Thursday, December 31, 2020

Most popular posts in 2020

The following are the most popular (most viewed) posts for the year 2020 on the Seeking the Old Paths Ministry and Music web log.
After Blogger changed some of its features this year (a supposed upgrade), it was not as easy to take note of which posts were most viewed, so I think I will not do such a review in the future.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Books and reviews, and other reviews

The posting of book or film reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books or book reviews that are linked.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Learning what we believe and why

In the realm of higher education, we are told that colleges and universities foster intellectual inquiry and critical thinking. They teach students to think, or how to think, rather than what to think. I question how successful – or even sincere – that they are in achieving this goal. They turn out multitudes of “assembly-line” students whose thinking reflects that of their professors!

In this same vein, religious seminaries supposedly want to teach you to think about what you believe and why, rather than teaching you what to believe. It may be that they are more generally successful than secular institutions?

What does the Bible say?

On one hand, it tells us to examine ourselves; for example,
On the other hand, it teaches us not to be tossed about; for example,
  • we have a delivered body of faith for which we should contend (Jude 3)
  • our foundation is the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets (Ephesians 2:20) in which we should firmly stand (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
  • we are to teach disciples to observe all things that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:20)
  • the faith should be committed to faithful persons who pass it on to others (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • there is only one gospel, from which we cannot diverge (Galatians 1:8-9)
So, what is the “happy medium”?

Note: my conclusion in general is that Jesus Christ places pastors and teachers in the churches, and it is to the churches we should resort to learn of the meek and lowly One and his doctrine rather than to the ivory towers of higher education.

Monday, December 28, 2020


Back a couple of years ago, I added a category to the five “standard” ones used when Categorizing “KJV-Only” beliefs. I noticed from a man’s description of his KJV view that a sub-category could be added to King James Preferred. KJV-T – King James by Tradition – recognizes a specific reason that some people prefer the King James Version. It is not that they prefer it above other versions, as a translation, but they prefer to continue to use the King James because it is the Bible they grew up with, what they have used, what they are familiar with, contains the verses they have memorized, and so forth. This is a sort of support of the King James by default.

Nothing in all the vast universe

“Nothing in all the vast universe can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed. Here is a foundation of faith. Here is a resting place for the intellect. Here is an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. It is not blind fate, unbridled evil, man or Devil, but the Lord Almighty who is ruling the world, ruling it according to His own good pleasure and for His own eternal glory.” 
Arthur W. Pink, in The Sovereignty of God

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Happy Are They That Love God

“Happy are they, they that love God,” is a hymn by Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930), based on or paraphrased from “O quam juvat fratres, Deus” by Charles Coffin. Coffin published a collection of Latin hymns in 1727, most of which appeared in The Paris Breviary in 1736. Bridges was educated at Eton College in Windsor, Berkshire, and Corpus Christi College at Oxford University. George V named Bridges the poet laureate of England in 1913, which honor he held until his death in 1930. With Harry Ellis Wooldridge, Bridges edited The Yattendon Hymnal in 1899, a collection of one hundred hymns and hymn tune settings. “Happy are they” appears as No. 34 with the tune Binchester, composed by William Croft (1678-1727) – the most common setting still today.

1. Happy are they, they that love God,
Whose hearts have Christ confessed,
Who by his cross have found their life,
And ‘neath his yoke their rest.

2. Glad is the praise, sweet are the songs,
When they together sing;
And strong the prayers that bow the ear
Of heaven’s eternal King.

3. Christ to their homes giveth his peace,
And makes their loves his own: 
But ah! what tares the evil one 
Hath in his garden sown.

4. Sad were our lot, evil this earth,
Did not its sorrows prove
The path whereby the sheep may find
The fold of Jesus’ love.

5. Then shall they know, they that love him,
How all their pain is good;
And death itself cannot unbind
Their happy brotherhood.

Meter: C. M.

