Is Reformed Worship Biblical?

Mar 28th, 2012 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Nothing characterized early Calvinism more than the “reform” of liturgy and worship. John Calvin railed against late medieval liturgy and devotion as superstitious and idolatrous, and even called on governments to suppress such “superstition” with the sword. In his mind, “superstition” was any form of worship not prescribed directly by God in Scripture. 


Calvin Preaching

Calvin was so strict about this that he even condemned the liturgy of the hours, since Scripture nowhere enjoins rising in the evening to pray.1

According to Calvin, the central element of Christian worship is the preaching of Scripture by the ordained ministry. In his mind, this is the hinge on which all else turns. Even sacraments, for Calvin, derive their efficacy from the hearing of the preached word.

For this reason, Calvin’s liturgical writing and Geneva’s legislation insisted that the sacraments be performed before an assembled congregation, and always conjoined to the preaching ministry. Private masses or baptisms, including midwife or emergency baptisms, were forbidden. The words of institution were to be pronounced audibly and in the vernacular.2

To support his teaching on worship, Calvin pointed to the example of the early Church. (He was especially fond of Augustine.)  He also drew on the work of late medieval liturgists, the Reformer Martin Bucer, and, in constructing his own liturgies for Strasbourg and Geneva, he even drew on the structure of the Mass of the Roman Rite.  To what extent, though, were Calvin’s liturgy and theology of worship actually guided by Scripture? Does Scripture actually teach the form of worship and administration of sacraments envisioned by Calvin?

Scripture on the Administration of Baptism

Let’s begin with baptism. There are a number of baptisms in Scripture. However, I am at a loss to see how any one them conforms to the pattern set forth by Calvin. Leaving aside the very unliturgical and outdoor baptisms of John the Baptist, let us restrict ourselves to those performed in the post-resurrection Christian community. Do any of them suggest that baptism must be performed by an ordained minister, before an assembled congregation, and conjoined to the preaching of Scripture?

Matthew 28: 16-20 – Christ’s commission to the apostles: This text gives no explicit instruction on the timing or context of baptism. If anything, it seems to suggest that teaching is to follow baptism.

Acts 2:41- Peter calls on crowds to repent and be baptized. 3,000 are added to the Church. Again, no details on the administration of the sacrament.

Acts 8:36 – A baptism, administered by a deacon, performed by the side of the road.

Acts 9:18 –  Paul is baptized in a private home, by a prophet. Again, no indication of a public liturgy.

Acts 16:15- Lydia’s conversion. Baptized in the presence of Paul, Timothy, and Silas. No indication of a public liturgy.

Acts 16:33 – The Philippian jailor is baptized privately, “at that hour of the night.”

What can we conclude from Scripture? Baptisms can be performed in private homes, on the side of the road, in the dead of night, by deacons and prophets.

Scripture on the Administration of the Eucharist

What of the Eucharist? Does Scripture indicate that the Eucharist must be celebrated in a public setting and only when conjoined to the preaching of Scripture? It seems to me that the Reformers were on slightly firmer ground here, as Acts 2:42 and 1 Corinthians 11 clearly suggest that the Eucharist was a communal affair. However, these texts do not prescribe this, nor do they insist on the element of preaching.  The main prescription Paul gives is to follow the liturgical consensus and tradition of the Church.

Nor do the Gospel narratives of the institution clearly support Calvin’s views (Matt. 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22). I grant that Scripture reading was likely used on Holy Thursday as part of a passover meal, and that Christ’s words were audible and in the vernacular. However, the celebration was clearly private and domestic, in keeping with Jewish custom, and there is no indication that Christ limited future celebration to preaching liturgies.

Scripture on Preaching

Finally, what of the role of preaching, especially exegetical preaching, in Christian worship? There is clear evidence that the apostles practiced exegetical preaching in the context of outdoor evangelism, but there is nothing in Scripture which prescribes this for the Christian liturgy. I grant that Paul exhorts Timothy to know the Scriptures. The Bereans are also commended for their knowledge of Scripture. But there is no indication that this is to form the central place in Christian worship, nor that it is necessary for the celebration of the sacraments.

Tradition

The Catholic Church does conjoin Scripture and the Sacraments, and does value biblical preaching. But how does the Church know to do these things? The Scriptures themselves are remarkably obscure on these questions. In fact, the Protestant biblical scholar Joachim Jeremias reasoned that Scripture deliberately witholds information about the celebration of the sacraments, in keeping with the ancient Christian practice of the disciplina arcani. (Hiding the sacraments from the uninitiated.)3

The truth is, we only know how to conduct Christian worship from tradition.  As it turns out, Calvin himself had to construct his liturgy using traditional sources. Auguste Lecerf has noted that Geneva’s liturgy follows the main divisions of the Roman rite.  The tripartite structure of both the Mass and the Genevan liturgy consists in the Ante-communion (invocation, psalm, confession, prayer for illumination, reading and exposition of the sacred text, and prayers of intercession), the canon of the Mass (or liturgy of the Supper), and the post-communion (thanksgivings and benediction).  Like the sursum corda, moreover, Calvin’s invocation (“Our help is in the name of God …”) is a biblical text, but it comes into the Reformed liturgies directly through the missal.  (“Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.”)4

Conclusion:

In this post, I do not intend to criticize the Reformed liturgy. In fact, I find much there that is admirable and in common with Catholics. I wish to point out, rather, that the elements of Reformed worship simply cannot be sustained on the basis of Scripture alone. To be quite frank, if I believed in the “Regulative Principle,” I would say that the Pentecostal tradition would be on far stronger ground than the Reformed.  Theirs is a straightforward application of the principle: “Do what you see the apostles doing in Scripture.” And, “Follow Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 14 literally.”

  1. Calvin writes, “Superstition may be viewed, either in itself, or in the disposition of the mind. In itself when men have the audacity to contrive what God has not commanded. Such are those actions which spring from will-worship, (ejqeloqrhskeia, Colossians 2:23,) Which is commonly called devotion [vulgo devotionem]. One man shall set up an idol, another shall build a chapels another shall appoint annual festivals, and innumerable things of the same nature. When men venture to take such liberties as to invent new modes of worship, that is superstition.” Commentary on Isaiah 1:14

