More on Exclusive Psalmody  

Posted by panta dokimazete

From a discussion:

1. The more you depart from the Psalms the more you put yourself at risk of singing heresy or singing the song of an apostate from the faith (maybe Watts himself).
My beloved brother, BB. You know I agree with the Psalms as our ultimate guide to worship, but your statement could just as well be applied to preaching not being aligned with Scripture, right?

For example, the more you are exhorted and taught by pure Scripture, the less likely you are to fall under corrupted teaching, right? So, we should only preach the words of inspired Scripture without any uninspired additions.

In the same way, the more one prays the Scripture alone, the less likely one is to fall under uninspired alignment to the will of God, or to entreat Him for ungodly things. So, we should only pray the words of inspired Scripture without any uninspired additions.

While I certainly admire the desire to worship "purely" and "safely", I am much more passionate about worshiping in spirit and truth.

The truth is, until Christ's return, there will be always be false worship, just as there will always be false teachers. We are exhorted to examine and test and "work out our own salvation" according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit which is always aligned to the Word of God.

Therefore we should not let our worship be less than what Scripture commands, just as we must not allow it to be more. And by that, I mean not allowing our worship to become a contra-reaction to the excesses and errors of others, thus risking the equal error of falling into dogmatic subscription to the uninspired ideas of Man.

A holy life and holy worship, fully aligned to the will of God is not easily accomplished, nor should it be, lest we have reason to boast. Resting on the path of rigid exclusivism is not the answer, anymore than unbounded inclusivism is.


Excellent article Examining Exlusive Psalmody  

Posted by panta dokimazete

The issue of church music must be approached with great carefulness and seriousness because it concerns a very personal aspect of the worship of God. Exclusive psalmody excites deep emotions in both those who favor it and those who oppose it. This is why unusual care must be taken to approach this issue with a humble heart and mind.

The past few years have witnessed a resurgence of Calvinism in America and Great Britain, due notably to the influence of the Banner of Truth Trust, which has its headquarters in Scotland. Two distinct phenomena have coincided with this resurgence to bring about a renewed interest in exclusive psalmody.

Recent republications of classic Reformed literature have led to the rediscovery of the great Scottish divines. Two distinctive elements of Scottish Theology were Sabbatarianism and exclusive psalmody. Out of appreciation for the Scottish contribution to Reformed Theology, there is a renewed interest in these distinctives.

The rise of interest in Scottish psalmody coincided with a growing dissatisfaction with fundamentalism’s exclusive hymn singing practice. Many fundamentalistic or evangelical hymns are shallow and theologically incorrect. Consequently, some Christians have been emotionally drawn to exclusive psalmody because it is “Reformed,” and because it supplies an easy remedy against shallow evangelical hymns. Since the fundamentalists sing only hymns, some have come to the position that they will sing only the Psalms.

To the majority of Reformed people, exclusive hymnody and exclusive psalmody are just two extremes which illustrate the pendulum propensity of man’s fallen nature One Christian sings only hymns and the other only the Psalms. But there is a balanced position between these two extremes. This position has been embraced by every major Reformed denomination and thus it is the majority position. This paper hopefully sets forth the majority Reformed position which states that hymns may be sung in the public worship of the church as well as the Psalms.

Our first task is to clarify the issue by asking three distinct questions.

1. May we sing the Psalms in public worship?
2. Should we sing only the Psalms in public worship?
3. May we sing uninspired hymns or songs in public worship?

Complete article here

I am still not sure why there are not others that make the correlation between the command of the apostle and the principle of PP...

Good article that touches on Prescriptive Psalmody  

Posted by panta dokimazete

Calvin’s worship for today

The question of the pertinence of Calvin’s views on worship for our time is important for one thing is clear: there is little agreement among existing “Calvinists” on Calvin’s theology of worship. What we call “the regulative principle of worship” remains an area of hot debate, even among Reformed Presbyterians. I will admit that as a Reformed Presbyterian I do not agree with everything Calvin said about worship, but at the same time, I believe that I have come to understand Calvin, the theologian of worship, in light of Calvin, the man of his times. By this I mean that not only did his views on worship prove relevant for the culture of his day, but also the culture of Calvin’s day affected his perspectives on worship. Calvin’s disapproval of the use of images, musical instruments, and support for psalm-singing on the Lords’ Day were nurtured within a highly charged historical setting: the theological and ecclesiastical battles of the late Middle Ages. He claimed more than once that his was an effort to reform the worship of the Church according to the pattern of New Testament.

