102 thoughts on “Our Daily Thread 7-19-18

  1. How can I be first at 7:37?
    Cute squirrel. But yesterday’s picture was prettier.
    (I’ve waited all morning to say that. 😉

    Good morning everyone but Jo.
    About bedtime Jo. Sweet dreams.

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  2. It’s Thursday Chas. That means my wife Cheryl works from home, so we sleep an extra hour. 🙂

    You’re right, she is cuter, and today’s is a chipmunk, so that’s saying something.

    🙂

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  3. I will just leave this here. It doesn’t fit the criteria of what ought to be sung about God, but it is a happy song. I would rather sing this than some other songs. Just so you know, last night on Facebook I scored a 100% Score on being a Baptist based on my knowledge of the Baptist Hymnal. I also have quite a bit of knowledge about the Episcopal Hymnal. Almost none of those songs are singable. Besides the Christmas songs that are only sung from Christmas Day to Epiphany (so you only have 12 days to sing them) the only one that I can sing is Eternal Father Strong to Save.

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  4. I was out scything and choring. I try to make it my goal to be done by six so I have some time before the children get up at seven. I scythed a bit longer today. That is fun. Too bad none of my children are able or willing to help. They are missing out on a beautiful time of day. But then, because they don’t, it is quite peaceful out there!

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  5. Morning! It has been a peaceful start to the day in the forest. Now the builders have arrived over at the neighbors and we will hearing the rat a tat tat of hammering, boards slamming, men yelling things at one another over the sound of a compressor…oh and the booming sound of the radio they play loudly! 🎶 📢 sounds of progress?!! 😳
    Cute chipmunk!!

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  6. Kim reminded me of something I’ve often wondered – If the Christmas hymns are such beautiful songs (and many of them are), why do churches limit their use to a few weeks a year? Granted, some of them are questionable as to being Scriptural, but so are other hymns we sing. We sing about other aspects of Jesus life, death, and resurrection all year, why not “O Holy Night” in July? After all, no one knows when Jesus was born. December 25th was chosen since it was the celebration of the birth of the sun god, Saturn, in order to get pagans to celebrate this new God they were supposed to worship after Constantine declared Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire. So let’s sing “It Came upon a Midnight Clear” in August or September, the time of year some experts say Jesus was actually born. Shepherds don’t “watch their flocks by night” in the middle of Winter, it’s too cold, even in the Middle East.

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  7. Condo Update.Today has been two months since we moved. In a way it really feels longer than that; it feels like we belong here. Sunday we attended services at both of our churches; in the morning we attended the one up north where we are officially still members; in the evening, our church here (which we are joining). Both felt like “our” church.

    Before we moved in, we had flooring laid throughout, we cleaned, and we (with help from church friends) painted the big room (which we have subdivided into the living room and my office and craft space) and our master bedroom; since moving in, we have stripped wallpaper in one bathroom and painted half of it, and we painted the second bedroom (his studio) and the hall. Nothing else is ready to paint, since all but one room of the rest still has wallpaper. Friends from church planned to install the vanities and sinks, and toilets, before we moved in; but the toilets failed to arrive and one vanity wouldn’t fit in the bathroom we wanted it in, and they didn’t know if we would switch which bathroom got which. Instead we hired a plumber to work with the pipes and make it fit–but unfortunately it is still just a wee bit off, so we are still waiting on the master vanity’s complete installation (we now have the proper pipes, though), and then we will have both vanities and both toilets in place. There is just a little more cleaning needed in one bathroom before we can finish painting the wall (but basically my husband and I are both on the injured list), and the other one has some horrible wallpaper paste, so that too is waiting to be painted. We have new towel racks, medicine cabinet, and all the other little fixtures a bathroom takes, but they’re waiting on paint.

    He put together Ikea Kallax units in my craft area and his studio (and injured his elbow in doing so), and that allowed us to open and put away most of the rest of the stuff in boxes, though we still need another bookcase or two before we can put away quite all of it. And we need to get closet organizers before I can get quite all of my clothes put away. Last week we finally set up the TV in the family room (we were finally able to get to it) and that allowed us to put away a whole bunch of boxes of DVDs and CDs. The family room still has a lot of boxes of things needing to be assembled or put up (lights, towel rocks, etc.) and things we need to sell, and we still have boxes of stuff around, but we’re most of the way there. We also still need to order a dining room table, get an electrician to do several things, and get the new windows installed.

    Eventually (ideally later this summer or fall) we need to remove the wallpaper from the kitchen, one wall of the dining room, the wall behind the piano, and the second bathroom, and paint those areas, and also paint the family room (which has half paneling and half plain wall, but which has too much “stuff” in it to get to the walls just yet).

    So it’s still a little bit of a work in progress, but except for the wallpaper and the stuff we ourselves cannot do (like the windows and the electricity stuff, both of which we are hiring done), we are 95% done. It’s still a little bit of a mess, but nothing like the towering boxes that we had two months ago.

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  8. Hi Cheryl, Peter L. Thanks for your comments from yesterday. I hope folks don’t mind my continuing the discussion by replying, but I didn’t get the chance earlier.

    I believe Scripture, in the OT and NT, teaches we are to worship God only in the manner he has prescribed for us. There are two, and only two, sacraments, because that is what God has ordained. Any other is a pretense. God graciously gave his church an entire song book in the Psalms, and directed his people sing from it. 2 Chron 29:30 reads, “Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.” The “words of David, and of Asaph the seer” is clearly a reference to the Psalter. (You can correct me if you’re aware of a competing view on that). This instruction was given as “the commandment of the LORD by his prophets” (v.25). You’ll recall Hezekiah was one of the good kings; this instruction on singing the Psalms was integral to his cleaning up the sorry state of worship occurring in Judah. The work was done so that “the service of the house of the LORD was set in order” (v. 35). It would have been a grievous sin had the Levites responded to this command by singing uninspired songs, even had they included the inspired Psalter; certainly, they would remember the mistake of Nadab and Abihu. On what premise should we assume we are permitted to go beyond what God has prescribed for us to sing?

    It may be that the word “psalm” occurs at various points in the OT (I don’t see it in the places you referenced, but it may be in others). Are you aware of commands directing God’s people to sing psalms not in the Psalter?

    Re. Colossians 3:16 from the KJV: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

    I (and, more importantly, many others wiser and more learned than I in church history) believe the terms psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs refer only to the Psalter. The grouping of the terms is consonant with other points in Scripture where a single idea is described by connecting synonyms, such as Deut 5:31, “The commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments…,” 2 Cor 12:12, “Signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds…” etc. I’m not aware of controversy about the term “psalms” in Col 3 as referring to only to songs from the book of Psalms, but I’m open to look at alternatives. I imagine you know the Septuagint (LXX for short) was the Greek version of the OT used by Jesus and the apostles. It was widely circulated (relatively speaking) at the time of Christ. Scripture-writing apostles often used the Septuagint for OT quotations. It was in very common use. In the Psalms, the LXX translation makes frequent use of the words ‘psalms,’ ‘hymns,’ and ‘songs’ within Psalms, as inspired titles of particular Psalms, and in reference to the entire Psalter. Sometimes it compounds the words in a title, like “a psalm of a song” or “a song of a hymn” and the like. Psalm 76 of the LXX includes all the words: “For the end, among the Hymns, a Psalm for Asaph; a Song for the Assyrian. God is known in Judea: his name is great in Israel.” The terms were what the early church recognized as the Psalter. It’s what God’s people had sung for centuries.

