New Wineskins: HistoryGuy’s Questions, Part 2

WineskinsbannerThe law and the Spirit

Some will read the preceding post and find an implicit command to use the instrument. That would be a misunderstanding of the nature of the gospel and the assembly.

Yes, there are incidental references to the psalms that, rightly construed, would permit the use of instruments. But they should not be understood as commands to use the instrument any more than as commands not to use the instrument. The point of the passages is to celebrate the Messiah and the arrival of God’s kingdom. The means of celebration are elastic.

(Eph 5:19 NAS) speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

The point of the very redundant “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” and also the redundant “singing and making melody” is to emphasize that we are to celebrate — by whatever means are appropriate in the setting. We don’t have to be careful that we have all three kinds of music and that we both sing and make melody! This is not checklist Christianity. Rather, the point is that we are free to celebrate his Son with all kinds of singing. The language isn’t about limiting and demanding what we must do but giving us freedom to do what the Spirit compels us to do — if we would just be filled with the Spirit.

You see, we will interpret wrongly every single time unless we start where Paul starts — with the Spirit:

(Eph 5:18-21 ESV) 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

This is not about obeying rules for how to worship. It’s rather an example of what the Spirit will do through a Spirit-filled person. See here and here.

(2Co 3:17 ESV) 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

The historical setting

By and large, the early church met in homes. And a Roman home could not hold many — no more than 30 — at a time. Many homes would have been much smaller. Therefore, they met in lots of homes. The Jerusalem congregation would have required hundreds of houses to meet in.

Among the 30 or fewer in the house would have been children and babies. There might have been but 15 or 20 adults or fewer in many assemblies. It would have been very much like modern small group programs.

The assembly often involved a meal — the love feast or agape. Therefore, the assembly would have been no more than could be accommodated for dinner — and serving a meal takes up a lot of space.

And so it’s very unlikely that the typical assembly had instrumental music simply because it’s unlikely a congregation would have enough instrumentalists to place a harpist in each of hundreds of house churches.

Moreover, in an age long before the industrial revolution, instruments would have been very expensive — and they aren’t cheap today. The early church was largely made of slaves and the poor. It’s highly unlikely that there would have been instruments in every house church or even most house churches, even if God gifted many members to play. (And during times of persecution, if instruments came to typify Christian worship, who’d want to be seen on the street taking a harp to a house on a Sunday?)

Rather like today, in a small group or house church setting, the use of the instrument would depend on whether a skilled player was available and whether he or she brought an instrument. And even today, where music is ubiquitous and countless people take guitar and piano lessons, you don’t find a skilled instrumentalist at every small group setting. It would have been much less likely in the early church.

Therefore, for purely practical reasons, it seems likely that most assemblies would have had no instrumental music — not because it was sinful or wrong, but because there wouldn’t have been enough instrumentalists and instruments (surely very expensive in that day) to go around — and because of fear of persecution.

I’ll admit to a measure of speculation here, but it makes sense.

Therefore, it’s easy to imagine that, with Jewish sensibilities becoming opposed to the instrument after the destruction of the Temple and as too closely associated with pagan cults, and with Greek sensibilities tending toward Platonic thought, which preferred the human voice over the instrument, all blended with the increasing influence of Philo and the Alexandrian school of interpretation (allegorical interpretation, highly influenced by Greek thought), the church came to reject the instrument — which was of little value anyway. I mean, giving up the instrument would have nearly been a non-event as the instrument never would have been a major part of Christian worship.

Therefore, going from the occasional use of the instrument during apostolic times to non-use by the late Second Century would not have been a big step at all. It’s not as though they were throwing out pianos in their 200-seat auditoriums! They were an illegal cult, meeting in homes, in secret, among the poor. Instruments weren’t wrong but neither would they have been very practical.

The early church fathers

It’s not surprising that when we start reading condemnations of the instrument in the very late Second Century, the authors refer to their association with paganism but not to scripture as justifying their opposition. Never do the early church fathers argue from lack of authority or assert that the Bible condemns their use. Rather, they speak in cultural terms. Tertullian (ca 200 AD) wrote,

Clearly Liber and Venus are the patrons of the theatrical arts. That immodesty of gesture and bodily movement so peculiar and proper to the stage is dedicated to them, the one god dissolute in her sex, the other in his dress. While whatever transpires in voices melody instruments and writing is in the domain of Apollo, the Muses, Minerva and Mercury. O Christian, you will detest those things whose authors you cannot but detest!

The argument proceeds from the association of the instrument with the sins of the theatre in that culture. Just so, Clement of Alexandria, writing at about the same time, says,

We, however, make use of but one instrument, the word of peace alone by which we honor God, and no longer the ancient psaltery, nor the trumpet, the tympanum and the aulos, as was the custom among those expert in war and those scornful of the fear of God who employed string investments in heir festive gatherings, as if to arouse the remissness of spirit through such rhythms.

His argument proceeds from the association of the instrument with warfare.

And this is exactly what we’d expect if the choice to reject the instrument came out of cultural concerns rather than the supposed absence of authority in the New Testament or secret, oral traditions delivered by the apostles and never written down.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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21 Responses to New Wineskins: HistoryGuy’s Questions, Part 2

  1. Price says:

    Question: Was Clement of Alexandria referring to O.T. worship when he mentions the "custom" of their use or some other group of people? While it might have been a custom for some other group with whom he was familiar it was by the specific command of God Himself that they were used in worship since the time of David. II Chronicles 29:25 However, if Clement were trying to dissuade the use of IM without scriptural authority it would have been to his advantage to convince his listeners that their use was a custom rather than a command. It seems equally conspicuous that those who Require the Non-Use of IM do so without specific scriptural authority or command; with disregard for divine O.T. and N.T. prophetic writings and the misrepresentation of the ancient language. What's wrong with just being honest and saying this is how we like it..??

