An Examination of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Getty-Townend For Use in Fundamental Christian Churches (Part 2)

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jcoleman's picture

DavidO wrote:

Joel Shaffer wrote:

Marsilius,

The reason that jcoleman can infer that Don Johnson's views lean towards dualism and Gnosticism is because of Don's denial of the goodness of Creation (except for food and marriage) from I Timothy 4:1-5.   Orthodox Christians interpret this passage that God created the world and everything in it as good (not just the food and marriage).  Everything means Everything.  Of course, the fall corrupted all of creation, but Paul still affirms its goodness.   Paul calls those that deny God's goodness in creation as teaching "doctrines of demons".

 

Joel,

I don't think this holds up.  You would say language is good but can be used improperly, sinfully even.  Don would say music is good but can be used improperly, sinfully even.  Hardly gnostic. 

David,

But we all agree that music can be used improperly. (In fact, that's the whole thing I've been arguing--that the misuse/abuse of something is the issue, not the thing itself.) But that's not what I termed Gnostic. What I termed Gnostic (or, rather, called similar to Gnostic teaching) is the idea that some emotions (which all agree can be used in good ways) such as anger, sexual desire, etc., are somehow more base than others. Since the emotions that are called base tend to be more physical while the less base tend to be less physical, certainly it shouldn't be that hard to see the similarities between that dichotomy and the physical/non-physical dualism of the Gnostics.

Marsilius,

I'm not saying that only Don has a problem with this. I think that modern evangelicalism (including fundamentalism--intentionally painting with a very broad stroke here) actually has been touched quite a bit with this kind of thinking. And I include myself in that: I tend to want to think of "spiritual" conversation etc. (meaning often, the more intellectual/non-physical) as being higher than enjoying the physical parts of life. But God says it's all good. And Paul corrects that type of thinking. So I have to correct my own thinking--imitating Paul's teaching.

And I do believe it has bearing on this thread. As Joel pointed out, we absolutely must affirm that all things are good. Not just the things we want to be good. As soon as we get off that rail, we head down some pretty odd paths.

DBachorik's picture

Friends,

Please forgive my tardiness in responding to postings about the last two parts of my and Ryan Weberg's article. I am afraid the beauty of tropical mountains and ocean and family have kept me from my computer for the past week. I will respond to some of the posts directly and write up a more formal response to some issues, which the Proclaim and Defend editor (http://www.proclaimanddefend.org/) has generously promised to publish on that site.

DB

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

DBachorik's picture

Friends,

After looking briefly over the debate above, I think it will be more profitable for me to re-read the comments, come up with a list of the significant issues and questions, and then try to address then as completely as I can. I will attempt to do so in the next 5 days. I rest on the readers' patience.

I will attempt to answer some of the questions in the postings for Part 3 of the article, as they come, unless they will be covered in the formal response.

If I could, let me just make a couple general comments about the discussion above, as I have skimmed it:

  • Neither I nor my co-author had no ulterior or dark motives in writing the Examination. We take seriously the injunction of I Thess. 5.20-22: "Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." (ESV), and this was our only motive.
  • We undertook this examination because we have both been asked frequently about these particular ministries. We recognize (and even discuss in the article) the  differences between SGM and GTM.
  • I will not engage in a discussion about past discussions about music (see the numerous comments about 1970s and Garlock, et al.). My focus will remain specifically on the article posted, while delving into some of the ideas behind it. I hope readers will do the same.
  • The article began with a series of presuppositions. Could I remind the readers of these:
  1. new music and lyrics are something to be desired and sought after
  2. musical sound is a mode of communication, not a neutral aural backdrop
  3. Christians must test all forms of communication created for worship and edification, accepting that which is true and beneficial, while rejecting that which is not
  4. Christians are capable of propagating untruth (both propositional teaching and engendering of inappropriate emotions), as well as truth, through art
  5. congregational music is the most important musical activity in a local church
  6. decisions about music are to be governed by both music-specific passages and other ‘universal principles’ of the Scriptures, and
  7. such decisions should be made by local churches, as well as individuals

Could I suggest that the article be read in light of these presuppositions? Could I also suggest that readers cross-reference the Examination article with my article on Music and Missions. Keeping such contexts would clarify a few issues. (May I also suggest that any interested reader take a look at NEW HEART, NEW SPIRIT, NEW SONG for presentation of most of these presuppositions, written in an informal, 'popular' form?)

  • Lastly, could I ask readers/commentators to carefully read what Ryan Weberg and I actually wrote? We attempted to take great care to be as specific and as nuanced as the discussion warrants. I look forward to dealing with the substantive issues raised, but am sorry that several writers seemed to read their own prejudices and assumptions about our positions into our article and proceeded to make superfluous or inaccurate statements.
  • Lastly ("this time I'm sincere!"), let me affirm my own commitment to the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures in all areas of life. I firmly believe these propositions and much of my teaching here in Asia dealing with music focuses on helping pastors and musicians develop a sound theology (biblical musicology) of music. However, we must wrestle both with what the Scriptures reveal about the nature of music, as well as the mechanics of that nature (thus the foray into musical 'technicalities'). I will try to say more about this in my formal response.

I wish a wonderful start to the new year to all who have read and responded. My hope is that we each may grow more like our Saviour and deepen our love for Him, and that both may be reflected in every area of our lives.

DB

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

Ron Bean's picture

2. musical sound is a mode of communication, not a neutral aural backdrop
3. Christians must test all forms of communication created for worship and edification, accepting that which is true and beneficial, while rejecting that which is not.

This is what confuses me. Against what standard are we supposed to "test" musical sound? Is there a clear biblical standard or are we going to spend our days redefining "worldliness"?

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Alex Guggenheim's picture

GregH wrote:
Don Johnson wrote:

Dan McGhee wrote:

 We do know for a fact from Psalm 150 that Temple worship in early NT times would have included, but was not limited to:

"praise him with trumpet sound" (3)

"praise him with lute and harp!" (3) ... etc. ...

The scholars I have read on this subject say that the worship of the early church was modeled off the synagogue, not the Temple.

My impression is that synagogue worship was quite different from that of the Temple.

