between our church and Rube’s – so you picked the wrong nit to pick.

    Really – the only areas of official disagreement between Rube’s and my church would likely be in official endorsement of pre-suppositional apologetics, theonomy, and post-millenialism. I personally don’t see those as reasons for division (and many pastors and elders in our denom wouldn’t either) – but we didn’t divide out of the OPC, we came out of the PCA. I don’t know all the reasons behind that – it was 30 years ago.

  27. Dear Albino,

    May we chase our eggnog with a dark ale?

    I must admit, I have some sympathy for what you point out with regard to “legalistic squabbling” amongst us, seeing’s how the confessional tradition is not my natural inclination (reared Liberal). But I’d prefer to err over that which matters (worship) than that which doesn’t (joining me with that ale or politics or cultural values). In the hands of sinners, everything is vulnerable to breakdown. And I’d much prefer to err over that which God has actually revealed (scripture) than that which He hasn’t (reason or experience). Erring is going to happen, the question is, “over what”?

    Zrim

  28. Reuben, if you believe as it seems you do, then you were not just “ill advised” (who advised you? the general evangelical culture??) but sinfully wrong

    Precisely. The choice of the phrase “ill-advised” was, um, “ill-advised”. I wasn’t advised to do it by anybody else. Sinfully wrong is completely accurate. Not to excuse myself from sin, but the fuller picture is that, at that time, I had never conceived that God would want to be worshipped in fewer ways than the sum of all Christian individuals over time might sincerely imagine they would like to worship. And the church leadership never batted an eye (nor did my current elders — I’ll have to remember to talk to someone about that…).

    But just as ignorance does not excuse any sin (officer, I really didn’t see the stop sign!), once you know better, you need to shape up. To whom much is given…

  29. Dear Albino (we’ve met, haven’t we?? at R&T’s wedding??), I have been very hesitant to bring the word “culture” into this discussion because it raises such red flags among these my literal brethren whom I dearly love. (In fact, I usually don’t comment at all.) However, what bothers me a lot about their conversation is that it leaves out, perhaps even dismisses, 99.99% of Christians from around the world and across time who have worshipped God through Christ with their whole hearts and minds but have not exclusively used psalms (and in what langauge, we may ask?). And, Zrim, perhaps we will have the pleasure of meeting some time in 2008, since I am also my father’s daughter and as such a charter member of your church.

  30. dismisses 99.99% of Christians from around the world and across time who have worshipped God through Christ with their whole hearts and minds but have not exclusively used psalms

    (a) I think you may be overboard on your handwaving statistics, (b) just because a lot of people do it/have done it doesn’t make it right, (c) if this argument holds, then Albino should baptize his baby girl, and (d) you seem to have the mistaken impression that I am now an exclusive psalmodist!

    I didn’t hear from any individual present that they were converted to exclusive psalmody (nor was I aware of any EP present, except Mark England who was “hired” to defend it). But we gave his scriptural arguments a fair hearing, and I think it is safe to say that his different understanding of worship has some good points that will inform the way we worship in the future. For instance, our session had already been looking into supplementing our hymnal with a psalter, and now a whole bunch more men in our congregation will understand why. We will also take more note of how what we sing relates to scripture (which is a good thing).

    But you seem distressed that I (or others) are implying that many sincere Christians may be (have been) sinning unawares — but how is that a surprise to anyone? Simul iustus et peccator! Christ mediates for us, so we are not struck dead like Nadab and Abihu for bringing “strange fire”. But when we learn from the scriptures more about more ways that we never knew we are sinners, if we truly understand it as sin, we confess, thank God for Christ’s atonement, and gladly turn away from it.

    So let me proffer this distinction. IF exclusive psalmody is actually mandated by scripture, then singing uninspired songs is idolatrously sinful, and unacceptable as worship to the one true God. Nonetheless, for Christ’s sake, it is accepted. But this is no different than any effort or work that is of ourselves, which cannot please God — only Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to us pleases God. The next logical thought is “well, if our worship ends up being accepted either way, then we don’t need to worry about changing!” This concept is dead(ly) wrong, but there’s one good thing about it: such an antinomian reflex shows us we’re preaching the same gospel that Paul preached (see Rom 3:31; 6:1-2, and also here)

  31. And yes, Albino was co-officiant of my wedding (and he even gave #1 a “dry baptism”), and you will find Zrim knocking around your GR church home.

  32. I shall return but must leave in 15 minutes and travel to Saltillo, Coahuila to deliver the homily at my brother-in-law’s wedding. I have more to contribute.

    Nice to hear from you again, Aunt Barbara…maybe we can team up from opposite sides of the spectrum and put the squeeze on these worship legalists :-) I had a lot of fun that weekend in Florida.

    Zrim, ale isn’t my thing, but how about a mug of cider?

    Guapo — You’re as bad as Santa; you see me when I’m sleeping; you know when I’m awake. The problem with differences between denominations and splinter groups comes when they charge that all the others are “sinning” by not adopting their worship style and cultural preferences.

    Come and magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt His Name together!

  33. The problem with latitudinarians is that they are too worried about accusing anybody of “sinning” to say any worship style or cultural preference is potentially wrong.

  34. Barbara,

    I look forward to it.

    Al,

    Cider it is.

    Rube,

    Good point. It is curious how Revivalists reverse things. God has spoken about His worship, he has not spoken about drinking preferences. Seems we ought to care about His worship and be liberal about the use of substances or whatever else is not addressed in Holy writ.

    (Come to think about it, it is not so curious when you realize the categories they are using. In fact, it all makes perfect sense. Now if only confessionalists were as good at being confessional as revivalists are at being revivalists. The ease with which one hears a self-proclaiming Presbyterian talk like an Evangelical is matched by the difficulty in finding a revivalist who wants to dabble in liturgy. Live large, dear Albino, your revivalist tradition has not only caused us to be distracted by the popluar crowd but you are most assuredly in the majority!)

    Zrim

  35. Albino:

    A former pastor of mine said that there were certain doctrinal things about which “reasonable Christians may differ.” Just because one church has found that certain aspects of worship, church governance, etc., suit their understanding of Scripture, it does not necessarily imply that they have condemned all others with alternate practices to the Second Death.

    I have abstained from this conversation thus far due to generally seeing my opinions reflected in Rube’s comments, but automatically assuming all Christians are so naive as to judge other churchgoers so narrowly got my hackles up.

    I happen to enjoy the fact that Christians can have such a debate and still call one another “brother.” As long as we agree with such basic confessions as the Apostle’s Creed, condemnation need not be passed on people who have understood God’s Word to prescribe slightly different practices. I, for one, can see merit to both sides of the issue currently being discussed, though I’m inclined to believe that there is plenty of acceptable worship that isn’t part of accepted Biblical canon. (The fact that I’m a musician plays heavily into that inclination, I suppose.)

