Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

4112(Long) response to "Some footnote to the EP discussion"

Expand Messages
  • raging_calvinist
    Apr 1, 2002
    • 0 Attachment

      With all due respect (and I mean that… your kind and comforting
      words to me in my time of trouble a few months back are not
      forgotten, and I hold you in high esteem), my brother, I do not find
      your objections to be quite weak. Let's look at them:

      1. The Unwitting Error of Equivocation

      You write, "EP's have suggested two possible meanings of the
      phrase "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." I'm sure you will find
      more than just two suggested meanings if you look around enough.
      There are some Reformed folks who we know were very likely to have
      sung the Psalms exclusively in worship who do not deny definitions
      similar to yours, though they do not seem to think that Eph. 5:19 and
      Col. 3:16 are commands limited to worship (Calvin, for example,
      states clearly that the Psalms alone are suitable songs to be used in
      the worship of God [in his preface to the Genevan Psalter], and yet
      he does not limit these texts to speak only of Psalms. Rather, he
      seems to speak of morally upright songs which speak of God's praise,
      of all types, in all kinds of situations. Also, he allows that
      Psalms here refers to a song played with an instrument, which
      practice during worship Calvin elsewhere flatly condemns. I'll allow
      you to look up his commentary on these verses and conclude for
      yourself how he interprets this. Point being that Calvin didn't
      necessarily view these commands as worship ordinances in the strict
      sense). You will also find some arguing that the term "spiritual"
      refers to not simply "songs," but to all three terms (i.e. "spiritual
      psalms, hymns, and songs") meaning that all three are "of the
      Spirit." Look around, there are a various ways we can understand
      Eph. 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 which do not demand the use of
      uninspired hymns in the worship of God.

      You describe the first suggested EP meaning: "It was asserted
      somewhere in these postings that Paul's phrase `psalms, hymns and
      spiritual songs' was a Hebraism, saying the same thing different ways
      three times as in Ex. 34:7 where God says he is `bearing iniquity
      rebellion and sin' (Fox translation)." Now, I will allow you your
      interpretation of Exodus 34:7, as I do not deny that while the three
      words may denote the same thing, they may connote slightly different
      things (perhaps even the very things you say). However, that is
      nothing to the point. The fact is, that the Septuagint refers to
      various Psalms as humnos, ode, and or psalmos (see
      http://spindleworks.com/septuagint/lxx_psalm_titles.htm and
      http://members.aol.com/Puritanone/songs.html ). It is not disputed
      that the Septuagint was in wide use amongst the Greek speaking Jews,
      and it seems that the writers of the New Testament sometimes quote
      from it. And therefore, we need to appeal to no other Hebraisms to
      conclude that Paul is referring to the book of psalms, hymns, and
      spiritual songs with which the Church would already have been
      familiar. But if you wish, you can take a look at some other verses
      that say roughly the same thing multiple times: Lev. 16:21; Deut.
      30:16; 1 Kings 6:12; 1 Chron. 19:19; Ps. 19:7,8; Ps. 66:1,2; 1 Cor.
      2:9; 1 Cor. 13:13; 2 Cor. 12:12; 1 Tim. 2:1; Heb. 2:4; etc.

      You continue, " …then the content of Paul's teaching in Col 3:16
      reduces to "Sing only canonical psalms in the church for instruction
      and worship…". There are some problems with this conclusion:

      A. You continue to suggest that this verse teaches either 1) that we
      may only teach by using singing – this, however, cannot be true, as
      we are to take the whole of Scriptures as our rule, and we find in
      them many commands and examples of teaching which do not involve
      singing (Christ teaching in the temple by "asking questions" [i.e.
      catechizing] for example) – or, that this verse is teaching (not by
      singing, by the way!) that the ordinance of singing does not involve
      praise to God, but only the teaching of men, which also cannot be

      B. This is very important: *** EP'S DO NOT SING PSALMS ONLY BECAUSE
      EP does not need Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 to find warrant for singing
      Psalms. We already have enough warrant from the rest of Scripture.

      C. And finally, you continue to misunderstand the EP position, by
      suggesting that all the songs any Christian at any time in redemptive
      history must be found among the 150 canonical Psalms. This simply
      isn't true. We believe that God must give us the songs to sing, and
      if He chooses to do that by way of charismatic inspiration or by way
      of a prophet, then He has the right to do that. But in the absence
      of those things, He's given us a book to use – the Psalter. Based on
      this error, you (while flirting with blasphemy) conclude, "and then
      the non canonical psalms given charismatically by God to the early
      church creates the situation in which, on EP premises, God is at
      least the author of confusion since He is mandating through Paul that
      only canonical psalms are to be sung for instruction while
      instructing the church himself by noncanonical psalms which he has
      forbidden by Paul." Talk about a straw man! You knocked that
      scarecrow right over with one doozy of a wallop! By stating the EP
      premise falsely, you've made God out to be contradictory.

      In your next example, you write, "Case 2. On the other hand some EP's
      have maintained that Paul referred to the canonical psalms by the
      terms psalms and hymns only, and used the term spiritual songs to
      mean the charismatic songs given in 1 Cor 14. This means that what
      Paul meant to teach was "sing canonical psalms and charismatic songs
      i.e. inspired songs that give teachings that would be inscripturated
      in the NT later." While this possibility solves the problem presented
      in case 1, it leads to its own problem: on this version of the EP
      premise the songs in Revelation must be permitted worship texts on
      the grounds of their inspiration, and any biblical text (because NT
      ones are inspired and OT by parity of reasoning since both are
      inspired and canonical) is available to be taught by means of
      song." As I'm not familiar with this position, I will pass it by
      with little comment. I will only state again that the EP position is
      not properly that Paul is in this verse limiting us to anything in
      particular, but that he is not giving us anything other than Psalms
      to sing. Given the biblical principle that God prescribes His own
      worship, we are left with only the songs God gave us to sing – in the
      absence of God providing directly inspired Psalms, this means we use
      the Psalter. I will also point out that the best arguments against
      exclusive Psalmody tend to still argue for inspired praise, something
      to which most Non-EP's DO NOT LIMIT THEMSELVES TOO, ANYWAY. Are you
      arguing that we should allow only inspired praise, Tim?

