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Free Church to allow hymns and instruments

Following a special Plenary assembly (17/18 Nov 2010) to discuss the issue of sung praise, the Free Church of Scotland has decided to allow for the singing of hymns and the use of musical instruments in its congregations.

Free Church singing
The Free Church of Scotland
, at a special Plenary Assembly which took place on 17th and 18th November, decided to give liberty to its congregations to sing hymns and use instruments if individual kirk sessions so choose.

The special Assembly, which consisted of all its ministers with an equal number of elders, met in Edinburgh and debated over whether to overturn the 100 year old prohibition which has identified the Free Church as a psalm singing church.

The debate over its form of worship has lasted for the last five years since the moderator at that time, Rev Donald Smith questioned the prohibition of musical instruments in its services.

The main motion which came from the church’s Board of Trustees sought to retain the “status quo” which is the ”avoidance of uninspired materials of praise and musical instruments” but give more flexibility in understanding as to what is meant by that. But this motion was opposed by Rev Alex Macdonald who proposed that the Free Church give liberty to individual congregations to sing scriptural hymns as well as psalms if their elders so chose.

The debate which lasted Thursday evening and most of Friday, was harmonious throughout. Rev Macdonald’s motion carried by a majority of 98 to 84.

Read Free Church statement by clicking here.

Free Church Statement, 22/11/2010

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Pawlo 03/09/2011 23:27
I think that arguments and splits like this are the reason why many people don't and won't go to the churches and I'd agree that they are better out of it. True believers will see it all for what it is and get out, letting the old institutions rot.
Penny Lee 03/09/2011 23:28
I too object to the 'gay-hater' tag and it is an attempt to make anyone who accepts God's description of what is sin as being full of hatred. I don't hate gays any more than I hate prostitutes, drunkards, drug-addicts, promiscuous heterosexual people or those who are unfaithful to their partners. But the Bible says all of these things are sin and will not argue with Him.

However, back to the issue of the Free Church. We have already had a long thread about this and, to recap, I have no problem with individual denominations deciding how they want to worship God, so long as it remains in line with the Bible. What I can't accept is the claim that the Bible actually stipulates that singing Psalms without musical accompaniment is the only way. It just doesn't say, or even suggest, this and, in fact, there is much to support other spiritual songs and musical instruments. The only thing which matters, as far as I can see, is the words of these songs and whether they glorify God or not.

The Free Church should be free to retain their original way of worship if they so want and I would not try to change it - I just wouldn't want to be restricted to that so would not attend such a church out of choice.
Seumas (Guest) 04/09/2011 14:54
Maybe a bit of clarity required. What I was referring to (and this has been referred to elsewhere) is not that the CofS evangelicals are "gay haters" per se (although undobtedly some are) but that this is how these things will be SEEN

We live in an age where image is more important than substance and where "how things appear" is generally more important than how they actually are.

Had the debate about worship in the FCoS not taken place against the background of the gay clergy debate in the CofS then it would not have looked so bad.

Instead it just looks like opportunism and the comments of a certain minister who |I referred to above just bear this out.

The whole thing is about numbers, politics, influence and egos

Actually, there are times when I think that the sooner denominationalism collapses and disappears the better. Much of its baggage is totally unscriptural anyway....

Penny Lee 04/09/2011 17:03

This assumption that everyone who doesn't agree with homosexuality automatically hates those who practice it should be challenged as it is a classic case of others doing the very thing of which they (usually wrongly) accuse others. However, Jesus didn't ever get it wrong and He was despised, even by those who should have known better, so what chance do we have? How the world sees me is less important than how God sees me and I'd rather put all my efforts into pleasing Him. His view of me is entirely accurate so if there is anything unpleasant there then I have to address it.

On your final sentence I agree with you entirely.
Martin Lisemore 04/09/2011 17:06
Seumas, whilst I cannot comment directly on a Scottish church situation because I live in England, I can symapthise and empathise with you last statement:

'Actually, there are times when I think that the sooner denominationalism collapses and disappears the better. Much of its baggage is totally unscriptural anyway....'

I came out of organised religion, shall we call it that, twenty years ago, after watching Godless fiasco after Godless fiasco occurring right across the denominational spectrum in England. It was and remains a daily act of faith I had heard the Lord correctly, Come out from among them, for what fellowship has light with darkness.

Oh yes, there were gain sayers, and finger waggers and head shakers - I was shunned in my home town, a pariah.

I am in correspondence with several Christians around the world, most still in the denominations. They are the back bone, but some are getting on in years, and worry there just isn't the committed Christian young people to follow them.

I'm not surprised, considering the way churches have behaved this last half century.

Also also know a few ministers, Godly men, who are worn out from fighting the liberal establishment, and losing on every front because it's a popular front.

I believe this fact is yet to to be seen; the Body and the rest. The True Church and the others. I believe also, this would be the outcome of your exasperation. I can only say from my inner most being, let's have in soon. Let's see an end to this offence before a Holy God.

I pray the holocaust of denominations which I believe is imminent doesn't burn the faithful ones who have stood, and that in Jesus Name.
Martin Lisemore 04/09/2011 17:20
Further to my post above, if we have the courage to take our Lord Jesus at His word, take Paul's words seriously, then we may move forward under one Lord, in one Spirit, armed, prepared, equipped and led, nourished and fulfilled. We may face the world, the flesh and the devil who have so dogged the institutional church for fifteen hundred years.

If we do not take our Lord at His word, and receive Paul's words as a calling, then we will fail. But be sure, we will all give account of our lives.
Connor Q (Guest) 06/09/2011 00:17
Exclusive Psalmists[EP] assert that the songs in 'the book of psalms of David' alone, are commanded by God to be used for use in public worship.
A EP'ist understands the 'Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs' of Ephesians and Colossians as referring to different types of songs in 'the book of psalms of David'. This may sound like a outlandish claim to you (until explained I myself thought it silly) but it is in fact a widely held view among non-EP'ists.

For a brief and fair defence of this position:

You don't have to agree with this position, but I trust you can see that this is a very reasonable position to hold. And, for someone like Mr MacDonald who is convicted of this position it is no secondary issue but it cuts right to the center of our christian lives - our public worship.
He thus has every right and even the responsibility to so publicly denounce this decision. Holding to an EP conviction, the FC decision should be seen as a tragedy on the same level as Nadab and Abihu's decision.

Connor Q (Guest) 06/09/2011 00:22
[final line]
*And should be condemned as such.
Connor Q (Guest) 06/09/2011 00:43
Re:'The Editor'
Yes, 'a believer (or group of believers) expressing worship to God in a God-focussed silence' is allowed for in the regulative principle of worship (since it is commanded eg. in prayer & meditation on the word).

EP has no direct relation with upon this, EP deals only with sung praise, not any other acts of Worship.
Martin Lisemore 07/09/2011 19:05
Here's the results of a Bible search;

Ps 66:1 To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
Ps 81:1 To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of Asaph. Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.
Ps 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Ps 95:2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
Ps 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Ps 98:6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
Ps 100:1 A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Amidst the wiling and gnashing of teeth, the Bible sounds a clear call; man got it wrong again and God was right all along.

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