Why Exclusive Psalmody?

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by David Taylor, Feb 10, 2020.

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  1. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    I think you are missing the point. The argument for EP is that Paul is referring specifically to the Psalter and the Psalter only. Those songs from the Psalter had specific ways of being sung. To not sing them in that way by the EP argument is to not follow the command of Paul. To say that the tune does not matter is logically inconsistent with the EP argument.
  2. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    "To not sing them in that way by the EP argument is to not follow the command of Paul."

    No, because that is not the EP argument.

    I repeat, the tunes are not commanded.

    If we follow your logic, we arrive at the impossibility of singing the psalms at all. This is an obvious problem, since singing the psalms is clearly commanded (however you might take psalms, hymns and songs).
  3. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    I disagree, my argument is that the Bible does not command EP, so no, that is not a problem in my logic.
  4. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    Do you agree that the Scriptures include the command to sing psalms?
  5. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    Of course. But again, not to the level that EP takes that command. The arguments I am seeing from the EP position are saying that we are to sing as the NT church sang.

    But if you are not also singing the same tunes, you are not singing as the NT church sang.

    I understand your argument that you say it is not commanded to sing the tune, just the words. But to me, that is a logical inconsistency with your overall argument that the Psalms are all that is allowed.
  6. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    No one argues this.
    Who on earth would require the original tunes? It's an absurdity. You call it a logical inconsistency, but you will find that you cannot demonstrate it to be so.
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  7. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    Like I said, I am listening to a series of sermos right now and the pastor is literally arguing that the reason for the Psalter is it is the exact same songs that Christ and the NT church sang. Same lyrics and different music is not the same song.

    Also, remember, I hold to the LBCF, not the WCF. Our confession does not argue for EP as 22.5 was altered in the LBCF. The Baptists clearly saw a distinction of Psalms, Hyms, and Spiritual songs to be more than just the sections of the Psalms.

    This is confirmed in Benjamin Keach, a signatory of the LBCF, who wrote 100 hymns to be sung in congregational use.
  8. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    For the record, I am not saying it is wrong to hold to EP. I just do not see that as the explicit command of Scripture or required by the RPW.
  9. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    What does the preacher mean when he says “songs”? Are you defining it as he is? If not, your arguing is a strawman. If you are listening to the sermons I recommended, the preacher is speaking about the words to be sung in public worship. The words that you read when you open the book of psalms in the middle of your bible. To say song must mean the tunes too, then you are just reading into it. There is no one who argues you have to sing to the same tune as Jesus and NT Christians. No one. So stop using strawman arguments, understand what he’s saying to then be able to argue against/for it. If you don’t know what he means, ask.
  10. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    A bit of an odd place to get hung up on the psalmody issue.
  11. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Just to clarify, when it is said the same songs, it means the same according to substance, not the same according to accidents. Just as we read the same Old Testament scriptures that Christ read according to substance, though we read them in a different translation, which is merely an accidental matter. If you were to deny the substance-accidents distinction with respect to the reading of the Word, then you would have to argue that you could not read the Bible unless you read Hebrew and Greek. Obviously, such an opinion is completely implausible, as it would mean that virtually no Christians have ever had access to the Word of God.

    The substance-accidents distinction also helps us to avoid the extremism of hyper-regulativism, as only the substance of gospel ordinances are strictly regulated, not their accidents. Hence, we do not need to be singing psalms to the same tunes used by David or Paul in order to be singing the psalms.

    That observation is a very important one. Thanks for making it.
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  12. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm actually not hung up on the Psalmody issue. I don't think EP is found in Scripture. I am, however, trying to understand the arguments and logic behind those arguments that those who hold to EP make.

    So let me ask you this. If I write a totally new tune today to one of the Psalms, would, in your view, that be allowed in corporate worship?
  13. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you. That makes sense.
  14. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    You are welcome.
  15. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    As all who hold to EP, without making this complicated, yes that is allowed. What is commanded are that Psalms be sung. Psalms are found in the Bible in the book of psalms.
  16. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok so that is at least consistent. Thank you.
  17. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Freshman

    To boil it down, I think you could summarize as, EPers:
    1. See a command in the bible to sing Psalms in worship
    2. Do not see a command in the bible to sing other than Psalms
    3. Through RPW, will see that singing non-psalms as adding to an element of worship
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  18. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Granting all this for a moment it doesn't actually advance the non-EP case one bit because we don't have a record of what else they sang in worship. What we do have a record of is the completed Psalter and we know that these psalms were sung in worship and we know that they are inspired songs. So what you (the hymn side) would have to prove is that even if songs other than the 150 in the Psalter were sung in worship at some point in redemptive history, that we today have the liberty to write our own songs to be included in worship. In which case you would need to find an example of not only a song not found in the Psalter being sung in corporate worship, but one of purely human composition being sung in worship or permission given in Scripture for the composition and use of such a song. That, I think, you'll be hard pressed to do.