    In 1549, Calvin writes to Bucer urging him to encourage Somerset in his opposition to superstition. “I have attempted to encourage the Lord Protector,” Calvin says, “and it will be your duty to insist … that those rites which savor of superstition be entirely removed.” In 1550 Calvin writes to Somerset again, urging him to stay the course “for the re-establishing of the Gospel in all its purity in England, and that every kind of superstition might be abolished.” In a short letter to King Edward in 1551, Calvin recalls the reign of Josiah, during which the king pursued godliness, although “there was still some remainder of bygone superstitions.” Calvin entreats the young monarch to follow the example of that biblical king, “that you might have the honor, not only of having overthrown impieties which are clearly repugnant to the honor and service of God, but also of having abolished and razed to the ground whatsoever served merely to nourish superstition.” To Cranmer, finally, in 1550, Calvin writes in order to encourage him to pursue the same path. See Calvin to Bucer, 21 October 1549, Letters 2: 233; Calvin to Somerset, January 1550, Letters 2: 258; Calvin to the King of England, January 1551, Letters 2: 301. On the important image of Josiah in Calvin’s conception of Christian kingship, see Graeme Murdock, “The Importance of Being Josiah: An Image of Calvinist Identity,” Sixteenth Century Journal 29 (1998): 1043-1059. Calvin to Cranmer, December 1550, Letters 2: 356-358. On Calvin’s critique of the liturgy of the hours, see Calvin, La famine spirituelle: sermon inédit sur Esaïe 55, 1-2 (Église française de Londres, Ms. viii. f. 2), ed. Max Engammare. English, trans. Francis Higman. (Geneva: Droz, 2000), 54. []

  2. Baptism is to be performed “with the whole church looking on as witness,” and accompanied by a recitation of the confession of faith “with which the catechumen should be instructed.” The supper, likewise, is to be “set before the church,” and accompanied by a sermon, the words of institution, excommunications, and a recitation of “the promises which were left to us in it.” It is to be concluded with “an exhortation to sincere faith and confession of faith, to love and behavior worthy of Christians.”Institutes, 1536 Edition ed. Ford Lewis Battles (Geneva: Eerdmans, 1995),122. See also Institutes 4.14.4; 4.15.20. []
  3. Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (London: SCM Press, 1962). []
  4. Auguste Lecerf, “The Liturgy of the Holy Supper at Geneva in 1542,” trans. Floyd D. Shafer, Reformed Liturgics 3 (1966): 208. []

66 comments
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  1. I really appreciated this article. It points out some of the flaws with the regulative principle. Often Protestants attempt to justify their liturgy by claiming it is based on the Synagogue worship of the Old Testament, but I’ve never heard a Protestant that held to the regulative principle demonstrate where in the New Testament it prescribes that Christian worship is to be based on Synagogue worship. Since the New Testament does not prescribe that New Testament worship is to be based on the worship that was found in the Synagogues, according to the regulative principle, this theory would have to be abandoned. In reality, reformed Christians have to appeal to tradition in order to justify the way they do worship. I think this article does a good job pointing that out. Thanks Dr. Anders, keep them coming.

  2. Michael,

    I had a similar experience with respect to synagogue worship. It is claimed in some Reformed circles (as a defense of the RPW) that the same rule applied for Israel in the OT. But there is no explicit command for synagogue worship in the OT, nor is there any framework specifying how it is supposed to be done. In short: synagogue worship pretty much undermines the RPW. One argument I heard in response to this circumstance was that there must have been some command from God defining the synagogue worship that didn’t get preserved in the Bible. Hence the gentlemen was willing to jettison sola scriptura for the sake of sola scriptura, and since this rule wasn’t preserved in the Bible but only in tradition it also would have meant that Jesus’s criticism of Jewish tradition was misplaced!

    If the Church could get the liturgy wrong, such that its worship was actually sinful, then there is no reason to believe that Calvin (or any Reformer) got it right. It reduces once again to ecclesial deism. I was always sympathetic to the RPW’s adherents when it came time to try say why X and Y and Z would not be allowed in public worship, but in the end I think that they forced themselves into an untenable position (the RPW) by their simple refusal to accept the authority of the Church and Her traditions.

    Fred

  3. Hello Fred,

    I’ve heard reformed folks such as James B. Jordan in his Liturgical Nestorianism and the Regulative Principle, argue that synagogues came from Leviticus 23:3. Of course, it does not explicitly refer to synagogue worship here, nor does it say anything about what is to take place in these convocations. For this reason, I was not very impressed when RPW’s tried to defend this theory from Scripture alone. One simply has to admit that tradition has played a greater role in the history of God’s people than RPW’s will allow. I think it is mainly a reaction against Catholicism that drives people to such extremes.

  4. Great article David!

    Thomas Howard, to me, is the C.S. Lewis of explaining the beauty of Christian worship. His book ‘Evangelical is not Enough’ is also practical for showing the various aspects of worship that have been neglected since apostolic times.

    Catholicism has been blessed with other people who remind us of the riches of Christian worship – Romano Guardini (The Spirit of the Liturgy), Odo Casel (The Mystery of Christian Worship), Dom Prosper Gueranger (The Liturgical Year – The Summa of Liturgy), Louis Bouyer, and last but not least, Joseph Ratzinger.

    In fact Brant Pitre has a CD set on the Jewish Roots of the Liturgy that explores Ratzinger on the liturgy.

    Dr Anders is smashing out columns on a weekly basis… long may it continue.

    Frank from Australia.

  5. First things first, gentlemen.
    If we don’t know our opponent’s position, we are unqualified to critique it.

    Historic reformed protestant worship is built on the good and necessary consequences of the Second Commandment or the RPW, which is not the Roman view of the Second commandment.
    Much more Rome says the Prot Second is actually part of the First.

    Further, the RPW essentially says whatsoever is not commanded – whether explicitly, by approved example or G&N consequence – is forbidden in the worship of God.
    And the synagogue is an approved example in Scripture.

    Hence the Prot. position, not to mention the failure of even folks like JBJordan to correctly describe Prot worship even as they disagree with and undermine it.
    But not with any real degree of credibility or knowledge.

  6. Robert,

    Where does the New Testament explicitely or by good and necessary consequence say that New Testament worship is to be based on synagogue worship?

  7. Robert,

    Perhaps you could point us at where exactly in the OT the guidelines for synagogue worship exist. Not the fact of synagogue worship, but rather the explicit commands for the content of synagogue worship. Thanks!

    Fred

  8. Michael,
    We know via Hebrews and Christ’s fulfillment of the ceremonial worship of the temple at least what NT worship is not to be based on.
    We also know what is commanded; prayer, reading and preaching of Scripture and singing of praise along with the admin of sacraments.

    Fred,
    Did you read the comment? The argument is that synagogue worship is an approved example, just as the sacrifices were in the OT before we read about the institution of the Mosaic levitical service in the tabernacle and temple which were explicitly detailed and commanded. Likewise the change from the seventh to the first day of the week. Nothing explicit, only approved mention in Scripture.

    Thank you.

  9. Robert,

    Thank you for your reply. Where does the New Testament explicitely teach that we must have the sacraments, the reading and preaching of scriptures and the singing of praises all on Sunday and the sacraments (who determines what is a sacrament)? I can have all of those things at my house as a Bible study on a Thursday evening. Is this a fulfillment of our Lord’s Day obligation? Again, where does the Bible say New Testament worship is based on synagogue worship? Also, what would you say in the Book of Hebrews is in opposition to the Catholic mass? It should be noted that the essential parts of the Catholic mass existed even before the Book of Hebrews was considered by the entire church to be canonical so whenever the Church of Rome in the late fourth century determined that the Book of Hebrews was canonical, they believed their liturgy was not in conflict with the Book of Hebrews, otherwise, they would not have considered it canonical.

