The Regulative Principle - A Baptist Doctrine

Truly a Baptist Doctrine of historic origin

Thanks Tyler.  Not only Baptists but many others need to discover or rediscover the regulative principle taught in Scripture, which is the right response to God's holy character.

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29) (AV).

Two couples have recently been visiting our church because they are seeking the reverential worship of God. In the church from which one couple came, the youth pastor had dressed up like a clown and ran through the sanctuary during the first part of the service throwing candy to the children. Not quite a red fire truck baptismal, but it culminated a series of developments which caused them to seek the worship of God elsewhere.

JSB

RPW & Baptist origins

The RPW is of special importance for Baptists, given that it is closely linked to our origins. A vital argument for believers' baptism proceeded directly from the logic of the Regulative Principle of Worship; i.e., something like this:

P1) Rules and elements of worship have changed between the covenants (such as the baptism of women whereas women were not circumcised).

P2) Changes not stated/required in Scripture are not acceptible for NT worship.

P3) Infant baptism is neither required nor even mentioned in the Scriptures.

Ergo, infant baptism is not valid for NT worship.

Andrew K wrote:

Andrew K wrote:

The RPW is of special importance for Baptists, given that it is closely linked to our origins. A vital argument for believers' baptism proceeded directly from the logic of the Regulative Principle of Worship; i.e., something like this:

P1) Rules and elements of worship have changed between the covenants (such as the baptism of women whereas women were not circumcised).

P2) Changes not stated/required in Scripture are not acceptible for NT worship.

P3) Infant baptism is neither required nor even mentioned in the Scriptures.

Ergo, infant baptism is not valid for NT worship.

 

Andrew, using this logic, would it not also be true that choral music is not valid for NT worship? Electronic sound system, digital recordings, childcare? I think that worship can be well regulated by the principles in Scripture without being quite that restrictive. When the temple was destroyed, the people started assembling locally for the reading and teaching of the word (synagogues), but I don't believe that that change was ever stated or required in Scripture (feel free to correct me if I am wrong). If you choose to follow the formula that you laid out, I certainly wouldn't fault you for it, but I wouldn't bind it on the consciences of others.

 

important distinction

apward wrote:

 

Andrew K wrote:

 

The RPW is of special importance for Baptists, given that it is closely linked to our origins. A vital argument for believers' baptism proceeded directly from the logic of the Regulative Principle of Worship; i.e., something like this:

P1) Rules and elements of worship have changed between the covenants (such as the baptism of women whereas women were not circumcised).

P2) Changes not stated/required in Scripture are not acceptible for NT worship.

P3) Infant baptism is neither required nor even mentioned in the Scriptures.

Ergo, infant baptism is not valid for NT worship.

 

 

 

Andrew, using this logic, would it not also be true that choral music is not valid for NT worship? Electronic sound system, digital recordings, childcare? I think that worship can be well regulated by the principles in Scripture without being quite that restrictive. When the temple was destroyed, the people started assembling locally for the reading and teaching of the word (synagogues), but I don't believe that that change was ever stated or required in Scripture (feel free to correct me if I am wrong). If you choose to follow the formula that you laid out, I certainly wouldn't fault you for it, but I wouldn't bind it on the consciences of others.

 

Ah yes, but you're missing the all-important distinction between elements and circumstances. Elements (sermon, prayer, singing, giving, baptism, Lord's Supper, etc.) are the mandated elements of worship while circumstances are the means by which the elements are presented. (This is a horrible explanation, but I'm giving it my best shot via my overcaffeinated psyche.) So hymn-singing, for example, is a required element. Whether accompanying music, sound systems, overhead projectors, hymnals, etc. are present or no is a circumstance.

Taking your example, you're right that synagogues are not mentioned in the law. The teaching and instruction of the Scriptures was, however, and the synagogue was a means whereby that might be accomplished. We might say the same for Sunday Schools and small groups. Not mentioned in Scripture, but are a good method for teaching the Scriptures.

The change, from baptism to circumcision, was in the symbolic elements of worship themselves, not in the circumstances. Circumcision has been fulfilled in Christ and there is a change--informed by Scripture. Just as the sacrificial system was abolished. Therefore we dare not go beyond what is written and attempt to modify the element given to the church further than is prescribed.

In other words, P2) refers to changes in the elements of worship themselves. So a bloodless baptism as opposed to a bloody circumcision. We are not allowed to go back to circumcision, or baptize in a ball-pit, for example. But whether we baptize in a river, a baptistry, pool, or bathtub, is circumstance.

RPW proponents disagree over choral music. I tend to not favor it, due to the performance oriented nature of the same. Nonetheless, opinions on this differ, and I don't seek to bind my interpretation of the RPW to anyone's conscience on this minor point.

Ah yes, but you're missing

[/quote]

Ah yes, but you're missing the all-important distinction between elements and circumstances. Elements (sermon, prayer, singing, giving, baptism, Lord's Supper, etc.) are the mandated elements of worship while circumstances are the means by which the elements are presented. (This is a horrible explanation, but I'm giving it my best shot via my overcaffeinated psyche.) So hymn-singing, for example, is a required element. Whether accompanying music, sound systems, overhead projectors, hymnals, etc. are present or no is a circumstance.

Taking your example, you're right that synagogues are not mentioned in the law. The teaching and instruction of the Scriptures was, however, and the synagogue was a means whereby that might be accomplished. We might say the same for Sunday Schools and small groups. Not mentioned in Scripture, but are a good method for teaching the Scriptures.

The change, from baptism to circumcision, was in the symbolic elements of worship themselves, not in the circumstances. Circumcision has been fulfilled in Christ and there is a change--informed by Scripture. Just as the sacrificial system was abolished. Therefore we dare not go beyond what is written and attempt to modify the element given to the church further than is prescribed.

