Extent of the RPW

Discussion in 'Worship' started by Confessor, Sep 9, 2008.

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  1. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    I am trying to learn all about the RPW, and I am curious to hear how it aligns with the notion of "Christian liberty" in certain affairs. I remember reading that most people here dislike John Frame's take on the subject, that RPW applies to all forms of life, not just worship at church. I did not, however, hear exactly why or how the RPW "cuts off" there, so I would appreciate some input on the subject.

    Fire away.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
  2. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Let me give a very short and imprecise answer because of lack of time:

    Christian liberty deals with how we act on our own time, among our brothers and sisters, and among other people, giving due consideration to how we treat them.

    The RPW deals with corporate worship of believers.

    If we mix up these distinctions, things can get very confused.
  3. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    I have a huge amount of respect for Dr. Frame even though, as with all men, i don't agree with him on everything.

    The RPW only regulates the elements of worship, not the circumstances. So i guess my first question to someone who thinks RPW extends to all of life would be: Which areas of life are elements and which are circumstances?
  4. dcomin

    dcomin Psalm Singa

    Here's an excerpt from my book, Worship from Genesis to Revelation (which is now available as a FREE .pdf file on my blog)...

  5. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    Related excerpt from my Blog on RPW (in the context of discussing contemporary worship style):

    The “devil is in the details,” so to speak. There are unending discussions and disagreements regarding the application of the regulative principle among Presbyterian and Reformed scholars and churchmen – and it seems obvious to most there will never be complete unanimity among them on specifics. For example, at one end of the spectrum there are some who are very puritanical and take this principle to exclude the use of musical instruments altogether and exclude singing anything but the words of the Psalms themselves, etc. At the other end, there are some like Reformed theologian John Frame who has argued for fairly liberal reformulations of the regulative principle allowing even for both contemporary music and drama in worship. And you will naturally find mediating variations in between.

    In spite of disagreements regarding detailed application, the general principle that our worship should be defined by God via Sola Scriptura is certainly advisable — and surely involves some limits on the devices and imaginations of men regarding innovations in worship.

    In my estimation, those who adhere to the “regulative principle of worship” are honorable in their desire to hold fast to the commandments of God and to avoid falling into sinful practices. However, the New Testament does seem to offer a freedom to believers in the way we relate to God, albeit within boundaries. The NT makes it clear we are to worship “in spirit and in truth,” (Jn. 4:24). It is clear our worship should show due reverence (Heb. 12:28-29) and be done in an orderly fashion (1 Cor. 14:26-33). Yet, these principles certainly allow some variation in specific application. It is up to us to seek God’s revealed will in the Scriptures as we consider those potential variations.

    I find myself in general agreement with the regulative principle of worship. There is certainly a warrant for carefully examining everything in the light of Scripture; and when it comes to worship, I certainly would want it to be as God wants it to be. I should be very careful about innovations in worship and seriously question my own judgment and motives in such matters.

    I remain unhappy with much of what I see in contemporary worship trends, in style and underlying theology, and will likely deal more with this in the future. For now, I will conclude with a quote from W. Robert Godfrey, in which he comments on Entertainment, Evangelism, and Worship as follows:

    “The call for entertainment in worship in our time is often cast in a particularly seductive form. Entertainment is often sold in the name of evangelism. We are told that we must make worship interesting and exciting for the unconverted so that they will come to church and be converted. At first glance that argument is very appealing. We all want to see many brought to faith in Christ. Who wants to be against evangelism? But we must remember: entertainment is not evangelism, and evangelism is not worship. People are evangelized, not by a juggler, but by the presentation of the Gospel. And while evangelism may occur in worship as the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed, the purpose and focus of worship is that those who believe in Christ should gather and meet with God.

    “In 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 the apostle Paul comments on the presence of an unbeliever in a worship service. He does not call for the church to entertain the unbeliever or make him feel comfortable. Rather, in the clear and understandable articulation of the truth, the unbeliever should be convinced that he is a sinner. “So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’” Faithful worship, where the primary purpose is the meeting of God with his people through his Word, may well have the secondary result that unbelievers will come to faith. But worship must not be constructed for the unbeliever. Rather, it is for God and the church.

    “The whole service in the church, then, must not be shaped for either entertainment or evangelism. Instead, it must serve to unite the people of God for their meeting with God.” (from Pleasing God in our Worship)

    I will simply end with a final exortation from Scripture:

    Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:28-29)
  6. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Thank you all for your help, and especially the links.
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