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Last thoughts on the EP discussion

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  • Tim Cunningham
    GMW s previous post is included almost entire. The Baptist byssinian s thoughts are interjected and marked with Tp- With all due respect (and I mean that...
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 2, 2002
      GMW's previous post is included almost entire. The Baptist ''byssinian's
      thoughts are interjected and marked with Tp-

      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.
      -------------
      Tp-Your words are appreciated and I have no doubt you mean them.
      The esteem also is mutual.
      --------------
      I 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.
      ----------------
      Tp-The two equivocal descriptions of EP I posted were
      meanings that I seemed to be reading in the recent series of postings here
      whether by you, BD or Rev. S, I can't remember which and don't have time to
      search.
      ----------------
      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
      ----------------------
      Tp- I assume that in your reply you are defining the word
      "worship" as referring to formal church worship services. May I suggest we
      get away from that usage since the NT usage for worship is broader. I will
      use the word "services" for such in what follows.
      ------------------------
      (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.
      ---------------
      Tp- This creates a problem for me. If Calvin is taking Col
      3:16 as not referring to the Hebraism of psalms, palms and psalms, but
      morally upright songs which speak of God's praise in all situations, and yet
      claiming that only the psalms are suitable to be used in the worship of God
      why is Calvin distinguishing between corporate and individual worship and on
      what grounds? If Calvin does make such a distinction, I question whether it
      is tenable. As previously noted Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19 are not written in a
      context of general church order but one of common Christian life which would
      seem to apply the teaching of these verses to all Christian settings. Which
      is why I think a consistent EP will sooner or later reduce to psalms only in
      all situations. (Do you for instance use uninspired songs in your private or
      family worship and/or find it easy to listen in good conscience to human
      worship song CD's?) If you do, I would be immensely surprised.
      Since Christ defines acceptable worship as being "in spirit and in
      truth" (John 4:24), then if human composed songs are insufficient they must
      be insufficient on one or both of these grounds. It has been argued
      somewhere in the recent series of posts in the club that only acceptable
      content for worship is divinely inspired texts. Therefore it would seem that
      offering less than inspired texts is a belittling of God if not an outright
      blasphemy i.e. a human usurping one of God's prerogatives (Luke 5;21)-
      that of composing praise to be given to Him. If this is correct, the
      blasphemy is committed whether done in a service or outside it. Therefore I
      am left with cases 1 and 2. EP's may not like my case 1 but on my premises
      nothing else is tenable.
      In passing pleas not that we are not free to assume that OT
      requirements for worship carry over into the New Covenant since Christ in
      John 4:21 specifically abrogates the temple requirement of the OT for which
      the psalms were the songbook, right before He announces the NT criteria of
      "Spirit and truth". If a song is composed by someone "filled with the
      spirit" which we are all commanded to be, and is of irreproachable biblical
      truth why is it then inappropriate for use in the worship of God?
      But, leaving that aside for a moment, if Calvin's view is right and
      these texts speak of generally moral and upright songs which speak of God's
      praise rather than being specifically limited to the canonical psalms: then
      the Hebraism argument quoted against the non EP understanding of "hymn and
      spiritual song" becomes invalid. It is only a valid consideration for the
      discussion if Paul's intent was to teach 'psalms, psalms and psalms' as the
      general rule for the churches i.e. case 1.
      -------------
      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."
      -------------
      Tp - This argument has certainly not commended itself to
      many on either grammatical or contextual grounds. I can't speak to the
      grammatical point, but on the contextual point I observe that if by the word
      "psalms" Paul meant the canonical psalms, psalms and psalms, the word
      "spiritual" applied to them is redundant. Since Paul does not waste words
      this intended meaning is less likely. Note that we must assume that the
      Ephesians would have known that Paul meant by the book of Psalms when he
      used word "psalms" since he had been among them and it is certain that he
      would have used the canonical Psalms, at least in part, both in his teaching
      and when leading worship. Moreover, modifying the word "ode" as "spiritual"
      appears to do is a strong argument that the word 'hymnos" is specifically a
      non inspired song, since, from Paul's perspective, the only way an
      uninspired ode would be mistaken for his meaning by the Ephesians or
      Colossians is if the previous word "hymn" was intended to be seen as
      uninspired.
      ---------------
      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> ).
      -------------------
      Tp-That the bible uses those terms of the psalms I do not
      dispute.
      ----------------
      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.
      -------------------
      Tp-I believe I had stated that the Hebraism was a possible
      understanding. But the example I gave (which you granted) shows that the
      threefold repetition of similar ideas does not always mean that a threefold
      repetition of an identical idea is always intended by the Hebrew mind. Hence
      the Hebraism argument cannot be advocated with certainty. Paul may have been
      meaning psalms only, or he may have been meaning something else. We cannot,
      with certainty, therefore, by the Hebraism, determine which of the possible
      meanings he meant.

