Happy Good Friday

Discussion in 'Church Calendar and Pretended Holy Days' started by RWD, Apr 19, 2019.

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  1. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

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  2. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    In my church, we actually have midweek public worship services for our Wednesday meeting. We do not hold them to be mandatory to attend unless providentially hindered. It's like an abridgement of the daily worship from the Reformation era. However, public worship is a privilege. Unless there was good reason to not attend (the "lawful duties" you mention), the expectation is that people will attend. Having the Lord's supper on other days would not be for the edification of all (all the more so since it symbolizes the unity of the whole body), since not everyone is able to attend midweek due to their lawful callings. So your conclusion still follows in such cases: having public worship on other days does put different expectations on people.

    Indeed. Additionally, without dropping the other shoe, one ends up confirming them in their superstition that one is trying to evangelize them from. Evangelism is more than just "baptizing:" it is also teaching them to observe whatsoever has been commanded.
  3. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, I know that there is precedence for midweek worship including a sermon, but my understanding is that they are generally conducted without a call to worship and, as you said, the Supper, so as to make clear that it is of a different nature than Lord's Day worship. In your practice do you have a call to worship?
  4. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Hey Ramon,
    I pray u are doing well, brother!

    Am I to understand that your church meets for worship on every Wednesday evening also?

    I know of no citation where the Reformed churches of days passed, met routinely for days as u describe other than what the directory has in its appendix.
  5. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, there is a call to worship. It is exactly like the public worship service on the Lord's day, except the focus is on intercessory prayer. We do not view the call to worship as requiring attendance unless providentially hindered; it simply is just the way the worship service is started. (Edit 2: I mean, their calling upon the people to worship God is an authoritative action, but on their view, the giving the call is not something that inherently makes mandatory attendance.) The being required to attend unless providentially hindered is attached to the sanctity of the Lord's day, rather than merely to the calling by the church officers. (Edit: I mean, I suppose a rogue church officer in our context could try to make attendance aside from the Lord's day compulsory; but they would not have the Scriptural authority to lawfully do so.)

    Perhaps it is best if I link to the sermon by Gavin Beers on the matter. He cites one of the books of discipline (I don't recall which one) and finds Scriptural precedent in the daily worship of the OT and NT. It is true though that aside from the midweek meeting, the daily worship was an abridged one with a lecture.

    (see around 12 minutes for the historical overview; and around 17 minutes for the biblical analysis): https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1120182140402

    Yes, that is correct. We also have additional worship services in connection with our communion seasons. These also are not viewed as mandatory (people are not required to attend unless providentially hindered).
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  6. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    OK, I thought you might be leaning in this direction but I didn’t want to address it prematurely. But since it’s your stated position, I’ll address it now the best I can.

    To be (a) absent from communion and to be (b) excommunicated are similar in one respect. They both result in being absent from the table. However, they’re not the same in a most critical respect. All (b) entails (a) but not all (a) entails (b). In other words, to be “merely” absent from communion is not tantamount to excommunication. If it were, then when someone missed communion he’d need to be formally received back into fellowship.

    When people miss the Supper, their credible professional of faith is not generally called into question as if they were delinquent in doctrine or lifestyle. When people are absent due to neglect, illness or whatever, they are not being declared by the elders as outside the church.

    Letting the elements pass by is not an ecclesiastical censure. It’s certainly a serious matter worthy of gentle shepherding but we mustn’t confuse it with declaring one outside Christ’s fold.
  7. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    This statement implies that it is compulsory; rarely are people providentially hindered. I will listen to GB's teaching on it. At first glance, it seems legalistic.

    Thanks for the link.
  8. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Sorry, poor phrasing on my part. I understand mandatory attendance to mean that people are required to attend unless providentially hindered. I was trying to say that this is not what is required of people for our other worship services: our other worship services are not mandatory (as I defined above). People are free to not attend these other meetings if they have other lawful duties to attend to.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  9. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Focusing on Friday’s practice might eclipse the heart of the matter. This discussion would seem to impinge upon the question of whether tomorrow’s sermon may distinctly relate to the Resurrection. In other words, is it imprudent or even forbidden to depart from a series being preached in order to focus on Christ’s resurrection. Same goes for an Advent series. Does the Reformed church (particularly pastors and sessions) cave in to RC superstitions, lead weaker brothers astray and legitimize the error of alleged Holy Days by giving congregations what they might expect to hear on these two occasions?