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  9. Hi Roscuro. I appreciate your thoughts posted about worship yesterday. I don’t believe there’s any reduction to absurdity goin’ on with the exclusive Pslams position. That argument isn’t built on the premise that songs sung during worship must be inspired–that is only a byproduct of the more foundational tenet that, simply, God has *commanded* only that Psalms be sung in a constituted worship service. We don’t have a Book of Prayer or Book of Sermons in the Bible that God has pointed to specifically for verbatim use in a service. We have that with the Psalms.

    Briefly, as I need to be away for a bit, but David was a prophet. When faithfully fulfilling his duties as such, he could authorize additions to modes of worship, as in the verses you alluded to yesterday, eg. 1 Chron 16 and the instruments added to praises and appointing Levites to new functions. In that instance, he spoke for God as a prophet.

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  10. Well, I’ll just have to post a house update then.

    My gardener and a cousin of his spent most of the day here yesterday removing the deep, gnarly honeysuckle roots that were embedded right next to the south side of the house (I love the climbing plant, it’s beautiful and attracts hummingbirds, but it is so invasive and has caused its share of damage to my wood window casings on that side of the house; it’ll no doubt make appearances forever in my yard, but it had to be cut back and roots removed so that side of the house could be painted). It was hard work for them and one of the roots had wrapped around the gas meter so that was especially stubborn to get out (and it’s the one root they need to finish off today).

    But more exciting, they also replaced the fallen-down front-facing fence section & gate that has been in bad shape for years. A tree limb had grown in between a couple of the gate boards rendering the gate useless and when painters cut that out several weeks ago the whole section just collapsed — we’ve had partitions and a tarp up ever since.

    Now? There’s a gorgeous redwood fence & gate in its place. They guys are coming back today to finish off the hardware and roots, then that’ll be done.

    My painter, meanwhile, is still having to tend to his 86-year-old mom who is recovering very slowly from a bad fall. He’s hoping to re-start the painting effort on Monday but it’s all iff-y. Kind of an awkward situation as this painting now will stretch out into the unforeseeable future, I’m afraid, but I paid him half up front and have officially ‘hired’ him, so unless he feels he just can’t really complete the commitment we’re a bit stuck. He hates leaving his mom alone, which is understandable, and is up throughout the nights to check on her so he’s really tired. Seems like they could bring in a part-time aide with Medicare, but maybe not. He’s trying to get neighbors to help, but so far hasn’t lined people up, he said.

    He had wanted to build the new fence and gate and seemed disappointed I’d gotten that done, but I really don’t want him distracted with anything else when he gets back to work, I just want him to focus on painting. And he’s a slow worker anyway so the gate and fence would have taken him weeks, I’m afraid.

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  11. I was at the dentist yesterday (they finally had a cancellation to get me in for my cleaning appt which I’d canceled months ago due to a work conflict). While I was there, I overheard someone in the office saying that the dentist (who is Croatian-American) had been standing out on the corner during the World Cup playoffs wearing a “tooth” costume and waving his Croatian flag.

    It sounded just like something he’d do.

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  12. I don’t consider “Joy to the World” as a Christmas song, but one referring to eh Second Coming, especially with the last verse: “He rules the earth with truth and grace…”

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  13. I believe that was the composer’s intent — but it is obviously a song sung (usually) only at Christmas. I love hearing it throughout the year and still think it applies beautifully also to Christ’s first coming. He now rules, amen?

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  14. The music group my husband belongs to sings, “I’ll Fly Away” quite often. It is a crowd pleaser, since most people can sing the chorus. They sing many of those. It is fun to watch some of the folks in nursing homes come alive during songs like these.

    I did read that the author of the song was actually working in a long row in a garden at the time and thought he would like to fly away like a bird from that hot, back breaking work. Songs can be born from many different experiences and then turned into something else entirely.

    I am grateful we are made in God’s image, which includes being creative. Some are gifted in music and in writing beautiful words. I am grateful for them.

    I would have had to be on both sides of the soccer match according to my DNA. 😉

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  15. “Jesus Loves Me” is not a children’s song, but usually thought as such. I am glad we do not do Christmas Carols year round. That makes them even more special. God was so careful to make lots of feasts for various times of the years. We need the reminders.

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  16. SP, my RP church isn’t going to be adding the singing of the Lord’s Prayer anytime soon, nor are most other churches going to revert to Scripture only, let alone Psalms only. But no, I just cannot find it compelling that the threefold use of “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,” even if it does specifically refer to the Psalms, thereby forbids the singing of other Scripture passages. A command to sing “Psalms,” even a command meant to be restrictive, can still be obeyed by singing “psalms” from other portions of Scripture. By the time “sacred songs” and “hymns” are added, certainly any song from within the pages of Scripture is covered. I see no possible logical or biblical argument saying otherwise, sorry.

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  17. Kim’s 9:01 reminded me of something.
    I started a brouhaha yesterday when I mentioned “In the Garden”. I didn’t participate because I think that regardless of the style and situation of the music, it all depends on the state of the heart when singing.
    But Kim’s “I’ll Fly Away” reminded me of the country version of “In the Garden”
    I tried to download it from ITunes but couldn’t. Anyhow, “Have a little Talk with Jesus” is the country version of “In the Garden” and it says the same thing.

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  18. Chas, what does the “state of our heart” have to do with whether something is true? That is a “truth is subjective” argument, and I suspect that in other matters you would find it a bad argument. (E.g., if an unmarried couple told you they “felt like in God’s eyes they were already married” or a homosexual couple told you that they “knew in their hearts that God approved” of their love and therefore of their sexual expression, you would tell them that their hearts can be deceptive.)

    I hesitate ever to challenge you directly, and mean to do so respectfully as I do so now. But that really is a sub-Christian argument.

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  19. No need to apologize, Cheryl. For my part, I don’t find a logical or biblical argument that we can *add* to what God has instructed for us regarding worship. In fact, on your assumption, I don’t know why puppets, kazoos, or anything else we might fancy should be proscribed in worship. I appreciate the discussion.

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  20. Cheryl, I think the “state of the heart” means where we stand, in Christ or not. If we are singing to glorify God, it is the same as when we are doing any other task.
    A separate thought than whether or not singing Psalms only in a church situation.

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  21. I met Grandpa Jone in the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, AR when I was about 14. A group of us yelled, “What’s for supper Grandpa” and he stopped in the lobby, looked up at us and rattled it off. Somewhere I have a picture taken with him.

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  22. Well due to this conversation I sure have been singing In The Garden in my head an awful lot lately!
    I certainly do not believe sinful behavior such as living with someone outside of marriage or homosexual behavior can be equated with what Chas was trying to convey. Sorry but I was taken aback by that one…
    I read the back story of how In The Garden was written. While I do not have the advantage of actually knowing the author, it was said he had a vision of Mary walking in the Garden with Jesus which prompted his writing of the song. Should it be included in the hymnal? Some felt it should and there are hymnals which do not include the song. I have never felt it to be blasphemous nor heretical….just a song of the love the Saviour has for those whom He gave His life….My Dad certainly sang it with that knowing in his heart….

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  23. Thanx Kim. I’m not going to get into he issue, take it as you will. But I like the song. As well as “In the Garden”.

    The way I heard it, Lulu Roman was a regular on Hee Haw. She got involved in drugs and was off the program for a while. While recovering, she found the Lord and was saved. Hee Haw wanted her back and she made them agree to a hymn in every program. Hence, the Hee Haw quartet. If you see re-runs, you notice the earlier Hee Haw issues don’t have hymns.

    As I said, it’s the same as “In the Garden”. Different instruments, different beat. Same meaning.