Text: Charles Coffin “O quam juvat,” and Robert Bridges “Happy are they” 

Tune: Binchester, by William Croft

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Did Matthew Blunder, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.
  • Biblical Church Growth I Thessalonians 3:12-4:12 -- “Whatever the outward forms of user-friendly churches, the heart of any true church growth will be a desire to please God.”
  • Did Jesus and the Apostles Rely on the Corrupt Septuagint? -- “There was no need for Jesus and the New Testament writers to rely on the Septuagint to quote the Old Testament. Jesus Himself was the Author of the Holy Scriptures.”
  • Did Matthew Blunder? -- “There appears to be a problem, however. Matthew, in appealing to this prophecy, seems to attribute it to Jeremiah, whereas the Old Testament has it in the book of Zechariah.”
  • Have the Archaeological Giants Killed King David? -- “The trend in the academic arena is to challenge society’s cherished beliefs and disparage traditional values.”
  • Mausoleum of Rome’s first emperor restored and ready to reopen -- “The mausoleum is the largest circular tomb in the world and was constructed in 28 BC near the banks of the river Tiber to house the remains of Augustus and his heirs, including the emperors Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius.”
  • Preparing Our Children for Marriage -- “The longer they wait, the more difficult it may be for them to be flexible and open to accommodate another person in their life.”
  • The Battle of Athens, Tennessee -- “In McMinn County, Tennessee, in the early 1940s, the question was not if you farmed, but where you farmed.”
  • The Genealogies of Jesus -- “And so, when properly understood, these genealogies–though uninteresting and perhaps even irrelevant at first blush–become a marvelous manifestation of ‘the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God’ (Romans 11:33).”
  • The Strange Protestant Bible of Henry VIII -- “Coverdale...would help in the next two English Bibles under Henry, the Matthew’s and Great Bibles before serving on the translation team for the Geneva Bible (1560).”
  • Was the Septuagint the Bible of Christ and the Apostles? --“ Jerome wanted to see a new translation of the Old Testament into Latin from the Hebrew. Augustine opposed the use of the Hebrew because he thought the Greek Septuagint was ‘inspired’.”
  • What is the Septuagint? 1 -- “The name Septuagint refers to what is mostly a collection of ancient translations.”
  • What Is the Septuagint? 2 -- “...when scholars use this term, it does not refer to a single text. Rather, it refers to a collection of Greek translations produced by numerous scribes over the course of a few hundred years and, in all likelihood, composed in different locations.”
  • What to Do While You Drive To Church -- “ you drive to church, sing, consider, and pray. Just be sure to do it with your eyes open.”

Friday, December 25, 2020

God in cradle lies, A Psalm for Christmas Day Morning

“A Psalm for Christmass day morning,” by Thomas Pestel (circa 1585-1659), appeared in his Sermons and Devotions Old and New... in 1659, in nine stanzas. The text below is substantially what appeared at that time, with some updates to modern spelling. The hymn is Common Meter and might be sung with any good common meter tune, or C.M.D. if the 9th stanza is repeated. If sung as the latter, Oxford, a tune already known to Sacred Harp singers with “Christmas text,” will serve quite well!

The author was a chaplain to King Charles I. The title page of his book called him “the meanest amongst his late Majesties Chaplains in ordinary.” Pestel was educated at Queens’ College in Cambridge, graduating in 1609.

1. Fairest of morning Lights appear,
Thou blest and gaudy day,
On whom was born our Saviour dear,
Make haste and come away.

2. See, See, our pensive breasts do pant,
Like gasping land we lie,
Thy holy dews our souls do want.
We faint, we pine, we die.

3. Let from the skies a joyful rain
Like Mel or Manna fall.
Whose searching drops our sins may drain,
And quench our sorrows all.

4. This day prevents his day of doom;
His mercy now is nigh;
The mighty God of love is come,
The day-spring from on high.

5. Behold, the great Creator makes
Himself an house of clay,
A robe of virgin flesh he takes
Which he will wear for aye.

6. Hark, hark, the wise Eternal Word
Like a weak infant cries;
In form of servant is the Lord,
And God in cradle lies.

7. This wonder struck the world amazed,
It shook the starry frame;
Squadrons of spirits stood and gazed,
Then down in troops they came.