      And it is the issue of certainty which is very important here. At bottom the
      issue is not whether EP understandings of the text are possibly what Paul
      meant. They are and they might even be right. The real question is can we be
      certain that Paul's intended meaning was one of the EP proposed
      understandings, or the one I pointed out i.e. a mixture of canonical psalms,
      new composed hymns and charismatic "odes". By the term "certain" here I am
      not referring to the subjective certainty we experience as we consider two
      sides of a debate, and the evidence influences our judgement one way or the
      other, but the objective certainty defined as when one understanding of the
      text is known to be indisputably correct on grammatical contextual, and
      theological grounds since not only is it explicitly taught, but the contrary
      possibilities are specifically excluded also. Remember that faith involves
      being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not now see. (Heb
      11:1). While we can be absolutely and objectively certain of key doctrines
      like the Trinity, justification by faith etc because in those cases,
      Scripture specifically excludes any alternatives to the orthodox
      understanding, we cannot be equally certain in the same sense when all we
      can do is select from one of a number of possible understandings of a text.
      Now as I see this situation, no NT text excludes uninspired hymns from use
      in the church. Similarly no OT text specifically mandates only canonical
      psalms for worship or specifically excludes non canonical ones. Therefore
      while we may fellowship in groups which prefer to "play it safe" and sing
      only the canonical psalms, which may be the correct understanding, we
      should not try to legislate for all Christians where Scripture leaves the
      other possibility not specifically excluded, and there are a couple of texts
      that argue that it may be permitted.
      ----------------
      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
      ----------
      Tp - I was not advocating that that we may only use singing to
      teach. Let me rephrase what I was trying to say. It should have read "On
      this premise the content of Paul's teaching in Col 3:16 reduces to 'when you
      worship in song or when you teach by singing, then sing only psalms, psalms,
      and psalms, for instruction and worship" It is not that Paul is limiting
      teaching to song, but that when someone is teaching by singing, it appears
      that the content must be psalms only.
      ------------
      B. This is very important: *** EP'S DO NOT SING PSALMS ONLY BECAUSE
      WE BELIEVE PAUL HERE TEACHES "SING ONLY CANONICAL PSALMS," RATHER,
      WE SING ONLY PSALMS BECAUSE PAUL HERE GIVES US NOTHING ELSE TO SING.
      ----------------
      Tp- that is fully understood. But if you believe that Paul gives you nothing
      else to sing, you are only saying in different words that we are limited in
      what we may sing. And if Paul is these verses giving us nothing else to sing
      in services then what the bible elsewhere limits us to which on EP premises
      is psalms then we arrive at my case 1. And an aside - if you believe that
      Paul is giving us nothing else to sing why did you quote Calvin who
      interprets these verses as Paul indeed giving us something else to sing,
      just not in the church? For the purposes of this discussion between thee and
      me, his view of these verses is irrelevant.
      --------------
      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.
      -----------------
      Tp- I do not think you do sing psalms only because of what is taught here. I
      agree there is plenty of warrant for using psalms in worship. I do so
      myself.
      I am asking where else in Scripture do we find ourselves specifically
      limited to psalms only since Christ's criteria appear to be "Spirit and
      truth" not psalms.
      ---------------
      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.
      ---------
      Tp- The above sentence seems to be missing something. Is it the words "may
      sing" after Christian?
      I understand fully that EP's are not saying that the early church was
      limited to the canonical psalms in worship that they had charismatic songs
      to teach doctrine. My case 1 assumes that exception.
      ----------
      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. No one denies that while God
      sets up rules, He Himself can make exceptions.
      ------------
      Tp-Sure God has the right to do anything He wants to do and He does it
      whether we like it or not. But we do not have the right to hold to our
      understanding of what He is teaching and doing when our understanding brings
      with it the good and (provably) necessary consequence that He is the author
      of confusion, when Scripture tells us plainly that He is not. If He is
      mandating through Paul that only canonical psalms are to be sung for
      instruction which, ISTM, is what case 1 entails while Himself instructing
      the church by noncanonical sung prophecy which he has forbidden by Paul, He
      is creating confusion. Since Scripture forbids us from thinking that He is
      the author of confusion, we must therefore revise our understanding. And
      thus we are forced to turn to case 2 if we believe EP is scriptural.
      ------------
      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.
      -------------------
      Tp-I don't think I have stated the EP premise falsely or created a straw
      man. I recognize that EP's see these verses as teaching only a general rule
      with the charismatic exception. I think I have shown, though, that if Paul's
      intent was in these key verses was to teach psalms only as a general rule,
      he is more likely to have meant case 2., not case 1, since stating the