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  24. You know, Cheryl, on the advice of a painter friend, we sealed the wallpaper with a white paint and then painted over it. We didn’t remove it.

    The bathroom still looks good 18 years later and no one has ever noticed wallpaper is under the paint.

    Just an idea.

    Donna– can the painter bring his mother to your house while he paints?

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  25. SP, you aren’t hearing me. I am not speaking about adding to what God has commanded. You are saying (I assume) that it is WRONG to sing Scripture in church if it doesn’t happen to be part of the book of Psalms. How is that different from saying it has to be the Psalms in the original language, if the command to sing Psalms is that precise? I am saying that the burden is on you to prove that those words can only mean poetry within the book of Psalms, not poetry of the exact same sorts in other places in Scripture.

    I am reminded of a very conservative “Bible college” where one of my brothers took some courses. I looked at their website and saw that they forbade having a Bible on campus that was in English but in any version other than the KJV, and I thought how ironic that a Bible can be “contraband” in America . . . on a campus that called itself a Bible college and claimed to be teaching graduate-level courses. You are saying (if I read you right) that it is wrong to sing Scripture in church. Do I read you right?

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  26. I am not meaning to say that Chas would justify sin as long as our hearts see the sin as acceptable . . . just that the human heart (even the regenerate human heart) is not a good judge of truth or of whether something is acceptable to God. In Nancy Jill’s words, I was “taken aback” by the assertion of the state of the heart as a relevant issue in terms of truth, but perhaps I misread him. Perhaps he was saying that the heart can be “wrong” in singing truth, not that the heart being “right” makes a heretical song acceptable. If he means only that the heart being wrong means it isn’t true worship, then I agree. The heart being “right” making otherwise incorrect worship acceptable is an unbiblical argument–see what happened to the man who stabilized the ark when it was about to fall. We have no evidence whatsoever that his heart was wrong–but God is so zealous for truth that he was killed anyway.

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  27. Michelle, we have seen wallpaper that has been painted over–I had some in my house in Nashville–and usually the seam shows. And the wallpaper is that much harder to remove. In this particular case, it wouldn’t work, anyway. The wallpaper that is in the kitchen (and that spills over a little bit into adjoining rooms, such as one wall of the dining room) should come down easily, so there is no need for special treatment. But what is in the bathroom is heavily textured (lines) and in many places it’s already coming off the wall. And before the vanity was put in, I tore the wallpaper that was behind it off the wall as far up as the light–leaving the wallpaper paste because nothing I’ve tried on it has even softened it, but figuring I at least had the wallpaper itself. So in the bathroom it really will need to come down, but the challenge will be figuring out how. If my sister-in-law were still alive, I’d ask her to come up and help me, but she isn’t.

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  28. Always, somebody, Kare….

    We have been out piling our dried hay in mows. The children are starting to take interest. One asked if she could get up and help at five but we settled on six. That would be ten year old.

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  29. I once saw a dining room that had flocked wall paper painted over in a white shade. It was beautiful, because the texture of the wall paper subtlety showed through.

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  30. Cheryl, I’m not sure what’s difficult to follow. God instructs his people to sing Psalms in corporate worship. He doesn’t instruct them to sing any other Scripture. If we intend to add to what God has commanded by including non-Psalter songs or uninspired hymns, then WE (that is, YOU) need to justify that Biblically. Of if you disagree, you’d need to explain that disagreement. So yes, I’m saying it’s wrong to sing Scripture in formally constituted worship if it’s not from the Psalter. I thought I addressed how the command pertained only to the Psalms above–1 Chron 29:30 and surrounding, and how (and why) Col 3:16 is reference to the Psalter. It was a brief synopsis, sure, but this is an internet forum. I thought you might have asked for further clarity, or made arguments attempting refutation, but maybe you didn’t notice my posts, breezed through them, or just not felt like taking on their content. Now it looks like you’re asking me to follow you somewhere else on the map with the original language thing. I’m not sure whether and how you want conversation to go here.

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  31. Cheryl, thanks for that link to the Heidelblog. I didn’t realize it was such a new discussion. I think the site is basically run by Scott Clark? I know he’s a big contributor there. He spoke at a conference at my church one year. It looks like he’s a Psalms-only guy. What I do know about his is he’s one of the least irenic of the well-known Reformed folks out there. Almost unbearable, and many of his discussions on that board bear out my opinion, I believe. So if anyone goes there and notices the guy’s kind of…unpleasant…I hope you won’t hold it against the EP position.

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  32. Cheryl, I have to disagree that the regenerate human heart is not a good judge of truth. Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, “and he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

    On that note, I had the privilege of hearing Pastor A preach more than once on the passage in Ephesians 5:18-21, both during his series on the work of the Holy Spirit and while preaching verse by verse through the book of Ephesians. It is always best to consider a verse in its context, and the basis for verse 19, where it speaks of singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, is verse 18: And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit;. Pastor A pointed out that this verse is a deliberate contrast. Being filled with wine can produce a temporary sense of wellbeing, and maybe even inspire one to sing, but there is an inevitable letdown. Paul is contrasting the temporal nature of the intoxication of wine with the eternal joy of being filled with the Holy Spirit. In the filling of the Holy Spirit, we can worship God in spirit and in truth, and as Pastor A also pointed out, this true singing begins in our heart – singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord – and proceeds outward to be shared with those with whom we worship, so that the passage is speaking of both private and corporate worship. Indeed, the entire passage of verses 18-21 is giving a general overview of the Christian way of life that is accomplished by walking in the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is the way we not only worship correctly, but also fulfill the instructions that follow, namely, the counsel to wives and husbands (5:22-33), to fathers and children (6:1-4), and to servants and masters (6:5-9).

    While special revelation no longer happens since the death of the apostles, the Spirit does still apply the word of God to the hearts of Christians, teaching them how to walk in the age in which God has decreed that they should live. It is the work of the Spirit which gives ability to pastors, teachers, evangelists, and the other gifted individuals given to the Church, to expound and share the word of God with practical application to the age, although their sermons are never considered infallible as the Scriptures are. Hymns have been written throughout Church history for much the same purpose, an application of the Scriptures for the age in which the writers live. Many of the hymn writers have in fact been pastors, and others have been teachers of the Bible. Isaac Watts was an ordained minister, and so was Charles Wesley, who were among the greatest hymn writers in modern English – Watts wrote ‘Joy to the world’, ‘Come we that love the Lord’, and ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’, to name just a few; while Wesley wrote ‘And can it be’, ‘Arise, my soul, arise’, and ‘Hark, the herald angels sing’, among many more. These were hymns and spiritual songs which came to their hearts as the Spirit applied the Word to their lives, and they shared these poems with the rest of believers as Paul taught us to in Ephesian 5:18-21.

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  33. Sure thing, mumsee. If you, or anyone else is interested, here’s a brief summary of the view. It should be known that it’s not some new theological discovery, but a practice that has been held by many believers in church history, though less so today. But of course, today, when we know so much better, we have banjos and loud drums and shallow, uninspired ditties performed by the “church band” to provide us our worship, so what’cha gonna do?

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  34. It would, as you said, end the constant controversy over the validity of different hymns and songs, but the music would become the controversy.
    “That is too loud, or quiet, or boring, or or or….”

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  35. Cheryl, I have heard both DIF and plain water and vinegar work well to get off wall paper. I believe I have used both, but it has been a lot of years. Both are recommended by my daughter who does much of this type of thing. I will be doing it in the winter of some point to my long overdue bathroom.

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  36. That’s true, Mumsee. But regardless of the position one believes is Biblical, there can be difficult matters to think through. This whole discussion started between two *non*-EPers having a (friendly) back and forth about what constitutes acceptable music in worship.