8. Glad shepherds ran to view this sight;
A quire of angels sings;
And eastern sages with delight
Adore this King of kings.

9. Join then all hearts that are not stone,
And all our voices prove
To celebrate this holy One,
The God of Peace and Love.

Notes: “Mel” is verse 3 probably means honey. The beginning of verse 9 in the original has the abbreviation “Bis.” This apparently means that verse was to be repeated (as in sung twice). The title page of Sermons and Devotions Old and New in 1659 says Pestel was “now aged 73,” making his birth about 1585.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christianity is optimistic, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

“Christianity is optimistic about grace, but pessimistic about human nature.” -- Ajith Fernando

“The local church—by whatever name—exists solely because of the Kingdom above it.” -- Charles Carrin

“Even if life were an endless series of ‘coin-tosses,’ God controls the outcome of the coin-tosses.” -- C. C. Morris

“A man-pleaser cannot be true to God, because he is a servant to the enemies of his service; the wind of a man’s mouth will drive him about as the chaff, from any duty, and to any sin.” -- Richard Baxter

“We frequently find ourselves trying to shepherd the flock of God that we want, the one we imagine them to be, the one we want them to be. But God through Peter commands us to shepherd the church we’ve actually got.” -- Jared Wilson, in The Pastor’s Justification

“‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,’ but how bad and how bitter it is for them to live asunder in discord.” -- Kekocton Association to the Sandy Creek Association, 1769

“God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him.” -- John Piper

“When I consider my crosses, tribulations, and temptations, I shame myself almost to death thinking of what they are in comparison to the sufferings of my blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ.” -- Martin Luther

“Without beginning God, who never ends, from boundless being, man’s beginning sends.” -- Thomas Pestel

“He that demands mercy and shows none ruins the bridge over which himself is to pass.” -- Thomas Adams

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Summaries and Summary Narratives in Acts

The book of Acts contains several summaries (sentences) and summary narratives (paragraphs) that advance the history by synthesizing events over time into a brief or condensed statement. They accelerate the story with general declarations that depict prevailing (and healthy) church life, covering an extended but unspecified period. Some may be brief (e.g. 1:14, which cannot cover more than ten days) while others may cover time in months or years (e.g. 2:43-47).


Folks in modern academic theological circles commonly call the passages from Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35; and 5:12-16 “summary narratives.” Lorin L. Cranford thinks 2:43-47, 4:32-35, and 5:12-16 each may cover a period of roughly five years. (I do not think I agree with that length, based on how I view the Acts timeline). The summary narratives all occur in Jerusalem.
Acts 2:42-47 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Acts 4:32-35 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Acts 5:12-16 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
  • Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
  • Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
  • Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
  • Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judæa and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
  • Acts 11:26b And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
  • Acts 12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
  • Acts 14:28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.
  • Acts 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
  • Acts 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
  • Acts 28:31 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
The last two verses in the book of Acts summarize the events in Rome and conclude the treatise with a two-year period of Paul freely preaching and teaching the word of God.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Through Western Eyes

Several friends have enthusiastically recommended Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible, by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien.

Upon looking at the book, my first thoughts were, “Written by two white guys with western eyes! What are their qualifications to instruct the rest of us in the matter?” I found that Randy Richards was a missionary to Indonesia for about 9 or 10 years, and the other spent some time researching church history in Europe. There is no doubt they have experiences that some other people do not. However…

What I say is not a review of the book – for I have not read it. It is more of a review of the impression some people give when hawking the book.

The theme of the books seems to be that the cultural distance between modern Westerners and the biblical world cause us to misunderstand God’s word. We bring our biases to the text. Richards and O’Brien write, “We can easily forget that Scripture is a foreign land and that reading the Bible is a crosscultural experience” (p. 11)…One of our goals in this book is to remind (or convince!) you of the cross cultural nature of biblical interpretation. We will do that by helping you become more aware of cultural differences that separate us from the foreign land of Scripture” (p. 12).

