Dialogical Principle of Worship

Status
Not open for further replies.

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
I was wondering if many of the churches represented on the Puritanboard practice the Dialogical Principle of Worship.

The Reformed Church of Dunedin (a congregation of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand) says this about worship:

There are two fundamental principles involved in biblical worship:
  1. Worship is governed by what God has revealed about himself in His Word. An addition to this is that worship is to be according to what he has prescribed as acceptable worship.
  2. Worship is a dialogue between God and his covenant people – worship is a communication. In this communication God speaks to us through his Word and we respond to him, either in prayer or in song. Every part of worship must have a biblical reason
http://www.rcnzonline.com/dunedin/worship-services/

It seems to me that the Dialogical Principle of Worship is simply bringing our covenant theology into worship.

Thoughts?
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
Yeah that's what we do. In the liturgy, it's set up to where God speaks and we respond, and we go back and forth throughout the service.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
We don't have a call-and-response setup in our worship, unless our concluding Psalm ought to be seen that way--our response to the preached Word. I've already thought of prayer and singing as our response to God's Word in dialogue anyways.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I am open to being convinced if it could be shown that this an actual command for how our worship ought to be structured. However, it appears it would be rather reductionist, especially when we centre our whole worship around it. Consider Habakkuk 2:20 or Revelation 8:1. Or even Psalm 2:2-3 where it is rebels, not believers, who speak and speak first (before God).

But, in fact, the highest form of dialogue actually comes out in our Psalms, as we see in Psalms 2, 40, 45, 110 and many others where the Lord and his anointed converse for the benefit of the faithful (as we see how the Psalms are used in the book Hebrews, chapters 1-10).
 
Last edited:

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
Yes, we hold to both the Regulative Principle (HC QA 96!) and the principle of covenantal structure. I have a book coming out later this year which will argue that the covenantal principle takes priority -- and the RPW actually flows from that.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
where it is rebels, not believers, who speak and speak first (before God).
Does not the Bible record in Gen 1 that God speaks first?

As I said earlier the Dialogical principle is really our covenant theology brought into our worship, and covenant theology is a key organising principle of Reformed theology.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, we hold to both the Regulative Principle (HC QA 96!) and the principle of covenantal structure. I have a book coming out later this year which will argue that the covenantal principle takes priority -- and the RPW actually flows from that.
Wes I would be very interested in your book when it is available. Confessional Reformed churches in my country are under pressure to make their services more contemporary and have less liturgy, to meets the needs of a changing and increasingly secular society. But there are real dangers. Pastors and elders need to be continually reminded of Reformed worship In my humble opinion. .
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
When it's available, it'll be announced on my blog -- www.bredenhof.ca
Thanks Wes. Look forward to it.
While it is primarily meant for a CanRC/FRCA audience, I think you'll find it helpful across the ditch too.
I am sure if there is a discussion of the covenant in worship it will be very relevant 'accross the ditch' :)

Perhaps we need to explain to our friends in the Northern Hemisphere that the expression 'accross the ditch' between Australia and New Zealand is similar to 'accross the pond' between the USA/Canada and the United Kingdom :)
 

J.L. Allen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Absolutely! There is such beauty in the worship of our God! Our king has invited us in so that we may respond to His kindness. And not just His kindness, but He Himself.

Contemporary worship -so called- isn’t more holy because of the emotional nature of it. It is often a manipulation (intended or sincere). Reformed liturgy is emotional in its best sense. The whole person is engaged by the prescribed and described methods God has given so graciously. If the worship is stuffy, it’s because the people are being so.

Praise Christ for spanning the chasm of our deadness.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The dialogical principle is directly related to the regulative principle and to covenant theology. God is the initiator, men respond to him. The distance between creatures and God is so great men could have no "fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant." WCF 7.1

In worship they respond best with the very words he has supplied them with. Hence, singing Psalms (and since I'm not EP, Scripture-saturated hymns), and Scripture-saturated prayer (the minister leads the people in prayer).

Worship begins with a Call, a Summons, a suitable text exhorting the people with the voice of the Lord. People respond, and that pattern continues until the Word in benediction dismisses the assembly. The RPW teaches that man--much less sinful man--is not able to intuit how God wills to be worshiped, but must attend that which he is instructed by God.

When you are aware of it when studying Scripture, covenant/RPW/dialog appears pervasive in proper worship, and even matters merely related to worship. Consider how Exodus (from ch.25-39, ex. 32-34) contains two parallel descriptions of the Tabernacle. The first is God's own deliverance, presented in theological perspective. Man almost doesn't get to respond at all because of the golden-calf incident; but because of Moses mediation they do then respond in anthropological perspective.

Chs.35-40 followed immediately by Lev.1-10, is a sixteen chapter unified section describing the construction of the Tabernacle, and the putting of it into operation (Lev.1-7 outlines the basic sacrificial duties which the priests about to be ordained will perform). In this section--less than 10% of the whole Pentateuch--is concentrated about 1/3 of all the language to this effect: "as the Lord commanded Moses." In Ex.39-40, the pace of repetition is more than 1X every 5vv.

This 16ch portion almost closes with the tragedy of Nadab and Abihu (10:1). They were slain by the LORD for offering "strange fire" on the altar of incense. Their failure was not inebriation (as some allege), but as the text explains so clearly: the LORD had not commanded. That is all. They had failed adequately to respect the holiness of their God. They made the unwarranted assumption that what their own minds decided was wise, or most convenient, could be relied on for the conduct of their service. Fire had been divinely provided them (see 9:24), but they did not use that fire, but strange.

Heb.12:29 declares, "Our God is a consuming fire." From v18ff, that ch describes New Covenant worship; and it is not less demanding than that which was conducted in imitation of the heavenly service under the Old Covenant, but more. It is not casually reliant on the intuitions of Christians, supposedly more sanctified than their Israelite forbears. But if those before were directed to pay heed do all "according to the pattern shown you on the mountain," how much more must we now make us ready using only that which has been first supplied to us?

Then may we answer the Summons in a way that honors and sanctifies our God to his delight.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
The dialogical principle is directly related to the regulative principle and to covenant theology. God is the initiator, men respond to him. The distance between creatures and God is so great men could have no "fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant." WCF 7.1
Thanks Bruce. I'm pleased you brought WCF 7:1 into the discussion. I don't hear many today do that. Yet 7:1 establishes the creator-creature distinction, and the covenant. Both are important to worship as you note.

Heb.12:29 declares, "Our God is a consuming fire." From v18ff, that ch describes New Covenant worship; and it is not less demanding than that which was conducted in imitation of the heavenly service under the Old Covenant, but more.
Agreed. I think it is important to link Heb 12:29 into the warning of strange fire in Lev 10. "our God is a consuming fire" so we must worship with reverence and awe, acknowledge the creator-creature distinction, and acknowledge worship is a covenantal dialogue between God and His people.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top