  2. aBasnar says:

    That was a very good and concise summary of your position, Jay. And still, you skip our objections:

    1) You still focus on a too narrow and too literal undertstanding of psallo

    Psallo is to be found only 4 times in the NT: Rom 15:9; 1Co 14:15; Eph 5:19 and Jas 5:13. This is not very often. Esp. 1Co 14:15 speaks of singing with the Spirit and singing with the understanding, which places the focus on the words. Even stronger in Eph 5:19 where we are to SPEAK to one another in Psalms. This, combinded with the fact that Paul replaces the stringed instrument with the heart (?????????? ??? ???? ???????? ??????) shows clearly that psallo cannot be narrowed down to singing with an instrument. Rather it became a fixed term for singing the Psalms with or without mechanical accompaniment!

    2) Many times where we see Christians sing, musical instruments were obviously not used

    Although ist is not specifically said theta there were no instrumehts in the upper room, no one yet pictured the scene ofthe Last Supper with (e.g.) John playing the harp. the sang a nuimber of Psalm during the Passover meal that were part of the Seder, but – as is obvious from the setting – a cappella. Or could you imagine while lieing around the table, to be able to play an instrument? Not really.

    Watch out: The normal Christian worship setting was that of reclining around a table to eat! So even for practical reasions, an instrument would have bneen very inconvenient.

    Paul and Silas in Prison sang hymns to God. Here it is obvious that it was a-cappella. But be honest: If singing praises to God is essentially the same as singing psalms, why do you think that because sometimes the word psallo is used for singing there must have been intruments involved? Is it logical to assume: As soon as they sang psalms they had to get a harp, but otherwise they could sing a cappella? Not really. (And if I understand you right, you would not go that far either; but your narrow position on this word would lead to this idea).

    So, in the end, the strict and narrow interpretation of psallo is unnatural and unrealistic. Therefore this proves nothing.

    3) Instrumental worship was limited to the temple

    We must not forget that in the temple instruments were exclusively in the hands of some Levite families. When Christians joined the temple worship, they themselves did NOT bring along their own harps.

    So the whole argument of Clyde Symonette is not working. Because the instruments were still in the hands of Old-Covenant worshippers.

    4) Typology, typology, typology

    Your "Layer-approach" reflects Roman analytical thinking, which fails to understand and grasp the concept of types and shadows. Again and still you ignore this prime argument in the ECF, even in the Odes. You forget that the Odes are poetic in nature, so this one single verse that allows (but not demands) a strict literal interpretation still has to be read as poetry! The other verses in the Odes show a clear figurative use of the instruments. Therfore these lay out the understanding for the rest, especially when compared to the Psalms! In the Psalms, instruments were always used in a literal sense. This is a remarkable change / shift between the Psalms and the Odes, since both fall under the same category of spiritual songs/poetry.

    It is not hard to undertand, though:

    The only time intruments are connected to worship in the New Testament is in Revelation. Here are the ONLY direct references to harps, and we (should) all agree that the whole description of the worship scene is not to be understood in a literal sense. Instead the whole language and imagery is borrowed from OT worship! We see the altar, the ark of the covenant, the smoke, the incense! These all are the same types and shadows used in the OT, because we cannot speak of the Heavenlies without using types!

    But now in our dispensation, all the types have made room for the reality in Christ!

    The temple are we – living stones!
    The sacrifices are spiritual – our praises and sharing with others!
    The priests are we – all of us!
    The order of the Priesthood has changed from Aaron to Melchisedek.
    We have an altar from which we eat – the cross, present in the Lord's Supper!
    We are the shewbread!
    We are the seven lamps of the Menora, and Christ is in their midst!
    The incense we burn are our prayers!
    And we enter the inner part of the sanctuary through the curtain, which is the flesh of our Lord.
    The washing of the priests at the beginning of their service is our baptism.
    Tha washings inbetween (tha basin between the altar and the tent) is our continuos cleansing whenever we confess our trespasses.
    OK, and the instruments? They were to accompany the sacrifices.

    Of course they are also types of something more real! Heb 9:1-5 makes clear that all elements of temple worship have a spiritual meaning. It is not spelled out in the written word of God, but hinted to by the replacement of the instrument by the heart in Eph 5:19. So we play with our hearts instead with harps. We sing with the Spirit and with our understanding! In Spirit and Truth.

    And it is THIS analogy that is drawn in the Odes! And confirmed by Clement and others of the ECF. And it is a consistent analogy, absolutely fitting to the other examples of typological interpretation we find in the NT.

    Why, Jay, why do you persistently brush this aside and focus exclusivley on the other reasons (their connection with warfare or immorality)? Not to mention that, if we follow their example here, this would rule out CCM completely and the use of drums and electric guitars.

    I think, because you simply and honestly don't understand typological thinking. This is not part of our Western culture and upbringing, and certainly not encouraged by the school of Law you went through. But that's the way our fathers in Christ thought and taught; and unless we try do adopt their way of thinking, we will not only misunderstand them, but we'll misread the scriptures themselves!

    Alexander

  3. R.J. says:

    I believe Clement was talking about heathen cult worship and the immoral practices of the military around his neck of the woods and time.(e.g. no fear of God).;)

  4. Jay Guin says:

    aBasnar/Alexander,

    1. I'm arguing much more from the meaning of psalmos, meaning psalm, than psallo. A command to sing a "psalm" would surely be taken as a reference to singing the OT Psalms, which were expressly written to be sung to instrumental accompaniment.

