This is a dangerous post. I believe I can now quote and interact with Leithart’s scholarly works in good conscience. True, he was involved in the Sitler affair, and he made some bad decisions. But he repented of them publicly. Wilson hasn’t.
And James Jordan kept himself from that whole fiasco.
Leithart and Jordan are public theologians. Jordan forces me to wrestle with the Hebrew text. I can respect that.
Taken from an old post on Jim Jordan, with some new material.
But let us consider what a Christian view of the Church would be. It would be a place of transformation, not merely of information. Marshaling the people into an army of psalm chanters would be at the top of the list. Indeed, in seminary several psalms would be chanted every day in chapel. The music in the church would be loud, fast, vigorous, instrumental, martial. There would be real feasts. People would be taught that when God splashes water on you, He’s really doing something: He’s putting you into His rainbow.
Elsewhere Jordan says
I should like to offer what I regard as a considerable caveat. I do not believe that men who sing pop choruses or plodding Trinity Hymnal songs on Sunday can get very far into Luther or Calvin, or for that matter Turretin. Men whose personal opinion is that society can be left to the devil cannot really get into the outlook of the Reformers.
I submit that it is important to have some feel for what people were singing and how they were singing it at various times in history. Is it a coincidence that “Reformed scholasticism” began to develop at the same time that the fiery dance-like chorales and psalms of the Reformation began to die down into slow, plodding, even-note mush? It is a coincidence that the “Puritans” had problems with assurance of salvation, given their destruction of enthusiastic singing? I don’t think so. People who sing the psalms as real war chants, as war dances that precedebattle, don’t have problems with assurance and don’t have time for scholasticism. Neither do people with strong, fully-sung liturgies.
EO guys used to attack me on assurance. “Well, how can you know?” Well, there you have it.
The Elements of Worship
terminism: defining one term by its other. There is a tendency to reduce everything in theology to laws. Laws are important, but God didn’t always do that. There are types, symbols, analogies, etc (66). This means God is only allowed to communicate his desires via commands and not in patterns.
Jordan points out that Eph. 5.19 and Col. 3:16, which some used to refer to “three types of Psalms,” do not refer to corporate worship at all, but to the daily life of the believer (85).
If the Song is an element in worship, it should be applied the same as other elements (86). When we preach, we use “new words.” When we pray in worship, we use “new words.”
I picked up Jordan’s treatise rebutting Greenville Seminary’s Worship in the Presence of God. Disclaimer: I am certainly NOT advocating Jordan’s approach to worship nor really much else associated with the man. But I do think Jordan neatly summarizes the situation and points out several flaws in some (not all) RPW approaches. Jordan’s thesis is more or less correct: As (practical) Nestorianism is the separating the human and divine natures in Christ, leading to a diminution of the human nature, so liturgical Nestorianism means keeping the human so far away from worship that he is nothing more than a recipient who hears preaching sings (a little).
Initial key points:
- Strict RPW advocates charge any kind of maximalism in worship as going back to OT types and shadows, as best seen in Roman Catholic worship. Jordan asks the obvious question: “Why do you assume (without proof) that Rome got Old Covenant worship correct?”
- The contrast in biblical is not a move from exterior to interior (this is Plato on crack) but from glory to glory. The goal is eschatological maturation, not Platonic interiorizing.
- Strict RPW advocates claim that a) NT worship is based on the Synagogue and not the Temple; and b) NT worship is regulated by God by direct command. Jordan points out that obvious: If this is true, then it is a meeting of silence. Nowhere does God command what goes on in the Synagogue. God simply commanded a holy convocation every Sabbath (Lev. 23). He didn’t say anything else.
- If something is “Fulfilled” in the New Covenant why do we normally assume that “fulfilled” means “done away with?” Isn’t this the textbook definition of dispensationalism? Mind you, I don’t think that everything should be done in the New Covenant.
- When God commands singing in the Bible, it is always accompanied by instruments. The 4th book of the Psalter (specifically Psalms 90-98) progresses from the arrival to the enthronement of Yahweh’s king). Music is connected with ascension and enthronement (Jordan 37).
- Levitical priests weren’t really mediators. There weren’t any mediators before Moses (not systematically). Levitical priests were household servants. Psalm 110 tells us who the true Mediator is in the old covenant. Only priests in union with the Melchizedekian priest-king mediate. But this is exactly what new covenant believers are (44).
- Can Revelation be used as an order of worship? Maybe.