    How far beyond the Psalms is acceptable? I, like Rube, tend to draw the line at “art for art’s sake.” While much art is wonderful in the proper context, it is not necessarily appropriate to use in a congregational worship service. Worship services have the exclusive purpose of focusing and directing our attention on God and His Word. If I give an offertory or participate in other music in the service, I’d much rather a congregant comment to me on how blessed he was by the music than on how well I played.

  36. So much to respond to in your notes, Reuben, and I don’t want to be misunderstood (which is why I usually don’t write in this blogging context)….just for the moment to say that I’m relieved to learn that you’re not an EP advocate. I for one am excited to be getting back to the context of psalm singing (though probably not in dad’s church as a church home) but good hymns, good choruses–I would not want to give them up. You probably have no idea how distressingly judgmental and legalistic this discussion sounds in blogland (and some of your partners’ debating instincts fit that tenor). I promise to write a little more and to look at the Cain/Abel narrative more closely before I do.

  37. Albino,

    You are an antinomian.

    E

  38. Can anyone, whoever thinks they know, tell me what the difference is between thinking that the law of God is still valid, and being a legalistic Pharisee who thinks you can be justified by works is?

    Is or is not the law of God still valid, even though Christ pays for our sins? I don’t know about you, but in my Bible, Jesus says:

    Matt. 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    Go ahead, go check your bibles to see if my copy and paste function is working right. Go and see for yourself if Jesus said these words.

    The law has NOT been abolished. And frankly, this English translation doesn’t really capture the force of the Greek in the opening line. This is, for all you Greek freaks out there, and I’m talking to YOU Albino, a negated aorist subjunctive used as a command. It means “don’t EVEN BEGIN TO THINK that I’ve come to abolish the law…” Or if you prefer, “Don’t think FOR A MOMENT”.

    Does Jesus take the law seriously? Have the apostles upheld all of the 10 commandments in the NT? Are we allowed to kill people? Can we lie because Jesus died on the cross for us? Is it ok to have my neighbor’s wife? Can I worship whatever God I feel like? Would God care if I made a little statue of a multi-armed elephant and worshiped it? God wouldn’t care, would he? After all, Jesus died for my sins, so who CARES, right?

    You’d have to be a complete moron to look at the NT and conclude that the law is no longer in effect. To such a person, I could only say, “Have you READ the New Testament?” If they had read it, then I hold out no hope for them.

    The NT upholds the law.

    Rom. 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

    Maybe Paul is confused. Maybe what he means to say is, “Yeah, Jesus doesn’t know what he’s talking about! The law actually HAS been done away with!” Maybe he means that we don’t care about the law. Maybe he means to say that we SHOULD sin so that grace may abound.

    People, engage your brains for just a few minutes. I won’t ask much more than that, I promise. Just think now: does the law matter in the NT or not? Do we need to obey the law?

    If saying that we need to obey the law makes me a legalist, then I am in good company with Jesus and Paul, and anyone else who had anything to do with the writing of Scripture. But they are not legalists. To say that we need to obey the law does not make anyone a legalist.

    Stop and think. What actually IS a legalist? Is it someone who thinks the law is important? No, because that would make God a legalist, and it’s his gospel we preach. God’s all about the gospel. He’s not a legalist. The writers of Scripture aren’t legalists. Paul rails against legalists in Galatians.

    So what IS a legalist? A legalist is someone who thinks that you can earn justification, earn salvation by obeying the law. That is the definition of a legalist.

    Does the gospel that teaches that we are righteous in Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone mean that the law no longer matters?

    No.

    And if you disagree, you had better look at Scripture again, because you are an antinomian.

    Antinomians don’t please God. They aggravate him. They infuriate him.

    The antinomian says, “I don’t need to keep his commands.”

    The BIBLE SAYS:

    1John 2:4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    How clear does it need to be?

    Is John a legalist? No. But he isn’t an antinomian either. We who have been declared righteous in Christ need to strive to be obedient to the law. That’s why God has saved us in the first place.

    “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

    We are whose workmanship? In whom are we created? And for what are we created?

    We are created in Christ, we are new creations in Christ, we are saved by Christ SO THAT we will do good works. What defines good works? Is it my imagination? Is it my sincerity?

    It is the law of God. That’s what defines what good works are. If it is not according to the law, it is not good.

    You know, this stuff really isn’t confusing. If you find that it does confuse you, I’ll tell you why. What confuses you about the law is the same thing that confuses me and everyone else about the law.

    Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce the sinful nature. Yes, he is within each one of you, waging war against the law of God, trying to confuse you. He screams in your ear: “You don’t need to obey the law, that’s what Jesus died for!”

    Oh, you think I’ve exaggerated, have you?

    “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”
    (Romans 7:21-23 ESV)

    This is YOU. This is also me and everyone else who’s a Christian. If you are a believer, you have both a sinful nature and a Spiritual nature. One comes from Adam, the other comes from Christ. The sinful nature is not gone from you. You still sin, don’t you? So do I.

    But you need to be obedient to the law of God. This isn’t a joke. This isn’t Romper Room. You need to obey the law of God. Tell your sinful nature to shut up and you listen to Scripture.

    Jesus did NOT come to abolish the law. His commandments remain in effect. Wake up.

    Now, if you realize that this is correct, then you also have to understand something else. You cannot make your worship or your works acceptable to God by adhering to the law. You cannot adhere to the law. You cannot be perfectly obedient to it. But this is what you STRIVE for; not to earn salvation, but because Christ already earned it for you.

    You cannot make your worship acceptable by law-keeping. But Christ makes anything done in faith acceptable. But that’s NOT to say that you give God and HIS LAW the middle finger! You try to obey it as best you can to bring whatever glory you can to God.

    We cannot have perfect worship in this life. We can’t. But that doesn’t mean what kind of worship you have doesn’t matter.

    You can’t sing songs to Buddha, for example, and expect God to say, “Well done!” Can you? Everyone knows, everyone KNOWS that there are rules to worship. You ALL have rules.

    Try working toward making YOUR rules conform to GOD’S rules. Just try. That’s all we can do.

  39. I’m back with my last word(s) on this blog post. A few odds and ends and then some observations about the Genesis 4 chapter. It won’t cover everything, but then you don’t want it to.

    Again, may I repeat the disclaimer that not just anything goes during worship. However, as you are aware, there is a significant difference between refraining from what is forbidden (as in the Acts 15 passage) and only doing what is specifically commanded. I think the reason that the elders under which you sat (though never formally because you hadn’t joined either of those churches) have been living in the spirit’s freedom of the first position. I agree that there shouldn’t be “art for art’s sake” in church because what we do in church (and in all of life) should be art (etc) for God’s sake. I’ll bet if you reflect back on it, you were thinking that you were offering your art to God, to bring him glory. And I also think that different God-gifted artists (musicians, etc) might differ about where they would draw the line at what is art for art’s sake. You think differently about that now (or maybe you would say you are finally thinking about it), and that’s fine. So are others who may disagree.