I appreciate you actually trying to deal with the text of Ps 150, but more work  needs to be done to demonstrate that this actually became a model for the church.

Lol. Love how Don keeps propping up his strawman, twisting our argument into one he can actually debate against. No one here has suggested that Psalm 150 is a mandate or model for anything. Don keeps pretending that is our argument because it he knows he can't defend against the argument we are actually making.


I cannot speak for Don but I can speak to your errant hermeneutic and ecclesiology. The text has a context, it is being prescribed to the Theocracy of Israel. In order for you to take it out of context and claim because it was done in one context it can be done in another requires a hermeneutically and theologically based argument, not simply because it was done there it may be done here.

Many believers built altars to God to worship him in the OT and because there is no prohibition for this I guess we should start building altars with rocks? The prohibition is built into the NT phenomenon that your heart is now God' s altar and to build another one apart from that is to deny this divine reality and its explicated and implicated protocols.

You have a long way to go beyond "it was done there so it can be done here because no explicit prohibitionexists" to argue this is acceptable ecclesiastical liturgy. In fact, these were sanctuary based dances and the shadow or type of the OT sanctuary is just that, a type, of something to come which is God dwelling in us individually and corporately and has not only implications with regard to this change but explicit ecclesiastical forms of expression with unique and limited protocols which do not include any form of dance.

Your wish to climb over this formidable mountain with " well it was done there so we can do it here" might make you believe you indeed are on the other side but you have not even met the challenge of justifying the taking it out of context, never mind everything else.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

2. musical sound is a mode of communication, not a neutral aural backdrop
3. Christians must test all forms of communication created for worship and edification, accepting that which is true and beneficial, while rejecting that which is not.

This is what confuses me. Against what standard are we supposed to "test" musical sound? Is there a clear biblical standard or are we going to spend our days redefining "worldliness"?

 


The same way modesty is determined, with mature wisdom and honesty and eliminating the obvious forms of immodesty and carefully examining disputed forms. Now some might believe there is no such thing as obvious immodesty in attire and to that I would say you are ill-prepared to move on to other categories of consideration.

DavidO's picture

jcoleman wrote:
What I termed Gnostic (or, rather, called similar to Gnostic teaching) is the idea that some emotions (which all agree can be used in good ways) such as anger, sexual desire, etc., are somehow more base than others. Since the emotions that are called base tend to be more physical while the less base tend to be less physical, certainly it shouldn't be that hard to see the similarities between that dichotomy and the physical/non-physical dualism of the Gnostics.

 

This is helpful, thanks for the clarity.  I'd have to go back and read through everything Don's written to see if this is what he said, but point taken. 

However, would you not agree that any affection which ought not be directed towards God (are there any?) would, because of the object in view, be considered base over against the proper affectional response to Him and His deeds?

If so, the gnostic charge may be moot.

GregH's picture

Doug, glad you came back. I will wait for your new article rather than responding to your post here.

GregH's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
GregH wrote:
Don Johnson wrote:

Dan McGhee wrote:

 We do know for a fact from Psalm 150 that Temple worship in early NT times would have included, but was not limited to:

"praise him with trumpet sound" (3)

"praise him with lute and harp!" (3) ... etc. ...

The scholars I have read on this subject say that the worship of the early church was modeled off the synagogue, not the Temple.

My impression is that synagogue worship was quite different from that of the Temple.

I appreciate you actually trying to deal with the text of Ps 150, but more work  needs to be done to demonstrate that this actually became a model for the church.

Lol. Love how Don keeps propping up his strawman, twisting our argument into one he can actually debate against. No one here has suggested that Psalm 150 is a mandate or model for anything. Don keeps pretending that is our argument because it he knows he can't defend against the argument we are actually making.
I cannot speak for Don but I can speak to your errant hermeneutic and ecclesiology. The text has a context, it is being prescribed to the Theocracy of Israel. In order for you to take it out of context and claim because it was done in one context it can be done in another requires a hermeneutically and theologically based argument, not simply because it was done there it may be done here. Many believers built altars to God to worship him in the OT and because there is no prohibition for this I guess we should start building altars with rocks? The prohibition is built into the NT phenomenon that your heart is now God' s altar and to build another one apart from that is to deny this divine reality and its explicated and implicated protocols. You have a long way to go beyond "it was done there so it can be done here because no explicit prohibitionexists" to argue this is acceptable ecclesiastical liturgy. In fact, these were sanctuary based dances and the shadow or type of the OT sanctuary is just that, a type, of something to come which is God dwelling in us individually and corporately and has not only implications with regard to this change but explicit ecclesiastical forms of expression with unique and limited protocols which do not include any form of dance. Your wish to climb over this formidable mountain with " well it was done there so we can do it here" might make you believe you indeed are on the other side but you have not even met the challenge of justifying the taking it out of context, never mind everything else.

Those were sanctuary dances? We now have explicit ecclesiastical forms of expressions with unique and limited protocols?

OK, I am going to let this drop now...

Alex Guggenheim's picture

GregH wrote:

Those were sanctuary dances? We now have explicit ecclesiastical forms of expressions with unique and limited protocols?

OK, I am going to let this drop now...

Well whether you have been informed or not, yes there were sanctuary dances (not exclusively but since Psalm 150 begins with the context of the sanctuary it is quite contextual to understand these were in view with the writer) with specific forms. And whether you know it or not we do have some explicit ecclesiastical forms of expression and limited protocols given in the NT.

The fact that you cannot justify taking Psalm 150 out of context nor understand the history and context of its imperative and occurrence leaves you with just what you are doing, departing with postured exasperation. You have no argument other than, "It was done there so we can do it here", hence you are offended at every turn when rebuttals to your inadequate argument are made.

That is not a process of discovery, it is just posturing which leads me to believe it is better for you to depart here. Discovery is the treatment of the points of others for which you have none at this point.

GregH's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:

GregH wrote:

Those were sanctuary dances? We now have explicit ecclesiastical forms of expressions with unique and limited protocols?

OK, I am going to let this drop now...