    But I also argue that when Paul quotes the Septuagint and urges us to "psallo" (as in Romans 15:9) he means to use psallo in the Septuagint sense of the word.

    You address neither of this points.

    The reference to "heart" in Eph 5:19 is Paul's translation of —

    (Psa 108:1b ESV) I will sing and make melody with all my being!

    He replaces "all my being" with "heart." Does David's exhortation to sing and make melody "with all my being" contradict the use of the instrument? Obviously, no, as the very next verse shows —

    (Psa 108:2-3 ESV) 2 Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 3 I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.

    Paul is quoting from an instrumental psalm. It was common rabbinic practice to quote a verse, intending to refer to the larger context. And if David didn't exclude the instrument by referring to "with all my being", Paul didn't exclude the instrument by referring to "with your heart."

    PS — "All my being" is literally "all my glory" in Hebrew and in the Septuagint. It was idiomatic to use "glory" of the inner man (Compare Ps 16:9) — Hence, Paul uses "heart" as a "dynamic equivalent" translation.

    Thus, Eph 5:19 is a translated quotation from this Psalm — which urges instrumental worship.

    A recognition of the roots of Paul's phrase in Eph 5:19 contradicts any notion that "with your heart" is intended to reject the instrument.

    2. I entirely agree that Christians didn't always use instruments. In fact, I argued that instruments were unlikely to have been all that common for practical reasons suggested in this very post.

    3. Instrumental worship was not limited to the temple. There's no evidence that instruments were used in the synagogue — or that the synagogue even included singing at this time. But there were other events.

    Consider David's bringing of the ark to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6). They used instruments — but there was no temple and this was not a tabernacle service. It was worship but of an informal kind.

    (Gen 31:27 ESV) Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre?

    (Exo 15:20 ESV) Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.

    (1Sa 10:5 ESV) After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying.

    There's certainly no reason to suppose that Jews never used instruments outside the Temple.

    The evidence is that spontaneous celebration and worship among the Jews made use of musical instruments — and perhaps that's the pattern the NT church should follow.

    4. Typology.

    You list numerous examples of the NT citing tabernacle and temple examples as "types" that are reinterpreted in the NT context. But singing with instruments is not in the list.

    Are we free to create rules and practices by expanding the list — declaring that because, for example, the sacrificial system is replaced, instrumental music has been replaced? That's an ECF argument, but not a scriptural argument.

    And it fails because at the time of Jesus, the sacrificial system was unique to the Temple. But instrumental music was not. Destroy the Temple, and you destroy the only place of sacrifice. But instrumental worship was not at all limited to the Temple grounds.

    Indeed, the Jews also ate meals together at the Temple. Is that now banned? They also prayed. They did lots of things that aren't eliminated by the end of the Temple practices.

    The Jews interpreted the destruction of the Temple as an event calling for mourning, and therefore banned instruments from the synagogue. Instruments were associated with celebration.

    But among Christians, the destruction of the Temple should have been seen as the completion of the transition from the old Law to the new Kingdom. There's no reason for a Christian to mourn the end of the sacrificial system — a system now replaced with a better, perfect sacrifice. So why would we respond just as the Jews did?

    We are the ones with reasons to celebrate! We are the ones who have freedom in Christ, through the Spirit, to worship from the heart, with all of our hearts and beings. We are the ones who should most honor Psalm 108 —

    (Psa 108:1 ESV)
    My heart is steadfast, O God!
    I will sing and make melody with all my being!
    2 Awake, O harp and lyre!
    I will awake the dawn!
    3 I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;
    I will sing praises to you among the nations.
    4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
    5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let your glory be over all the earth!
    6 That your beloved ones may be delivered,
    give salvation by your right hand and answer me!

  5. Dan Harris says:

    Why does a type prevent the literal? Isn't a type evocative of an illustration? ….. a way of understanding? …….. an example? ………. an analogy? …… a prophetic symbol? ………..a shadow of the real or true?……….. a characteristic of one thing at one time that is somehow similar or representative of another thing at another time and place?
    I can understand that a type is not the thing itself. Celebration with instruments at the time of sacrifice in the Old Testament may well represent the celebration of Heaven and earth when God's plan was fulfilled in Christ's death and when individuals are added by grace through faith to God's redeemed. I get that. However, at this moment I cannot send my prayers of praise upward as a sweet smell of spiritual incense to reach the nostrils of God. I cannot loose my thankful heart on wings gratitude and watch it fly upward with millions of other hearts to lite before the throne of Grace. I can only use my mind, my emotions, my intellect, my voice, my body, my talents to express myself. Some of those talents may include the gift of singing beautifully or the gift of playing an instrument beautifully. I know that singing is not really what God wants. Madonna can sing. Fiddy Cent can sing. I think God desires praise from my soul; not just singing. Does singing help me praise God? I think so. Can a violin virtuoso use his instrument to praise God? Did Beethoven or Bach praise God with their talents? I think so.
    We often pray to be used as instruments for God. Can I not use a musical instrument for God? I have used a paint brush for Him. I have used a stethoscope for Him. I have use a hammer and shovel for Him. I have use pork barbecue for Him. My wife has used casseroles for Him. I have used my car for Him. We use what we have. We use what we know. It worries me that some would get in the way of others praising God with their instrument, whatever it may be…….. Dan

  6. Price says:

    Thanks R.J… I find this whole debate quite interesting… It seems those that would prohibit IM from worship do so without the slightest hint of divine authority to remove it from worship and yet seem determined to require authorization for its inclusion…odd reasoning.

