Thoughts on the Regulative Principle from Deuteronomy

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Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
A few days ago, I posted some thoughts on my blog about the Regulative Principle, and I would like to get some feedback. You can read the post here, but I'll summarize my thoughts below so you don't have to read the post if you don't want to.

For some time, I studied the RPW, and the something that consistently troubled me were verses from Deuteronomy such as 4:2 and 12:32 ("You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you." and "Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.").

What troubled me is this: it does not seem to me that these verses specifically relate to corporate worship separately from the rest of life. It seems to be broader than just corporate worship, yet WCF XXI.1 uses them (12:32 at least) to defend the RPW.

Add to this the fact that John Frame (et al) have argued that there is no difference between the RPW for worship and the RPW for all of life, thus redefining the historic RPW into something that ultimately doesn't seem to really regulate worship.

So, as I have been thinking through all of this (particularly with ordination exams coming up in two weeks!), here are my thoughts which I would appreciate feedback on. I can summarize them in three points:

(1) These verses (and other similar ones throughout Scripture) do seem to put forward a Regulative Principle that applies to both worship and all of life. I just can't see how these verses and many others are contextually restricted to corporate worship. Before you crucify me for following Frame into his view, let me explain the second and third points.

(2) What these verses regulate is adding or subtracting anything from God's word. That is, particularly regarding what is not commanded, we can do things not commanded in all of life, but we can't make them obligatory as God's word.

(3) Regarding public worship, however, there is a crucial difference. Because worship is a duty of Christians, and they should joyfully participate in corporate worship, to add anything not commanded by Scripture to public worship would be to in effect add something to God's words regarding it. Unlike in all of life, in which I can't add anything to God's word, but I can do all sorts of things not commanded which are not then put on the same level of God's word, if I add anything to worship, I am in effect binding the liberty of conscience of Christians by making something be on par with God's word. Thus the confessional understanding of the RPW is still accurate.

Thoughts? Is this a reading of Scripture's teaching that is confessionally and biblically faithful? Does it fit with what the Puritans taught? Does it help to answer Frame's redefinition while taking the context of these verses carefully as well? Or is this what everyone has always said about these verses and I just didn't realize it?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
You are to be commended for considering this in the light of God's Word, and you will get some good answers here.

My thought as to context of the broad topic of the regulative principle is that Scripture "regulates" the Christian life. Some of it is directed at "public" and "private" worship, other parts to other spheres of life.

Westminster Chapter XXI, with the Scripture proofs, is an excellent summary for studying the former. The Lord's Day is a large part of it.

The broad application of the moral law, summarized in the ten commandments will cover every sphere of life- there is freedom in regulation even because "freedom" for the Christian is BOTH freedom from,
and freedom to.

Different parts of Scripture address this from those different vantage points, all God's will.
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
My initial glancing reply would be to agree that those verses are not restricted to worship ALONE. Rather, they apply as well to doctrine and to polity.

I just posted something on the extent of church power, by Thomas E. Peck, that might be helpful (at least I hope it will be. Feedback is welcome.)

http://www.pcahistory.org/documents/boarddebates/peck_1892_churchpower.pdf

This does at least discuss the core principles of the regulative principle. Note too that more attention needs to be given to the original distinctions
laid out by James Henley Thornwell between the constitutive principle and the regulative principle. Those differences are distinguished
in the article by Peck.