    Who determines what is a good and necessary consequence and what is a stretch? My former Presbyterian elders completely opposed weekly communion. One of them even agreed that the Corinthians had weekly communion but did not believe by good and necessary consequence that we should have weekly communion. Of course, I argued based on the example of the Corinthians, and other verses, that we should have weekly communion. Who is to say what is a good and necessary consequence?

  10. Hi Robert,

    Yes, I read your comment. Perhaps I was unclear, since you seem to have misunderstood. I apologize. My question about the RPW with respect to the synagogue is this: where is the scriptural justification for the liturgy that was/is used in the synagogue? It’s one thing to say that Presbyterians may appeal to the synagogue as a justification for their own liturgy, but where is the justification for the synagogue worship’s liturgy to start with?

    As an aside: Unfortunately not even the Reformed are in agreement about the RPW. For you say that “good and necessary consequence” is sufficient to justify a liturgical element, but I have personally known Presbyterians who held to the more rigorous standard that whatever is not explicitly commanded is forbidden – no option for deduction. This sort of disagreement about what the RPW requires is what creates controversy in the PCA (among other places) about the use of musical instruments in worship: some appeal to their use in the OT as justification for the NT use; others reject them because they are not explicitly commanded in the NT.

    Peace,

    Fred

  11. Greetings Michael and Fred,

    Thrice again the historic position of the presbyterian and reformed churches is that:

    Whatsoever is not commanded in the worship of God is forbidden.

    Even further a command is understood to be either explicit or implicit.
    And by implicit command is meant a good and necessary consequence such as an approved example in Scripture.

    We see this implicitly in both the expositions of the presbyterian and reformed confessions/catechisms on the Second Commandment, much more the presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith explicitly mentions good and necessary consequence in Chapt. 1:6 on the doctrine of Scripture:

    The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men…[2 Tim. 3:15-17, Gal. 1:8, 2 Thess. 2:2].

    This is of moment for two reasons.

    One, the congregationalists in 1658, the baptists in 1680 and the New England puritans in 1680 all pretty much rubberstamped the WCF by affirming it with minor variations. IOW with the exception of the Anglicans, at one time there was a doctrinal consensus a hundred years after the Reformation among the English speaking churches.

    Two, G&N consequence is a biblical doctrine inasmuch as Christ in his confrontation with the Sadducees over the woman with seven husbands in Matt. 22:23-33 appeals not to his personal authority, but Scripture – which the Saduccees did accept as an authority – and further chides them for not knowing the implications of Scripture rather than what it explicitly says. See for example the great Genevan divine, Turretin in his Institutes 1:12:9 on Scripture consequences.

    IOW again the RPW does not demand explicit command for either the existence of the synagogue or the elements of NT worship, though that is not to say there are not explicit commands for the last in the same.

    For instance we do know that Christ has explicitly commanded the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper which are mentioned in both the gospels and the epistles and are to be observed until Christ’s second coming.
    And we at least know that the reading and preaching of Scripture occurred in the synagogue Lk.4:16, Act 13:15, while on the other hand the Book of Hebrews in 10:10-12 tells us that Christ himself offered himself once upon the cross, which sacrifice can never/will never be repeated whatever the early church supposedly believed about the sacrifice of the mass – unless the sacrificial character of the mass is not essential.

    But that’s enough for now, eh? though more could be said about the PCA, weekly communion etc.

    Thank you.

  12. Hey Robert,

    Once again, I do appreciate your thoughtful response.

    I’m not sure you are seeing the problem however. I am not saying that good and necessary consequences is not a Biblical concept, but I am saying: who determines what is a good and necessary consequence??? We would both agree infant baptism is a good and necessary consequence of baptism replacing circumcision, but Baptists would not agree, who is to say who is right?

    As to the comment about Jesus not appealing to his own authority but to the Scriptures, read Matthew 5. Jesus clearly appeals to his own authority over the Old Testament Scriptures. Since he wrote the Scriptures he can do so.

    I use to be Reformed so I am well aware of the WCF and the regulative principle. I use to defend it vigorously with dozens of Scriptures so I understand the doctrine and the reason why Reformed Christians believe it. I do not, however, get the impression you are understanding the Catholic critique of the RPW. Perhaps you do, I just don’t get that impression just yet.

    As to your comment about the Book of Hebrews, the Catholic Church is well aware of this. The church understands Hebrews 10 to refer to Christ’s offering of Himself once and for all in a bloody manner. This, however, does not exclude Christ from continually offering Himself in an unbloody manner at every mass. The Council of Trent says “And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propritiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the [Page 155] grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. The fruits indeed of which oblation, of that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one; so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation). Wherefore, not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those who are departed in Christ, and who are not as yet fully purified, is it rightly offered, agreebly to a tradition of the apostles.”

    Consider this: the Book of Revelation describes for us the worship that is going on in heaven right now. We know according to the Old Testament that the tabernacle worship of the Israelites was to be based on the pattern of the tabernacle in heaven. 1 Cor. 10:11 tells us “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” So, if worship in the Old Testament was based on the heavenly pattern, so should our worship be based on the heavenly pattern. The Book of Revelation describes this worship as containing liturgical garments, a sacrificial lamb, an altar with an angel incensing it, the martyrs under the altar in heaven (which is why Catholics have relics of Saints under their altars), candles, singing, holy vessels, antiphonal chants and so on. See here for more http://www.scripturecatholic.com/the_eucharist.html#eucharist-IIf I say that good and necessary consequence forces us to conclude Catholic worship is Biblical largely based on the Book of Revelation. You, I assume, would not agree. How do we determine now who is right?

    Mike

  13. Greetings Michael,

    Seriatum.

    The problem is that up until now we haven’t been working off a sound definition of the RPW. If we had been, I wouldn’t of had to keep bringing up the explicit/implicit distinction for the elements commanded in worship, with the latter further divided into G&N consequences and approved examples.

    As to who determines what is a G&N consequence, the answer is implicit in my appeal to the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity- at least for the P & R.
    Chapt. 21:3,5 gives us the ordinary parts of religious worship along with the elements for special occasions.

    As for Matt. 5, it is immaterial to the discussion. Rather again in Lk. 20, Christ does not appeal to his own authority – which the Sadducees would not accept – but to something they would – the Scripture – and even more to the point, the implicit sense of the Scripture as binding. Hence the conclusion that G&N consequences are approved in Scripture and not some man made device brought in so we can distort Scripture to make it say what we want it to say.

    Again, as above, I am not sure we are quite up to speed on the RPW before we start talking about the Roman critique of it. First things first.

     But if the Scripture explicitly tells us that Christ has already offered himself once for the sins of his people, there is no need for anything more. End of story. Whatever anybody says. But yet we find a certain religious entity – which claims to believe the Bible – doing exactly that. Who you gonna believe? The apostolic tradition of Scripture itself in writing or something else that claims some kind of nominal apostolic tradition?

