Mark Driscoll on the Regulative Principle

In the last few months of 2007, Mars Hill Church in Seattle initiated the “Ask Anything” project, which was, “designed for all of you out there in cyberspace who have ever wondered about or demanded to know Pastor Mark’s thoughts on…anything.” People submitted questions that were voted upon, and the top nine questions would form a sermon series to be made into a book. SBF blogger Timmy Brister submitted what became the number 1 question:

Do you believe that the Scripture not only regulates our theology but also our methodology? In other words, do you believe in the regulative principle? If so, to what degree? If not, why not?

As I believed the question to be important, I did a bit of work in promoting this question and defending it on the meta of the “Ask Anything” website.

On March 2, Mark Driscoll preached his sermon on the regulative principle. His answer to the question, in a nutshell, was, ‘No, because I believe we live our whole life of worshiping God by the same principles, and as we do not live by the regulative principle in other areas of life, why would a different principle come into effect when we gather as a church?’ Fundamental to Driscoll’s rejection of the regulative principle is his rejection to any distinction between public and private worship.

During the sermon, Driscoll makes many excellent points. He draws 4 principles for public worship from 1 Corinthians 14. These principles are: 1. Intelligibility; 2. An awareness that unbelievers will be present; 3. All things must be unselfish, for the building up of the church; 4. Everything must be orderly in worship.

Driscoll also lists definite elements of gathered worship, basing his identification of these elements on specific passages of Scripture: 1. The preaching of God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2); 2. The Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 11); 3. Prayer (1 Timothy 2:1); 4. The public reading of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13); 5. Giving tithes and offerings (2 Corinthians 8-9); 6. Singing songs (Colossians 3:16).

Driscoll makes piercing, insightful arguments against the use of prayer labyrinths or engaging in inter-faith worship services, practices that are common within some sectors of the emergent church movement.

Driscoll also gives a serious challenge to those of us who hold to the regulative principle- that this principle be consistently applied. For example: Psalm 63:4 and Psalm 134:2 teach that we should raise our hands in song; Psalm 47:1 and Psalm 97:8 teach that we should clap; 1 Timothy 2:8 teaches that men should raise their hands in prayer; 1 Corinthians 14:16 indicates that the saying of “amen” should be regular in worship. These and other verses indicate the manner in which worship should be performed; if our worship is stoical, devoid of outward indication of emotion toward our Saviour, then we are deficient in our worship of God and thus in sin.

Another challenge comes not so much from Driscoll’s teaching, but from his example. Mars Hill Church partakes of the Lord’s Table at every instance of public worship. Yet how many churches that hold to the regulative principle partake of Communion only once a month, once a quarter, or even once a year? If someone holding to the regulative principle were to meet with a church that recognized one of the other elements of worship (say, preaching God’s Word, prayer, or reading Scripture) this seldom, then that congregation would (rightly) come under serious criticism. How can our own congregations escape criticism when we arbitrarily choose to exclude the Lord’s Table from the great majority of our meetings for worship?

Given everything above, Driscoll’s ultimate rejection of the regulative principle is surprising. And not only surprising, but unconvincing. This rejection is based upon 3 weaknesses that Driscoll asserts are characteristic of the regulative principle:

  1. “It separates gathered and scattered worship.” Response: As mentioned above, Driscoll wishes to assert no distinction between gathered and scattered worship. And yet his own presentation contradicts this assertion. For when Driscoll gives biblical teaching on principles for public worship and biblical teaching on elements of gathered worship, he demonstrates the very distinction he wishes to deny. Certainly, these principles and elements do not apply to all areas of the Christian life. For example, when I am working at UPS I may pray, sing about Christ, or meditate on Scripture I have read, but I never suggest that the other Christians there partake of the Lord’s Supper with me while on break, nor do I try to convince them to give tithes and offerings, and it would be inappropriate if I did so. This is because there is an obvious, definite distinction between the public worship of the gathered church and private worship. (Driscoll implicitly acknowledges this as well when he says- basically- that a person may be more exuberant in his or her worship at home- which exuberance may be a distraction to others and disorderly in a gathered worship service.) The fact that there is a distinction between public and private worship erases the foundational theological objection Driscoll makes against the regulative principle.
  2. “It’s not sufficient; it doesn’t answer all the questions.” Examples Driscoll gives in his sermon are what time the worship service should be conducted and what technology (sound systems or even basic electricity) may be used in worship. Response: This objection does not recognize the fact that the regulative principle distinguishes between elements and accidents of worship. The elements- the exact elements listed by Driscoll- are regulated by specific commands and examples- the exact verses cited by Driscoll. The accidents of worship (the time and place in which gathered worship is conducted, the means by which the speaker’s voice is amplified or by which the room is lighted so that Scripture can be read, etc.) are regulated by principles such as those Driscoll details from 1 Corinthians 14.
  3. “It becomes legalistically applied.” Examples Driscoll gives are instrument-free worship or Psalms-only worship. Response: This is an objection to a teaching based not on the teaching itself, but rather an abuse of the teaching. This objection is analogous to those who object to the exclusivity of Christ based on the Crusades and the Inquisition. This is an invalid form of argumentation.

Driscoll sums up his rejection of the regulative principle and his reason for this rejection with the following:

Our church holds the green-light normative principle; practically speaking, [it] pretty much abides by the red-light regulative principle, but we’re not going to get rid of our freedom, because some day we may choose to use it… there may be a day that we really need it. We may need to make some adjustments to how we do things, and the normative principle would give us position to do so.

Final Response:

  1. “Freedom,” biblically defined, is not a freedom of human creativity, but a freedom to honor God through doing His will made possible by redemption of sin through the work of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Driscoll seems to define “freedom” by “human creativity.” A wrong, man-centered definition of freedom will eventually lead to a wrong, God-dishonoring application of freedom.
  2. Driscoll’s rejection of the regulative principle seems to disregard the biblical view of human depravity in this area. Driscoll admits that the normative principle may lead to “syncretism” (i.e., idolatry). What he fails to realize is that when we attempt to worship God in any way outside of His revealed will, we will always establish an idolatrous practice; because, as Calvin taught and as Driscoll’s friend C.J. Mahaney often emphasizes, the heart is an idol factory.
  3. The regulative principle, rightly understood and applied is sufficient to reform any church practice because the Word of God is sufficient and the regulative principle is entirely and self-consciously dependent on the Word of God.
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54 Comments on “Mark Driscoll on the Regulative Principle”

  1. Thomas Twitchell Says:

    I didn’t know this subject was areadite, I thought it might take an erudite scholar, though. Did you catch the slam at the beginning when he said that this would be interesting to the “two” of you? Hmm… I am still trying to figure out what the “courts” of appeal preface has to do with this, because in the end he doesn’t really subject the lower courts to the supreme court, does he? (point 3 Final response) And maybe that is why he doesn’t.


  2. We have plenty of freedom to worship God within the guidelines he has given us. Driscoll’s use of Scripture contradicts his position against the regulative principle. However, this is consistent with the inconsistencies he exhibits in his ministry.


  3. Aside from believing in it biblically, I honestly think the Regulative Principle is a key for keeping so many of today’s “worship abuses” out of the church. Mark Driscoll’s response, which you so well explained, is pretty much what I expected, unfortunately.

