The Temple and the Regulative Principle

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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
A friend of mine wrote this brief blog piece arguing that the fact that David and Solomon built the temple serves as a challenge to what he calls the "strict regulative principle". Thoughts? Temple and Regulative Principle | Mundus Reconciliatus Ecclesia

Deuteronomy contains divine forethought for a settled situation where God would place His name, and Samuel-Kings records the history of it. The tabernacle was adapted to a wandering condition. The temple involved a step forward in the history of redemption as it ministered to the established position of the people in the land. A part of the theology of post-exilic Chronicles is the reformation and continuation of Israel's worship in explicit terms of divine institution.
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would have started with David moving the ark from Obed Edom's house to Mt Zion, while leaving the tabernacle in SHiloh before the temple was made.
THat is more perplexing

"In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old." (Amos 9:11)...

"And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:13-18)
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
David was a prophet. It seems clear that the instructions he gave to Solomon respecting the details of the Temple came from the Lord. See I Chronicles 28:9-19.

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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Where does this idea come from of a strict vs not strict regulative principle? By definition the RPW is strict; no?
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
A friend of mine wrote this brief blog piece arguing that the fact that David and Solomon built the temple serves as a challenge to what he calls the "strict regulative principle". Thoughts? Temple and Regulative Principle | Mundus Reconciliatus Ecclesia

1 Chronicles 28:19 anyone? Compare the use of tabnit (pattern, plan) here with Exodus 25:9. The point is that according to the Chronicler, the Lord gave David the pattern for everything in the temple, which he then passed on Solomon.
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
David was a prophet. It seems clear that the instructions he gave to Solomon respecting the details of the Temple came from the Lord. See I Chronicles 28:9-19.

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This text would seem to clinch it for me. Do any of you on "the other side" disagree? ;)
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Where does this idea come from of a strict vs not strict regulative principle? By definition the RPW is strict; no?

Chris, I have no idea where this distinction comes from. How, exactly, can you have a "non-strict" regulative principle? I think "non-strict" regulative principle is a euphemism for "normative principle via the back door".
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
What does the author of the article due with the numerous other places in Scripture that support the RPW? I'm thinking of the Golden calf (Exodus 32), Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10), and the rejection of Saul’s un-prescribed worship (1 Sam 15:22) just to name a few.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Where does this idea come from of a strict vs not strict regulative principle? By definition the RPW is strict; no?

Chris, I have no idea where this distinction comes from. How, exactly, can you have a "non-strict" regulative principle? I think "non-strict" regulative principle is a euphemism for "normative principle via the back door".

I suppose it is some way to explain why you can look at two "RPW" churches, say, for example, a psalm-singing covenanter church on one hand, and a prominent PCA church that has choirs singing uninspired hymns. If both of those hold to "RPW," then RPW doesn't have a univocal meaning

(and for the record, as of now, I Hold to RPW. I am just trying to see how someone else would answer)
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
Where does this idea come from of a strict vs not strict regulative principle? By definition the RPW is strict; no?

Chris, I have no idea where this distinction comes from. How, exactly, can you have a "non-strict" regulative principle? I think "non-strict" regulative principle is a euphemism for "normative principle via the back door".

I suppose it is some way to explain why you can look at two "RPW" churches, say, for example, a psalm-singing covenanter church on one hand, and a prominent PCA church that has choirs singing uninspired hymns. If both of those hold to "RPW," then RPW doesn't have a univocal meaning

(and for the record, as of now, I Hold to RPW. I am just trying to see how someone else would answer)

The RPW may not necessarily be univocal in application, but it ought to be in theory if we are to make honest use of the term. Many who advocate singing uninspired hymns while holding to the RPW do so because they believe that the Scriptures do positively teach we should sing uninspired hymns (by virtue of Col 3; Eph 5; "new song" passages, etc.). While I believe their exegesis is deficient, they are, in fact, adhering to the same RPW that the exclusive Psalmodist holds to. If they, on the other hand, introduce worship practices for pragmatic or aesthetic reasons without Scriptural basis, then they are clearly not holding to the substance of the RPW even if they pay lip service to it.

The nature of the RPW is such that there can be no gradations of adherence. If whatever is not commanded is forbidden in worship is the principle, then it's hard to fathom how one could hold to a "less strict" conception of it in theory.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I think this is right. As soon as someone introduces strict/less strict it undermines the principle itself that is at stake rather than leaving the argument over what requries warranting and the actual Scriptural warrant. If it is not simply a careless use, as Daniel says, it would seem to be spoken from a misconception of the RPW or from an known or unwitting adherence to a different principle altogether.
Where does this idea come from of a strict vs not strict regulative principle? By definition the RPW is strict; no?

