That’s Not Found in Scripture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would like to address something that has been really bothering me recently. Most of you are aware that I have gotten involved in the Family Integrated Church controversy. It was in getting involved in that controversy that I first began to see this problem. However, it has grown as this Christmas I have seen people use the exact same reasoning and argumentation used by people to say that there is somehow something wrong with Christians celebrating Christmas.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with a Christian who decides that they don’t want to celebrate Christmas. However, I do have concerns about the grossly reductionistic argumentation used to say that celebrating Christmas is somehow sinful and idolatrous. There are many parallels to the arguments used by exclusive psalmodists, and Family Integrated Church proponents. The argument seems to always take the same form:

What warrant do we have for X in scripture?

The problem that I have is not with the question, but with the fact that it already presupposes agreement on something for which I doubt very much there is agreement from the beginning: hermeneutics. You see, to say “We have warrant for X in scripture” or “We don’t have warrant for X in scripture” depends upon how you interpret scripture. I have found that people who pose the question, “What warrant do we have for X in scripture?” are simply assuming a particular hermeneutic that they don’t want defend. The logically prior question to “What does scripture say?” is “How should we determine what scripture says?” This really is the crux.

Let me give an example of how this might play out. Let us assume that there is a person who has an empirical view of language, and, therefore, interprets the Bible in such a way that he makes God empirical. Here, one’s view of language determines how one is going to read the text. Also, consider the influence of neo-Platonism upon the hermeneutics of the Alexandrian school. There is a reason why the Alexandrian school argued for a “deeper” meaning. It was because of a pre-commitment to neo-platonic philosophy of language. The point is that one’s hermeneutics and philosophy of language determines what you will say is commanded in scripture, and what you will say is not commanded in scripture.

Hence, yesterday, when I saw one of my friends ask the question, “Where are we commanded to remember the birth of Christ in scripture?,” I immediately asked, “What would convince you that we have a command in scripture to remember the birth of Christ?” Such a question changes the whole scope of things. It puts the question back to one’s philosophy of language, and how one derives certain commands from scripture. This is something I have not seen exclusive psalmodists, Family Integrated Church proponents, or those who say that we should not celebrate Christmas [usually also esclusive psalmodists] address. Yet, it is vital to the whole question.

The problem is that this question is vital to understanding the regulative principle, since it is vital to understanding how to apply the text of scripture. It is somewhat ambiguous as to the view of language that many of these people take, but I have found that, largely, they will argue that, unless you have the text commanded in the very words or the semantics of the words of the text, it is forbidden. The difficulty with this argument is that it reduces language down to words, and focuses on words as the primary element of language. This can be seen in the common question:

What warrant do we have in scripture for singing uninspired songs?

While there is no doubt that words are important to language, the problem is that meaning is not necessarily wrapped up in the individual words of a sentence. Let us, for example, take the common Hebrew verb אמר. This term is found, not only in the Hebrew Bible, but also in uninspired Hebrew inscriptions. Hence, what does it mean to say, “The Hebrew term אמר is inspired?” It cannot be understood to be inspired unless it is put within a a context, a context of other words surrounding it. However, even that is insufficient. There have been many copy errors that have crept into the manuscripts over time. One most rightly ask whether a person doesn’t have the word of God simply because they have a manuscript that reads דבר rather than אמר. This is why most evangelical theologians speak of verbal-plenary inspiration, that is, that it is not just the words, but meaning created by the context itself that is inspired, and that is why verbal inspiration cannot be considered apart from plenary inspiration.

The truth of this can be seen in a phenomenon known as “semantic entailment.” John Frame, in his devastating review of R. Scott Clark, points out a common problem in this regard:

…within the bounds which God has prescribed, and that we do not add anything to that worship which has been divinely instituted, or corrupt it in any part, even the most unimportant.

Taken literally, however, this would exclude sitting on pews, standing for hymns, reading Psalm 50, and any number of things which God does not specifically “prescribe.” Therefore Clark, following the tradition, distinguishes between “elements” and “circumstances” (230). The RPW literally governs only the “elements” (word, sacraments, and prayer), but not the circumstances, which would include such things as the time and place of worship, the use of pews, etc.

One problem here is that there are some things we do in worship that are neither elements nor circumstances in the official definitions. Reading Psalm 50, for example, is not an element, because God nowhere commands us to read precisely that passage. But neither is it a circumstance, because circumstances are “common to human actions and societies,” (WCF 1.6). So some have spoken of “expressions” or “forms” as a third category. But it is not clear what the status of this category is with regard to the RPW.

