The Benediction - Reformed Resources

Discussion in 'Worship' started by Travis Fentiman, Jun 27, 2018.

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  1. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Why does the minister close the worship service with an inspired Benediction, standing with up-lifted hands facing God’s people?

    Here is a page of Biblical and historic, reformed resources on the Benediction, a practice not so easy to find resources on.

    The Benediction at ReformedBooksOnline​

    Some have said that the Benediction is not a prayer. While acknowledging the special features of the Benediction, this article demonstrate from Scripture and Westminster that the Benediction is a special prayer:

    Any constructive feedback is welcome.
  2. lumenite

    lumenite Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your compilation and article. I just logged in today to find a thread on benediction and found yours!
  3. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    You are very welcome Lumenite. Hope the resources are illuminating.
  4. richardnz

    richardnz Puritan Board Freshman

    There is another useful article on the issue by Ryan McGraw, “The Benediction in Corporate Worship” which was in The Confessional Presbyterian of 2011.

    McGraw takes the same view as Silversides but with more detail. He quotes John Owen’s useful observation that there are two general categories of benedictions in Scripture. These are what he referred to as “Paternal” benedictions and “Sacerdotal” benedictions. The Sacerdotal is that practiced in the worship service where the minister declares rather than prays.
    “Doxologies are blessings directed towards God from his people; benedictions are blessings directed towards the people from God.”

    Both Silversides and McGraw categorize the benedictions as part of the ministry of the Word, not prayer.

    WCF 21:5 “The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.”

    The WCF does not mention benedictions, the votum, the salutation, the response of the congregational amen and other biblical parts of the worship service.
  5. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Richard, thank you for the McGraw article. I will look it over and likely link it on the page.

    The way I would understand the other various parts of worship that you mentioned not being in Westminster, besides the Benediction, is that:

    The votum is simply a Scripture reading, if one uses it, and hence it falls under that element. The Salutation may be a human greeting (not its own element) or a Benediction, which is warranted, and also falls under prayer and/or a Scripture reading.​

    Saying Amen after prayer is a prayer by the people ('So be it!'), and hence part of the element of prayer, and saying Amen is spoken of at the end of Westminster's Larger Catechism (on the Lord's Prayer). Though the context is not necessarily corporate worship in the LC, I believe that is irrelevant: neither is the context necessarily corporate worship in every way in WCF 21.5. And, if something is worship (privately or otherwise), then by definition it is warranted as worship for when Christians meet together in corporate worship.
    Thus I would still see the list of worship elements in WCF 21.5 as exhaustive. Thanks for your thoughts brother.
  6. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    I read Dr. McGraws article, which was very well done and helpful. I agree with the large share of it.

    At times he says that the Benediction is 'more than a prayer'. I agree with this. A few times he says that the Benediction is not a prayer. I disagree with this (and I believe Westminster does too, as I have documented). He thus is ambiguous on whether the Benediction is a prayer or not, as is Rev. Silversides.

    Also regarding the intent of the list of elements of worship in WCF 21.5

    - It would seem that there not being a congregational 'Amen' in Westminster's Directory of Public Worship was due to the presbyterians, Independents and others not being able to agree to such. Corporately saying Amen was the practice of the Scots and the practice, by and large, of the English presbyterians. I am not sure about the Independents. But in any case, it seems to me it is part of the element of prayer, nonetheless.

    - Regarding the votum and salutation (and possibly other parts of some church's worship services), while they have been a part of Dutch worship, they are not in Westminster's Directory of Worship. It seems less likely to me that this was simply because they couldn't agree to it, but rather that they did not think such things were derived from Scripture as distinct elements of worship. The Scots, at least, did not find these things in Scripture for the worship service and did not practice these things. The Independents certainly did not. I would have to check on the English presbyterians following Cartwright.​

    My point is that the English context of Westminster largely did not think such things were distinct elements of worship, and did not practice such, nor did they put them into their Directory. Hence they cannot be used as an argument that the list of worship elements in WCF 21.5 was intended to be open.

    - When the Scots adopted the Westminster Directory of Public Worship, they put away things in their worship that were not in the Westminster Directory. Hence they interpreted the list in 21.5 as exhaustive and not allowing for other elements of worship (they continued, though, to use a corporate Amen, which as I mentioned, fits nicely under the element of prayer.)
    For these reasons (and others), I think the case is strong that 21.5 is an exhaustive list of worship elements. If other elements of worship are in Scripture, and could be derived from Scripture, why would the divines not list them as such? To make a list of worship elements and yet not derive all that could be derived for such from Scripture, would be irresponsible.

    Just my thoughts. Hope it is useful fodder.
  7. richardnz

    richardnz Puritan Board Freshman

    Is there something about the wording of WCF 21.5 that makes it an exhaustive list of worship elements?
  8. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Here's yet another article from the OPC's Ordained Servant Online - The Benediction
  9. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Though there is nothing explicit in WCF 21 that would say that the list in paragraph 5 is exhaustive, I do believe that the original intent of Westminster was that it was exhaustive, which is demonstrated not only by the reasons above, but especially by the following reasons:

    The Westminster Directory of Public Worship says in the Preface (to paraphrase):

    - That while their intention was not to condemn the reformers before them that had other things in worship, especially in the English Book of Common Prayer, yet they did not approve of such additional things. If the list in 21.5 and the Directory is not exhaustive, then one could add into them all the further elements in the Book of Common Prayer.

    - They further cutting things out of worship they considered to be 'further reformation'.

    - Their purpose was to enact 'uniformity in divine worship', which only happens if churches stick to the Directory and 21.5, as opposed to adding in any further elements of worship they might think fit.

    - They say that by consultation with God's Word they have provided 'for all the parts of public worship at ordinary and extraordinary times', and had 'resolved to lay aside the former liturgy'.​

    - They say that they have carefully held 'forth such things as are of divine institution in **every ordinance**.

    - They did this that 'there may be a consent of all the churches in those things that contain the substance of the service and worship of God' (in contradistinction to things in the Directory that are only by Christian prudence and the general rules of the Word).

    I believe this is determinative of Westminster's original intent.
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