    Hi Chas. To which discussion are you referring?

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  37. Water and fabric softener on wallpaper with a paint scraper.

    Solar, you and I shall agree to disagree. I like my “cake” with a little frosting.
    God made us for His enjoyment. I think He probably even likes to hear me sing.

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  38. ‘ This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine…..won’t let Solar blow it out. NO! Won’t let Solar blow it out…..

    All in good humor Solar

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  39. That’s cool, KimH. I enjoy many uninspired songs intended to praise God. I listen to and sing them often. I’ll just say that it’s possible Nadab and Abihu may have wanted their cake with a little frosting, but it wasn’t their call to make.

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  40. Chas, for me, when I tell my children to do something, I am happier if they try than if they don’t try at all. But I am happiest when they do it the way I tell them to.

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  41. Re the wallpaper, we had a bottle of Diff, the gel kind, which was simply messy, and so my husband bought a steamer, which worked really well in the other bathroom and will, we imagine, work well in the kitchen. But it didn’t soften the hard crusty paste in this bathroom, nor did warm water with a bit of vinegar, nor did the Diff.

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  42. SP, my husband is a big fan of Scott Clark, and my husband is sacred text only (not EP) and has stated that as also being Clark’s position.

    I don’t find that one verse at all compelling as to why other psalms within Scripture cannot possibly be in view, and since you are the only person (now or in church history) I’ve ever heard arguing that position, it needs more than “To me, this verse can only possibly refer to this” to be convincing. The RP only sing from the Psalter, but I have not heard whether they as a denomination believe that other Scripture texts are “wrong” or whether their individual pastors do. Since you also have a one-verse-only argument on another position (only Christians in government) that is less than convincing, I’m not inclined to take your word for it over that of theologians and my husband (who is a lay theologian and an ordained elder).

    I did now read what you intended to post as a link. Same argument. At any rate, I’m not an elder and won’t be making any decisions about what we do or don’t sing, and my choices in churches are between Psalms only and Psalms and hymns, not between Psalms and other sacred texts, so it’s pretty much an academic argument. I would not choose to attend a church that included such flippant music as “Shine, Jesus Shine” or who referred to those who care about the theological quality of the music as being involved in “worship wars.” I think that in choosing to appease “least common denominator” in singing, churches have ceded more than they can ever imagine, and many pastors will be held accountable for that. But a church that allows the Lord’s Prayer or the song of Simeon to be sung is not compromising with some modernist plot.

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  43. Roscuro, I wasn’t meaning to say whether the heart is a “judge” of truth. I would still argue that it is an inaccurate judge, or we wouldn’t all be arguing from different positions in this thread alone. But that wasn’t what I was saying. I was saying that having the right heart doesn’t sanctify the wrong thing. Let’s say, for instance, that a bold young pastor really cares about lost people in his city, and so he brings in innovation in the worship service in order to bring them in. His “heart” may be every bit as right as was the heart of the man steadying the ark. Let’s say he brings in such songs as “Shine Jesus Shine” and he really loves Jesus and his heart feels really good as he leads the congregation in singing it . . . does that make it OK? I’ve known people who had particularly holy looks on their faces during congregational singing, but who shocked everyone by leaving the church for sin.

    Or to bring an example closer to home, it seems like you have said that your parents’ heart was right as they turned your family toward Gothard. It is better that they acted out of love for God and for you than otherwise . . . but does the wrong choice with the right heart purify the action or completely change the end result?

    Today there are people who claim to be Christians who are arguing in the name of Christ that homosexuals who love each other can marry and have a godly marriage. I won’t argue whether each such person’s heart is or is not right; only God can see that. The heart simply is not ours to judge–probably even our own heart. But we can judge whether something is or isn’t truth. And so we can say that the heart of such teachers isn’t really relevant, except to God. Nor does it matter if a false doctrine taught from the pulpit, or music with serious error in it, or a heretical book, makes you “feel” good. Our heart is not the measure of truth. Mormons feel a “burning in the bosom” that they believe confirms their doctrine. We evangelicals reject such a truth measure.

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  44. Michelle, interesting thought worth pursuing (about bringing painter’s mom over here while he works). I suspect she likes being home and insists she’s just fine there. And there might be concerns of her falling over here, esp considering it’s an unfamiliar property with steps here and there around it, even in the back, and 2 dogs and a cat (though the cat would likely stay clear).

    Wallpaper — I have some in the kitchen that will someday come off. But that task is on the back burner for now.

    I had a meeting in LB I had to attend and when I returned I see that the workers put up the fence hardware. That all looks SO nice now. I expect they’ll be back, there’s still that crazy root that’s wrapped itself around the gas meter that they couldn’t dislodge yesterday. They probably had some gardening jobs to do in between.

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  45. Well you sure told me, Cheryl! You should know that there are and have been many Christians that hold to exclusive Psalmody, and it is the official position of the RP denomination. I didn’t and wouldn’t ask you to just take my word on the argument. Like I said, it was a brief explanation. You don’t seem particularly interested in *asking* about it, and when you do, you don’t really engage in the reply I provide. You even kind of get huffy, for reasons unbeknownst to me. That’s fine. Thanks for the exchange.

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  46. What is currently considered the best published Psalter? We used one in my former church that was pretty roundly disliked by those with classical music backgrounds, they felt it was an awkward pairing of music (usually tunes to the more popular hymns as I recall).

    But that was some years ago (it was new then) so wondering what’s been published since (or before) that would be considered a worthy and usable reference these days.

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  47. Hi DJ. The RPCNA has a couple fairly widely used Psalters–an older one, and a similar one revising the earlier one, published 5 or so years ago. They’re called “The Book of Psalms for Singing” and “The Book of Psalms for Worship.” They’re OK, IMO. Many tunes are beautiful; others are hard to sing. I don’t think it’s necessary to be so concerned with diversity of tunes that any Psalm should be hard to sing, so I think they missed the boat on that aspect. The Scottish Metrical Psalter is both enjoyable as reading/memorization material, and for singing. All songs can be set to many common, familiar, or otherwise easy to sing tunes.

    On that note, another nice effect of singing Psalms regularly is that it serves as an aid to memorization. While it’s true that the translation may falter somewhat at certain points in order to establish rhyme or meter, the gist of the Psalm is usually quite sufficient for edification. My kids can call on many–I’d say neighborhood of 50–Psalms from memory to meditate on, pray, or apply to some life situation or other.

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  48. Here’s a song being sung from the Scottish Psalter. The tune is also in the RPCNA book(s). It’s one of my favorites to sing. Singing God’s words to Him; few things better than that…

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  49. SP, I sure didn’t mean to get “huffy.” To me, whether or not “Psalms” includes poetry in Scripture outside the psalter is an esoteric difference, one on which I don’t need to hold a position. It’s like the difference between sprinkling and pouring, not the difference between sprinkling infants and immersing adults. My husband has a position, and I’m under his authority and that of my church. I do think that the verse in question could logically be taken to include other poetry in Scripture–but my opinion on the issue simply doesn’t matter. My church is never going to ask me whether or not they should add “Song of Simeon” to the rear of the Psalter; should they ever choose to do so, it would not be a sin for me to sing it–it’s straight from Scripture. When an issue has had disagreement for centuries from learned men, I don’t tend to see myself as needing to fine-tune my own position. And whether or not “Psalms” can include other passages in Scripture seems far removed from the question being discussed on here, which is whether or not it is acceptable to sing in the service songs of very questionable theology just because they make people nostalgic.