  4. Darrin Says:

    This may have come up in previous posts on the subject, but I recently read some of Charnock’s relevant words and appreciated the underlying theme of man’s wisdom vs. God’s:
    “What work will human wisdom make with divine worship, when it will presume to be the director of it, as a mate with the wisdom of God! Hence will it take its measures, but from sense, humor and fancy? As though what is graceful and comely to a depraved reason were as beautiful to an unspotted and Infinite Mind. Do not such tell the world, that they were of God’s cabinet council, since they will take upon them to judge, as well as God, what is well-pleasing to him? Where will it have the humility to stop, if it hath the presumption to add any one thing to revealed modes of worship? How did God tax the Israelites with making idols “according to their own understanding” (Hos. 13:2)! Imagining their own understandings to be of a finer make, and a perfecter mould than their Creator’s; and that they had fetched more light from the chaos of their own brains, than God had from eternity in his own nature. How slight will the excuse be, ‘God hath not forbidden this, or that’, when God shall silence men with the question, ‘Where, or when did I command this, or that?’”

  5. Q Says:

    I agree with the thoughts above that Driscoll contradicts himself by using Scriptural principles for elements of worship but then rejects te regulative principle. However, I agree with him that there are gross legalistic misapplications of it.

    I personally believe in the regulative principle as it is understood as Scripture as the rule and guide in regards to, not only our worship, but also our philosophy of Christian ministry. It is difficult to lump “methodology” into this because methods encompase alot of things; there are “methods” that are not found in Scripture but are not incompatible as a vehicle or tool for proclimation of the (pure) gospel message or means of facilitating fellowship among the Body.

    So, what we must take care to do is to ensure that Scripture is truly our rule and guide is that we are applying consistant “whole counsel” thinking to our ministry (as Driscoll suggests that we must be consistent). Thus, we must ensure that we have not mistaken narrow biblical applications as well as cultural preferences and biases or for regulative Biblical principles.

    However, I believe when the elements Driscoll sites are (carefully, and thoughtfully) present in the worship and are truly Christ-centered, doctrinally sound, Gospel proclaiming, and God glorifying – then our worship will be surely shaped according to Biblical principle.

  6. DS Says:

    Hello,

    I’ve bounced around a couple different sites that talk about the regulative principle. Been to places that went to the extreme (no mechanical instruments only voices and only the book of Psalms). I’ve asked the question several times, but never really received anything more than a vague answer. What does a RP worship service look like? Is it very regimented? Does the flow (order of elements) of worship ever change (creativity)? Does it involve ancient hymns/Psalters/modern songs? Are you talking about the RP principle like Calvin (only use the Psalter)? Are you talking about the RP principle like the Puritans, who rejected Isaac Watts hymns because he “creatively” tried to improve on God’s poetry (that’s my paraphrase from a puritan quote that I read)? Are you talking about the people who rejected Ira Sankey’s music? When you use the word “creativity” what exactly are you meaning? Are you meaning only certain styles? Are you meaning implementation of the RP? Do you know many missionaries who use the RP principle? If so, how do they “creatively” use it in a culture that is significantly different than theirs, say China?

  7. Jim Says:

    DS:

    We’ve been down this road with you on my blog before. It was suggested to you that you take advantage of some online resources to research this more. Have you done that, or are you just making the rounds now to any sites that bring up the regulative principle? If your point is that the RP isn’t as easy to figure out in scripture as some other concepts, I can agree with you there, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Perhaps you need to look into it more deeply, and without a pre-decided idea of what the answer already is. Also DS, in your various comments on my site and personal email to me, you never seem to say what you are in favor of. What is your church like? Rock bands, drums, smoke machines, lasers? Or is it something in between? I guess what I’m saying is, why not ever tell us what you are in favor of?

  8. DS Says:

    I’m sorry Jim. I haven’t received anything back from you. My gmail account must have filtered your email. I would love to read your email. Try sending it again if you have the time. Jim, I have done quite a bit of online research. I have also been formally trained at a University to be a pastor. There is a wealth of info both online and written. Unfortunately, it comes down to a he said she said thing in my opinion. I know that is my interpretation of it, but you would have to agree that anyone can go find quite a bit of evidence to support their position no matter what side of the dialogue they may find themselves. Then it ultimately comes down to a shouting match. That is what I commented with you about.

    Why do you assume that I have a “pre-decided” view? I’ve simply asked for RPers to give more info about what they are doing. Which, I still haven’t received yet. Not even from you. Your response is simply to pigeon hole me and make assumptions about me. I don’t think my questions are mean spirited or patronizing. I’m not ranting or bashing. Please know that my comments to you were done in humility and sincerity. As I said in my earlier post today, I’m trying to figure out what people like yourself are really talking about. I’m trying to figure out where various people fall just like I asked in the post.

    Right now, Jim, I am gathering info and truly trying to figure out what the various RPers are meaning as they evaluate and many times simply rant. I am a pastor who has been charged with the oversight of planning and leading worship. I’ve been doing it for 16 years now in three different churches. As I said in my comments to you, I grew up in a Baptist Church. My pastor wrote the book (literally) on Biblical Separation. So, I believe you can get a good picture of the environment that I grew up in.

    Yes, we use instruments in worship. Yes, we use drums and guitars. Yes, we arrange music so that it sounds “modern”. Yes, I even write congregational worship music myself. We sing ancient hymns, hymns and new music. BUT CONTENT is the thing that I am consumed with. I agree that there is quite a bit of trash out there from ancient times to modern times, but with some changes it can become very Biblical and useful for the church gathered to use to minister to God as well as each other. We regularly publicly read the Word in worship. We regularly congregationally read the word. We regularly pray during the flow of worship. We regularly baptize people and celebrate communion.

    We regularly struggle with balance. We want to teach people that worship is not about me and my styles or preferences. What we consider sacred today was considered blasphemous when it was first introduced (Joy to the World was received with great protest in America). But I respect and am thankful for men like Isaac Watts and Ira Sankey, even if they don’t fall into every theological line that I have. I also respect the realities that different people connect in worship with God in different styles/forms/etc. We want people to see that there is only One in the audience of worship and that is God Himself. All that is in the universe is for His glory and to accomplish His Providence. We struggle with carnal Christians who come to worship because they held a hymnal today or because we sang a popular worship song today.

    We struggle with teaching and preaching the Bible in a way that connects with the people that God is bringing thru our doors. People who have been de-churched or who are lost that have been walking by our church for 25 years and then decide to come in one Sunday. Are they seeking or being drawn by God’s Providence? Does it matter what term we really use? Am I to be crucified if I do, in my planning, think of ways to connect both outsiders and insiders to the love of God? I agree that unbelievers cannot worship God. They cannot kiss toward, reverence, exalt someone that they do not know relationally. BUT they can be awed by our worship of God concluding that they don’t have what we have. If they come, which they are in droves, they can watch and even participate in an environment that is Biblical but that doesn’t feel like it is out of touch with the reality that they are living in. The struggle myself and the other pastors at our church struggle with is much the same as a missionary in a foreign land. How do we connect the realities of God’s gospel to people that are very different than us? We look to Paul’s example. 1 Cor. 9:19-23 recognizing that the church gathered (which includes sheep and goats, wheat and tares) isn’t the only or best place this happens. The church gathers to scatter sharing the story of God’s gospel. The church is not a building. Church isn’t something I go to. It is what I am. I know this was long. I hope I have answered your question well enough and in a way that is not taken offensively.