Well whether you have been informed or not, yes there were sanctuary dances (not exclusively but since Psalm 150 begins with the context of the sanctuary it is quite contextual to understand these were in view with the writer) with specific forms. And whether you know it or not we do have some explicit ecclesiastical forms of expression and limited protocols given in the NT.

The fact that you cannot justify taking Psalm 150 out of context nor understand the history and context of its imperative and occurrence leaves you with just what you are doing, departing with postured exasperation. You have no argument other than, "It was done there so we can do it here", hence you are offended at every turn when rebuttals to your inadequate argument are made.

That is not a process of discovery, it is just posturing which leads me to believe it is better for you to depart here. Discovery is the treatment of the points of others for which you have none at this point.

No Alex, I am not exasperated or offended at all. Just letting you do your thing while everyone watches...

GregH's picture

BTW Doug, I should mention that I appreciate you interacting here. That is a positive thing in itself and a bit rare. I said I was going to wait for your new article, but only because this thread has become impossible to follow in a lot of ways. 

Marsilius's picture

Joel and Coleman, thank you both for responding, and responding reasonably. I still have my doubts about whether either of you understand what Gnosticism is. If you want to say that people have heretical thinking, then you need to understand the heresy. Otherwise, you simply paint good people as bad.

Joel, because Don does not include all of creation in his exegesis of 1 Timothy 4:1-5, this means he employs Gnostic thinking? I disagree with Don's view on this verse. But we really overshoot the mark by calling his view Gnostic. Get serious. Don is limiting "every creature" to food on the basis of verse 3. I disagree with him, but he isn't Gnostic. A Gnostic would have so much difficulty with the passage that he wouldn't even give it the time of day. Yes, I did call Don Bible puritan. I think I added that everyone in the discussion is the same. Now let me be more plain spoken: YOU also are too Bible puritan to ever be Gnostic. In every comment I have read that you have made, you accept the Bible as truth, and place no other writing on equal plane. Just like Don, you are immediately disqualified as a Gnostic thinker.

To state that certain musical chords are not good or spiritually unedifying: this is Gnosticism? Please give me chapter and verse from Gnostic writings. Otherwise you simply are saying that if you find someone's spiritual statements about music off base, they qualify as an heretical thinker. Do you see my point? We go much too far with those kinds of statements. Aristotle in his Politics defined certain kinds of music (which he named) as base, and certain kinds of dancing as base, worthy only of slaves, but not of decent persons. How is this different than what Don is saying about certain types of music (in fact Don is not that harsh)? OK, now we call Aristotle a Gnostic. It gets kind of absurd (for those who do not know, Aristotle predated Gnosticism by more than 400 years).

Gnostic belief is highly complex and varied, but nearly all Gnostics believed and continue to believe that the existence of evil preceded the creation of the world. Human souls are celestial and good. They are trapped in an evil material world ("do not touch, do not taste, do not handle"). But even if human souls do evil, evil will be overcome and they will one day be freed from the earthly realm to the pure celestial realm. And of course, Jesus did not really die on a cross. He could not in such a thought-system. Salvation comes through knowledge, not through atonement. Gnostics did not and do not believe the Bible as you and I do, they simply have used it to develop their own stories, myths, ideas, and theologies. This is the way of thinking both of you tell us that not only Don, but lots of believers are caught in. For this is indeed Gnosticism. Quite honestly, I have never heard anyone but living Gnostics talk this way.

Are Christians who are extra strict infected with Gnostic thought? Is this how you explain the early Methodists? or the Mennonites or Amish? Is this how you explain the Puritans? Read the writings of Tertullian and you will find he preaches a strictness almost unbearable for American believers of our day. This man is known by historians and theologians as one of the most deadly foes of Gnosticism who ever lived. Let me help you: strictness may be asceticism; it may be just plain strictness, but that is not the same as Gnosticism at all.

So I appeal to you again, please leave off charges of Gnosticism, or Gnostic thinking. I haven't read any yet in 160 posts.

 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

GregH wrote:

No Alex, I am not exasperated or offended at all. Just letting you do your thing while everyone watches...

No, most people don't watch, they read. And this is not about "everyone" it is about your failure to support your argument. Attempting to enlarge your posture by trying to include everyone  is also not an argument, Greg, it is called a fallacious point, nor is the meeting of rebuttals with only scoffing and no contest. 

So all of your huffing and haranguing still leaves you with 2 errant elements and an unsustainable position:

  • You have offered no reason beyond the rationalism that because it was done in the OT it is acceptable to be practiced in the NT due to no direct prohibition being stated
  • You are protesting without a theologically or hermeneutically ( refusing to deal with the context and asserting it can be taken out of context without qualification) based argument

Maybe you have never been taught principles of Bible interpretation, hence your arguments are the way they are. Or maybe none of that means anything to you, I do not know in either case but thus far you have failed to follow any rules of Biblical interpretation starting with context.

SBashoor's picture

I can't speak to GregH's thoughts, but it's clear to me that the Psalms present patterns of worship which have both continuity and discontinuity with New Covenant worship. Some expressions of psalmic worship clearly have Mosaic covenant specificity and are discontinuitous with New Covenant worship (e.g., the altar processions and liturgies of Psalm 118). But other expressions of psalmic worship clearly have continuity with New Covenant worship. The NT not only quotes and alludes to many psalms as having direct Christian application but also encourages the use of psalms in Christian worship (Eph. 5:19). Whatever is not bound explicitly with the expired aspects of Mosaic legislation might well be practiced under the New Covenant, all things considered. The New Testament affirms the Old Testament practice of "sacrifices of praise." 

But the specific psalmic commands to worship in various ways (e.g., "praise him with the trumpet") would not necessarily be binding. We are not disobedient Christians if we never have trumpets sounding in our meetings. Nonetheless, those old commands are instructive and suggestive of the potential grandness of corporate worship when the church gathers.

On a side note, the Psalter developed not only within the context of the Mosaic Covenant, but also within the Davidic Covenant (note particularly many of the royal psalms). The Mosaic Covenant has expired, but not the Davidic Covenant, All that to say, we shouldn't think that the Psalter has only a Sinaiatic orientation.

