The Regulative Principle - A Baptist Doctrine

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J. Baillet's picture

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

Andrew K's picture

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.

apward's picture

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.

 

Andrew K's picture

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.

Don Johnson's picture

Matthew 15.9  in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

apward's picture

[/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. 

 

 

Andrew K's picture

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.

alex o.'s picture

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

Andrew K's picture

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.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

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

Andrew K's picture

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.

alex o.'s picture

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

Andrew K's picture

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

alex o.'s picture

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

David R. Brumbelow's picture

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

Andrew K's picture

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.

Bert Perry's picture

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.  

Larry Nelson's picture

 

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.....  

 

Ron Bean's picture

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

Larry's picture

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. 

Andrew K's picture

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

Larry Nelson's picture

 

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?

Andrew K's picture

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.

Bert Perry's picture

....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.

Larry Nelson's picture

 

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?     

Ron Bean's picture

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

Greg Long's picture

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.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Bert Perry's picture

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.  :^)

DavidO's picture

 

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

alex o.'s picture

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

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