29 August, 2005

Plucking Our Heart Strings

I thought that since we are on the topic of music and worship I would bring these thinkers to the forefront. These thoughts are not generally considered amongst today's Chrsitians. There was a time when all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ would be thinking about the way in which we are to approach a holy God who is to be feared.

Part of living a well thought out life is thinking about all areas of life and asking yourself, "how does this please God? Or does it?"

As the use of musical instruments, in public worship, has no sanction in the New Testament, nor in the practice of the Christian church for several hundred years after its erection, it shall not be introduced, under any form, into any of the churches. —The Associate Reformed Synod, The Government, Discipline, and Worship, of the Associate Reformed Church in North America. (1799).

As the use of musical instruments in the worship of the New Testament Church has no sanction in the Bible, they shall not be introduced, in any form, in any of our congregations. —United Presbyterian Church of North America, from “Singing of Praise” in The Directory for Worship (1858).

In the same name and by the same authority, that of the Lord Christ, I debar ministerially all impenitent violators of the second commandment; all who, while they professedly worship the true God, do not recognize and act upon the principle that God alone has the right to prescribe the institutes of his own worship;…who worship God by proxy, with choirs and organs. All so sinning and not repenting, are forbidden to approach the table of the Lord. —S. Bowden (minister, Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America), “Debarring and Inviting Service,” in Memorial Volume. Covenant Renovation by the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America. Published by Order of the Synod (1872).

In regard to the musical part of divine worship, this synod [Synod of Drenthe], as also those of 1578 [Dordrecht] and 1581 [Middelburg], inveighed in very strong language against the playing of organs before, during and after service. It was said to minister to superstition, and it was denounced as a Jewish, a heathenish, and a Papistical custom. In 1589, this question gave occasion for a bitter dispute between the ministers and the magistrates of Arnheim. —Maurice G. Hansen (minister and historian, Reformed Church in America [Dutch]), The Reformed Church in the Netherlands. Traced from A.D. 1340 to A.D. 1840 (1884).

Points of Discussion:
- the lawfulness of instruments in worship
-what are the requirements of worship
-what is the history of instruments in your denomination (or the one you broke off of.)

BrianSchwertly's Musical Instruments in the Worship of God


notliberal said...

I will never understand why men would desire to sing anything other than His word in church. It's such a glorious honor to sing His word, I can't understand why people are so opposed to it.

Actually, yes I can. Man is sinful and will do anything to oppose God. Couple that with Satan's desire to destroy the church and it's clear why singing Psalms is so hated. It's really unfortunate because the Psalms written by God are far better than any hymn or "praise" song. God's word covers everything from theology to holy living and so on, why would we deny ourselves this wonderful book of Hymns that our Lord has given us?

shawn said...

Brian Schwertley in responding to John Frame re: worship writes,
"Another supposed “minimalistic” practice that Frame implies goes beyond the Westminster Standards was the non-use of musical instruments in worship. Was the non-use of musical instruments in worship only the opinion of some Puritans who went beyond the consensus of the Westminster Assembly? No. Absolutely not! A letter from the Scottish ministers and elders who were delegates to the Westminster Assembly to the General Assembly of Scotland (1644) proves the opposite. It reads: “[W]e cannot but admire the good hand of GOD in the great things done here already, particularly; That the Covenant (the Foundation of the whole Work) is taken; Prelacie and the whole train thereof, extirpated; The Service-Book in many places forsaken, plain and powerful preaching set up; Many Colleges in Cambridge provided with such Ministers, as are most zealous of the best Reformation; Altars removed; The Communion in some places given at the Table setting; The great Organs and Pauls and of Peters in Westminster taken down; Images and many other monuments of Idolatry defaced and abolished.”17 The General Assembly of Scotland responded to the letter from the commissioners by writing an official letter to the Church of England. It reads: “We were greatly refreshed to hear by Letters from our Commissioners there with you...of the great good things the Lord hath wrought among you and for you...many corruptions, as Altars, Images, and other Monuments of Idolatry and Superstition removed...the great Organs at Pauls and Peters taken down.”18"