I think that this can be understood if we allow that language has a semantic field. Consider, for example, the common phenomenon called “semantic entailment”:

1. I got a cat today.

2. I got an animal today.

As one can see, the truth of the first guarantees the truth of the second, and the falsity of the second proves the falsity of the first. However, let us assume that scripture contains the words of the first, but does not contain the words of the second. The difficulty can be readily seen. What happens if we find out that the second one is false? A person who is consistent with their exclusive psalmody will say that the inerrancy of scripture has not been affected, because it is not the inspired word of God that has been proven wrong. However, as can be clearly seen, if #2 is wrong, so is #1.

However, one will still press that #2 is not the specific words of scripture, and to that I agree. #2 is not *verbally* inspired, but it is inspired because it is related to the *plenary* aspects of the words of scripture. This is why, again, verbal aspects of inspiration cannot be separated from the plenary aspects. If that is true, then the exclusive psalmodist must explain this relationship.

However, it is precisely this relationship between words that allows us to understand what Frame has said above. For example, notice the similarity in the relationship between the two sentences above and these two sentences:

1. We can sing the Psalms.

2. We can sing Psalm 50.

What this points out is that language has a semantic field. When you main a statement, it will entail a wide variety of things. It is the same for scripture, and that is what I believe is, at least partially, what is to be understood when we speak of the *plenary* aspect of inspiration. The problem is, if this is the case, then exclusive psalmody is thereby refuted. Why? Because one must ask the question as to whether one can sing songs that semantically entail the message of scripture, since entailment is related to the plenary element of inspiration.

This also will refute those who say that we should not celebrate Christmas because there is no command in scripture to do so. Consider the following:

Psalm 105:5 Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth,

In this verse, we are commanded to remember the wonders of God which he has done. Hence, you have the following relationship:

1. We must take time to remember the mighty acts of God.

2. We must take time to remember the incarnation.

One can readily see the entailment between 1 and 2. About the only thing I have heard in response to this is that we should remember the incarnation year round. Of course, there is no doubt of the truth of this statement. However, the problem is that even the exclusive psalmodist has to admit that, although we are to remember the great truths of scripture, there are times during the year when the pastor will take time to preach on a particular topic, and to reflect upon a particular truth. One must ask why there is such arbitrariness in that they will allow a specific time to reflect on, say, the doctrine of predestination, but not upon the incarnation.

However, many exclusive psalmodists will continue demanding that the means of remembering it by a particular holiday be found in scripture. Aside from, again, pointing to the above problem of reading, specifically Psalm 50, my response is, just as the Family Integrated Church has problems with speech act theory, so also exclusive psalmody will have problems with speech act theory. The threefold division of speech act theory into locution [text and its meaning], illocution [what the text intends to accomplish], and perlocution [what the text actually accomplishes]. Consider this:

Locution: Remember the great acts of God, including the incarnation.
Illocution: To get God’s people to remember the great acts of God, including his incarnation.
Perlocution: God’s people set up a special [non-mandatory] holiday to remember the incarnation, namely, on December 25.

The key is whether it is consistent with the illocution of the commands themselves. Exclusive psalmody seeks to reduce language to locution alone, and doesn’t understand the fact that language intends to accomplish certain things. Yet, we do this all of the time when we talk about language. Consider the example of the railing at the edge of the upper deck of a baseball stadium. The upper decks of baseball stadiums are hardly common to human experience, and yet, we recognize that it is a legitimate application of the command to protect human life that we have sufficiently high railings at the edge of the upper decks. The key is what the *intent* of the command is.

Some exclusive psalmodists, in an attempt to avoid the battering rams of pragmatics against their position, will try to make a distinction between worship, and the moral commandments of God. However, such a distinction actually proves the point I have been trying to make all along, and that is that the position itself is totally arbitrary. It treats the commandments of God as normal human language, but then arbitrarily does not treat the commandments of God with regards to worship as normal human language. That is why I said at the beginning that one’s philosophy of language becomes very important in understanding what scripture commands, and what it does not command. However, the exclusive psalmodist is arbitrary. He treats the language of worship in one way, and the language of God’s moral commandments in another way. However, it is just this arbitrariness in hermeneutics that is the main criticism exclusive psalmodists, as Calvinists, accuse Arminians of engaging in!