  7. Bruce Morton says:

    Price:
    Not true. There is apostolic authority for the unifying action of a cappella in congregational assemblies. But the idea does not sit well in our present Western culture — and it certainly meets resistance in Jay's One in Jesus weblog.

    We really struggle to hear the parallelisms in Ephesians 4:17-5:21 in our day. The more I read comments in this weblog, the more I am convinced that folks' spiritual struggles are little different from much of the Mediterranean world of the first century. Change "Dionysus" to "Jesus" and the large majority of the Asian cult ritual of the first century I am aware of would be greeted with open arms by many followers of Jesus in our day. We wouldn't think a thing about it. We would probably say, "Hey, this is great!" And out the window goes Paul's cautions/alerts.

    We keep thinking "ethics only" when we ready Ephesians 4:17-5:21. I hear it almost every week as I interact with folks. Seems to be part of how we bend to a spiritual war. Good or evil are "ethics only." Not religious beliefs. We are mistaken when we draw that conclusion from the text.

    I would be glad to send a copy of an in-print publication that looks at the context closely. If an interest you can reach me at MortonBLSL7 at earthlink.net. I hope you are interested in considering Ephesians a little differently.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  8. aBasnar says:

    Psalm 108? Are you sure?

    (Psalm 108:1 / 107:2 LXX) ?????? ??? ???? ?? ?? ???? ???.
    I will sing and make melody with all my being!

    Compare this to Eph 5:19:

    (Eph 5:19) ???????? ???? ?????????? ??? ???? ???????? ??????
    singing and making melody … with your heart,

    I see some differences that make me doubt that Paul was referring to Psalm 108:
    a) Psalm 108 is singular, Eph 5 is plural.
    b) Psalm 108 has future tense, Eph 5 is a participle in present tense

    Then ???? and ???????? are still quite different things. Only because the translator did not understand the concept of ???? we should not be too quick to substitute it with a word we do understand. Man is God’s ???? and image, so it is quite fitting to sing as a person in the honor and beauty of God’s masterpiece a Praise to the Creator. I don’t trust dynamic equivalent translations.

    KJV therefore translates (not substitutes): I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.

    3. Instrumental worship was not limited to the temple. There's no evidence that instruments were used in the synagogue — or that the synagogue even included singing at this time. But there were other events.

    But when we speak of worship, we don’t speak of private settings. Whenever IM worship is argued for, the Temple is pointed to as an evidence that God appreciates it. So we have to stick with the Temple in order to think this through. One of Clyde’s poits therefore was that Christians worshipped in the instrumental Temple, which (as I tried to point out) is not sufficient to argue for instruments in a New Covenant setting.

    So I don’t envision worship of an “informal kind”, festivals, concerts, parades or whatever …

    Are we free to create rules and practices by expanding the list — declaring that because, for example, the sacrificial system is replaced, instrumental music has been replaced? That's an ECF argument, but not a scriptural argument.

    Absolutely we are free, not only free but prompted to do so in Heb 9:1-5! These examples in the NT point the way to read the whole Old Testament. The ECF just demonstrate that they really did it. They did not make it up, but it was part of their hermeneutics.

    Alexander

  9. ClydeSymonette says:

    Alexander:

    You wrote:

    One of Clyde’s points therefore was that Christians worshipped in the instrumental Temple, which (as I tried to point out) is not sufficient to argue for instruments in a New Covenant setting.

    Indeed you did; but it was only part of my larger argument. I made reference to the Temple not to demonstrate that the church should worship as the Jews did in the temple, but to make the point that instruments were not rejected by the earliest Christian church.

    You see my friend, the history of the church does not begin with ECFs. The church and the language of scripture must be understood in the context of the OT.

    (Lamentations 5:7-8, 14-15 NIV) Our fathers sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment. Slaves rule over us, and there is none to free us from their hands. … The elders are gone from the city gate; the young men have stopped their music. Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.

    I have argued that the music stoppage or A Cappella did not originate by NT command; and I pointed to Psalms 137 to explain its origin.

    By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we HUNG OUR HARPS, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1-4)

    J.A. Smith suggests that the absence of musical instruments "from the synagogue service after A.D. 70 was nothing more than the continuation of a very ancient practice which simply did not make use of music instruments." (Music and Letters, p. 3). I believe that the "very ancient practice" began in the Exile; not the N.T.

    Further, I have suggested, as Jay has noted, that there are multiple references to a promise of Israel's "lost" praise being restored (with instruments) in the New Covenant. You assume that Christians being in the temple had nothing to do with this promise. You assume that they were simply in the temple by coincidence and convenience and not a part of its goings on. I reject that idea. Luke wrote: "And they [the church] stayed continually at the temple, praising God" (Luke 24:53). To assume that Christians were in the instrumental temple "praising God" in what you refer to as "a New Covenant setting" (meaning non-instrumental) is abnormally speculative. How was Luke's statement understood by those to whom it was written?

    The NT was not written, nor should it be understood in "a New Covenant" historical vacuum. By reason, "Praising" must be understood in the context of a) the temple and b) Jewish praise in that temple.

    Finally; while the debate continues, it is important to restate that God's intent is CLEARLY expressed in scriptures. Jeremiah promises that under a New Covenant.
    • The mourning would cease.
    • Zion’s songs would be restored.
    • The tambourines would again be taken up.
    • And maidens and men, both old and young, would dance with the joyful amidst shouts of joy, and glad rejoicing in the bounty of the Lord.

