Friday, May 7, 2010


More reasons we need the regulative principle of worship.


  1. Hey Josh, can you speak to how the regulative principle of worship would address the issues of this video. I'm not condoning that style of worship, but they are following the elements and forms of the regulative principle (e.g. singing, sermon, etc.). Where do you think they are violating the principle? Thanks.

  2. Jason,

    Thanks for the question. The primary answer to your question is that the RPW does not just speak to the what elements must be present in worship, but also to the manner in with they are done. Worship, if it is biblical worship, is to be reverent. The RPW regulates worship is such a way that it must be reverent. The atmosphere created by the kind of worship done in this video is not reverent. In fact, I think it an cheapen the majesty and holiness of our God.

    Hope that helps to begin to answer to your question.

  3. Witty comment reflecting the highly polished mocumentary of this video.

  4. But Josh, that kind of smacks of "just your opinion" as to what's reverent, no? I mean, certainly some things are obviously not reverent, but jangly guitars and lights and projectors, etc.? In and of themselves irreverent?

    Of course, this is coming from somebody who thinks the RPW stifles God's intention for his church to worship him according to the trajectory (often not explicit) of his Word.

  5. Chris,

    Thanks for your comments. I fear that this will be a difficult conversation to have when we do not see eye-to-eye on the RPW. However, I will give it a shot. Here is to jumping in the deep end of a cold pool.

    I would hope that you are not saying that reverent is something that is purely subjective, which your comments lead me to think you are not saying. If the Bible says that worship is to be reverent, which I think we would both agree on, then reverence must be something we can get at. So, if reverence is objective, which again, I think we both agree on, then the question is, is the kind of worship done in the video reverent? I would agree that "jangly guitars and lights and projectors" are not in and of themselves irreverent. That was not my point. A person behind a piano or organ can be just as irreverent. However, the reason the kind of worship in the video (which I assume the video is mocking) is irreverent is due to the fact that the focus of the worship is placed on the people on stage and not on God, despite the best efforts of the musicians at times. This is evident from the fact that the exact same atmosphere is see at secular rock concerts were the focus is clear on the people on stage. For worship to be worship of God, the focus must, by definition, be on God. The kind of worship portrayed in the video above does not place the focus on God, even if the lyrics are centered on God in Christ, because the atmosphere changes the focus to the musicians. One example of this is the fact that the lighting draws attention to the people on stage. I hope this starts to address your comment. I am always humble and thankful when you take the time to comment on the blog. Thanks you.

  6. I currently attend a PCUSA church where the songs and worship at the contemporary service are much like what we see in this video. The difference being, the band sits off to the side, out of immediate view, and things aren't quite as youthful, trendy, and robust. I tend to appreciate this. Also, the music seems to be carefully selected to be God-exalting, God-centered music.

    I think this tightrope (between reverence and contemporary methodology) can be walked. After all, many churches still worship in a way that is contemporary for the 19th century. Everybody's being culturally relevant, but not everybody is being relevant for the time period within which they're living.

  7. their methodology, I mean. I don't mean to say that being contemporary in worship is the same thing as being relevant. Good theology is always relevant, for example.

  8. Adam,

    Good points. For full disclosure, I attend a church that does "contemporary worship," very similar to what you described. So, the issue, at least for me, is not the "contemparariness" of the worship, but the way it is done.

  9. Hi, Josh.

    Despite my misgivings about the RPW (see R.J. Gore for more on that), I agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote. Well said.

    Realistically defining irreverence is indeed something we can get at.

    Nevertheless, you wrote that "the RPW regulates worship is such a way that it must be reverent," to which I can only respond, that principle can't be applied consistently with absolute objectivity, and so what you're deeming "reverent" potentially devolves into your tradition's opinion. Am I crazy, or do a great many RPW proponents look down their noses at "contemporary worship"?

  10. Chris,

    For this conversation to go on any further, I think we need to define, "contemporary worship"? As I noted above, I attend a church that most would think does "contemporary worship" and I think it is reverent. However, the worship at my church is nothing like, in my mind, the worship in the video, so we need to figure out the difference between "contemporary worship" and the "worship" being mocked in the video.

  11. Josh, you're making me sound crazy, as if it's unjust to stereotypify the average RPW proponent as being someone who disdains "contemporary worship," even as your church practices it, in principle.

    I'm sure your articulation of the RPW is reasonable, but it's not the puritan version of it. It's the John Frame version, which is to say that in a certain sense, there are no indifferent things, for everything we do—or don’t do—should be for the glory of God.

    No kidding.

  12. I don't think the critique coming from this video is to contrast reverence with irreverence. I think this video is critiquing those who claim that a contemporary worship style doesn't follow a formula and is free from liturgy. This new liturgy may be irreverent but it comes across as tired and boring.

    Also, when the musician communicates that he wants us to by his new song, his problem isn't that he needs to do this in a more reverent way but he is a money changer in the temple.


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