Really, I think few would question that we bring our biases to the reading of the text of the Bible. No one approaches the Bible as a blank slate. Truth be told, none of the first century readers were blank slates, either – nor are any of the Indonesians. Or anyone else who reads the Bible. It is likely this book offers some thought-provoking ideas that Westerners need to consider. It is likely that this book may drive off in the ditch on the other side of the road. We can be aware of our biases, but we cannot be men and women of the first century. It is likely that the approach is overly dismissive of guidance of the Spirit, and heavy on an academic approach. It is likely that put little stock of the 2000-year church history foundation that many Western Christians have, where the faith once delivered to the saints was committed to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also – a cycle recurring to the present. If they have taken on Western individualism that often disregards the idea of studying (and practicing) the Bible in a faithful community, they probably cannot say that strongly enough!

Ultimately, we all have to read Scripture with the eyes God gave us. That does not mean we cannot recognize that we might vision problems and ask to know what others see. However, we must take into account their vision problems as well. One might be color-blind and the other nearsighted.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said:
“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”

Monday, December 21, 2020

5 ways baseball’s all-time record books, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked. 

A true recognition of God’s sovereignty

A true recognition of God’s sovereignty will avow God’s perfect right to do with us as He wills. The one who bows to the pleasure of the Almighty will acknowledge His absolute right to do with us as seemeth Him good. If He chooses to send poverty, sickness, domestic bereavements, even while the heart is bleeding at every pore, it will say, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right!” Often there will be a struggle, for the carnal mind remains in the believer to the end of his earthly pilgrimage. But though there may be a conflict within his breast, nevertheless, to the one who has really yielded himself to this blessed truth there will presently be heard that Voice saying, as of old it said to the turbulent Gennesaret, “Peace be still;” and the tempestuous flood within will be quieted and the subdued soul will lift a tearful but confident eye to Heaven and say, “Thy will be done.” 
Arthur W. Pink, in The Sovereignty of God

Sunday, December 20, 2020

A Psalm for Sunday Nights

On Sunday morning, I post “A Psalm for Sunday Nights.” Thomas Pestel wrote “A Psalm for Sunday Nights,” and it was published in 1659 in Sermons and Devotions Old and New. Pestel was educated at Queens’ College in Cambridge, graduating in 1609. The author was a chaplain to King Charles I. The title page of his book called him “the meanest amongst his late Majesties Chaplains in ordinary.” Written in Common Meter, in my opinion it would work nicely with Only Trust Him by John Hart Stockton. In this case, just sing the stanzas with the first half of the tune and leave off the chorus.

1. Come ravished souls with high delight;
In sweet immortal verse,
To crown the day, and welcome night;
Jehovah’s praise rehearse.

2. O sing the Glories of our Lord,
His Grace and Truth resound.
And his stupendous acts Record,
Whose mercies have no bound.

3. He made the all informing light
And hosts of angels fair:
’Tis he with shadows cloths the night,
He clouds or clears the air.

4. Those restless skies with stars encased
He on firm hinges set:
The wave embraced earth he placed
His hanging cabinet.

5. Wherein for us all things comply
Which he hath so decreed.
That each in order faithfully
Shall evermore proceed.

6. We in his Summer sunshine stand,
And by his favour grow,
We gather what his bounteous hand
Is pleased to bestow.

7. When he contracts his brow we mourn,
And all our strength is vain,
To former dust in death we turn,
Till he inspire again.