Chris, I have no idea where this distinction comes from. How, exactly, can you have a "non-strict" regulative principle? I think "non-strict" regulative principle is a euphemism for "normative principle via the back door".

I suppose it is some way to explain why you can look at two "RPW" churches, say, for example, a psalm-singing covenanter church on one hand, and a prominent PCA church that has choirs singing uninspired hymns. If both of those hold to "RPW," then RPW doesn't have a univocal meaning

(and for the record, as of now, I Hold to RPW. I am just trying to see how someone else would answer)

The RPW may not necessarily be univocal in application, but it ought to be in theory if we are to make honest use of the term. Many who advocate singing uninspired hymns while holding to the RPW do so because they believe that the Scriptures do positively teach we should sing uninspired hymns (by virtue of Col 3; Eph 5; "new song" passages, etc.). While I believe their exegesis is deficient, they are, in fact, adhering to the same RPW that the exclusive Psalmodist holds to. If they, on the other hand, introduce worship practices for pragmatic or aesthetic reasons without Scriptural basis, then they are clearly not holding to the substance of the RPW even if they pay lip service to it.

The nature of the RPW is such that there can be no gradations of adherence. If whatever is not commanded is forbidden in worship is the principle, then it's hard to fathom how one could hold to a "less strict" conception of it in theory.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
It comes by men wishing to argue for the normative principle without owning their declension from Reformed theology.

Nailed it.

I was speaking with a pastor the other day who said, "some churches hold to the 'REGULATIVE principle;' We hold to the 'regulative PRINCIPLE.'" I took the point as meaning they saw the RP as being less 'regulative' and more 'principle,' in other words, Normative.
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
The law provides for a king and so even David was a type in the Law...

David of course delayed moving the ark, putting it in the care of Obed Edem son of Jephunuh, under the sovereign plan of God.
Was he led prophetically, or led in another way, influenced by the death of Uzzah who touched the ark then saw God super blessed Obed Edem... which is not clear that was prophetic or another form of leading

It seems God used even the mistakes of man, going back to the son's of the priest of Shiloh to move the ark to zion
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
What exactly are your saying vis-à-vis the regulative principle?
The law provides for a king and so even David was a type in the Law...

David of course delayed moving the ark, putting it in the care of Obed Edem son of Jephunuh, under the sovereign plan of God.
Was he led prophetically, or led in another way, influenced by the death of Uzzah who touched the ark then saw God super blessed Obed Edem... which is not clear that was prophetic or another form of leading

It seems God used even the mistakes of man, going back to the son's of the priest of Shiloh to move the ark to zion
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Eh?
:candle:
What exactly are your saying vis-à-vis the regulative principle?
The law provides for a king and so even David was a type in the Law...

David of course delayed moving the ark, putting it in the care of Obed Edem son of Jephunuh, under the sovereign plan of God.
Was he led prophetically, or led in another way, influenced by the death of Uzzah who touched the ark then saw God super blessed Obed Edem... which is not clear that was prophetic or another form of leading

It seems God used even the mistakes of man, going back to the son's of the priest of Shiloh to move the ark to zion
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't think the Golden calf would not be an example of a strict regulative principle. Idols were a snare to Jacob, Abraham left idols behind. There was already enough known about idols as a precedent that they shouldn't be used, not to mention the gods of Egypt judged. Nadab and Abihu are better examples

As far as David moving the ark to Jerusalem prior to the temple, it appears that David was influenced by seeing the blessings on Obed Edom, leaving the old tabernacle complete with two groups of levites to serve in Shiloh. Was there a precedent in the law to leave on tabernacle in Shiloh with levites and yet another on Mt Zion with the Ark with levites there as well. I think David moving the ark to Obed Edom is hard to explain. David moving the ark to Mt Zion is hard to explain.

I'm saying I do see David inquiring how to carry the ark, but placing the ark in Obed Edom's home and then in Zion for years before the temple was made apart from the old tabernacle and having worship and service to god in two tabernacles is hard to explain. It is a good image of worship of God, sacrifices done, possibly ongoing at the old tabernacle and the new representing the heavenly Jerusalem... but as far as a regulative principle I would love to hear an explanation I do see a greater good happening because of man's bad choices moving the ark, including judgment on the sons of the priest where the ark was lost, the ark was moved eventually to the temple

And David dancing before the ark? There was a precedence for public celebration with dance, but was it in the law?