    Seeing the end result of Arminian doctrine (“it’s your fault if your evangelistic sales pitch isn’t accepted by your neighbor”) chased me into the Reformed faith; likewise, seeing churches (and individual Christians) defend really bad songs as long as they evoke enough sentiment has made me see the wisdom of the “Scripture alone” position (though I myself love “Immortal, Invisible” and many others of the grand old hymns). I don’t see a “Book of Psalms only” position in Scripture, but practically speaking it simply doesn’t matter. Not knowing the original languages, and dealing with a matter in which the experts disagree, I can never become an expert on this matter, and thus I am content in choosing churches with wise elders and allowing them to make such decisions. When I see that they are making foolish, unbiblical decisions, I speak to them privately and if need be I prepare to leave the church. I see no possible way that use or non-use of “Song of Simeon” could ever rise to the level of having a private conversation with the pastor or leaving the church; it is at best a tertiary matter, and thus one I only vaguely care about.

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  50. Hi Cheryl. I do find your autobiographical information interesting, and had I had a different impression of what this discussion was about, I would probably want to ask you a bunch of questions about your welfare, and wish the best to you, your husband, and your church. But we were having a discussion about what content is proper to sing in a worship service, so your saying that the issue isn’t important (to you, I’m guessing; I don’t think you’d have the audacity to beg the question/speak for others who find the question about what God commands concerning worship to be unimportant), that’s what I was speaking to. You replied to my original comment on the matter, so I figured it was important to you in some way or other, even if just a matter for online conversation. Hence, my replies. Seeing as that’s not the case, I’m not really understanding why you did address me at all on the topic. So I guess I’ll just repeat that I’m hopeful and confident you are being well-fed in your church, and wish you the best.

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  51. Cheryl, perhaps the reason we are taking all different positions on this topic is because it is one that is not essential to salvation and sanctification, and therefore, there is room for differing opinions. In the list you gave which started this discussion, the things several of us agreed would be deal breakers are all non-negotiables, things which pertain to the essence of Christianity. Worship music is not one of those things. Certainly, if the worship songs actively blasphemed the person of Christ, it would be unacceptable, but there is a difference between what is evil and what is simply a poor choice of words or music.

    I have said many times in many way that I would like to see better quality of music in the Church. I simply do not regard it as being on par in importance with improper observance of communion, or failing to preach from the Bible, or admitting into membership those living in fornication. Perhaps I can put poorly written choruses into perspective because from my youth I have studied the history of Church music. In Isaac Watts’ youth, the rendered of Psalms into English verse was often of very poor quality. Psalm 133:2 was rendered thusly:
    ‘Tis like the precious ointment
    Down Aaron’s beard did go;
    Down Aaron’s beard it downward went
    His garments skirts unto.

    Or this hilariously awful rendering of Psalm 74:10-11 in a psalter published by Sternhold and Hopkins:
    Why dost thou withdraw thy hand back
    And hide it in thy lappe?
    O pluck it out and be not slack
    To give thy foes a rappe.
    Or this piece of doggerel, said to be by Cotton Mather, appearing to be an attempted rendering of Psalm 148:7
    Ye monsters of the bubbling deep
    Your Master’s praises spout;
    Up from the sands ye coddlings peep,
    and wag your tails about.

    Watts was challenged by his father to improve the poor quality of the songs sung in worship, which he did. I imagine, if the church has survived one period of awful poetry sung in church, it will survive another.

    You use the example of my parents’ decision to join ATI to try to argue that the regenerate heart can still make bad decisions. I am not sure that I appreciate to attempt to bring the argument, as you say, closer to home. You do not know my parents. They are wise, with the wisdom of children of God. In worldly matters, they are simple and direct, generous to a fault, and eager to think well of others. They did not look for wolf in one who claimed to be a sheep. If the sheep are led astray by a wolf in disguise, it is not the sheep’s hearts which are at fault.

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  52. I would add that it was my parents’ wisdom which allowed them to continue in their simple faith unshackled by the myriad rules of ATI, and to continue attending the church pastored by Pastor A, who had openly critiqued Bill Gothard’s theology (criticism of Gothard’s teaching by pastors was something that ATI would have encouraged its members to leave over); so that between my parents’ example of an active yet humble Christian way of life and Pastor A’s solid teaching, I was able to distinguish true Christianity from the legalistic imitation of ATI, and retained my faith when other of my peers in the program, whose parents were not so sincere and honest in their convictions, have walked away from Christianity.

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  53. I spent some time hanging out on the sidewalk with the neighbors late this afternoon. The tamale guy rolled through (it’s a very local feature, guys with rolling carts of hot, homemade tamales yelling Ta-MA-les! Ta-MA-les! as they wheel through the neighborhoods). My neighbor bought a few for dinner as she didn’t feel like cooking.

    And the other neighbor, a longshoreman named Lucky, was joined by the cat that came with their house when they moved in a few years ago. Her name is “Mr. Kitty.”

    He did say he spotted a coyote in the canyon that runs next to our houses the other day, no surprise there.

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  54. That’s cool, DJ. I was in an OP church a number of years ago. The local congregation decided to be EP, which, at least at the time, the denomination condoned (or whatever the correct theological term for it is). We used the red Psalm book (published by the RPCNA and which was only Psalms) for the morning service, and the Trinity for the night service, which, I guess, was somehow not a constituted “worship service,” according to the pastor and elder. I liked singing from it. “Christ Shall Have Dominion” was one of my faves.

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  55. Yes, I believe our church also wound up going Psalms only but that was right around the time I was transferring to a larger OPC sister church.

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  56. SP, I never said it isn’t important what we sing in a worship service. If I thought that, I wouldn’t have been one of the most frequent commenters on this subject (if not the most frequent) the last couple of days, and I would not have been praying about this conversation in between posting.

    But let’s look for a moment at what is sung in worship services in America today, in a continuum:

    * outright heresy
    * songs like “Shine, Jesus Shine” that have no biblical merit and that trivialize
    * songs such as “In the Garden” that are sentimental but have no particular value
    * songs such as “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” which (as far as I can think of) have no error, but if they were dropped from the corpus wouldn’t be a huge loss
    * hymns such as “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” that teach doctrine and encourage the saints, but aren’t directly based on Scripture
    * hymns that are based on Scripture (say a compilation of Psalms) but not a direct translation of any one
    * songs that are directly from Scripture, but not from a Psalm, such as “Song of Simeon” or the Lord’s Prayer
    * Psalms that are poorly translated or virtually unsingable
    * Psalms that are well translated and singable

    I know nothing at all about you, whether you are married or single, young or old, which frankly makes it hard for me to interact with you–you’re just a stranger on a blog who pops in for only two subjects and pops out again. But if you had a daughter who was dating someone from a Scripture only church, would you refuse to give her in marriage as being unequally yoked? By the time we are getting to the detail of whether or not one can sing psalms that aren’t in the psalter, it is very much an intramural debate–like the debate between sprinkling and pouring. It isn’t a secondary issue, but a tertiary one. It’s not that what we sing doesn’t matter–it does. It’s that by the time we get to the details like which Scriptures we can sing, that is a matter for theologians and elders and they won’t be consulting me anyway.

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  57. DJ, I didn’t like that red Trinity Psalter at all. A couple of denominations recently came together, a lengthy process, to produce a psalter hymnal (a psalter in the front, hymnal in the back, followed by a bunch of different creeds) and it looks like a much better replacement. https://www.gcp.org/ProductDetail.aspx?Item=TPH1010 My husband was given a PDF file of the work in progress a few years ago, and it was neat to be able to sing from it this past Sunday, though I wasn’t able to spend a whole lot of time with it. But my church up north used it to replace both the Trinity Psalter (with its often weird wording) and the Trinity Hymnal (which included some very iffy hymns).

