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Posts Tagged ‘orthodoxy’


In my first pastorate, I served in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP), which had a long history of Psalm singing. While they no longer practice exclusive psalmody, they still break out the Bible Song Books for Synod each year. It was always foreign to me, having not grown up in the ARP. The songs seemed more adaptations of Psalms than a true Psalter.

Recently someone gave me a copy of Psalm Singing Revisited: The Case for Exclusive Psalmody by Bruce Stewart. It is a short booklet, but I finally found some time to read through it. I thought I’d share my interactions with the booklet, and therefore his position as noted in the subtitle.

The Reformed heritage has a long tradition of singing the Psalms. This has long been understood to be necessary on the basis of the Regulative Principle of Worship as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) as well as the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.

1. The light of nature sheweth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and doth 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. WCF, XXI

The argument is that the Psalms are songs given to us by God. All other songs are the product of the imaginations and devices of men and therefore unacceptable for worship. The question is, is this a proper interpretation and application of the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW)? Is it consistent with how we apply the RPW to other elements of worship prescribed in Scripture?

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I’m working through Exodus in my personal reading.  This morning I was working my way through Exodus 19 & 20.  I did poke back to Exodus 15 to look at one of the texts Tim Keller talked about in an excellent sermon at the Gospel Coalition yesterday.  You have to see Exodus 20 in context.  First came redemption, or rescue, and then the Law.  Redemption was never earned via obedience.  The Law was given to God’s people for life in His presence, not to earn His acceptance.

In 19 and 20 you see quite the special effects displays.  God descended to the mountain in the cloud, and they heard His voice speaking.  They were filled with terror.  Moses didn’t just tell them these things, they were witnesses themselves.

As I got near the end of Exodus 20 I read this:

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold. (NIV, 1984)

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