While I heatedly concur with his New Testament principles of worship, I find it impossible to read him on the prescriptive elements of worship without sensing that his positions were at the same time highly colored by his deep antipathy toward Rome. Calvin certainly admitted as much. What I believe he would have been averse to admit, however is the extent to which his hatred for the idolatrous practices of Rome shaped his reading of parts of scripture that have to do with the continuity between the Old and New Testament patterns of worship (e.g. his argument, for example, that under the old dispensation musical instruments were “shadows of the Law” that have been fulfilled by Christ and are therefore of no use in New Testament worship).


As for the regulative use of the psalms, I join Calvin in asserting the majesty of the psalms, their high status as revelation, and in singing them as means for praising God. But Ephesians 5:19, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (cf. Col. 3:16) broadens congregational singing beyond the prescriptive use of the psalms or even hymns and songs that contain the words of scripture verbatim.
from Luther and Calvin on Music and Worship - John Barber, PhD

Remember - Prescriptive Psalmody's thesis is that the Psalms be the model for worship and for the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs the Psalms themselves command. It encourages the use of the Word as content for new songs! While at the same time, PP sets boundaries to keep us from error.

Prescriptive Psalmody - Idea Bucket  

Posted by panta dokimazete

"Inspired" vs "uninspired" composition in worship. Preaching, praying, singing.

Why PP is not an "innovation" or "new idea".

PP and worshiping "in spirit and truth".

PP - answering potential objections.

Prescriptive Psalmody vs Exclusive Psalmody.

How the Psalms reference sacrifices and the NT perspective.

How the Psalms align with the NT ordained worship elements (very well!)

The non-PP category of drama and an acceptable use rationale. (net effect, it must only be used as sermon illustration).

PP and the necessity of the RPW.

PP and (gasp!) dance, lifting hands, clapping and other body motions during praise.

PP and the idea of regulated worship activities\components by frequency of mention in the Psalms.

How PP regulates worship and praise - as well as differentiators - (all praise is worship - is all worship praise?)

How new song fits within the category of "prophesying", in the same sense as preaching and prayer for the post-apostolic NT church era.

How the composition of new song should be regulated for use in worship.

PP, cessationism and continuationism.

Defending Prescriptive Psalmody against Exclusive Psalmody  

Posted by panta dokimazete

Some highlights from the earlier referenced discussion thread.

(if you are wondering, "What the heck is Exclusive Psalmody?" click here)

My "opponent's" remarks in italics - keep in mind that his position maintains that the Psalms only should be sung in worship and that this is a VERY straightforward debate - that is, we are holding one another to very strict reasoning and direct responses:

As we depend on the NT for our understanding that the Psalms are to be sung, so we should also depend on the NT for understanding what bearing the OT has on NT worship.

I concur and am glad that you acknowledge that the Psalms are to be sung, but they are commanded in the NT to be more than sung. They are a guidebook for NT worship in spirit and truth understood in the fullness of the NT revelation. I am surprised you don't support the authority of the Psalms, since we have no more complete guide in terms of worship orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

But the NT explicitly states that the next period of revelation is not to be expected until the coming of Christ; it also explicitly teaches that the OT ceremony is abrogated. The Westminster Confession faithfully explains both points in chap. 1:1, 6 and chap. 19:3.

And on this we have no quarrel, since singing and making melody have been retained and was not a component of the ceremonial Law of Moses, anyway, nor is there a requirement for exclusively inspired song in worship, since the Psalms themselves do not place that restriction.

I have already addressed the question of "new songs" in previous threads and shown that they refer to new revelation making known the accomplishment of salvation through Christ and the proclamation of that salvation to all nations of the earth. Such "new songs" were given in the NT, as is seen from 1 Cor. 14, and it is evident that the quality of the song was no less inspired than the prophetic songs of David. Further, these "new songs" have not been recorded in Scripture; therefore there is no means of singing them even if it could be proved that the command to sing "new songs" was a corporate imperative. Given that there is no evidence that this prophetic gift continues today, there is no means of singing new songs; and even if there were, the new songs would be ecstatic, individual pieces, not written compositions imposed on whole congregations.

Your hermeneutic, while interesting, is incomplete. You create a sui generis (to borrow your term) where none is imposed. The Psalms certainly contain elements of prophesy, but you know as well as anyone that their content and context span the continuum of human experience and praise of God. We are directed to be guided by the Psalms in terms of our musical worship before the Lord (at the very least) and since they establish new song as allowable, we may then correlate music to preaching and prayer, which utilize the inspired writings to guide and regulate their practice while simultaneously retaining "newness" in compositional structure.