    This raises the issue of the culture of the worshiper and therefore re-opens another can of squirmy worms and with it raises the hackles of several of your readers. Nevertheless, I contend that the God who created the peoples of all cultures and is redeeming them back to himself wants to be praised expressly in these various cultural forms (fallen, to be sure, but brought as gifts to their ultimate Maker.) I won’t press this further, but from it Zrim can probably guess where we will begin our search for a congregational home in G.R. Our little uneducated Wooster church …. Well, I said I wouldn’t go further, so I won’t.

    I’m glad you are adding a psalter to your hymnbook. I for one am delighted to be getting back to one. (Though it has long intrigued me that any Muslim student I might bring to church could easily sing some of our psalm-based choruses because they make no mention of Jesus.) But, R, only “some men” will know why? Ouch!

    I’d like to look at Genesis 4. The first observation is that God did not ask for/command their worship. Nonetheless, he cared about it and we know that because he interacted with them about it. Cain worshiped wrongly, Abel rightly. R, you asked whether Cain’s worship would have been accepted had his “heart been right.” And from the text, I must answer, “Yes.” It was precisely his heart, his attitude, his approach that was wrong. A clue about that comes from the meaning of Cain and Abel’s names. Cain’s name (Eve said, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.”) points to “self-sufficiency.” Abel means “nothingness, frailty.” One thinks he did not need God while the other did know his fundamental need. The text is probably not saying that farm goods are not adequate for worship (grain offerings are commanded later), but the implication is that Abel brought the “first” and “fat portions” of his animals, i.e., the best he had to give, while Cain only brought “some” of his grain.

    (My observations are of the text first and then from the David Atkinson BST commentary.) Atkinson points out that even if Cain had offered his best, it was not what God wanted, BUT he was not willing to learn from his experience. (And this fits into your debate, of course, because you are exploring what God might want.) To quote Atkinson: “The issue is the willingness to bring in faith and gratitude what little bits and pieces we have to offer so that—like the boy with the loaves and fishes—they can be taken and made into something more. And that faith and gratitude includes the willingness to learn when we have got it wrong, so that we may change. But that, alas, is where Cain fell down.” I won’t go further into the narrative because that involves the consequences of Cain’s wrong attitude, but just one more thing. Cain’s worship stance was also compromised by his attitude towards his brother. He could not love God if he did not love Abel. No amount of self-sufficient offering could cover that deficiency—as the prophets so often told the Israelites later on in their history.

    So, what conclusions can I draw? Our attitudes to God and others determine (is that verb too strong) the acceptability of our worship. Part of that attitude, of course, includes learning from God what he wants, a broken and contrite spirit, mercy and acknowledgement of himself. Ps. 51: 15-17, and Hosea 6:6.

  40. But, R, only “some men” will know why? Ouch!

    The debate was a men’s fellowship, and not every man from our church showed up. Therefore only “some men” benefitted from the debate. I’m sure whatever our church does in the direction of more psalmody, the whole church will be included.

    I think the reason that the elders under which you sat (though never formally because you hadn’t joined either of those churches)

    I was speaking also about my current elders, where I am formally a member. The decision to restrict my offertory/prelude repertoire was not something my elders prompted.

    I agree that there shouldn’t be “art for art’s sake” in church because what we do in church (and in all of life) should be art (etc) for God’s sake

    With those categories, there should be no art for art’s sake in church or out of church, and what is the difference between art for God’s sake out of church and in church? I think there can be art for art’s sake in life, precisely because God’s creation and common grace are very good, and our creativity ultimately glorifies the Creator. But worship is above and beyond. Even before the fall, the 7th day was “blessed and made holy”.

    that the God who created the peoples of all cultures

    God creates people, but not cultures. Remember that the world’s diversity stems from God’s judgment at Babel, and Pentecost shows us that, God is uniting all peoples (at least in the Church).

    God did not ask for/command their worship

    I think we can safely infer that God had given some instruction not recorded in the Bible; otherwise Cain and Abel came up with the idea of giving an offering in the first place all on their own! A better clue is Heb 11; “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain”, but I contend that if Cain had faith like Abel, he would also have offered a more acceptable sacrifice (not the same sacrifice being more acceptable simply because of faith).

    The text is probably not saying that farm goods are not adequate for worship (grain offerings are commanded later)

    Be careful with terminology; I’m pretty sure that grain offerings have a different place in worship; for atonement, a blood sacrifice is necessary.

    You draw a number of valid points about Cain, all of which would logically stem from a lack of faith. Doesn’t deciding for ourselves what we offer in worship also fall within the sin of self-sufficiency?

  41. Oh, but there is an instruction for worship. God himself showed Adam and Eve how their sin needed to be atoned for.

    Gen. 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

    With these coverings of skin, he covered their nakedness. Now recall that when Adam first married Eve (by his own authority), the Bible says that they were naked and not ashamed. When they sinned, then, what did they do? They were ashamed of their nakedness, and sewed fig leaves together.

    They tried to cover their own sin according to their own imagination. They contrived this way of covering sin, of covering their nakedness.

    But God came along and said, no, this is how I will cover your nakedness, your shame, your sin, by slaughtering an animal. The skin of the animal will be your covering. He made them wear the sacrifice as a covering of their nakedness.

    So then along comes Cain, and he decides he’s going to do it his way again, demanding that God accept his efforts, the fruits of HIS labor. After all, whatever we DO, won’t God accept it if we offer it to him? God’s answer is NO. He does not and will not accept what we do. He accepts what he does. What did God do to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness? He replaced their fig leaves with leather. Cain replaced the leather with his own efforts, with his fruit, the fruit of his labor. He replaced the leather with the fig leaves, trying to cover his nakedness how he saw fit.

    You’re quite right Rube. It’s about atonement. God wanted blood to be shed for the remission of sins.

    Heb. 9:22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

    Right there is Cain’s error. God showed them by example, and it didn’t take long for Cain to rebel against that example.

    “We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (1John 3:12 ESV)

    What deed was evil? His murder of Abel? No, his sacrifice was evil. It was evil because it was contrary to the commandment. He acted contrary to the commandment in the first place because his heart was not in the right place. But his sacrifice wasn’t rejected because his heart was in the wrong place. It was rejected because it was contrary to the command, because Cain hated the command. He didn’t want to shed the blood of an animal, he wanted to offer the fruits of his labor.

    Now think too about why Moses included this story. Remember when he wrote it and to whom he wrote it. He wrote it to the Israelites when they were about to sacrifice a great sacrifice of many people, human beings to the Lord. They were about to slaughter whole cities of people. Why did Moses include this story? He didn’t have to. The animal that was sacrificed by Abel was a type of Christ, a foreshadow of Christ. So were the people slaughtered by the Israelites.