  9. […] Driscoll gets critiqued for his denial of the regulative principle. […]

  10. DS Says:

    Sorry. I now it isn’t appropriate to double post, yet.
    To answer Jim’s final question: why not ever tell us what you are in favor of?

    answer: After being at your blog (not this one) and interacting with it, I definitely got the feeling that if viewpoints were questioned or revealed I would be subjected to what I affectionately called “the nature of the Christian blog”. This phenomenon happens because this type of communication is by far the worst ever invented. You can’t see my face, and I can’t see yours. It is too easy to put the emphasis at all the wrong places, and respond to something that hasn’t even been said yet because the interpretation is based on disillusionment, anger, mistrust, pride, legalism or anything else one might care to add (These things by the way could come from my side as well as another’s side).

  11. Jim Says:

    DS:

    I don’t understand what you affectionately call “the nature of the Christian blog”. In your correspondence with me you brought this up as well, as though you were scolding me for scolding people. I think perhaps you may be a bit sensitive towards Christian debate, and in your comments on my blog Pam (the one of us that interacted with you about the RP) was very kind to you if I remember correctly. I would not have commented here to you today, except that it appears that you are “making the rounds”, in what I suspect is less about you wondering what it is that we think, and more about you asserting your belief that the RP is simply wrong. [Added:] Also DS, if you are sold against Christian blogs as a debating and communication source in general, why do you participate on them?

  12. Pat McGee Says:

    We come to God on His terms.He actually brings us to Himself. We ought to worship God as He has revealed in scripture. To do otherwise is to approach God in a manner He has not prescribed.

  13. DS Says:

    Jim,

    This is what I am to interpret from what you just read:

    1. You didn’t completely read what I just posted.
    2. You read it, and you are calling me a liar.
    3. Really, you just like to pick fights with people.

    Why do I say this?
    1. I believe that most people would read my reply to you and probably consider me very much an RPer (unless they are in the flow of Calvin who believed only the Psalter should be used, or in the flow of Church of Christ brothers who practice RP but don’t use mechanical instruments, or in the flow of non-emergent/PDC/WC churches who don’t use drums and guitars).

    2. Once again, you have had two opportunities to share with me what an RP service flow might look like. You have not answered what I am telling you are genuine questions regarding worship. Instead you have chosen to try and invoke a fight with me.

    3. There is a big difference between Christian debate, interaction to learn, encourage, exhort and stimulate and what quite frequently feels like a good number of people (though not all of them) who just like to try and pull people into fights that polarize instead of bring resolution.

    4. You have successfully proved my point about reading into something that has not ever been typed. I have never said that I believe RP is wrong. I told you that we regularly include elements of worship that were brought into a regulative principle by Calvin and others after God had wrote them down through men. I’ve just never said that I’m an RPer. Why? Why should I? Is the phrase RP in the Bible? Does Paul, Peter, John, Luke or Jesus use it? I had never even heard of RP at all until I stumbled onto your website. I’ve been a believer for 32 years, been trained at a Christian University and never, ever, heard that phrased used. I may be backwards. My university training may have been a complete waste of money. Or, I may not be so consumed with words and meanings of words coined by men. I expressed to you my heart and motivations in planning worship. I shared just a few of the things we struggle with as we seek to preach the gospel to those elect of God but don’t know it yet and seek to build up God’s elect. I fully understand that I will stand someday and be judged as one who is held to a higher standard because I am a teacher and pastor as expressed in God’s Word. I do not take this choice of ministry as lightly as it appears you think I do.

    I am not responding to and feel no need to respond to Pam. I did not take any exception to what she said. I do feel that she did not understand my question about the ipod, but that is beside the point. I am talking about the various posts that I simply read on your blog. To be honest, I’m not even sure that I read a post that you had typed, though I’m sure since it is your blog you probably have posted.

    Why are you so afraid to answer my questions? I’m trying to find out how far you take the RP principle. Are you totally Calvinistic in your approach to RP and only sing chants of the Psalter? Are you totally Puritan? Do you only use vocal music and never use any type of mechanical man made instrument?

    Why do I ask these questions? Are they legitimate? I believe yes. Because there are RPers who don’t even agree with each other. I assume that in your Baptist church you use a piano maybe even an organ. I assume that you know that when Ira Sankey introduced the pump organ to lead worship in Moody’s crusades he was accused of bringing the devil’s bagpipes into the church. I assume you know that when Isaac Watts’ music was introduced to American and Scottish churches the people refused to sing and even walked out. That is why Watts includes the phrase “Let those refuse to sing”.

    As a dreaded worship pastor, I am simply asking questions of worship.

  14. DS Says:

    Pat,

    I agree wholeheartedly. How does that look like for you? I had a conversation with a man who interpreted what you said, “We ought to worship God as He has revealed in scripture. To do otherwise is to approach God in a manner He has not prescribed,” as this:

    It is only legitimate in public worship to sing vocal praises to God. It is not legitimate to play any mechanical instruments at all in a corporate gathering. Why? Because Paul said, “Sing to one another.” Jesus “sang” a hymn with his disciples. He believed that because the N.T. does not say anything about mechanical instruments the implication is that none are allowed. He also based this on his belief of how the New Covenant does away with the Old Covenant temple worship. The Old Covenant temple worship employed trumpets, cymbals, lyres, tambourines, etc. The New Covenant only prescribes vocal praises because that is what is mentioned.

    Is that what you are meaning?


  15. People who have been de-churched

    Do you mean that they have been disciplined by a church and put out? Or, do yo mean that they are in active disobedience and have either never joined themselves in a committed relationship or have abandoned one?

    They cannot kiss toward, reverence, exalt someone that they do not know relationally.

    What means this “relationally”? Do you mean object/subject or subjective/experiential?

    Biblical but that doesn’t feel like it is out of touch with the reality that they are living in.

    How does the Gospel “feel” to people? What does style or even liturgy and “flow” have to do with it?

    How do we connect the realities of God’s gospel to people that are very different than us?

    For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. You do know that this has nothing to do with culture, right?

    This phenomenon happens because this type of communication is by far the worst ever invented. You can’t see my face, and I can’t see yours.

    But, you post anonymously. Gives us a link to where we might actually know that you are a real person.

    I fully understand that I will stand someday and be judged as one who is held to a higher standard because I am a teacher and pastor as expressed in God’s Word. I do not take this choice of ministry as lightly as it appears you think I do…We struggle with carnal Christians who come to worship because they held a hymnal today or because we sang a popular worship song today…As a dreaded worship pastor…Is the phrase RP in the Bible?

    Well then you better get it right, and if you do not know what the RP is, and it is legitimate, you will be found without excuse or appeal to the lower NP standard. What is a carnal Christian? That is not a Biblical term but one made up by those who tend to be legalistic “I’m glad I’m not like those other believers,” types. There is no such thing as a worship pastor. It is a phony title made up by men who practice phony ritual and like to sound spiritual. There are Elders who also may be Pastors/Teachers who preach/teach/rule, and there are Deacons who serve them in meeting the needs of the flock, but no worship pastors. Its not a biblical phrase. So, maybe you want to reconsider the rejection of a term simply because it is not in Scripture.

    While you’re at it would you critique this book for us?