Not only that, but it is very dangerous to do this. I had someone give me a good illustration of what happens when you reduce language down to locution. Let us say that two people go out hunting. The first guy has a gun, and the second guy keeps watch out for game. All of the sudden, the second guy sees some game to the right, and he says, “Shoot to the right!” The problem is that, although the first guy shoots to the right, he misses on his first shot, and the game starts running to the left. However, the first man continues to shoot in the exact same spot, even after the animal well out of sight to the left. The second guy then says, “What are you doing? Didn’t you see that the game started running to the left?” To which the first guy responds, “Yes, but I was obeying your command to shoot to the left.”

Without recognizing the intent of the commands, and thus, what the command deems as important, and what the command does not deem as important, an exclusive psalmodist can become exactly like the first man in this illustration. He knows the commandments of God, but he doesn’t understand what their intent is, and thus, does not see how God’s commandments with regards to worship reflect his nature and character. Thus, many exclusive psalmodists end up serving the god of reformed tradition rather than the Triune God of the Bible, as the intent is given to them by the reformed traditions, and not by a careful examination of the text itself. Properly understanding and applying God’s commands involves understanding God himself, and understanding how he has revealed himself in his word. Without that understanding, applications of scripture, even in the context of worship, become impersonal and mechanical, with no purpose whatsoever since it does not seek to understand what *God* deems as crucial to worship. Because exclusive psalmody views the bear command, apart from its illocution, as what is crucial to God’s desires in worship, it reduces God’s desires down to individual words, and does not understand what those commands are seeking to accomplish.

Hence, it is out of concern that I write this post. We need to stop with the simplistic views of language. Yes, the Puritans were exclusive psalmodists, but they were also living at a time when the study of the humanities was in its infancy. While one can never be sure what the Puritans would do if they had all of the knowledge that we have, we should, at very least, take this knowledge into account when we deal with the commands of God. We cannot glibly say that what is crucial to the commands of God is anything that is not common to human experience, as if God is not also concerned with the things that are common to human experience in his worship.

We also should stop using, “That’s not found in scripture” as a catch phrase to stop all rational thought. Not only does it presuppose a particular hemeneutic, but most of the time it presupposes a hermeneutic that ignores what scripture entails, presupposes, and intends to accomplish. There is a place for such a phrase, in that things such as the Bodily Assumption of Mary, the Queenly Coronation of Mary, the idea that delay of marriage is a sin, the idea that deliberate childlessness is a sin, etc., have nothing to do with what scripture entails, presupposes, or intends to accomplish. However, one must make clear that this is what they mean before they use the phrase “That’s not found in scripture.”

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8 Responses to “That’s Not Found in Scripture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  1. R. Scott Clark Says:

    Adam,

    Had I argued what Frame imputed to me he might have a case but he ignores an essential part of my argument: the distinction between circumstances and elements. Indeed, he confuses them.

  2. otrmin Says:

    R. Scott Clark,

    Had I argued what Frame imputed to me he might have a case but he ignores an essential part of my argument: the distinction between circumstances and elements. Indeed, he confuses them.

    Trying to figure out how he “ignores” and “confuses” the distinction between circumstances and elements, when he uses that distinction in arguing against you!:

    One problem here is that there are some things we do in worship that are neither elements nor circumstances in the official definitions. Reading Psalm 50, for example, is not an element, because God nowhere commands us to read precisely that passage. But neither is it a circumstance, because circumstances are “common to human actions and societies,” (WCF 1.6). So some have spoken of “expressions” or “forms” as a third category. But it is not clear what the status of this category is with regard to the RPW. Clark shows no awareness of this problem in his discussion.

    Frame, in fact, demonstrates that “Read Psalm 50” is neither an element nor a circumstance. The point is that these two categories of elements and circumstances are insufficient to account for the complexities that exist, not just in the semantics of the text, but in the pragmatics of the text. That is something I have found confirmed in virtually every book on linguistics and hermeneutics I have found. With regards to speech acts, for example, Illocutions and perlocutions may or may not have something to do with “common to human actions and societies,” as can be easily demonstrated with the phrase “protect human life.”

    The only way I could conceive of to get out of this dilemma is that you turn the category of circumstances into a smorgasbord that really has no meaning whatsoever, and into which you can throw anything that seems to be a counterexample to this whole system. However, such would be totally arbitrary.

    God Bless,
    Adam

    • R. Scot Clark Says:

      Hi Adam,

      I don’t accept the premise that some things are neither elements or circumstances. More importantly, the Reformed churches confess that everything in worship is either an element or a circumstance.

