Do the Sign of the Cross and the Liturgical Calendar violate the Regulative Principle

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by Myson, Jan 6, 2017.

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  1. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello everyone. I'm new and this is my first post so bear with me. I'm having a hard time finding any resources on things like whether or not forming the sign of the cross on oneself (either privately, publicly, or corporate worship) violates the Regulative principle. The liturgical calendar also confuses me. On the former, it has a strong historical precedent that need not be superstitious or romish, and on the latter, isn't it good to have one's year shaped by the story of the Scriptures rather than by what we buy? The issue for me is, are they prohibited by the Scriptures since they are not explicitly named? Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2017
  2. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    We will try not to beat with you, Myson. ;)
    A good question and welcome to PB!

    Please update your signature per our rules here so that we may properly address you.
  3. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    I have edited "beat" to "bear" and have gone from "excited" to "embarrassed" lol. Do I edit my question to have my proper signature at the bottom? I have already gone to the signature tab and put in the required information.
  4. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member


    You are good to go, JM. Nothing further is needed.
  5. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    Good deal
  6. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    The question you ask is does it (sign of the cross, liturgical calendar) violate the Regulative Principle. The regulative principle is "The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men." So if it is not commanded in Scripture to do in worship or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture as that which is required, then it must not be done, it must not be added to God's worship.

    So then the simple questions you must ask are these:
    1) Do we find any mention, command, or inference in God's Word that we ought to perform 'the sign of the cross'?
    2) Do we find any mention, command, or inference in God's Word that we ought to follow 'the liturgical calendar'?

    The answer for both is No. Therefore, they must not be done.

    Your last question you asked is contrary to your concern of the Regulative Principle. "Are they prohibited...?" is the question asked of those who hold to the non-reformed view of the Normative Principle of Worship. However, the reformed church holds to the Regulative Principle (i.e. what is commanded must be done.).

    Further, not to attack you in anyway, just attempting to be thorough based on your thoughts, we as men often see wisdom in various acts, methods, etc. But what is 'good' is determined by God alone. So while it might seem good to us to follow a pattern or shape to our year through a liturgical calendar, it is only good if it is by God's design and command. In this, we could say that He has given us a pattern, commanded such a pattern to take place, and requires our keeping the pattern for our blessing. This pattern is called the weekly Christian Sabbath. 52 times/year worshipping and celebrating Him with our full attention on Him while the other days (second through seventh days) we work diligently. This is summarized in the 4th commandment. This is the only 'calendar' God has commanded for us as a means of worshipping Him. As for the sign of the cross being historical, while historical practices of the church may be helpful to understanding how those who have gone before us interpreted the Scriptures, the final authority is God's Word (see above).

    It was Jeremiah Burroughs who said, "Now when a man shall put a religious respect upon a thing by virtue of his own institution, when he does not have a warrant from God, that is superstition! We must all be willing worshippers, not will-worshippers."

    I hope this clarifies the reformed position for you.
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The "sign of the cross" is at best a habit, like folding one's hands to pray, possibly being a reminder to oneself he is baptized; but too often is more of a superstition, a vestige of medieval piety when people used gestures as "wards" against palpable demonic attacks. Moreover, it is taken as a secondary-sign to the priest-imposed sign, who wave their hands over a congregation with similar ideas.

    There's something imprisoning about the RC-dominated world prior to the Reformation, where the spirit-realm lay over this mundane like a garment, as palpable as the gaseous atmosphere. I do not recommend taking up the behavior, for it has gone from an identifier or a salute, to a sign with alleged spiritual value unto itself.

    There is something equally imprisoning about a liturgical calendar. It is imposed on the church without warrant. Where is there any hint in the Bible that the story of redemption is best told on an annual cycle? Israel of old had a national cycle of festivals, divinely imposed, which were all reminders of something yet to come. All which is done away in Christ. No other cycle has been imposed by God, but only the weekly cycle remains, with our Resurrection deliverance the unfailing center of our devotion.

    One congregation will be meditating in this way; another one in that, on this or that portion of Scripture. But all will be oriented to the finished work of Christ. It is neither better nor worse if a majority of churches happen to be meditating on the same subject at the same time. But it is ill if they do so because they feel compelled.

    Yes, every religious imposition outside of those mandated by the Word is by nature tyrannical, a violation of the RPW. It is not a question of explicit prohibition, but what does Scripture enjoin? We have enough to concern us relative to the demands of worship, without adding to them (and often shortchanging those things required of us) because of distractions.
  8. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    They are both monuments of idolatry as the Reformers called them loaded down with superstitious and idolatrous baggage. Below are some older threads on sign of the cross. We have a whole subforum devoted to discussing the pretended holy days; link below.
  9. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    This comment is from a practical standpoint. The liturgical calendar also has an accompanying lectionary - a set of verses tied to each Sunday of the year, and to the extra celebrated days of the year of that denomination. A lectionary might be on a one year cycle, a three year cycle, etc. A lectionary by definition does not include all parts of the Bible. (Maybe there are ones which do.) It does not even have to include a lot of verses gathered together coherently on the same subject. This practice is too confining to the person who wants to learn from all of God's Word.
  10. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    An additional thought that addresses the effectiveness of a litergical calendar rather than its regulative implications.

    With the calendar, a congregation will have 52 sound bites and know little about what holds those stories together. Nor are they likely to know the passages of scripture that are not worth even mentioning year-to-year.

    Oops, looks like we were writing at the same time... great minds, etc.:ditto:
  11. Moses Costigan

    Moses Costigan Puritan Board Freshman

    Welcome! I'm sure you'll be enriched, blessed and encouraged by your time spent here.

    Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk
  12. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Senior

    Best case scenario, the SotC was maybe a pass code for Christians trying to meet during the early years of Pagan persecution. Sufficed to say, it didn't stay that way in the Roman Church. Over the centuries the SotC accumulated all kinds of spiritual, idolatrous baggage that survives into the modern era.

    The practice became reflexive for me when I was RC. For years after leaving and repudiating the teachings I found myself crossing myself on occasion every few months. Over ten years later I can finally say, thanks be to God, that I've extinguished the practice.

    The work of God and His Heavenly Hosts are not intermittently pulled and pushed like some lever on a locomotive. It is rather by Christ's work we may approach the throne of Grace with confidence.
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