God is sovereign over His Word (doctrine), over His worship, and over His Church (polity). He tells us how to live, how He is to be worshiped, and how His Church is to be organized. We have no right to invent or add in these areas of His sovereignty.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
If I recall rightly, Thornwell (and I assume Peck) are not using the term in the sense that Girardeau used it (at least by reference in Blackburn's life of him) from whence we probably eventually had the phrase coined (RPW). That's why RPW as a phrase (we are not discussing principle) isn't traceable to Thornwell as far as how it is used as that is not how used the term.
This does at least discuss the core principles of the regulative principle. Note too that more attention needs to be given to the original distinctions
laid out by James Henley Thornwell between the constitutive principle and the regulative principle. Those differences are distinguished
in the article by Peck.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The Puritans and Reformed did apply the Deuteronomy verses to worship/service to God (I am not recalling offhand examples where they apply these specifically more broader to polity and doctrine, but one often finds them engaging polity with worship in contending against unlawful additions of the papists and prelates; cf. Calderwood's Altare Damascenum and Gillespie's English Popish Ceremonies). Here is Gillespie citing Knox citing Deuteronomy.
Part 3, chapter 7, Section 11. To the second distinction, we say that the Christian church has no more liberty to add to the commandments of God than the Jewish church had; for the second commandment is moral and perpetual, and forbids to us as well as to them the additions and inventions of men in the worship of God. Nay, as Calvin notes, much more are we forbidden to add unto God’s word than they were.[SUP][SUP][1][/SUP][/SUP] Before the coming of his well-beloved Son in the flesh (says John Knox), severely he punished all such as durst enterprise to alter or change his ceremonies and statutes, as in Saul, (1 Sam. 13, 15) Uzziah (2 Chron. 26), Nadab, Abihu, (Lev. 10:1) is to be read. And will he now, after that he has opened his counsel to the world by his only Son, whom he commands to be heard (Matt. 17); and after that, by his holy Spirit (Acts 1–3) speaking by his apostles, he has established the religion in which he will his true worshippers abide to the end; will he now, I say, admit men’s inventions in the matter of religion? etc. (2 Cor. 11; Col. 1–2). For this sentence he pronounces: “Not that which seemeth good in thy eyes shalt thou do to the Lord thy God, but that which the Lord thy God commanded thee, that do thou: Add nothing unto it, diminish nothing from it” (Deut. 4:2; [cf. 12:31–32]). Which, sealing up his New Testament, he repeats in these words: “That which ye have, hold till I come, etc. (Rev. 2).[SUP][SUP][2][/SUP][/SUP]


1.  Inst., lib. 4, cap. 10, sect. 17. [CR 30 (CO 2), 879; McNeill and Battles, 2.1195].​

2.  Letter to the Regent of Scotland. [Cf. A Letter to the Queen Dowager, in The Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, volume 4 (1855; repr. New York: AMS Press, 1966) 80–81.]


 

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
The Puritans and Reformed did apply the Deuteronomy verses to worship/service to God (I am not recalling offhand examples where they apply these specifically more broader to polity and doctrine, but one often finds them engaging polity with worship in contending against unlawful additions of the papists and prelates; cf. Calderwood's Altare Damascenum and Gillespie's English Popish Ceremonies). Here is Gillespie citing Knox citing Deuteronomy.
Part 3, chapter 7, Section 11. To the second distinction, we say that the Christian church has no more liberty to add to the commandments of God than the Jewish church had; for the second commandment is moral and perpetual, and forbids to us as well as to them the additions and inventions of men in the worship of God. Nay, as Calvin notes, much more are we forbidden to add unto God’s word than they were.[SUP][SUP][1][/SUP][/SUP] Before the coming of his well-beloved Son in the flesh (says John Knox), severely he punished all such as durst enterprise to alter or change his ceremonies and statutes, as in Saul, (1 Sam. 13, 15) Uzziah (2 Chron. 26), Nadab, Abihu, (Lev. 10:1) is to be read. And will he now, after that he has opened his counsel to the world by his only Son, whom he commands to be heard (Matt. 17); and after that, by his holy Spirit (Acts 1–3) speaking by his apostles, he has established the religion in which he will his true worshippers abide to the end; will he now, I say, admit men’s inventions in the matter of religion? etc. (2 Cor. 11; Col. 1–2). For this sentence he pronounces: “Not that which seemeth good in thy eyes shalt thou do to the Lord thy God, but that which the Lord thy God commanded thee, that do thou: Add nothing unto it, diminish nothing from it” (Deut. 4:2; [cf. 12:31–32]). Which, sealing up his New Testament, he repeats in these words: “That which ye have, hold till I come, etc. (Rev. 2).[SUP][SUP][2][/SUP][/SUP]


1.  Inst., lib. 4, cap. 10, sect. 17. [CR 30 (CO 2), 879; McNeill and Battles, 2.1195].​

2.  Letter to the Regent of Scotland. [Cf. A Letter to the Queen Dowager, in The Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, volume 4 (1855; repr. New York: AMS Press, 1966) 80–81.]



So would you say then that the thoughts I wrote out above conflict with what they thought or line up with it? It seems like I'm ending up saying the same thing, just taking a little bit different path to get there, so as to answer the criticism of Frame et al.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, if your position is that RPW can't properly be defended from those places, then you are taking a different way to it than Knox, Gillespie, et al. did in that regard.
So would you say then that the thoughts I wrote out above conflict with what they thought or line up with it? It seems like I'm ending up saying the same thing, just taking a little bit different path to get there, so as to answer the criticism of Frame et al.
 

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yes, if your position is that RPW can't properly be defended from those places, then you are taking a different way to it than Knox, Gillespie, et al. did in that regard.

