RPW applies to private worship?

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nwink

Puritan Board Sophomore
Does the Regulative Principle of Worship apply to private worship? If the second commandment is distinguished from the first commandment by being about *worship* (the manner of worshipping God), and if the principle in it is essentially that we are not to devise anything of our own for God's worship, then is not worshipping an idol in private still idolatry?
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
The regulative principle applies to any kind of stated worship, whether private, family, or public.

Agreed.

Was Israel allowed to bring in their golden calves as long as it was in private worship? Would the Apostle Paul say that meat could be sacrificed to Jehovah in private?

Where in Scripture do we see different "rules" for how to approach God?
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
RPW cannot work for family worship. You do not have ordained ministers reading and expositing the Word in every family.
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Josh,

So for clarification you are saying that the Scriptures give examples and commands that are specific to a family or private worship setting that do not apply to a corporate setting?

In my mind I have always thought of the RPW in terms of corporate worship, but it would make sense to apply the RPW concept to family worship as well.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I understand how the call to worship functions in public worship and how the RPW informs our worship in the formal and called public worship of God. What is stated private worship? When I call myself to private worship in my 'prayer closet'? So during that time then I should sing psalms, but if I have not formally entered into some time of stated private worship, I can sing a hymn to the glory of God?
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
I'm not sure what "proof" one wants but it is God Who prescribes the manner in which we draw night unto Him. I don't see how that is changed regardless of the venue of worship (private, family, or public). What I mean, for example, is this: If one believes that the regulative principle of worship mandates that a person sing only the Psalms for praise, that would be no different whether in private or public worship. According to that belief, man-made hymns are not an appropriate form of praise, regardless of the time or place.

Joshua, Your response is what I meant. I should have asked for your thinking on it instead of "proof."
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I grew up in an RPW denomination, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. We sang a Psalm in the twice daily acts family of worship, but I remember my granny singing hymns and hymns were not forbidden.

If I thought what my brethren in other denominations were doing in, e.g. using an organ or piano and hymns in public worship, was like falling down before the golden calf I would break off fraternal relations with them.

One can believe that the Psalms are the God-given inspired, infallible and inerrant manual of praise, and yet believe that the other Scripture Songs, Paraphrases, and some post-Canonical works may have some utility.

If I believed it was always a sin to sing a hymn I would never do so. As it is I rarely do so; I don't get much out of hymns. I sometimes listen to Handel's Messiah on the CD player on Sabbath afternoon.

It is certainly always a sin to sing certain hyms because of their doctrinal content and a "sin" to sing others because of their cornball lyrical content and musical quality.

It is also wrong to replace God's manual of praise at the centre of our worship with inferior post-Canonical material, though the presence of non-Psalmodic Scripture Songs indicates some utility for the composition and singing of such in certain informal settings.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
John Brown says this:

No doubt, one may compose spiritual hymns for his own and others' religious recreation; but to admit forms of human composure into the stated and public worship of God, appears to me very improper.

("Preface" to The Psalms of David in Metre)
 

nwink

Puritan Board Sophomore
If I thought what my brethren in other denominations were doing in, e.g. using an organ or piano and hymns in public worship, was like falling down before the golden calf I would break off fraternal relations with them.

Richard, I don't think anyone who has a strong commitment to the RPW would say their solid-hymn-singing brethren are committing as gross of a sin as if they were falling down before a golden calf in worship. Making an idol is the grossest form of what the 2nd commandment forbids against -- devising anything of our own for God's worship. I wouldn't break off relations with a brother that takes a little more liberty in his Sabbath-keeping (such as watching sports on tv in the afternoon, though he attends the worship services), but I would caution him that watching sports on tv on the Sabbath would not help him to have a holy resting all that day from his worldly employments. Similarly, while hymn-singing is not as gross a form of "devising our own methods to worship God" as making an actual idol to worship God, it is still something we would admonish a Christian brother to not do in worship of God.
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
It is certainly always a sin to sing certain hyms because of their doctrinal content and a "sin" to sing others because of their cornball lyrical content and musical quality.

Quality is subjective. How can something be a sin based upon a qualitative preference?
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
Quality is subjective. How can something be a sin based upon a qualitative preference?

I think he means quality defined as characteristics. In other words quality defined as something's inherent or distinguishing characteristics.
A contextual example of this would be the irreverent way in which of some types of performance and music are used in worship today.
See the youtube video Baby Got Book by Dan Smith as an example.
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Quality is subjective. How can something be a sin based upon a qualitative preference?