    Yes, Revelation tells us about the worship in heaven, but so what? We are not in heaven. Further/Again the tabernacle worship of the OT was fulfilled/done away with in Christ’s death on the cross, regardless of what it was based upon. AGAIN this is what the Book of Hebrews is all about. Christ of the priesthood of Melchizedek supersedes the priesthood of Aaron. The crucifixion of the Lamb of God abolishes all necessity of the OT sacrifices or any post NT imitations thereof, bloody or unbloody.

    As for 1 Cor. 10:11, a text out of context is a pretext. The same is talking about the Israelites in the desert on the way to Canaan, not that the pattern of worship based on the heavenly temple is to continue in the NT after the Lamb of God has come. Rather the typical, ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the worship of God have been fulfilled/fallen away and we are left with the simple and straight forward worship of God in the reading, preaching and singing of his Word, prayer and the sacraments.

    As for who is right in all this? Well for starters, one has to know what they are criticizing – in this case the Prot RPW – and two, be able to make a cogent and non contradictory case for their own position. So far, I haven’t really seen either in the discussion. Which is why I piped up in the first place. While we’re getting close on the first item and I would agree that it could be reasonably argued that Roman worship appears to be based on the Apocalypse, that does not make Roman worship a G&N consequence of Scripture. Rather it is more reasonably described as judaizing according to God’s revelation in Scripture.

    Thank you.

  14. Hello Robert,
    Thank you for your reply, I hope I am my response below is helpful in furthering mutual respect and understanding of each other.

    You wrote “As to who determines what is a G&N consequence, the answer is implicit in my appeal to the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity- at least for the P & R. Chapt. 21:3,5 gives us the ordinary parts of religious worship along with the elements for special occasions.”

    I understand you believe the Westminster Standards and the Three forms of Unity are good expositions of good and necessary consequences from Scripture, but what you must realize is that not all Protestants agree with you. Even many Presbyterians, ranging from the TR’s to the FV would not agree as to what is a good and necessary consequence. If you do not know this, come visit Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church here in my city and then compare it to your average OPC’s worship and you will see that they both have the same Bible, and confession (WCF) but neither understand it the same way. So, once again, who determines what is a good and necessary consequence of Scripture? You? Your denomination and confessional standards? How do you know you and your standards are correct? How do you know your standards aren’t the traditions of men?

    You wrote “As for Matt. 5, it is immaterial to the discussion. Rather again in Lk. 20, Christ does not appeal to his own authority – which the Sadducees would not accept – but to something they would – the Scripture – and even more to the point, the implicit sense of the Scripture as binding. Hence the conclusion that G&N consequences are approved in Scripture and not some man made device brought in so we can distort Scripture to make it say what we want it to say.”

    I do believe that there are good and necessary consequences of Scripture and I do not believe in “man made devices brought in so we can distort Scripture to make it say what we want to say”. I say it is your reformed tradition that is guilty of this, you say it is mine, my question is: has Jesus left us an authoritative church in order to determine whose view of Scripture is correct? Or did Christ just leave us to figure it all out as individuals, with no objective way of knowing who is right and no objective way of knowing how to worship God? What would you say is the objective standard by which we measure what is a correct understanding of Scriptue and what is the traditions of men imposed on Scripture, if you believe such a standard exists?

    You wrote “But if the Scripture explicitly tells us that Christ has already offered himself once for the sins of his people, there is no need for anything more. End of story. Whatever anybody says. But yet we find a certain religious entity – which claims to believe the Bible – doing exactly that. Who you gonna believe? The apostolic tradition of Scripture itself in writing or something else that claims some kind of nominal apostolic tradition?”

    Just because Christ offered himself once for sins doesn’t meant that work does not need to be applied to us. We must accept the work of Christ, right? We but believe, right? I am assuming you would agree. The Catholic Church isn’t saying that what Christ did on the cross wasn’t enough or wasn’t finished then, it was. But that finished work still needs to be applied to us. That is what the mass is about. The Catholic Church believes the finished work of Christ must still be applied to us through the sacraments, especially the sacrifice of the mass. So, to answer your question about who will I believe, the Bible or the Church, both! The Bible is true and what the Church says is true, they are not mustually exclusive and if you think they are it is because you have not understood the Catholic position.

    You wrote “Yes, Revelation tells us about the worship in heaven, but so what? We are not in heaven. Further/Again the tabernacle worship of the OT was fulfilled/done away with in Christ’s death on the cross, regardless of what it was based upon.AGAIN this is what the Book of Hebrews is all about. Christ of the priesthood of Melchizedek supersedes the priesthood of Aaron. The crucifixion of the Lamb of God abolishes all necessity of the OT sacrifices or any post NT imitations thereof, bloody or unbloody.”

    The sacrificial system was done away with and that is mentioned in Hebrews, but I don’t see anywhere where the worship that is based on the pattern of heaven is done away with, can you show me this in Hebrews? Catholics agree that the crucifixion does abolish all OT sacrifices, but where does the Bible say all unbloody re-presentations of the sacrifice are over? Don’t you celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a Presbyterian? Isn’t that to some extent an “imitation” of Christ’s sacrifice?
    You wrote “As for 1 Cor. 10:11, a text out of context is a pretext. The same is talking about the Israelites in the desert on the way to Canaan, not that the pattern of worship based on the heavenly temple is to continue in the NT after the Lamb of God has come. Rather the typical, ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the worship of God have been fulfilled/fallen away and we are left with the simple and straight forward worship of God in the reading, preaching and singing of his Word, prayer and the sacraments.”

    We disagree about who has a correct intepretation here, who decides? Catholics aren’t appealing to the ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the OT as justification for the Catholic mass, Catholics appeal to the worship that is going on right now, after the crucifixion, in heaven. No, we are not in heaven or the Kingdom of God in its fullest extent yet, but Jesus told us the Kingdom of God is here. It is not completely here, but it is still here to some extent. We want to make the worship of the fullness of the Kingdom of God in heaven present here on earth “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. If it is God will to have this kind of worship in heaven right now, shouldn’t it be our will to have his will done on earth as it is in heaven?

    You wrote “While we’re getting close on the first item and I would agree that it could be reasonably argued that Roman worship appears to be based on the Apocalypse, that does not make Roman worship a G&N consequence of Scripture. Rather it is more reasonably described as judaizing according to God’s revelation in Scripture.” That is according to your personal opinion. Are you really willing to call what may be potentially God’s worship “judaizing”? The Catholic Church has been around for almost 2,000 years and has had the Book of Hebrews, and all of the Scriptures. It is the Church who preserved the manuscripts in our monestaries and gave them to you. I think the Church is quite aware of what the Book of Hebrews says and finds your interpretation to be heretical. Don’t you find it strange that the church as a whole before the reformation believed in the sacrifice of the mass, and in the Book of Hebrews and didn’t see a contradiction between the two? Malachi 1:11 “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” What is that pure offering that is offering among the gentiles? How Didache, a Christian manual written around 50 a.d. understand this verse? How did the entire ante-Nicene church interpret this passage? Read JND Kelly, a protestant scholar, and see what he says in his book on Early Christian Doctrines concerning the sacrifice of the mass. Take a gander and get back to me.