In other words, P2) refers to changes in the elements of worship themselves. So a bloodless baptism as opposed to a bloody circumcision. We are not allowed to go back to circumcision, or baptize in a ball-pit, for example. But whether we baptize in a river, a baptistry, pool, or bathtub, is circumstance.

RPW proponents disagree over choral music. I tend to not favor it, due to the performance oriented nature of the same. Nonetheless, opinions on this differ, and I don't seek to bind my interpretation of the RPW to anyone's conscience on this minor point.

[/quote]

 

Andrew, okay, I agree with your response. I made my criticism of the logic because I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that you were presenting it as a means of rejecting something like building a firetruck baptismal for children. Is that an elemental change or a circumstantial change?

I would reject building a firetruck baptistmal for children, but not based on the formula you presented. 

 

 

apward wrote:

apward wrote:

Ah yes, but you're missing the all-important distinction between elements and circumstances. Elements (sermon, prayer, singing, giving, baptism, Lord's Supper, etc.) are the mandated elements of worship while circumstances are the means by which the elements are presented. (This is a horrible explanation, but I'm giving it my best shot via my overcaffeinated psyche.) So hymn-singing, for example, is a required element. Whether accompanying music, sound systems, overhead projectors, hymnals, etc. are present or no is a circumstance.

Taking your example, you're right that synagogues are not mentioned in the law. The teaching and instruction of the Scriptures was, however, and the synagogue was a means whereby that might be accomplished. We might say the same for Sunday Schools and small groups. Not mentioned in Scripture, but are a good method for teaching the Scriptures.

The change, from baptism to circumcision, was in the symbolic elements of worship themselves, not in the circumstances. Circumcision has been fulfilled in Christ and there is a change--informed by Scripture. Just as the sacrificial system was abolished. Therefore we dare not go beyond what is written and attempt to modify the element given to the church further than is prescribed.

In other words, P2) refers to changes in the elements of worship themselves. So a bloodless baptism as opposed to a bloody circumcision. We are not allowed to go back to circumcision, or baptize in a ball-pit, for example. But whether we baptize in a river, a baptistry, pool, or bathtub, is circumstance.

RPW proponents disagree over choral music. I tend to not favor it, due to the performance oriented nature of the same. Nonetheless, opinions on this differ, and I don't seek to bind my interpretation of the RPW to anyone's conscience on this minor point.

[/quote]

 

Andrew, okay, I agree with your response. I made my criticism of the logic because I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that you were presenting it as a means of rejecting something like building a firetruck baptismal for children. Is that an elemental change or a circumstantial change?

I would reject building a firetruck baptistmal for children, but not based on the formula you presented. 

 

 

[/quote]

I agree that that specific is example would actually be circumstantial--on the surface, at least. However, and this is what I understood the article as affirming, it represents an attempt to modify worship of God with an irreverence that certainly counters the impetus of the RPW. It certainly seems to suggest a flippancy in our approach to God; that worship is ours to modify freely as we choose.

Baptist rejection of RP

Many like to say they are following the RP, when in fact, they don't follow it. Acts 2.42, 46 notes the observance of "breaking of bread" which was daily. Did they follow the teaching daily? Yes. Did they pray daily? Yes. Did they break bread daily? Yes.

From what I know of the early church, it seems they observed the Lord's Supper every time they met. From Acts 2 it also seems that where 2 or 3 (at least) were gathered in His name, they observed this "remembrance" in their individual houses.

By observing, one is witnessing their faith. Individual congregants participated and so witnessed to their faith since "they proclaimed Christ's death (by their identification of taking these symbolic elements picturing Christ's sacrifice.) The person shows they are taking Christ's work internally. This is what was promised- The New Covenant-where God would dwell with and inside us. It is "Christ in us, the hope of glory." Christ's blood was the blood of the New Covenant.

The Baptists get the symbolism correctly but only observe the ordinance once a month. What a travesty! The early church observed every time they met to allow everyone to witness their faith.

If singing is the language of the emotions (I believe it is), then, it is mainly an emotional response we are eliciting from those who assemble for meeting since this is the main feature of individual participation (singing). Listening to dictatorial preaching (what Baptist do instead of appeal) is not audience participation either in any meaningful way. So the early church could show individual identity weekly (or daily in some cases) of Christ's work but Baptists have to wait until the end of the month.

 

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

alex o. wrote:

alex o. wrote:

Many like to say they are following the RP, when in fact, they don't follow it. Acts 2.42, 46 notes the observance of "breaking of bread" which was daily. Did they follow the teaching daily? Yes. Did they pray daily? Yes. Did they break bread daily? Yes.

From what I know of the early church, it seems they observed the Lord's Supper every time they met. From Acts 2 it also seems that where 2 or 3 (at least) were gathered in His name, they observed this "remembrance" in their individual houses.

By observing, one is witnessing their faith. Individual congregants participated and so witnessed to their faith since "they proclaimed Christ's death (by their identification of taking these symbolic elements picturing Christ's sacrifice.) The person shows they are taking Christ's work internally. This is what was promised- The New Covenant-where God would dwell with and inside us. It is "Christ in us, the hope of glory." Christ's blood was the blood of the New Covenant.

The Baptists get the symbolism correctly but only observe the ordinance once a month. What a travesty! The early church observed every time they met to allow everyone to witness their faith.

If singing is the language of the emotions (I believe it is), then, it is mainly an emotional response we are eliciting from those who assemble for meeting since this is the main feature of individual participation (singing). Listening to dictatorial preaching (what Baptist do instead of appeal) is not audience participation either in any meaningful way. So the early church could show individual identity weekly (or daily in some cases) of Christ's work but Baptists have to wait until the end of the month.