I think he means quality defined as characteristics. In other words quality defined as something's inherent or distinguishing characteristics.
A contextual example of this would be the irreverent way in which of some types of performance and music are used in worship today.
See the youtube video Baby Got Book by Dan Smith as an example.

Oh I understand now.
 

jayce475

Puritan Board Freshman
I take it that private worship refers to a period of time specifically set aside in a day for the worship of God and is not used in the broader sense of doing all things with a worshipful attitude? Could someone give some resources that touches on the nuances of "worship"?
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
I have no problems with people composing/singing orthodox hymns for their recreation, but what I'm asserting is that they are inappropriate for worship of the Triune God, regardless if said praise is private, family, or public.

Brother, we come from different perspectives so perhaps I am just not understanding what exactly you mean by "worship," but how can one sing orthodox hymns for reasons other than worship and not be committing 2nd Commandment violations? I've always thought that singing to the Lord for His glory is worship regardless of the context, although there are of course different kinds of worship.
 

nwink

Puritan Board Sophomore
On the basis of the WCF subordinate standards chapter 21, the following is clear enough to me that they saw the RPW applying to even private worship:

(a) 21:1 God "may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture",

(b) 21:6 God "is to be worshiped everywhere, in spirit and truth; as, in private families daily, and in secret, each one by himself; so, more solemnly in the public assemblies",

therefore

(c) worshipping God in private families and in secret must not be done according to the imaginations and devices of men or in any other way not prescribed in Holy Scripture.

---------- Post added at 06:58 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:56 AM ----------

Another thought to ponder: is God less jealous regarding the purity of His worship in private and in families? Is it then ok to worship Him with images or using an idol?
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
I come from a similar background to Richard and when he said his gran would sing hymns it wasn't during the family worship.
When we are in fellowship occasionally a talented singer may sing a hymn, but I have never been in a fellowship where hymns were sang during the worship.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I think if we're EP we have to decide if believe from Scripture that it is always sinful to compose and sing hymns or not, and if not, what is the biblical rationale behind the occasional use of hymns in certain circumstances.

I find this in the fact that the Book of Psalms is given as God's manual of praise to the Old and New Covenant Church (the Israel of God) and yet there are non-Psalmodic songs in Scripture, indicating that it is not wrong to have a place for the composition and singing of good-quality spiritual songs outwith the Book of Psalms.

---------- Post added at 04:48 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:40 PM ----------

Quote from nwink
Quote Originally Posted by Richard Tallach View Post
If I thought what my brethren in other denominations were doing in, e.g. using an organ or piano and hymns in public worship, was like falling down before the golden calf I would break off fraternal relations with them.
Richard, I don't think anyone who has a strong commitment to the RPW would say their solid-hymn-singing brethren are committing as gross of a sin as if they were falling down before a golden calf in worship. Making an idol is the grossest form of what the 2nd commandment forbids against -- devising anything of our own for God's worship. I wouldn't break off relations with a brother that takes a little more liberty in his Sabbath-keeping (such as watching sports on tv in the afternoon, though he attends the worship services), but I would caution him that watching sports on tv on the Sabbath would not help him to have a holy resting all that day from his worldly employments. Similarly, while hymn-singing is not as gross a form of "devising our own methods to worship God" as making an actual idol to worship God, it is still something we would admonish a Christian brother to not do in worship of God.

I was just referring to what Pastor Nathan said at #5.

Quote from nwink
Another thought to ponder: is God less jealous regarding the purity of His worship in private and in families? Is it then ok to worship Him with images or using an idol?

If using hymns or music is the moral equivalent of worshipping an idol like the golden calf, then maybe all EP churches should cut off fraternal relations with such denominations/congregations.
 

nwink

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think if we're EP we have to decide if believe from Scripture that it is always sinful to compose and sing hymns or not, and if not, what is the biblical rationale behind the occasional use of hymns in certain circumstances.

Richard, on the basis of the principles of the 2nd commandment, how is "composing and singing hymns" not devising-anything-of-our-own-for-God's-worship which is clearly commanded against? Additionally, please see my post #22 on this thread. Based on the WCF, it seems clear enough that they considered *all* worship (including private and family worship) to be regulated according to Scripture, and that we should not worship (private, family, or corporate) according to our own imaginations and devices.

I find this in the fact that the Book of Psalms is given as God's manual of praise to the Old and New Covenant Church (the Israel of God) and yet there are non-Psalmodic songs in Scripture, indicating that it is not wrong to have a place for the composition and singing of good-quality spiritual songs outwith the Book of Psalms.