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  58. Roscuro, I am sorry if I seemed to suggest your parents aren’t wise. That wasn’t my point, and perhaps it was a bad example. My own parents didn’t trust Gothard and they were alert to error . . . but so alert to “error” that we church-hopped continually and I never had the experience of a “home church.” We lived in the same house for 15 years, and I attended the same school from first to eighth grade (except the first month of first grade) . . . but our time in a single church was weeks or months or occasionally a year or two. Christians err, and our hearts are not trustworthy.

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  59. Cheryl, the veracity of EP doesn’t depend on who I want my daughter to marry. These things can be discussed entirely without reference to any biographical information about you, or about me. I don’t understand your frequent introduction of those aspects in the least.

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  60. I would suggest that In The Garden may not have “value” to some, but to some that hymn meant something to them…like my Dad….and I knew my Dad and knew his heart and relationship to our Lord…..
    We attended an RPCNA for a while…acapella singing from The Psalter….the singing/worship was beautiful and meaningful. However we did not believe it was the only acceptable to our Lord as worship. We loved the dear folk in that church deeply and it was difficult to leave them, yet we just felt we needed to quietly leave. We did have a “departing coffee” with the head elder and his wife…there were no bad feelings in our departure…it was just time for us to go.

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  61. you’re just a stranger on a blog who pops in for only two subjects and pops out again.

    This is what’s known as an ad hominem argument. Like, “You’re a Yale graduate; I take what you say with a grain of salt.” I don’t mind any implication about my character. I recognize I post here anonymously, and that may be reason to take what I say less seriously. And since I post here anonymously, I can only say, “what do I care”? I don’t care if someone thinks I, SolarPancake (or whatever I’m calling myself) am putting my family at grave risk. This is just some internet chat area. We believers are called to test what we hear against the Scriptures. If we feel we need to abdicate this or that point of doctrine to elders and theologians more learned than us, then it’s fine if we do that. But other folks may believe (maybe even wrongly) that we have warrant from Scripture to be conversant with some subjects. We can recognize that differences on those subjects aren’t matters of salvation; but we can also (maybe even rightly) believe those matters can be discussed. If a person doesn’t want to discuss, that’s cool; if another does, that seems cool to me, too.

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  62. Cheryl, you are forgiven and were forgiven before; I just needed to let you know that my parents were not what you seemed to think they might be. Christians err, for if we quench the Spirit, we can make bad or foolish choices, and our flesh is still fallen, so that we can sin; but our hearts have been changed, for He has taken our hearts of stone and given us hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

    The first and third lines along with the chorus of ‘Great is thy faithfulness’ are lifted almost verbatim from Jeremiah’s Lamentations (3:22-23):
    It is of the Lords mercies that we are not consumed,
    because his compassions fail not.
    They are new every morning:
    Great is Thy faithfulness.

    The rest of the first verse of ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ comes from James 1:17:
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
    The second verse of the hymn is both a summary of Psalm 147, which speaks of God’s control over the seasons and outer space, and also a reference to Genesis 1:14, where God creates the sun, moon, and stars to mark time, and Genesis 8:22, where God swears that the seasons will never cease while the earth remains – Psalm 147 is in essence a poetic summation of those two passages in Genesis.
    The third verse of ‘Great is Thy faithfulness’ references Jesus’ promises to give us peace and to abide with us in John 14, among others. The hymn is full of Scripture, combined together in the way a wise pastor will use cross references when preaching a sermon from a main text.

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  63. Cheryl, the new Trinity Psalter Hymnal looks good, I hadn’t been keeping up with some of the more recent publications.

    Our church is somewhat interesting as it began 30 years ago as an independent evangelical congregation, typical of the do-your-own-thing church. Our pastor had been the youth pastor at the PCUSA church and active in Christian sports ministries.

    About 15-20 years ago, the pastor and elders were doing some self searching and began reading some of the historic Protestant creeds and wound joining the OPC — losing a good portion of attenders. It’s been an evolution of sorts (i transfered in maybe 3 or so years after they joined the denomination) and some of it had to be done in baby steps as the congregation was brought along.

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  64. Wow, I remember Shine Jesus Shine from years ago, hadn’t thought of that one in a while. Ok for in the car, no? 🙃 (ducking)

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  65. No, Solar Pancake, that wasn’t at all an ad hominem argument. I wasn’t saying that any points you make are therefore false, just that this is by and large a community of people who know one another, who have been fellowshiping with one another for many years, praying for one another, and meeting with one another in person from time to time. To you that “community” aspect isn’t very important; you have two subjects that you care about on here, and you drop in when you see those subjects discussed, and not otherwise. That doesn’t make your arguments themselves bad, but it means we have less basis from which to judge them, and perhaps also less interest in discussing them with you. Also, I’m a woman, and in general we are more inclined than men to put our discussions within the context of our own lives and to see others the same way.

    It isn’t ad hominem to say that a person’s knowledge of a given subject is relevant. For instance, a pastor who has spent decades studying church history has more credibility in such discussions than a 30-year-old man who has never finished high school or sought a job and is living in his mother’s basement and playing video games and watching porn. (I’m not meaning to suggest you are either of those men, just that I know nothing at all about you. I assume you are male, but don’t even know that much.)

    The fact that my husband is a Presbyterian elder and I have been a church member for 45 years (15 of those as a Presbyterian) should give a bit more credibility than if neither of us attended church but we just vaguely considered ourselves Christian. Certainly my husband’s efforts toward sound doctrine in our church and our denomination make me inclined to respect him and give his opinions some weight, even beyond the normal respect a woman should have for her husband. Those are not irrelevant sidenotes. They don’t make an argument, but they say that I am a person of goodwill and genuine interest in truth.

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  66. I appreciate the personal aspects of your story there, Cheryl. I honestly do. But the bulk of that is *precisely* ad hominem. I’m not suggesting you’re simply insulting me for selfish reasons; I’m not saying you’re trying to insult me at all. But that stuff really is ad hominem. None of what I have said depends on my character, my anonymity, or your husband’s role in your church. For reasons you consider significant, you have included those and other personal things as retorts to stuff I have said. That is fine; I don’t want you to cross your husband or your church. But none of those things gives credence to you, to me, or to any point that has been discussed here.

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  67. Ok, here’s our (rather unique?) church story as told by our pastor a few years ago in the denomination’s monthly magazine (in 2 parts):

    https://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=663

    __________________________________

    Chronicles of a Reforming Church: Part 1: The Transition of the Elders

    Circa 1992, I took a deep breath and set to preaching through the book of Revelation—how difficult could it actually be? I raced along swimmingly for about four or five chapters (really only three) before I was greeted by a conscience-condemning experience right in the pulpit. The convicting episode had to do with me allowing a commentator to have more influence over my opinion than he should have.

    Commentaries are valuable tools. Consulting a commentary is like having a conversation with an erudite scholar holding well-thought-out biblical convictions. But when you get right down to it, it’s still just somebody’s opinion. I was preaching on a passage that I didn’t truly understand. I figured this commentator, since he wrote a book, must have had a better grip on the issue than I, so I just took his word for it.

    I quoted the verse in Revelation and then the commentator for the explanation of the verse. In set the guilt. The commentator’s opinion didn’t make sense when I read it in my study, and it didn’t make sense (at least to me) when I read it from the pulpit. What do you do in the middle of a sermon when confronted with the sad reality that you don’t know what you are talking about?

