Second Commandment Applicability to Private Worship

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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Here's something I've sometimes wondered about. Oftentimes, I hear that technically speaking, worship is what happens when people gather together, i.e., public worship. And hence, the regulative principle applies only to public worship (and I've also heard that the regulative principle of worship is actually just a subset of church power, and so only applies to public worship). But if the principle of worship is tied to the second commandment, how can it only apply to public worship? Is the difference merely that in public worship, we are required to do all commanded, while in private worship, we are not required to do all but are still forbidden to do what is not commanded? Or perhaps something else?

It certainly seems odd to only worship God as He has commanded in public worship, but to have....what exactly?....during family worship, individual private worship, and/or worship with friends or with other families not in a church setting. After all, I'm not sure proponents of the above view would allow for worshipping God by images outside of the public worship sphere. And also, other passages (along with the Second Commandment) speaking of "will worship" seem to apply more broadly than the public worship sphere (e.g., the passage in Colossians, or the hand washing of the Pharisees). I suppose there's the example of Mary annointing the feet of Jesus for unregulated private worship though?
 

AlexanderHenderson1647

Puritan Board Freshman
That, sir, is a good question/commentary. It is too early in the morning and you just caused my head to split into several fragments. I'll have to think about this one more later. Thanks, Raymond!!!! Haha
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
AlexanderHenderson1647 said:
That, sir, is a good question/commentary. It is too early in the morning and you just caused my head to split into several fragments. I'll have to think about this one more later. Thanks, Raymond!!!! Haha
Haha! Well, you're welcome, I suppose! :)
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I think there are different kinds of worship, with different principles governing them, but all governed by God's Word and the Second Commandment.

A biblical example is the Lord's Supper and the agape feast in I Corinthians 11:17-34. Paul distinguishes and separates between the formal and explicitly commanded worship of the lord's Supper and the informal and not explicitly commanded worship of the agape feast, and says that the agape feast must be held in a different context and not combined with the Lord's Supper. He doesn't say that Christians shouldn't have agape feasts.

The same is true for the issue of Psalms versus non-Psalmodic Scripture songs and post-canonical songs. We have explicit command for the former, but the latter are not forbidden in their own context.

Same also with the eloquent silence of the Apostles on musical instruments.

Alternatively you could be consistent by saying that it always contradicts God's word to compose or sing a non-Psalmodic song of worship, and that it always contradicts God's Word to use an instrument to accompany Psalms, hymns, etc, in this New Testament era.

Or you could try to argue that such is not worship in any sense of the word.

Or you could let hymns and musical instruments invade worship in any and every context.

But was worship regulated in the same way in all contexts e.g. in the OT period?

:2cents:
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Peairtach said:
I think there are different kinds of worship, with different principles governing them.
I'm sorry if I'm not being clear. Perhaps I need a better vocabulary to communicate my question. Or perhaps I am not understanding you. I am not referring to generic "all of life is worship" kind of worship, nor the undisputed contexts in which non-Psalm songs or hymns may be used, but worship in which an individual or individuals intend on worshipping God directly without such worship being officially held/led by the church. And by "principle of worship", I mean a specific rule that is used to determine how to worship God, while acknowledging the possibility that the same rule may be applied differently in different contexts (e.g., there's no administration of the Sacraments in private individual worship).
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm sorry if I'm not being clear. Perhaps I need a better vocabulary to communicate my question. I am not referring to generic "all of life is worship" kind of worship, nor the undisputed contexts in which non-Psalm songs or hymns may be used, but worship in which an individual or individuals intend on worshipping God directly.

I'm not referring to "all of life is worship" or to formal, gathered, worship, but to a third category between the two.

The agape feast is one example of worship which is neither of the "all of life is worship" (e.g. washing the dishes) category, or of the formal church service category.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Peairtach said:
The agape feast is one example of worship which is neither of the "all of life is worship" (e.g. washing the dishes) category, or of the formal church service category.
I'm afraid I don't see how that is worship of a third category. Would you demonstrate this? It seems to me to be an ordinary meal without religious importance, since such eating is said to be possible to be done at home, without any indication that such eating at home is something outside of ordinary eating.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It's not an ordinary meal - although it can happen in homes as well as church buildings, or elsewhere - but a get together by Christians to eat and have fellowship. Among our OT brothers and sisters, it was regulated by the ceremonial law.

Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. (Deut 14:22-27, KJV)

Cf., e.g.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.(Acts 2:42)

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God,(Acts 2:46-47)

There may have been an agape feast associated with the Lord's Supper, which was a throwback to the Passover meal that was held before the first Lord's Supper. The Apostle commanded that the formal worship be distinguished from the less formal worship of the agape feast.
 
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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XXI
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day

....

IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful;[13] and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter:[14] but not for the dead,[15] nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.[16]

V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching[18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence,[19] singing of psalms with grace in the heart;[20] as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:[21] beside religious oaths,[22] vows,[23] solemn fastings,[24] and thanksgivings upon special occasions,[25] which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]

VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed:[27] but God is to be worshipped everywhere,[28] in spirit and truth;[29] as, in private families[30] daily,[31] and in secret, each one by himself;[32] so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calls thereunto.[33]

VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him:[34] which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week,[35] which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day,[36] and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.[37]

VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations,[38] but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.[39]

The Westminster Summary of the doctrine of Scripture tells us much.

One helpful way to understand the second commandment is that it is, primarily about worship, not just hand-making idols. The ten commandments proceed in an orderly way about God first, His worship, His Name, His Sabbath, then goes to duties to fellow man.

The Christian Sabbath particularly sets the pattern for the consciousness and worship of God, that's why there is so much resistance to it.

The fourth command involves, as the Summary says, the public and private worship of God. The latter being either family worship or personal worship.

I've read and thought about this- that the public worship of God is to be preferred. At first, I wasn't sure if that was accurate, it seemed to imply men not leading their families in worship or that personal worship was not as important.

But now, I think that is biblical, in order of priority.

And it's due to the fact that there is much that cannot be done in family or individually that can in public (corporate worship. Hearing the Word of God authoritatively preached and taught, taking the sacraments, taking of oaths and vows (e.g. for membership, installing officers, the congregation taking a vow at an infant baptism, etc. etc.).

But it is correct to say Scripture regulates what true worship is, both public and private. It is just less extensive in private.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Raymond
After all, I'm not sure proponents of the above view would allow for worshipping God by images outside of the public worship sphere.

Some of those who subscribe to the Regulative Principle of Worship may view e.g. the singing of "Amazing Grace" by other Reformed and evangelicals in their regular worship services, as the moral equivalent of falling down to the golden calf, but many don't or they would break off all fraternal relations with such, as being out and out idolaters. Also if those of us who subscribe to the RPW believed that e.g. singing "Amazing Grace" was the equivalent of falling down before the golden calf, we wouldn't believe that it was right to sing it in any context and would cease from doing so.

And by "principle of worship", I mean a specific rule that is used to determine how to worship God, while acknowledging the possibility that the same rule may be applied differently in different contexts (e.g., there's no administration of the Sacraments in private individual worship).

There have been different contexts from the earliest times e.g. the rules that regulated Tabernacle worship in early Israel, and the rules that would have regulated the local holy convocations on the Sabbath, were all regulated by God's Word, but would have been different for each context.

E.g.
Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. (Lev 23:3, KJV)

The application of the RPW was different to the choir and orchestra at the Temple than to the humble shepherd worshipping God on the hillside.
 

KaphLamedh

Puritan Board Freshman
Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XXI
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day

....

IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful;[13] and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter:[14] but not for the dead,[15] nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.[16]

V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching[18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence,[19] singing of psalms with grace in the heart;[20] as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:[21] beside religious oaths,[22] vows,[23] solemn fastings,[24] and thanksgivings upon special occasions,[25] which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]

VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed:[27] but God is to be worshipped everywhere,[28] in spirit and truth;[29] as, in private families[30] daily,[31] and in secret, each one by himself;[32] so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calls thereunto.[33]

VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him:[34] which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week,[35] which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day,[36] and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.[37]

VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations,[38] but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.[39]

The Westminster Summary of the doctrine of Scripture tells us much.