Maybe I'm too confusing... sorry
 
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NaphtaliPress

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Staff member
Michael, as already noted there is no strict regulative principle; it is strict by definition. Do you hold to the WCF's RPW?
You have a double negative in the first sentence and some extra words elsewhere, so I'm not sure what you are trying to say.
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm saying how does moving the ark to a second tabernacle and operating two at once following a regulative principle and is that a normative one (doing only what is not fobidden or a strict one, only doing what is instructed )

I think the act itself was prophetic whether the people involved knew it or now. Some people have said maybe David made a mistake but God blessed it.

It seems even the mistakes of man were used of God. Moving the ark to Obed Edom may have been a mistake.
God was superintending good and bad choices. One example being the head of the forced labor building the temple was the one who had the two pagan temples build in the Northern Kingdom

Do I believe in the regulative principle? I do not believe in worshipping God using methods or images from the imagination of man
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I'm saying how does moving the ark to a second tabernacle and operating two at once following a regulative principle and is that a normative one (doing only what is not fobidden or a strict one, only doing what is instructed )

You seem to be arguing the same point which Peter Leithart makes in his "From Silence to Song." The fallacy of the argument is easily perceived. It attempts to establish a "settled" pattern on the basis of a "movable" situation. By all accounts this was a transitional time which allowed for a provisional set-up. As such it could not be indicative of the mind of God for Israel in the ideal and eventual situation to which He would lead His people. Redemptive history is epochal, as Geerhardus Vos pointed out. It is as pointless to argue from a transitional stage between the epochs of a progressive history as it would be for a mountaineer to lay claim to the ultimate vision while he is encamped in a valley between two mountain peaks.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't think the Golden calf would not be an example of a strict regulative principle. Idols were a snare to Jacob, Abraham left idols behind. There was already enough known about idols as a precedent that they shouldn't be used, not to mention the gods of Egypt judged.

But that's the point of the RPW - God cannot be worshiped by man's imagination (idols). He can only rightly be worshiped by the way He commands. This is what the second commandment teaches.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I"m not sure an RC or Anglican would object to affirming your statement on the surface of it. Here is the WCF's Regulative Principle of Worship with which I asked if you agreed and some succinct restatements of it by several Presbyterians of note.
The Westminster Assembly determined: “But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.” (Confession of Faith, 21.1). The Princeton professor, Dr. Samuel Miller, gives a succinct statement of the principle when he writes that since the Scriptures are the “only infallible rule of faith and practice, no rite or ceremony ought to have a place in the public worship of God, which is not warranted in Scripture, either by direct precept or example, or by good and sufficient inference.” 4 A briefer statement still which sums up the Presbyterian principle of worship, is that in the worship of God, “Not to Command is to Forbid,” 5 or “Whatever is not commanded is forbidden.” 6
---------------------
4.
Presbyterianism the Truly Primitive and Apostolical Constitution of the Church of Christ, “The Worship of the Presbyterian Church” (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1835 ) 64 - 65 .

5. Samuel Rutherford, The Divine Right of Church Government and Excommunication (London, 1646 ) 96 .

6. John B. Adger, “A Denial of Divine Right for Organs in Public Worship,” Southern Presbyterian Review, 20.1 (January 1869 ) 85.

From http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/naphtalipress/what-regulative-principle-worship-25/

Do I believe in the regulative principle? I do not believe in worshipping God using methods or images from the imagination of man
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm not finding arguments and explanations that something is just transitional convincing. Why? Jesus himself appealed to transitional unusual cases like the priests giving David the special bread when he was on the run. Having two sets of priests serving in two separate tabernacles is problematic to explain but seemed to be in the plan of God. David dancing before the ark was fairly 'one off' but dancing consistent will other examples of public celebration so I don't see that as being inconsistent with a regulative principle. One person might look at the story of Jesus being touched by the ill woman and healed and some might leave the sick in the apostles shadows or bring cloths to be touched for healing and extend that example (and did in Acts) , and maybe someone else might not look at it that way.