    One of the worst things that Driscoll did was to bring up the extreme misapplication of the RPW. The same thing that DS is doing. I think the motive was simple. If he caricatured it he would have excuse and support to not apply it. Then again, what we have coming from Driscoll is what we have grown to expect; a flippant attitude concerning conducting himself in a respectable manner in the eyes of the public and the flock. As has been made know throughout the blogosphere, Driscoll doesn’t seem to care and lays it all on being all things to all people as if that is an excuse for his crass and crude behavior. It is a populist method, but not a biblical one. His carelessness is expressed in vulgar language and characterizations of Scripture. In short, he is double-minded in his approach to ministry. Beyond that, Driscoll’s appeal is to the circus crowd court, the exact kind that DS refers to when he speaks about the empty-hearted worshipper, and not the text of Scripture as the court of highest appeal. He infact turned that upside down as if to say that lower courts have jurisdiction when in reality they do not independent of the Supreme Court of Scripture. It is not that his fans are “carnal christians” it is that they are most likely not Christians at all. The same might be said of those who do not worship in Spirit and Truth, no matter the construct of service. But, when we have what is antithetical to any semblence of worship in Scripture as is the case with Mars Hill, how is it to be expected that any are believers? And, there in lies the problem. What is the difference between Mars Hill and any Finney tent revival and emotionalistic evangelism? Though Driscoll can be commended for his other orthodoxies, he should be denounced for this “Finneyesque” “David Letterman” approach to ministry. Though I don’t think that even Finney would have him on the stage because of Driscoll’s concept of “contextualization”.

  16. Darrin Says:

    Since the question of an example was brought up, here’s something a friend sent me recently. Has more to do with guidelines than intricate details:

    The starting point
    A Confessional Faith
    http://www.vor.org/truth/1689/1689bc00.html

    Then a concise liturgy:
    Worship Regulated by the Word of God
    1. Read the Word
    2. Preach the Word
    3. Pray the Word
    4. Sing the Word
    5. See the Word (ordinances)
    6. Live the Word (fellowship)

    These principles define the Order of Worship
    Call to Worship
    Prayer of Adoration
    (Pray the Word)
    Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
    (Sing the Word)
    Reading in Unison
    (Read the Word)
    Prayer of Thanksgiving
    Expository Sermon
    (Preach the Word)
    Prayer of Confession
    (Conviction/Confession of Sins, Preparation for the Lord’s Supper)
    Lord’s Supper
    (See the Word)
    Prayer of Supplication
    (Praying for the Congregation for the Coming Week)
    Benediction
    (Hymn or Quoted Passage of Scripture)

    Finally a simple, concise and eternally important vision:
    “Give unto the Lord the Glory due His Name” – Psalm 29:2
    This vision forces us to evaluate ever aspect of our lives:
    Does my role in my marriage “Give unto the Lord the Glory due His Name”?
    Does my role as a parent “Give unto the Lord the Glory due His Name”?
    Does my role in my work place “Give unto the Lord the Glory due His Name”?
    Does my giving to God’s work “Give unto the Lord the Glory due His Name”?
    Does my call to share the Gospel of Christ “Give unto the Lord the Glory due His Name”?
    Does my ministry in neighborhood, my city my state, my country, my world “Give unto the Lord the Glory due His Name”?
    Does my piety towards God “Give unto the Lord the Glory due His Name”?…etc…

  17. Lisa Nunley Says:

    I like what Sam Waldron has said, “It seems that one of the major intellectual stumbling blocks which hinders men from embracing the Regulative Principle is that it involves the idea that the church and its worship is ordered in a regulated way different from the rest of life. In the rest of life God gives men the great precepts and general principles of his word and within the bounds of these directions allows them to order their lives as seems best to them. He does not give them minute directions as to how they shall build their houses or pursue their secular vocations. The Regulative principle, on the other hand, involves a limitation on human initiative in freedom not characteristic of the rest of life. It clearly assumes that there is a distinction between the way the church and its worship is to be ordered and the way the rest of human society and conduct is to be ordered. Thus, the Regulative Principle is liable to strike many as oppressive, peculiar, and, therefore, suspiciously out of accord with God’s dealings with mankind and the rest of life.”

    This has caused me to consider Nadab and Abihu and their “strange fire” that was not specifically forbidden, but it was not specifically asked for either.

  18. DS Says:

    Lisa,

    I understand completely what you are saying. I’m just asking what does that look like at your church in the year 2008?

    Calvin expressed his view of RP in such a way that even the organ was not allowed to be used in worship. His followers accepted his thinking so much that they began destroying organs in the churches. So much so that only ONE was left in Ireland for a decent amount of time! Would you agree with Calvin that the use of an organ in worship is “strange fire”? Would you agree with Calvin that using anything besides the Psalter and metrical singing is “strange fire”? So, the hymns of Isaac Watts are out? The hymns of Charles Wesley are out? The hymns of Luther are out? And John Newton? Fanny Crosby? William Boothe?

    Or do you believe that only certain instruments are what I’ve heard termed “accidents of worship”? If yes, what instruments are acceptable accidents?

  19. Pat McGee Says:

    This is in reply to DS. I hope this is helpful.
    In our little church plant we read scripture, pray, sing and we hear preaching. We also give financially, which I believe is an act of worship.
    We do not have puppet shows, guest singers (we believe the entire church is the choir); for that matter, we do not have soloists, either vocally or instrumentally. One of our principles in music is that we are not to imitate the world. So we will not have a “praise band” that looks and sounds like a rock and roll band. The only purpose of any instrument is to carry the melody. We also will not have a “praise leader,” because that hints at the idea that we are worshiping only when we sing. That is a seriously flawed view of worship. God is both the true worship leader and He is the audience and object of our worship.
    I visited a Calvinistic church in SE Minn. recently. The preaching was fine, but there was no prayer. The music was of the 7-11 variety (7 words sung 11 times). The words were fine, but very repetitive. The “praise band” was deafening, which did not help my wife’s headache. I would not like to attend there again.
    If you or anyone else has questions, I will try to elaborate or clarify what I have written here.

  20. DS Says:

    Pat,

    Thank you! I appreciate the simpleness that appears to accompany your church’s worship. You are the first person who has ever answered my questions about what worship might “look like”.

    I have received much criticism for trying to wrestle back the reality of a group of people (Christ’s church) worshipping and lifting their voices to God together as opposed to a group of people watching someone else.

    If I may…
    -Do you have any type of person who is perceived as a “leader” during the worship service as far as praying, reading scripture (both individually or congregationally), taking up the offering or preaching?

    I ask this because some people do not even do that. The service is very free flowing. It is orderly, but a person begins singing a hymn and everyone else joins. Or a person stands to pray. Or a person(s) opens the Word, etc.

    -What types of songs do you sing? Psalms, hymns (Luther, Watts, Wesley)

    I ask this because I’m wondering what “We are not to imitate the world” looks like for your church. Different people mean different things when they say that.

    Example: Pope John XII (c. 1324) issued a decree by which “any means of composition which expressed contemporary secular art” would be rejected. “New means of composition would be acceptable only after they had been tried and had lost their force in contemporary secular music.” Basically, the medieval church resolved to remain a step behind the world in its musical development.
    quotes from Karl Gustav Fellerer’s “History of Catholic Church Music”

    Here’s is one example of believers who took a different approach. What do you think about their principle? If you had one of their hymns introduced to your local body today would you sing it?