    I cancelled the rest of the sermon and explained to the congregation the values and dangers of commentaries, using what they had just witnessed as a supreme example (of the danger). I then introduced the closing hymn. Church ended early that day. Sadly, no one complained—at least for a while.

    Within a couple of weeks, a man and his wife approached me, wondering how I couldn’t see how obviously correct the commentator was in his interpretation of the passage. “I’m not saying he’s wrong,” I explained. “I just don’t see how he makes the connection.” The man’s wife responded with a commentary of her own: “That’s because you’re a blockhead!” Granted, but even blockheads are dependent on sound reason—within the boundaries of our limited blockheadedness.

    I didn’t have an alternative opinion—I didn’t even know that one existed. I just didn’t see how the commentator’s statement made sense of the passage. The man and his wife decided that our church needed help, so he made flyers explaining that our church was a cult and I was the cult leader.

    I didn’t like that.

    One of the great side effects of an accusation like this is that it really motivates you to study. There is nothing like being called a cult leader to awaken you from your theological slumber! But since it takes more than a few weeks to master theology, we still needed to deal with the looming accusation of being a cult. …

    … We had an elders’ meeting to discuss the issue. “Brothers,” I submitted, “we’ve been accused of being a cult.” After allowing time for eye rolling and frustrated exhaling, I decided to put a challenge before our elders: “So, how do we know we’re not?”

    There we sat in our elders’ meeting, trying to figure out why we weren’t a cult. We had all been Christians for years. We had degrees from Christian institutions, and some of us had served in full-time Christian ministries, but the answer was not immediately forthcoming. One elder then made a recommendation, something I’d never heard of. “Maybe we should consider becoming confessional.” “Great!” I thought. “He wants us to become Roman Catholic.” Where would we put a confessional? I didn’t know the script. Father Paul? I think not.

    “No,” he explained with great patience, “maybe we should think about studying and adopting one of the ancient confessions—they’re kind of like extended statements of faith, but they’ve been around for hundreds of years, withstanding the scrutiny of the ages. They’re generally utilized as a test of orthodoxy.” He had our attention.

    Somehow we came across G. I. Williamson’s commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a genius to recognize genius. We all recognized the genius of the Westminster Confession. We felt like the Israelites who wept at the reading of the law after the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. There was a collective, “Who’s been hiding this from us?”

    Embarking upon a study of the Westminster Confession of Faith was a rich pursuit for the elders—all of whom felt some of the pain of the cult accusation. We were already Calvinistic with respect to soteriology (salvation), but that was about where our Reformed distinctives ended. …

    …. Our elders were now, for the most part, on the same page. It wasn’t as if we had a thorough understanding of the Confession, but after a couple of years of study, it certainly was assuming a proper place as a secondary standard for us.

    The Rest of the Church

    But what about the rest of the church? Our roots were Foursquare—a charismatic denomination started by Aimee Semple McPherson. We had a couple hundred members (we didn’t really have membership—but if you were in the church directory, you had achieved membership) who might not be as thrilled about this epiphany as the elders.

    Most of our church members, like our elders, had viewed the religious media as their de facto doctrinal authorities. This became apparent to me when I disagreed with a position held by the well-known and highly marketed Kay Arthur. A woman approached me after church to lovingly chastise me for disagreeing. Her words were telling: “Pastor Paul, I think you’re in rebellion.” I was in rebellion against Kay Arthur! There was a huge task ahead of us. How would we go about sharing the rich blessing that we, as elders, had experienced in our recent studies, without decimating the church?

    (This article is the first in a three-part series on the transition of a congregation from the Foursquare Church into the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The author is pastor of Branch of Hope Church in Torrance, Calif. Reprinted from New Horizons, July 2010.)
    ________________________________________

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  68. Cheryl – Solarpancake has been around for a few years. He often posts on the Political thread, though rarely on the open thread.

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  69. No, SP, none of that “depends on” any of that. But when you are arguing “This means this, and this can only mean this,” might it not be at least potentially relevant that you know what you are talking about, that you yourself have studied it or that you have gotten that information from somebody who has? Might it, for instance, be relevant whether you know the original languages (and relevant that I myself do not)?

    I don’t see any point in pressing this farther, though.

    Good night.

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  70. Peter, I know he has been around for a few years, since our World days. I may have missed something here or there, but I have only ever seen him post on how only Christians are valid political candidates and on this topic. Since I generally don’t read the all-Trump-all-the-time political thread, I may have missed something different.

    Thanks.

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  71. PS I don’t really understand the argument that one’s personal circumstances are necessarily ad hominem as part of a conversation. But let me give two quick illustrations that should explain what I mean when I say that such information might actually be relevant.

    (1) A particular sort of pamphlet tracts have been around for decades. As a child, I was quietly horrified and scandalized, but also read several of them–and I realized as an adult that one particular one had a negative impact on me. The “tracts” themselves are clearly problematic; one doesn’t need a lot of background on the writer to prove that. But when I heard that the author hasn’t gone to church in many, many years, that basically he sits in his house and does his own thing, he lost any credibility he ever had. A person who is not a church member in good standing has no credibility on matters of the faith. He may sometimes land on the truth–but he has no standing.

    (2) A few years ago I proofread a book by a man who was by his own admission mentally ill. He was also spiritually ill. His book was an attack on one particular Christian author, and much of his book was manifestly unfair. He used bad quoting practices, for instance, adding in brackets material that the author was clearly not saying and then attacking the information in brackets and not the author’s text. Furthermore, he included in the appendix of his book a multi-page letter from his own church excommunicating him. Why? Because he would stand outside his church after services let out, getting hold of anyone he could and talking their ear off about the information he had put in this book. The elders had told him to stop, and he refused. They excommunicated him. He disagreed with the excommunication, so he included the excommunication letter (and his response to it) in his book. Both the fact that he was quoting incorrectly and the fact that he was excommunicated, and not a member in good standing in his church, were relevant in my judging him to be an untrustworthy source on that author.

    I have been an editor for 25 years now. I could give several additional examples. But “consider the source” is not always an inappropriate ad hominem argument. If a doctor has lost his license, or a church member has been excommunicated (or has chosen never to attend), that data might be relevant in a decision on whether to read what he has written. If a woman has been divorced three times and is living with her boyfriend, I won’t go to her for relational advice. I will also disqualify the word of a Mormon on matters of theology. We constantly weigh evidence for all sorts of reasons. And whether a person is a trustworthy source on a particular topic is a completely valid part of that judgment.

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  72. Cheryl, any or all of that stuff might be relevant under certain circumstances, such as if I were claiming a new revelation from God or the existence of aliens. But I wasn’t doing anything approaching that, but was discussing an issue that is actually widely debated in the Christian world. The fact you weren’t aware of that may account for your dismissing arguments on the matter based on one’s personal background, but I’m here to tell ya, out in the real world, this stuff is pretty standard fodder for debate, and the family background of proponents of one side it the other are never considered all that important to the discussion. I just assumed that was the case here. If you and any others feel it isn’t, I can deal. Maybe it’ll help if I just go in record right now and say personal background doesn’t matter to me in doctrinal debates. In fact, that’s why I never bring those things up in such conversations. To each his or her own when it comes to what one finds persuasive.

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  73. Solar Pancake, personal background doesn’t matter to you at all in doctrinal debate? So you would discuss doctrine with your Mormon neighbor in the same way you have been discussing it for the last two days with a woman from an RP church who happens to think that the Song of Simeon is valid for public worship–a very trivial doctrinal difference?