His footnote 18 states: 18 The General Assemblies [sic] Answer to the Right Reverend the Assembly of the Divines in the Kirk of England (1644). Samuel Gibson writes: “But it hath been often said, Take away the Common Prayer Book, take away our Religion. Nay, our Religion is in the Bible, there is our God, and our Christ, and our Faith, and our Creed in all points. The whole Bible was Paul’s belief; there are the Psalms of David, and his Prayers, and the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers, by which we may learn to pray. We have still the Lord’s Songs, the Songs of Zion, sung by many with grace in their hearts, making melody to the Lord, though without organs. There we have all the commandments.”—Samuel Gibson (minister, Church of England; Westminster divine), The Ruin of the Authors and Fomentors of Civil Wars (1645)."

I just thought I'd throw in a couple quotes by the General Assembly of Scotland. ;)


notliberal said...

I can just hear Schwertley shouting: NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT! It wouldn't be a Schwertley sermon without a disgusted 'certainly not' or 'absolutely not.'

Smart Aleck said...

Psalm 150

1Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

2Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

4Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

5Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

6Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

We aren't dispensationalist, the WHOLE Bible is are guide not just the New Testament.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you have Free Reformed on your list of Chruches?

notliberal said...

There's no such thing as "free reformed." They all want a tithe at the end of the service.

Nate said...

resonse to smart alleck:

should we also sacrifice since that too is in the Psalter?

I will add a link that is to the book Instruments in the Worship of God by Brian Schwertly.

Check it out...even if you disagree it is an interesting and thought provoking read.

Smart Aleck said...

We don't sacrifice because it was fulfilled in Christ's death. How is using musical instrument fulfilled in His death? As for sacrificing in the Psalms
-- 51:16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

P.S. You need to take of the trailing "/" in the link you add.

Nate said...

All Old Testament Examples of the Use of Musical Instruments in Public Worship are Ceremonial

Those seeking a divine warrant for the use of musical instruments in public worship certainly cannot appeal to their Levitical, priestly, ceremonial use in the temple during the sacrifice as a justification for their use today. But, are there not instances of the use of musical instruments in public worship outside of the temple? Yes. A careful examination of the Old Testament reveals only five recorded instances of the lawful use of musical instruments in public worship outside of the temple:

The moving of the ark of God to Jerusalem (1 Chron. 15:14-28).
The dedication ceremony held at the completion of Solomon’s temple (2 Chron. 5:11-14).
The dedication ceremony held at the completion of the foundation of the second temple (Ezra 3:10-11).
The dedication ceremony held at the completion of the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 12:27-43).
The triumphal procession to Jerusalem and the temple after the Lord’s miraculous defeat of the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (2 Chron. 20:27-28).

These instances are the only scriptural hope for those who seek a scriptural warrant for musical instruments from the Old Testament.70 Can one find a non-ceremonial, non-Levitical use of musical instruments in these instances? No. There are a number of reasons why the use of musical instruments in these instances must be considered ceremonial. First, note that in each instance only the Levites were permitted to play the instruments (1 Chron. 15:16-24; 2 Chron. 5:12-13; Ezra 3:10; Neh. 12:35-36).71 Second, the priests and Levites only played instruments that were authorized by God: the silver trumpets of Moses and the instruments of David (1 Chron. 15:16, 28; 2 Chron. 5:12; 20:28; Ezra 3:10; Neh. 12:27, 36). Third, each instance was either connected with the ark, the temple, or the wall protecting the central sanctuary. The victory procession recorded in 2 Chronicles 20 ended at the temple (v. 28). The dedication ceremonies with the Levitical use of instruments never occurred outside of Jerusalem, the site of the temple—the central place of sacrifice. Fourth, the dedication services involved sacrifices and burnt offerings (1 Chron. 16:1-2; 2 Chron. 7:1, 5-6; Neh. 12:43). In fact, the burnt offerings and peace offerings were the climaxes of these services. Furthermore all of these instances occurred in unique historical circumstances. They were extraordinary services involving the civil magistrate, the Levitical priesthood, the whole nation, and were all intimately tied to the temple cultus. These instances of the use of musical instruments in public worship are obviously ceremonial,72 and thus are of no use to those seeking warrant for pianos, organs and guitars.
The account of the use of musical instruments in the book of Ezra proves that godly Jews followed the regulative principle of worship. “When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel” (Ezra 3:10). Note that over 400 years after the death of King David the Spirit-inspired instructions that he gave regarding worship are still in force and strictly followed. Not only were the Levites using the same instruments ordered by God under David, but the Levitical family of Asaph was still in charge of using the cymbals (cf. 1 Chron. 15:19). Fensham writes: “In these verses the celebrations are described after the foundation had been laid. The leading role was played by the priests and Levites. The priests were clad in their typical vestments (cf. Ex. 28; 2 Chron. 5:12; 20:21) and they blew the trumpets. The Levites played on the cymbals (cf. Ps. 150:5), which consisted of two metal plates with which they gave the beat (cf. 2 Chron. 15:16, 19; 16:5; 25:1-6; 2 Chron. 7:6). According to the author this was done as David prescribed. He was at this stage regarded as the most important figure who initiated music in the cult.”73 The account in Ezra is indisputable proof that the civil and religious leaders of the Jewish nation regarded the introduction of musical instruments into public worship as commanded by God and a permanent aspect of the temple system.

