How Then Should We Worship?

English: Communion setting at an Evangelical L...
English: Communion setting at an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America worship service: an open Bible, both unleavened bread and gluten-free wafers, a chalice of wine, and another containing grape juice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These Paragraphs are extended quotes lifted from Various books, listed below.

Put simply, the regulative principle of worship means obedience equates to worshiping God the way he requires and not by tradition or man-made invention.  The narrow interpretation of the regulative principle means, that which is not commanded in Scripture, is forbidden. The broader interpretation is that if it is not commanded, it might be prohibited: it depends. What does it depend on?  It depends on a sanctified common sense, constrained by general, biblical categories. This is not meant to be coy. Clearly, all Protestants adhere to the regulative principle and we believe the bible is the standard of life, faith and practice, but the narrow intepretation requires more than the bible could possibly provide. It is founded on an unbiblical hermeneutic that requires express commands and proof text, where proper biblical interpretation and application requires more; wisdom, humility and maturity. [1]

In short, in the regulative principle, what do we mean by “command”? What constitutes a command? Do we interpret this narrowly or broadly? The narrow application of the regulative principle is that in worship whatever is not expressly commanded is forbidden. The broad view, as James Jordan as explained, is that we must worship only as the Bible teaches, and that such teaching is found by way of command, principle, example, pattern, and every other mode of communication God has determined to use. The narrow application comes to the bible with a pre-determined view that God can direct us only by means of explicit commands, a notion that does not arise from the Bible itself, and a notion that is actually unworkable in practice. [2]

Once we accept the constrictions of a (claimed) narrow approach to the regulative principle, what goes (or should go) on the chopping block? We have no express warrant for worship services on the Lord’s Day. We have no warrant for women receiving the Lord’s Supper. We have no basis for a benediction at the close of the worship Service. We have no grounds for singing psalms out loud in the worship service. We have no foundation for putting the pulpit in the center. We have no authority to conduct services indoors. We have no authority for translating psalms into metrical paraphrases. We have no reason to include baptisms in the worship service at all. We have no grounds for baptizing children of any age. We have no warrant for the use of musical instruments in worship. We have no basis for two services on the Lord’s Day. We have no reason for a recitation of the creed. Even when we have some element that has warrant, like Scripture reading, we cannot say where to put it, where or how to begin, and what the ending point should be. [3]

The narrow application requires each basic element to have a separate command from God. Where does the Bible require us to require biblical justification for each element of the service? Biblically defined, what is an element? [4] Meanwhile,” scripture nowhere divides worship up into a series of independent ‘elements,’ each requiring independent scriptural justification. Scripture nowhere tells us that the regulative principle demands that particular level of specificity, rather than some other.”[5]

All Protestants must be regulativists of some sort. God is to be worshiped according to his word, and not some other way. But worshipping God according to His word is not a simple matter of connecting the dots. With this recognition of scriptural complexity and latitude, we leave room, not for our own “will-worship,” but rather for the all-encompassing authority of Scripture. [6]


Author: Michael Kloss

There is a Sunday conscience, as well as a Sunday coat; and those who make religion a secondary concern put the coat and conscience carefully by to put on only once a week. - Charles Dickens

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