      general rule as case 1 might (from Paul's perspective) create problems for
      the churches given that Paul knew that God from time to time was inspiring
      charismatic singers to teach doctrine. If EP's argue Paul to mean case 1
      with exception for charismatic teaching, then I do think that the argument
      makes God out as at least an incompetent teacher since he could have given
      any needed teaching by spoken prophecy which meant that He would not have
      set the bad example of contradicting His instruction given by Paul. Or on
      the other hand if Paul knew that God was using charismatic singing to teach
      doctrine surely he would make room for it in his instructions, which is case
      2. Why? Because any prophet in the churches receiving Ephesians (if it was a
      circular letter) or in the Eph. church itself would, after hearing 5:18,
      never feel free to give a sung prophecy, even if prompted by the Holy
      Spirit, and the church concerned would never know with certainty whether a
      particular sung prophecy containing true doctrine was acceptable or not,
      until they received a copy of an apostolic letter repeating the doctrine.
      Could Paul have wanted to risk foreclosing all future charismatic song when
      he wrote Ephesians or Colossians? If he meant psalms psalms and psalms he
      risked doing exactly that, since AFAWK the common dating of the NT there was
      still some more Scripture yet to come after these letters. Which is why I
      think that if EP is biblical at all, only case 2 is a tenable understanding
      of these verses.
      ------------------
      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.
      -------------
      Tp- If we deny case 1 so Paul can, to avoid confusion, then teach his
      converts to allow for charismatic song we arrive inevitably at case
      2.Incidently case 2 also destroys the Hebraism EP's use to make Paul say
      psalms psalms and psalms in these verses. You will now need to find
      Hebraisms of a,a,b. Are there any?
      ---------------
      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,
      -------------
      Tp - I do not dispute that God prescribes His own worship-I merely ask,
      since Jesus prescribes that worship is to be in Spirit and in truth, why
      Biblical truth whether quoted or accurately paraphrased not good enough for
      Christians who if they are walking rightly before God are in the Spirit?
      ------------------
      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.
      -----------
      Tp-the whole question is whether or not we are so limited in view of Jesus'
      worship criteria.
      --------------
      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?
      -----------------
      Tp - If by inspired praise you mean "canonical Scripture" than sometimes I
      would have to almost agree. But then I remember that Christ's criteria was
      "truth" and my preferred ways of stating truth do not automatically trump
      other ways of stating that same truth, if the truth itself is not
      compromised. If we can accurately state and explain Scriptural truth in
      ways other than merely quoting Scripture than why limit our praises when we
      don't so limit our words?
      ---------------
      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.
      -------------
      Tp - Now this IS a "straw man argument." I am not arguing for "all kinds" of
      uninspired hymns. I am only arguing for worship texts which meet the
      standard of absolute fidelity to biblical truth. I have already said so both
      in the previous post and in my answers to Susan's questions.
      --------------------
      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 non EP principle, but the strongest case of non EP'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.
      -------------
      Tp-That is a begging of the question. If John 4:24 is the governing criteria
      for Christian worship, anybody may create worship songs so long as they are
      of irreproachable biblical teaching.
      --------------
      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.
      -------------
      Tp - I have recently posted the text of the Lyte hymn at Between a rock and
      a hard place. Check the index for passiontide.
      ----------------
      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).
      ---------------
      Tp - I do not ask you to ignore doctrinal errors of hymn writers overall
      theological position. I only ask you to test particular hymns by Scripture.
      If you find anything in a given hymn that is false or heretical don't sing
      it and/or find a church which does have a competent minister and choir
      director. I would also ask you to check your history in the case of Watts.
      While he may have been unorthodox for a short time, for the vast majority of
      his ministry he was orthodox on this subject and recognized as such. He
      wrote a number of hymns which presume orthodox doctrine in this area. One
      couplet chosen at random is "Jesus is worthy to receive / honour and power
      divine" which is hardly unorthodox.
      -----------------
      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.
      ---------------------
      Tp -That scourge can be addressed by other means. I have seen it done. And
      if EP is not Biblical we are adding to His word and must expect Him to
      rebuke us. (Pv. 30:6).
      -------------------
      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?
      -----------------
      Since Christ defines acceptable worship as being "in spirit and in truth"
      (John 4:24) and since the NT defines the normal Christian walk as being
      filled with the Spirit, if our songs are distillations of biblical truth, we
      do.
      -------------------
      "If EP is not God's intent the proposed cure is no better than the
      disease."