    I mean come on, the 5 kings were crucified in Josh 10.

    Moses has this story to encourage the people to be obedient to God, not to get squeamish, not to pity, but to obey. Obey the Lord, and slaughter these people. Do what he has commanded you to do. Obey him, even if it is hard – you better believe it was hard! Obey him, says the story of Cain and Abel, because disobedience is a great evil.

    But of course, Israel proved to be more like Cain, because they killed the Son of God. And why did they murder him? Because his deeds were according to the commandment, and they hate the commandment.

  42. Echo…sigh…this is from the American Heritage Dictionary:

    Antinomian

    1. Of or relating to the doctrine of antinomianism. 2. Opposed to or denying the fixed meaning or universal applicability of moral law:

    I suppose if your slinging the term around, you’re assuming I’m denying the law by suggesting that those who overly restrict worship expressions in church sound like legalists. Wrongo…but it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time.

    My point in creating a link between old school holiness legalists from my childhood and these new worship legalists is that both put restrictions on Christians based on their view of Scripture, and those who don’t agree are considered to be “sinning”. In my childhood, it was girls wearing pants, lipstick, shorts, watching movies, owning a television, etc. The parallel here is that the “worship legalists” are defining for us what is “acceptable” in worship. They have decided to nix dancing, shouting, lifting hands, singing contemporary music, etc. as “sinful”.

    Do you get what I am saying here, and the comparison I am making? You can disagree with the analogy, but at least tell me that you get the point.

    The Pharisees screamed at Jesus, “Tell them to stop shouting hosanna! This is out of order!” The Pharisees were always on Jesus to stop violating the letter of the law by healing on the Sabbath. They missed the forest for the trees.

    Just like the holiness legalists of old (and many today), worship legalists also miss the big picture.

    Magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt His name together. If we don’t shout, Echo, the rocks will cry out.

  43. The parallel here is that the “worship legalists” are defining for us what is “acceptable” in worship

    No, the whole point is that we are trying to let the Bible define for us what is acceptable (no air-quotes) in worship. You are the one who is acting as if “acceptable in worship” is not a meaningful category that we should try to figure out.

    They have decided to nix dancing, shouting, lifting hands, singing contemporary music, etc. as “sinful”.

    Who has nixed shouting, lifting hands, singing contemporary music? (For the record, I’m not against contemporary music — I’m against crappy music, and it just so happens that most contemporary music happens to be crappy). And you forgot clapping. I recognize liberty in terms of shouting, clapping, lifting hands, singing contemporary music, and many other things (I won’t put a carte blanche “etc”), and all of those things have showed up in my church — with varying degrees of frequency. So who are you to impinge on my Christian liberty and tell me I’m not doing enough shouting, clapping, lifting hands, singing contemporary music?

  44. Albino:

    Did you even read my comment above? In it I said that the search to understand God’s Word in a complete, defined manner need not come with the assumption that all others who have come to different conclusions are sinning.

    By defining standards of acceptability in a single congregation, one does not inherently judge all others with alternate practices to be unacceptable.

    You’re making a lot of assumptions here about the way in which participants in this debate view the world. As long as another congregation agrees with the basic tenets of the Christian faith, I am glad to fellowship with their members. The style of worship is definitely among the topics on which “reasonable Christians may differ,” but that shouldn’t preclude us from attempting to understand Scripture as fully and precisely as we are able.

  45. Augmented…your tone is refreshing. You are not reflecting the positions of others, though (Echo, for example), who accuse evangelicals in general of violating the Gospel (sinning) by their worship practices that differ from yours.

    Ruberad…your answer that the Bible defines it for us is exactly what all the holiness legalists said in my childhood…EXACTLY the same words. They thought they were letting the Bible define their rules, but, sadly, they were legalists. I urge you to lean more toward grace and less toward law, especially in evaluating the worship style of others (culture, culture, culture). It would be hilarious to watch you tell Black African believers not to dance or clap…it’s just ludircrous on its face.

    Also, glad to hear that your church allows full liberty when it comes to clapping, shouting, lifting hands, and even (gasp) contemporary worship. Welcome, then, to our world. I guess I falsely assumed from previous threads and comments that your church did not sing contemporary choruses or use modern instrumentation like drums or electric guitars. My bad. If you guys indeed are up-to-date in your worship music, I stand corrected.

    Magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt His Name together.

  46. your answer that the Bible defines it for us is exactly what all the holiness legalists said in my childhood…EXACTLY the same words.

    So are you saying that it is therefore in every case bad to allow the Bible to have authority over us in faith and practice? If so, on whose authority do you make such a claim? If not, how do you decide when or where the Bible does have authority?

    Please note that this thread has been completely hijacked away from the original topic of exclusive Psalmody and whether or not the Bible mandates EP. A brief perusal of the comments will make clear that it wasn’t myself who ran this thread aground.

  47. Bruce:

    I see your point, but Albino was taking the meta-argumentation tactic of saying that the debate was itself a problem. I have been trying to validate the original topic of discussion in his eyes so that it could again be discussed without his forceful disapproval every other comment.

    In any case, I haven’t yet listened to the debate MP3, but based on what I’ve heard discussed so far I’m very much in favor of worship that includes texts other than the Psalms (as mentioned in my first comment). I understand worship to be our response to God’s grace (see White Horse Inn 1202), and that need not only include texts that have been Biblically canonized.

  48. Duh…of course the Bible has ultimate authority. The rub comes in when legalists want to micromanage every style and cultural nuance of worship to their particular understanding of the text. Where the Bible is clear in specifically addressing an issue, we can be clear. But where there is obviously room for opinion and interpretation, let’s be more charitable and flexible. Not sure how many times I have to go back and re-explain this position. If you insist on a worship legalism position, you get the assignment of running over to Africa and stopping them from dancing and drumming in worship to God….good luck with that.

    And, yes, I have thread-jacked…sorry…it’s just that the fact that this topic is even seriously debated saddens me.

    Magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt His Name together…you know you want to.

  49. Albino,

    Trust me, I understand your point at least as well as you do. And here is my response: you’re an antinomian.

    It is not the gospel which I am accusing you of violating, it is the law I am accusing you of tossing aside. I have accused you of tossing aside the gospel in other threads, none of which charges were ever answer, by the way, but here I am specifically talking about the law of God with regard to worship, and I am saying that you don’t care what it is, because whatever it is, you are not obligated to obey it. You are thus an antinomian.

    Come delight with me in the law of God.

    Psa. 1:2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
    Psa. 40:8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”
    Psa. 119:70 their heart is unfeeling like fat,
    but I delight in your law.
    Psa. 119:77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
    for your law is my delight.
    Psa. 119:92 If your law had not been my delight,
    I would have perished in my affliction.
    Psa. 119:174 I long for your salvation, O LORD,
    and your law is my delight.

