Monthly Archives: August 2011

Another Free Church of Scotland minister departs over the Psalmody debate

Rev. Donald Macdonald

The Rev. Donald Macdonald has departed from the Free Church of Scotland because of the denomination’s recent decision to allow uninspired hymns and musical instruments in worship.

“Rev Donald Macdonald, who preached for decades at Carloway and is a past moderator of the denomination, said he is thoroughly convinced that  contentious policy to drop the 100-year-old tradition of instrument-free, psalm-only singing “is unscriptural, does not have the positive sanction of Scripture and is, therefore, sinful.”

The Lewis  man who has been a minister for 47 years is severing ecclesiastical connections with the Free and is joining the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland (RPCS) which now holds Sunday services at the Coulnagrein prayer house in Stornoway.” (from the Hebrides article, link below)

The BBC story is here.
The following is reported from the Hebrides News website found here:
Rev. Macdonald’s resignation letter is here:
Rev Donald Macdonald resignation letter in PDF:

From Hebrides: “Mr Macdonald slammed the Western Isles Presbytery for “changing course” and “progressing the agenda for change.”

He stressed: I feel that the Church, and especially my own Presbytery, now leave me no option but to resign from its ministry, notice of which I now, with great sadness and regret, submit, and do so without any sense of ‘violating any duty or committing any sin.’

In his resignation letter, Mr Macdonald said:  “This has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make and one that I never thought I would have to make – especially at this late stage in my life after 47 years in the ministry of the Free Church and all of them as a member of this Presbytery.

“I have not come to my decision lightly or in haste. Neither am I motivated by a petulant and defiant spirit that cannot accept defeat: this matter is far too serious for such superficial and infantile reactions.

“I have come to this painful decision after much soul-searching, reading, consultation, meditation and prayer. I can see no other honest and honourable course of action.

Mr Macdonald said the worship changes was “unscriptural.”

He said: “No new compelling biblical arguments have been produced in any of the debates.”

He believes the decision was “unconfessional and unconstitutional.”

Mr Macdonald criticises the new “sham” optional vows which is “supposed provision for the relief of the conscience of any office-bearer who is not in agreement with the new mode of worship now allowed is either a delusion or a deception.”

He said: “That the Free Church for which our Fathers fought and suffered in the 1900s should come to such a sorry pass grieves me beyond words.

“I had hoped, along with many others, that this Presbytery would have taken a stand and hold the line but, sadly and unbelievably, this has proved to have been a vain hope.

“Not only has the Presbytery not withstood the onslaught, it has now headed the van in progressing the agenda for change since it was the Overture from this Presbytery that secured the approval of the Assembly for the supposed conscience-relieving clause.

“A wind of change has most certainly blown through this Presbytery in the past two years to such an extent that I can scarcely believe that it is the same Presbytery. ”

UPDATE: Here is an interview with Rev. Macdonald…

“Whatsoever is not of God’s own appointment in his worship, that he looks upon as strange fire; and no wonder he is so highly incensed at it, for as if God were not wise enough to appoint the manner how he will be served; men will go to prescribe to him, and as if the rules for his worship were defective, they will attempt to mend the copy, and superadd their inventions.”

Section 5: A godly man is very exact and careful about the worship of God.

“The Greek word for godly signifies a right worshipper of God; a godly man doth reverence divine institutions, and is more for the purity of worship than the pomp; mixture in sacred things is like a dash in the wine, which though it gives it a color, yet doth but adulterate it; the Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle according to the pattern in the mount, Ex. xxv. 40. If Moses had left out anything in the pattern, or added any thing to it, it would have been very provoking; the Lord hath always given testimonies of his displeasure against such as have corrupted his worship; Nadab and Abihu ‘offered strange fire,’ (other than God had sanctified) ‘upon the altar;’ ‘And fire went out from the Lord, and devoured them,’ Lev. x. 1. Whatsoever is not of God’s own appointment in his worship, that he looks upon as strange fire; and no wonder he is so highly incensed at it, for as if God were not wise enough to appoint the manner how he will be served; men will go to prescribe to him, and as if the rules for his worship were defective, they will attempt to mend the copy, and superadd their inventions.

A godly man dares not vary from the pattern which God hath shewn him in the scripture; and probably this might not be the least reason, why David was called a man after God’s own heart, because he kept the springs of God’s worship pure, and in matters sacred, did not superinduce anything of his own devising.

Use. By this character we may try ourselves, whether we are godly: are we tender about the things of God? Do we observe that mode of worship, which hath the stamp of divine authority upon it? It is of dangerous consequence to make a medley in religion.

1. Those who will add to one part of God’s worship, will be as ready to take away from another, Mark vii. Laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the traditions of men.’ They who will bring in a tradition, will in time lay aside a command: this the Papists are highly guilty of; they bring in altars and crucifixes, and lay aside the second commandment; they bring in oil and cream in baptism, and leave out the cup in the Lord’s supper; they bring in praying for the dead, and lay aside reading the scriptures intelligibly to the living; they who will introduce that into God’s worship which he hath not commanded, will be as ready to blot out that which he hath commanded.

2. Those who are for outward commixtures in God’s worship, are usually regardless of the vitals of religion; living by faith, leading a strict mortified life, these things are less minded by them: wasps have their combs, but no honey in them; the religion of many may be likened to those ears which run all into straw.

3. Superstition and profaneness kiss each other; hath it not been known that those who have kneeled at a pillar, have reeled against a post?

