Claiming to be Reformed and rejecting the RPW

Status
Not open for further replies.

Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
I was on a discussion board, and someone claimed to be reformed and he said that he found the whole Regulative principle of worship unbiblical as unpractical, so than i ask him , how he could called himself reformed ? He said being reformed means only that i holds to the three Solas, but still finds the RPW unbiblical as unpractical. Is someone still reformed by rejecting RPW so clearly as being unscriptual ?, while for Calvin and the puritans the RPW was a major issue.
Thoughts ?
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
I take it that to be reformed (following Richard Muller) means to be within the boundaries of the great reformed confessions of the 16th and 17th centuries. Hence, there is latitude on some issues (e.g. infra- / supralapsarianism) but not on others (e.g. unconditional predestination).

However, I would not say that the reformation solas make one reformed. That's because Luther adhered to those and was not reformed but lutheran. The solas make one Protestant but not necessarily reformed.

Is the RPW reformed? Well that all depends:

[1] On what one means by the RPW. For example, John Frame believes he adheres to the RPW (and allows instruments and extra-biblical songs), whereas others are horrified with this and believe one can't be truly RPW unless you're EP without instruments. If we take WCF 21.1 as the definition of the RPW there is still the debate over what "prescribed by Holy Scripture" means. Does it refer to biblical commands or principles (that can be applied in a number of ways).

[2] On how one historically understands the rise of the RPW. Some say that it was developed by the Puritans and not in Calvin (for example Doug Kelly). In this case one could be reformed and not hold to the RPW. Whereas others say that Calvin and the Puritans were essentially identical on the RPW. In that case one could not be reformed and hold to the RPW. I tend to agree with Doug Kelly.

However, when all is said and done, it's more important to be biblical than anything else.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The Continental Reformed don't have a RPW per se. At least not by that name. But they still have the same concept and regulation.

If you haven't yet asked him what he means by the RPW you might ask him that at this time. There's different ideas of what it means and how to apply it. For example there is a sharp difference in the RPW among members of this Board; but yet for all that difference, it remains a minor difference as to confessional adherence to Scripture. If such a person who denies the RPW still considers himself Reformed, then clearly there is a difficulty with either the term "RPW" or "Reformed". You are questioning the latter; I am suggesting that the former may also not be so clear.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Is the RPW reformed? Well that all depends:

[1] On what one means by the RPW. For example, John Frame believes he adheres to the RPW (and allows instruments and extra-biblical songs), whereas others are horrified with this and believe one can't be truly RPW unless you're EP without instruments. If we take WCF 21.1 as the definition of the RPW there is still the debate over what "prescribed by Holy Scripture" means. Does it refer to biblical commands or principles (that can be applied in a number of ways).
In my humble opinion one can't blame the Puritans for inventing what some call an overly strict view of the RPW and then credibly contend the confession of faith they drew up is subject to interpretation. It has been more than sufficiently demonstrated that Frame redefines the RPW and simply does everyone a disservice in not forthrightly admitting it. I prefer R. J. Gore's outright rejection to that; though I don't respect Gore's misrepresentations of Calvin. On this see the Review of Gore and Frame's works on worship by Drs. Smith and Lachman in the 2005 issue of The Confessional Presbyterian.

[2] On how one historically understands the rise of the RPW. Some say that it was developed by the Puritans and not in Calvin (for example Doug Kelly). In this case one could be reformed and not hold to the RPW. Whereas others say that Calvin and the Puritans were essentially identical on the RPW. In that case one could not be reformed and hold to the RPW. I tend to agree with Doug Kelly.
Kelly is simply wrong. On this see the series on Sixty Year Survey of RPW Literature that will conclude in the forthcoming 2007 issue of The Confessional Presbyterian journal which began in the 2006.

However, when all is said and done, it's more important to be biblical than anything else.
No disagreement there.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
However, I would not say that the reformation solas make one reformed. That's because Luther adhered to those and was not reformed but lutheran. The solas make one Protestant but not necessarily reformed.

Furthermore, it sounds like the person referenced in the OP, consciously or not, might actually be more familiar with Lutheran theology than Reformed, since, in addition to his rejection of the RPW, he mentioned the three Solas.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't think that differences in application mean different RPWs. That would be like me saying to a Baptist, "Well you must have a different view of sola scriptura since you aren't a Presbyterian." We come to different conclusions about what is actually required, but we still hold to the same principles.
 

dannyhyde

Puritan Board Sophomore
The Continental Reformed don't have a RPW per se. At least not by that name. But they still have the same concept and regulation.