    Example: In a 1574 letter to Frederick III of Saxony, the seniors of the Bohemian Brethren wrote of their songbook: “Our melodies have been adapted from secular songs, and foreigners have at times objected. But our singers have taken into consideration the fact that the people are more easily persuaded to accept the truth by songs whose melodies are well known to them.” quote from Nettl, Luther and Music

  21. Pat McGee Says:

    We do have someone who leads us through the worship service. He opens the service with a greeting in the Lord from a few verses in the Bible and then we pray. Then we have an extended Bible reading… an entire chapter of a book Gospel of John right now. Then we have singing. We are using the Trinity Hymnal. We are musician-deficient, so our planting church has had someone record 25 hymns on pianoand we are in the process of learning them. We will sing more modern music if it Biblically correct and we have someone to accompany us on piano or guitar. I have a preference for the piano because it can carry the melody. A guitar player usually cannot do that. The tempo of the music should not remind us of the world. I will comment more later. I need to get busy.

  22. Pat McGee Says:

    In terms of using secular melodies… Martin Luther used a drinking song’s melody for “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” I didn’t live in that time period, so it does not bother me. However, I recently heard “Amazing Grace” sung to the melody “House of the Rising Sun.” I must say it offended me.
    Our basis for singing is whether the words are biblically accurate. Then hopefully the melody fits words. We also do not favor vain repetition, which seems to very popular in the church today.
    I hope this helps.


  23. The Martin Luther “drinking song” notion is not true. Because many hymns are based on a musical structure called “bar form” the rumor has been passed down that they were “bar songs”. Find out more about this from James Swan at Aomin.org or in Paul S. Jones’ book “Singing and Making Music”.

    DS, I think the reason hardly anyone wants to answer your questions is because they seem like loaded questions, if you get my drift. Are you really wondering something or do you have a point to make, if so just make it. You say that you have loads of knowledge or experience as a music pastor etc. but then on the other hand you say that you just heard of RP on my blog recently? That tells me you have a lot more reading to do. Why not read what the Puritans had to say about it, and those who came after them.

    You need to know that the regulative principle is just that, a principle, not a rigid set procedure. But you seem intent on demonstrating how all of our procedures are different from church to church. I think you are making some wrong assumptions and are missing the point. I hope you won’t just keep doing this on various blogs without first doing some thorough book-reading on RP. My two cents.

  24. DS Says:

    Pat:

    Thanks for sharing with me and for answering my questions. It’s exciting to know that you are part of a gathering of believers seeking to advance God’s kingdom in such a missional effort (start up church)!
    Jim, you say:”hardly anyone wants to answer your questions because they seem like loaded questions.”
    Apparently Pat does not feel so threatened by my questions. Get my drift? The difference between you and me is that quite simply you do not have much tact. You would rather me belch words onto a page. You would rather me provoke someone into a fight.
    The difference between you and Pat is that He is able to tell me what it is they do by what they do. You on the other hand are unwilling. Why? I’m not sure. Pat is able to paint more of a picture of RP than you. Could it be that you are only good at telling people what they are not allowed to do? Don’t do that. It doesn’t look like that. Don’t think of using that. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.
    Since I’ve finally gotten what I’ve asked, thank you again Pat. I will give you (Jim) my reaction/assessment/conclusion:
    The Regulative Principle is silly to me in that someone had to even invent the phrase. Let’s just say what really should be said. The Biblical principles of worship. The problem I have is I feel that Calvin and the reformers reacted in an extreme way to the Catholic church’s worship practices. Sure, they allowed man’s precepts and teachings to surpass the Word. That is a given. But is the wood and ivory and trumpets and flutes of an organ evil just because the Catholics used it? Is incense evil (heaven has bowls of incense that are the prayers of the saints) because the Catholic church uses it? Please allow me to take the space to quote a book that I have been reading on the subject:

    “John Calvin (1509-1564) felt that instruments were tolerated in Old Testament times only because the people of God were in their infancy. He believed that the best praise was simple and from the heart. Thus he opposed the use of instruments and singing of any lyrics not found in the scriptures, allowing only the inspired psalms to be sung in worship.*1 The churches of Geneva – as well as many in Scotland and England – by and large followed Calvin, repressing many artistic elements as remnants of the papacy. The people felt so strongly that their view was the biblical view that decrees were issued and many church organs were destroyed. The metrical psalms exercised such a wide influence that they became the exclusive church music in many churches for more than a hundred years.*2
    But where did this psalm singing originate? Were all of their origins distinctly spiritual? In the first half of the 16th century, Clement of Marot of France, the court poet of King Francis I, began to write metrical versions of the Psalms. These were set to popular French tunes and were sung, not so much as an act of worship but as a delightful art, to the accompaniment of the viol or flute. These Psalms became so popular and effective in spreading the Reformation doctrine, that after publishing a volume of the metrical psalms in 1542, Marot was forced to seek refuge in Geneva. in 1562 a complete edition of the GENEVA Psalter was published at the request of Calvin. One of the musicians who set the Psalms to music was Louis Bourgeois. Bourgeois set the Psalms, ‘to airs drawn from popular melodies of the time, and this psalter became a store of song for the people. The Psalms were heard in castle and cottage. They were sung by workers in the fields and the mills, they were the first lessons imparted to children, and frequently became the last words heard on the lips of the dying.’*3
    The Geneva Psalter was translated and widely circulated in France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, and Denmark.*4 Yet, during the time of their introduction, Calvin’s tunes were not well received. Some people called them “Geneva Jiggs”.*5 Yet these tunes became authorized, and to meddle with them was no trifling matter.*6 A man named Louis Bourgeois, was arrested and imprisoned in 1551 for changing the melodies of certain psalms without permission. Remember Bourgeois? He was the man who had set the Psalms to the original tunes years earlier!*7

    Quotes from: John Calvin, Homiliae in primum librum Samuelis; Breed, History and Use of Hymns; Jefferson, Hymns in Christian Worship; Hustad, Jubilate! Church Music in the Evangelical Tradition, Breed, History and Use of Hymns, Stevenson, Patterns of Protestant Church Worship

    THE POINT: Jim, you scold people who don’t use a principle the way you think they should. Would you be able to stand before Calvin? If you use an organ and probably even a piano, you could not. You would be scolded in the spirit of RP! A man writes music then gets punished for what he did in the first place?! Why? for being creative? For being worldly? For wanting to offer “strange fire”? The worship of God has to be expressed through culture. ALWAYS HAS ALWAYS WILL. Don’t sin when you do it. Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. So that the evidence of God in your life is there for all to see. I am convinced that I am Biblically based in what I do. I can defend it scripturally. The difference between you and me Jim is, I won’t go home and start a blog that scolds Rpers.

  25. DS Says:

    Finally:

    I praise God for Calvin and the Reformers! Our world today would not be what it is if it weren’t for the Reformers! I would not have the heritage I have without them. Christ will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it! God bless you all as you seek to advance the kingdom of Christ.


  26. The Regulative Principle is silly to me in that someone had to even invent the phrase.

    So I guess it is fair to say that you should cease calling yourself a worship pastor because it is just a silly phrase when in reality you are more or less a deacon assisting the leaders in leading worship, kind of a glorified choir leader?

    You keep bringing up the canard of the excesses of the application of the RP. The question remains for you, does it or does it not exist, whether or not the term was made up. And if it does, does it bind you to its observance whether or not you understand it or apply it correctly?