I would agree with the description of the regulative principle, there should be "direct precept or example, or by good and sufficient inference" is a good standard. However pretty wide and "example, or by good and sufficient inference" will be somewhat dependent on conscience of an individual and individual interpretation but maybe it has to leave room for conscience. Practically speaking I also do not favor sacramental embellishments or doing things that dislodge time for more important priorities and I am fairly low church in that regard.
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The purpose of the regulative principle is to limit church power so as to hinder innovators from binding men's conscience to practice those things which God does not require. The attempt to "leave room for conscience" ends up destroying true liberty of conscience because it leaves the worshipper at the whim of spontaneous action.
 

richardnz

Puritan Board Freshman
Where does this idea come from of a strict vs not strict regulative principle? By definition the RPW is strict; no?

Regarding the idea of a “strict regulative principle”: I note that when Rowland Ward critiqued Iain Murray's advocating hymn-singing in his article “Should the Psalter be the only Hymnal of the Church?” he says this regarding the 16th century:-

“The Psalter reigned supreme in the Reformed churches worldwide, although the argument for it was not a tight exclusive psalmody position as developed later on.”

Perhaps there is a connection between a “strict regulative principle” and a “tight exclusive psalmody”, which would imply a less-strict regulative principle in Reformation times.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
That theory would not be Rowland's, who I know. It not only throws EPs under the bus but every advocate of the Westminster assembly's regulative principle regardless of EP, which as I've said ad nauseum is strict by definition. The Southern Presbyterians of the US were not EP; yet you won't find a stronger defense of the RPW than in the writings of Girardeau.
Speaking as a moderator, please fix your signature; see the link in mine.
Where does this idea come from of a strict vs not strict regulative principle? By definition the RPW is strict; no?

Regarding the idea of a “strict regulative principle”: I note that when Rowland Ward critiqued Iain Murray's advocating hymn-singing in his article “Should the Psalter be the only Hymnal of the Church?” he says this regarding the 16th century:-

“The Psalter reigned supreme in the Reformed churches worldwide, although the argument for it was not a tight exclusive psalmody position as developed later on.”

Perhaps there is a connection between a “strict regulative principle” and a “tight exclusive psalmody”, which would imply a less-strict regulative principle in Reformation times.
 

richardnz

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks, Chris, for the prompt re signature. It should appear now.

Getting back to the initial question: The article referred to by Ben Franks has now an addition in response to the references raised in this thread. The author admits that this takes most of the force out of his argument for a less-strict RPW.

Re throwing EPs under the bus: I have found it difficult to understand the variation in practices by those who say they hold to the Regulative Principle, and also the variation amongst those historical figures who it is said held to the RPW. Is it because they formulated the Principle differently or applied the same formulation differently? When I say I hold to the RPW I am using it as a kind of shorthand to say that I am committed to the WCF on worship. When I hear someone say that the RPW is “Whatever is not commanded is forbidden” I wonder whether they also include in their thinking the modifiers of circumstances and good and necessary consequence. If they do not they would hold to an extremely strict version of the RPW. I always need to ask more questions to find out what they believe.

But does a less-strict RPW really throw the EPs under the bus? Calvin makes a strong case for EP in his preface to the Genevan Psalter by using “we shall not find better songs” as an argument without mentioning the RPW. I have found this simple argument most persuasive.
 

NaphtaliPress

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Thanks, Chris, for the prompt re signature. It should appear now.
Richard, thanks.:judge:
Getting back to the initial question: The article referred to by Ben Franks has now an addition in response to the references raised in this thread. The author admits that this takes most of the force out of his argument for a less-strict RPW.

Re throwing EPs under the bus: I have found it difficult to understand the variation in practices by those who say they hold to the Regulative Principle, and also the variation amongst those historical figures who it is said held to the RPW. Is it because they formulated the Principle differently or applied the same formulation differently? When I say I hold to the RPW I am using it as a kind of shorthand to say that I am committed to the WCF on worship. When I hear someone say that the RPW is “Whatever is not commanded is forbidden” I wonder whether they also include in their thinking the modifiers of circumstances and good and necessary consequence. If they do not they would hold to an extremely strict version of the RPW. I always need to ask more questions to find out what they believe.
Everything always comes down to definition that is true. Yes; the RPW is shorthand for the position of the Westminster Stds. When defenders of it use the shorthand definition, "whatever is not commanded is forbidden," unless they are arguing ignorantly of that referrent, they do presume other things like the distinction between elements or parts of worship to use Westminster's term, and circumstances attending them. Please see my summary of the RPW which appeared some years ago prefacing the survey of the views of Profs Frame and Grore by Frank J. Smith and David C. Lachman (The Confessional Presbyterian journal 1 [2005]). What is the Regulative Principle of Worship - Blogs - The PuritanBoard
But does a less-strict RPW really throw the EPs under the bus? Calvin makes a strong case for EP in his preface to the Genevan Psalter by using “we shall not find better songs” as an argument without mentioning the RPW. I have found this simple argument most persuasive.