John,

I've heard this said before, and wonder where it comes from? Can you explain further, since the "Continental Reformed" confessions include Heidelberg 96–98 and Belgic arts. 7, 32.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Daniel:

HC 96-98 is about the second commandment, and BC art. 7 is about the sufficiency of Scripture. That leaves BC, art. 32. This is about "...do not deviate from what Christ, our only Master, has commanded". We must include all that Christ has commanded and not include anything that is not "proper to preserve and promote harmony and unity and to keep all in obedience to God." There is not only a regulation of worship in this article, but also a surety for liberty in worship. It is not only about excluding human inventions, but also about including freedom of conscience in worship from human inventions and laws. For the most part, the regulation for worship for the Continental Reformed has come primarily from the second commandment.

I grew up in the Continental Reformed church, and I knew pretty well the doctrines and policies of the church. I do not recall anyone ever mentioning the RPW by name, although the same thing as the RPW was preached and taught a great deal.

That's not to say that the Continental Reformed don't have the equivalent of the RPW. They surely do. And I would hazard that the Continental Reformed have a more refined view of it. They just don't call it that, going by my experience. Maybe in other places they do, but not in my circle that I grew up in.

I grew up in the CRC, but it's not really fair to judge my church by that denomination. Yes, we quickly succumbed to the denomination's slide, but for quite some time we were an immigrant church, made of mostly of those who came from Holland with two trunks and two hundred dollars (if we had that much) and no more. That is, we came with not much more than our faith and a few personal possessions. This church had no time for personal views on this or that; we were too concerned with making ends meet, findling a place and way to make a living, then building a church and school. Our goals were outward from ourselves, and our desire was to know how to build our lives in thankfulness to Christ, both in our new world and in worship. What Presbyterians call the RPW but we understood as one of the uses of the second commandment was a very important part of our understanding at that time.

Maybe this differs from what others have understood. But I usually find agreement with this among the Dutch Reformed.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The only difference in the Reformed traditions is that in the last 60 years in Presbyterianism folks like John Murray lead to putting a name to the Reformed worship principle. I'm not sure Murray did this intentionally, but it was picked up and popularized. It's always been called a principle, just leave it to an American culture to put a moniker on it.;)
 

dannyhyde

Puritan Board Sophomore
The only difference in the Reformed traditions is that in the last 60 years in Presbyterianism folks like John Murray lead to putting a name to the Reformed worship principle. I'm not sure Murray did this intentionally, but it was picked up and popularized. It's always been called a principle, just leave it to an American culture to put a moniker on it.;)

Chris,

Have you traced the phrase "regulative principle" to Murray, or before? Scott Clark tried to track down its origin but was unsuccesful.
 

dannyhyde

Puritan Board Sophomore
Daniel:

HC 96-98 is about the second commandment, and BC art. 7 is about the sufficiency of Scripture. That leaves BC, art. 32. This is about "...do not deviate from what Christ, our only Master, has commanded". We must include all that Christ has commanded and not include anything that is not "proper to preserve and promote harmony and unity and to keep all in obedience to God." There is not only a regulation of worship in this article, but also a surety for liberty in worship. It is not only about excluding human inventions, but also about including freedom of conscience in worship from human inventions and laws. For the most part, the regulation for worship for the Continental Reformed has come primarily from the second commandment.

Yes, John, that's the point. What the HC says about the 2nd command is the regulative principle. As for BC 7, yes, Scripture is sufficient, and that includes sufficiency for worship, as the text says, "The whole manner of worship which God requires of us..."
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I don't think, though, that the Dutch refer to it as the regulativie principle. When questions arise as to worship, such as occurred at the last synod of the CanRC, they refer to the command of Christ in His Word and the sufficiency of Scripture. In other words, it is closely related to Sola Scriptura, only as referring particularly to worship.

That's why I asked Ralph about this distinction. It may be that his friend, like myself, has never heard of the RPW by name until recently, and sees that in itself as a breaking of the same thing as the RPW, only in Continental terms. It's possible. I'm not saying that's the case, but it is possible. I know that I would jump to the exact same conclusion if I were to go by the way the RPW is sometimes portrayed.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The only difference in the Reformed traditions is that in the last 60 years in Presbyterianism folks like John Murray lead to putting a name to the Reformed worship principle. I’m not sure Murray did this intentionally, but it was picked up and popularized. It’s always been called a principle, just leave it to an American culture to put a moniker on it.;)

Chris,

Have you traced the phrase “regulative principle” to Murray, or before? Scott Clark tried to track down its origin but was unsuccesful.

That is my best guess. My theory is that common phrasing from Scottish Presbyterian and the Southern Presbyterian traditions developed into the moniker “the regulative principle of worship”. While you do not find Thornwell, Dabney or Girardeau using the exact phrase or even using it in the same context we do now, Blackburn in his 1917 life of Girardeau writes:
“In theology, he was a Sub-lapsarian; in morals, a Puritan; and in government a Presbyterian. To him, every word of the Bible was the infallible word of the living God. Every thing that concerned the faith and practice of the Church was determined by this word of God as interpreted in the light of his regulative principle: ‘A divine warrant is necessary for every thing in the faith and practice of the Church.’ This rule governed him in all of his thinking and in all of his conduct.” The Life and Work of John L. Girardeau, D.D., LL.D. George A. Blackburn, D.D. (Columbia, The State Company, 1916). 371.