I'm not saying it can't be defended from those places, just that while I'm not convinced it gives a separate principle, it leads to the RPW because of the nature of worship, Christian liberty, and so on.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
See, I understand the "adding to" part of Deuteronomy 4 as taking a manmade opinion or tradition and elevating it to the level of God's Word, as the Pharisees did (don't walk with a bed or rub grains on the Sabbath, wash your hands before eating or you're not a good Jew, etc), but not forbidding personal tradition period.

Two quick examples: In Jeremiah, the Prophet as directed by God addresses a family who has kept the vow of their ancestors to not drink wine at all. Now, is that a violation of RPW because they are doing something not commanded by Scripture? If that is a personal tradition they have but do not impose as "thus saith the Lord" upon others, God certainly does not have a problem with it. Yet by the logic of an extreme RPW adherent these men were sinning against God by doing something God had not specifically commanded.

The other one that still sticks with me is the celebration of Hanukkah. It is celebrated in the book of John, and Jesus is there at the feast, yet Jesus at no time condemns anybody for celebrating it (I know some here have said that Jesus' presence does not necessarily mean that He is celebrating or condoning the feast, but to be honest that smacks as a weak argument from silence). It seems odd that Jesus, at a celebration like this, would not take the time to publicly denounce the Pharisees and religious leaders about it, as He had done other times about other matters. Hanukkah is certainly not commanded in Scripture; it's an extra-biblical feast, and certainly to exalt an extra-biblical item to the level of Scripture as the Pharisees (and later Rome) did is to be denounced. But to have the feast in its proper place as a manmade tradition is certainly not condemned.

RPW is correct in asserting that Christians are not permitted to have a "free for all" with regard to worship, but that being said there is freedom of conscience permitted in Scripture too. Let's please remember that the same Bible containing Deut 4:2 also contains Romans 14:1-10 and Colossians 2:16 as well, and that one passage does not "cancel out" the others.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
J. Dean,

I am not so sure that the Rechabite's were fulfilling a vow as much as honoring their Patriarch. Where do you see them making a vow to follow? They just honored Jonadab's requirement. Your reference to Jeremiah 35 is one that God used to reprove the Israelite's. The Rechabites were commended for following the 5th Commandment when Israel wouldn't listen to her Loving God. So in fact, the Rechabite's were following God's will for them as it is prescribed in Scripture and the 5th commandment. Israel did not obey when they had more liberty. To require such as Jonadab did was not sinful nor out of character as a thing foreign as God did it for the Nazerite. It is not adding to the Word of God in my estimation to tell your children to heed wisdom. There are many passages that warn against drinking strong drink in the scriptures. I don't think their family Patriarch Jonadab the son of Rechabdid attributed his wish to equality with God's word. If he did then we don't have a record for it or against it. But his family is commended for their morality and ethic of listening to their forefather unlike Israel. Either way they were commended by God for obedience with a great blessing.
(Jer 35:18) And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:

(Jer 35:19) Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.
We should all desire this blessing.

As far as the Festival of Lights goes... I am not so sure that it is called a holy day as one prescribed for the service of worship. It is a memorial day quite like our Thanksgiving. It is possible that our confession acknowledges this. But it is not to be put on the same level of the Sabbath or those things prescribed. And I might be making a blunder here because I don't see the implications of attributing some significance to them. Actually, I hold that there is very little significance to these man made things and that they actually might do what shouldn't happen. More significance is attributed to them then what significance should be attributed to what God has Prescribed. Easter and Christmas are much like this. They became more significant than what God's will is and as he has prescribed for things to be. God can't be pleased about this.

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

I would encourage everyone to be careful with this. We don't want to be simplistic nor stupidly negligent as Aaron's sons were in offering strange fire. A simple study of this text will reveal the RPW with it's benefits and implications in my estimation.

(Lev 10:1) And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.


(Lev 10:2) And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.


(Lev 10:3) Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.


(Lev 10:4) And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.


(Lev 10:5) So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.


(Lev 10:6) And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.


(Lev 10:7) And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.


(Lev 10:8) And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying,


(Lev 10:9) Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:


(Lev 10:10) And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;


Notice it was the fire that was indifferent. Jeremiah Burroughs helped me understand this more than anyone else in his book Gospel Worship. I thought they messed up on the incense. But the fire was what was not done according to God's command. A simple mistake maybe. And it had to do with the service of Worship.
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
For some time, I studied the RPW, and the something that consistently troubled me were verses from Deuteronomy such as 4:2 and 12:32 ("You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you." and "Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.").

What troubled me is this: it does not seem to me that these verses specifically relate to corporate worship separately from the rest of life. It seems to be broader than just corporate worship, yet WCF XXI.1 uses them (12:32 at least) to defend the RPW.