 

Alex, the RPW cannot be summed up in "the early church did this so we must do this." That is a gross oversimplification.

Nor would I agree that "singing is the language of the emotions." Music is the language of the emotions. Singing is the theology of the heart.

Final Rule of Faith & Practice

Growing up I don’t recall ever hearing of the Regulative Principle, but then, I did not grow up Calvinist.
It seems to me that this is really just a restatement of what I did grow up hearing, that for Baptists, “The Bible is our final rule of faith and practice.”

However, it seems some go too far with the idea of the Regulative Principle when they want to argue if the Bible does not directly speak against something, then it is permissible.
With this strict view things such as drinking, gambling, slavery, etc. could be justified by saying, “Well, the Bible doesn’t directly speak against it.”

Or, on the other hand, this strict view could also be used to prohibit musical instruments from worship since the New Testament doesn’t directly speak of them. Of course, the Bible doesn’t speak of other things we use in worship, such as electricity, air conditioning, pulpits, sound systems…

We should also consider biblical principles and common sense.
David R. Brumbelow

David R. Brumbelow wrote:

David R. Brumbelow wrote:

Growing up I don’t recall ever hearing of the Regulative Principle, but then, I did not grow up Calvinist.
It seems to me that this is really just a restatement of what I did grow up hearing, that for Baptists, “The Bible is our final rule of faith and practice.”

However, it seems some go too far with the idea of the Regulative Principle when they want to argue if the Bible does not directly speak against something, then it is permissible.
With this strict view things such as drinking, gambling, slavery, etc. could be justified by saying, “Well, the Bible doesn’t directly speak against it.”

Or, on the other hand, this strict view could also be used to prohibit musical instruments from worship since the New Testament doesn’t directly speak of them. Of course, the Bible doesn’t speak of other things we use in worship, such as electricity, air conditioning, pulpits, sound systems…

We should also consider biblical principles and common sense.
David R. Brumbelow

First, David, it's the Regulative Principle of Worship, not of life. That is, it lays down principles and rules for governing corporate worship, not for the life of the believer. That's not its role at all. Those holding to the RPW would have plenty of other Biblical principles for guiding daily life.

In one sense you're correct, however, in that the RPW is closely linked with Christian liberty. That is, the impetus was thought to free us in our worship from the traditions of men (if this seems odd to you, given how the RPW is generally conceived today as "restrictive," think of the Puritan context, in which so much of worship was compulsory on threat of punishment). The thought is that to everything that happens in a church service, the believers should be able to give their "Amen." If someone performs a liturgical dance to the Backstreet Boys music in a church we attend while wearing tight purple leather pants, you and I would likely not wish to give our "Amen." The RPW frees us from any requirement or judgment that we should do so by denying the validity of that element, thus attempting to free us from the ideas and traditions of men. If someone gets up and reads a passage of Scripture, however, we will both give our approval and worship together. Our progenitors saw this as liberating us from a great deal of the Romish accretions, many of which the state church continued (e.g., church calendar, vestments, etc.)

You're also correct that the RPW could be seen as disallowing musical instruments. A minority take it that way. Most do not, seeing the use of instruments as "circumstantial," since it aids and guides congregational singing.

Finally, and I may be wrong here, I believe even General (non-Calvinistic) Baptists would have held to the RPW. I'm relatively certain it's part of our common Baptist heritage and linked to our identity and development. So while it has more current purchase in Calvinistic and Reformed circles, it's hardly a solely a Calvinist doctrine.

synthetic construct

Andrew K wrote:

 

alex o. wrote:

 

Many like to say they are following the RP, when in fact, they don't follow it. Acts 2.42, 46 notes the observance of "breaking of bread" which was daily. Did they follow the teaching daily? Yes. Did they pray daily? Yes. Did they break bread daily? Yes.

From what I know of the early church, it seems they observed the Lord's Supper every time they met. From Acts 2 it also seems that where 2 or 3 (at least) were gathered in His name, they observed this "remembrance" in their individual houses.

By observing, one is witnessing their faith. Individual congregants participated and so witnessed to their faith since "they proclaimed Christ's death (by their identification of taking these symbolic elements picturing Christ's sacrifice.) The person shows they are taking Christ's work internally. This is what was promised- The New Covenant-where God would dwell with and inside us. It is "Christ in us, the hope of glory." Christ's blood was the blood of the New Covenant.

The Baptists get the symbolism correctly but only observe the ordinance once a month. What a travesty! The early church observed every time they met to allow everyone to witness their faith.

If singing is the language of the emotions (I believe it is), then, it is mainly an emotional response we are eliciting from those who assemble for meeting since this is the main feature of individual participation (singing). Listening to dictatorial preaching (what Baptist do instead of appeal) is not audience participation either in any meaningful way. So the early church could show individual identity weekly (or daily in some cases) of Christ's work but Baptists have to wait until the end of the month.

 

 

 

Alex, the RPW cannot be summed up in "the early church did this so we must do this." That is a gross oversimplification.

Nor would I agree that "singing is the language of the emotions." Music is the language of the emotions. Singing is the theology of the heart.

Why talk about the bible if we can talk derived concepts.

 

Primarily, meeting together is for mutual encouragement of faith, not for "worship" per se. Of course in some sense everything one does and says should involve worship. Additionally, the main component of meeting together that best functions as *pure* "worship" would be observing the LS.

For my preference, only one song would be sung and then the primary function of discipling by the pastor with reading of the scripture beforehand. The LS should be practiced every week so folks can prepare themselves to witness to their faith. It has a purifying effect and strengthens each other's faith.

