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Re: Last thoughts on the EP discussion (1)

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  • 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 1 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

      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

      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


      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
      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

      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
      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.

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