Joel, certainly the principle that is enunciated has application to the whole word of God, to the part that regulates manners as much as to the part that regulates worship. While Patrick Symon, for instance, is aware of the idea that the reference in Deuteronomy 4:2 is specifically to worship, he rejects that, saying:
But in the words beforegoing (which introduce these) Judgments being mentioned as well as Statutes, there must be a larger sense of this Injunction, which relates to all the laws of God: and the meaning seems to be, Ye shall not transgress any of these Precepts, either by doing anything contrary to them, which was to add; or omitting anything which they required, which was to diminish.
Not adding to or diminishing from God's word, though, is not by itself the regulative principle: it is simply a recognition that God's word is on a level we do not and cannot reach, and our duty to it is to obey it universally, and preserve its teachings purely (without addition) and entirely (without diminution). This idea certainly undergirds and supports the RPW, but not as though that were the only thing it referred to, and not as though it established a parallel regulativism with regard to all of life.

Add to this the fact that John Frame (et al) have argued that there is no difference between the RPW for worship and the RPW for all of life, thus redefining the historic RPW into something that ultimately doesn't seem to really regulate worship.

So, as I have been thinking through all of this (particularly with ordination exams coming up in two weeks!), here are my thoughts which I would appreciate feedback on. I can summarize them in three points:

(1) These verses (and other similar ones throughout Scripture) do seem to put forward a Regulative Principle that applies to both worship and all of life. I just can't see how these verses and many others are contextually restricted to corporate worship. Before you crucify me for following Frame into his view, let me explain the second and third points.

(2) What these verses regulate is adding or subtracting anything from God's word. That is, particularly regarding what is not commanded, we can do things not commanded in all of life, but we can't make them obligatory as God's word.

(3) Regarding public worship, however, there is a crucial difference. Because worship is a duty of Christians, and they should joyfully participate in corporate worship, to add anything not commanded by Scripture to public worship would be to in effect add something to God's words regarding it. Unlike in all of life, in which I can't add anything to God's word, but I can do all sorts of things not commanded which are not then put on the same level of God's word, if I add anything to worship, I am in effect binding the liberty of conscience of Christians by making something be on par with God's word. Thus the confessional understanding of the RPW is still accurate.

Thoughts? Is this a reading of Scripture's teaching that is confessionally and biblically faithful? Does it fit with what the Puritans taught? Does it help to answer Frame's redefinition while taking the context of these verses carefully as well? Or is this what everyone has always said about these verses and I just didn't realize it?

I wouldn't put the third point quite the way you have, but the final phrases are crucial. God's worship is not enhanced, but defiled, when we lift up our creative tools upon it. So to bring in something that God has not required for worship, to employ something unwarranted, is to defile worship and to afflict the consciences of the faithful. Since God's word is required to constitute an element of worship, adding any element of worship is virtually claiming divine warrant, thus adding to the word of God or is rejecting the principle that God can alone can determine what is acceptable worship, and thereby subtracting from the word of God.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
God's worship is not enhanced, but defiled, when we lift up our creative tools upon it. So to bring in something that God has not required for worship, to employ something unwarranted, is to defile worship and to afflict the consciences of the faithful. Since God's word is required to constitute an element of worship, adding any element of worship is virtually claiming divine warrant, thus adding to the word of God or is rejecting the principle that God can alone can determine what is acceptable worship, and thereby subtracting from the word of God.

I confess what God said and I think Ruben makes a good point here. In the passage I quote above about Aaron's sons, fire was used and evidently it mattered what fire was used. It wasn't that they were even being creative. They just deviated from what was prescribed. And that is scary to think that God requires something and that we can deviate from it in a simple matter if that matter is simple. So what if I get a flame from one source or another? God cared evidently.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
God's worship is not enhanced, but defiled, when we lift up our creative tools upon it. So to bring in something that God has not required for worship, to employ something unwarranted, is to defile worship and to afflict the consciences of the faithful. Since God's word is required to constitute an element of worship, adding any element of worship is virtually claiming divine warrant, thus adding to the word of God or is rejecting the principle that God can alone can determine what is acceptable worship, and thereby subtracting from the word of God.

I confess what God said and I think Ruben makes a good point here. In the passage I quote above about Aaron's sons, fire was used and evidently it mattered what fire was used. It wasn't that they were even being creative. They just deviated from what was prescribed. And that is scary to think that God requires something and that we can deviate from it in a simple matter if that matter is simple. So what if I get a flame from one source or another? God cared evidently.
What about the assertion made by scholars that the two sons may have been drunk at the time (as they reinforce by pointing to the prohibition against drunkenness that soon follows the passage). While that may not be the entire cause, it certainly seems like an odd coincidence that the command to not be drunk immediately follows this incident.