    Of course I’m aware it’s widely debated. I’m not “dismissing arguments on the matter based on one’s personal background.” I’m saying that in English, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are not obviously references only to the book of Psalms, excluding other songs within Scripture. If you have access to some additional information, you have always been welcome to give it. If you are an expert on this subject, that’s relevant. But THIS is shooting with friendly fire, and it seems a waste of time. Why focus on whether or not the “Song of Simeon” (a song my RP church doesn’t sing) is permissible in public worship, in a discussion in which people are finding it permissible to sing “In the Garden” as long as it makes them feel good? Whether or not “sacred songs” might include “Song of Simeon” is a tertiary matter. So why not agree to disagree on it?

    I really do not get it. But it is well past my bedtime and I’m going back to bed and turning off my computer. Good night.

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  74. Cheryl, you said I was the only person you were aware of who held an EP view. Now you’re saying of course you’re aware it’s widely debated? Among whom? People who don’t hold that view? Didn’t you figure one side consisted of EPers?

    Sure I would be interested in the *doctrinal stance* of a person I was debating with–Mormon, Arminian, atheist. What wouldn’t be relevant is who they want their daughter to marry, or even whether they were a man or woman at all, unless at some point in the discussion such a fact had bearing on the veracity of one or the other of our claims. If you were aware that this topic is widely debated, why did you think it was relevant how I would respond to a prospective suitor of my daughter’s? I’m totally lost on that argument. I “really do not get it.” It’s strange you recall for me that the words we’ve discussed that “in English” may mean this or that when the bulk of what I proffered on the subject was a reference *to the Greek translation of the Old Testament used by Jesus Christ and the apostles.* I didn’t say the issue isn’t one of “friendly fire,” nor do I really know why it would matter. It’s just a discussion! I don’t claim to be an “expert” on the subject any more than I do so concerning the Trinity, the 8th Commandment, or the virgin birth. But these are things Christians–the ones I know, at least–talk about. For whatever reason, you’ve assigned the topic to some mysterious domain of elders and theologians. I don’t see it that way; it’s why I entered the discussion. You didn’t *have to* reply, you know.

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  75. Solar Pancake, several comments, and then hopefully I will have the sense to wave at you from a distance in the future.

    Both can be true, that I can know an issue is widely discussed but I don’t personally know anyone who holds one particular side. I’m sure there are people at my new church who hold the position, but we’ve only attended for two months and haven’t discussed it with any of them. We expect to be here the rest of our lives (Lord willing), so there will be plenty of time for such discussions in the decades ahead.

    You keep saying that biographical information doesn’t matter in a debate. I’ve reminded you that I am a woman, and we don’t cut and paste separate little details of things like that. I wasn’t in this conversation as a doctrinal debate to be won or lost (and thus we can put on the blinders and focus on “just the facts”). I was in it as a conversation with a fellow Christian. And I tried to say to that fellow Christian, “Listen, I’m not fully persuaded of this ‘Psalms only’ position, and I doubt I ever will be. Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether I am, because God has not vested me with that sort of authority. But He has put me under the care of my husband and my elders. My husband is fully ‘sacred text only,’ and my elders (or at least their denomination) are ‘Psalms only,’ and I’m more than satisfied to accept that and move on. Can we ‘agree to disagree’ on what Scripture is or isn’t permitted in worship and focus our attention on a more important part of this conversation, which is why God’s church is hurt when His people accept in ‘worship’ songs that are trite and/or unbiblical just because it makes them feel good?”

    If we were having an official debate, with judges standing to the side and moderating, then a “just the facts” approach might be the way to go. In reality, I don’t know Greek, and I don’t know whether you do, and thus your assertion of what it means in Greek is irrelevant–I simply am in no position to determine what the text means. I’m not willing to take your assertion (when I know it to be a debatable one) and consider the case settled. Logically it would make sense that the threefold division of songs would include other songs within Scripture that fall within those categories, and people who do know the original languages seem at times to agree on this, so I am fully satisfied with that as my default position (and the one my husband holds), but I will never be called upon to “prove” my position. When I was in Bible college, I once spent an entire semester in one class studying the issue of head coverings. I found that there are three positions, and all seemed to have about equal numbers of proponents among scholars. One is that the covering is the woman’s hair, the second is that the covering is a separate head covering (but the issue was cultural in that day), and the third is that it is a separate head covering (and still valid today). I decided that if the experts couldn’t agree, I had no way to come to a conclusive stance without knowing Greek, and I also decided that since I was “covered” by two out of three possibilities (since I wear my hair long) and since my church did not use head coverings and I thus was not in rebellion not to do so, I was content not to be able to come to a definitive answer. That’s where I stand with this one, too. I’m a layperson who doesn’t know Greek, and I’m content to say I don’t know, and I’m not the one making the decisions anyway, and move on.

    Oh, and the professor of that class spent a whole semester pointing out to a class of men and women that women were to be under a sign of authority. I saw him in the library one day and said respectfully something like “Sir, you have spent the whole semester telling women what their place is, but your class has about as many men as women. Could you please just take one or two sentences in one class period and remind the men that they have a Christian responsibility, too? The women are beginning to feel picked on, and it would help us if you would just quickly acknowledge that the men have their own responsibilities.” His response was “That isn’t the text we are looking at this semester, so no, I won’t.”

    That professor was single and didn’t have the help of a wife to lend him wisdom. A young woman tried respectfully to do so, to remind him that his students were not just robots sucking up data, but flesh and blood human beings, and that half of the human beings in his class were struggling a little bit with his approach. He had a class filled with 20-something testosterone-loaded future pastors, and he wasn’t willing to pause long enough to say, “Men, this particular text happens to speak to women, but I have had a woman gently request that I remind the men in this class that Scripture has a whole lot more to say about proper authority than just ‘Women, submit.’ If God calls you to be in the pastorate or another position of authority over women, remember that He calls you to use that authority in love and with grace. If a woman tells you respectfully that women are feeling overrun by your spending so much time on discussing a woman’s responsibilities and never even mentioning a man’s responsibilities–as a woman student wisely did to me just a few days ago–then it behooves you to listen. Authority carries with it responsibility, and not just ‘power.'” His refusal to do any such thing lost him my respect, and I would never have chosen to take another class with him.

    I have four older brothers. I know a lot about men getting into “debate mode” and getting stuck there. It’s a mode that works for a discussion among men, and it’s a mode that works in a formal debate. God did not create women to operate that way–even this woman who, with four older brothers, ended up being more analytical than 75% of men and 95% of women. God created us to use larger portions of our brain at one given time and not be so “focused” on one tiny little detail. I suspect that even a man would want to know, “Does he know Greek? Is he himself in a position of any expertise?” But for a woman, a robotic “just the facts, and keep our humanity out of this” doesn’t work at all–it isn’t the way God made us.

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  76. Cheryl, you said I am “the only person (now or in church history) I’ve ever heard arguing that position.” That makes a different point than “I don’t know anyone personally who holds that view.” I’m glad you clarified. I never thought of the discussion as a formal debate with judge and jury. I don’t know what you mean by urging me to “agree to disagree.” I’m not taking names of people who disagree with me so I can hand them over the Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. It’s just an online discussion. You voiced disagreement with point A, I responded with point ~A, and etc. So it seemed odd to me that you’d chime in with disagreement only to respond to my replies with, “Yeah, I’ll never be able to know, I leave it to others.” Then why broach the subject with me? None of any of this means I consider this the most important doctrine to know or a matter of salvation; it doesn’t mean I’m focused on one tiny detail; it doesn’t mean I don’t recognize God-given humanity. It just means, plain and simple, that it was the topic at hand in an online discussion. I’m sorry–I suppose–that you always seem to want to take a somehow *personal* adversarial posture toward me when I chime in here.

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