8. Then to this mighty Lord give praise
And all our voices prove.
The Glory of his name to raise,
The God of Peace and Love.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

In other words, a to z

  • abbreviation, noun. A shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole.
  • anemious, adjective. Exposed to wind; windswept.
  • bigly, adverb. With great force; firmly, violently; (also) stoutly, strongly.
  • bis, adverb. (As a direction in music) again, twice. A way to designate the repeat of a phrase or stanza.
  • Briticism, noun. A word or phrase characteristic of the English of Great Britain but not used in the English of the United States or other countries.
  • codswallop, noun (British Slang). Nonsense; rubbish.
  • gravitas, noun. Seriousness or sobriety, as of conduct or speech.
  • hypertonic, adjective (Physiology). Of or relating to hypertonia, that is, increased rigidity, tension, and spasticity of the muscles.
  • immaculate, adjective. Free from spot or stain, spotlessly clean; free from fault, flaw, or errors; free from moral blemish or impurity; pure; undefiled.
  • initialism, noun. A set of initials representing a name, organization, etc., with each letter pronounced separately; or, a word formed from the initial letters of a group of words and pronounced as a separate word.
  • magnalia, noun (with plural agreement). Great or wonderful things; marvels (esp. of nature).
  • mel, noun. Honey.
  • pacify, verb (transitive). To appease (as wrath or other violent passion or appetite), to calm, still, or quiet; to restore peace to; to tranquilize.
  • quarantine, noun (mass noun). A state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed.
  • sportingly, adverb. In a manner calculated to amuse or entertain; in or with jesting words or speech; wittily, satirically; facetiously, mischievously. (Now rare).
  • WotY, noun. An initialism for Word(s) of the Year, referring to various assessments as to the most important word(s) in the public sphere during a specific year.
  • zero-sum, adjective. In general, designating any situation in which an advantage to one participant necessarily leads to a disadvantage to one or more of the others.

Friday, December 18, 2020

The brother, whose praise is in the gospel

Another interesting early tradition about Luke is that he (Luke) is “the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches” of 2 Corinthians 8:18. Many take this to suggest Paul is referring to Luke’s already-written gospel. The gospel was evidently written while Paul was still alive, since Luke wrote his gospel before he wrote the book of Acts (Acts 1:1), so prior to AD 62 (in my opinion).

John Chrysostom (circa AD 347-407) says this in Homily 10 on the Second Timothy:
“Only Luke is with me.” For he adhered to him inseparably. It was he who wrote the Gospel, and the General Acts; he was devoted to labors, and to learning, and a man of fortitude; of him Paul writes, “whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches.” 2 Corinthians 8:18
Jerome of Stridon in De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men) Chapter 7 (circa AD 345-420) says Luke:
wrote a Gospel, concerning which the same Paul says, “We send with him a brother whose praise in the gospel is among all the churches”
And in Letter 53, To Paulinus
...once we realize that their author is Luke the physician whose praise is in the gospel...
The longer recension of the Epistle of Ignatius of Antioch to the Ephesians (Chapter 15) (died circa AD 108-140) credits Luke as being this brother whose praise in in the Gospel.
For he who shall both “do and teach, the same shall be great in the kingdom.” Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, first did and then taught, as Luke testifies, “whose praise is in the Gospel through all the Churches.”
Eusebius of Caesarea (circa AD 262–3390) in Church History, Book III.4.8 makes a reference that seems to say Luke’s Gospel was already written when Paul was writing (though he doesn’t mention the 2 Corinthians passage).
And they say that Paul meant to refer to Luke’s Gospel wherever, as if speaking of some gospel of his own, he used the words, according to my Gospel.
Some conservative scholars believe that AD 55-57 is a “reasonable estimate” for dating 2 Corinthians. If so, it would not be far of the possible dating of AD 58-59 that some give the gospel of Luke. Nevertheless, the interpretation of Luke being “the brother whose praise is in the gospel” is tenuous enough that one would not want to be too dogmatic about it.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Their proper tongue

Acts 1:19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

Proponents of “Luke the Gentile” put forward this text to prove that Luke was a Gentile. In other words, Luke writes about Jews and speaks of “their proper tongue” – therefore he must not be a Jew, but rather a Gentile.

First, is Luke explaining or Peter speaking? If Peter is speaking, the question is settled. We know this does not prove Peter was not a Jew. However, if this is a parenthetical explanation by Luke, the question remains open.