One helpful way to understand the second commandment is that it is, primarily about worship, not just hand-making idols. The ten commandments proceed in an orderly way about God first, His worship, His Name, His Sabbath, then goes to duties to fellow man.

The Christian Sabbath particularly sets the pattern for the consciousness and worship of God, that's why there is so much resistance to it.

The fourth command involves, as the Summary says, the public and private worship of God. The latter being either family worship or personal worship.

I've read and thought about this- that the public worship of God is to be preferred. At first, I wasn't sure if that was accurate, it seemed to imply men not leading their families in worship or that personal worship was not as important.

But now, I think that is biblical, in order of priority.

And it's due to the fact that there is much that cannot be done in family or individually that can in public (corporate worship. Hearing the Word of God authoritatively preached and taught, taking the sacraments, taking of oaths and vows (e.g. for membership, installing officers, the congregation taking a vow at an infant baptism, etc. etc.).

But it is correct to say Scripture regulates what true worship is, both public and private. It is just less extensive in private.

Thanks Scott!
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you all for the replies!

Peairtach said:
It's not an ordinary meal - although it can happen in homes as well as church buildings, or elsewhere - but a get together by Christians to eat and have fellowship.
I'm not sure this can be derived from 1 Cor. 11 because Paul instructed them to eat before coming, which suggests private eating in the homes rather than Christians getting together to eat at home before coming together, but even granting that, it is not a meal of religious import (unlike the one from the cermonial law) and so is ordinary eating; I'm not too interested in probabilities but actualities when it comes to something of this nature as finding a third sort of worship (though if someone more experienced than I would like to correct that attitude of mine, please do). However, I suppose that is besides the point now because I may be understanding what you mean by a "third sort" of worship. Namely, what do we categorize bibles studies, Christian fellowship, "godly conference," catechising people, or some sort of "religious recreation" as? That seems to be an ordinary meal to me; there is no religious meaning attached to the meal. Nevertheless, what is Christian fellowship? Do we class it as an act of religious worship, albeit, an "informal" one? I am not convinced that it can be classified as such, and so will need help to see that it is a sort of worship before I can agree that such is an example of "informal worship" (if anyone would be willing to help here?).

Having said all that, I am also not sure I entirely understand you. It seems you are saying that the principle of "Whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden" applies in all those areas of worship, but in different ways (e.g., the elements of public, elder led worship are in the WCF; the elements of private worship excluding some of those elements but including "meditation", which does not seem to be directly available in public, elder led worship). Is that what you are saying? If not, what is the principle you are using? And secondly, it appears one sort of terminology that may help is the distinction of Murray between "generic" and "specific" worship. I was avoiding that terminology because I didn't want to restrict things to those categories in case the answer to my question didn't quite fit within them (as it appears your view does!), but it may be useful introducing them for me to understand what you are saying. You deny that such things as Christian fellowship are generic worship. Do you deny that they are specific worship too? Do you see it as falling under specific worship (e.g., private individual worship, family worship, fall under that distinction)? Or do you see it as a third category of worship that is neither generic nor specific?

Peairtach said:
Some of those who subscribe to the Regulative Principle of Worship may view e.g. the singing of "Amazing Grace" by other Reformed and evangelicals in their regular worship services, as the moral equivalent of falling down to the golden calf, but many don't or they would break off all fraternal relations with such, as being out and out idolaters. Also if those of us who subscribe to the RPW believed that e.g. singing "Amazing Grace" was the equivalent of falling down before the golden calf, we wouldn't believe that it was right to sing it in any context and would cease from doing so.
I may be misunderstanding you here, but that wasn't the reason I brought up the Second Commandment. What I meant was that the principle that we should worship God only as He has commanded is seen as falling under the Second Commandment. There are those who claim the RPW only applies to worship in our public assemblies that are overseen by elders (because people who claim such note that the RPW is about Church power binding the conscience). Nevertheless, I have little doubt that those people who claim that would have a problem with people worshipping God by images outside of that context. Hence, it appears the Second Commandment applies outside of that formal, public context. But if that is so, then it appears the principle that we should only worship God as He has commanded applies to worship outside of that formal, public context. And so my question would be: For those who are proponents of the view I have described, how does that fit together, because it seems to me the principle of worship is the same inside and outside of that formal, public context?

