Why Exclusive Psalmody?

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

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  1. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    While I agree with most of this statement, the third category is not entirely true. I think accuracy is vital here. "Spiritual songs" (with this adjective) is not found in the LXX to my knowledge. Yes, "songs" ("odes") is found in the LXX in addition to many other places in the LXX that are not the 150 Psalms, as are also "psalm" and "hymn," though these are less numerous.

    "Spiritual" is not found in connection with "song" in the LXX which could suggest that Paul was distinguishing between just any song (i.e. non-religious) and ones appropriate for worship. If the term could only apply to the 150, "spiritual" would be redundant.

    I doubt this is a game changer in anyone's opinion, but it's a technicality worth noting so we can all be more accurate in the connections we are making.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
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  2. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Tim,
    In the Greek, "spiritual" can be taken as modifying each of the three terms. The psalms, hymns, and song in the Psalter are all spiritual.
     
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  3. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    Can be is the key there. Is it reasonable to believe that it is not necessarily modifying all three? I think that a reasonable argument can be made for that position as well. Thoughts?
     
  4. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Spiritual is defined as “of the Spirit”. No man made hymns are of the Spirit.
     
  5. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The Greek can go either way. The real question is what is meant by "spiritual," or, "of the Spirit."
     
  6. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    I've heard this argument before, but have not received a response yet to the fact that "spiritual" in the Greek is a feminine modifier. Of the three terms in question, "odes" is the only feminine noun. Did all the translations (that I've checked anyway) get it wrong?
     
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  7. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree, that is a key question. I do not agree with @Romans922 assertion that "of the Spirit" can only include Scripture. (Forgive me if I misunderstood).

    Even our Confessions state that our prayers can be of the Spirit. Those are not the inspired Word of God. Am I missing something there?
     
  8. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The adjective takes the gender of the noun it follows. It can still modify the earlier masculine nouns as well.
     
  9. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    The adjective "spiritual" in the New Testament generally refers to the Holy Spirit.

    Ephesians 5:18-20, like other places in the same epistle, is a trinitarian passage.
     
  10. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    It's relevant that the Apostle refers to the use of these spiritual songs as "let[ting] the word of Christ dwell in you richly."

    I agree that this text does not settle the discussion all by itself, but there is a coherent integrity to the EP interpretation of the passage. Given the background of the three terms used, the reference to the "word of Christ," and the adjective, "spiritual," a non-EP reading would be somewhat forced and unnatural. The person who thinks that these terms don't refer to the Psalter in particular has a lot of explaining away to do.

    By the way, there are non-EP folks who believe this passage refers to the Psalter in particular. Doug Wilson would be an example (I'm not a fan of Wilson, but he's someone who comes to mind).
     
  11. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree that, at minimum, it must refer to the Psalter. That is not really the question. The question is does it ONLY refer to the Psalter?
     
  12. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    That's what I mean when I say "the Psalter in particular"--the most natural reading is that the passage is only talking about the Psalter. The Psalter is "the word of Christ," it is "spiritual," and it is made up of songs, hymns, and songs. Wilson and others like him agree with EP folks on this point, even though they reject the practice of EP. Wilson would say that this passage only refers to the Psalms, but that this passage is not intended to be exhaustive with regard to our sung praise.
     
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  13. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Scott Aniol as well, who is as knowledgeable of and as invested in conservative worship as anyone can be.
     
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  14. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Peter says:

    "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

    Are our spiritual sacrifices also inspired? If not, you would need to prove that this specific example in Col. 3 means inspired (most uses of this term in scripture are not referring to the inspired word).

    On the other hand, if the Spirit works in me, can I not say that my praises are spiritual as I can say my sacrifices are spiritual? After all, praise is a sacrifice (Heb. 13:15). Is man-made praise without a melody spiritual, but adding a melody makes it not spiritual?

    This is a very odd, speculative and strange line of reasoning, in my opinion...
     
  15. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Brother, with all due respect, you are looking in the wrong place. See the context, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." Where does one find the Word of Christ? But the inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16). It says then "teaching and admonishing"? What ought we to be teaching? See Mt. 28:19-20 and 2 Tim. 3:16. What do we admonish with?

    Well, I think we need to take the context, and what Paul says, what he means. And the context of Colossians, and the only other place in all of Scripture where these two words to teach and admonish are used together is in the book of Colossians. You'd think then that if used together they are most likely referring to similar things. So I ask you, what is Paul teaching and admonishing in Colossians 1:28 (the doctrinal section of Colossians)? And then I'll ask what are we to be teaching and admonishing in 3:16 (in the application section of Colossians)?