      Frame (and I you seem to agree with him) disagree with the Reformed churches. Fine. My problem is that John re-casts the RPW so that it is no longer an RPW. It’s a FPW: Frame Principle of Worship.

      Consider this part of what Frame says:

      Taken literally, however, this would exclude sitting on pews, standing for hymns, reading Psalm 50, and any number of things which God does not specifically “prescribe.”

      According to the Reformed understanding of Scripture, things such as posture, time of worship, the language of worship, dress, these are all circumstances. We know this is what they intended. We know what the original understanding of the RPW was.

      In distinction, the elements of worship are essentially two things:

      Word and prayer. Everything that is essential to worship can be classified under Word or prayer. The latter covers spoken or sung prayers. The former covers the preaching of the Word, the reading of the word, the administration of the sacraments (the Word made visible), or the confession of the Word.

      Elements are those things that are essential to worship. A particular circumstance is not essential to worship. A particular time, place, language, dress, or posture is not essential to worship. Word and prayer, however, are essential. So, in whatever language, posture, dress they are administered, they must be administered.

      When a minister says, “read Ps 50” he is making use of circumstances to administer an element of worship.

      • otrmin Says:

        R. Scott Clark,

        I don’t accept the premise that some things are neither elements or circumstances. More importantly, the Reformed churches confess that everything in worship is either an element or a circumstance.
        Frame (and I you seem to agree with him) disagree with the Reformed churches. Fine. My problem is that John re-casts the RPW so that it is no longer an RPW. It’s a FPW: Frame Principle of Worship.

        Actually, Frame says just the opposite:

        When Jesus, echoing and applying the second commandment, said “You cannot serve God and Mammon” (Matt. 6:24), he was not speaking about stated services at all, or even of non-stated services, but of all of life. And Rom. 12:1-2 and other passages speak of all the believer’s life as worship. If the traditional RPW does not take this fact into account, then so much the worse for the traditional RPW.

        The issue is not what the reformed churches have taught but what the truth is. What I am pointing out, and what Frame is pointing out is that, linguistically, insisting that the only two things that exist in worship are elements and circumstances results in linguistic nonsense. For instance, you would either have to turn the word “circumstance” into a meaningless term encompassing only things you want it to encompass, or ignore the common elements of language such as semantic entailment and speech acts, and treat language differently in the case of worship. Hence, at this point, I would simply give people a choice; do you want the irrational conclusion of the “reformed churches,” or do you want to be consistent and see how we can, in the spirit of the reformers, continue to reform to make our worship more consistent with scripture.

        Consider this part of what Frame says:

        Taken literally, however, this would exclude sitting on pews, standing for hymns, reading Psalm 50, and any number of things which God does not specifically “prescribe.”

        According to the Reformed understanding of Scripture, things such as posture, time of worship, the language of worship, dress, these are all circumstances. We know this is what they intended. We know what the original understanding of the RPW was.

        Which, of course, Frame readily acknowledges in the very next sentence!:

        Therefore Clark, following the tradition, distinguishes between “elements” and “circumstances” (230). The RPW literally governs only the “elements” (word, sacraments, and prayer), but not the circumstances, which would include such things as the time and place of worship, the use of pews, etc.

        The point that Frame is raising is whether or not such a distinction is linguistically sustainable. From my perspective it clearly is not, as it would be impossible, for example, to either explain what we mean by circumstances on the one hand, or, taking the definition given of things common to human experience, to explain something as simple as the reading of Psalm 50. Either way, it is simply arbitrariness, and that was my point, and is, I would say, Frame’s point.

        Word and prayer. Everything that is essential to worship can be classified under Word or prayer. The latter covers spoken or sung prayers. The former covers the preaching of the Word, the reading of the word, the administration of the sacraments (the Word made visible), or the confession of the Word.
        Elements are those things that are essential to worship. A particular circumstance is not essential to worship. A particular time, place, language, dress, or posture is not essential to worship. Word and prayer, however, are essential. So, in whatever language, posture, dress they are administered, they must be administered.
        When a minister says, “read Ps 50” he is making use of circumstances to administer an element of worship.

        Then the question is very simple. Is Psalm 50 the word or is it not? If it is the word, then it is essential, and if it is essential, then it is not a circumstance.

        The point Frame was raising [and I am illustrating by this question] is that, even in things that are essential, there are problems such as semantic entailment that forbid you from simply making a distinction like this, since the reading of the word semantically entails many things, some of which are not directly found in scripture. Yet, they are clearly essential because they are related to the semantics of the text.