  50. I guess I falsely assumed from previous threads and comments that your church did not sing contemporary choruses or use modern instrumentation like drums or electric guitars

    My church sings close to 50/50 hymns, and “other” from our supplemental songbook, most of which are contemporary (i.e. 20th century) songs (Amazing Love, Shine Jesus Shine, There is a Redeemer, …), a few of which are hymns (Am I a Soldier of the Cross). And there are a few songs (In Christ Alone) we sing off of bulletin inserts.

    As for instrumentation, we always have piano, almost always have organ, and occasionally switch to a guitar/keyboard setup usually acoustic, but sometimes electric (and very occasionally adding a drumkit).

    Ruberad…your answer that the Bible defines it for us is exactly what all the holiness legalists said in my childhood…EXACTLY the same words.

    Guess what; the legalists were flat out wrong to assert that the bible forbids alcohol, movies, … Why do you assert that the Bible does not regulate what happens in church? What makes you think that the legalists’ PRINCIPLE is invalid, rather than just a faulty APPLICATION of a valid principle?

    As for the word “sinful”, what are you so scared of? Have you never done anything sinful in your worship? You must be really, really sanctified! As justified sinners, we all sin somewhat in everything we do, and in and of itself, all of our worship is unacceptable. It is only Christ that is sinless, and it is only his mediation that makes our worship acceptable. So now let’s try to understand sin in our worship and root it out.

  51. Note also that we also often add other instruments, like violin, cello, trombone, flute, tambourine, and lately our new friend has been Augmenting with clarinet and sax.

  52. Play that funky music, white boy.

    Echo, Echo, Echo…you are accusing me of violating “your understanding and interpretation” of God’s law as regards worship in the church. I accuse you of missing the forest for the trees, just like the holiness legalists before you.

  53. And you are accusing me of legalism according to your own definition of the word, and according to your own definition of the Bible.

    But truth be told, Rube has proved it very nicely. You are not opposed to fundamentalist legalists, you’re opposed to the principle of the Bible having anything to say about how we worship God. You are against that principle.

    That is an antinomian.

    That’s WAY more explanation of an accusation than I’ve ever gotten out of you.

    I think your explanation above is ridiculous, as if I can only access the Bible through the mediation of my own interpretive process, but you have access to the noumenal Word, the pure Word, the Word as God understands it or something.

    You’re an antinomian. You aren’t interested in what the law is, because you aren’t obligated to it. You are an anarchist. Sin to you is taboo. There’s really no such thing when you get right down to it. ALL worship is acceptable to God in your estimation. I bet God even forgives the Hindus and the pagans and the Buddhists for their idolatrous worship. After all, their hearts are in the right place, and the poor little dears just don’t know any better. They can call me Buddha if they want, the little lost ones. Some day my missionary will come and teach them to speak in tongues, and then they’ll really understand me without understanding anything at all.

    Antinomian.

  54. And that YouTube video was AWFUL! ugh!

  55. And you’re an irrationalist to boot. I’ve just made that word up.

  56. However, Albino, in regard to your comments about this discussion:

    it’s just that the fact that this topic is even seriously debated saddens me.


    It seems you are opposed to very idea of having rules for worship. However, every church needs to define how the service will proceed or else there will be chaos.

    Maybe the EP debate feels overly restrictive to you, but the discussion of how to structure a worship service is an issue that every congregation must address. I concede that each church may worship in its own way; however, if those of us that are concerned about such specifics decide to discuss them, I think you’re being rude to jump in and tell us not to have the conversation.

  57. Wow, Echo. So many straw men, so little rationality. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Now you have me authorizing Buddhism and HInduism? Methinks you’ve been hitting the Christmas eggnog a little too hard.

    My problem is not with the law. My problem is with legalists who major on minors and create legalisms that the law doesn’t. Worship Jesus, brother. Join with me and magnify the Lord. Let us exalt His Name together. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.

    But you’re probably right that I was rude to threadjack your discussion so shamelessly. I apologize.

  58. Gettting back on point, exclusive psalmody sucks.

  59. Albino,

    No, I actually do know that you don’t think the worship of Buddhists is acceptable. But now that you’ve admitted it, you’ve admitted that there are rules governing our worship. We can’t just worship God HOWEVER we want can we?

    (I’m glad you recognized that what I said should be taken to be funny. I intended it to be, and was laughing hysterically as I wrote it.)

    But strawman isn’t exactly the right way to characterize what I said. Actually, I was just taking your conclusions to their ridiculous conclusion.

    But now you have a new conclusion. Now you’re against majoring on the minors. So you are trying to say that it isn’t the details of the law that’s important, but only the big issues. As long as you obey the major points of the law, that will be sufficient.

    But Jesus disagrees with you:

    Mat 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
    Mat 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
    Mat 5:19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    Well, Albino, it appears that Jesus majored on the minors. Not even the least stroke of a pen will pass away he says, so if you disobey the least of these commandments, and teach others to do the same, you’ll be the janitor in heaven.

    Getting back on point, even mild antinomianism sucks.

    Come with me and find your delight in the law of God Albino, instead of always trying to figure out what the minimum requirements are all the time. Don’t just try to skate by, come with me and let’s actually try to PLEASE God, instead of just trying to avoid getting struck by lightning.

  60. Speaking of laughing hysterically, don’t you two ever tire each other out?

    And speaking of forests for trees (and more laughing out loud), does anyone else see how this is less a battle over exclusive psalmody and more one between the presuppositions of a revivalist and a revivalist-in-early-stages-of-recovery (like all the other 804 discussions these two have which follows this formula: assertion, insult, ramble, apology, last word)? Talk about micro- and macro-conversations!

    Methinks I’d have better luck persuading Father Donnelly against the Mass or Trent than Echo will have persuading Al that worship matters beyond a burning in the bosom (oops, that sounds Mormonistic, Al. Watch out, you are sounding like the weirdo’s you won’t vote for because they are so freaking baa-zarre).

    Zrim

  61. Zrim,

    Got any holy undergarments for me?

  62. Now I’m a revivalist in the early stages of recovery. Hahahahaha…

  63. […] in stripping the RPW entirely of its secondary – but vital – point. Heretofore, and especially at Blogorrhea where the topic comes up in the discussion of singing exclusive psalmody vs. singing uninspired […]

  64. Probably the biggest factor opposed to EP (IMO) is that I’ve read many times that sections of the NT such as Philippians 2:6-11 and II Timothy 2:11-13 were probably themselves Hymns sung in the early Church.