  15. Robert,

    There are disagreements within Reformed circles (i.e., those who accept the RPW) about what is considered a circumstance and what an accident. I know of some who argue for exclusive Psalmody, others who argue for using exclusively Scriptural passages, and still others who allow for any song given that it is theologically sound. Moreover, there are those who believe that instruments are OK, others who think that only an organ should be used, and still others who condemn the use of all instruments. As you are likely aware, there is pretty vigorous debate over these issues. Though it may be easy to say what the RPW is theoretically, I think it is practically impossible to come to any consensus on the issue (and a consensus amongst Reformed folk is necessary if one believes that anything other than what is commanded by God is idolatry).

    Moreover, you write:

    But if the Scripture explicitly tells us that Christ has already offered himself once for the sins of his people, there is no need for anything more. End of story. Whatever anybody says. But yet we find a certain religious entity – which claims to believe the Bible – doing exactly that. Who you gonna believe? The apostolic tradition of Scripture itself in writing or something else that claims some kind of nominal apostolic tradition?

    What ‘religious entity’ might this be? I assume that you’re referring to the sacrifice of the Mass. For the record, Catholics don’t consider the sacrifice of the Mass to be a different offering than the single, ‘once and for all’ sacrifice that Christ has offered on the Cross. In the same way that Reformed people believe that redemption is not only accomplished, but also applied, so too, Catholics believe that the sacrifice of the Cross is continually made present through the Mass.

  16. Hey Robert,

    Haven’t read this yet but it looked interesting, see if it is helpful: http://catholicchampion.blogspot.com/2009/09/does-book-of-hebrews-refute-mass.html

  17. Robert,

    This one too. It is probably a better one than the previous link.

    http://www.totustuus.com/TheSacrificeOfTheMass.pdf

  18. I like these quotes in particular:

    “St. Paul makes the point that the Levitical priests have no right to eat the sacrificed flesh of Christ:
    “We have an altar from which to eat, that those who minister at the tabernacle have no rights” (Heb 13:10).18

    The Eucharistic altar where Jesus’ sacrifice is re-presented and where Christians commune is contrasted here with the consumed sacrifices of the Old Covenant. The Apostle uses the same Greek word for “altar” that is used in the Old Testament (Ex 12:1-15; 24:10; Lev 7:1-20) because both are sacrifices. It is noteworthy that “St. Paul continues to use sacrificial language to express the Christian liturgy – language that is very literal and specific. He contrasts the ceremonial foods eaten by Jews that have no value with the food from the altar of Christ which has great value. Since he specifies the physical eating of the sacrifice, he cannot be referring to a mere symbolic act but to the actual eating of the liturgical food.”19 Those who would reduce Holy Communion to a mere common meal of fellowship miss the point entirely.”

    “The connection between the Catholic Mass and the Book of Revelation is striking as the following citations demonstrate20
    Sunday worship 1:10
    a high priest 1:13
    an altar 6:9, 8:3, 5; 9:13; 11:1; 14:18; 16:7
    priests (presbyteroi) 4:4; 11:15; 14:3; 19:4
    vestments 1:13; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9; 15:6; 19:13-14
    consecrated celibacy 14:4
    lamp stands or Menorah 1:12; 2:5
    penitence Ch 2 and 3
    incense 5:8; 8:3-5
    the scroll (biblion) 5:1
    the Eucharistic Host 2:7
    chalices 15:7; Ch 16; 21:9
    Sign of the Cross (

  19. Sorry, it cutt off before I posted it. Here is the rest:

    Sunday worship 1:10
    a high priest 1:13
    an altar 6:9, 8:3, 5; 9:13; 11:1; 14:18; 16:7
    priests (presbyteroi) 4:4; 11:15; 14:3; 19:4
    vestments 1:13; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9; 15:6; 19:13-14
    consecrated celibacy 14:4
    lamp stands or Menorah 1:12; 2:5
    penitence Ch 2 and 3
    incense 5:8; 8:3-5
    the scroll (biblion) 5:1
    the Eucharistic Host 2:7
    chalices 15:7; Ch 16; 21:9
    Sign of the Cross (

  20. Hello Michael,

    Ultimately this all boils down to faith which is God given. Your faith is in Christ via the pope and the Roman church, mine in Christ via the Scripture and the church.

    Further your credibility of having a sincere desire for the truth would be a lot more believable if you were as radically skeptical of the claims of Rome as you are of protestantism.

    Yes, I know. The church said this. The church said that. The church is infallible. Jesus said so.

    Yet the early church was quite plainly not the Roman church of today, never mind that of the Council of Trent and the Reformation. IOW Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Further as a private individual, your private judgement or anybody else’s for that matter, that the Apocalypse justifies Rome’s worship still fails to resolve the issue. The mass is an uncommanded sacrifice of the transubstantiated Christ by a pseudo Aaronic priesthood, of which sacrifice and its benefits are received – not by faith alone – but by actually eating the bread and wine. IOW it is not enough that the Bible doesn’t explicitly say all unbloody representations of of the sacrifice are over, rather it is enough to say they are uncommanded.

    True, the writer to the Book of Hebrews might not have ever entertained this shift of reasoning as being possible, but Christ in John 6 clearly equates eating the bread from heaven with believing in him.

    No, I probably don’t know everything there is to know about the Roman position, but I was born and raised in that communion and know enough about both sides of the question, to make a reasonably Scripturally informed decision. You of course would have to deny that, but again Rome also denies the clarity and self evident nature of much of what is taught in Scripture. IOW as for me and my house, I’ll take the infallible authority and perspicuity of Scripture over the same as represented by Rome and its magisterium.

    As for G&N consequences, if Christ had no problem appealing to Scripture to resolve questions that come up, his church shouldn’t either. Instead we find one church appealing to its own inherent authority rather than Scripture to justify itself or answer any questions. The question then becomes, who are you going to believe? IOW somethings are so self evident, that G&N consequences are not needed, as if apologists for Rome do not make use of these philosphical/hermeneutical assumptions, all the while they attempt to deny them to protestants. Needless to say, the double standard is noted.

    Josh,

    I would only add to the above that again the P&R confessions and creeds tell us what a circumstance and an accident are, whatever many modern day P&R tell us. IOW many of the latter can’t tell us what the original historic confessional position really is. Hint, it’s not rocket science and perspicuity is not an exclusively Scriptural quality.

    Thank you.

  21. @Robert (#20)

    Ultimately this all boils down to faith which is God given. Your faith is in Christ via the pope and the Roman church, mine in Christ via the Scripture and the church.