I then additionally questioned the position that such people hold by noting that the proof texts for the RPW seem to apply outside of that formal, public context, but I also noted that my questioning of that view may be mistaken because it is possible that the example of Mary shows an approved example of worship that does not follow the same principle outside of the formal, public context. And so of course, for the moment, I am in agreement with people who state that the principle that we should only worship God as He has commanded applies to all our (specific) worship, whether that be private, (intra or inter) familial, or public, though the application of the principle applies in different ways because God has commanded different things for each context. This seems to be the view Scott is advocating, and it may be the view you are advocating too, though I am unsure of both.

J. Dean said:
It depends on how one understands the Second Commandment.
Of course. Any discussion of the bible depends on how one understands it, though that is the same as to say that people believe their beliefs to be true or probably true. Hopefully though, one understands the Second Commandment correctly.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Well one of the questions is whether non-psalmodic songs, not being commanded by the Apostle, are therefore forbidden in all contexts of worship?

The existence of non-psalmodic songs in the Scriptures, for instance, might suggest that they have a place, but the Apostle's exclusive reference to the Psalms, along with the fact that the Psalms were written and set apart by God as His own hymnbook, etc, indicates that non-psalmodic worship songs should be kept in their own place. This is certainly the case in churches that use psalms only in their stated, gathered services and at family worship.

Where these distinctions are not made it is not long before the Psalms and the knowledge of them is eclipsed and swamped by other songs, whether non-psalmodic Scripture songs, paraphrases or post-canonical songs.

Unless you take the RPW to mean that all non-psalmodic songs designed for worship in some kind of context, are not to be composed or used under any circumstances whatsoever.
 
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Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
I suppose there's the example of Mary annointing the feet of Jesus for unregulated private worship

Could you elaborate on this? How do you see a tie between what Mary did and what we might do in private or secret worship versus public worship? I am unclear on where you are going with this.

Peace,
Alan
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Peairtach said:
Well one of the questions is whether non-psalmodic songs, not being commanded by the Apostle, are therefore forbidden in all contexts of worship?

The existence of non-psalmodic songs in the Scriptures, for instance, might suggest that they have a place, but the Apostle's exclusive reference to the Psalms, along with the fact that the Psalms were written and set apart by God as His own hymnbook, etc, indicates that non-psalmodic worship songs should be kept in their own place. This is certainly the case in churches that use psalms only in their stated, gathered services and at family worship.

Where these distinctions are not made it is not long before the Psalms and the knowledge of them is eclipsed and swamped by other songs, whether non-psalmodic Scripture songs, paraphrases or post-canonical songs.

Unless you take the RPW to mean that all non-psalmodic songs designed for worship in some kind of context, are not to be composed or used under any circumstances whatsoever.
I'm not sure how this proves that there is such a thing as this "informal" worship that you are advocating. Perhaps I'm missing something? But to answer the question, I think one falls into trouble unless, as John Brown of Haddington put it: "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." And I might add, it would seem improper in one's "stated" family times (and possibly private too, unless meditation is a kind of worship). What this "religious recreation" is though--and its relation to worship, the RPW, and the principle of worshipping God only as He has commanded--I don't know.

But of course, the question of this thread is much more general than figuring out the use of uninspired hymns or non-Psalmodic Scripture records of songs. Though my follow up question, once someone had answered the question of the OP, was going to be along those lines (e.g., when does meditation or religious recreation song turn into worship? What if one listened to Handel's Messiah, nay, even performed it, and one's religious devotion was stimulated; or if one viewed a cross and one's religious devotion was stimulated; would that be worship and is it wrong to worship by means of something not commanded by God in such contexts, and why/why not? And especially, what about those "concerts" that look little different from worship concerts?). It appears the sequel to my thread is dealing with that sort of question.