Singing is not the theology of the heart either.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

alex o. wrote:

alex o. wrote:

 

Andrew K wrote:

 

 

alex o. wrote:

 

Many like to say they are following the RP, when in fact, they don't follow it. Acts 2.42, 46 notes the observance of "breaking of bread" which was daily. Did they follow the teaching daily? Yes. Did they pray daily? Yes. Did they break bread daily? Yes.

From what I know of the early church, it seems they observed the Lord's Supper every time they met. From Acts 2 it also seems that where 2 or 3 (at least) were gathered in His name, they observed this "remembrance" in their individual houses.

By observing, one is witnessing their faith. Individual congregants participated and so witnessed to their faith since "they proclaimed Christ's death (by their identification of taking these symbolic elements picturing Christ's sacrifice.) The person shows they are taking Christ's work internally. This is what was promised- The New Covenant-where God would dwell with and inside us. It is "Christ in us, the hope of glory." Christ's blood was the blood of the New Covenant.

The Baptists get the symbolism correctly but only observe the ordinance once a month. What a travesty! The early church observed every time they met to allow everyone to witness their faith.

If singing is the language of the emotions (I believe it is), then, it is mainly an emotional response we are eliciting from those who assemble for meeting since this is the main feature of individual participation (singing). Listening to dictatorial preaching (what Baptist do instead of appeal) is not audience participation either in any meaningful way. So the early church could show individual identity weekly (or daily in some cases) of Christ's work but Baptists have to wait until the end of the month.

 

 

 

Alex, the RPW cannot be summed up in "the early church did this so we must do this." That is a gross oversimplification.

Nor would I agree that "singing is the language of the emotions." Music is the language of the emotions. Singing is the theology of the heart.

 

 

Why talk about the bible if we can talk derived concepts.

 

Primarily, meeting together is for mutual encouragement of faith, not for "worship" per se. Of course in some sense everything one does and says should involve worship. Additionally, the main component of meeting together that best functions as *pure* "worship" would be observing the LS.

For my preference, only one song would be sung and then the primary function of discipling by the pastor with reading of the scripture beforehand. The LS should be practiced every week so folks can prepare themselves to witness to their faith. It has a purifying effect and strengthens each other's faith.

Singing is not the theology of the heart either.

There is much wrong in what you say. Here's just a few objections:

Christ did not mandate the no. of LSs, but said, "As often as you do..." The RPW protects me from your preferences. Simply because the early church did/didn't do something does not require us to do the same--although if your church "shares all things in common," I'd be rather impressed, I'll admit. 

...and yes it is. Smile

why not everyday?

There were a least two daily sacrifices every day in the Temple besides all the many others such as everyone's first born animal. All those sacrifices were fulfilled in Christ the Book of Hebrews tells me. The commemoration of Christ's sacrifice was practiced every week in the early church. It seems to me one needs a pretty good excuse if they are not continuing this practice. As I said, The Romanists reinterpreted the ordinance to make it something it isn't. The Baptists and most Protestants hardly observe it.

Out.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

When did the term come to be used

Where and when did the actual term, “Regulative Principle,” come to be used? I noticed the ones quoted in the article did not use the term.

As far as every believer giving his Amen, that may be a good general rule. But if every believer has to give his Amen to a practice in Worship, then just one believer in the congregation can run things.
David R. Brumbelow

David R. Brumbelow wrote:

David R. Brumbelow wrote:

Where and when did the actual term, “Regulative Principle,” come to be used? I noticed the ones quoted in the article did not use the term.

As far as every believer giving his Amen, that may be a good general rule. But if every believer has to give his Amen to a practice in Worship, then just one believer in the congregation can run things.
David R. Brumbelow

It's considered a Puritan principle, derived from Calvin and the Anabaptists in contradistinction to the Lutheran and Anglican "normative principle," whereby things not forbidden are permitted. I don't know where the particular term came from.

No, no one should be controlling anything, because the idea is to remove control over the worship service from men altogether. E.g., perhaps someone may not want to say "Amen" because they don't like a particular song. But if the song is doctrinally correct and appropriate to a congregational context, all grounds for objection from Scripture on conscience are gone. It's simply a matter of personal preference, which is not a reasonable objection. Only what is instituted by Scripture or "good and necessary consequence thereof," is permitted and all else is forbidden.

The Holy Kiss

I remember the New Testament telling believers to greet one another with a holy kiss about five times....it would seem that either we get very creative with arguing what is cultural (I confess I do not greet my brothers and sisters this way), or we need to do a great degree of thinking and yes, arguing and debating, over what is proper in the modern context.  But that said, I would tend to argue that maybe, just maybe, we ought to be breaking bread more often--I cherish the memory of attending a church where they "broke rice" every Sunday (it was a mostly Chinese church)--and I would dare suggest that we do need to learn how to demonstrate love for one another more effectively.

Plunge in immediately?  No, let's do baby steps, but let's see what God does when we try to live a little bit more like the New Testament church.  

Announcements?

 

How does something as simple or innocuous as verbal announcements during a worship service fit with the Regulative Principle?  Is there any example of announcements during a worship gathering in either the Old or New Testaments?:

"Men, don't forget the "Rise with the Guys" fish fry this Saturday morning at 7 at Peter's Point on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Brother Andrew will be speaking on the topic of "Fishing for Men."  BYON (Bring your own net)."

Yes, I'm being somewhat mischievous, but my point is serious: if only those elements specifically mentioned in Scripture should be included in our worship services, then announcements and a host of other (minor) components need to go too.....  

 

Announcements etc.

