EP & Prayer????

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S. Spence

Puritan Board Freshman
Sorry, yet another question on EP.
Some folks view hymns really as prayers set to music, I know that this is a simplification but bare with me. If this is true then would using the same logic that leads to EP not result in us just using prayers from the Bible?

In other words what I’m really asking is why is it not alright to use uninspired hymns in worship whenever it is alright to use uninspired prayer.

Please don’t think I’m just trying to be difficult, this is something I’ve been thinking about for some time now. Also I’m not saying that we should just use prayers from the Bible either. Prayer is a means of grace to us and I know that our imperfect prayers are made perfect by Christ, but I would love to know how EP’ers would respond to the above question.
 

S. Spence

Puritan Board Freshman
There is no book of prayers which we are commanded to pray. Furthermore, there are examples of spontaneous prayers being prayed by Christ, the Apostles, etc. This same principle applies to preaching.

Agreed, all I'm saying is that can we say we should not sing uninspired hymns and yet worship God with our uninspired prayers, (which I know pleases God.)

Plus there are examples of people in the Bible breaking into spontaneous song. I'm not taking sides here, I just feel that if someone were to ask me this question I don't think I could answer it, that's why I'm asking you guys
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Agreed, all I'm saying is that can we say we should not sing uninspired hymns and yet worship God with our uninspired prayers, (which I know pleases God.)

Plus there are examples of people in the Bible breaking into spontaneous song. I'm not taking sides here, I just feel that if someone were to ask me this question I don't think I could answer it, that's why I'm asking you guys

Hi Stephen,

It's important to look at the "scripture songs" in their immediate contexts as well as in the context of Redemptive History. Which ones are you referring to, exactly?

Also, there are definitely some differences between song that is offered to God together as a body and prayers that are offered as an individual. I don't have to pray your prayers. If you're praying and end up saying something I don't agree with (theologically or for other reasons) then my conscience hasn't been violated since I was not actually uttering the prayer. However, when I come to church on Sunday morning I, together with everyone else, am singing the songs that the church has given me to sing.

As Josh has already said, it's also clear that the psalms are intended to be sung merely by the fact that they have been assembled together in a book, stuck in the middle of our bibles, and then commanded to be sung. Although it's true that they are inspired whereas hymns written by man are not, it's also important to remember that the issue very much revolves around authorization, not just inspiration. If we presuppose that you and I both view the RPW the same, I would ask you to show where we have been commanded to write our own songs for use in worship. When we do so, not only does the issue of authorization come up, but also the question of the sufficiency of the Psalter. Especially since the Psalms have been written under divine inspiration, whenever we sing something else in worship it implies that the 150 Psalms which God himself has written are not good enough for some reason. This is an issue which has been debated several times on the board, as some think that it is necessary to use the name "Jesus" in worship song or what have you.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Sorry, yet another question on EP.
Some folks view hymns really as prayers set to music, I know that this is a simplification but bare with me. If this is true then would using the same logic that leads to EP not result in us just using prayers from the Bible?

In other words what I’m really asking is why is it not alright to use uninspired hymns in worship whenever it is alright to use uninspired prayer.

Please don’t think I’m just trying to be difficult, this is something I’ve been thinking about for some time now. Also I’m not saying that we should just use prayers from the Bible either. Prayer is a means of grace to us and I know that our imperfect prayers are made perfect by Christ, but I would love to know how EP’ers would respond to the above question.

Issue is dealt with here as well as:
http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/exclusive_psalmody_faq.htm

Would explain myself but am pushed for time :)
 

javajedi

Puritan Board Freshman
[To be clear from the outset - I am a non-EP person. But I have not interacted much with others on this, nor read a lot.]

I too find this arbitrary.

I know a lot of this has been hashed about before. :deadhorse: So I’ll also try to say on topic (why must songs but not prayers or sermons be inspired).

But first, to provide some background to me, both David and Josh assert that the Psalms are “commanded to be sung” but neither provided scripture to back this up.
So,
1) Where are we commanded to sing the Psalms in worship?
[This is a broader question]

2) Where are commanded to sing only the Psalms in worship?
[This is a more specific question]

Seems like its this second question where all the debate is. If scripture clearly commanded us to sing only Psalms in worship then there would be no debate (unless people tried to claim that the teaching is not for today…).

If there are old threads that deal with these questions specifically you can link to those (I did not find any) but please at least list the references to support this claim (commentary is not needed – I’ll ask if I don’t see the connection).