The UK usage you find them refering to something like ‘our principle regulative of worship.’ Murray uses this in a 1939 article in a general fashion writing: “And again in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, the foundation that “to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (I Cor. 8:6) is the first principle regulative of worship. John Murray, The Sovereignty of God (Philadelphia : Committee on Christian education, The Orthodox Presbyterian church, 1943. Previously published in The Sovereignty of God, ed. J. T. Hoogstra (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1940), 26. Papers presented at the first American Calvinistic Conference of 1939.

That phrasing is not very American. In the 1946 Worship Song paper Murray turns it around, perhaps not even intending to coin a phrase. It began very quickly to be picked up. Marsden uses it in his defense of the majority report on Worship song in 1948. “In March of that year, prior to the meeting, a report on the committee’s work by Robert S. Marsden was published in The Presbyterian Guardian, which was a defense of the majority’s position on worship song, but repeated the finding of the 1946 report: ‘The committee began its work by considering the question of whether or not there was a regulative principle of worship. In examining this question, the committee found, first of all, that the Scriptures teach, and the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms enunciate such a principle.’“ Robert S. Marsden, “Song in the Public Worship of God. A Study of Committee Reports,” The Presbyterian Guardian 17 (March 10, 1948) 72–74.

Murray knew many of the Banner of Truth men and by 1966 you see Ian Murray using it in The Reformation of the Church volume and from there it grew as far as folks attaching it as a name for the Presbyterian/Puritan view of worship. You see this traced out in the first part of the RPW Survey I did with Dr. Frank J. Smith in 2006 Confessional Presbyterian.
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dear Chris,

Thanks for your response.

In my humble opinion one can't blame the Puritans for inventing what some call an overly strict view of the RPW and then credibly contend the confession of faith they drew up is subject to interpretation.

I wish it were that simple. However on my reading of the 17th century divines, both and English and Scottish, there was a small band of fluidity in their views and practices that the WCF doesn't seem (to me anyway) to resolve (or shed sufficient light upon). Hence, it's subject to a small band of interpretation. One of those issues concerns what constitutes a "command" (i.e. is it a principle or not, because the word "command" has different meanings).

Kelly is simply wrong. On this see the series on Sixty Year Survey of RPW Literature that will conclude in the forthcoming 2007 issue of The Confessional Presbyterian journal which began in the 2006.

Well I don't have access to the CPJ. However, over the last 20 years I've read a good deal of the reformers and the Puritans and I believe there is a difference between them, not huge, but it's there.

The debate hasn't been helped by simplistic definitions. For example, I'm not convinced that the "Anglican" position: "whatever is not against Scripture is allowed" is helpful. Apart from there being a spectrum of belief among the English reformers and early Puritans on worship (and history is rarely that neat) the preface to the Book of Common prayer used the principle of edification (a la 1 Cor. 14:26 and Heb. 10:24-25) to control what was allowed in the gathering.

God bless brother.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Heidelberg Catechism
Question 96
Q. What does God require in the second commandment?
A.
We are not to make an image of God in any way,[1] nor to worship Him in any other manner than He has commanded in His Word.[2]
[1] Deu_4:15-19; Isa_40:18-25; Act_17:29; Rom_1:23. [2] Lev_10:1-7; Deu_12:30; 1Sa_15:22-23; Mat_15:9; Joh_4:23-24.

Seems pretty clear that this teaches the RPW by saying "nor to worship Him in any other manner than He has commanded in His Word".
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Dear Chris,

Thanks for your response.

Kelly is simply wrong. On this see the series on Sixty Year Survey of RPW Literature that will conclude in the forthcoming 2007 issue of The Confessional Presbyterian journal which began in the 2006.

Well I don't have access to the CPJ. However, over the last 20 years I've read a good deal of the reformers and the Puritans and I believe there is a difference between them, not huge, but it's there.
God bless brother.

I won't speak to the charge of over simplifying; but I sure do wish folks would not be so sloppy (to say the least) in their writings, e.g. Profs. Frame and Gore.

I dare say I have seen more writings on this one subject than most in helping Dr. Smith with his sixty year survey and in my own research as well as to the origin of the RPW. The charge that the Puritans developed the RPW and that Calvin did not hold to it simply does not hold up. And, when someone speaks of the Puritans developing the RPW over Calvin we are speaking of a huge difference. If it is the matters of differences in application, someone has already noted that that is not the issue. The Puritans did not agree on applications after all; maybe they all held to different principles? It's ridiculous. :2cents:
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Heidelberg Catechism
Question 96
Q. What does God require in the second commandment?
A.
We are not to make an image of God in any way,[1] nor to worship Him in any other manner than He has commanded in His Word.[2]
[1] Deu_4:15-19; Isa_40:18-25; Act_17:29; Rom_1:23. [2] Lev_10:1-7; Deu_12:30; 1Sa_15:22-23; Mat_15:9; Joh_4:23-24.

