Regulating Worship – Lesson
Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies
by Bob Burridge ©2011
Today we have published Lesson 3 to Unit 5 of our on-line Syllabus on Reformed Theology. The topic is “The Regulative Principle of Worship.” This is the first installment of a series of lessons dealing with chapter 21 of the Westminster Confession of Faith.
All believers in Christ regulate their worship according to some principles drawn from God’s word. No one would include openly sinful things to be done imagining it to be worshipful. The “Proscriptive” form of regulated worship allows for anything to be included in worship that is not prohibited by direct biblical reference. The problem with the Proscriptive approach is that it assumes that worship can be anything we imagine it to be as long as it isn’t sinful.
The Reformers questioned that approach. In it’s place they called worshipers to a more careful examination of Scripture. The view that emerged as a result of their work is called the “Prescriptive” form or regulated worship. Only God can know how he is to be properly worshiped.
Our family has often done theme parties to celebrate birthdays for our children and grandchildren. We use decorations that fit with the things they are currently interested in. I’m sure they would be disappointed if instead I designed their party around things only I was interested in at the time. Similarly, the things that may seem honoring to God to us, may not be fit for the worship of our perfectly holy Creator-Redeemer.
The Bible shows us how worship is to be conducted. It tells us by direct statement and example what specific elements are proper for the gathering of a congregation on the Sabbath Day. It also shows us how God has been angred and offended by the inovations of well intended people who approached him their own way instead of the way he had prescribed.
This lesson in our Syllabus begins a study of the biblical principles that regulate worship. The next few lessons will expand upon that in more depth. View the lesson here.