Tuesday, February 14, 2012

As He wants to be worshiped

The term "regulative principle" of worship is unfamiliar to me, although the concept it describes isn't. I find myself in pretty strong agreement with it as explained by Kevin DeYoung:
.... Simply put, the regulative principle states that “the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself and so limited by his own revealed will” (WCF 21.1). In other words, corporate worship should be comprised of those elements we can show to be appropriate from the Bible. The regulative principles says, “Let’s worship God as he wants to be worshiped.”
....According to DeYoung the "regulative principle" offers these advantages [he expands on each — I've only selected a few sentences]:
...[T]he heart of the regulative principle is not about restriction. It is about freedom.

1. Freedom from cultural captivity. When corporate worship is largely left to our own designs we quickly find ourselves scrambling to keep up with the latest trends. The most important qualities become creativity, relevance, and newness. But of course, over time (not much time these days), what was fresh grows stale. We have to retool in order to capture the next demographic. Or learn to be content with settling in as a Boomer church or Gen X church.

2. Freedom from constant battles over preferences.  ....

3. Freedom of conscience. ....

4. Freedom to be cross cultural. ...[A]t its best, the regulative principle means we have simple services with singing, praying, reading, preaching, and sacraments–the kinds of services whose basic outline can “work” anywhere in the world.

5. Freedom to focus on the center. .... “What do we know they did in their Christian worship services in the Bible? We know they sang the Bible. We know that preached the Bible. We know they prayed the Bible. We know they read the Bible. We know they saw the Bible in the sacraments. We don’t see dramas or pet blessings or liturgical dance numbers. So why wouldn’t we want to focus on everything we know they did in their services? Why try to improve on the elements we know were pleasing to God and practiced in the early church?” ....
Another, and to my mind perfectly consistent reflection on worship, is this by Bob Kauflin affirming David Peterson on what Revelation has to say about what we ought to sing in worship:
In summarizing his chapter on Revelation, Peterson makes application to the songs we sing today:
The hymnic material in the book of the Revelation…should alert us to the importance of singing God’s praise in a way that is truly honoring to him and helpful to his people. Do our hymns and songs concentrate on praising God for his character and his mighty acts in history on our behalf? Do they focus sufficiently on the great truths of the gospel? There is always a temptation to focus too much on the expression of our own immediate needs.
This is gold. Our songs should both honor God and help people. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. We don’t come together merely to sing about how passionate we are for God (although that’s a very good thing!) or to be emotionally affected. Our songs should help us concentrate and focus on God’s character and his mighty acts in history on our behalf, especially the gospel. ....
The Freedom of the Regulative Principle – Kevin DeYoung, David Peterson on Revelation and the Songs We Sing | Worship Matters

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