Reformation 21 have added quite a few new authors recently, which has resulted in an increase in the number of posts, if not in quality. Bucking the trend however has been Mark Jones. After a slightly embarrassing early post in which he claimed to be a football fan but talked about the ‘FIFA’ World Cup, his contributions have been top notch.
That is, until the other day when he posted what I would lovingly and respectfully call unadulterated twaddle – arguing that the fact that something you’re singing is true means it makes the song ‘God’s Words’. I was just going to leave it as another example of people who should know better embarrassing themselves when trying to argue against Exclusive Psalmody. However a former classmate emailed me the link the other day with the subject ‘Shall We Sing must respond!’ – so how could I resist?!
Rather than attempting to take such a gifted theologian to task on something like the doctrine of Scripture, I’ll just give John Owen himself the chance to respond. After all, we all know it’s a schoolboy error to try and take something someone has said in another context and quote them against themselves.
Starting at the end, Jones finishes with the cheap dig: “I’m off now to sing with my family psalms, psalms, and psalms (Col. 3:16)”. Ironically, by doing this he’s actually having a go not primarily at poor, maligned C21st exclusive psalmists, but some obscure C17th century figures. In fact, some of them signed their names to a document for such a time as this – including a Mr Thomas Manton, Thomas Watson, Matthew Poole, Thomas Vincent, Edmund Calamdy…and a certain John Owen, D. D. They say:
“Now though spiritual songs of mere human composure may have their use, yet our devotion is best secured, where the matter & words are of immediately Divine inspiration; and to us David’s Psalms seem plainly intended by those terms of Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, which the Apostle useth, Ephes. 5.19. Col.3.16.”
In one sentence Owen et al destroy both Jones’s attempt to put uninspired hymns on the same level as the psalms, and state that the interpretation he mocks is the one they see as ‘plainly intended’ by the Apostle Paul. Oh dear.
Just in case we feel that Owen was giving in to peer pressure there, I’ll post some relevant quotations from his own Works later.