My last question is then directly related to this topic.
3) Where in scripture does it teach a distinction (in worship) about using only the Psalms for singing but allowing non-canonical prayers and sermons?

This is one area that I find arbitrary in the EP debate.

The other is why only a sub-set [the Psalms] of the inspired (canonical) songs? But this should probably be in a separate thread – and may have already been discussed. Link?

Thanks.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hi Dave (nice name ;)),


But first, to provide some background to me, both David and Josh assert that the Psalms are “commanded to be sung” but neither provided scripture to back this up.
So,
1) Where are we commanded to sing the Psalms in worship?
[This is a broader question]

In defense of my and Josh's "assertions," I haven't seen anyone on this board disagree with the fact that Psalms are commanded to be sung in scripture. The question is not whether they should be sung, rather whether they should be sung exclusively. Josh and I weren't being lazy or just asserting things; it's just that we assume that everyone taking part in the discussion has seen by now that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 are the two crucial passages (in the New Testament, at least) which deal with the command to sing psalms. You said you did a search and didn't find this anywhere?? I would have also assumed that you, as a ruling elder in the OPC, would have been aware of this. See the chapter in the WCF on worship for the confessional stance on singing psalms and its reference to the passages I mentioned.


javajedi said:
2) Where are commanded to sing only the Psalms in worship?
[This is a more specific question]

As I already said in an earlier reply on this thread, if our views of the RPW are different then we'll never get anywhere. The RPW requires positive commands, not negative ones. As an EPer, I don't need a specific command to sing only the Psalms and I don't need a command not to sing anything other than the Psalms. All I need is a command to sing Psalms without a command to sing anything else.

javajedi said:
Seems like its this second question where all the debate is. If scripture clearly commanded us to sing only Psalms in worship then there would be no debate (unless people tried to claim that the teaching is not for today…).

Yes you're right, it appears as though clarity in the command is where the issue really lies. The great amount of doctrinal stances which seem so clear to some yet not to others brings this part of the debate into perspective. If paedobaptism is clear, why doesn't everyone believe that it's a proper administration of the sacrament? If the doctrine of election is clearly taught in scripture, there wouldn't be any debate, right? If the doctrine of the Trinity is so clear, why do we have to deal with Modalists?

jedijava said:
If there are old threads that deal with these questions specifically you can link to those (I did not find any) but please at least list the references to support this claim (commentary is not needed – I’ll ask if I don’t see the connection).

What exactly is wrong with a commentary? We're both Presbyterians, so we know that simple proof-texting is not the proper way to settle a doctrinal issue. Sometimes it requires a little more than just pointing to one or two verses and saying "aha!" :book2: It's a little unfair to say "just show me the verse," in my opinion.

jedijava said:
My last question is then directly related to this topic.
3) Where in scripture does it teach a distinction (in worship) about using only the Psalms for singing but allowing non-canonical prayers and sermons?

The simple answer is that all modes of worship are not the same and therefore they have been given different regulations. The more specific answer involves everything that I've said already. The commands and examples we see in scripture for prayer and preaching are different than the ones we see for singing (e.g. Jesus' command to "pray like this" and other examples of people in scripture offering spontaneous prayer contrasted with the command to sing something particular in Ephesians and Colossians.).

The other is why only a sub-set [the Psalms] of the inspired (canonical) songs? But this should probably be in a separate thread – and may have already been discussed. Link?

Because the main issue is not inspiration but authorization. Many EPers like to argue against hymns because of the fact that we have songs written by God and they must therefore be better than anything which man could compose. However, all that argument really proves (on its own, at least) is that we can sing anything from the bible. So the real issue, again, is authorization. Seeking for the authorization of worship which is pleasing to God is the whole focus of the RPW.
 
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JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
There is no book of prayers which we are commanded to pray. Furthermore, there are examples of spontaneous prayers being prayed by Christ, the Apostles, etc. This same principle applies to preaching.

Josh:

I know that you're still trying to figure this out. But just look at this, and see if it follows the way you think it does. Are there maybe other reasons why we do not have a book of prayers, reasons which do not relate to why we have a book of Psalms? And might there be other reasons why we have a book of Psalms, reasons which do not relate why we do not have a book of prayer? Have you taken these into consideration?