Alan D. Strange said:
Could you elaborate on this? How do you see a tie between what Mary did and what we might do in private or secret worship versus public worship? I am unclear on where you are going with this.
I mentioned the passage as possible support that private worship does not follow the principle of worshipping God only as He commands. Given that the passages that support the RPW seem to apply the principle of worshipping God only as He commands beyond public worship, I'm not sure that this passage will do what I thought it might. However, it is possible I have misunderstood the passages that support the RPW, in which case this passage may do what I thought it would. So I mentioned it as a possible counter-example to my thinking that the principle of worshipping God only as He commands applies outside of public worship.

As to how I thought the passage might be used.... While the argument I am about to present may sound a bit strange and is actually one that is occasionally presented when people argue against the RPW in general, and I'm not entirely sure I buy it myself, it appeared to be a possible support for there being more freedom in private than in public. The argument is that Mary worshipped Jesus; there was no command to worship Jesus in the manner that she did; her action was approved; so it appears there is some sort of freedom that is in private worship that is not in public (here it is assumed that the principle that we should only worship God as He commands has been proved to hold for public worship). When it is asked: How is it possible that Mary could do what she did? One possible (I say "possible", because the correct view on this passage may agree with the argument up to here, and show that the answer given here misses some facts) answer is: private worship is not regulated like public worship is, the former allowing for devotions of our own thoughts.

Most definitely, if this passage does not do what I thought it might possibly do, I'd be happy to see the truth of the matter!
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The second commandment forbids worshipping of God by images or any other way not commanded in His word. There is no restriction to public worship. To worship by an image in private or to worship in a way not commanded in private, is equally forbidden. By restricting worship to what God has commanded there is no exclusion of private worship because the Word of God commands private worship and public worship. Just as we must ask, What does God require of us? when we approach Him in public, we should also ask, What does God require of us? when we approach Him in private.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
armourbearer said:
The second commandment forbids worshipping of God by images or any other way not commanded in His word. There is no restriction to public worship. To worship by an image in private or to worship in a way not commanded in private, is equally forbidden. By restricting worship to what God has commanded there is no exclusion of private worship because the Word of God commands private worship and public worship. Just as we must ask, What does God require of us? when we approach Him in public, we should also ask, What does God require of us? when we approach Him in private.
Thank you for confirming that! What then should be done about the Mary passage (if Dr. Strange doesn't get back to it before you or another does)? And what might a person mean by saying that the RPW regulates church power technically? That suggests there is something different between private and public worship: What is that difference? Is it merely that there are different elements present? Or that the elements of private worship are "freer" elements--elements that by their nature are allowed to vary more, and so though commanded by God and regulated the same strictly as private worship, the elements themselves make the private worship "freer"? (I hope my question makes sense; anyone feel free to answer!)
 
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Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Ray:

I agree with Matthew in principle (though I am sure that we would differ in some of the details of application): the 2nd commandment would, in a broad way, regulate all worship--public, private, and secret.

Mary's costly act of devotion is the heart of all true worship--an utter self-giving to the Lord who is our all in all. It is what Romans 12:1-2 commands, even as David was determined, in buying the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, not to sacrifice that which cost him nothing. Thus there is a sense in which all of life is worship, insofar as everything that I do is to be done in such a spirit of self-sacrifice and of seeking to give all honor and glory to God.

So I worship if I am at a baseball game, the orchestra, or at work, in the sense that I am in the frame of prayer and communion with Him who is my God and King. The Regulative Principle, however, would teach me that I don't play baseball in worship but only observe those elements that God has commanded. The same ethos of public worship would prevail in secret and private worship, though not outwardly in circumstance (yet in an interior fashion) in the worship in which I am engaged as I go through my day, communing in the Spirit with my God, seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Peace,
Alan
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thank you for confirming that! What then should be done about the Mary passage (if Dr. Strange doesn't get back to it before you or another does)? And what might a person mean by saying that the RPW regulates church power technically? That suggests there is something different between private and public worship: What is that difference? Is it merely that there are different elements present? Or that the elements of private worship are "freer" elements--elements that by their nature are allowed to vary more, and so though commanded by God and regulated the same strictly as private worship, the elements themselves make the private worship "freer"? (I hope my question makes sense; anyone feel free to answer!)

