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.

This entry was posted on 04 August 2008 at Monday, August 04, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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