Is the RPW a different hermeneutical/theological principle than sola Scriptura?

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Puritan Board Junior
It does seem that the "weightiness" between the directory for the publick worship of God differs in comparison with the directory for private worship. I'm assuming that both proceed out from the RPW. And one doesn't find a directory for how to raise your children, how to tend your farm, etc.


Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member

I agree with you that we can and should distinguish between formal acts of worship and what might be called worship "as a way of life" (Rom 12:1-2). I also agree that the rules God provides for "all of life" are sometimes more general (e.g., moral principles) compared to some of the specific positive commands he gives related to church life and worship. Thanks, brother, for taking the time to respond to my questions.

Your servant,

Well, I'm sure there's much more to be said; but no doubt Owen or Gillespie would have more ability to say it.


Puritanboard Amanuensis

I'm intrigued by your comments. I'm familiar with the distinction between moral law and positive law. I had not given serious consideration, though, to the role this distinction might play in understanding the RPW and its relationship to sola Scriptura. Can you elaborate? For example, how might the moral/positive law distinction relate to the 2nd commandment? Is the 2nd commandment a moral law that says, in effect, all religious acts of devotion must be grounded in positive laws?

Keeping to original context, I think we can answer that question by noting that the moral/natural law was regarded as being summarily comprehended in the ten commandments. On this understanding the second commandment sets forth the moral absolute that God is to be worshipped only in the manner that He prescribes. It thus builds a moral foundation upon which His positive prescriptions are to be received, preserved, and obeyed, but it does not in and of itself provide those positive prescriptions.

To elaborate on the distinction a little, it is worthy of observation that worship itself (essence) is said to have circumstances attached to it which are to be governed by the light of nature and Christian prudence according to the general rules of the Word, WCF 1.6. These circumstances are said to be common to "human actions." This indicates that worship itself (essence) is considered as falling under the rule of the Word in a more specific manner than the way all of life is generally governed by the moral norms of the light of nature and general rules of the Word.


Puritanboard Commissioner
Excellent thread!

(Bob, and contributors, you have merited another "5" on this one- thanks!)
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