On another side note, I've often mused that much of the public worship of the tabernacle/temple would have been outdoors. The multitudes could not enter into the sanctums, so the loudness of the music might have been somewhat diffused. Depends on where the Levitical musicians were stationed, I guess, but it would still be loud at times. And there's certainly no NT prohibition against indoor volume apart perhaps from temperance derived from being considerate of one another.

M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

GregH's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:

GregH wrote:

No Alex, I am not exasperated or offended at all. Just letting you do your thing while everyone watches...

No, most people don't watch, they read. And this is not about "everyone" it is about your failure to support your argument. Attempting to enlarge your posture by trying to include everyone  is also not an argument, Greg, it is called a fallacious point, nor is the meeting of rebuttals with only scoffing and no contest. 

So all of your huffing and haranguing still leaves you with 2 errant elements and an unsustainable position:

  • You have offered no reason beyond the rationalism that because it was done in the OT it is acceptable to be practiced in the NT due to no direct prohibition being stated
  • You are protesting without a theologically or hermeneutically ( refusing to deal with the context and asserting it can be taken out of context without qualification) based argument

Maybe you have never been taught principles of Bible interpretation, hence your arguments are the way they are. Or maybe none of that means anything to you, I do not know in either case but thus far you have failed to follow any rules of Biblical interpretation starting with context.

Well, no, I am not going into the mud with you to argue dispensational theology, covenant theology, and RPW (or by your terminology, "protocols"). I reject your position but am not going to take the time or effort to debate you. If that disappoints you, just pretend like I am in the mud with you and sling away. Treat me like a big strawman. I will sit back and enjoy that and frankly, it will serve my purposes just fine too. Wink

Or maybe Alex, the real reason I won't argue is because you scare me. You seem so dogmatic that you must be right. I have not seen you so dogmatic since you predicted the 2012 Presidential election.

Just having a little fun... Wink Smile Wink (I have learned that these smilies are very important so you know I am laughing gently--not at you of course--just laughing gently.)

GregH's picture

SBashoor wrote:

I can't speak to GregH's thoughts, but it's clear to me that the Psalms present patterns of worship which have both continuity and discontinuity with New Covenant worship. Some expressions of psalmic worship clearly have Mosaic covenant specificity and are discontinuitous with New Covenant worship (e.g., the altar processions and liturgies of Psalm 118). But other expressions of psalmic worship clearly have continuity with New Covenant worship. The NT not only quotes and alludes to many psalms as having direct Christian application but also encourages the use of psalms in Christian worship (Eph. 5:19). Whatever is not bound explicitly with the expired aspects of Mosaic legislation might well be practiced under the New Covenant, all things considered. The New Testament affirms the Old Testament practice of "sacrifices of praise." 

But the specific psalmic commands to worship in various ways (e.g., "praise him with the trumpet") would not necessarily be binding. We are not disobedient Christians if we never have trumpets sounding in our meetings. Nonetheless, those old commands are instructive and suggestive of the potential grandness of corporate worship when the church gathers.

On a side note, the Psalter developed not only within the context of the Mosaic Covenant, but also within the Davidic Covenant (note particularly many of the royal psalms). The Mosaic Covenant has expired, but not the Davidic Covenant, All that to say, we shouldn't think that the Psalter has only a Sinaiatic orientation.

Thank you sir. You expressed this better than I could; far better in fact. 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

GregH wrote:

Well, no, I am not going into the mud with you to argue dispensational theology, covenant theology, and RPW (or by your terminology, "protocols"). I reject your position but am not going to take the time or effort to debate you. If that disappoints you, just pretend like I am in the mud with you and sling away. Treat me like a big strawman. I will sit back and enjoy that and frankly, it will serve my purposes just fine too. Wink

Or maybe Alex, the real reason I won't argue is because you scare me. You seem so dogmatic that you must be right. I have not seen you so dogmatic since you predicted the 2012 Presidential election.

Just having a little fun... Wink Smile Wink (I have learned that these smilies are very important so you know I am laughing gently--not at you of course--just laughing gently.)

So to your this is about arguing dispensationalism or covenant theology? You have missed the point and if you consider theological debate an effort in the mud then it does stand to reasons why you are unable or unwilling to engage in the theological exercise of debate. 

No it does not disappoint me, I am not concerned about whether you interact or not that is your business but if you feel it is important to view it as important to me, well feed you mind what you will.

But it is revealing regarding your sincerity on pursuing genuine debate seeing that this is a forum for just that and your engagement so far with me  is only petty demonstrations of contempt and exasperation with the refusal to address any of my points with arguments. But then you promised in post 160 that you were going to "let this drop now..." and so far you are doing a rather poor job.

However, my argument is not dispensational, per se, it is hermeneutically (its context first) based but from that it is theologically based. That is, regardless of one's theology in this case, Covenant, Dispensational or Reformed, the context of Psalm 150 remains to the Theocracy of Israel and your Covenant Theology, regardless of its continuity theme, does not, itself, even provide for a justification of taking it out of context. You ought to learn your own hermeneutics better.

As to the presidential prediction, your inability to recognize the use of rhetorical devices is telling, but if it is important for you to believe the dogmatism was serious, well I won't interrupt your illusion dear brother...just having a little fun...;) Smile Wink (I have learned that these smiles are very important).

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:

GregH wrote:

Well, no, I am not going into the mud with you to argue dispensational theology, covenant theology, and RPW (or by your terminology, "protocols"). I reject your position but am not going to take the time or effort to debate you. If that disappoints you, just pretend like I am in the mud with you and sling away. Treat me like a big strawman. I will sit back and enjoy that and frankly, it will serve my purposes just fine too. Wink

Or maybe Alex, the real reason I won't argue is because you scare me. You seem so dogmatic that you must be right. I have not seen you so dogmatic since you predicted the 2012 Presidential election.

Just having a little fun... Wink Smile Wink (I have learned that these smilies are very important so you know I am laughing gently--not at you of course--just laughing gently.)

So to you dispensational theology is going in the mud. Insulting half or more of the readers here isn't exactly the way to discovery in theological inquiry, particularly when that discovery is in a forum which is for the purpose of measuring, disproving and/or affirming views. You have effectively cut yourself off from a body of consideration which may contain points. Never mind your refusal to make the effort to rebutt. No it does not disappoint me, I am not concerned about whether you interact or not that is your business but if you feel it is important to view it as important to me, well have at it.