Maybe that's why some church's do the announcements before the service starts and use an offering box instead of passing the plate. Now if we can figure out what to do with the "Welcome Song" and "Music Specials", we'll be all set. : )

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

A few random responses:

A few random responses:

To David Brumbelow:

However, it seems some go too far with the idea of the Regulative Principle when they want to argue if the Bible does not directly speak against something, then it is permissible.

This is not the Regulative Principle. This is typically called normative--that whatever Scripture does not forbid is permissible. The RPW is the opposite--that only what Scripture commands is permissible. It Scripture does not directly command it, it is not permissible in corporate worship.

With this strict view things such as drinking, gambling, slavery, etc. could be justified by saying, “Well, the Bible doesn’t directly speak against it.”

Whatever the merits or demerits of these individual things might be, it has nothing to do with the RPW unless one is arguing that we should drink, gamble, or enslave people as acts of corporate worship, in which case they would be ruled out of order (aside from communion perhaps, or in some churches, giving in the the offering itself is a bit of a gamble I suppose). 

To Larry Nelson:

How does something as simple or innocuous as verbal announcements during a worship service fit with the Regulative Principle?  Is there any example of announcements during a worship gathering in either the Old or New Testaments?:

Are these announcements part of worship? Because if they aren't, they aren't included in the RPW. Whether or not we should announce things or when they might be announced is a matter of wisdom, I suppose, and there may in fact be a number of things that need to go. But the RPW deals with worship. 

The point of the RPW, simply put, is that we aren't allowed to create our own means or methods of corporate worship. God knows how best to please him in the gathered assembly for worship, and we should listen to Him and do only those things which he has said please him in corporate worship.

It is designed, in part, to protect the conscience of the individual by refusing to compel them to do something God hasn't commanded. An individual might have a problem of conscience with something not commanded. To do that in corporate worship causes that individual either to violate his conscience by participating or to harm the fellowship of the body by not participating. 

The RPW does not apply directly to things other than corporate worship, in my view, though it might have some application or shed some light. 

Not getting it

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

How does something as simple or innocuous as verbal announcements during a worship service fit with the Regulative Principle?  Is there any example of announcements during a worship gathering in either the Old or New Testaments?:

"Men, don't forget the "Rise with the Guys" fish fry this Saturday morning at 7 at Peter's Point on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Brother Andrew will be speaking on the topic of "Fishing for Men."  BYON (Bring your own net)."

Yes, I'm being somewhat mischievous, but my point is serious: if only those elements specifically mentioned in Scripture should be included in our worship services, then announcements and a host of other (minor) components need to go too.....  

 

Yes, but once more, that isn't what the RPW actually is/says. It adds that things mentioned in Scripture or that might be derived "by good or necessary consequence." One could possibly argue that announcements are necessary to insert into the service for the purpose of maintaining order. Although sometimes church announcements can be silly and perhaps are better at the beginning or the end of a worship service, since they interrupt the flow and clearly are not an element of corporate worship as such. (Announcements frequently do seem to function as an occasion for the speaker to practice his stand-up comedy routine.)

A lot of the comments I'm seeing here generally appear to be knee-jerk responses ("Ties aren't in the Bible. Better throw away my tie! Guffaw!", etc.) and don't reflect any serious reading on the matter.

The following link provides a rather conservative interpretation of it, but it's a good place to start if anyone's actually interested in learning about something that was very important to our forebears but that we apparently find weird and outlandish: http://www.arbca.com/regulative-principle

Yep, that's exactly my point:

 

Andrew K wrote:

...they [announcements] interrupt the flow and clearly are not an element of corporate worship as such.

 

So why in so many churches that would adamantly claim to adhere to the RPW are they anywhere in the midst of worship services?  Why is a non-element so often interposed into the sequence of RPW elements?  Announcements seem to routinely be given a "free pass."

[Note: unlike your "tie" comment above, I'm not confusing a circumstance  with an element.]

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Once you allow accommodation for derivation, then the entire substantive basis for what can or might be deemed an element flies out the proverbial window.  At that point, the division between Regulative and Normative really boils down to differences in opinion.  One church's announcements become another church's skits.  One church's soloists become another church's "sacred dance."  Etc.  Do you see what I'm saying?

Larry Nelson wrote:

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

 

Andrew K wrote:

 

...they [announcements] interrupt the flow and clearly are not an element of corporate worship as such.

 

 

 

So why in so many churches that would adamantly claim to adhere to the RPW are they anywhere in the midst of worship services?  Why is a non-element so often interposed into the sequence of RPW elements?  Announcements seem to routinely be given a "free pass."

[Note: unlike your "tie" comment above, I'm not confusing a circumstance  with an element.]

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Once you allow accommodation for derivation, then the entire substantive basis for what can or might be deemed an element flies out the proverbial window.  At that point, the division between Regulative and Normative really boils down to differences in opinion.

The "tie example" wasn't for your benefit, but for the comments on electrical systems and offering plates.

As for your assertion, I disagree. I have not "allowed for derivation"; but there are differences in opinion on how to interpret the RPW, as there are on any system. As I said, I would interpret the RPW as disallowing announcements during the service. Others would not. None of us would make announcements an element of worship, though perhaps some would argue the function they serve of passing important info for church order justifies their presence. But there are many other areas where we would agree, and so the RPW still appears to serve an important function.

I see what you're saying, but I think you're confusing epistemology with function. The RPW is neither an infallible construct, nor does it provide an infallible interpretation of how it should be understood. As in every doctrinal system, there are gray and fuzzy areas where, should you press hard enough, cause a great deal of head-scratching as to how they should work  themselves out in the practice of a local church. Nonetheless, it is very useful for what it does, which is to protect the conscience of the believer and to ensure that we are, to the best of our understanding, offering up worship to God that He has authorized. The RPW helps us to understand with what we may bind the consciences of believers--what elements of worship must be present in corporate worship--and give us freedom to reject innovations, however well-intentioned they may be, as unwarranted.