    ECFs and others do not speak of God's intent. We simply cannot read back elements of 4th century Christian practice into the 1st century and assume they were the consequence of God's intent.

  10. Bruce Morton says:

    Clyde:
    Would you please summarize in a brief note the OT passages that you are suggesting point to the promise of Israel's lost praise being restored (with instruments) in the New Covenant.

    I want to consider alongside the parallelisms in Ephesians 4:17-5:21.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  11. aBasnar says:

    The NT was not written, nor should it be understood in "a New Covenant" historical vacuum. By reason, "Praising" must be understood in the context of a) the temple and b) Jewish praise in that temple.

    I disagree with this. Because this is not inlie with prophetic language. let me exemplify it on another NC-prophecy from Jeremiah:

    Jer 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
    Jer 31:32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.
    Jer 31:33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
    Jer 31:34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
    Jer 31:35 Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar– the LORD of hosts is his name:
    Jer 31:36 "If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever."
    Jer 31:37 Thus says the LORD: "If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD."
    Jer 31:38 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.
    Jer 31:39 And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah.
    Jer 31:40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the LORD. It shall not be uprooted or overthrown anymore forever."

    The whole prophecy is speaking about Israel – the two houses Jedah and Israel – about Jerusalem and its walls …

    And I think we do agree that hardly any of these aspects are to be taken literally. Rather Israel is now the "New Israel of God" made up of Jews and Gentiles alike. Jerusalem is now in Heaven, and we are a city on a hill as a church.

    In the same manner the outward expression of joy with tambourines and dancing don't (necessarily) need to be understood literally either. THey follow the same pattern of prophetuic language.

    This means: To say that the NT was not written in a vacuum is correct in a sense, but it is misleading when you then try to take some aspects of the prophecy in a literal sense that are as figurative as the others.

    Praising must mean "in the temple" only when understanding the prophecy literally. But in the NT the temple is the church, built of liviong stones – so the nature of the temple changed. That the Jerisalem church worshipped in the temple is just one side of the coin: From the beginning they also had their distinct Christianm assemblies in their houses (where they broke bread and worshipped – Acts 2:46).

    And – again – since in the OC-Temple the instruments were in the hands of OC-worshippers (Levites), this instrumental worship was still part of the OC. Christians did not bring their own guitars into Salomos Portico, where thy assembled.

    And since the Temple was taken away and replaced by a spiritual temple, the instruments, which were an essential part in OC-worship – were replaced by spiritual instruments (that really have breath – Ps 150).

    This is consistent, isn't it?

    Alexander

  12. HistoryGuy says:

    Clyde,
    Thank you for your comments. As always, I believe your input is invaluable to this conversation as we all try to sort through the issues. I appreciate you clearly outlining your position. We are both busy which is why it has taken a few days for me to comment on your post. The following points are for your consideration. —- I hope they help you articulate your view as you talk with everyone.

    1. The Jewish Christians at the Temple is an interesting study and probably one worth flushing out in a separate post. Perhaps Jay would headline that one day? It seems to involve progressive revelation about OC/NC. Even Paul admits he was doing very Jewish things at the Temple. It is helpful to know you believe Christians should not do the things of the Temple, but leaves confusion over what you believe is and is not a Temple element. Is it you position that IM, incense, and dancing are for the NC?

    Nobody doubts Christians praised God at the Temple or in their homes. The discussion seems to focus on – what did Christian worship and its nature look like? Since Christians were at the Temple until being kicked out of Rome in 50AD (Acts 18:2), there is evidence to suggest that (1) they embraced everything going on at the Temple [Lk. 24:53; Acts 15] until God took the Temple away or (2) limited their interaction to apostles teachings such as evangelism and miracles, while having Christian worship in their homes [Acts 2:46-47; 3:1; 3:11; 5:19-21] or (3) a combination of both, which is very plausible. What seems to be problematic for those who value your input, but disagree, is the question of the evidence you’re using to understand that Christians accepted some Temple elements like IM & dancing, but rejected other elements like sacrifice & incense, because all of these simultaneously existed in their presence at the Temple. Since you affirm that Christians accepted and used IM in the apostolic church (Acts; Lk 24:53; Eph 5, etc ?), it would be helpful if you would give a rough date when IM started being rejected, why, how it relates with apostolic instruction in Scripture, and how relates to the ECF claiming apostolic tradition in the late 1st century.

    2. The second area of discussion seems to be over your understanding of the captivity, restoration, and the dual nature of Jer. 31 prophecy. There is agreement over captivity and lamentations, but the AC group does not understand why Jer. 31 wouldn’t have a dual nature like all prophecy or why 2nd Temple Judaism is not a fulfillment within Israel (Heb. 8:13). We don’t discount past conversations, nor do we forget your use of NT Wright, revealing some of Israel longing for the days and glory of Solomon’s Temple. However, the Bible and Mishnah (200AD) explicitly record the very celebrative feasts, dancing, praise, and thousands of IM played by Levites at the 2nd Temple after release from captivity and restoration to the land. The AC group finds it very hard deny this as the fulfillment of Israel’s restored praise since explicit evidence exists, and even harder to direct fulfillment to the Christian worship, though no explicit evidence exists that Christian worship ever used such Temple elements. From this point on, one enters the implicit world of disputing over OT, Eph 5, Col, Hebrews, Acts, and non-canonical documents. I hope everyone can be patient with one another and try to discuss the positions one point at a time.