But it is revealing regarding your sincerity on pursuing genuine debate seeing that this is a forum for just that and your engagement so far with me  is only petty demonstrations of contempt and exasperation with the refusal to address any of my points with arguments instead of simple complaints or objections without arguments. But then you promised in post 160 that you were going to "let this drop now..." and so far you are doing a rather poor job.

However, my argument is not dispensational, per se, it is hermeneutically (its context first) based but from that it is theologically based. That is, regardless of one's theology in this case, Covenant, Dispensational or Reformed, the context of Psalm 150 remains to the Theocracy of Israel and your Covenant Theology, regardless of its continuity theme, does not, itself, even provide for a justification of taking it out of context. You ought to learn your own hermeneutics better.

As to the presidential prediction, your inability to recognize the use of rhetorical devices is telling, but if it is important for you to believe the dogmatism was serious, well I won't interrupt your illusion dear brother...just having a little fun...;) Smile Wink (I have learned that these smiles are very important).

Alex Guggenheim's picture

SBashoor wrote:

I can't speak to GregH's thoughts, but it's clear to me that the Psalms present patterns of worship which have both continuity and discontinuity with New Covenant worship. Some expressions of psalmic worship clearly have Mosaic covenant specificity and are discontinuitous with New Covenant worship (e.g., the altar processions and liturgies of Psalm 118). But other expressions of psalmic worship clearly have continuity with New Covenant worship. The NT not only quotes and alludes to many psalms as having direct Christian application but also encourages the use of psalms in Christian worship (Eph. 5:19). Whatever is not bound explicitly with the expired aspects of Mosaic legislation might well be practiced under the New Covenant, all things considered. The New Testament affirms the Old Testament practice of "sacrifices of praise."

SBashoor, in responding I will deal with the elements of each paragraph in my rebuttal.

Here you refer to the "NT not only quotes but alludes to many psalms has having "direct Christian application but also encourages the use of the pslams in Christian worship".

So do you understand the first principle you have set up which immediately and severly weaknes your argument that the Psalmist dance reference is readily applicable today? It is the claim (true or not but you asserted the principle) that many psalms have "direct Christian application". So as a rule let us look to see if this one of dance does anywhere in the NT.

The answer is no.

But let us move to Ephesians 5:19. This is not a reference to any application of a Psalm but the use of Psalms as instructing one another. Does this mean that any and all Psalms are to be taken out of context when we sing them as a form of doctrinal instruction? No, just as the Teacher who will teach Psalms will teach them in their context, the one singing them as a form of communicating doctrine will sing them and they will be received with their understood context. It does not mean their truths cannot magnify or edify us but their truths, if they have properties which contain certain elements or practices intended or prescribed for the Theocracy of Israel or some other context not immediately or easily transferred to our context, they are understood as such though we may speak them edifyingly so to one another.

However, you made a curious claim here in asserting:

The NT not only quotes and alludes to many psalms as having direct Christian application

I am a bit fascinated here. I would like to see the NT quotes which allude to many psalms having direct Christian application. I might accept there are more than one NT reference of Psalms with  indirect applications and possibly a few with direct but many with direct application? I would like to see this documented and then discuss the merits of the direct application.

SBashoor wrote:
But the specific psalmic commands to worship in various ways (e.g., "praise him with the trumpet") would not necessarily be binding. We are not disobedient Christians if we never have trumpets sounding in our meetings. Nonetheless, those old commands are instructive and suggestive of the potential grandness of corporate worship when the church gathers.

On a side note, the Psalter developed not only within the context of the Mosaic Covenant, but also within the Davidic Covenant (note particularly many of the royal psalms). The Mosaic Covenant has expired, but not the Davidic Covenant, All that to say, we shouldn't think that the Psalter has only a Sinaiatic orientation.

You begin by stating the commands to worship in various ways in the psalms "would not necessarily be binding".

Of course to that I ask, when would they be binding?

Are you not aware that these are being given to the Theocracy of Israel and we are not in the Theocracy of Israel and regulated by its protocols? You simply cannot ignore its context and suggest that they might not be binding, they cannot be binding.

More so, we have binding commands in the NT given to the NT church regarding worship.

Now as to the informative nature of them, how they inform us must be in context. We understand first that that is Israel and its outwardness was specifically from its context. That is, all of its cultural and ceremonial celebration and expression stemmed from its property as the Theocracy of Israel. Today no such thing exists, rather it is the church of Christ, the inward Kingdom of God with no geography, no nation with a national people of a specific DNA, no military victories, no conquering of invading nations and so on. And much of this was outward for a purpose, as a testimony to the people of the world of God.

Today, that Kingdom is inward, it is invisible and it is Christ in us. Their grandness was not an end in and of itself simply to be grand before God but was a banner, a physical banner to one another and to the world that God was the true God. Today our banner is Christ in us by the verification of the Holy Spirit sanctifying us to make an appropriate temple for the Shekinah Glory.

Does this mean we cannot praise God in any grand way? No but the example of what the Theocracy of Israel did, even in all of its beauty, still has to be understood in its context which speaks to its purpose. Our message today to the world is not the outward conquering of nations, people, or the national prosperity of a group, rather it is "in Christ" with our riches being spiritual.

In other words, their is a purpose to the outward grandiosity of Israel as opposed to the inward emphasis of the church and its temperance. This is not necessarily a direct argument regarding the issue but when you bring up what Israel did you have to examine, with thoroughness, the why's or the purpose of its expression in such a manner. You cannot skip over the nature of the Theocracy of Israel and the nature of the NT church with all of their properties and subsequent implications.

As to the Davidic covenant, there will be another time for its fulfillment which is to come. And it will again be a matter of geography with respect to the location of the nation of God where Christ will reign for 1,000 years as a testimony to the rightness of his Royalty and much more and to the evidence of the deficiency of the ruler of this world, now, namely Satan. And I understand that those outward forms of pomp and grandiosity will return and rightfully so seeing that there will be a new protocol based in new purposes for the people of God.