    If I may interrupt here, I would say this is not quite accurate, either for you or for the Catholic. It is quite true that both the Protestant and the Catholic has to come to the possibility of faith via means – Scripture, the Church – well, for the matter of that, for those raised as Christians, through one’s parents – but these are not what your faith depends on – and certainly the Catholic’s faith doesn’t come via the Pope (unless he is in the exceedingly unlikely situation of having been evangelised by the Pope :-)). Your faith – both yours and the Catholic’s – is, as you quite properly say, “God given.” Faith is a gift of God and not something that even the most convincing argument can give you.

    The reasons I came to Christ – and, after 25 years a Protestant, to the Catholic Church – are these that you have mentioned: Scripture, the Church, you might have added reason itself, history, my experience and that of others. But at some wonderful point the Holy Spirit changed the water of these ‘motives of credibility’ into the wine of faith.

    And I think it is important for you to bear this in mind. The Catholic is not in a different position from the Protestant. The Protestant does not come to believe this or that doctrine because the Scripture says so until he has come to believe that the Scripture is the Word of God. The Catholic, likewise, does not start out believing things because of the witness of the Church. He has to be given the faith to believe that the Church is God’s mouthpiece in order to believe the particular things the Church teaches. This gift of faith is not divorced from the reasons why we must trust Scripture and the Church – but those reasons themselves are not enough.

    I don’t doubt you will agree with me but I thought it worth while pointing out that no one can start by believing on the basis of an authority that he does not, in the first place, believe is authoritative.

    jj

  22. Robert:

    I would only add to the above that again the P&R confessions and creeds tell us what a circumstance and an accident are, whatever many modern day P&R tell us. IOW many of the latter can’t tell us what the original historic confessional position really is. Hint, it’s not rocket science and perspicuity is not an exclusively Scriptural quality.

    It’s easy to say that the position is clear, but I don’t know of any side in the Psalter debate or the instrument debate who think that they’re somehow abandoning the confessional position. Maybe it is rocket science after all?

  23. I don’t doubt you will agree with me but I thought it worth while pointing out that no one can start by believing on the basis of an authority that he does not, in the first place, believe is authoritative.

    JJ,

    As Rom. 4:17 put it, God is in the business of quickening the dead and calling those things which be not as though they were by the power of Christ’s Spirit together with the Word of God.
    Or as 1 Peter 1:23  says, believers are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
    IOW our conversion is not a matter of God waiting for us to believe before he regenerates us unto salvation, much more your assertion seems to come up repeatedly in conversations with members of the Roman church. Need we say why?

    Joshua,

    At the very least the minutes of the West. Assembly along with their doctrinal standards, i.e. the Conf. of Faith, L&S Catechisms, the Directory for Worship and the Form of Church Govt. make it clear what the presbyterian position on psalmody was – as in the affirmative.

    Likewise the history of presbyterianism on musical instruments. True, modern presbyterianism does not hold to either, but neither have the original objections against hymnody and instruments been answered in principle. Rather ignorance and pragmaticism reigns, if not the arrogance of more than a few who later went FV who say they believe the RPW, but for starters cannot even give us the confessional definition in the first place.

    IOW all the glitters is not gold nor are all who claim to be reformed actually reformed. Counterfeits and ignorance are both facts of life in this sinful world. Which might be yet another reason for many of the supposed contemporary reformed defections to romanism. Most of them don’t really seem to know what is of substance in the reformed faith, beginning with . . . let’s say, Scot Hahn for example.

    IOW at the Reformation, the reformed church on the basis of Scripture seceded from the Roman church, which was deformed in doctrine, worship and government. Much more if God is God, he is sovereign and therefore sovereignly determines: how we will be saved, what we are to believe after salvation, how we are to worship him and how we are to administer his church. IOW we are talking about the doctrines of grace, sola scriptura, the regulative principle of worship and jus divinum church govt., all of which are implicit, if not explicit in the West. Standards.

    Not to proselytize per se, but strawmen do not become presbyterians merely on their own say so whether it is Mr. Hahn or the Federal Division bunch.

    Thank you.

  24. Hello Robert,

    I think you have a number of misunderstandings about the Catholic Church. You wrote “Ultimately this all boils down to faith which is God given. Your faith is in Christ via the pope and the Roman church, mine in Christ via the Scripture and the church.” My faith is in Christ and Christ teaches that he established a visible church with Peter as the Rock. I trust him and for that reason obey the ones he left in charge over me. That is not putting my faith in the Pope, that is putting my faith in Christ who tells me to obey those in authority over me. You seem to really think that you are just following the Bible, as if you do not have any traditions and lenses through which you read the Bible. Those who are not aware that they read the Bible from a subjective and biased point of view are those who are most enslaved to their own man made traditions. You must realize that you do not read the Bible from an unbiased point of view, but like the rest of us, you read the Bible from a subjective point of view that is influenced by our own knowledge, intelligence level, critical reasoning skills, traditions, backgrounds and so on. For you to think that you are simply trusting in the Bible and I on the other hand am slavishly following the church is pretty naive, not trying to be offensive, but it is the truth if you really believe this.

    You wrote “Further your credibility of having a sincere desire for the truth would be a lot more believable if you were as radically skeptical of the claims of Rome as you are of protestantism.” You speak out of ignorance. I use to be one of the most anti-Catholic people alive. I hated the Catholic Church and thought it was the church of Satan. How is that for being radically skeptical towards Catholicism?

    You wrote “Yet the early church was quite plainly not the Roman church of today, never mind that of the Council of Trent and the Reformation. IOW Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The church recognized that there have been developments in doctrine, but the Church does not believe it teaches contrary to what the Apostles taught. Our understanding of the deposit of faith can develop (such as our understanding of the Trinity, which took several hundred years to develop) but going against the deposit of faith cannot be done. Protestants, however, not only have some developments of doctrine, but it can be quite easily demonstrated, as admitted by many Protestant scholars, that the reformation was a departure from the teachings of the early church, not a restoration or development of the early church.

    You wrote “Further as a private individual, your private judgement or anybody else’s for that matter, that the Apocalypse justifies Rome’s worship still fails to resolve the issue. The mass is an uncommanded sacrifice of the transubstantiated Christ by a pseudo Aaronic priesthood, of which sacrifice and its benefits are received – not by faith alone – but by actually eating the bread and wine. IOW it is not enough that the Bible doesn’t explicitly say all unbloody representations of of the sacrifice are over, rather it is enough to say they are uncommanded.” You would do well to study the words “do this” in the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The term used there has sacrificial connotations and is understood as “offer this”. BTW, the Eucharist is not in conflict with justification by faith. Even Luther and Lutherans today, who hold to justification by faith alone believe that you must be baptized in order to be saved, does this mean that Luther and Lutherans do not believe in justification by faith alone? It seems you haven’t thought much about the face that Catholics don’t believe justification is a one time event and that by taking the Eucharist, that is an action of faith.