      "If Paul's intent was to teach that only canonical psalms were to be
      used in worship he is ruling against the admissibility of any
      noncanonical psalm singing in Christian worship."

      A wrong "if" will get you the wrong "then." Again, Paul's intent
      need not be to limit us to anything here. The point is that he gives
      us nothing else but Psalms to sing. No one denies that while God
      sets up rules, He Himself can make exceptions. You wish to take the
      rare exception (prophets giving inspired charismatic Psalms) and make
      it the rule, and then include in that new rule all kinds of
      uninspired hymns as well. Thus far you've been unable to demonstrate
      the use on any uninspired songs in the worship of God found anywhere
      in Scripture. Tim, believe me… if Non-EP's were arguing merely for
      inclusion of other Scripture songs, the whole debate would take on a
      different face, as both sides would grant something that YOU WILL
      NOT, which is that God will be worshiped in song only with inspired
      songs. The argument would then become "All inspired songs? Or are
      they limited only to the `Psalms of David'?"

      2. The Straw Man Argument

      "The second error is a straw man argument. GMW mentioned the problem
      of Joe Sournotes ditties. Granted Joe's ditties are the worst
      example of the nonEP principle, but the strongest case of nonEP's is
      not Joe's babblings but the best work of people like H. F. Lyte (O
      love how deep, how broad, how high.) or Graham Kendrick (Meekness and
      Majesty) which are hymns of irreproachable biblical content. If we
      are going to question a doctrinal position, let us make a habit of
      questioning its best representatives, not its worst."

      There are several problems here.

      First, you are making too many conclusions about Joe Sournote. You
      are concluding that he writes unbiblical or heretical hymns. I've
      made no such conclusion or suggestion. My problem with Joe Sournote
      is that he is not a prophet, nor a Levite, nor is he inspired by God
      or called by Him to deliver songs to His Church for use in worship.
      That alone is grounds for me to reject Joe's hymns as being fit for
      use in worship.

      Second, you bring up two men (Lyte and Kendrick) who may or not write
      beautiful and biblical hymns – honestly I'm not familiar with them by
      name. I have no idea offhand what their hymns are like, whether they
      are orthodox or not. They may very well be very well written,
      biblically solid, songs. If so, God blessed them with a rare talent
      because most hymns I've heard suck eggs. There's a reason churches
      tend to make great use of a handful of hymns while ignoring the other
      200 pages in their hymnals – it's quite rare to find a good one.
      Now, in the Baptist hymn-singing church I grew up in, we didn't sing
      too much of those two fellows: we sang more Fanny Crosby (who was a
      woman commanded to keep silent in the Churches, not to teach), the
      Wesley's (flaming Arminian Perfectionists), and Isaac Watts (who
      denied the orthodox understanding of the Trinity). Now, you may wish
      that I ignore those horrible hymn-writers in order to address the
      best ones. While I did not address EITHER, but only used the
      hypothetical example of one uninspired, non-prophetic Joe Sournote,
      even if I did address the worst hymn-writers rather than the best,
      that still would NOT be a straw man argument, as I would simply be
      addressing the scourge which is most widespread in the churches,
      rather than addressing the rare exceptions of great hymn-writers.
      Again, my objection is not regarding whether or not they are good or
      bad hymn-writers, but whether or not they are producing songs worthy
      to be placed next to the Psalms in our hymnals, and worthy enough to
      be song to God in worship, and even if they met the last two
      qualifications, the last qualification is the most important one: Do
      we have warrant to worship God with those songs?

      "If EP is not God's intent the proposed cure is no better than the

      If EP is not God's intent, one might be able to find in Scripture
      commands to sing uninspired songs in worship, or perhaps even an
      example or two of God's people singing uninspired songs in worship.

      3. The Problem of Word Meaning

      "The Ephesian and Colossian letters were written to Greek speaking
      churches. The Greek word for "hymns" mentioned in those letters was
      commonly used in contemporary secular Greek to refer to humanly
      written hymns. Since that is so, we cannot, without a begging of the
      entire question, arbitrarily assume that Paul could not have meant
      the normal usage of the Greek word "hymnos" i.e. uninspired psalms in
      distinction from the canonical psalms."

      Oh, but Tim, why stop there? Continue your definition to more better
      match the common use of hymnos… add that they were sung to false
      gods! Then your rather arbitrary definition would read, "uninspired
      psalms sung to false gods in distinction from the canonical psalms."

      We can simply recognize that the Septuagint was already calling the
      Psalms of David "psalms, hymns, and songs" and that we have no
      compelling reason to suppose that Paul was commanding the early
      church to forget that up until then the church had used only the
      inspired hymns of David, and that they were now to start writing
      hymns so they have something to sing when the show up for church, and
      that if they restricted themselves to the Psalms that they would be
      violating this new commandment.

      4. Searching for Liturgies

      "dating from the 5th to seventh century."

      Yes, somewhere around A.D. 666 (no, I'm not trying to imply anything
      by the date) the Romans added musical instruments as well. You are
      bound to find lots of innovations by then.

    • Show all 3 messages in this topic