    3. We seem to keep missing each other on the ECFs. The AC group is specifically saying that the ECFs are not Scripture. As a consensus, ECF do talk about cultural problems, but both those of the allegorical and literal-historical hermeneutic attribute their AC practice to God. As far as views go, we have 1st century ECF that identify an AC practice, and mid-2nd century ECF that defend an AC practice. One does not have to agree with the ECF conclusion, but I hope everyone will acknowledge what they believe. I’m sure that we all want to be accurately represented, even if we disagree on some issues. With this in mind, nobody is reading a 4th century view back into the Scriptures. At best, it can be said one is reading a late 1st century view into a mid-1st century Scripture. Being fair, at worst it can be said one is reading a mid-2nd century view into a mid-1st century Scripture. From here the debate centers on whether or not the practice originated with apostles; if so, was it divinely taught as binding or culturally optional,etc,etc.

    I hope these thoughts will help you articulate your view as you talk with everyone.

  13. HistoryGuy says:

    Alexander,
    You made good points that I hope everyone will consider.

  14. ClydeSymonette says:

    Alexander:

    I appreciate your response — I always appreciate your thoughtful informed posts. However, I was disappointed that you failed to address the point and the scriptures tendered.

    You wrote:

    One of Clyde’s points therefore was that Christians worshipped in the instrumental Temple, which (as I tried to point out) is not sufficient to argue for instruments in a New Covenant setting.

    I wrote.

    Indeed you did; but it was only part of my larger argument. I made reference to the Temple not to demonstrate that the church should worship as the Jews did in the temple, but to make the point that instruments were not rejected by the earliest Christian church.

    That is the point. You begin with the ECFs to demonstrate that the early church rejected instruments. I submit that the church did not begin with the ECFs.

    The young church did not wander aimlessly into the temple day after day. It was the apostles who took the young church there. For what purpose? Luke wrote: "And they [the church] stayed continually at the temple, praising God" (Luke 24:53) I'll restate what I said in my last post: To assume that Christians were in the instrumental temple "praising God" in what you refer to as "a New Covenant setting" (meaning non-instrumental) is ABNORMALLY SPECULATIVE.

    The church is inextricably connected to a promise that God made to Israel; and it is within the context of the OT that we begin to understand God's purpose for the church revealed in the N.T.

    I offered several passages that demonstrate God's intent. It appears as if you are suggesting that the prophecies have already been fulfilled. I disagree that they were fulfilled outside of the context of the New Covenant (as the prophesies state), but let's assume for a minute that you are correct. If you are correct, then the promise carries forward and the "very ancient practice" that began in the Exile (documented by Lamentations) was not what God intended for the Israel, nor is it what he intended for the church.

    Look:
    • You have the prophets promising the restoration of Israel's well documented praise (see the book of Psalms) in a New Covenant.
    • You have Jesus declaring the “the year of the LORD’s favor.” The New Covenant is “the year of the LORD’s favor,” a comfort for “all who mourn,” and a provision “for those who grieve in Zion.” It bestows on its former mourners “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
    • You have the earliest church "praising God" in an instrumental temple
    • You have Paul telling the church to sing psalmos; and "whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord."
    Alexander, the message is clear: The kingdom is not a continuation of Israel’s lament. The teaching that instrumental worship is wrong is based on a wobbling foundation.

  15. ClydeSymonette says:

    HG:

    How do I even being to address and readdress so many points that you have raised? 🙂 I suggest we begin in the O.T. and work forward 1 point at a time. What you do you think?

  16. ClydeSymonette says:

    Alexander, HG

    It is very difficult and (extra ordinarily time consuming) to respond to multiple posters; and a lot of time is lost repeating positions. Perhaps we should come up with a format to present a unified position in an organized debate. Any ideas?

  17. ClydeSymonette says:

    Hi Bruce:

    Are looking for something shorter than the Wineskins article? http://www.wineskins.org/filter.asp?SID=2&fi_

  18. Price says:

    @ Bruce. I appreciate your focus on unity…sounds like a idea that has been collecting dust for way too long…however, there appears to me that there are some assumptions on your part that this debate is clearly showing are somewhat misplaced..It seems that IM was already in place and enjoyed and NOT condemned within the first 100 years or so of the early church…(Pre-ECF) That to me is a pretty powerful argument. One would think that prior to some comment from an ECF in 150 AD that the early church leaders, even those at the Jerusalem Council, including the Apostles themselves might have made a statement relative to IM as they did regarding circumcision and certain dietary restrictions…It's quite revealing to me that IM seems to not have been an issue at all. It was assumed that IM was fine and dandy. The silence regarding any divisiveness on this issue in the earliest church is deafening.

    If there are unity issues to be resolved it seems to me that both sides would be accommodating to the other rather than demanding compliance with one particular point of view, especially when one realizes that there is room for God-loving, God-fearing, obedient people to disagree… To run ads in local newspapers condemning the other party to hell seems entirely out of line with the unity you propose..Outsiders can only imagine what type of church places a greater preference on an instrument than a brother..

  19. aBasnar says:

    To assume that Christians were in the instrumental temple "praising God" in what you refer to as "a New Covenant setting" (meaning non-instrumental) is ABNORMALLY SPECULATIVE.

    Language is othen so insufficient to convey a message …

    NO, Jewish Christians partook in Temple Worship as it was. We see from Acts 21:20-24 that the Jerusalem Church was zealous for the Law and even had Nazarites in their midst. James was said to have been one, too. We might be shocked to hera that they even circumcised their children and adheared to the traditions of the Elders. But this makes sense in the light of 1Co 9:20 where Paul explains that he is wiling to do the same whenever he is among Jews. He also payed for a sacrifice in the temple.

    BUT: This is Old Covenant!