      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."
      -------------
      Tp- That possibility is ruled out by Paul in both texts when he specifically
      identifies the object of our worship -it is to be "to the Lord" (Eph. 5:19)
      or "to God" (Col. 3:16). That Paul does this in both passages is a strong
      argument that the meaning one or more of the terms he had used could have
      been misunderstood exactly as you have just done. If he had meant "psalms,
      psalms and psalms" and he knew his Ephesian congregation knew his usage he
      had no need to add "to the Lord."
      ----------------
      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.
      -------------
      Tp-Did you notice that I mentioned Ambrose who dates from three centuries
      earlier? If you did, this is another straw man.
      ---------------
      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.
      -------------
      Tp-Since Christ defines acceptable worship as being "in spirit and in truth"
      it is not we who need to find commands to sing uninspired material in
      worship (although the two key verses in Eph. and Col. may be held to permit
      such), it is the EP advocate who needs to prove that acceptable worship is
      limited to psalms.
      Meow
      Tp








      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • raging_calvinist
      Hopefully by last thoughts you simply mean your most recent thoughts, not the last thoughts you will be giving to this subject. You write, The two equivocal
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 3, 2002
        Hopefully by "last thoughts" you simply mean your most recent
        thoughts, not the last thoughts you will be giving to this subject.

        You write, "The two equivocal descriptions of EP I posted were
        meanings that I seemed to be reading in the recent series of postings
        here whether by you, BD or Rev. S, I can't remember which and don't
        have time to search."

        And that is fair enough. I only wish to point out that there are
        various views of Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 among EP's. The point is
        that we have Scriptural warrant for singing Psalms elsewhere in
        Scripture, and these two verses tend to be the only ones non-EP's
        point to as their Scripture warrant for sing "hymns and spiritual
        songs" (by which they mean uninspired hymns and spiritual songs).
        And yet they cannot demonstrate any such warrant whatsoever from
        these passages.

        Tim: "I assume that in your reply you are defining the word 'worship'
        as referring to formal church worship services."

        Actually, I was not necessarily limiting it to formal church worship
        (as if we do not hold to EP in family or private worship).

        "This [Calvin's view of Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16] creates a problem
        for me. If Calvin is taking Col 3:16 as not referring to the Hebraism
        of psalms, palms and psalms,"

        Let me interrupt your sentence here for a moment. As I said before,
        I do not deny that each word could have different connotations though
        essentially the same denotation. The verse does not say psalms,
        psalms and psalms. It says psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Look
        at Psalm 1 and tell me if it is a psalm, a hymn, or a spiritual
        song. Let me know which term is does not qualify for.

        Back to your sentence...