To quote my friend Kaalvenist: http://www.puritanboard.com/f124/question-ep-13429/

"The case for "hymn fragments" in the Epistles rests on no evidence whatsoever. Why is it that none of these "hymns" have survived as hymns outside of their appearance in the Epistles? Why do we have no hymns or hymnbooks (other than the Psalter), recognized as such, dating from the time of the Apostles?" "Do we have any evidence that the early church (especially under the Apostles) sang the kind of songs you are describing? Or did they just continue singing Psalms, without composing any new songs for worship? And note, I said evidence, not conjecture about "hymn fragments," or what they might have sung."

If using hymns or music is the moral equivalent of worshipping an idol like the golden calf, then maybe all EP churches should cut off fraternal relations with such denominations/congregations.

I addressed this in post #15 on this thread.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
To quote my friend Kaalvenist: Question on EP

"The case for "hymn fragments" in the Epistles rests on no evidence whatsoever. Why is it that none of these "hymns" have survived as hymns outside of their appearance in the Epistles? Why do we have no hymns or hymnbooks (other than the Psalter), recognized as such, dating from the time of the Apostles?" "Do we have any evidence that the early church (especially under the Apostles) sang the kind of songs you are describing? Or did they just continue singing Psalms, without composing any new songs for worship? And note, I said evidence, not conjecture about "hymn fragments," or what they might have sung."

I'm not talking about "hymn fragments" which I haven't studied but am loathe to describe as parts of hymns. Is there any conclusive evidence that they are parts of early hymns.

But yet there are parts of Scripture which are songs and are outwith the Psalter. There is also formal and informal worship.
 

nwink

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is there any conclusive evidence that they are parts of early hymns.

I'm convinced there isn't. I'm sure you could find some threads on PB here for some more info. I remember Michael Bushell's book "Songs of Zion" has some good material on these supposed hymns.

But yet there are parts of Scripture which are songs and are outwith the Psalter.

Yes, but were these commanded to be used in public worship? We must remember that the RPW does demand positive warrant (either express command, something deduced by good and necessary consequence, or approved example) for every element employed in any setting of worship. What positive warrant is there found in the Bible for singing these other songs in worship?

There is also formal and informal worship.

Where do you find this distinction in Scripture between "formal worship" and "informal worship" (in relation to one being regulated and the other not, instead of *all* worship being regulated)? I am making the case that there is no distinction of different regulation between these in Scripture because *all* of worship is to be governed by the RPW. And I am not alone in seeing *all* worship regulated by God's Word, as it seems this is what the Westminster divines believed, as you can see in my post #22 above. Additionally, I believe Daniel Ritchie's book on the RPW makes the case that most commands in the Bible to sing inspired praise refer to private worship.
 
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Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
John Brown says this:

No doubt, one may compose spiritual hymns for his own and others' religious recreation; but to admit forms of human composure into the stated and public worship of God, appears to me very improper.

:up:

I suppose I’ll be an odd man out from the majority position of this thread.

Singing, insofar as it is meditation, may be private and accordingly may express the thoughts of our own hearts; insofar as it is corporate meditation (and bear in mind it accordingly has the purpose of instruction and edification not just to us, but to those hearing - Eph. 5, Col. 3), it is not our individual meditations, but the song of the whole church singing together with Christ our head. Now, the Exclusive Psalmist and the Non-exclusive-psalmist are obviously going to draw differing implications as to what this means for public worship: but (at least as I understand it), those implications do, indeed, belong only to the sphere of corporate worship (whether it be a gathering of the church or the family). Private singing is (to borrow Ames’ words) but a “more distinct and fixed meditation;” but it is a private meditation, and so may be expressive of our own personal thoughts. That being said, as one who values the Psalms greatly, I find that even in my own private meditations of this sort, I am drawn chiefly to the Psalms: though I would never suggest to anyone else that they ought to limit themselves to such. :2cents:
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Where do you find this distinction in Scripture between "formal worship" and "informal worship"? I am making the case that there is no distinction between these in Scripture because *all* of worship is to be governed by the RPW. And I am not alone in seeing *all* worship regulated by God's Word, as it seems this is what the Westminster divines believed, as you can see in my post #22 above. Additionally, I believe Daniel Ritchie's book on the RPW makes the case that most commands in the Bible to sing inspired praise refer to private worship.

The love feast which the Apostle Paul had to distinguish from the Lord's Supper because the Corinthians were mixing the two and bringing the Lord's Supper into disrepute is an example of informal worship.

And I am not alone in seeing *all* worship regulated by God's Word,

I agree that all worship is regulated by God's Word, or should be.
 
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