    If this is true, (and there is a good case to be made that it is) then we can fall back on it being “inspired” but still open the door for NT revelation to be sung.

    when NT revelation is sung are we to then suppose we may only sing accurately translated pieces of scripture (translation being an assumed necessity) or can we then allow for making slight modification to assist in rhythm and rhyme for melody sake?

  65. Each step take us further and further away from EP and more and more into what we have today, a plethora of cultural styles proclaiming the praises of God through Jesus Christ.

    But the first step is the acknowledgment that Early Church worship was NOT EP. And for all intents and purposes it seems easier to determine that it was not than that it was.

    Read the NT and notice some of the many “uninspired” (er un-scripture worthy) practices that took place in congregational worship.

    BTW I’m sorry if any of this has already been discussed I haven’t read all the comments. It’s to voluminous for me.

  66. danielbalc:

    Being opposed to EP, I still have questions regarding how far away from Psalmody is acceptable in worship. Mostly this is just a defining of boundaries for a specific congregation. As mentioned by both Rube and I, we feel that our church’s delimiter is to stop short of “art for art’s sake.”

    A church to which I belonged with my parents when I was in high school (neither them nor I attend these days) now has electric guitar solos, a smoke machine, and a Jumbotron-like screen showing live video of the “worship team” during the Sunday service. This takes the focus off of God and onto the vehicle of praise– the ultimate “art for art’s sake.” It sounds like the man who is now the senior pastor is running the church like he used to run the Youth Group when I was in high school, which made me a little uncomfortable even then. I feel that their attempts to be “seeker-sensitive” have gone too far, but I wouldn’t go so far as to condemn them of sinning as a congregation. Maybe just the person with the Bright Idea to bring the smoke machine in on Sunday mornings (half kidding here)…

  67. Al,

    Something tells me my skivvies won’t fit you.

    (Insert clever joke about a holy bra and a burning bosom here…I am too tired this time of day to come up with one.)

    Zrim

  68. The only burning in the bosom I have ever felt was after consuming a Mexican pizza and nachos bellgrande at Taco Bell last week.

  69. Daniel,

    You said that a good case can be made that parts of the NT were hymns, but you didn’t make that case or point to a place on the internet where the place is made. I am hereby requesting such a case to be made explicit.

    The earliest record of a NT era liturgy that we have is that of Justin Martyr, ca. 150 or so. That worship service not only didn’t sing Psalms only, they didn’t sing at all. They only had the sermon, prayers, and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

    This is, of course, inconclusive for what is normative for us today. After all, we don’t know what this means. Maybe by Justin Martyr’s time they stopped singing. Did the Apostles teach them not to sing? Why didn’t they say so in the NT?

    History can tell us one surprising thing though. It is an indisputable fact that for the first 1000 years, the first millennium of church history, that there were NO instruments used at all in church worship services.

    For my part, I find this puzzling. The Israelites were commanded to sing, and John informs us that we’ll sing in heaven. Jesus sang at the Last Supper, and Paul encourages us to quote songs we have learned to one another to encourage each other. Why would the early church not have sung songs?

    Maybe Justin was just not including everything they did in worship. Maybe at that time their worship services were so secret that they had to be quiet to keep from being found. Maybe they were scared, and so too afraid to sing.

    Who knows?

    But it seems that we should sing. And for my part, if we’re going to sing, simple musical accompaniment is appropriate, as an aide to singing – but only as an aide to singing. Songs that are hard to sing are distracting. Some instrumentation helps us to sing. But too much instrumentation can distract from the point, namely that we are responding in faith to our God. When instruments are so loud that we cannot hear the sound of our own voice or the voice next to us, that’s not helpful.

    Like has been said, smoke machines and jumbotrons distract. We’re there to worship God, and to encourage one another by each other’s faith. We are not there to be entertained.

    Just basic principles here, matters of wisdom. What you do in worship is largely a matter of wisdom. There are some laws involved, but not everything is a law.

    I once worshiped in a church with a huge pipe organ. It was colossal. When it first played a note, I literally jumped because I was so startled. I was singing at the top of my lungs, and still couldn’t hear myself. That’s totally useless. Why sing at all? Why not just read the words to yourself as the organ plays the tune?

    One of the thing that makes prayer so beneficial is that you hear yourself saying what you are saying. You hear yourself submitting to God, and that has an effect on you. I can’t explain it really, and I can offer no proof text for it. But confessing something with your mouth is far different than mere mental assent. The Scripture specifically mentions confession with the mouth many times. We are after all, made in the image of God, who SPOKE the world into existence. Spoken words are powerful. They matter.

  70. Al,

    Like a former Greek prof of mine once said, “Taco Bell is the best cheap meal going.” Of course, he was a good Baptist and also said that smoking was “blowing the Holy Spirit right out of you.” I wonder what he thought of exclusive psalmody?

  71. “Taco Bell is the best cheap meal going.”

    Obviously he’s never come to SoCal and eaten at a restaurant with a name that ends in “-bertos”. $3.50 for a Carne Asada burrito from a taco shack is soooo much better than anything you can get at Taco Smell!

  72. Rube,

    Really good points. God should be the only audience during worship. I am also irritated by smoke and preening worship performing.

  73. Zrim, Two of my best buddies who are Southern Baptists smoke cigars like chimneys. The last time we played golf, I brought air freshener for the cart.

  74. Al,

    My guess is that they are good SBCers and that the cooler was sufficiently absent the brew, keeping with the institutionalized legalism against strong drink.

    Back to topic, speaking of preening worship performance and its irritance. Our Reformed church loves to distinguish itself from all those “contemporaries who make worship a performance.” What they never seem aware of is that ours is simply the high-brow version of performance, when it si all said and done. Granted, I would rather err on the side of dignity and solemnity, since God’s worship demands as much. But I think there is a difference between lending dignity and solemnity to worship and slipping into worshipping solemnity and dignity. Unfortunately, I think we have fallen that way quite heavily. And it gives those who charge mere high-brow culturalism huge points and footholds. many use the terms “traditional” or “contemporary” as the over-arching categories when it comes to discussions on worship in general, or some do that voodoo of blending the two. I prefer to use the term “historical.” It seems to get the discussion into more thoughtful waters where nobody can rely on platonic or rote assumptions that seem much too centered on human interests, styles, tastes and preferences.

    Anyway, a frustrated set of pop stars (read: worship team) is no more annoying and supremely un-Calvinistic than a frustrated anthem soloist singing operatic. And putting her in the choir loft to “avoid the pretense of performance” is not only superficial but also borderline hypocritical. Well, maybe not so borderline…

    …I smell an Outhosue post coming…maybe after the high, holy days…

  75. sections of the NT such as Philippians 2:6-11 and II Timothy 2:11-13 were probably themselves Hymns sung in the early Church … the first step is the acknowledgment that Early Church worship was NOT EP

    If you listen to the .mp3, you will find that this topic was covered. The EP guy contested that those passages were hymns (saying they were instead just poetry, and there’s no proof they were used in worship), and also NOT acknowledging that early church worship was NOT EP.

