A Consideration Of Exclusive Psalmody [Sam Waldron]

Dr. Sam Waldron over at The Midwest Center For Theological Studies‘ Illumination blog has completed his series critiquing Exclusive Psalmody click the links below for more:

A Consideration Of Exclusive Psalmody [4. min readout]

In the beginning God said, let there be singing.  The act of creation is described as a time of singing.  It was when “the morning stars sang together” (Job 38:7).  Since that time God in His providence has said, Let the earth bring forth all kinds of singing and music.  He has said, Let there be love songs, laments for the dead, ballads for the brave, and let there be hymns of praise to ME!  He has also ordained that just as there should be a great variety of songs, there should be a great variety of music.  Out of His creative providence have sprung all sorts of musical instruments and all sorts of musical geniuses.  In the world we enjoy everything from brass bands to Bach and much more.  Singing and music are wonderful gifts of God made for us to enjoy.  Indeed, there is a great deal of Christian liberty with regard to this matter.  Some may push this matter of their liberty way beyond what is good for them or glorifying to God or edifying to their brethren.  Yet still without question there is great Christian liberty to enjoy these good gifts of God.  Christians may enjoy sacred concerts, the singing of biblical psalms, the talents of great musicians, Southern gospel quartets, soloists, duets, trios.  All these are good gifts to be enjoyed.  Christians with discretion may also enjoy all sorts of secular music.  Of course, care must be taken not to fill our minds with music that defiles us.  But there is a place for all these sings in the rich life that God has given to His people.

But in my preaching for Grace Reformed Baptist Church in the series, How Then Should We Worship?I am not dealing with the liberty Christians have to enjoy God’s good gifts in their own lives as they see fit.  I am not speaking of what kinds of music they may bring into their own homes or concert halls.  My concern is different.  We are asking what God has appointed about this matter for His own house.  There are many things that have a place in God’s world that do not have a place in God’s house.  We have a liberty to order our own houses that we do not have in the house of God.  The very essence of the regulative principle of the church is that God exercises a special rule over His own house that is different from His rules for life in general.  This is the reason Paul said to Timothy I write so that you may know how one ought conduct Himself in the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15). In the world we have Christian liberty within the limits of His laws.  In the church we have God dominating His own worship.

In this series, then, when I came to the required part of worship which the 1689 Baptist Confession describes as teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord, my intention was not to say much of anything about the music to be enjoyed outside of the church.  We may do as we will in the world within the limits of God’s laws, but in His house God condemns will-worship or self-made religion (Col. 2:23).  The question I set for myself was simply this:  What has God said about the singing of His praise in His worship?


What is Exclusive Psalmody and Why Should We Take the Time to Deal With It? [5 min. readout]

How must the question of Exclusive Psalmody be answered? [5 min. readout]

My first major argument against Exclusive Psalmody [6 min. readout]

My second major argument against Exclusive Psalmody [7 min. readout]

My third major argument against Exclusive Psalmody [5 min. readout]

My fourth major argument against Exclusive Psalmody [4 min. readout]

My fifth major argument against Exclusive Psalmody [12 min. readout]


Let me sum up in this my final post in my series on the subject of exclusive psalmody.   First, let me repeat my love and respect for the brethren who hold exclusive psalmody.  They are among my most beloved brothers.  Second, let me nevertheless my deep concern that their views not become prevalent among those who hold the important Reformed doctrine of the regulative principle.  Exclusive psalmody runs so contrary to basic instincts of the Christian heart and life that I fear that its prevalence would bring (as it has brought) disrepute and suspicion on the regulative principle itself.  Third, let me review my arguments against exclusive psalmody.

First, the exclusive psalmodists themselves do not actually sing inspired psalms. 

Second, we are commanded to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), that is, we must worship in the light of gospel fulfillment and not Old Testament shadows.

Third, we are commanded in Scripture to sing new songs in keeping with the progressive revelation of God’s redemption.

Fourth, exclusive psalmody is out of accord with the requirements God makes with regard to other parts of worship.

Fifth, the best interpretation of Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:16-17 leads to the conclusion that Paul was not thinking strictly of the Book of Psalms in this passage or even of inspired songs.



9 Replies to “A Consideration Of Exclusive Psalmody [Sam Waldron]”

  1. Some good responses. I love singing the Psalms and think it can be a fantastic addition to worship time with the family, but at the same time I’m not giving up my Trinity hymnal.

    1. Ya, even though I am not “Exclusive” when it comes to the
      Psalms in public worship I definitely want to promote “Inclusive” Psalm singing…
      in other words, don’t NOT sing them!

      1. Agreed, Jason. Though I feel it is totally appropriate to address (and refute) Exclusive Psalmody, I wish as much time and effort was spent addressing Exclusive Non-Psalmody.

  2. I would point out that Dr. Waldron’s article “How must the question of Exclusive Psalmody be answered?” is essentially presenting the normative principle of worship. To require someone to prove the EXCLUSIVITY of psalmody from the Bible is to require them to prove that all else is FORBIDDEN. This is the normative principle, that we must demonstrate that something is forbidden in worship.

    Consider this in the light of Reformed Baptist arguments on the regulative principle against infant baptism, that clear scriptural warrant must be provided for the inclusion of infants. Were one to apply this method against exclusive psalmody consistently to paedobaptism, one would have to conclude that clear, scriptural warrant must be provided for exclusive credobaptism. I say this as a convinced paedobaptist, and as a former Baptist, by way of analogy. If exclusive psalmody itself must be “proven” according to the RPW (i.e., show a specific passage prohibiting non-psalm materials in our worship), then exclusive credobaptism must likewise be “proven” according to the RPW (i.e., show a specific passage prohibiting infants from receiving baptism).

  3. Too, Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:16-17 are not in the setting of a church service. leading to the conclusion that Paul was not thinking strictly of stated corporate worship, called by the church’s elders. They prove too much for the EP-ers.

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