4. Such as are devoted to superstition, are seldom or ever converted, Matt. xxi. 3, ‘Publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you;’ it was spoken to the chief priests, who were high formalists; and the reason why such persons are seldom wrought on savingly, is, because they have a secret antipathy against the power of godliness. The snake is of a fine color, but it hath a sting, so outwardly men may look zealous and devout, but retain a sting of hatred in their hearts against goodness. Hence it is, that they who have been most hot for superstition, have been most hot for persecution. The church ofRomewears white linen, (an emblem of innocency) but the Spirit of God paints her out in scarlet, Rev. xvii. 4. Whence is this? Not only because she puts on a scarlet robe, but because her body is of a scarlet dye, having embrued her hands in the blood of the saints, Rev. xvii. 6.

Let us then, as we would demonstrate ourselves godly, keep close to the rule of worship, and in the things of Jehovah, go no further than we can say, ‘It is written’.”

 Thomas Watson, from A Godly Man’s Picture, p 37-39.

“There was nothing in the past about which God was so jealous as the mode of His worship. There was nothing around which He threw guards and fences so awful as around His worship…He reserved to Himself the high prerogative of appointing the ways in which men should approach Him in His public worship, and instantly resented every invasion of that prerogative.”

“What are the signs of the times in the sphere of Worship?

 I confess that upon this subject I scarcely dare trust myself to speak. The movement of our times strikes me with astonishment. There was nothing in the past about which God was so jealous as the mode of His worship. There was nothing around which He threw guards and fences so awful as around His worship. His wrath leaped forth as a vehement flame against those who asserted their wills in His worship.  He reserved to Himself the high prerogative of appointing the ways in which men should approach Him in His public worship, and instantly resented every invasion of that prerogative. But all that is now changed, we are told. We have passed under the milder sanctions of the New Testament dispensation, and more discretionary power is granted to the church.

Hold!  Did not Christ enjoin it upon His apostles to teach the church to observe all things whatsoever He had commanded? And does not that necessarily imply that they were to teach the church to abstain from all things whatsoever He had not commanded? To do nothing which He had not commanded? Did not the apostles organize the church according to His will? Did they not appoint her whole order, including her public worship? And are we not bound by Christ’s will thus expressed? Did the apostolic church know anything of instrumental music in public worship, of liturgies, of the decorations of church edifices? How come we to know them except by breaking with the apostolic order and the will of our King?

Hearken, men and brethren! Let us take just one of these elements of innovation upon the primitive order of worship and rapidly trace its history. For 1,200 years the Christian church knew nothing of instrumental music in her public worship. In the thirteenth century its proposed introduction into the Church of Rome — corrupt as it then was — was ineffectually resisted by some of her most eminent theologians.

 At the reformation the Swiss Protestant Church cast it out; the French Protestant Church cast it out; the Dutch Church cast it out; the Scotch Church cast it out; the English Puritans cast it out; and the Church of England came very nigh casting it out. At its first planting, the American Evangelical Church refused to adopt it.

 What do we now behold? Its use by nearly all the leading churches of Protestantism, in opposition to the Scriptures and the venerable precedents which have just been recited. What a change! What a blazing sign in the sky of the Protestant Church! What is to stop the tendency? The beginning is the mother of the end. What end? The full orchestra of Rome.”

 

from Sermons of John L. Girardeau, The Signs of the Times in the Church, Matthew 16:3

Question #18: Is it a good idea for an EP church to be a part of a denomination that does not practice EP?

Question #18: Is it a good idea for an EP church to be a part of a denomination that does not practice EP? If there is no EP denomination that meets our approval, is it ok to be an independent church?

Project Psalms

This sounds like a wonderful project that I would like to give my full support to. Go to the Project Psalms website and listen to the sample recording. If you are able to contribute financially, please do so. This will be a very helpful tool in the promotion of Psalm singing throughout the world.

From their website:
The main purpose of Project Psalms is to provide the simplest and most effective tool for learning to sing and memorize the Psalms, initially in English; as a result of learning and singing the Psalms with understanding and zeal, we believe it will strengthen the English-speaking Church unto victory. It is also our desire, God-willing, that at a later stage we will be able to provide a similar tool in Chinese and other major languages across the world.

How was Project Psalms conceived?

Project Psalms was conceived simply by observing that there was a lack of an effective tool for learning the Psalms, meanwhile realizing that God has blessed us with technology and means of communication in this age which could spread an effective tool such as this to His glory. As a result, Project Psalms was underway with the help of just a handful of people around the globe who had the same goal in mind, and each using their gifts, contributed their time and wisdom towards this end. Then, through God’s providence Project Psalms is now almost ready to reach its goal.

Is Project Psalms linked to any particular denomination or congregation?

Project Psalms is not linked to any particular denomination or congregation. We believe all believers in the Universal Church are called to sing Psalms, therefore it is our desire that all denominations and congregations benefit from Project Psalms.

Where may I learn more about the Scottish Psalter of 1650, Psalmody and unaccompanied worship?

You may learn more about the Scottish Psalter of 1650 by visiting http://www.reformation-scotland.org.uk/articles/development-of-scottish-psalter.php, Psalmody by visiting http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/psalms.htm., and unaccompanied worship by visiting http://www.covenanter.org/Girardeau/Instrumental/instrumentalmusic.htm

Question #17: What about the other “songs” in the Bible? Is it ok to sing other inspired portions of Scripture?

Question #17: What about the other “songs” in the Bible? Is it ok to sing other inspired portions of Scripture?