Perhaps....

....we ought to take a look at not necessarily what ought to be excluded, but more importantly what ought to be included in our meetings.  We all agree that we ought to have a time of teaching, for example, and the New Testament also prescribes prayer and the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  It strikes me that if we put that which ought to be prominent in that prominent place, we then will end up implicitly pushing out the things that do not.  It is to say "I'm sorry, Bob, but given a choice between the liturgical hip-hop dance you suggest and the sermon, the sermon wins every time."

Put differently, we might do well to start describing the regulative principle as primarily prescriptive and not proscriptive.

Strictures?

 

Andrew K wrote:

...some would argue the function they [announcements] serve of passing important info for church order justifies their presence.

 

That just seems inconsistent to me (and I understand that you are not personally arguing for such a construct). 

If any one can justify the presence of a (reasonable) RPW non-element in their worship service on the basis of its expediency, then on what basis can another's justification of the presence of a (reasonable) RPW non-element in their  worship service on the basis of its expediency be discounted?

For one, the function served by announcements may justify their presence.  For another, the function served by an illustrative skit may justify its presence.  On what basis could either party discount the other?     

The Purpose of Announcements

I assumed that the purpose for announcements was to prepare people for the passing of the offering plate (which seems to always follow the announcements) and give them the opportunity to write their checks or get out their wallets.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

I fully admit that I have not

I fully admit that I have not done any heavy reading on the RPW. But that's partly because discussions like this make me skeptical of its actual value, since there are so many disagreements as to its meaning and application.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Announcements in the NT?

Apart from Ron's tongue in cheek comment (I think), it strikes me that Paul and John do a certain amount of announcements in the epistles.  Now granted, this is not explicitly referred to as part of the Lord's day or other meetings, but if we infer that the epistles would be read to the largely illiterate slaves that were the main part of the church in those days (at least so I'm told), then we have to assume that some form of announcements existed back in those days.  They were warned about Alexander, Hymeneaus, Diotrephes, and the like.  They were told to reconcile with the repentant incestuous man.  Timothy and Titus had to announce elections for deacons and elders as part of their God-given and Paul-communicated commissions.  Another example is in 2. Cor. 9, where Paul announces a collection for the Jerusalem church and notes how awesome the Macedonians had been, even though they were poor as dirt.  (etc., etc., etc.)

So in my mind, the question is not whether there would be some form announcements in the early church or not, but rather when and where the important announcements would be communicated.  

Jury is still out on that hip-hop liturgical dance.  :^)

Ron, the phrase "that there

 

Ron, the phrase "that there be no gatherings when I come" springs to mind.

 

And I think most folks missed Don's condemnation dismissal of the RPW with words that actually support it.  I'll just point that up

functions of the synagogue

The tradition-rich Jewish folk (I mean, if they could, they would be offering animal sacrifices at their temple) try to follow as many traditions as they can but they don't use the synagogue as a worship center, instead, they call it a shul (school).

The 2nd Temple in Jesus' day was the worship center, the weekly synagogue (upon which the church service mimics the purpose of meeting) was for general instruction.

"God is not served by human hands." This speaks of creating idols but much more along the same line. The local church is not primarily for worship but teaching. Worship is anytime a Christian is living the cruciform life including the church service but the church service is not the worship center.

Any time mysticism is substituted for the ability given by God's spirit, it is idolatry.

All this talk of RPW is just fruitless discussion since the local church functionally is not a worship center, period. End of discussion, period.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Shul or "Temple"

Alex, keep in mind that Jews will also call the Synagogue the "Temple", and the Talmud makes the argument that studying Torah (either Pentateuch or Talmud) is the modern day equivalent of making offerings.  It's how they dealt with the destruction of Herod's Temple, really.  So while the synagogue was NOT a worship/sacrificial center prior to AD 70 for the most part, it arguably is today.

It is also worth noting that "worship" in the Biblical texts is simply a word (Greek or Hebrew) meaning to prostrate oneself, and there are numerous examples of this that are connected neither with sacrifice nor the Temple or Tabernacle.  So there is a whole range of ambiguity/meaning in these words where we really ought not simply make broad classifications in the way you have.

But to the point that we ought not use the RPW because the church is not a worship center....well, no.  Does not the New Testament detail how people prostrated themselves in response to the preaching of the Word--e.g. Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 14, etc..?  We might on the contrary infer that as the church provides a place for fellowship and teaching--really all of the spiritual gifts of 1 Cor. 12 and elsewhere--it will inevitably become a prime location for worship (prostration, self-abasement, etc.) as well.

But really even if we ignore the connection between teaching, preaching fellowship, and the like to worship, I think we'd arrive at at least a prescriptive version of the regulative principle--this is, in a nutshell, what we see in 1 Corinthians 14.  Paul is seeing too much tongues--whether they are real or not he doesn't say--and he notes that it is advantageous that teaching and preaching, or prophecy in those days before the canon was closed, ought to occupy a prominent place.  He is in effect saying that if the church applies the proper weight towards the Word, songs of praise, and the like, there will not be as dominant a place for tongues and such.

Hi Bert

Bert Perry wrote:

Alex, keep in mind that Jews will also call the Synagogue the "Temple", and the Talmud makes the argument that studying Torah (either Pentateuch or Talmud) is the modern day equivalent of making offerings.  It's how they dealt with the destruction of Herod's Temple, really.  So while the synagogue was NOT a worship/sacrificial center prior to AD 70 for the most part, it arguably is today.