        "but morally upright songs which speak of God's praise in all
        situations, and yet claiming that only the psalms are suitable to be
        used in the worship of God why is Calvin distinguishing between
        corporate and individual worship and on what grounds?"

        While I must confess that Calvin does puzzle me a bit on these
        verses, I would suggest that he is not speaking here of formal
        worship. In other words, he is not speaking of that time we set aside
        to perform worship, but rather those times when we are doing more
        mundane things for the glory of God. One can pray or read the Bible
        while going to the bathroom, but that doesn't mean that going to the
        bathroom is an appropriate act of formal worship. One can glorify
        God with one's gift of musicianship, but it does not follow that we
        ought to set up our drum-kit behind the pulpit for use in a formal
        act of worship (this example is perhaps the best one, as Calvin is
        AGAINST instruments in worship, and yet here allows that the
        word "psalm" refers to something with musical accompanyment).

        Tim: "If Calvin does make such a distinction, I question whether it
        is tenable."

        It's tenable. You make similar distinctions yourself, I'm sure of
        it. In whatever you eat, glorify God. And yet can you remember the
        last time you had peel-and-eat shrimp during a Lord's Day worship
        service?

        Tim: "As previously noted Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19 are not written in a
        context of general church order but one of common Christian life
        which would seem to apply the teaching of these verses to all
        Christian settings."

        Which then would mean that even if Paul was calling for the writing
        and use of songs other than the Psalms, we still don't have warrant
        for the use of uninspired songs in the formal worship of God.

        Tim: "Which is why I think a consistent EP will sooner or later
        reduce to psalms only in all situations."

        Oh, I'm not sure about that. But I will grant that some may have
        come to such conclusions, even very early on in Church history:

        "Abstain from all the heathen books. For what hast thou to do with
        such foreign discourses, or laws, or false prophets, which subvert
        the faith of the unstable? For what defect dost thou find in the law
        of God, that thou shouldest have recourse to those heathenish fables?
        For if thou hast a mind to read history, thou hast the books of the
        Kings; if books of wisdom or poetry, thou hast those of the Prophets,
        of Job, and the Proverbs, in which thou wilt find greater depth of
        sagacity than in all the heathen poets and sophisters, because these
        are the words of the Lord, the only wise God. If thou desirest
        something to sing, thou hast the Psalms," etc. -- From The Teaching
        of the Twelve Apostles.

        Tim: "(Do you for instance use uninspired songs in your private or
        family worship and/or find it easy to listen in good conscience to
        human worship song CD's?)"

        I sing only Psalms in private and family worship, and I
        avoid "worship" cd's for the most part. As I type, I am listening to
        Traffic's "John Barleycorn Must Die," however. Quite relaxing. I
        should go get a beer to enjoy. Hold on, be right back....

        Ok... got my Guinness now. Where was I? Oh, yeah...

        Tim: "Since Christ defines acceptable worship as being 'in spirit
        and in truth' (John 4:24), then if human composed songs are
        insufficient they must be insufficient on one or both of these
        grounds. It has been argued somewhere in the recent series of posts
        in the club that only acceptable content for worship is divinely
        inspired texts. Therefore it would seem that offering less than
        inspired texts is a belittling of God if not an outright blasphemy
        i.e. a human usurping one of God's prerogatives (Luke 5;21)- that
        of composing praise to be given to Him. If this is correct, the
        blasphemy is committed whether done in a service or outside it."

        Actually, you're doing pretty good here, with one caveat: Just as
        long as we understand that being "inspired" does not automatically
        mean that we are to offer it as worship. We are required to worship
        God as He has commanded -- no more, no less. And so the issue
        becomes whether or not He requires us to sing uninspired songs in
        worship. We have neither command nor example of this in Scripture,
        and therefore we deny that such an act can ever be called worshiping
        in spirit and in truth.

        Tim: "In passing please note that we are not free to assume that OT
        requirements for worship carry over into the New Covenant since
        Christ in John 4:21 specifically abrogates the temple requirement of
        the OT for which the psalms were the songbook, right before He
        announces the NT criteria of 'Spirit and truth'."