  76. I smell an Outhouse post coming

    Eww, is was that you? Get some beano, man!

  77. Well, I finally listened to the debate MP3 (but not the Q&A section yet). In any case, here are my initial thoughts (keep in mind that I was at least partially biased against exclusive Psalmody to begin with):

    Mark England made a great case that Psalms are useful texts for singing in church. However, he really failed to make a convincing argument that Scripture calls for them to be used exclusively. In fact, in many places, he qualified his statements with “that’s how I interpret it.” Personal interpretations hardly make a convincing universal argument.

    One of my main beefs with him is that he implied that God has inspired no art–literary, musical or otherwise–that is not presently canonized in Scripture. I believe that it’s incredibly arrogant for any man to make such a judgment. There have been more than 1900 years since the last Scriptural words were penned, and 2300 years since the Psalter was finalized by post-exilic temple personnel. Does he really expect me to believe that God has not worked artfully through man since then?

    And I’m completely with him when he says that singing the Psalms is a good and pleasing act of worship. However, I see it as an act of intellectual concession to refuse to venture out from what is proven to be good. While all Psalms are acceptable praise, that doesn’t mean that everything that isn’t a Psalm is unacceptable. The discernment God has given us should be used, surely, but the decision to rejecting all non-Psalm songs because “some may not be appropriate” is (in my estimation) a mark of immature thinking.

    As a musician, I tend to see the tunes and chords employed as similar (or even greater) in importance to the actual words used. The masterful chorale-style harmonization found in most hymnals is breathtaking. However, we have no idea what tunes were used in the original composition and recitation of Psalm texts. If we are to exclusively use inspired texts, then a logical conclusion is that we must sing them exclusively to inspired melodies, since the rise and fall of a line of music may have a profound effect upon the attitude and understanding of the congregant who sings it. But if we’re going for an already-approved-by-God, don’t-want-to-exercise-discernment worship service, how do you decide what music to use with the Biblical texts?

    To reiterate: Psalmody is great. But to worship with it in exclusion to other texts is to ignore a huge body of Godly worship that has been made available over the last twenty centuries. Sure, a lot of worship has been proposed that may not be deemed acceptable, but the refusal to exercise discernment here is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  78. he implied that God has inspired no art–literary, musical or otherwise–that is not presently canonized in Scripture

    That’s actually a pretty simple leap from the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture and the closed canon (sola scriptura): God Inspired all of scripture, and nothing else carries the authority of that God-breathed inspiration. The way you are using the word inspired is a lesser meaning, that fits entirely within common grace. Like for instance, the Beatles were inspired to write great music.

  79. Right, sir Ruberad. And I would add that augmentedfourth’s argument above is basically a rationalistic one. Of which I heard a few from the peanut gallery on the night of the debate. Such as the fellow that formed his entire question with the words “Great is thy faithfulness”. As if that constitutes a scriptural argument. Of course our rational mind has an opinion. But we (or at least most of us) had gathered there on that cold night to hear arguments from [sola] scripture. And because the debaters did exactly that [one better than the other] is why I thought it was a good debate.

  80. But it does get down to the meat with the equivalent question: is it kosher to worship with other than inspired material? And the complication of the nonexistence of any inspired sheet music is I think a serious challenge to the concept of EP.

  81. his entire question with the words “Great is thy faithfulness”

    If you listen again, I think you’ll find that his full question was, predicating that the hymnal is a tradition- and elder-approved book of musical sermonettes, if we have to get rid of them, why don’t we also have to get rid of the sermon?

  82. Oh yeah. Hymns as sermonettes. This seems like merely redefining terms with the result that the new terms make your own argument seem to work better.

    As for the lack of inspired melodies, I think there you have a true red-herring. If ever there were to exist as a category a circumstance of worship, the melody of a song has to be near the top of that list. There is no more content in a melody than there is in the mode of the scales they used back then. For that matter it could have been monotonic chanting for all we know.

    Which brings up my assertion that the culture argument is yet another circumstance. The cultural angle doesn’t address the “what” of worship but the “how” of worship. i.e. cultures don’t dictate what the elements of worship are – those God has mandated – but address how one might go about ones’ obedience to those mandates.

  83. Which is not to say that cultural predilections may permissibly allow circumstances to trump elements. In other words, rock concerts are still rock concerts, not Christian worship. Mosh pits are still degrading displays of human depravity, not expressions of Christian freedom to cite just a couple of examples.

  84. God Inspired all of scripture, and nothing else carries the authority of that God-breathed inspiration. The way you are using the word inspired is a lesser meaning, that fits entirely within common grace. Like for instance, the Beatles were inspired to write great music.

    I agree that the Inspiration of Scripture is of a different nature than the inspiration of the hymns, though people like Luther and Calvin (and even Wesley) were certainly blessed with Godly insight and discernment as they composed hymn texts. Their output is not “breathed out by God” as Scripture is, but certain elements (i.e. not their whole bodies of work) are still “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (II Tim. 3:16-17)

    And this Godly small-i inspiration is certainly not on the same level as that of musicians whose aim is not to glorify God. The Beatles were “inspired” to make great music, but they weren’t trying to write worship songs and therefore that’s certainly not what I was talking about.

  85. ineedsheetmusic said:

    As for the lack of inspired melodies, I think there you have a true red-herring. If ever there were to exist as a category a circumstance of worship, the melody of a song has to be near the top of that list.

    As one trained in the composition of music, I must respectfully disagree. I listen to a great deal of instrumental music that has no accompanying lyric whatsoever, and those songs still communicate deeply things that words cannot express.

    The language of musical composition, with its progressions of melody and harmony, is not understood by all who come to worship God in song. However, this doesn’t mean that the church is not affected by it. Try singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” in a minor key and you’ll see what I mean.

  86. I agree whole heartedly with Rube’s distinction on the word “inspired”. That was what occurred to me when I read augmented’s comment.

    However, augmented’s last comment’s got me thinking. To what extent does the tune actually communicate meaning? In Plato’s Republic, he illustrates that certain tunes convey certain things, and wanted to outlaw certain kinds of tunes in the ideal Republic, because not conducive to the needs of the state. I have always kind of written this off as Platonic thought, even though a part of me has always recognized that there is some truth to this.

    I appeal to augmentedfourth for further explanation, because I am ready and willing to learn.

  87. Bruce S. wrote:

    And I would add that augmentedfourth’s argument above is basically a rationalistic one.

    And I make no claims to the contrary. However, I wholeheartedly agree with Galileo Galilei when he said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

    Scripture is indeed sufficient for our salvation. In addition, though, I think some insight from outside the canon has still been provided by God. Of course, such things from outside the Scriptures are open to acceptance or rejection by those that do or do not agree (cf. Calvinism vs. Arminianism vs. Wesleyanism etc.), but that doesn’t mean that these thoughts should not be brought up or discussed.