    Does anyone here attend a church that won’t be preaching a distinctly Easter message this Sunday, or doesn’t preach an Incarnation message in December?
  10. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Moving to worship, church calendar sub forum.
  11. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks, Brother. It was intended as gospel oriented but it has definitely taken on a different direction. I agree with where you’ve now placed it. I’ll be more careful should I ever think about beginning another thread.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
  12. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    "Happy Good Friday"

    We like to insist that only the Lord's Day worship is authorized for our churches. But, suddenly, it's Easter and we've got Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, too.

    Seems to be a lack of consistency here for some folks, even if I understand the sentiment behind the other days.
  13. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Sometimes have, sometimes haven't in recent years. The practice is lectio continua largely. It's not pumped nor promoted or any way singled out to the congregation. I'll know tomorrow. My church has moved more and more to an understated use of those times in recent years.
    As I have already indicated above, one "may" but one should take into account scandal and offense of things theoretically indifferent; the Scriptural rules of the use of things indifferent apply. James Durham in his work on scandal and offense puts it squarely in this arena when he says
    6th distinction
    Whence arises another distinction of offenses, viz. from the matter of a practice, or from the manner of [the] performing of it, or the circumstances in the doing of it. For as it is not an act materially good that will edify, except it is done in the right manner, so will an act materially good not keep off offense, if it is not done tenderly, wisely, etc. And often we find circumstances have much influence on offense, as times, persons, places, manner, etc. For it is not offensive [for] one to pray or preach, but at some times, as before an idol, or on a Holy-day, it may be offensive.[1]

    [1] . “There is no day commanded in Scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord’s day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival days, vulgarly [commonly] called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued.” The Westminster Directory for Public Worship from the appendix Touching Days and Places for Public Worship. The answer to the 109th Question of the Larger Catechism begins thus: “The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising [Num. 15:39], counselling [Deut. 13:6-8], commanding [Hosea 5:11; Micah 6:16], using [1 Kings 11:33; 1 Kings 12:33], and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself [Deut.13:30, 31, 32].”
    What, when the commands of magistrates & offense are in opposition?

    It may be further moved, ‘What is to be done when there seems to be an opposition between the command of a superior, and the eschewing of offense, so that we must either disobey him or give offense in obeying, as suppose a magistrate should command to preach upon some pretended holy day?’ The thing is lawful upon the matter, but the doing of it is offensive, either by grieving many, or strengthening others[1] in the esteeming somewhat of that day. ANswer. In that case, the scandal is still active and given, and therefore no command or authority can warrant one in such a deed. For, as these two worthy Divines, Ames (in his Cases of Conscience, lib. 5 cap. 11[2]) and Gillespie (in his Dispute of Ceremonies, chap. 7 sect. 5[3]) observe, no man can command either our charity or our consciences, or make up the hazard of a given offense; and therefore none can command us warrantably to hurt the spiritual good of our neighbor, that being contrary to the command of love that God has laid on [us]. And we may add, that an indifferent action being involved with offense, cannot but be in its practicing sinful as it is complexly considered, and therefore cannot be the object of a magistrate’s command more than an action that is sinful in itself.
    [1]. The word “somewhat” was repeated here in the 1990 edition.
    [2]. William Ames, Conscience With the Power and Cases Thereof: Divided Into Five Books (London, 1643).
    [3]. A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies Obtruded Upon the Church of Scotland, George Gillespie (1637). The works of Gillespie are collected in the first two volumes of The Presbyterian’s Armory (Edinburgh, 1846). Also A Dispute, etc. (Naphtali Press, 1993; rev. 2013).​
    James Durham, Concerning Scandal (1990), p. 5, 27; revised unpublished text, 2019.
  14. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    I do. The Presbyterian Reformed Church also will not be doing so. Some RPCNA congregations that I know of will also not do so.

    We once had a visiting pulpit supply preach a message related to the Incarnation in December, but (a) the subject was not chosen because the 25th of December was near but for independent considerations (the visiting preacher had really wanted to preach on this particular passage, and this was the first opportunity he got since desiring to do so), (b) the subject was not chosen because the general populace around us (and would also not have been chosen because our congregation might expect that sort of message, supposing we had been that sort of congregation) might expect such a message near the 25th of December, (c) the visiting minister clarified that he was not choosing the passage because of the 25th and gave a brief condemnation of the pretended holy day before preceding with the sermon.

    Edit: Even with all that though, it did raise the eyebrows of some folk I knew (who are not Reformed and know our stance against pretended holy days), and they had great difficulty understanding my explanation of how such an event was consistent with our views (the "holiness" of the day is so ingrained in their thoughts that there are Scripture passages that are inherently "Christmas" passages.).
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  15. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Certainly. Most of the confessional Presbyterian churches (that aren't PCA, anyways) that I've attended do not. Mine does not.
  16. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Freshman

    I am not sure where I land on regular non-Sunday communion. That idea seems like it is okay, since it is a regular pattern. On the other hand, I see people taking Sunday so lightly in even Reformed churches, that I would rather see a Sabbatarian position and no mid-week gathering instead of lightly taking the Sabbath and meeting mid-week.