Now, it is here where we might part ways theologically but you still come back to the context of the Psalms regardless of the Mosaic or Davidic views and that context was at that time to the Theocracy of Israel. That cannot be changed and to justify taking it out of context and applying it as permissible in the church remains a mountain yet to be overcome.

SBashoor wrote:
On another side note, I've often mused that much of the public worship of the tabernacle/temple would have been outdoors. The multitudes could not enter into the sanctums, so the loudness of the music might have been somewhat diffused. Depends on where the Levitical musicians were stationed, I guess, but it would still be loud at times. And there's certainly no NT prohibition against indoor volume apart perhaps from temperance derived from being considerate of one another.

There were both ceremonial and civic forms of celebration. So my belief is that the people would have heard what was going on in the temple no doubt do some degree but also, they would have involved themselves in the civic celebration and understood, first hand, the intensity of the celebration of God's blessing.

And to address this I have two final points:

#1. The temple was where God is and today that temple is in our hearts, either individually or collectively. So if you wish to invoke volume from the temple and its modern parallel I suggest you remain consistent and understand that the volume we ought to be experiencing is that which is within our hearts.

#2. The dances that were ceremonial were rather specific and limited in movement and for certain occasions. So if one is going to ignore the context of Psalm 150 or David's dance in Chronicles and all of the other hermeneutical and theological problems which have to be overcome in order to assert these are permissible ecclesiastical liturgical forms, prey tell which dance form and for what reason is someone proposing being used because to use the wrong prescribed form for the wrong occasion would have been considered blasphemy.

Which speaks to the greater issue, again, the distinction of the Theocracy of Israel and its divine cultural and ceremonial mandates and the NT church with its unique protocols. There is a myriad of differences which are not anecdotal in the least rather contain explications and implications which deny us simple transference of practices, both cultural and ceremonial, from one group to the other.

Does this deny the church glorious forms of expression? I do not see that in the Scriptures and no one is arguing that, rather that what was done in the Theocracy of Israel is not simply transferred to the NT church with a little carving away and the NT church has a body of protocol which is rather explicit in the NT regarding ecclesiastical liturgy which takes precedence over matters of dispute if one can even manage to bring Psalm 150 out of its context and consider it as an element of liberty to possibly be used in NT ecclesiastical liturgy.

GregH's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:

GregH wrote:

Well, no, I am not going into the mud with you to argue dispensational theology, covenant theology, and RPW (or by your terminology, "protocols"). I reject your position but am not going to take the time or effort to debate you. If that disappoints you, just pretend like I am in the mud with you and sling away. Treat me like a big strawman. I will sit back and enjoy that and frankly, it will serve my purposes just fine too. Wink

Or maybe Alex, the real reason I won't argue is because you scare me. You seem so dogmatic that you must be right. I have not seen you so dogmatic since you predicted the 2012 Presidential election.

Just having a little fun... Wink Smile Wink (I have learned that these smilies are very important so you know I am laughing gently--not at you of course--just laughing gently.)

So to your this is about arguing dispensationalism or covenant theology? You have missed the point and if you consider theological debate an effort in the mud then it does stand to reasons why you are unable or unwilling to engage in the theological exercise of debate. 

No it does not disappoint me, I am not concerned about whether you interact or not that is your business but if you feel it is important to view it as important to me, well feed you mind what you will.

But it is revealing regarding your sincerity on pursuing genuine debate seeing that this is a forum for just that and your engagement so far with me  is only petty demonstrations of contempt and exasperation with the refusal to address any of my points with arguments. But then you promised in post 160 that you were going to "let this drop now..." and so far you are doing a rather poor job.

However, my argument is not dispensational, per se, it is hermeneutically (its context first) based but from that it is theologically based. That is, regardless of one's theology in this case, Covenant, Dispensational or Reformed, the context of Psalm 150 remains to the Theocracy of Israel and your Covenant Theology, regardless of its continuity theme, does not, itself, even provide for a justification of taking it out of context. You ought to learn your own hermeneutics better.

As to the presidential prediction, your inability to recognize the use of rhetorical devices is telling, but if it is important for you to believe the dogmatism was serious, well I won't interrupt your illusion dear brother...just having a little fun...;) Smile Wink (I have learned that these smiles are very important).

Sorry Alex, you are right. The way I wrote that, it might appear that I think arguing about dispensational theology is getting in the mud. I did not mean that at all and did not mean to offend anyone.

What I meant to express that arguing with you would be getting into the mud. Or to put it a bit more bluntly, it would be very hard to argue with you without starting to sound like you. That is a risk I am not willing to take. Wink

SBashoor's picture

Alex, I don't have much time to respond to your comments as I have more pressing demands today. Thank you for spelling out your thoughts on discontunuity regarding the Psalms in Christian worship. I don't agree with every implication you draw, but we agree in principle on quite a few points. 

Ephesians 5:19. This is not a reference to any application of a Psalm but the use of Psalms as instructing one another. Does this mean that any and all Psalms are to be taken out of context when we sing them as a form of doctrinal instruction?

Unnecessary inference. I said nothing about making any application of any psalm and ignoring its context.  Of course, any psalm should be understood within its original context, and whatever applications are made would be limited by our New Covenant context.  I explicitly said there were aspects of continuity and discontinuity in the use of Psalms in New Covenant worship. I've not addressed the topic of dancing specifically.

I would like to see the NT quotes which allude to many psalms having direct Christian application.

No time to catalog that, sorry. My choice of "direct" could be changed to something like "continuing."  Of course, there are many Psalms citations with direct and indirect Christological reference which could be fitting for our use in worship.

You begin by stating the commands to worship in various ways in the psalms "would not necessarily be binding".

Of course to that I ask, when would they be binding?

Are you not aware that these are being given to the Theocracy of Israel and we are not in the Theocracy of Israel and regulated by its protocols? You simply cannot ignore its context and suggest that they might not be binding, they cannot be binding.