Just a thought, to help you through this.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
And who is to say that there are only 3 types of song allowed? Those might just have been the categories Paul was using to help us understand the scope of new song available to believers - such as those mentioned in the Psalms, Isaiah and Revelation?

a. Paul did not specifically command The Psalms of David or The Book of Psalms - psalm is a word for song...

b. from what we know of hymns, they had some recognizable structure, but had lots of variation within them - hymn is a word for song...

c. spiritual songs could mean pretty much anything with a tune...

Just more thoughts...
 
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Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The fact that Paul specifically uses the same phrase (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs) in two different letters to two different churches which may have been written at least a year and at most several years apart makes me think that he chose this phrase for a reason. It was not just an arbitrary way of saying "sing something, anything." That's one reason why I think he must be referring to either three different kinds of songs or, because of the analogy of faith, the book of Psalms. Especially when discussing issues pertaining to God's worship we need to let scripture interpret scripture. Since there is no way to define what a hymn and a spiritual song are from scripture other than acknowledging that they were all words used in the Psalter in the Septuagint, the idea that they're three different things doesn't make much sense.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
The fact that Paul specifically uses the same phrase (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs) in two different letters to two different churches which may have been written at least a year and at most several years apart makes me think that he chose this phrase for a reason. It was not just an arbitrary way of saying "sing something, anything." That's one reason why I think he must be referring to either three different kinds of songs or, because of the analogy of faith, the book of Psalms. Especially when discussing issues pertaining to God's worship we need to let scripture interpret scripture. Since there is no way to define what a hymn and a spiritual song are from scripture other than acknowledging that they were all words used in the Psalter in the Septuagint, the idea that they're three different things doesn't make much sense.

..and again - since "psalm" is a song and The Psalms are specific, why arbitrarily constrain the language - particularly in light of Paul's knowledge of at least one extra-Psalmic command to sing new songs?

(oops, JohnV, here I go again! :D)
 

javajedi

Puritan Board Freshman
You said you did a search and didn't find this anywhere?? I would have also assumed that you, as a ruling elder in the OPC, would have been aware of this. See the chapter in the WCF on worship for the confessional stance on singing psalms and its reference to the passages I mentioned.

The italics part could easily be taken as derogatory. I trust you did not mean it that way.

The context of my “search” was saying that I looked through the old threads, not searching scripture or the confession.

I did not find any threads where the title indicated a discussion of the Biblical passages commanding it. There are 8 pages of threads in Worship and many relate to EP. I do not have the time to read all posts of all threads to see if specific scripture was being discussed. That’s why I asked for the refs here as well as a link to specific thread(s) if someone knew of one to read.

I was wanting scripture refs. that EP people rely on - I never mentioned the confession on way or the other.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The italics part could easily be taken as derogatory. I trust you did not mean it that way.

The context of my “search” was saying that I looked through the old threads, not searching scripture or the confession.

I did not find any threads where the title indicated a discussion of the Biblical passages commanding it. There are 8 pages of threads in Worship and many relate to EP. I do not have the time to read all posts of all threads to see if specific scripture was being discussed. That’s why I asked for the refs here as well as a link to specific thread(s) if someone knew of one to read.

I was wanting scripture refs. that EP people rely on - I never mentioned the confession on way or the other.

Dave,

Please forgive me for using language which could have been misconstrued as derogatory. I should've phrased it differently. You're right, I did not mean it that way.

I understood what you meant by "search." These verses tend to get thrown around in every debate so I just assumed you would've seen them somewhere. Again, I apologize for making assumptions.

I mentioned the Confession because it discusses the worship of God and gives scripture references for things such as "the singing of psalms with grace in the heart."
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
The italics part could easily be taken as derogatory. I trust you did not mean it that way.

The context of my “search” was saying that I looked through the old threads, not searching scripture or the confession.

I did not find any threads where the title indicated a discussion of the Biblical passages commanding it. There are 8 pages of threads in Worship and many relate to EP. I do not have the time to read all posts of all threads to see if specific scripture was being discussed. That’s why I asked for the refs here as well as a link to specific thread(s) if someone knew of one to read.

I was wanting scripture refs. that EP people rely on - I never mentioned the confession on way or the other.

Howdy, brother :handshake: - I always extend to CC the grace that he does not mean to be as condescending as he comes across. :)
 

javajedi

Puritan Board Freshman
Josh and I weren't being lazy or just asserting things; it's just that we assume that everyone taking part in the discussion has seen by now that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 are the two crucial passages (in the New Testament, at least) which deal with the command to sing psalms.

I did not say you guys were lazy, just that refs were not cited - which is why I asked for them. I did not want to assume what you were referring to.