    Well, this discussion was centered around the Lenten season. So it is not just a particular day in the year because the church needs to gather together as they consider some matter important to the local church. I cannot say gathering this past week and reflecting on the passion/resurrection is totally disconnected from Lent, and the church independently deciding to call a special service.

    The word expouded is slightly different, because there are venues (small groups, Bible studies, Sunday schools) where there is some teaching/instruction but there is not the "minister teaching on the Lord's Day". I am not aware of a category where is a more casual observance of the Lord's Supper.
  17. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    All excommunications are not alike, certainly. To be judicially excommunicated is not the same to be self-excommunicated. In either matter to be severed from the visible communion of the Body of Christ is a serious matter, however. When the church courts declare that one is to be treated as an unbeliever due to their scandalous actions, the institution that they are particularly and especially barred from is the Supper. The Lord's Supper is a sign and seal individually of the blessings of the New Covenant, but also corporately. It marks our unity in Christ. In a similar way as baptism sets apart our children as within the covenant community, so participation in the Lord's Supper marks our continuing membership of that community and access to its blessings. To allow the elements to pass by is not merely a matter of personal religion, but also of corporate identity. It says that I have no title to the blessings of Christ's covenant and to the covenant community. Now when one self-excommunicates they may (and often are) wrong about their status, thus the "gentle shepherding," but it still not an act without significance.
  18. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks Ramon, I'll listen to Rev. Beers' sermon when I get a chance--I have a great deal of respect for him. I certainly don't take issue with communion season worship services as part of due preparation for celebration of the Supper on the Lord's day. I still am a bit uncomfortable with a call to worship on such days since it is a ministerial and authoritative act, but on the whole that's a much smaller issue than the Supper.
  19. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Will do, brother. The furthest out is Durham on the Ten Commandments. It was painstakingly edited by our own @NaphtaliPress. I will DM you direct links.
  20. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    I think I am going to order the outer 2 (including Durham) today and maybe Brakel!
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  21. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    That warms my heart to hear you may start the journey with Brakel! He has been such a blessing to my wife and I!
  22. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Well it is between A’ Brakel’s full volume set or a limited edition pink Easter bunny tank top (truly fabulous) for church tomorrow.
  23. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Historically the Continental churches did celebrate "holy days." This was a point of contention between them and the English speaking churches.

    Although my denomination allows for them, they are not required to be observed in the individual churches. My local church normally has a topical sermon at these days having to do with the resurrection, etc. As far as I am aware, we do not consider them holy days, rather good occasions to consider topics that are "culturally relevant."

    Personally, I think it's a good occasion to consider these topics, though it should never bind the conscience.
  24. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, when I've been travelling over December and have attended URCNA or CanRC churches, many have had "Christmas" services (though some have not). I'm sure most are aware of the history here--most Continental divines opposed the celebration of the days and Voetius in particular claimed that the sections approving them in Dordt were imposed by the magistrates against the will of the divines present. Nevertheless, imposed they were and most of the Continental church made do with them for a time. They were nearly stamped out again in the Nadere Reformation but they are hard to extinguish completely. Many Continental theologians of note were of one voice with the Puritans on the matter, however.
  25. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Our church recognizes resurrection Sunday but none of the secularization of it. The early church did as well; when it was observed rather than whether to observe it was a divisor between east and west.

    I was in a church that did not have this practice and will respectfully follow what the session decides.

    I agree, though, that the practice opens the door to the whole "holy seasons" thinking -- indeed, that's the route Jeff Meyers takes leading folks off into sacerdotalism.
  26. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    That has been our practice for years. I don't ever recall an "Easter message" or an incarnation message coinciding with the calendar.

    Of course, when we go through the Gospels, the topic comes up in the course of regular preaching.
  27. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Lectio continua and if you did not know the pretended holy day was today, you would probably not have noticed the nods to the day before and in the order of worship.
  28. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    So, given the nods, the pretended Holy day was acknowledged yet the nods were biblical and, therefore, would’ve been appropriate for any Sunday?
  29. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Again, your position turns on an equivocal notion of excommunication. The keys were not given to individuals but to God’s ordained overseers.
  30. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I acknowledged the distinction. Do you acknowledge that, while the keys were indeed given to God's ordained officers of the church, others may attempt to arrogate them to themselves? Such is the error of Erastians on one side and Quakers on the other (whose error those who self-excommunicate partake in).
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