“A Most Important Text” by Rowan Murphy

IMG_3964A 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


A new book entitled Public Worship 101 by Dr. Dennis Prutow

Dr. Dennis Prutow
Dr. Dennis Prutow

Dr. Dennis Prutow has recently released a new book on Biblical Worship entitled Public Worship 101 available here or directly from the Amazon site. A previous post on the this website discussed the online course by Dr. Prutow called The Ministry of Worship (syllabus). This new book is part of the coursework for Ministry of Worship.

From the Westminster Evagelistic Ministries RPTS site:

“Public Worship 101 is an introduction to the Biblical theology of worship, the elements of worship, exclusive Psalmody, and a cappella Psalmody. It follows the basic outline of Dr. Prutow’s Ministry of Worship classes with much more detail, including the addition of important historical data. The purpose of the book is to demonstrate that, in Biblical worship, God renews His covenant with His people as they draw near to Him in the place He prescribes (the gathered congregation), on the day He prescribes, in the manner He prescribes, with the elements He prescribes, including the praise He prescribes both in content, exclusive Psalmody, and manner, a cappella Psalmody, using an order properly deduced from Scripture. Whether this purpose is accomplished is for you, the reader, to judge.”

A review of the book by Pastor Barry York from Amazon:

“5.0 out of 5 stars Pastor Barry York, Kokomo, Indiana March 19, 2013
By Dennis J. Prutow
Sadly, when it comes to worship, the Western, evangelical church has its thinking backwards. In both word and action, the modern church displays the common belief that New Testament worship is not as serious as in the days of Moses. Yet as the book of Hebrews testifies, this view is simply false. For unlike the days of old, the concern of worship now is not with the blood of goats and lambs, but with the precious blood of Christ as displayed in Word, sacrament, prayer, and praise. We are no longer dealing in shadows and types, but with the living reality of Jesus.That is why this work by Dennis Prutow is so timely and needed. With the precision of his military mind, the experience of his seminary teaching, and the warmth of his pastoral heart, Prutow offers this salvo into what many have called the “worship wars.” Public Worship 101 offers a solid Biblical, historical, and theological case for the principles of worship as outlined in the Westminster Confession of Faith, with special attention given to the neglected means of a cappella psalm singing. Whether or not you agree with the conclusions, every minister and those in training should wrestle with the case Prutow puts forth. As Jeremiah Burroughs said in Gospel Worship, “Those who enter into public places, and especially such places as concern the worship of God, need to have the fear of God much upon them when they first enter into those places.” Prutow’s work will help those preparing to enter into the sanctuary and the pulpit to develop this much needed fear once again.An endorsement written to the author December 12, 2012″

In addition, Dr. Prutow has authored Joyful Voices: A Capella Singing in Congregational Worship available from Crown and Covenant Publications.

“It is, by being instrumental in the salvation of souls, that the church promotes the glory, and secures the worship, of Jehovah.”

William Symington 1795-1862
William Symington 1795-1862

“It is, by being instrumental in the salvation of souls, that the church promotes the glory, and secures the worship, of Jehovah. Divine worship can be celebrated, and the praise of the glory of divine grace can be shewn forth, only by those who are ‘saved and called with an holy calling, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began:’ and this work of salvation is carried on in and by the church. The church, by subjecting the conscience to the authority of Christ, by maintaining wholesome discipline, and by affording opportunity of communion with God and with his saints, tends powerfully to enlighten the understanding, to enliven the affections, to restrain the passions, to promote Gospel morality, and to advance the divine life in the soul. ‘The Lord added to the church such as should be saved.’ ‘He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers: for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.’

Such are the ends subserved by the existence of a church in the world. And it is carefully to be observed, that all these ends are brought about by the mediatorial administration of the Saviour. He it is who sends forth his light and his truth to gladden and direct an ignorant and benighted world; who prompts and enables men to celebrate the ordinances of God’s worship; and who carries forward the work of salvation in the souls of believers.”

William Symington, Messiah the Prince, p145-146

“If we would rise to true elevation of heart in the closet, we must ‘lift up our hands in the sanctuary.’ So necessary is the church to the proper worship of God.”

William SymingtonThis picture is listed on a few websites for Symington, can anyone confirm?
William Symington 1795-1862
This picture is listed on a few websites for Symington, can anyone confirm?

“By setting up a church in the world the Mediator has provided for the public celebration of Divine worship. It is every way proper that some acts of public homage should be paid to the God of the whole earth. The private adoration of individuals would seem not to be all the honour that is due to Him whose claims are so universal and transcendent. He is certainly entitled to acknowledgment in the most public and open manner possible. This is secured by the existence of a visible church, in which his being, perfections, purposes, and works, are publicly discussed; in which his praises are publicly sung, and in which united and public supplications are offered at his throne of grace. Even supposing that, for this end, secret acts of worship might suffice, it may fairly be questioned whether the spirit of such could be kept up, without the influence arising from public institutions. The devotions of the sanctuary, doubtless, exert, and are designed to exert, no small influence on those of the closet and the family. The lamp of personal or domestic piety will send forth but a dim and sickly ray, unless trimmed and replenished by frequent visits to the house of the Lord. When the believer feels those fervent emotions that are represented by his soul thirsting for God, and under the impulse of which he is stirred up to seek the Lord with great earnestness, it is that he may ‘see the power and glory of the Lord as he had seen them before in the sanctuary.’ If the psalmist David poured forth the sweetest and warmest strains of devotion in the wilderness of Judea and in the forest of Hareth, we must go back, for the secret of his high and holy inspiration, to the days when he trod the courts of the temple,—days which not merely exerted a reflex influence on his solitary exercises, but which, so far from making him contented with these, caused his soul still to long, yea even faint, for the courts of the Lord, and to count a day in God’s house better than a thousand. If we would rise to true elevation of heart in the closet, we must ‘lift up our hands in the sanctuary.’ So necessary is the church to the proper worship of God.”

William Symington, Messiah the Prince, p142-144

New Addition to Online Books: In Spirit and Truth: Worship as God Requires (Understanding and Applying the Regulative Principle of Worship) by James R. Hughes

In Spirit and Truth: Worship as God Requires (Understanding and Applying the Regulative Principle of Worship) by James R. Hughes