    To be sure, it is NOT a sin to keep the Sabbath … but it is Old Covenant. You cannot make the church keep the Sabbath unless the church is located in Israel or among a Jewish society. It is equally not forbidden tro circumcise your children or to become circumcised yourself … but it is Old Covenant. Woe to those, Paul wrote in Galations, who make circumcision mandatory. In the same way it is not a sin – if you please – to worship God with a guitar privately … but this is Old Covenant.

    So the Jerusalem church (and they ONLY) met in the Temple and were unique in keeping the Law to the extreme.

    BUT: They had different meetings too, in their houses! Really, Acts 2:46 is very crucial as background information. The meetings in te house were centered around a meal ( the Agape), the broke te bread, the had fellowship, prayer, and apostolic instruction (Acts 2:42) even ON A DAILY BASIS! And this was their meeting as the church. This was New Covenant.

    So, no: When they went to praise God in the Temple, this was in the context, style and ritual of the Old Covenant. The churches outside of Jerusalem used their freedom to visit the synagogues until they were exciommunicated by them. That's fine, even commendable … but it is Old Covenant. The churches everywhere had their own meetings in the homes of church members. they built no synagogues and no Christian Temple, since these items are from the Old Covenant.

    And the instruments in the Temple were in the hands of the Levites. They belong to the Old Covenant Worship, not to the New.

    • You have the prophets promising the restoration of Israel's well documented praise (see the book of Psalms) in a New Covenant.

    Yes, but if you take the Instruments literally, you MUST take the Temple Buildiung, the Incense and the sacrifices literally as well! After all, does not Malaci promise that Israel and Judah and the Levites will bring acceptable offerings as in former (!) years (Mal 3:3-4). You cannot take the instruments out of the rest of the package. If you weant instruments, then you must burn icense also.

    • You have Jesus declaring the “the year of the LORD’s favor.” The New Covenant is “the year of the LORD’s favor,” a comfort for “all who mourn,” and a provision “for those who grieve in Zion.” It bestows on its former mourners “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

    But I am not in literal Tion, I am in Vienna. I never messed around with ashes, and I don't use oil to express my joy. So why shall I have to use instruments then in order to fulfill aprophecy? No, it is not meant that way, Clyde.

    • You have the earliest church "praising God" in an instrumental temple

    Yes, butr the Christians themselves did not use instruments in the Temple, since these were in the hands of the Levites, exclusively. And this is still Old Covenant Worship.

    • You have Paul telling the church to sing psalmos; and "whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord."

    You don't need instruments to sing a Psalm. This etymological argument that Psalm comes from psallo which means to pluck (a stringed instrument) contradicts the common use of it. Consequently you'd have to argue: Unless you don't accompany your praise with a stringed instrument (an organ would be completey wrong, and drums as well) you would not sing a Psalm. But this is ridiculous. As soon as you can sing a Psalm a-cappella, the meaning of this term changes from its etymological root to its common use. In that sense, a Pslam is simply a Song of Praise, and that's the meaning ofthe Hebrew Title of the Psalter: Tehilim – Songs of Praise.

    the message is clear: The kingdom is not a continuation of Israel’s lament. The teaching that instrumental worship is wrong is based on a wobbling foundation.

    First sentenec: Agreed.
    Second sentence: Instruments are neither required nor essential to experess joy. they belong to the Old Covenant Worship, and this does not stand on a wobbly foundation, as I tried to demonstrate in this rather long post.

    As I said, there is nothing sinful in singing to a guitar – it#s like keeping the Sabbath: It's Old Covenant. But we must not make it a church practice, because this would make us miss the point.

    Alexander

  20. HistoryGuy says:

    Clyde,
    A formal written dialogue would be interesting, but it takes more time. As you pointed out, everyone is a bit short on time. I completely understand the difficulty in finding the time to respond to multiple points from multiple posters. I am sorry for cutting into the conversation. Sometimes we don’t know why the other guy does not understand what we are saying. Therefore, I was trying to help you articulate your view by specifically pointing out some areas where it is hard to accept. It is much easier on my time schedule to watch you and Alexander exchange of ideas. Thus, I heartily say – you all keep up the good work (lol).

  21. ClydeSymonette says:

    Alexander:

    I'm sorry about my late response. Life is so busy! If I only concentrate only this – which I enjoy – I'll get nothing else done!

    In an effort to keep us on point, I'm restating the comment that drew me into this discussion.
    You wrote:

    One of Clyde’s points therefore was that Christians worshipped in the instrumental Temple, which (as I tried to point out) is not sufficient to argue for instruments in a New Covenant setting.

    I wrote.

    Indeed you did; but it was only part of my larger argument. I made reference to the Temple not to demonstrate that the church should worship as the Jews did in the temple, but to make the point that instruments were not rejected by the earliest Christian church.
    In the same context, you sited my statement:"To assume that Christians were in the instrumental temple "praising God" in what you refer to as "a New Covenant setting" (meaning non-instrumental) is ABNORMALLY SPECULATIVE" and responded with the following: "Jewish Christians partook in Temple Worship as it was. We see from Acts 21:20-24 that the Jerusalem Church was zealous for the Law and even had Nazarites in their midst."

    It appears as if we are SO close.
    If as you wrote, "Jewish Christians partook in Temple Worship as it was," does it not prove that the earliest Christians did not view praise with instruments as ECFs did or COC does today? Are you not confirming that INSTRUMENTS WERE NOT REJECTED by the EARLIEST Christian church?

    Additionally, you confirm that Christians participated in Temple worship although you refer to it as Old Covenant. Interesting, what you refer to as "Old Covenant" worship, Luke in the New Testament refers to it as "praising God:"

    And they [the church] stayed continually at the temple, praising God (Acts 24:53).