I'm using "binding" in a loose sense here. Particular commands from the Psalms might be binding in the same way that any other OT command might be binding, if it expresses a timeless requirement rooted not only in a particular code of God's Law (e.g., Mosaic Law ) but the universal Law of God. For instance, commands to praise God, thank God, and sing praises to Him are universally binding. The particular forms required in the tabernacle or temple might not be. (This gets into a larger discussion of the understanding of the Law of God that we don't have time for here. We might or might not agree on how to formulate that.)

#1. The temple was where God is and today that temple is in our hearts, either individually or collectively. So if you wish to invoke volume from the temple and its modern parallel I suggest you remain consistent and understand that the volume we ought to be experiencing is that which is within our hearts.

To me this is a non sequitur. Is singing only done only in our hearts? Is there no audible volume? I don't feel as though your view does justice to the corporate nature of the church as God's temple. That said, I'm no champion of excessive high volume in worship services, and that's why I made that aside to begin with.  Some folks in my flock left their previous churches because they cranked up the volume to disturbing levels. Very inconsiderate of those churches, I believe. Righteous exuberance needn't entail excessiveness.

#2. The dances that were ceremonial were rather specific and limited in movement and for certain occasions. So if one is going to ignore the context of Psalm 150 or David's dance in Chronicles and all of the other hermeneutical and theological problems which have to be overcome in order to assert these are permissible ecclesiastical liturgical forms, prey tell which dance form and for what reason is someone proposing being used because to use the wrong prescribed form for the wrong occasion would have been considered blasphemy.

Again, I've purposefully not addressed the issue of dancing, though I can see how inferences could be drawn from what I said. But to address your charge briefly, one could make an analogy to musical form. We have no inspired record of how the Hebrews originally performed the Psalms, nor do we have convincing historical evidence of such. When the NT commands us to sing psalms, it implicitly grants liberty to use whatever musical forms might be fitting. It doesn't address the concern of using a musical form that might be the wrong ceremonial form. That would be inconsequential since we have no prescribed ceremonial forms. The concern about committing blasphemy by using the wrong form is a non sequitur with reference to music, and that might carry over to the issue of dance as well. I'm not arguing for the inclusion of dance in Christian worship, just pointing out what looks like a logical problem in the final sentence above.

Of course, this whole thread is to discuss what forms are acceptable for Christian worship. Much of the discussion is necessarily dependent on inferences and presuppositions.

Good day.

 

M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

Mike Hanafee's picture

It's too bad a believer can't read his/her Bible, come across Psalm 150, & think "wow, I can praise my Lord with everything in me!" I sure a few will be quite taken aback at the worship of Revelation 7:9-10. And I suspect ethnicity & subculture, propped up by over systemizing Scripture, has intruded on this issue.

 

jcoleman's picture

DavidO wrote:

jcoleman wrote:
What I termed Gnostic (or, rather, called similar to Gnostic teaching) is the idea that some emotions (which all agree can be used in good ways) such as anger, sexual desire, etc., are somehow more base than others. Since the emotions that are called base tend to be more physical while the less base tend to be less physical, certainly it shouldn't be that hard to see the similarities between that dichotomy and the physical/non-physical dualism of the Gnostics.

 

This is helpful, thanks for the clarity.  I'd have to go back and read through everything Don's written to see if this is what he said, but point taken. 

However, would you not agree that any affection which ought not be directed towards God (are there any?) would, because of the object in view, be considered base over against the proper affectional response to Him and His deeds?

If so, the gnostic charge may be moot.

I don't think that any emotion not directed at God would be necessarily lower than others. In fact, assuming the emotion isn't directed in a way that God has declared to be an abuse of that emotion I'm not sure that any emotion is really not directed at God in some way. Actually, come to think of it, really, no emotion isn't directed at God in the end (whether good or evil) since all things are made by him and emotions are this necessarily in response to something's he's made (and really thus directly in response to him and his character.)

It would certainly be true though that there is no amorality when emotions are expressed. That is, once you say that an emotion X is directed at Y, that is either in rebellion against God's goodness or praising God's goodness.

jcoleman's picture

Marsilius wrote:
To state that certain musical chords are not good or spiritually unedifying: this is Gnosticism? Please give me chapter and verse from Gnostic writings.

I didn't say it was Gnosticism directly, I've stated several times that I believe it has parallels to Gnosticism. Similarity is not the same as being identical. But similarity does still allow us to apply teaching for one thing in similar ways to similar things.

Marsilius wrote:
Yes, I did call Don Bible puritan. I think I added that everyone in the discussion is the same. Now let me be more plain spoken: YOU also are too Bible puritan to ever be Gnostic. In every comment I have read that you have made, you accept the Bible as truth, and place no other writing on equal plane. Just like Don, you are immediately disqualified as a Gnostic thinker.

I don't think that being a "Bible puritan" as you call it exempts us from sliding into the error of Gnosticism. In fact, I think that a similar (note that word similar again, it does not be identical) dualism is actually perhaps one of the biggest and most insidious temptations for modern Christianity (and perhaps has always been.) That dualism is the false dichotomy between the sacred and secular. While there are certainly things that are ecclesiastical and things that are not, there are no things that are secular. God's reign (the sacred) extends over the entire universe and world system.

We're by nature tempted 1.) to separate certain things from being under Christ's rule and 2.) to make certain things more spiritual than others. For another example on number 2: we talk about the job of pastor as if it were better that so-called secular jobs. But both are good and necessary, and God calls and equips for both. Both are good and important to his plan. And neither is more spiritual than the other.

So I think we (as human beings) have a strong proclivity towards many forms of dualism. So rather than assuming that it's not an issue for us, I believe we ought to be carefully watching out for it in every place.

jcoleman's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Ron Bean wrote:

2. musical sound is a mode of communication, not a neutral aural backdrop
3. Christians must test all forms of communication created for worship and edification, accepting that which is true and beneficial, while rejecting that which is not.

This is what confuses me. Against what standard are we supposed to "test" musical sound? Is there a clear biblical standard or are we going to spend our days redefining "worldliness"?

 

The same way modesty is determined, with mature wisdom and honesty and eliminating the obvious forms of immodesty and carefully examining disputed forms. Now some might believe there is no such thing as obvious immodesty in attire and to that I would say you are ill-prepared to move on to other categories of consideration.