        Also, the ability of texts to communicate more than that which is explicitly stated [pragmatics] likewise causes a problem. The intent of the text of scripture is clearly for God’s people to proclaim the message of God’s word in worship. If a song or a celebration intends to convey the message of the text, as scripture clearly commands us to do, then it is still related to the meaning of the text, only, this time, to the pragmatics of the text. Yet, it is still part of the “word” [and thus essential], since the word has these particular pragmatic features. Therefore, in the case of singing songs that are not verbally inspired, if we are still following the intent of the command, then we are still following the command, and thus, are still related to the word.

        That is why I say, I don’t see how the traditional distinction between elements and circumstances can be linguistically defended. It artificially strips language, not only of its semantic field, but also of its pragmatic features. I agree that scripture needs to control our worship, but from natural distinctions that exist in language itself, not from something “reformed churches” may say that results in the utter arbitrary destruction of language. That is why I simply offer people a choice: Do you want my position which can account for the natural features in language? Or do you want R. Scott Clark’s position that utterly destroys the natural functions and features of language? As I told an exclusive psalmodist friend of mine, I have to be consistent. I am in a very leftist field, both in the study of language and in the study of the Hebrew Bible. If I am not consistent, they will have my head.

        God Bless,
        Adam

      • R. Scot Clark Says:

        Adam,

        You describe the RPW as “traditional.” It is more than that. It has ecclesiastical sanction. The WCF isn’t just a old systematic theology nor is it mere tradition (though it is a tradition). The WCF is what the Reformed Churches confess God’s Word to teach. It is an ecclesiastical interpretation of God’s Word.

        You (and Frame) have a particular philosophy of language and you want to seem to leverage the discussion with your philosophy of language.

        There may be a philosophy of language inherent in or implied in the confessional approach to worship but you you seem to be denouncing all the Reformed Churches for failing to see (and confess) your philosophy of language.

  3. otrmin Says:

    R. Scott Clark,

    You describe the RPW as “traditional.” It is more than that. It has ecclesiastical sanction. The WCF isn’t just a old systematic theology nor is it mere tradition (though it is a tradition). The WCF is what the Reformed Churches confess God’s Word to teach. It is an ecclesiastical interpretation of God’s Word.

    Where do you get the notion that just because something is an ecclesiastical sanction or an ecclesiastical interpretation that it is somehow correct? The fact of the matter is, there are many churches that give “ecclesiastical sanctions.” Rome gives one interpretation, Eastern Orthodoxy another. Syrian Orthodoxy gives another. The Lutheran Churches give another. The Wesleyan churches give another. If it is a matter of ecclesiastical sanction, then, as Kevin Vanhoozer has rightly argued, it becomes nothing more than postmodernism. I think this quote is apt:

    Postmodernity does not mean the end of all authority, however, only universal norms; local norms remain in force. Interpretation is always “from below,” shaped by the readers contextually conditioned context and regulated by the authority of community based norms [Vanhoozer, Kevin. Is There a Meaning in this Text? The Bible, The Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge. Zondervan Publishing House. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1998. p.168].

    As Stanley Fish’s famous quote directly says:

    What I finally came to see was that the identification of what was real and normative occurred within interpretive communities. [Fish, Stanley. Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Harvard Univ. Press. London and Cambridge Massachusetts. 1980. p.15.]

    So, if interpretation of scripture is merely a matter of one’s individual “ecclesiastical sanction” or “ecclesiastical interpretation,” I would say you have fallen right into the trap of Jacques Derrida and Stanley Fish. Interpretation is always a matter of one’s community, and one can never escape that community to interpret scripture. There is no objective, universal norms with which to judge the Reformed, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Wesleyan, etc. The ecclesiastical norms and sanctions are it. If that is the case, then postmodernism can be the only conclusion. As Francis Schaeffer so rightly observed: “If there is no absolute by which to judge society, society is absolute.”

    You (and Frame) have a particular philosophy of language and you want to seem to leverage the discussion with your philosophy of language.

    Of course, the leverage comes from the correspondence with reality. This is how language functions, and this is how you are reading my words right now. You recognize that certain things are semantically entailed by the words and phrases that I use, you recognize that my language seeks to accomplish things, and they cause you to do things such as write all of these responses that you have. My view of language corresponds to reality; the view of language you are trying to use to support this traditional view, I am arguing, simply does not.

    There may be a philosophy of language inherent in or implied in the confessional approach to worship but you you seem to be denouncing all the Reformed Churches for failing to see (and confess) your philosophy of language.