Nate said...

The last comment is a section of Rev. Schwertly's book.

Also I recommend the "this is not spam" link. Derek is a great guy who is very interesting.

Anonymous said...

There is a specific text that states something like:
do not inquire of the nations around you to see how they worship their gods.

Droll Flood said...

Smart Aleck:
Note what is at the end of psalm51:
about bullocks etc.
Please cite circumspectly!

shawn said...

There is a specific text that states something like:
do not inquire of the nations around you to see how they worship their gods.

That would be Deut 12:29-32

Also, Smart Aleck, why do you suppose the Jews hung their harps on the trees in Babylon in Ps 137?

Smart Aleck said...

Nate: Didn't have time to look up everything in your comment, but one thing that I notice is how Rev. Schwertly is taking this out of context. "The Levites played on the cymbals (cf. Ps. 150:5)" -- He is using this in context to show the Levites follow the regulative principle. But this passage doesn't mention Levites and does talk about several instruments not just the trumpet and cymbals which Schwertly say were allowed in worship.

Droll: My premise is that when looking at the Old Test. worship of God you don't through out everything "Ceremonial" we look at how and why things were done. i.e. The morning and evening sacrifices -- The sacrifices point to Christ's death so we don't continue that but the idea of a morning and evening times of worship is why we go to church twice on Sunday.

Anonymous: I am not, nor do I advocate doing things to be "like" the world or to be "seeker friendly". I am looking to the Bible for my guidelines, not even to tradition or my "feelings".

Nate said...

I agree that Levites played more than just cymbals. They played all of the instruments in worship. It was NOT ALLOWED by anyone else in the context of worship.

Does this attest to the ceremonial nature of instruments? Yes.

Also the OT does follow the RPW. Where in the OT does God allow ANYTHING that is not prescribed to be allowed in the worship of GOd.

BTW: Do I know who you are? Where did you find this blog? Curious.

Droll Flood said...

Smart Aleck:
It sounded to me as though you were saying in your citation of ps 51 that God altogether did not want it.
My apologies if I misunderstood. God placed these things in Levitical law foreshadowing Christ. It was because Christ had indeed died for David, that he repent have a contrite spirit and under levitical law at the time forshadowing Christ, that he wanted to sacrifice bullocks etc.

Smart Aleck said...

Shawn: Because they weren't in the mood to sing i.e. Ecc 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Nate: I am very much for RPW but I take it from the Whole Bible not just the NT. I found it from James Lanning which I found on ChristianYP.

shawn said...

Smart Aleck said...
Shawn: Because they weren't in the mood to sing i.e. Ecc 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

S: Interesting answer, but is it possible that it was related to the fact that they didn't have their Temple to worship in?

That was certainly the same practice they had for Synagogues (no instruments).