Second, by tongue (διαλεκτω) here does Luke mean the bigger language of all the Jews (Hebrews) or a dialect of the inhabitants of Jerusalem? For example, Luke uses “the Hebrew tongue” to describe Paul speaking in Acts 21:40.

Third, by “their tongue” does he mean that of the dwellers at Jerusalem, thereby only distinguishing himself as not from Jerusalem (as opposed to him meaning he was not a Jew)? The language spoken by the Jews in Jerusalem was Aramaic. It is plain that the Galilean dialect used by Peter and the other apostles was different from the Jerusalem dialect (Matthew 26:73; Mark 14:70, Luke 22:59, Acts 2:7).

Even if Luke means the Hebrew language, it is simple to understand “their” distinguishing between Jews and the recipient of the letter (Theophilus) rather than Jews and the author of the letter (Luke). This verse does not lend strong support to the idea of Luke being a Gentile rather than a Jew.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Andrea Bocelli’s Beautiful Testimony, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A Cappella Singing

A cappella versus Instrumental Accompaniment

One approach promoting the singing in church accompanied by musical instruments is an argument from the Greek verb psallo (and the related noun psalmos).

“Furthermore, in Eph 5:19, the phrase ‘making melody’ is the Greek word, psallo which means, ‘1) to pluck off, pull out, 2) to cause to vibrate by touching, to twang, 2a) to touch or strike the chord, to twang the strings of a musical instrument so that they gently vibrate, 2b) to play on a stringed instrument, to play, the harp, etc. 2c) to sing to the music of the harp 2d) in the NT to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song.’ We can see that the making melody to the Lord involves the use of musical instruments.”[i]

Psallo is used 5 times in 4 verses in the New Testament, translated “sing” in Romans 15:9 and 1 Corinthians 14:15, “sing psalms” in James 5:13, and “making melody” in Ephesians 5:19.[ii]  Pointing to the etymology of the word (to pluck a string), advocates say the command to psallo means to sing with the accompaniment of musical instruments. This etymological fallacy attaches a word’s etymology to its usage and meaning. For example, the etymology of the word “goodbye” tells us it means “God be with you.” Nevertheless, most people who utter the word “goodbye” simply mean to express courtesy upon a departure, without connection to whatever they believe about God. So with psallo. A look at a couple of New Testament scriptures will expose the fallacy to what should be a sudden and final death. No need to mine the depths of the Greek language; a little logic will go a long way. 

If a musical instrument inheres in psallo – if it always means to sing with musical accompaniment – then the command to psallo demands a mandatory obedience of singing with musical accompaniment. A cappella singing would be ruled out when the command is “to psallo.” So the merry one of James 5:13 must hold her peace if she does not have or does not know how to play an instrument. The spirit-filled believer of 1 Corinthians 14:26 who “hath a psalm” must remain silent if he left his accompaniment at home! Who can believe it?

In addition to the psallo argument, the next often cited argument probably derives from the normative principle:

“The fact that the New Testament nowhere condemns musical instruments indicates that the Old Testament practice was continued in the New Testament church.”[iii]

This is an application of the normative principle – “whatever is not forbidden is acceptable.”[iv] Further, it is a misreading and misapplication of the Scriptures. We cannot exclude things because Scripture does not specifically address (forbid) them! This approach opens the door to the inventions and imaginations of men regardless of whether Scripture supports them.

This argument should remind us, though, that musical instruments are not inherently sinful, and that God has accepted worship by and with them in the past. Therefore, it is not a matter of moral right or wrong, but rather a matter of what is commanded. However much we might enjoy musical instruments, however much God may be worshipped with them in the past or in the future, there is no command, precept or example – neither necessary inference – for it in the New Testament. If one will argue from the Bible that musical instruments should be used in church worship, sometimes other than these two arguments should be posited.