    Col 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
    Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
    Col 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
    Col 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
    Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
    Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
    Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
    Col 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
    Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
    Col 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
    Col 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
    Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
    Col 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
    Col 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
    Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
    Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
    Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
    Col 1:29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

    ('warning' is the same verb/participle form in Greek as what is found in 3:16 for "admonish")

    3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

    The answer is the inspired word of God and the inspired word of God alone. And so it is that we are to teach and admonish one another the Word of God, and there it says in 3:16 "...in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs..."

    It's what we are to teach and admonish with, it is also (3:16) what is to dwell in us richly, and it is also (3:16) the source of all true wisdom.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  16. MChase

    MChase Puritan Board Freshman

    Resting too much of the EP argument on the word “spiritual” is not the best place to go in my opinion. However, we have to make a difference between a spiritual man and spiritual content offered by that man. I think we’d be hard pressed to demand that “spiritual songs” in this context must refer to a fallible hymn especially when the spiritual content is said to be the “word of Christ”.
     
  17. KGP

    KGP Puritan Board Freshman

    Great interchange here, I appreciate much of what I am reading.
     
  18. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    I would like to echo what Jake has said above 100%. I am still relatively new to EP (Just over 1 year). You can see my wrestling here:

    1.https://puritanboard.com/threads/still-chewing-on-ep-acapella-only.96773/

    2.https://puritanboard.com/threads/kfc-cheeto-chicken-sandwich.98688/#post-1206817 (oops:rolleyes:)

    In the end I did become convinced of Acapella Only and Exclusive Psalmody. I would also like to say that since I have set out on learning the Psalms (for singing) and using them exclusively in secret and family worship, the spiritual blessings have been truly magnificent. The extent of this has been so joyful. We currently attend a church that is 95% hymns only.

    It has been a challenge to learn Psalm Singing, especially since I was raised only being taught they were good for mediation and prayer only. However, the work has been worth it. As my family and I walk through the meaning of a new psalm, we then learn to sing it. After experiencing their richness, I just can't see selecting a hymn selection over a Psalter selection. In my singing of the Psalms I really have not found anything lacking by way of expressing my experiences before the Lord through a Psalter selection. I really just wanted to weigh in as a newbie, who really tries hard not be be a curmudgeon on this topic. I wanted to echo Jake and encourage you @David Taylor to listen to sermons on both sides, search those scriptures used for both positions, and pray. I pray more of the church will find the Psalms again for the element of singing (even if not exclusively). The Psalms have fallen on hard times, even in some large Confessional congregations. Oh how we need them!
    :detective:
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  19. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    First, thank you for the encouragement to keep studying, praying, and investigating. I doubt I will change my position as I do not believe EP is found or mandated in Scripture. It would take a lot to convince otherwise.

    That being said, I do have a question. Particularly with the Acapella brand of EP, is it not contradictory to the Psalms themselves? Psalm 150
     
  20. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Brother, though no one has responded really to Col. 1:28 above, this question also is going to distract a whole lot from EP. The use of musical instruments or not in public worship is one topic. Singing Psalms only or not is another. If you want to discuss this, I'd encourage you to start another thread although this topic has been discussed a lot here too on the PB. If you want to talk about practically how do we sing psalms that talk about sacrifices that's another topic too.
     
  21. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Read my own thread. But no not anymore than the Psalms describing sacrifices of animals.:detective:
     
  22. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    Sacrifices are distinctly different.
     
  23. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    :worms: Just read my friend. I digress.
     
  24. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Brother, I'd encourage you not to prejudge an argument before you've heard it.
     
  25. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    Unless the argument is different than saying instruments were ceremonial only I have already heard the arguments.
     
  26. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    No, sir. "Saying instruments were ceremonial only" is not an argument--it's simply an assertion, and can prove nothing. I'd encourage you to learn the argument.

    I think I can make a pretty good case for the inclusion of hymns, the use of instruments, the exclusion of the children of believers from the ordinance of baptism, etc. But I don't believe in any of those things.
     
  27. David Taylor

    David Taylor Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok. It also seems interesting to me that the EP postion uses the titles of the Psalms to boost their postion of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs, but not for when it says "For the flutes" or "For stringed instruments" etc.
     
  28. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The references to the temple instrumentation (the "instruments of David" played by the Levites, 2 Chronicles 29:26) are to be taken just like the references to incense, sacrifices, and all the other parts of the Levitical system.

    Interestingly, a capella singing is the historic Baptist position, as well as the historic Presbyterian position. Baptists didn't start using instruments until the mid 1800s (much to the consternation of Mr. Spurgeon).
     
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  29. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Singing Psalms with or without instruments should not be an argument for singing psalms only or not.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  30. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    Plenty of EPers have started there.
     
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