It is also worth noting that "worship" in the Biblical texts is simply a word (Greek or Hebrew) meaning to prostrate oneself, and there are numerous examples of this that are connected neither with sacrifice nor the Temple or Tabernacle.  So there is a whole range of ambiguity/meaning in these words where we really ought not simply make broad classifications in the way you have.

But to the point that we ought not use the RPW because the church is not a worship center....well, no.  Does not the New Testament detail how people prostrated themselves in response to the preaching of the Word--e.g. Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 14, etc..?  We might on the contrary infer that as the church provides a place for fellowship and teaching--really all of the spiritual gifts of 1 Cor. 12 and elsewhere--it will inevitably become a prime location for worship (prostration, self-abasement, etc.) as well.

But really even if we ignore the connection between teaching, preaching fellowship, and the like to worship, I think we'd arrive at at least a prescriptive version of the regulative principle--this is, in a nutshell, what we see in 1 Corinthians 14.  Paul is seeing too much tongues--whether they are real or not he doesn't say--and he notes that it is advantageous that teaching and preaching, or prophecy in those days before the canon was closed, ought to occupy a prominent place.  He is in effect saying that if the church applies the proper weight towards the Word, songs of praise, and the like, there will not be as dominant a place for tongues and such.

You seem like a nice guy, you also seem regenerated but you are out of your depth in this discussion (my opinion). I believe you are missing several glaring aspects, but I won't point them out in public. You may PM me if you wish. I've said just about all that is necessary from my standpoint.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Nice try, Alex

Maybe interact with what I claimed.  Regarding the nature of the synagogues today, take a look here and here.   Regarding the definition of worship, take a look here and here. Regarding the interaction between the exercise of 1 Corinthians 12 spiritual gifts and worship, or between preaching and worship, you can take a look at Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14.

I think I've presented more than adequate evidence for my positions, and I will do so in public.  And you can stop the condescending nonsense about me being "out of my depth", or generalizing about Baptist preaching being "dictatorial" and the like.  The very premiss of this forum is that iron ought to sharpen iron, not be handled with kid gloves as you propose.

Bert

On the bright side, at least you "seem regenerated" . . . What more can you ask for!?

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

not going further than "seems"

TylerR wrote:

On the bright side, at least you "seem regenerated" . . . What more can you ask for!?

Well, I don't get to say, do I?

Anyway, Bert's response was glaring to me (in its ignorance, Christians can be very ignorant). I was not being condescending at all, it was my recognition which he doesn't recognize. I'll leave him to his own thoughts.

In the interest of God's explicit defining truth of WHY we meet, I offer two defining passages: Heb. 10.25 (encouraging one another), Rom. 1.12 (that we may be mutually encouraged wby each other’s faith, both yours and mine). Its amazing that Paul would also be encouraged, but he was. How was this encouragement accomplished? I say its by taking a stand mostly by participating in the Lord's Supper. Anyone can attend, sing the songs, and play church. Taking The Lord's Supper is a different matter, a judgment aspect is inherent if not performed correctly similar to Nadab and Abihu when they made offering which was faulty. Both the elements and the heart need to be right.

 

 

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Say what?

Alex, you can't accuse me of being in beyond my depth, and suggest discussing things in private, without being condescending.  Look at the definition from the dictionary.  Same thing with the claim that Baptist preaching is dictatorial--in both cases, you're arguing that people are infantile or brutish, which is by nature condescending.  Your claim is, to paraphrase you, glaring in its ignorance.

Moreover, iif you really want to point out that something is ignorant, you need to approach the argument and prove that, not simply say someone's in beyond their depth.  That's why I pointed out that you are simply wrong about the nature of the synagogue and the church, and hence your argument falls by the GIGO principle; false premises, false conclusions.  

Same thing with your claims regarding Hebrews 10:24-5 and Romans 1:12--for those to contradict 1 Corinthians 14:25, you more or less need to assume that encouragement/fellowship  and worship are mutually exclusive.  Given that the Hebrews were called to Jerusalem three times per year for times of worship and fellowship, your implicit argument would have certainly come as news to them.  That might have asked you with the same logic whether eating bread and meat in the same meal were mutually contradictory, and I submit to you that they are not contradictory, but complementary--that is, again, the clear message of spiritual gifts in passages like 1 Corinthians 12.

Back to the central discussion; that the regulative principle is a central part of Baptist identity.  Now while we can argue whether we Baptists truly honor this principle today, and I myself would agree with many of these quibbles and concerns--as I myself argued regarding the holy kiss.  Even so, we ought to see RP as a central conclusion of Sola Scriptura; if indeed we believe the Bible is our sole rule of faith and practice, the argument ought not be whether we ought to attempt to use the RP, but rather (per my earlier comments) whether that principle ought to be applied primarily positively or negatively--whether it ought to define first what we ought to do, or what we ought not to do.  I would argue that our first application ought to be positive--using it negatively sparingly for the simple reason that if we're doing what we ought to do, we won't have time for that which we ought to abhor.

The big source of confusion here is that the ecclesiastical use of the word worship has come to mean a lot more than the Hebrew Schachah--really any part of church service rather than the prostration of the believer.  We might do well to rename it the regulative principle of church life, or perhaps the regulative principle of church music, or some such thing.  But that does not mean we abandon it in its entirety, because that is implicitly to downgrade Sola Scriptura.

Two Things

Actually, most discussions of the RP I've seen or heard are split pretty evenly between things we ought to do and things we ought not. 

Secondly, rather than just attempting to point out Don's objection, I should ask him a question: Who is more likely to end up speaking improperly on God's behalf?  The one who says that the words and actions of the Lord throughout scripture can be distilled to a principle, or the one who, without the slightest hint of biblical warrant tells his congregation that unprescribed activities are perfectly legitimate ways to worship God?

The flip side...