So, your answer to quesiton (1) is: Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16.
Any other passages? [And not general RPW passages as we would (mostly) agree on that. But passages specific to EP.]

I do want to understand the EP position - because I don't. I understand the preference but not the basis for the 'doctrine'.

BTW, these 2 passages are not discussing worship but Christian living. But that is probably a discussion for another thread.
 

javajedi

Puritan Board Freshman
As I already said in an earlier reply on this thread, if our views of the RPW are different then we'll never get anywhere.

True

The RPW requires positive commands, not negative ones. As an EPer, I don't need a specific command to sing only the Psalms and I don't need a command not to sing anything other than the Psalms. All I need is a command to sing Psalms without a command to sing anything else.

Well, there are negative commands (do not make a graven image...). So, if there are negatively stated commands regarding singing in worship I would like to see those. But, as you say you just need a positve command for your position. Likewise, I would just need a positive command for mine - or be able to defend that scripture does not specifically address the issue.

I am not opposed to psalm singing - its the 'exclusive' part I reject.

The 2 passages cited (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16) could work for both of us as they mention "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs". The debate is does it really mean "Psalms and Psalms and Psalms" or actually "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs"? Also, as I noted in a prior post - these passages are not discussing worhip but general Christian living. So, applying these to worship is a stretch. But I am sure these things have already been debated a lot.
 

javajedi

Puritan Board Freshman
commentary

What exactly is wrong with a commentary? We're both Presbyterians, so we know that simple proof-texting is not the proper way to settle a doctrinal issue. Sometimes it requires a little more than just pointing to one or two verses and saying "aha!" :book2: It's a little unfair to say "just show me the verse," in my opinion.

Nothing is wrong with commentary. What I said was "commentary is not needed – I’ll ask if I don’t see the connection". I know these things have been debated a lot and those arguments and debates did not need to be repeated here. If, however, you provided a passage where I did not see the conection to EP I said would then ask for commentary.

I agree, proof-texting is bad.

I am wanting the "overview" to start with. If I see the need to ask "how does that particular passage actually support the EP position and/or how does it disprove the non-EP position" then I will ask - in another thread.

I did not want this thread to get cluttered up with "background". Oh, well.


I have had issues with EP that I wanted to discuss and the original post was one. So I jumped in. But I wanted to make sure I understood all the scriptural support for EP first.
 

javajedi

Puritan Board Freshman
Howdy, brother :handshake: - I always extend to CC the grace that he does not mean to be as condescending as he comes across. :)

Hello. :handshake:

Yea, email and forums are difficult as its very hard to "read-in" intent (or vey easy to mis-read it). So, at least initially :D , grace is the best policy.
 

javajedi

Puritan Board Freshman
In reposnse to my question:
3) Where in scripture does it teach a distinction (in worship) about using only the Psalms for singing but allowing non-canonical prayers and sermons?​

The simple answer is that all modes of worship are not the same and therefore they have been given different regulations. The more specific answer involves everything that I've said already. The commands and examples we see in scripture for prayer and preaching are different than the ones we see for singing (e.g. Jesus' command to "pray like this" and other examples of people in scripture offering spontaneous prayer contrasted with the command to sing something particular in Ephesians and Colossians.).

This is still unconvincing to the main topic of this thread.

Also, your distinction of "spontaneous" is odd. Should sermons be spontaneous? Can prayer only be spontaneous? Not sure why you focus on that distinction.

The Ephesians and Colossians passages do not clearly limit to psalms but seem to refer to generally spirtual (Biblical, doctrinal, glorifying) songs. Just as all prayer and preaching should be. Same regulation.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Dave,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts so thoroughly. Unfortunately I don't really have time to say anything in response right now since I'm packing for a trip to South Carolina. Hopefully another EPer can come along and pick up where I left off. If not, I'll try to get back to this thread when I return. Blessings!
 

javajedi

Puritan Board Freshman
Dave,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts so thoroughly. Unfortunately I don't really have time to say anything in response right now since I'm packing for a trip to South Carolina. Hopefully another EPer can come along and pick up where I left off. If not, I'll try to get back to this thread when I return. Blessings!

That's fine. Appreciate letting me know. This is not a new topic and not going away so a delay is no big deal.

I have been wanting to ask some of these quesitons and have not really engaged an EP person on them. The interchange gives me more to ponder in trying to accurately understand the EP position. Like your distinction between "inspriation" and "authorization".
 
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