  27. DS Says:

    Because I have a life, and have to get home: Sure if you want to call me that (deacon), that is fine. Actually, I am also a pastor/elder in my church. I will exercise the freedom afforded me to call myself what my church calls me – a worship pastor. Is it the best thing? Maybe not. My title doesn’t change what I do. I am committed and bound to be Biblical just as you. You define it differently than me largely it appears in the type of instruments you use, maybe some song choices. I believe that I am applying scripture correctly. I choose to not use the words RP just like Calvin chose to not use the word “freedom” in explaining the Providence of God regenerating His elect, because it is not found in the Holy Word of God.

  28. Lisa Nunley Says:

    DS,
    When I wrote what I wrote above, I was responding to the original post. I had not actually read anyone’s comments.


  29. DS says: “The difference between you and me Jim is, I won’t go home and start a blog that scolds Rpers.”

    No, you just make the rounds to other people’s blogs and scold them in their comments (this time anonymously) and write them emails out of the blue to inform them how inconsistent they are because they differ from Calvin. Once again, we were very kind to you in your visit with us on my blog; by no means did anyone scold you. Also, out of hundreds and hundreds of posts, my blog has had maybe 3 on RP in the nearly two years we’ve been online. So it’s not exactly like I started a blog to scold non-RPers.

    I don’t quite understand the constant comparison you keep making with Calvin. There’s lots of things that I don’t agree with Calvin on; he doesn’t hold the keys to declaring what’s RP and what’s not. This “Calvinists are followers of Calvin” disposition you seem to have makes me suspect that you likely have a lot more that you disagree with us on, Calvinism likely being another such thing. I hear that all of the time from Arminians (Semi-P’s really)- they say “you believe differently than Calvin on point XYZ”. Well, so???? But to them it’s a big “I gotcha!” discovery of some sort.

  30. DS Says:

    Jim,

    The constant talk of Calvin is because he put the RP idea on the map of history. His influence you would have to agree was significant to history’s landscape regarding RP in the very least!

    The reason I have the “DS” on this post is because a “Darrin” posted earlier. I did not want to be confused with a previous poster (I spell my name Darin). I didn’t want anyone to think “Darrin” had made a mistake typing.

    As you’ve read my posts I put hints in them that I believe in the Providence of God electing His chosen ones before the foundation of the World according to His plan. God is the regenerator of lost souls dead in their trespasses and sin. Based on His choice and for His glory so that no man can boast (even in his decision to choose Christ). God is making EVERYTHING work out according to His plan the Word of God says. So, though I hate to use the term, I am totally Calvinistic in my theology of salvation as well as the ideas of God’s Providence and working in His world.

    Jim, you are right about your post. I’ve never disagreed with you about that I think. I just went back to your blog. Is it reasonable to say that a good portion of your blog’s posts have to do with the methods of churches that don’t practice RP? In the very least quite a bit of it is directed at churches that don’t do like you do. Yes? No?

    Finally, I need to ask you to forgive me for saying, “you do not have much tact. You would rather me belch words onto a page. You would rather me provoke someone into a fight. You started a blog to scold people.” Both you and I don’t really know each other from Adam. We’ve interacted using a poor medium of communication. I do know that Jesus Christ came and died on the cross to receive in His body the judgment and penalty of both my sins and your sins. We are brothers in Christ called to love each other, encourage each other stand up for each other. Do we have differences? Yes. But probably many more similarities than either of us think. Your challenge to me is significant: Be sure that what I’m doing is Biblical. My challenge to you: There may be a little more freedom out there in the world of worship. If there is any other way that I can make restitution, please let me know. Hopefully those who have previously posted read this so that they can read my confession and desire to be forgiven. I’ll look for your reply. Other than that I have to end my short-lived blogging experience. I’ll continue my study as you’ve encouraged me, but I can’t be consumed with typing on the internet when I have a wife and three boys that I need to love and be with.

  31. Jim Says:

    Darrin (DS):

    While I don’t agree with your depiction of my blog or your anchoring RP to Calvin as an acid test, I certainly do accept the olive branch offered in your last email and wish to help you if you really are willing to look into our views more thoroughly. It won’t be quick though, and will require some study. I agree that blogs aren’t the best place to learn all of the RP issues, so I’ll throw out some resources; the others here like Andrew who are smarter and more biblically knowledgeable than I am could perhaps recommend some other resources. I recommend these:

    -With Reverence and Awe, by Hart and Muther
    -Robert Reymond’s Systematic Theology has a section on the topic.
    -My pastor (Tom Chantry) has written a short synopsis of how our church exercises the RP. Our church is by no means the only way for RP. That’s online at:
    http://www.crbc.us/Worship_Series_Table_of_Contents.cfm

    God bless you and may the Lord lead both of us in worship that pleases Him.

  32. Pat McGee Says:

    DS, you are welcome.
    Jim, thanks for the info about the drinking song. I will share it with my friends.

  33. Pat McGee Says:

    One more thing… the Reformers had an expression- Reformed and always reforming. We never arrive. We all need to be open to instruction. Calvin, although I respect him greatly, did not have it all correct. Neither do I. I never want to think I have arrived, so to speak.

  34. Pat McGee Says:

    I reread Discoll’s comments on the regulative principle. I must say I disagree. Our lives are regulated by God’s moral law and our understanding of the Bible. I would hope that there would not be a church that called itself Christian that engaged in open immorality in violation of God’s commands (although unfortunately I am sure there are). There are sins listed in the Bible that regulate our lives. Why would there not be regulations as to how we approach God in collective worship?

  35. Joel Says:

    I have a theory I’d like you folks’ opinion on. I’m sure it’s not new but I haven’t come across it in my verso brief studies on the RP. Here it is:

    Imagine a bunch of Christians that get marooned on a deserted island shortly after their conversion. The want to worship but they have nothing but a Bible to tell them how to do it. They dig and dig in the word until they’ve established the principles which regulate their lives and worship. They’ve applied the Regulative Principle whether they know it or not. The question they asked was “what does the Bible tell us to do to worship God correctly?”

    They are never rescued from the island and a second generation comes along that did not experience the toil and trouble of searching the scriptures to establish the principles of worship that their father’s practice. They don’t appreciate it. They’re young and full of energy and they find their father’s Church to be boring. So they start asking the question “why can’t we do this, and why can’t we do that?” Then they decide to open their own church and when they read the Bible they don’t the restrictions that their father’s saw. They ask the question “what does the Bible specifically forbid us to do to worship?”. They have applied the normative principle.

    The second generation has flung the door open to every invention imaginable. They can have a circus and call it “church” because after all there is no Bible verse that says “thou shalt not have a circus at church”. They find out that their lost cousins will come to “church” if the circus is really good. The attendance of the lost bunch justifies the circus. They now know more and are better “soul winners” than their fathers – you don’t believe it? Just look at the crowd attending their circus. Welcome to the contemporary church!

    Isn’t that pretty much how it works?

  36. Lisa Nunley Says:

    I would genuinely like to know some thoughts on family-integrated worship as it relates or does not relate to the regulative principle.


  37. Lisa:

    I would say that there is some connection between the regulative principle and the Family Integrated Church model. The RP does lead one to look at the church as being a multigenerational assembly of believers if for no other reason than it allows the church to best enable the younger to be trained by the elder. You will not find much written on this lack of age segregation in the past as the whole idea of age segregation is relatively new.

    I am a pastor of a Family Integrated Church (Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship) and while I did not look at the RP to guide me with regards to the FIC model I do try and seek what God desires His church too look like and I find the FIC as being the most in line with God’s desire for His church.