    On the contrary. There are many people who reject your definition of Reformed, and who would follow the approach laid out by John Frame and myself [and many exegetes and theologians under whom I was trained at Trinity]. The problem is not so great, because it only involves those churches that agree with your definition of “reformed.” Do I challenge these churches? Absolutely, I do, and on the basis, not of being “reformed,” but on the more basic level of being Christian. If they truly believe that they are Christians, and thus, followers of he who is the truth, then I challenge them to seek the truth, not ecclesiastical sanction or ecclesiastical interpretation. If they refuse to seek out the truth, then I have to challenge them to really question whether Christ is their Lord, or whether ecclesiastical sanctions and interpretations are their Lord. I, for one, as a Christian, follow he who is the truth, and ecclesiastical sanctions and interpretations, although helpful, are not the measure of what is the truth.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  4. kaalvenist Says:

    Adam,

    Do you hold to the regulative principle of worship?
    If you do, how would you defend it?
    If you do not, why not?

    Sean

  5. otrmin Says:

    Sean,

    The traditional description of the regulative principle goes something like this:

    That which is not found in scripture is forbidden.

    The problem is with the ambiguity of the phrase “found in scripture.” If what is meant by the phrase “found in scripture” is “found in the words of scripture,” then I would argue the position holds a view of language that simply cannot be defended. As mentioned above, language has a semantic range, and there are certain things that fall within the semantic categories of words even as they are used in their context. For example, allowing for the singing of Psalm 110 follows semantically from the allowance of the singing of the Psalms, even though the words “sing Psalm 110” are not to be found anywhere.

    Also, however, the problem is much more pronounced when we deal with something called “Grice’s circle.” The problem is that modern linguistics has shown that there are actually two different levels of meaning in language-the Pragmatic and the Semantic. For example, the phrase “some of the candy in the bag is purple” does not semantically rule out the possibility that all the candy in the bag is purple. Otherwise, the following statement makes no sense:

    Some of the candy in the bag is purple; indeed, all the candy in the bag is purple.

    If “some” means “not all,” then we are left with a contradiction:

    Not all of the candy in the bag is purple; indeed, all the candy in the bag is purple.

    The interpretation of “some,” when it applies, is not at the semantic level, but at the pragmatic level. It is not part in partial of the word itself. Hence, if you stick to only the words themselves, then you would have to rule out “not all,” since the words themselves don’t say that. Yet, if that is what the author intended, then the question becomes whether the pragmatic level is, itself, inspired. If you acknowledge that it is, then it opens up the possibility that something can relate to the plenary inspiration of scripture without being verbally inspired.

    Hence, if what is meant by:

    That which is not found in scripture is forbidden

    is:

    That which is not found in the semantic range of scripture, or at the pragmatic level of scripture is forbidden.

    then I agree. However, as I said, when the song matches the intent of the text of scripture [i.e., according to the classical speech act distinctions of locution, illocution, and perlocution], it reflects the plenary aspects of inspiration, and is therefore allowed, even though it is not verbally inspired.

    Not only do words have meaning beyond that which is actually said in the words themselves as Pragmatics has demonstrated, but also, words change as the context changes. When one limits onesself to the Psalms, you have a terrible time with the fact that the Psalms themselves are part of a chain of progressive revelation. They must be understood in the context in which the rest of the Biblical authors used them. That is why reading only one part of a three part trilogy leaves you with a feeling of incompleteness, not knowing how the story will play out, and how you will look back on the events in the part you have read differently after you have read the rest of the trilogy. That is not to deny that the Psalms are indeed inspired, profitable for teaching, and God-breathed. It is just simply that they are only part of the story, and their message is distorted if they are disconnected from the rest of scripture.

    So, do I hold to the regulative principle? Depends on how the phrase “that which is found in scripture” is understood. If it is understood as encompassing the semantic, pragmatic, and discourse levels of meaning, then, obviously, I do. I am deeply concerned when I go to churches, and the intent of worship seems to be more to entertain, then to do what the scriptures say worship should do, namely, honor God. I am concerned about the things that are found in Roman Catholicism that have nothing whatsoever to do with any of these levels of meaning [prayers to Mary and the saints, veneration of statues, smells and bells, etc]. However, I don’t believe the way the Puritans understood this phrase or the way exclusive psalmodists today understand this phrase “that which is found in scripture” is defensible in the light of the advances that have been made in linguistics since the time of the Puritans. At that point, it becomes a matter of whether we are going to let scripture and its use of language correct our traditions.

    God Bless,
    Adam

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