    You then lump instruments, incense and sacrifices together, label them as "Old Covenant" and imply that when the temple was destroyed, ALL of these were done away with.

    With regard to the prophecies, your problem with my interpretation is that I take instruments literally. Well, yes, I do. The prophets promise the restoration of Israel's praise with instruments over against Israel's lamentations without instruments.

    Your lumping instruments sacrifices and incenses convey a common misunderstanding about the use of instruments in the Old Testament.
    Misunderstanding
    1. Instruments were only used connection with sacrifices.
    2. Instruments were "Old Covenant."

    First, instruments were part and parcel of Israel's praise of God prior to the OC. For example; after Israel traversed the Red Sea to freedom Miriam and the women took up tambourines and danced as they sang songs of praises … as if they heard James shout, “Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise!”

    Second, instruments were incorporated into Old Covenant, but their use within the OC do not restrict them to Old Covenant exclusively. In the same way that praise, although incorporated into the OC, is not exclusively OC, instruments are not OC. David's call to worship the Lord with instruments (Psalms) was not limiting praise with instruments to the OC; he was officially incorporating them into OC praise of God.

    Third, instruments were not restricted to the offering of sacrifices. Chronicles tells us about the sons of Jeduthun, six in all, who under the supervision of their father prophesied using the harp in thanking and praising the LORD. Was “prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals” restricted to the offering of sacrifices? No. There is an example in 1 Samuel 10:5-8. In that passage Samuel told Saul, "You will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying." Please note, that no sacrifice was being offered.

    Therefore, what does the temple building and sacrifices and incense have to do with praising God with instruments? Nothing. Praise with instruments before OC and aside from sacrifices show that instruments were not inextricably tied to sacrifices and incense. Introducing them to this subject is unnecessarily misleading. Sacrifices and incense were not prophesied for a New Covenant; instruments were.

    Now, regarding the prophecy; while the passage you quote (Mal 3:3,4) is intriguing, its context is judgment and offerings – not sacrifices. Let me again refer you to JA Smith's statement. He said that the absence of musical instruments "from the synagogue service after A.D. 70 was nothing more than the continuation of a very ancient practice which simply did not make use of music instruments." The not making use of music instruments is explained in scripture. It was that tradition of lamentation that the prophets addressed with the promise of Israel's restored praise. Was it intended to be literal? Yes, as literal as praise is. In Romans 15:7-12, Paul uses a series of Old Testament prophecies in a way that not only ESTABLISHES THE CONTINUITY OF THE GOSPEL WITH GOD’S EARLIER WORK IN ISRAEL, but answers the following:

    1. What is praise?
    2. Is the praise of the Gentiles different from that of the Jews?
    3. Do the prophecies of Jeremiah and Isaiah address the praise of the Gentile?

    At verse 9, he begins with what we recognize as a Psalm of David. Psalm 18:49:
    "Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD I will sing praises to your name."

    In the Psalm, David is saying how he would praise God in the midst of the nations (Gentiles). Then Paul quotes from Moses’ song (Deuteronomy 32:43).

    “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

    It is not a coincidence that it was from the context of Moses’ song that Paul quoted. In the song, Moses addressed Israel’s idolatry (32:15-23), warned them of the impending destruction that would be the consequence of their continued idolatry (32:23-27), and he promised that God would, in time, make atonement for His people Israel (32:43) and restore their praise—which He did. Notice the non-lamentation term, “rejoice.” (compare Jeremiah 30:19 — "THE SOUND OF REJOICING").

    The instructions are not to mourn together, but to rejoice or sing praises together. Who are “his people” in the context of the quotation? His people are the Jews. Finally, in Romans 15:11; Paul quotes Psalm 117:1 which says:

    Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples.

    The word “praise” has been translated from a Greek word that is used very frequently in the Septuagint; the word aine? (?????). Scriptures NEVER equate aine? or praise with Israel's non-instrumental lament. Praise embodies joyful celebration. Psalm 117 is a good example of this.

    IMPORTANT QUESTION: When Paul writes, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples”, does he have in mind the praise that is defined within the context of Scriptures and by the context of his statement—the same praise that was defined by Moses, David and the prophets of old, or is he referring to a “praise” that is defined only within a vacuum of the post-apostolic ECF church era—a non-celebrative utterance that was a throwback to Israel's ancient lament—the product of enslaved Israel?

    There is no such praise, and why would Paul reference David’s praise in order to portray without equivocation a brand of “New Testament praise” that is the ANTITHESIS of David’s praise?

    Understanding the origin of Israel ancient non-instrumental tradition and consequently a cappella in the later church; knowing God's STATED intent for the praise of the New Testament church as His Word expresses it through the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah; and having considered Paul's reference to the Gentiles singing David's praises with the Jews, why would we conclude that praise is anything other than what the Scriptures describe it to be? THE SAME PRAISE THAT LUKE WROTE ABOUT: And they [the church] stayed continually at the temple, praising God (Acts 24:53).

    Was David’s praise accompanied by instruments? Yes. Was it prophesied to be so in the New Testament? Yes; the praise of the church is the same praise to which Isaiah referred when he wrote that God would bestow the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. It is the same praise to which Jeremiah referred when he said, “The Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations” (Jeremiah 31:11) and “Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” (31:4)
    Are Gentiles participants in that praise? Yes—Jew and Gentile alike.

    As Jeremiah had prophesied it, so the Sovereign Lord made praise spring up in the earliest church AS LUKE WROTE. Call it "Old Covenant." Luke called it praise.

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