Passing of the Peace

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by johnc, Jul 2, 2013.

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  1. johnc

    johnc Puritan Board Freshman

    Recently our church started included a "Passing of the Peace of Christ" in our worship service. We are instructed to say something along the lines of "may the peace of Christ be with you" to those sitting around us. I had never heard or seen of this before, but I found some links such as

    Passing the Peace | Reformed Worship


    Does anyone's church use this practice? Is it permissible in the worship service? Is it Biblical. I don't feel right telling someone that I don't know (who may or may not be a Christian) that the peace of Christ may be with them.
  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    My old PCUS/PCA church did this. It's an unbiblical ceremony or at the very least a hyper liturgicized "everyone get up and say hi to everybody else" which I've also experienced. As if coffee between SS and services isn't enough time to visit we need to interrupt the service for it.
  3. Berean

    Berean Puritanboard Commissioner

    Every Roman Catholic church does it as part of the liturgy of every mass. Here's what it looks like: the spreading of the germs. ;)

  4. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I've only seen it as a feel-good gesture during liberal protestant services. It seems to work under the assumption that we can add anything we want to a worship and that people won't make the effort outside of the service to care for those around them.
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Ah, should have figured it was being borrowed out from something like that. Or even if coming in indirectly from supposed Protestant practice I quote Gillespie, "Or what a piacular prevarication [sinful deviation] is it to borrow from any other church, which was less reformed, a pattern of policy for this church which was more reformed?"
  6. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    It is not practiced in our church. I would argue that it is not permissible in the worship service because it is grounded in "traditional liturgical practice" rather than the teaching of Scripture. I don't really understand how one could read Paul's concluding remarks in his letters to "greet one another with an holy kiss" as part of a worship liturgy. Paul instructs Christians to work with their hands (1 Thess. 4:11), but that doesn't mean that fixing a broken toilet should be part of a worship service. Not everything that is good and God-glorifying needs to be baptized as an element of worship.

    Furthermore, "passing the peace" doesn't seem to fit into the covenantal dialogue that takes place in the formal worship of God. Instead of God speaking to his people and hearing them respond, this speech-act is very much horizontal in nature between individual members of God's covenant people.

    Finally, "passing the peace" would seem to represent a violation of the orderly worship which Paul commands. It is highly individualistic and involves multiple persons speaking at once to multiple other persons.
  7. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

  8. johnc

    johnc Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks to all who responded. I agree with all that has been said here. I just wanted to check with others since it is stated right before the time that this was the historical practice of the reformed church. However, I had never seen it nor heard of it and could not find support or mention of this practice in the history of the reformed church (of course I'm limited to searching online).

    At this point, I really don't know what to do during this time of the service since it's on my conscience that it isn't Biblical. I suppose I can just shake hands and greet those around me while leaving out the peace part.
  9. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    I can't find it in Calvin's, Bucer's, or Knox's liturgies. It's not in the Netherlands Liturgy. It's not in the Westminster Directory for Public Worship. I'd be very curious to know what "Reformed" historical practice is being referred to.
  10. JoannaV

    JoannaV Puritan Board Sophomore

    I've seen this in some Anglican churches and I get the impression it's a long-standing tradition. Perhaps it has been a part of Protestant tradition for a long time, but not reformed? Your elders may have encountered it in some kind of semi-reformed setting and not realised its origins in the RC liturgy. Perhaps ask them how they learned about it?
  11. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    What to do may begin with (very respectfully) bringing up your conscience issue to your pastor or whomever is in charge of the service. Explain your desire to worship humbly and without causing division and ask (not accusingly, but instead earnestly) how they would suggest you act at that point in the service. Your question may lead to a closer examination of the practice. But even if it doesn't, you will have both listened to your conscience AND shown respect and submission to your elders. That's a good goal to aim for, because issues like these often lead to one or the other being lost.
  12. johnc

    johnc Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Jack. I do plan to discuss it with either my pastor or an elder.
  13. augustacarguy

    augustacarguy Puritan Board Freshman

    Our church does it, and it bothers me, as well. Everyone has already "chatted up" everyone else, then after a couple of hymns and prayer, everyone basically gets a bit more chat time. I don't get it.
  14. reformedminister

    reformedminister Puritan Board Sophomore

    We do it in our evening worship. It was a practice before I became the Senior minister and I left it in our worshp. I remember it when I was in the Methodist Church, the church I was raised in. Personally, I don't see any problem with it, especially with a small group of people. Our evening worship has only about a third of the people it has in the morning. However, the evening worship service has been growing and I have recently thought about not doing it anymore. This is only because I think it fits in a small group setting.
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