[i] From Can we use musical instruments in the church? by Matt Slick.
[ii] Sing in Ephesians 5:19 is ado.
[iii] From Are we supposed to use musical instruments in church? at GotQuestions.Org
[iv] For normative principle, see Principles of Worship. The regulative principle more closely follows the intent of Scripture. Interestingly, exclusive psalmodists who forbid musical instruments place themselves in the peculiar position to sing the commands to use of musical instruments in public worship, but cannot use them because the New Testament church is not commanded to use musical instruments.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Charley Pride dies, and other music and worship links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

The character of a nation

“The character of a nation is not to be found primarily in great political movements, and certainly not in an obsession with ‘progress.’  It is found in its land and weather, the kind of people who work there, the music they sing, the places where they worship, the games they play, the food they raise; what they honor and love, and what they will shed their blood to save.” 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

There’s a song in the air

Josiah Gilbert Holland wrote the hymn beginning with the first line “There’s a song in the air.” “There’s a song in the air” excellently expresses a childlike simplicity and joy regarding the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. It seems best considered as meter It was set to music in Christmas Song by Karl P. Harrington in 1904.

Holland was born in Belchertown, Massachusetts July 24, 1819. He served on the staff of the Springfield Republican newspaper, under Editor Samuel Bowles. He wrote numerous essays under the pseudonym Timothy Titcomb. In 1870, he became editor of Scribner’s Magazine. He wrote several poems, as well as a biography of Abraham Lincoln. “For summer’s bloom, and autumn’s blight” is among his well-known works (from Bitter-Sweet). Holland married Elizabeth L Chapin. He perhaps was a Unitarian. Henry Foote Wilder lists him in American Unitarian Hymn Writers and Hymns.[i] Josiah Holland died October 12, 1881 in New York City, New York. He is buried in the Springfield Cemetery in Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts.

1. There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

2. There’s a tumult of joy 
O’er the wonderful birth, 
For the virgin’s sweet boy 
Is the Lord of the earth. 
Ay! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing, 
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

3. In the light of that star 
Lie the ages impearled; 
And that song from afar 
Has swept over the world. 
Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing 
In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!

4. We rejoice in the light, 
And we echo the song 
That comes down through the night
 From the heavenly throng. 
Ay! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring, 
And we greet in his cradle our Savior and King! credits the following to Josiah Gilbert Holland:

“Joys divided are increased.”

[i] Whether because he was a Unitarian or because “For summer’s bloom, and autumn’s blight” is included in the Unitarian Hymn and Tune Book for Church and Home (Boston, MA: 1868) is not clear to me.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

In other words, in pairs

  • celebrous, adjective. Famous, well-known, renowned. Also: well-attended, crowded.
  • prominent, adjective. Standing out so as to be seen easily; conspicuous; particularly noticeable; leading, important, or well-known.
  • dressing, noun. A seasoned mixture (as of bread crumbs, vegetables, and butter) that is typically baked in a pan and served with a turkey, pepper, etc. Cf. stuffing.
  • stuffing, noun. A seasoned mixture (as of bread crumbs, vegetables, and butter) that is typically placed inside the cavity of a turkey, pepper, etc. and cooked. Cf. dressing.
  • eminently, adverb. To a high degree; very.
  • imminently, adverb. Ready to take place; in a way that is likely to happen very soon.
  • epidemic, noun and adjective. A widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time (n.); of the nature of an epidemic (adj.).
  • pandemic, noun and adjective. An outbreak of a pandemic disease (n.); (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world (adj.).
  • plandemic, noun. A widespread occurrence of an infectious disease that is planned, especially that the Covid-19 virus is a planned bioweapon, is a planned effort to inspire worldwide vaccinations, or some other related conspiracy. From “plan” + “pandemic” or “plan” + “epidemic.” (A popular conspiracy term in 2020, it’s use can be found at least to 2006 in a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.)
  • extraneous, adjective. Not constituting an essential or vital element or part; unrelated to the topic or matter at hand; coming from the outside.
  • irrelevant, adjective. Not connected with or relevant to something.
  • keening, noun and adjective. The action of wailing in grief for a dead person (n.); (of a sound) prolonged and high-pitched, typically in a way that expresses grief or sorrow (adj.).
  • threnody, noun. A poem, speech, or song of lamentation, especially for the dead; dirge; funeral song.
  • pair, noun. A set of two things used together or regarded as a unit; Two people related in some way or considered together.
  • twin, noun. One of two children or animals born at the same birth; a person or thing that is exactly like another; something containing or consisting of two matching or corresponding parts.
  • pedophobia, noun. Fear of children; hatred of children.
  • podophobia, noun. An irrational fear of feet, especially the fear of looking at or touching feet, or the fear of having one’s own feet touched or looked at.
  • Pentecost, noun. The Old Testament feast of weeks; Jewish festival of Shavuoth; the Christian festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, held on the seventh Sunday after Easter.
  • Whitsunday (or Whit Sunday), noun. The seventh Sunday after Easter, a Christian festival commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. From “white Sunday,” a reference to the practice in some churches of the newly baptized wearing white robes at Pentecost.
  • slummock, verb (intransitive, Scottish). To kiss amorously, in a particularly wet and slobbery way. Obsolete.
  • smooch, verb (used without object). To kiss; to engage in amorous caressing; pet.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Sad Statement by Darwin

“Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he is now, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.”
I do not have much to say about this. I read this and thought, how sad! As a humanist and naturalist, Darwin believed the sun would eventually grow too cold to sustain life on the earth, and that mankind would be annihilated. He was proud of man’s progress and found the loss of it intolerable. He seems that he wished he could believe at least in the immortality of the soul.

The Son of God and Saviour of mankind said:
I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (John 11:25).

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Preaching the Bible and/or Articles of Faith

Charles Carrin’s Open Heart Letter tells his story of leaving the Primitive Baptists for other pastures. It is a very captivating story, whether or not you agree. The following admission really caught my attention.

For 30 years of ministry there were certain New Testament scriptures which I was unable to preach. Why? I felt honor-bound to interpret every Bible verse through our Articles of Faith. If scriptures did not agree with the Articles I thought I was confused about the Scripture. The Articles were right (I reasoned). If I had preached any Scripture contrary to the Articles I would have been excommunicated. I am convinced many other godly pastors are submitting to the same tragic error, and getting the same zero-results in their ministry.

In addition, Carrin wrote, “The enormity of Scripture can never be reduced to a few humanly-composed statements of faith.” Articles of faith are utilitarian for Baptists, but have at least at times been controversial as well – that is, whether you should even have them. In theory, all Baptists believe the Bible is the “only rule of faith and practice.” Most, however, do not think that it is wrong to express one’s views in some type of confession of faith. The early Separate Baptists in the United States for years stood solidly against creeds or articles of faith. George Bagwell expressed their view this way: If human creeds contain less than the Bible on the subject of religion, then they are incomplete. If they contain more than the Bible, they are not worthy of credit—are superfluous. If they contain the same as the Bible, then they are not creeds, but Bible itself. The Separate Baptist aversion to written creeds seems to have been thoughtful and sincere. However, many of them eventually saw the benefit of stating to others some of the things they believed about the Bible.

Properly understood, a statement of faith is neither authoritative nor immutable. It is prepared by individuals or churches to let others know some things they believe about the Bible. Associations adopt a statement of faith usually with the additional reason of providing a sort of minimum standard the churches need to hold in order to be able to cooperate with one another on an associational basis.

The problem with a creed or confession of faith is not that people or churches might try to express what they believe to others, but that their words can become deified documents, existing for their own purposes. The brasen serpent of Moses served a purpose (Numbers 21:8-9). Long after it outlived its purpose, the brasen serpent became a snare to the people (2 Kings 18:4). Hezekiah king of Judah recognized this and called it Nehushtan – a piece of brass – then broke it in pieces.

Let articles of faith succinctly and simply express to others what we believe. If the document becomes a snare, break it in pieces. If we can only preach a creed, break it in pieces. If we are interpreting the Bible by our creed rather than fashioning our creed to the teachings of the Bible, break it in pieces. Let the statement serve a purpose. Let it not become a stumblingblock or an idol.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Burgs in a New Land, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.