How do we discern whether an OT command was ceremonial? The apostle clearly described the chief characteristic of the OT ceremonies when he stated that underage Israel was "in bondage under the elements of the world," Gal. 4:3. In Heb. 9:10 they are called "carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation." To discern whether an OT command was ceremonial, therefore, all that is required is to show that it commanded the use of something material and this-worldly to be offered up in worship to God. What is a musical instrument? It is specifically described as a material thing without life; 1 Cor. 14:7, "And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?" Therefore, according to the apostle's own classification system, musical instruments belong to the elements of this world and their "prescription" in worship is a bondage.

Again, non sequitur and category error. The Scriptures are written on paper, just as the scrolls were written on papyrus or lambskin. Would you ban the lifeless material that contains and facilitates the reading and proclamation of God's Word? How about a psalter? The argument does not hold water.

PP - The Confessional Connection  

Posted by panta dokimazete

From the Westminster Confession of Faith:

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath-day.

I. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.

From the 1689 London Baptist Confession:

22. Worship and the Sabbath Day

1. The light of nature shows that there is a God Who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is just and good, and Who does good to all. Therefore He is to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God has been instituted by Himself, and therefore our method of worship is limited by His own revealed will. He may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan. He may not be worshipped by way of visible representations, or by any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.

I plan to expand on the confessional aspects, but I wanted to post the relevant sections for reference.

Note the use of "prescribed" as opposed to "commanded" - I contend that this is a very precise choice\use of words by the confession framers, as I began to explain\define here.

Prescriptive Psalmody - defining terms and usage  

Posted by panta dokimazete

Another thread on PP on the Puritan Board :)

From the thread:

Originally Posted by JohnV View Post
1. By "prescriptive" do you mean that, since (we assume) that God approves of instruments and other songs, we must use instruments and other songs, otherwise we aren't filling the prescription?

Well, first off, let's distinguish between prescription and command.

Actually, let's first define a hermeneutical approach:

1. The NT has greater prescriptive authority than the OT for the NT church.

2. However, unless abrogated by the NT, the OT prescription stands as normative.

Now, I use prescriptive in the context that affirms and expresses requirement (command) and regulation (guidance). (Think in terms of a medical prescription "Take 3 times a day or as needed for pain...")

So, in context of Prescriptive Psalmody, the Scriptures determine what is required and then what can be exegeted as appropriate in terms of regulation.

So, with that said, I have stated before that it is clear in the NT that the commanded worship element is music, with singing as the required expression of the command and instruments as an allowable and regulatable circumstance for use as vocal praise accompaniment.

I'll touch on new songs in a different post, since I missed addressing it before submitting the post.

A discussion on PP and instruments in worship  

Posted by panta dokimazete

I had an opportunity to participate in a good online debate around whether the use of instruments is allowable according to the Regulative Principle of Worship. It probably went on too long, as you'll see if you read the whole thing, but it covered some common objections raised by folks that hold to Exclusive Psalmody with no instruments.

Considering PP and Corporate Worship Practices  

Posted by panta dokimazete

Some practices mentioned in the Psalms for consideration:

1. New song composition
2. Instrumental accompaniment for singing
3. Lifting hands
4. Clapping
5. Dancing
6. Shouting with joy

Some practices not mentioned in the Psalms for consideration:

1. Drama (but, I believe, allowable within context)
2. Instrumental music without voice (I believe the practice would be fine as prelude or postlude to worship, however)

Prescriptive Psalmody - Thesis  

Posted by panta dokimazete

The idea of Prescriptive Psalmody is aligned to a concept called the Regulative Principle of Worship, which in turn is based on the 5 key principles of Reformed Theology, particularly Sola Scriptura.

At the root, Prescriptive Psalmody contends:

1. We are commanded in the New Testament to use the Psalms to guide us, the New Testament church, into God-honoring worship practice.

2. Unless a worship practice outlined in the Psalms is abrogated by New Testament example, it stands as prescriptive or allowed.

Why Prescriptive Psalmody?  

Posted by panta dokimazete

Simple - there is much debate and outright anger tied to the manner of worship practice in the church today. After many years as an active participant in the "worship wars", the Lord has led me to seek His way to worship in spirit and truth and not the way of Man, and therefore avoid worship principles that could be viewed as overly permissive or restrictive, but is grounded in Scripture and glorifying to God.

1 Corinthians 14
40But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

1 Thessalonians 5
21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good