 

DavidO wrote:

...the one who, without the slightest hint of biblical warrant tells his congregation that unprescribed activities are perfectly legitimate ways to worship God?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What about the one who, contradicting  biblical warrant, tells his congregation that prescribed  activities are illegitimate  ways to worship God? 

Examples:

 

"Clap your hands, all peoples!  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!" (Psalm 47:1 ESV)

"Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! 2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! 3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!" (Psalm 149:1-3 ESV)

"Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!" (Psalm 150:3-5 ESV)

 

Clapping? Shouting? Dancing? "Loud clashing cymbals"? 

How many of us have been taught (past or present) that such things are completely unacceptable ways in which to worship God?

[Cue someone to step in and explain how, while such things might have been pleasing to God during the time of the Israelites, they are repugnant in the sight of our (immutable) God today...]

 

Hope this is right!

David O. wrote:

Actually, most discussions of the RP I've seen or heard are split pretty evenly between things we ought to do and things we ought not. 

If indeed this is generally correct, I am gladly corrected.  Unfortunately, the perception I've seen too often is that the negative predominates.  

Larry Nelson wrote:

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

 

DavidO wrote:

 

...the one who, without the slightest hint of biblical warrant tells his congregation that unprescribed activities are perfectly legitimate ways to worship God?

 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What about the one who, contradicting  biblical warrant, tells his congregation that prescribed  activities are illegitimate  ways to worship God? 

Examples:

 

"Clap your hands, all peoples!  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!" (Psalm 47:1 ESV)

"Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! 2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! 3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!" (Psalm 149:1-3 ESV)

"Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!" (Psalm 150:3-5 ESV)

 

Clapping? Shouting? Dancing? "Loud clashing cymbals"? 

How many of us have been taught (past or present) that such things are completely unacceptable ways in which to worship God?

[Cue someone to step in and explain how, while such things might have been pleasing to God during the time of the Israelites, they are repugnant in the sight of our (immutable) God today...]

 

It is ironic isn't it? And the same is true of Don Johnson who was dismissive of RPW by saying it was Pharisaical. Don promotes and represents a perspective on music that is perhaps the quintessential example of a Pharisaical mindset. 

dismissal?

Just for reference,Don's comment regarding Matthew 15:9 could be interpreted either as an affirmation that the RPW is a necessary conclusion of Sola Scriptura, or as a man-made addition to Scripture. I would prefer to let him speak for himself rather than have the rest of us speaking for him.

Put in the terms of Matthew 15:9, it's worth noting that it was significantly the Pharisees who elevated the traditions of the rabbis to approximately the same level--in many places arguably a higher level--than that of Scripture itself.  That was certainly Jesus' provocation--the Pharisees were challenging him about why He did not do the ritual bathing/washing given in the Midrash/Mishnah/etc. that later became the Talmuds.

I also appreciate Larry's comment regarding Psalms 149 and 150.  A great part of the difficulty of both Sola Scriptura and the Regulative Principle is to understand how OT passages do, or do not, bind the modern church.  Some of us in my church's choir were joking last Sunday about what a blessing it is when someone comes with a crowbar to help us get our feet un-nailed from the floor.  Working on it!

to be clear

I did intend to dismiss the Regulative Principle. I am not bound by the thoughts of the Puritans, there is NO scriptural mandate for the positions taken by the RPW. It is incredibly bizarre for those who claim to be "gospel-centered" to then attempt to bind the lives of churches by their unfounded propositions.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson wrote:

Don Johnson wrote:

I did intend to dismiss the Regulative Principle. I am not bound by the thoughts of the Puritans, there is NO scriptural mandate for the positions taken by the RPW. It is incredibly bizarre for those who claim to be "gospel-centered" to then attempt to bind the lives of churches by their unfounded propositions.

Hmm... So you're dismissing the Regulative Principle based on the Regulative Principle thereby presupposing the truth of the Regulative Principle. :D 

whatever

I am just dismissing the regulative principle. It is a construct of men, not of God.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson wrote:

Don Johnson wrote:

I am just dismissing the regulative principle. It is a construct of men, not of God.

Yes. And that's the Regulative Principle in a nutshell. In fact, nearly everything you've said up to this point could be construed in favor of the same. That's certainly what I thought when I saw your first post. This is beginning to resemble the argument with those who decry "systematic theology" b/c "it's not Biblical."

Expand?

Don, it doesn't seem like you're terribly interested in engaging further, but on the off chance that you might be persuaded, I'd be interested in hearing you out.

I am just dismissing the

I am just dismissing the regulative principle. It is a construct of men, not of God.

Don, how do you know or decide what should be a part of a worship service? On what basis would you rule something to be sinful or inappropriate in worship? On what basis would you say that something someone else does in worship sinful or inappropriate?

Don, thanks for the

Don, thanks for the clarification.  I didn't need it, but others did. 

Would that you would toss off all constructs of man and adopt God's own principles for your church.  

Be well and stay healthy.  I've had some heart/BP scares myself in the last few.  

I would like to hear your answer to Larry's question.  David Brumbelow's as well.  David doesn't want the congregation in charge of the service content.  But does he want God in charge of it?  Do you?

Jesus cares about this

Where did John's baptism come from? From heaven or from men?" 

Where do the things you include in your worship service come from, heaven or men?

And just to summarize:

And just to summarize:

If we get our religion from the one true God, do we really think we get to make parts of it up?  He says, "Do the following: Preach, Pray, Read My Word, Offer Me your Gifts, Sing My Praise, Baptize in My Name, Observe My Supper."

Who among us can add to this?  Who among us can decide, you know what, we're supposed to do A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, but I just think it would be really great if we also did X, Y, and Z? 

The arrogance.  

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