If someone finds Calvin's argument persuasive enough to sing to God nothing other than psalms, that is fine but we cannot forget the specific principle because someone stops there as far as what they find persuasive. The RPW is our doctrine for governing what is acceptable in the worship of God after all. Variation comes from variation in understanding what the element of worship is and what is actually prescribed as far as worship song.
 
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NaphtaliPress

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Below contains Rutherford's response when the Anglocatholics of his day objected the example of David against the regulative principle of worship. For the full thing see my Facebook note; and yeah; you'll have to "friend me". :)

From Samuel Rutherford, The Divine Right of Church Government and Excommunication: or a peaceable dispute for the perfection of the holy Scripture in point of ceremonies and church government (London: John Field, 1646) 95–100. Modest editing; the original number is confused by omissions and/or errors. Bold headings and footnotes were in the margins in the original.

Of David’s purpose to build the temple, how far it was lawful.

They object, It was well that it was in David’s heart to build a house to God (1 Kings 8:17), and yet David had no warrant in God’s Word for to build a house to God. So Morton and Burges.[1] Ans. David had a twofold will and purpose to build God’s house: 1. Conditional: it was revealed to David that God would have an house built, therefore David might conditionally purpose to build it; so it was God’s will he should be the man. This wanteth not [does not lack] God’s Word. We may desire whatever may promove God’s glory conditionally. As that petition teacheth (Thy Kingdom come). This was recommended of God and approved (2 Kings 8:17). 2. A resolute will upon Nathan’s mistake, the blind leading the blind, this was not commanded, though the desire of the end was good, that is, that a house should be built.

Morton, 16. It was lawful upon common equity, considering God’s mercy to him, in subduing his enemies, and that he dwelt in cedars, whereas God wanted an house, but he could not actually perform it, without God’s Word; so Burges.

Ans. 1. The consequence without God’s Word is as good to conclude, that David might actually build God’s house, as to will and purpose to build it; because the Word is a perfect rule to our thoughts and purposes, no less than to our actions. If to build without God’s Word was unlawful; ergo, to purpose this without God’s Word was unlawful. A purpose of sin, as of adultery, is sin; a purpose of will-worship is will-worship and sin. 2. A man of blood is as unfit to purpose to be a type of a peaceable Saviour, as to be a type of a Saviour. 3. If God reprove Samuel’s light for judging according to the eye (1 Sam. 16:7); far more He rebukes his purpose to anoint a man without His Word, Who giveth kingdoms to whom he pleaseth. Yet Samuel had a good intention, and God’s Word in general, that one of Jesse’s sons should be King. 4. If that purpose had remained with David deliberately to build the Lord’s house, after the Lord had said Solomon, not David, must build the house, it would have been sinful; yet the reasons upon common equity, and a general warrant that God would have a house had been as good as before. If Morton’s consequence be once good, it’s ever good. 5. By this, without the warrant of the Word, we may purpose to glorify God: [John] the Baptist without God’s warrant may purpose a new sacrament; Cajaphas may purpose that he shall be the man who shall die for the people; I may purpose to glorify God by a thousand new means of worshipping. Papists have good intentions in all they do. 6. A purpose of heart is an inward substantial worship warranted by God’s Word (Ps. 19:14; Ps. 50:21; Ps. 74:11; Jer. 4:14; Gen. 8:2; Eccl. 2, 3; Isa. 55:7). Ergo, the Word is not a rule in substantial and moral duties; heart-purposes cannot be indifferent heart-ceremonies. 7. David needed not ask counsel at God’s mouth and Word, for an indifferent heart-purpose, grounded upon sufficient warrant of common equity, whether he should act it or not; that which warrants the good purpose warrants the enacting of the good purpose. 8. Who knows if God rewards additions to the Word with a sure house, and all indifferent ceremonies?



[1] Morton, gener. defe, c. 1. sect 6, 7. Burges, Rejoynder, c. 1. sect. 7, p. 34.
 
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