    You wrote “True, the writer to the Book of Hebrews might not have ever entertained this shift of reasoning as being possible, but Christ in John 6 clearly equates eating the bread from heaven with believing in him.” Yes, to eat Christ’s flesh and drink his blood is an act of faith, but where does he say that this act of faith means his body and blood aren’t really consumed? Jesus said “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” and the word used for “eat” in this verse is “phagein” which means to chew or gnaw. How can you chew or gnaw spiritual flesh? Why did the Pharisees become so upset and offended by his words if he simply meant they needed to believe in him and spiritually eat his flesh and drink his blood? There is nothing offensive about that. But considering that the Book of Genesis forbids the drinking of blood, we can see why they would be offended, provided that they understood him to be speaking literally, not spiritually.

    You wrote “No, I probably don’t know everything there is to know about the Roman position, but I was born and raised in that communion and know enough about both sides of the question, to make a reasonably Scripturally informed decision. You of course would have to deny that, but again Rome also denies the clarity and self evident nature of much of what is taught in Scripture. IOW as for me and my house, I’ll take the infallible authority and perspicuity of Scripture over the same as represented by Rome and its magisterium.” I don’t think anyone on this forum is convinced you know enough about the Catholic position, no offense. I take the Scripture and its authority as well. Who is right? I didn’t come to believe Catholicism because of what the Pope said or what Catholics said, but because I read the Bible many times and studied it very intensely and concluded it supports Catholicism. What do we do now that we both appeal to the same Scriptures and yet interpret it completely differently? How do we know which one is wrong?

    You wrote “As for G&N consequences, if Christ had no problem appealing to Scripture to resolve questions that come up, his church shouldn’t either. Instead we find one church appealing to its own inherent authority rather than Scripture to justify itself or answer any questions.” This is false. The Catholic church does point to the Bible to proves its dogmas. The Scriptures are a witness to this authority but the authority the Catholic Church has (Matt. 16:18-19).

    Mike

  25. Robert re #20

    “The question then becomes, who are you going to believe?” Indeed, that is the question. When I was an evangelical Pentecostal (non-Calvinist variety), I was aware of multiple conflicting positions in the city in which I lived (Missoula MT) at that time. It had the Assemblies, the Baptists, the Catholics, the Lutherans, the Methodists, the Mormons, the Calvinists, the United Pentecostals (oneness), the Unitarians, the Jehovah’s witnesses, and an offshoot of the Mormons who practiced plural marriage. There may have been more, but those are all easily remembered. Of great import, we all claimed to be spirit-filled and bible believing, immense differences and disparities not withstanding. God was for us, however we weren’t too sure about the others

    The more prickly of the denominations held that at least some of the other denominations were fallen churches, heretical sects, etcetera, and were openly willing to speak about those positions because they had divined the truth. My own group was not necessarily on the inside of who is right and who is not. Pentecostalism is not always permitted, no matter what scripture might say. Occasionally we were looked at as though we should be wearing tinfoil hats, with bits of anger and bits of anguish as people wondered how we could get Pentecostalism out of the scripture, and of genuine concern for our souls. So, truly, been there, done that, knew what I was about and understood the differences I was seeing.

    You stated: No, I probably don’t know everything there is to know about the Roman position, but I was born and raised in that communion and know enough about both sides of the question, to make a reasonably Scripturally informed decision.

    In my case, I knew the Catholic positions because it was important to know what I was contending with. I found I was contending with the Truth that Jesus was expressing through the Church He had founded. In that process I discovered that the Truth was not dependent on me, and that I no longer had to contend with myself and others whose interpretations were in conflict. I was promoted from being my own pope to being a private. It was, and is, wonderful, as in full of wonder!! God does not need me to save the Church, rather He wants me to be saved through His Church.

    And the Pentecostal says: “Can we get a hallelujah?” And I say, “Hallelujah!!”

    Cordially,

    dt

  26. Robert (re #5),

    Much more Rome says the Prot Second is actually part of the First.

    Why does so many people assume that all protestants hold the reformed position that the prohibition to make graven images is to be a separate commandment? In Lutheran theology (I’m Lutheran), the view is that this is part of the 1st commandment. The Bible itself says that there are ten commandments (I can’t remember where, exactly), yet the fact is that in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:4-21, there are somewhere between 14 and 20 imperatives. This means that one has to draw the line somewhere. It seems to me that it makes sense to group the commandment to “have no other gods before me” (the Lord) and the prohibition to make graven images as one commandment, since the reason for this prohibition couldn’t have been that no images was allowed ever (since God commanded Moses to make graven images of Cherubim and to place them on the Ark of the Covenant), and not even that they couldn’t be used in any context of worship (since, again, God commanded Moses to make graven images of Cherubim and to place them on the Ark of the Covenant), but that they shouldn’t “bow down to them or worship them.” (Lev 20:5; Deut 5:9)

    It seems to me that the only other alternative is to group togethter the proibitions to covet the wife or the possesions of your neighbor. In Exodus (20:17) this seems to be grouped togethter: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” But in Deuteronomy (5:21) they are separated: “Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

    Now, to me it doesn’t seem right to group your wife with your possesions, and it seems that this has been ‘fixed’ in Deuteronomy. My point is that since there are 14-20 imperatives in the text, depending on how you count, it isn’t clear that the prohibition to make graven images should count as a separate commandment. It seems to me that it doesn’t, and that is the way that th Christian Church has always seened it, including a ‘major player’ in the Reformation.

  27. Robert (#23)

    JJ,

    As Rom. 4:17 put it, God is in the business of quickening the dead and calling those things which be not as though they were by the power of Christ’s Spirit together with the Word of God.
    Or as 1 Peter 1:23 says, believers are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
    IOW our conversion is not a matter of God waiting for us to believe before he regenerates us unto salvation, much more your assertion seems to come up repeatedly in conversations with members of the Roman church. Need we say why?

    Huh? I’m not sure why you thought I believed this – that God regenerates us after we believe – but I do not, and nor can any Catholic. Faith itself is the gift of God and is one of the gifts of regeneration. You may be confusing what I said about faith with what I said about the ‘motives of credibility’ – seeing the likelihood of revelation being given, for instance. Even being persuaded by these ‘motives of credibility’ is itself the gift of God – given before regeneration. Without the movement of the Holy Spirit, we cannot even desire faith. But faith itself, which is certainty, is not simply being persuaded by the arguments for religion. It is a gift of God that is what we get when we are born again – and we are normally born again by baptism.

    jj

  28. Greetings et al

    24 Michael

    If you could html tag the blockquotes, it would help.
    The question is not that we all don’t have biases, traditions, lenses etc. but which ones are more faithful and consistent, if not objective. IOW while 100% objectivity is unattainable, that doesn’t mean we are stuck at 5%.
    Furthermore my point is that your position – no more than mine – is an appeal to private judgement and while I don’t have a problem with that per se, your position finds that anathema. IOW your private judgment says that Rome is the final word; in mine, Scripture all the while Rome decries PJ. My point would then be that your position is inconsistent and consequently cannot be true.