    One misconception of many about the FIC is that it worships the family. While there may be some that do this it is not the goal of the vast majority of FICs. The aim at our church is to be as true to scripture as we can be and worshipping together is a manifestation of this. So again there is some tie in whether intentional or not to the RP which also seeks to worship as God desires to be worshiped. We feel God desires to be worshipped not by disparate groups arranged by age but to have all ages worship together.

  38. Pat McGee Says:

    Joel, good point

  39. Pat McGee Says:

    Any “family-integrated worship” must submit itself to the regulative principle. That form of worship is a third order issue at best. The regulative principle is much more important. I have seen FIW turned into an issue of first importance. It is not. I have seen people make that THE issue in a church and it should not be.
    Lisa, your comment isvery broad. Do you have some specific issues you would like discussed?


  40. While I would agree the idea of a FIC is not of first importance it is still quite important. Thus while one may have seen churches that make “that THE issue” that does not negate its importance. Any worship that detracts from God’s desire for worship of Him as found in scripture should be rectified. Thus, from what I see in scripture, if the worship in a church divides the family and the generations it would seem to be stifling how God wants to be worshipped.

    I would hope that how we worship God is derived from scripture and thus if we see that a form of worship is not from scripture we would desire to worship in another manner. The idea of not having a multigenerational gathering of worshippers was not an issue with the reformers, as that is how they naturally worshipped, so this probably never entered their minds with regards to the RP. But with today’s individualistic mindset of worship we do need to see if that is pleasing to God, by His word.

    I probably see things this way as even before I knew of such a concept as the RP I figured that we ought to do all that we do from God’s word and thus, while imperfect at it, I tried to see how God desired His church to worship Him. It seemed to me that if this was left up to me I would probably mess things up and so I tried to stick as close to scripture as I could. Then I learned there was a title for this, the Regulative Principle. So again while, the idea of an FIC is not up there with Substitutionary Atonement it is still an important concept to think about as it sure seems to be how God has been worshipped in the past and how He still desires to be worshipped. Another part of the issue is the term FIC as for those of us that see church being done this way seek more of a multigenerational look that seeks to not divide by ages but have all of the church family together and a by product of this is families worshipping together and being strengthen.

  41. Pat McGee Says:

    The people with whom I had contact regarding “family integrated worship” did not even want a nursery. So when the children got unruly both the child and the parent had to go outside and both missed out on the worship service.
    I do not look with favor on any children’s church. However, during Sunday School I have no issue with age-segregated classes, providing the size of the church warrants it. The real issue is to get people who are truly qualified to teach Sunday School. One of the major failings of the modern church is the lack of monitoring of Sunday School teachers. Unfortunately, people often get chosen to teach because they are available and no one else will do it. Under those conditions I would opt for no Sunday School. I have heard horror stories about bad teaching in Sunday Schools. That should not be tolerated. Teachers have every obligation that preachers have to faithfully prepare for what they are teaching.
    It seems to me that there may be many issues here. What is actually meant by family integrated worship? Does everyone worship together all the time? Do you have Sunday School or not? Is a nursery allowed? These are legitimate questions.

  42. Lisa Nunley Says:

    Thank you for taking the time to give me your insight on FIW.

    I actually enjoy having all 6 of our children in the service with us. When any of the children exhibit unacceptable behavior we address it immediately. That is one reason why I have taught my children sign language. So that I can quietly tap on their shoulder and discreetly sign for them to turn around, pay attention, etc. Sometimes it just takes a glare from my husband or I. Other times, if they get noisy, we immediately take them out and always try to sit in the back to cause the least disruption. My struggle has primarily been with parents who embrace FIW and allow their children to be disruptive throughout the entire service. Not even taking the children out when the babies scream. I do not understand that. Yes, there is a training period for this. But wouldn’t that entail addressing the child’s behaviour immediately? The challenge is that it makes paying attention to the sermon more difficult… but then, if you are diligent and consistent during the training period, than that becomes less of an issue.
    How would a pastor, if he felt that FIW was important, go about training the parents to train their children? Or is there such a thing?

    My purpose in bringing this up in light of the regulative principle was to learn where the FIW may or may not fit in. I agree that it should not be THE issue and I so appreciate the insight from both of you. It is a decision my husband and I have made because we sincerely enjoy worshiping with our children. We do not expect others to worship that way… though I do believe they are missing out on something very special.

  43. Pat McGee Says:

    Lisa, you and your husband have the right attitude. God bless you.

  44. Pat McGee Says:

    Regarding family integrated worship, I have come up against the other extreme. At one time I attended a church that tried to insist on parents having their children in age-graded Sunday Schools. That is a parent’s choice, not the leadership’s. A family can practice family integrated worship in any church it attends.
    A couple of years ago I became convinced of the importance of setting the Lord’s Day apart and not commercing on that day. I never made an issue of it in the previous church I attended. I simply chose to not go out to lunch or go shopping after church. It was never an issue. That’s the level where family integrated worship belongs.

  45. lisa nunley Says:

    That is exactly the approach to setting apart the Lord’s Day my husband has recently adopted for our family. He has personally felt convicted about making the Lord’s Day one in which we as a family continue to worship the Lord together as a family… not making a big hooplah of making sure everyone around us knows what we are doing. Just laying low for the purpose of setting that day apart for His glory. It has done wonders for our family worship time.

    You wrote: A family can practice family integrated worship in any church it attends.

    We visited a church several Sundays in a row as we brought our children into the service. They were the only ones. We would get glared at as we walked in and the ushers would continually remind us that there were children’s age-appropriate classes for them… as though we were torturing them by having them worship with us. We finally realized why there were so many glares even though they were not disruptive. There was a sign above the entry into the corporate worship area. “Please be respectful of the adults seeking to Worship and bring your children to their age-appropriate classes.”

    I was conversing with my husband about this just a bit ago. He brought up the point that God is a God of order and when the parents that embrace FIW allow there children to run up and down the aisles, and be disruptive without addressing their behaviour, they are creating an environment of chaos not much different from the churches that allow dancing in the aisles and out-bursts of “tongue” speaking.

    Balance.

    This post and these comments have given me much food for thought. Thank you.


  46. I would only add, being one of those churches without a nursery, that we as a church need to be careful about enabling people. While we are a small church I do not see a warrant in scripture for having a nursery and having one simply leaves an avenue for parents to take advantage of it. As a church we are to prepare and equip the people to worship as God desires to be worshipped and if our practices do not do this we need to avoid them.

    I agree that the call for all generations to worship together should not lead to disruptive children and that needs to be dealt with by the parents. But my experience has been that for many “disruptive” is simply a fidgety child. I am fairly certain as Jesus taught there were crying babies and other “disruptions”, even from fidgety adults, but those just need to be dealt with. Both by the parents if need be and accepted by others as need be. We as a church, in general, have so acquired the world’s consumer mentality that anything that somehow “disrupts” our consumption is seen as needing to be fixed. Those that let their children run wild need to be talked to as that is disorderly. But, at least in my experience, that has not been the norm and the truth is I see the problem of a lack of discipline as an issue in many churches regardless of their form of worship.

    This whole area of multigenerational worship is something I have spent much time looking into so I probably have more passion for it than others may have and anything we have a passion for we naturally desire others to see why we have this passion. The more I have looked at scripture and not man’s systems I have found little warrant for how the church as a whole functions with regards to the generations today. I do not try and make this an issue but I do think it is an area that is important.