Seems pretty clear that this teaches the RPW by saying "nor to worship Him in any other manner than He has commanded in His Word".

Dear AV, what do you think "worship" means here? The actual gathering of believers?

What do you think "commanded" means here? Direct command or principle?

Blessings brother.
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
And, when someone speaks of the Puritans developing the RPW over Calvin we are speaking of a huge difference.

I'm not sure I see why? Shouldn't be be aware of differences whether small or great?

If it is the matters of differences in application, someone has already noted that that is not the issue.

Well I don't think it's a matter simply of application. There is a deeper hermeneutical issue. It's the difference between this:

[1] The Bible commands the activities to do in the gathering (preaching, prayer etc.) and the only latitude we have is the so-called "circumstances" of these activities.

[2] The Bible gives us certain principles for the gathering. For example, one is edification. But a number of activities not commanded in Scripture (or bu good and necessary consequence), could be edifying (from drama to music solos).

Both [1] and [2] are strictly different, but both claim to worship in the way Scripture prescribes. It's the difference between command and principle.

Much of the debate hangs on what one means by "command". Obviously Scripture doesn't give us a "command" for everything we are to do in our Christian life. However, Scripture gives us principles which guide us through the infinite circumstances of life. I tend to think that biblically speaking it's not just "commands" that govern the Christian gathering, but also principles. In this we find something of the difference in the reformed tradition of the 16th and 17th century concerning the public Christian gathering.

God bless you brother.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
And, when someone speaks of the Puritans developing the RPW over Calvin we are speaking of a huge difference.

I'm not sure I see why? Shouldn't be be aware of differences whether small or great?
Well, I'm not one that denies the interest of historical investigation of minutiae.:) I mean it is one thing to say the Calvin did X in public worship and the Puritans did not, and saying that Calvin did not hold to the regulative principle. That is a huge claim, and one that does not bear up under scrutiny.

If it is the matters of differences in application, someone has already noted that that is not the issue.

Well I don't think it's a matter simply of application. There is a deeper hermeneutical issue. It's the difference between this:

[1] The Bible commands the activities to do in the gathering (preaching, prayer etc.) and the only latitude we have is the so-called "circumstances" of these activities.

[2] The Bible gives us certain principles for the gathering. For example, one is edification. But a number of activities not commanded in Scripture (or bu good and necessary consequence), could be edifying (from drama to music solos).

Both [1] and [2] are strictly different, but both claim to worship in the way Scripture prescribes. It's the difference between command and principle.

Much of the debate hangs on what one means by "command". Obviously Scripture doesn't give us a "command" for everything we are to do in our Christian life. However, Scripture gives us principles which guide us through the infinite circumstances of life. I tend to think that biblically speaking it's not just "commands" that govern the Christian gathering, but also principles. In this we find something of the difference in the reformed tradition of the 16th and 17th century concerning the public Christian gathering.

God bless you brother.

Those are two views certainly; and one is incorrect.;)
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Marty:

According the Chris the name itself is of recent origin, but the idea itself goes back to Calvin. I would suggest that it goes back beyond Calvin, otherwise it is itself illegitimate, and qualifies as itself being in violation of the RPW. In other words, it goes back to the Word of God itself.

I don't think anyone can argue against a rpw; every church has one of some sort. The point at issue is how defined that regulation is without men adding their nuances to it. I think this is the thing that you are pointing to. If you take EP as an example, some argue for it based upon the RPW, but others argue against it based on the RPW. And at times their arguments even appear identical, though with opposite ends in mind. The point at issue is not the RPW itself, but how to apply it Biblically without relying on man's judgments. In other words, the question is not: Is there a RPW? but: what is the RPW objectively?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
We can at least say they are no longer Reformed in their understanding of worship if they reject the Regulative Principle of worship. Dr. Clark has a good post today on
The Law of Worship is the Law of Believing or Worship Has Consequences

I would second Chris's recommendation on Dr. Clark's post. He brings up some very good points. :up: :up:

Very good points indeed. This is essentially what Calvin meant when he placed the mode of worship before the source of salvation in terms of the "standing existence" of the Christian religion:

If it be inquired, then, by what things chiefly the Christian religion has a standing existence amongst us, and maintains its truth, it will be found that the following two not only occupy the principal place, but comprehend under them all the other parts, and consequently the whole substance of Christianity, viz., a knowledge, first, of the mode in which God is duly worshipped; and, secondly, of the source from which salvation is to be obtained.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top