    Whatever the phrase "psalms, hymns and spiritiual songs" means the idea that it is a cast iron defence for the introduction of songs of purely human composition into worship- of which we have no precedent in all of Scripture- is rather a stretch. There is enough in the phrase itself, the context of the verses in which the phrase is found and the overall teaching of Scripture to, if not totally defeat such an argument, at least make it so tenuous that it would be rendered irrelevant in building a theology of worship.

    Therefore even if there were songs used in worship other than the 150 in the Psalter we have no reason to believe those songs were not also inspired by the Holy Ghost. And as we have no record of those songs, but we do have a record of the completed Psalter being used, it is only logical to conclude that whatever else may have been sung at one time is no longer to be used by the church. Otherwise God would have preserved those songs and directed us to use them.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
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  19. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Junior

    @David Taylor

    I really do think the best thing to do is crawl into a quiet space for some time and study the issue. Go over the passages, study them in detail, pick out a really good book, listen to a few good sermons, take some really good notes, pray earnestly about it, pour over it.

    And buy a Psalter and sing a few :)

    These threads take off lightning quick, and the amount of interplay between comments gets complex and confusing, and I think ultimately you'll end up more confused by the amount of detail in such a thread.

    My humble opinion. But I've found it always best to do such a thing when understanding a new issue. I think you'll come out the better for it.
  20. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    Yes. The fact is that the Psalter we have is the Psalter God has given us. (Seems rather too obvious to need to say, but there it is.)
  21. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Even if you're convinced that God command us to sing songs outside of the Psalms or outside of the inspired Scriptures, I think you'll find great benefit in following the sure command of God to sing his Psalms. It seems you were unfamiliar until recently with the resources to actually sing the Psalms that our Reformation heritage has made readily accessible in a form that we can use with our modern style of singing. I've had immense benefit from singing the Psalms in my personal life and I believe congregations do as well. I wish we would have more agreement that we can and should sing the Psalms as we have so lost them in the church today, even among those who in theory agree we should use them inclusively.
  22. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Junior

    Are you sure this reply was meant for me? I'm full EP.
  23. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    I was agreeing with your point and directing it back to OP.
  24. Prolocutor Twisse

    Prolocutor Twisse Puritan Board Freshman

    I have been thinking through the issue of EP for some time now. I always appreciate these discussions on PB. Does anyone have any good book recommendations which lay out the theological basis for EP? I would appreciate recommendations. Thank you.
  25. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    This book, while not arguing for exclusive psalmody, makes an excellent case for the value of psalmody in the church. The author does hold to EP.
  26. W.C. Dean

    W.C. Dean Puritan Board Freshman

    I believe there is shorter work on Psalmody and the Sabbath by John Cotton, I'm pretty sure it's available on Reformation Heritage Book's site. I see John Murray and William Young's EP report to the 1947 OPC General Assembly.
  27. Prolocutor Twisse

    Prolocutor Twisse Puritan Board Freshman

    I Appreciate the recommendations. I'll have a look at them.

    Anyone who does not hold to EP have book recommendations for the negative position?
  28. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    This can be found quickly here.
  29. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

  30. BLM

    BLM Puritan Board Freshman

    I've grown increasingly sympathetic to the EP position for pragmatic purposes I suppose. I've grown to really dislike the worship music popular in many of our churches. I'm not talking about the worship style, but the lyrics. While realizing one need not go full-blown EP in response to suffering through bad songs sung at a particular church, I increasingly feel like the dangers and pitfalls of potentially singing bad music could be avoided altogether if we stuck to singing the psalms. This is what I mean by saying I'm EP friendly for pragmatic reasons.

    While the pragmatism above is me-centered, it is obviously best to consider how it is that God desires to be worshiped. I'm willing to study the scriptural arguments for EP with an open mind. I recently picked up a copy of Dennis Prutow's book "Public Worship 101" and might begin by learning at his feet.

    I appreciate the different perspectives here and for the recommended resources people have suggested.

    Have a joyful day!
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
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