  88. Echo_ochE wrote:

    To what extent does the tune actually communicate meaning?

    and then:

    I appeal to augmentedfourth for further explanation, because I am ready and willing to learn.

    First of all, as I stated before, much meaning that lies in the music itself is that which “words cannot express” and is therefore subjective. However, I also submit that much of said subjectivity is interpreted culturally, and therefore we do have a shared sense of what music expresses.

    For instance, a line with a rising major-scale melody whose harmony culminates in a strong V-I cadence is often used to represent joy or victory in Western art music and thus is evokes such an effect in the minds of many who hear it. (I can’t think of a good example offhand, but if you sing “Praise His Ho-ly name” to the notes FGABC and accompanied by the chords F-C-F-G7-C you’ll see what I mean.) Such a device would hardly fit when composing music to accompany the more somber Psalms.

    Also, the example I have before: the opening part of the hymn melody “Holy, Holy, Holy” is built on a major triad, which evokes power and stability. If you attempt to sing that with a minor triad instead (lower by a half-step the middle “Holy”) it will now sound sad and weak, no matter what the text states.

    As I said before, though, these meanings are conveyed culturally. Therefore, if we were somehow able to hear a Psalm as David played it on his lyre before King Saul, we might well hear something much different in its musical structure than the ancient Hebrews did. But this means that the music of today’s Psalm settings must be written in an aural language that is understood by today’s churchgoers, which in turn means (as Rube intimated above) that the sounds we hear are not capital-I Inspired.

  89. Re-reading my previous comment I realize that creating modern music to accompany Psalms may be seen merely as “translation” in the way that the Hebrew text was re-rendered in English for our edification. However, this is certainly not the case as we don’t have the original music notated to perform any such translation. Furthermore, the things expressed solely by music are interpreted culturally (as I said before) and there’s nothing resembling the act of translation to bring musical ideas from one culture to another.

    The upshot is that my conclusion still stands: un-Inspired melodies carry meaning, and that meaning must be juxtaposed with Inspired text even in churches that practice EP.

  90. [BS:] There is no more content in a melody than there is in the mode of the scales they used back then

    [Echo:]To what extent does the tune actually communicate meaning?

    I agree with augmented that wordless music can and does (and cannot help but) carry some meaning. Consider also some discussion starting here… And this is what I meant by my question. Given that we are commanded to sing, and we are not provided with tunes, that implies that we are commanded to create uninspired tunes, and it also implies that we are commanded to create uninspired tunes whose messages do not contradict Christian truth. So if we mortals have been entrusted with that awesome responsibility, would the same (spirit-assisted, but not big-I-Inspired) judgment be sufficient for writing lyrics?

    As one trained in the composition of music…

    You know not the qualifications of he to whom you speak… He isn’t called “I need sheet music“, for nuttin!

  91. Hmmm…this is all fascinating. Although I must admit that what Augmented said was just a bit over my non-musical head. But I can recognize and understand what he said about stability being conveyed in the tune, etc.

    But even though we don’t have the original tunes, can’t we figure out what the mood of the psalm ought to be from looking at the text, and then composing a tune appropriate to that text, and can’t we then say that the tune is text driven?

    Anyway, I still think the best argument is the authority argument. If a pastor has the authority to put uninspired words on the lips of God in the sermon, uninspired words on the lips of the people in his prayer on their behalf, then why wouldn’t he have the authority to have them sing an uninspired song, providing that it’s a faithful reflection of Scripture, which is the same qualifier for his sermons and prayers?

    That’s my point, and I have never heard even an attempt at an answer from the Psalms only crowd to that one. Maybe I’m ignorant and haven’t come across it yet. I’d love to hear a response to that.

  92. Well, if you listen to the .mp3s, you might indeed hear something!

    a bit over my non-musical head

    Maybe this is under your head: Can you imagine worshipping to the tune of “Grandma got run over by a reindeer”? “Pop goes the weasel”? “[insert death metal “tune” here]”? How about the classic chart-topper “How sweet it is, to be loved by you“?

  93. At Rod Parsley’s church they croon “Take my heart, take my whole life too, ’cause I can’t help falling in love with you” to Jesus, with hands raised, swaying to the Elvis ballad.

    In this case, Rube, even sarcasm can’t match the cheesy reality, I’m afraid.

    Yes, my friends, even some charismatics (gasp) have a line we won’t cross.

  94. You guys might find Jeremy Begbie’s work in this area of music and worship instructive, interesting at this point :)

  95. Rube, I have been informed about the debate. My argument was not addressed.

  96. Echo_ohcE wrote:

    But even though we don’t have the original tunes, can’t we figure out what the mood of the psalm ought to be from looking at the text, and then composing a tune appropriate to that text, and can’t we then say that the tune is text driven?

    Of course this is the aim of writing tunes to Psalm texts, but any such attempt necessarily requires some degree of interpretation to decipher the text’s “mood.” If two composers come up with two different pieces of music to accompany the same Psalm, it is evident that no one setting is the “true” one worthy of the label of big-I-Inspiration.

    Since proponents of EP emphatically state that only Scriptural material is appropriate for worship, their position strongly implies that any additions in the form of musical setting and interpretation are necessarily inappropriate since they must come from un-Inspired musicians (who, as mentioned previously, can only communicate within a cultural musical framework).

  97. RubeRad wrote:

    As one trained in the composition of music…

    You know not the qualifications of he to whom you speak… He isn’t called “I need sheet music“, for nuttin!

    Regardless of his qualifications, I can still rely on my training to have an informed musical opinion, can’t I? Even if it contrasts with the opinion of another similarly-informed musician…

  98. Sorry about the formatting in that previous comment. Those nested <blockquote> tags didn’t end up looking like I expected them to…

  99. Augmented,

    You said: “Since proponents of EP emphatically state that only Scriptural material is appropriate for worship, their position strongly implies that any additions in the form of musical setting and interpretation are necessarily inappropriate since they must come from un-Inspired musicians (who, as mentioned previously, can only communicate within a cultural musical framework).”

    Echo: Now THAT is a powerful argument. I like it! Bravo!

  100. Isn’t that what I said? Oh well, I guess Augmented said it better. Must be that professional training :-P

  101. Rube:

    Yes, I knew as I was writing that comment that I was basically restating an argument you had made. The only things I added were a couple of explicit statements of things you had previously only implied. Namely, that a) the act of setting a text musically requires interpretation of that text, and b) musical composition must necessarily employ cultural conventions to convey its message.

  102. […] Psalmody: Psalmody? Yes. Exclusive? No. From the recent Hoagies & Stogies, I learned that when God does a new Redemptive work, we are commanded to respond with new songs (Is […]

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