---------- Post added at 07:38 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:37 PM ----------

BTW, thank you for the good response, PC. That does somewhat clarify things, particularly with regard to Jeremiah 35.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
What about the assertion made by scholars that the two sons may have been drunk at the time (as they reinforce by pointing to the prohibition against drunkenness that soon follows the passage)
I am not familiar with what you are speaking about. Scholars make assertions all the time. As one who has imbibed, I can't reconcile what you are saying. I am not familiar with what they are saying in light of the blessing God has placed upon them for saying they obeyed. Either God and the sons of Jonadab were lying, or the scholars are out of bounds by myriads of wishful thinking.

(Jer 35:18) And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:

(Jer 35:19) Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.

(Rom 3:4) God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
(Heb 6:17) Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

(Heb 6:18) That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
What about the assertion made by scholars that the two sons may have been drunk at the time (as they reinforce by pointing to the prohibition against drunkenness that soon follows the passage). While that may not be the entire cause, it certainly seems like an odd coincidence that the command to not be drunk immediately follows this incident.

That is an incredibly tenuous argument. Many things come in close proximity in Scripture. We are told why Nadab and Abihu died, Numbers 26:61.
 

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Hi Scott, thanks for that. I have read Gospel Worship and found it quite helpful, though as you say, it is focused on Lev 10 rather than the passages I described.
Please forgive my inquisition here if I am out of bounds but what passages are you referring to so that this forum can understand here. Can you tell me how the application of Leviticus 10 is not applicable to the passages you want to attach to this discussion? What are those passages you want to discuss? That would help me out in understanding.

(Deu 12:32) What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
 
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PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Joel, Can you help me understand why Deuteronomy 12:32 is not about corporate worship alone? After all it seems that this chapter speaks a lot about the sacrificial system. Only the Priests were to offer sacrifice before the Lord.
 

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
Please forgive my inquisition here if I am out of bounds but what passages are you referring to so that this forum can understand here. Can you tell me how the application of Leviticus 10 is not applicable to the passages you want to attach to this discussion? What are those passages you want to discuss? That would help me out in understanding.

Hi Randy,

I'm not saying Leviticus 10 isn't applicable to those verses or helpful in interpreting them. My reply to Scott was simply to say that Gospel Worship was (as I remember at least) an exposition of Leviticus 10 rather than an examination of the specific verses that I mentioned in my opening post (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32).

Regarding 12:32, it seems that it has broader application than just corporate worship. For example, 12:15, in the immediate context, refers to what they were allowed to eat within their towns, not referring to the sacrifices at the tabernacle. Thus while the context is primarily focused on worship, it seems to include things other than corporate worship.

Deut 4:2 as well seems to be referring to all that God had commanded them, not only commands explicitly connected to tabernacle worship.

But as I suggested in my original post, I am not saying that this means the Puritans got it wrong. I am trying to suggest another way of answering the charge by Frame and others that these verses give no principle that would guide us to the RPW. I'm saying they do guide us to the RPW, but do so reasoning from the nature of corporate worship as opposed to the rest of life.

---------- Post added at 01:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:13 PM ----------

Not adding to or diminishing from God's word, though, is not by itself the regulative principle: it is simply a recognition that God's word is on a level we do not and cannot reach, and our duty to it is to obey it universally, and preserve its teachings purely (without addition) and entirely (without diminution). This idea certainly undergirds and supports the RPW, but not as though that were the only thing it referred to, and not as though it established a parallel regulativism with regard to all of life.

Thanks for those helpful thoughts. I think that is what I was trying to suggest...that these verses, while not explicitly giving the RPW, give the principles that make clear that the RPW is true regarding worship.

I wouldn't put the third point quite the way you have, but the final phrases are crucial. God's worship is not enhanced, but defiled, when we lift up our creative tools upon it. So to bring in something that God has not required for worship, to employ something unwarranted, is to defile worship and to afflict the consciences of the faithful. Since God's word is required to constitute an element of worship, adding any element of worship is virtually claiming divine warrant, thus adding to the word of God or is rejecting the principle that God can alone can determine what is acceptable worship, and thereby subtracting from the word of God.

Helpful again.
 
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J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
What about the assertion made by scholars that the two sons may have been drunk at the time (as they reinforce by pointing to the prohibition against drunkenness that soon follows the passage). While that may not be the entire cause, it certainly seems like an odd coincidence that the command to not be drunk immediately follows this incident.

That is an incredibly tenuous argument. Many things come in close proximity in Scripture. We are told why Nadab and Abihu died, Numbers 26:61.

Point taken.
 
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