    So back to the original topic of the post, the RP. I do think that this area fits to some degree as the goal of the RP is to seek out God’s design for worship and if scripture revels we are to worship multigenerationaly then that is what we should be doing.

  47. Ted Says:

    I haven’t commented here before, but I’ve been following this conversation.

    Pat mentioned that one of the problems with some FIW churches is that parents who need to deal with disruptive children may need to leave the service and miss out on the teaching. Sometimes this is a discipline issue with the child, but sometimes it’s just a hungry or fussy baby. Would it be permissable by RP standards to have a crying baby room with either audio or video of the teaching piped in so the mothers don’t miss out?

    I’m not sure how proponents of RP address technology issues so I am curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

  48. Pat McGee Says:

    The Bible is silent on the issue of a nursery. For a church to say that there can be no nursery is potentially failing to meet the needs of very young families. The Bible is silent on the issue of Sunday School. These are areas where the church has latitude as to what it can do.
    For a church to say either there can be no nursery or you must take your children to age-appropriate Sunday School or children’s church is wrong. There should be the freedom for parents to do whatever their conscience calls for.
    I can see the possibility of new Christians or non-Christians coming to church and being embarrassed by their fidgety children or more especially a crying baby. I would hope the church would come around that person with a nursery and demonstrate love for one another by babysitting. That’s all a nursery is…babysitting. I would want the new Christian or unbeliever to be able to hear the sermon or teaching without distractions. However, at the earliest age possible a child should be trained to sit still in church.
    I believe that either extreme would be legalistic…ordering us to do something God has not called us to do.

  49. Lisa Nunley Says:

    As a mother of 6, I love that idea. Of all the people that desperately need that time to be fed the Word and encouraged in the corporate worship setting, it is a mother with babies. Especially first-time mommies.
    Not all churches have the income, however, to get techi sound systems.

    What would be the solution then?

    If a church believes that FIW should be, in this generation, a priority within the RP, than shouldn’t there be some sort of training or weekly, from the pulpit announcement for the sake of visitors on what the goals are?

    We love to have families worshiping together. In doing this we believe that it not only brings families closer together, but the church body closer. Let us encourage one another as we train the children in this time to not only be reverent in worship, but to also appropriately witness the joys of worshiping the one and only true and living God. How can we do this? By working together. We love the coos of your babies and even adults fidget, but let us be mindful of our children’s behaviour that it does not create an environment of chaos… (…or something like that… ???)

    I love the coos of babies and do not find that distracting at all. Even fidgeting is not a biggie. But screaming babies, children turning around repeatedly without it being addressed by the parent as the child or children make faces and poke each other and crawl under their seat, and walk up and down the aisle as the parent seems to think it is cute… I struggle with that.

    There also seems to be so many interpretations of the RP, so when someone is offended or annoyed or overly passionate as they major on the minors, I love witnessing leadership that comes alongside and listens, proves Scripturally why things are done this way, and communicates this patiently and gently. I have seen such things and it is beautiful and GOd-honoring. And I have seen the opposite, and it is quite discouraging.

  50. Lisa Nunley Says:

    …and I love the idea of women who no longer have the joys of cuddling their own babies because their babies are no longer babies, coming alongside and ministering to those women with infants by allowing the exhausted mother to worship. There is a definite need for mercy among the congregation if a church decides to make FIW a priority. A working together with joy as the challenges arise… and they will arise.


  51. I would not see why a crying room of some sort, if possible, would not be useful if at all possible. I know of a church that has a nursery but it is not staffed as it is a place for a mother to go with their child if necessary and the usual process is that another mother from the congregation would go with them to help encourage them to return and help as needed. This method would seem to help the family without enabling them. Also as far as a comment from the pulpit on children in the service this is a great thing. We are a small church of only a few families so we do this in different ways but as we would grow I would see a comment at the beginning of a service being appropriate.

    As far as certain things in scripture being “silent” is that not something we have to be careful of as that is the usual reasoning of these that hold to the normative principle. I would say that simply because the scripture does not speak about, say, Youth Groups that does not necessarily give us complete freedom to have them. Scripture does not speak about Sunday School that is aged graded but we do see teaching going on to groups that would appear not limited to an age group (Acts 20:7-9).

    I agree with Lisa that if a church decides that FIW is the direction God leads it is not something that you simply do and leave it at that. It is a process where the church as a whole has to work with the people to help them as best they can. This happens both from the pulpit and the congregation as a whole. Part of this may be that a mother or as in our case my daughter has done and that is sit with another family to help them if need be.
    One goal of FIW is to worship God as a gathering of believers regardless of age and to achieve that goal we need to work within the confines of scripture and where God puts us. By the way while I am passionate about how I believe church should be done that does not mean I insist everyone does it my way. That said I would also hope that if one sees, from scripture, that church is best done in a particular manner I would hope they have passion for that manner of worship and try and spread that passion.

    By the way while I have spoken here on FIW I have a greater passion for the type of preaching that emanates from the pulpit so this is not my only soapbox. The truth is that the first and foremost goal of the church should be to teach and equip those that are there to hear God’s word and for me FIW is simply one of those means of equipping with the preaching of His word as the primary means.

  52. Pat McGee Says:

    The idea of an unstaffed crying room is an excellent idea…one I have never heard of.
    Do not confuse a nursery or crying room with worship. The regulative principle has to do with what is to be done in the worship service. Preaching, prayer, singing and the reading of scripture are the four parts of the RP. I would add giving and communion. Nursery is not part of the RP. A nursery is a way to meet the needs of young or new believers.

    I would like to tell you of my experience with family integrated worship. We attracted several FIW families who are also homeschoolers. I have nothing against homeschooling. But one family wanted us to call ourselves the home school church. That is not biblical. Homeschooling is a family choice, not a biblical mandate. Several families made family integrated worship THE issue. Ironically a couple of the families left our gathering and went to a church that has age-graded Sunday Schools. Hypocritical at best. Another issue was when women could speak. Many said not in Sunday School, not in prayer meeting and certainly not in the actual Sunday morning worship service. They believed that women could never speak when the church was gathered. I asked them if the church was gathered at a fellowship meal. They answered in the affirmative. I asked them if they could speak at a fellowship meal. They had no answer. Another issue was patriarchy, driven to the nth degree. We could not figure out what kind of relationship we could have with the man’s wife. They all finally left. Some are not in church. We finally came to the decision that those people would have some issue that would drive them other than Christ and Him crucified. They allowed small issues to be big ones. I hope this gives you some insight into my experiences.

  53. Pat McGee Says:

    Tony, I agree that the big issue is what comes out of the pulpit. That is crucial.
    God bless you.


  54. […] As most of you reading this are aware, this year SBF blogger Timmy Brister has organized a Puritan Reading Challenge in which participants read one classic work by a Puritan author each month. As the Puritans sought not only to purify the doctrine of the Church of England according to Reformed theology, but also the worship practices of the Church of England according to the Regulative Principle of Worship, it should have been expected from the outset of the Challenge that we would find teaching directly relevant to Timmy’s question to Mark Driscoll. The book from last month, The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson contained a section titled, “A Godly Man Is Very Exact and Careful About the Worship of God,” which offers an excellent explanation of the convictions that drive the Regulative Principle. Below, I have reproduced the entire section. This is long, but I believe it to be of utmost importance, as it demonstrates the dangers of the Normative Principle that Driscoll and many others who would (in some sense) claim to be Reformed have adopted. […]


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