        And yet some were worshiping in spirit and truth at the very time
        that Jesus told the woman she has no idea what she's worshiping
        because she is not worshiping according to the commandments of God
        (John 4:22,23). So, if spirit and truth worship cannot mean that God
        no longer regulates His own worship, what exactly is it that you are
        saying it means? Does it mean the abrogation of everything that was
        done in the temple? Were the Psalms shadows? Are you an acapella
        hymn-singer?

        Tim: "If a song is composed by someone 'filled with the spirit'
        which we are all commanded to be, and is of irreproachable biblical
        truth why is it then inappropriate for use in the worship of God?"

        Because we have no biblical warrant for offering our own uninspired
        hymns in the worship of God... no command, no approved example.
        Nothing. We have plenty of warrant for the use of inspired worship
        song however.

        Tim: "But, leaving that aside for a moment, if Calvin's view is
        right and these texts speak of generally moral and upright songs
        which speak of God's praise rather than being specifically limited to
        the canonical psalms: then the Hebraism argument quoted against the
        non EP understanding of "hymn and spiritual song" becomes invalid."

        Well, what it means is that we are not talking about songs that have
        anything to do with the formal worship of God.

        Tim: "It is only a valid consideration for the discussion if Paul's
        intent was to teach 'psalms, psalms and psalms' as the general rule
        for the churches i.e. case 1.

        Again, it doesn't say psalms, psalms and psalms. It says psalms,
        hymns and spiritual songs, of which the canonical "Book of Praises"
        (i.e. the Book of Psalms) is filled.

        Tim: "This argument has certainly not commended itself to many on
        either grammatical or contextual grounds. I can't speak to the
        grammatical point, but on the contextual point I observe that if by
        the word 'psalms' Paul meant the canonical psalms, psalms and psalms,"

        Again, he meant the canonical psalms, hymns and spiritual songs of
        the Book of Psalms.

        Tim continued: "the word 'spiritual' applied to them is redundant.

        Using three terms for "song" is not redundant but pointing out that
        they must be "spiritual" is? Amazing!

        Tim: "Note that we must assume that the Ephesians would have known
        that Paul meant by the book of Psalms when he used word 'psalms'since
        he had been among them and it is certain that he would have used the
        canonical Psalms, at least in part, both in his teaching and when
        leading worship."

        So you grant that when the Ephesians read "psalms" they knew they
        meant the psalms found in the Book of Psalms? Good. Now, next is
        for you to understand that the Book of Psalms also contains hymns and
        odes, and that the Ephesians also would have recognized them.

        Tim: "Moreover, modifying the word 'ode' as 'spiritual' appears to
        do is a strong argument that the word 'hymnos" is specifically a non
        inspired song, since, from Paul's perspective, the only way an
        uninspired ode would be mistaken for his meaning by the Ephesians or
        Colossians is if the previous word "hymn" was intended to be seen as
        uninspired."

        OR,

        1. It could be true that "spiritual" refers to all three, or,

        2. Given that psalms and hymns clearly already have religious
        connotations, perhaps Paul needed to be even more clear what he was
        talking about when referring to the very generic "song."

        Tim: "That the bible uses those terms of the psalms I do not
        dispute."

        You just dispute that Paul would dare refer to the songs in the book
        of Psalms by those terms?

        Tim: "Hence the Hebraism argument cannot be advocated with
        certainty."

        I think it's pretty clear that this is what is going on here. What
        do you suppose Paul is saying, by the way? Do you believe that Paul
        is commanding that we sing two other kinds of songs besides the
        psalms in worship?

        I understand that you, being an opponent of the concept which needs
        to be convinced of something the early Church would not have needed
        convincing of, will not see any Hebraism as being certain in this
        verse. But who can doubt that it is probable? I gave you enough
        verses to see that it is a common literary device in Scripture.
        Remember, we need biblical warrant for our worship practices, and we
        are FAR from finding CERTAIN biblical warrant for uninspired hymn-
        singing in these verses. You are spending quite a bit of time
        showing why the early Church COULD have understood these verses in
        some other way than the way they most likely did -- Paul was telling
        them to sing the songs that they were already familiar with.

        Tim: "Paul may have been meaning psalms only, or he may have been
        meaning something else."