But now you've gone back and made it (fairly) relative. Obviously there are certain lines that cannot be crossed objectively for modesty's sake, but precisely where are those lines? Christians have differed significantly as times and cultures have changed.

In fact, Alex, I'm fairly confident that styles you find to be perfectly modest today would have been considered to be the height of immodesty less than a hundred years ago. So by your own type of test, who's to say that music hasn't changed too?

Rock may very well once have been so strongly identified with a culture of rebellion that from a purely practical perspective it had no place in the church. But that was decades ago. Today Rock isn't identified with that culture of rebellion (with the exception of those who want to extend the 60s into the present.) Today Rock (well, actually, we've progressed further, but anyway) is the background music. It has no association with cultural rebellion in my generation.

So unless you can demonstrate that certain styles of music communicate something that is objectively evil outside of culture, then you can't say that we have an objective test for music, and you can't bind another believer's conscience based on what you feel is appropriate for yourself.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Mike Hanafee wrote:

It's too bad a believer can't read his/her Bible, come across Psalm 150, & think "wow, I can praise my Lord with everything in me!" I sure a few will be quite taken aback at the worship of Revelation 7:9-10. And I suspect ethnicity & subculture, propped up by over systemizing Scripture, has intruded on this issue.

Of coursee Mike, no one has made this suggestion so your disingenuous implication that someone has made such an assertion only serves to discredit your drive-by.

What is being examined is whether it is prescribed and if not prescribed-which it is not as I have argued and others have argued seeing its context which is to the Theocracy of Israel-whether it is wise and permissible form of ecclesiastical liturgy.

None of it is seen demonstrated in the NT, none of it is referred to any any implicit way in the NT and it is absent of the forms of corporate worship in the NT both in example and it the protocols which have been revealed.

Revelation 7:9-10 is quite irrelevant. But since you think human culture is so important, you do realize this is talking about the future of heaven and the references to "every nation" is to highlight that, per its context, it is not merely the Jews but all people. And you do know that there is but one nation in heaven, hence this anthropological reference is not to emphasize the anthropology at all but to emphasize God's grace being extended to all men.

jcoleman's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:

None of it is seen demonstrated in the NT, none of it is referred to any any implicit way in the NT and it is absent of the forms of corporate worship in the NT both in example and it the protocols which have been revealed.

Since instruments also aren't mentioned in the NT, are you going to say that they shouldn't be used either?

We're going to disagree either way, of course, but if you're not even consistent then there's no reason we should consider your argument as relevant to the discussion at hand.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

jcoleman wrote:

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Ron Bean wrote:

2. musical sound is a mode of communication, not a neutral aural backdrop
3. Christians must test all forms of communication created for worship and edification, accepting that which is true and beneficial, while rejecting that which is not.

This is what confuses me. Against what standard are we supposed to "test" musical sound? Is there a clear biblical standard or are we going to spend our days redefining "worldliness"?

The same way modesty is determined, with mature wisdom and honesty and eliminating the obvious forms of immodesty and carefully examining disputed forms. Now some might believe there is no such thing as obvious immodesty in attire and to that I would say you are ill-prepared to move on to other categories of consideration.

But now you've gone back and made it (fairly) relative. Obviously there are certain lines that cannot be crossed objectively for modesty's sake, but precisely where are those lines? Christians have differed significantly as times and cultures have changed.

In fact, Alex, I'm fairly confident that styles you find to be perfectly modest today would have been considered to be the height of immodesty less than a hundred years ago. So by your own type of test, who's to say that music hasn't changed too?

Rock may very well once have been so strongly identified with a culture of rebellion that from a purely practical perspective it had no place in the church. But that was decades ago. Today Rock isn't identified with that culture of rebellion (with the exception of those who want to extend the 60s into the present.) Today Rock (well, actually, we've progressed further, but anyway) is the background music. It has no association with cultural rebellion in my generation.

So unless you can demonstrate that certain styles of music communicate something that is objectively evil outside of culture, then you can't say that we have an objective test for music, and you can't bind another believer's conscience based on what you feel is appropriate for yourself.

Every objection is not based in the "evil" qualification of music. Something does not have to be "evil" though some of it can be, in order for one to object to it. Has it not crossed your mind that associative properties are quite relevant to something and that is much of the argument?

But as well, the products of certain things are also part of the formula. Rock music was developed by way of observation and later deliberation because those producing these musical sounds saw what it produced in its listeners. And what that was certainly was not self-control, temperance or constitutional poise.

Your point that a sound, in and of itself, does rise to a small merit but it is a very weak merit when you leave that point and move on to more sophisticated considerations which are the effects or affects of sound, particularly certain kinds of sound. It may not necessarily have a property of evil but its product, its effects and affects, can be quite counter-productive to the intentions of the spiritual life which is not emotional control or predominance, it is not one that is corporeally based, rather the Bible is quite clear that spiritual exercises are based in thought (the Word) and the Spirit; both God the Holy Spirit who enlightens us and our human spirit which has been resurrected at our rebirth. And in some forms music is a tool which can only be assigned to the workers of the non-spiritual, from valid entertainment to evil objectives, seeing that its product is never anything but the solicitation of not only non-spiritual elements and often only the calling to of our base corporeal trends which find their origin in a corrupted flesh which are not simply benign physiological responses. And this is particularly concerning when corporeal based influences via music are encouraged by alleged Spiritual leaders who teach such emotionalism to be the basis, in part or whole, of a Christian's spirituality.

Why do we not like certain sounds and why do they produce agitation? Why do little brothers and sisters know which sounds annoy their siblings and make such sound to disturb them? Oh, but the sound itself is so benign, right? Well, if it is being produced in a forest and no one hears it maybe but that ignores the entire context of these arguments which is the effect and affect of sound, particularly musical sound, in humans and specifically Christians and that principle cannot suddenly be ignored in these considerations.

I can tell you that from the above, I promise you that there will not be certain sounds in heaven that you hear now. And just because the sound can be made does not mean God considers it appropriate for dressing doctrinal communication to one another.

But I am not going to re-visit the arguments on the matter any longer. I do believe the series can be disagreed with on various points but rejecting its premise, I find, is not something easily done.

 

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