As Dr. Strange has answered, the "Mary passage" teaches the heart of all worship and devotion; and this accords with the distinction you raised earlier between generic and specific worship.

On the question of the RPW regulating church power, that is its original point of reference in the development of the principle. If we think of the great commission in Matthew 28 or Paul's appeal to "ordinances" in 1 Corinthians, the limitation and direction of ecclesiastical power is the original purpose. I take it that public worship is the proper sense of the word "worship" when using the term "RPW," and as we apply the word "worship" by analogy to family and private settings, so we must abide by the "regulative principle" accordingly. At the same time, we recognise our whole life is to be devoted to God, and so there are spontaneous actions which do not strictly fall under the RPW because they are not formal worship; but we should still feel ourselves bound by the general rules of the Word and Christian prudence.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you both! That's an excellent explanation of that good passage! A further question though is: How is it known that what Mary did was general worship and not specific (or more precisely, that the passage is teaching the heart of worship)? Is the answer simply: that one has to read into the text specific worship actions, cause the text says nothing about worship actions (though it says something about the heart of worship)?

armourbearer said:
I take it that public worship is the proper sense of the word "worship" when using the term "RPW," and as we apply the word "worship" by analogy to family and private settings, so we must abide by the "regulative principle" accordingly. At the same time, we recognise our whole life is to be devoted to God, and so there are spontaneous actions which do not strictly fall under the RPW because they are not formal worship; but we should still feel ourselves bound by the general rules of the Word and Christian prudence.
We are justified in applying that analogy to "worship" in non-public settings because the passages in Scripture show that the limiting principle applies more broadly, correct? Or is there another reason?

And by "spontaneous actions", you mean actions that are not formally planned out and done? If so, how do "religious recreation", "godly conference", or those other several possible examples (brought up in this thread) of "informal" worship fit in? I'm still not convinced there is a category that isn't general or specific (if I understood you correctly, Richard), but I'm having difficulty fitting those into the two category scheme.

But however they fit, I think that partially answers the sequel to my thread: assuming that such things as concerts or religious music (including the performance of such that have worshipful lyrics, like Handel's Messiah) are justified under general worship, one is bound to the general rules of the word and Christian prudence. It would seem that Christian prudence would dictate that if one's audience would be confused by one's performance of religious music, it might be better to not do it or to make one's performance different enough so that such confusion would not result. That would then just leave the question of one's devotional spirit being raised by images of crosses, pictures of scenes of biblical events, religious poetry/books, or by hearing or performing music with worshipful lyrics, which would seem to be a worshipping by things not appointed, though if "meditation" is an act of worship (for individuals and for individuals gathered together), that would seem to at least take care of the cases of poetry/books and some (if not all) religious music.
 
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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Afterthought said:
A further question though is: How is it known that what Mary did was general worship and not specific (or more precisely, that the passage is teaching the heart of worship)? Is the answer simply: that one has to read into the text specific worship actions, cause the text says nothing about worship actions (though it says something about the heart of worship)?
After thinking on it some more, it would seem this is indeed the case. The action Mary performed was not inherently a religious action, and so the worship would have to be read into the passage. Yet, her action shows her heart, which heart is one of worship. So that's one more question of this thread answered. Of course, I would appreciate any other insights into the text, if any wish to offer them.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Afterthought said:
We are justified in applying that analogy to "worship" in non-public settings because the passages in Scripture show that the limiting principle applies more broadly, correct? Or is there another reason?
Yes, it would seems that is what justifies us in applying the analogy, but the analogy itself is simply the resemblance between the actions. In both, there is a setting aside of time and place to "draw near" to God and perform specific actions of devotion, which when done in public are actions of specific worship.
 
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