        And so you have no certain biblical warrant for these verses changing
        the practice of the church up until then (Psalm singing), to the new
        practice of singing uninspired songs to God. Singing inspired song
        is the rule in Scripture... convince us why this is the changing of
        the rule.

        Tim: "We cannot, with certainty, therefore, by the Hebraism,
        determine which of the possible meanings he meant."

        If you would like to move on from these verses, admitting that you
        can not determine what in the world Paul meant, we could still go
        elsewhere and find biblical warrant for singing Psalms. Can you do
        the same for singing uninspired songs?

        "The real question is can we be certain that Paul's intended meaning
        was one of the EP proposed understandings, or the one I pointed out
        i.e. a mixture of canonical psalms, new composed hymns and
        charismatic 'odes'."

        Not so, not so. Read the biblical account of those who dared to
        presume God would accept worship that He did not command. Go back
        and read about Cain, Nadab and Abihu, King Saul, etc, and get an
        understanding of the grave sin that offering "strange fire" to the
        Lord is. Before we take fire before the Lord, let us be careful that
        we do so not on our own whim. Let us not go before God
        merely "uncertain" that God will reject strange fire. Rather, let us
        be convinced that what we bring before God is what God Himself
        requires. If He shall ask, "When ye come to appear before me, who
        hath required this at your hand?" (Isa. 1:12), shall we answer
        Him, "I was not CERTAIN if this was forbidden." Nay, if we are to
        worship God in faith, we must be CERTAIN that what we bring Him is
        what He commanded that we bring. And so, again, I ask you... where
        is the command or approved example to sing uninspired songs in the
        worship of God? You yourself acknowledge that we have this for the
        singing of Psalms. Where is it for uninspired song?

        "By the term 'certain' here I am not referring to the subjective
        certainty we experience as we consider two sides of a debate, and the
        evidence influences our judgement one way or the other, but the
        objective certainty defined as when one understanding of the text is
        known to be indisputably correct on grammatical contextual, and
        theological grounds since not only is it explicitly taught, but the
        contrary possibilities are specifically excluded also."

        Rome would LOVE your requirements for worship! "How can we be
        CERTAIN that we cannot have 7 sacraments instead of 2? Where is the
        explicite command NOT to have 7 sacraments?"

        But, let's go ahead run the use of ininspired hymns through your
        test. 1) We have no text which indisputably, based on correct
        grammatical, contextual, and theological grounds, teaching us that we
        may sing uninspired hymns in the worship of God, and therefore, 2)
        We have no explicit teaching that we are to sing uninspired hymns in
        the worship of God, and, 3) We have no exclusion of the contrary
        possibility.

        For Psalmody, on the other hand, we have 1) the presence of a Psalter
        which was delivered by the "sweet psalmist of Israel" for use in
        worship. 2) Explicit commands to sing Psalms, some found in the
        Psalms themselves. 3) Not one demonstrable instance of any one in
        the Scriptures singing any uninspired song to God. 4) Several
        commands to neither add to nor take away from, the commandments of
        God. Including this one:

        "Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them,
        after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire
        not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods?
        even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy
        God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they
        done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they
        have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command
        you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from
        it."

        Dare we, on such weak grounds, bring this worship before Jealous?

        Tim: "...we cannot be equally certain in the same sense when all we
        can do is select from one of a number of possible understandings of a
        text."

        Right, which is why we dare not offer our own songs to God based on
        one of a number of possible understandings of Eph. 5:19 and Col.
        3:16, given that we have plenty of other warrant to sing Psalms, but
        no other warrant to sing uninspired hymns.

        "Now as I see this situation, no NT text excludes uninspired hymns
        from use in the church. Similarly no OT text specifically mandates
        only canonical psalms for worship or specifically excludes non
        canonical ones."

        Hold up a minute, please. We are not to ADD TO OR take away. Where
        do you see God commanding or approving of the use of uninspired
        worship song? The fact is that He ONLY commands us to sing the songs
        He Himself gave, and so we only sing them. We do not need a command
        to only sing the Psalms, if we have only commands to sing the Psalms!

        I'll have to address the rest later, as I have to go now.

        gmw.
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