Re: Last thoughts on the EP discussion (1)
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.