A Most Important Text by Rowan Murphy is available here (for Europe here).
I received a copy this week for review. This work is a good reminder of the role of Scripture in worship. Murphy structures this pamphlet around his central text, 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Murphy begins by discussing two reformations that are recorded in God’s Word, that of King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:30) and King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23). These reformations are of worship and the things pertaining to worship, and so they are rightly compared to the presumptuous worship of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2). Murphy says, “this passage should cause us all to examine our doctrines and practices, and in particular, our offerings of worship. Is every single element of your offerings of worship definitively and specifically commanded in Scripture? Is it fire from heaven? Is it directly according to His commands, and of His wisdom, and so defined by Him as to contain only what He has specifically called for?” I appreciate this direct challenge to me and to all who worship God. May we issue this same challenge to our dear friends and loved ones who have been distracted by modern theories of worship. May we call them back to a worship that is regulated by God’s Word.
Amazingly, the modern church rarely even acknowledges this clear Biblical warning that reveals just how much God cares about the way we worship Him. But the problem extends beyond worship, as Murphy notes, because 2 Timothy 3:16-17 also applies to “every good work”. The Bible is then sufficient to direct our preaching, our marriages, our families, and to show us how to love our neighbor. Worship, though severely neglected, is but a part of the eternal wisdom that is given to us in the Word of God.
On a personal level, this particular line of reasoning, that the Scriptures are sufficient for worship, was the final convincing argument that won me over to Exclusive Psalmody. I am reminded here of the central place that this “most important text” should have, to show us in part that the Psalms are sufficient for our worship. This argument is presented as a pamphlet, so the only negative is that it’s very brief. Readers may be left with additional questions about the details of how to structure worship with only the Bible as a source or perhaps some counterarguments might be left unanswered. The particulars, of course, can be found in an abundance of resources that are available in defense of EP, but perhaps the author will expand in future editions.
Though short, this work provides us with a direct reminder that we need not look beyond the Word of God for direction in worship. Certainly the inspired Psalms are superior in every possible way to the uninspired poems of mere men, and of this wonderful truth we can’t be reminded often enough.
Rowan Murphy is a member of Arann Reformed Baptist Church, which is an exclusive psalmody church in Dublin pastored by Mark Fitzpatrick. More information can be found on their Youtube page and on Sermonaudio.