    As for the many Prot. scholars that admit that “the reformation was a departure from the teachings of the early church” your appeal is to history and without naming one which FWIW is hardly persuasive or convincing.

    As for the argument over do this/offer this, it is to trade on equivocation.
    That Christ offered the bread and wine to the disciples and we are to do likewise hardly proves a sacrificial priesthood. And in that this thread started out in discussion of Reformed worship, I cannot give you the finer points of Lutheran theology. I can say this though. Modern and maybe even Melancthonian(?) Lutheranism repudiates Luther’s views of the bondage of the will and two, once when I visited a Lutheran church, I was struck by the fact that Lutheranism did not so much as repudiate Roman worship and govt., but merely the Roman gospel. IOW the worship and the government of the church are adiaphora/indifferent – contra the presbyterian and reformed POV.

    As for John 6, indeed. How can you chew or gnaw spiritual flesh? Perhaps as it stumbled the pharisees, it stumbles today those who follow in their footsteps.

    Regarding your question:

    What do we do now that we both appeal to the same Scriptures and yet interpret it completely differently? How do we know which one is wrong?

    Answer: We make our case specifically and particularly from Scripture rather than broad assertions/claims. IOW to the law and the testimony Is. 8

    A case in point would be Matt. 16. One would be hard pressed to find a majority of early church fathers who hold to the Roman line on the primacy of Peter. We at least know Augustine did not. Further, in that Christ explicitly calls Peter “Satan” in the next paragraph, while it is at least arguable that Christ is referring to Peter’s faith as demonstrated in his acknowledging Christ as the son of God, much more if Christ himself is not the rock upon which his church is built, we know not what. But then maybe Peter really is both the pope as Rome teaches and the antiChrist as Protestantism used to teach. For my money, I think it was “Pope” Gregory that first called anyone what wished to usurp supremacy in the church of Christ, “antiChrist”. Go figure.

    As far as G&N consequences go, the Roman church denies them and substitutes doctrinal development ala the magisterium for them. But regardless if that is right or wrong, you have no authority or standing in the Roman church to declare the magisterium’s position other than perhaps to quote it explicitly. Which is to say, good luck with that, if you actually know or can find the position out and two, the whole premise this website operates on as a place for Roman lay persons to argue the faith is essentially that of protestantism as in private judgement and the priesthood of believers.

    25 Donald.

    As above, most so called protestants today – evangelical, baptist or pentecostal – deny the bondage of the will and are in principle arminian, which is to say they are romanists without the window dressing in as much as they hold to a works righteousness of some sort.
    It can be that either of good works of some kind or more to the point, the good work of man’s free will choosing of Christ.
    IOW to a man, Luther, Calvin, Knox and the English reformers repudiated free will and considered anyone who believed in free will, to to be romish. Not so modern arminian revivalist dispensational evangelicalism, which the pentecostals are descended from.

    26 Kjetil

    My bad. You are correct. The Lutherans do not hold to the P&R division of the law.
    Yet I think it safe to say the former is the minority position in protestantism.
    The argument for the P&R is that in the first table God tells us who we are to worship, how/by what means, with reverence and upon what day. No more, no less, in pointed opposition to burying the command against idolatry in the first commandment and thereby evading/avoiding its substance. IOW There is no question who the Israelites were attempting to worship with the golden calf. Rather the point is, that it was not the way in which they were commanded. Hence the thrust of the reformed understanding of the Second.

    27 JJ

    Double huh. You wrote what you wrote and until you qualified it the second time, just how else is one supposed to take the plain meaning of the words.
    As for whether, baptism regenerates, well that is a whole ‘nother can of worms. Suffice it to say, that the reformed position considers baptism to be only efficacious to the elect whenever God is pleased to efficaciously call them to faith which primarily belongs to the word written and preached, rather than signified and visible in the sacraments.

    Thank you.

  29. I’m not sure how to do the blockquotes so if you could help me out with that, I would appreciate it.

    “The question is not that we all don’t have biases, traditions, lenses etc. but which ones are more faithful and consistent, if not objective. IOW while 100% objectivity is unattainable, that doesn’t mean we are stuck at 5%. This almost sounds like fideism.”

    Check out Brian Cross on this issue http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/2008/01/presuppositionalism-fideism-built-on.html

    “Furthermore my point is that your position – no more than mine – is an appeal to private judgement and while I don’t have a problem with that per se, your position finds that anathema”

    This is the classic tu quoque argument and you can find a good critique of it here on called to communion at http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/05/the-tu-quoque/.

    “IOW your private judgment says that Rome is the final word; in mine, Scripture all the while Rome decries PJ. My point would then be that your position is inconsistent and consequently cannot be true.”

    Again this is the tu quoque. I do not end up in the same position because I am relying not on my own private judgement of the Bible but on Apostolic succession. Read that article cited above.

    “As for the many Prot. scholars that admit that “the reformation was a departure from the teachings of the early church” your appeal is to history and without naming one which FWIW is hardly persuasive or convincing.”

    I thought I did name some…JND Kelly, Philip Schaff, Alister Mcgrath, Jaraslov Pelikan.

    “As for the argument over do this/offer this, it is to trade on equivocation.
    That Christ offered the bread and wine to the disciples and we are to do likewise hardly proves a sacrificial priesthood.”

    Simply making an assertion that something doesn’t follow is not an argument. Read what I wrote again on this and critique it.

    “And in that this thread started out in discussion of Reformed worship, I cannot give you the finer points of Lutheran theology. I can say this though. Modern and maybe even Melancthonian(?) Lutheranism repudiates Luther’s views of the bondage of the will and two, once when I visited a Lutheran church, I was struck by the fact that Lutheranism did not so much as repudiate Roman worship and govt., but merely the Roman gospel. IOW the worship and the government of the church are adiaphora/indifferent – contra the presbyterian and reformed POV.”

    How do you know it is adiaphora?

    “As for John 6, indeed. How can you chew or gnaw spiritual flesh?”

    Who said this? Not me. He is talking about eating his actualy body and blood, not spiritual flesh. Otherwise why use a word that meant to “gnaw”?

    “Perhaps as it stumbled the pharisees, it stumbles today those who follow in their footsteps. Yes it does and I think on this matter you are one of them.”

    They were offended that they had to actually eat his flesh and drink his blood, just as you are at this aching. There is nothing offensive about eating Christs flesh spiritually, which is your view. However, it is very offensive to actually eat his flesh and drink his blood, for a Jew, which is the Catholic position. You better get this one right though, your own leader, John Calvin, thought that a right view of the Eucharist was necessary for salvation.

    “Regarding your question:
    What do we do now that we both appeal to the same Scriptures and yet interpret it completely differently? How do we know which one is wrong?
    Answer: We make our case specifically and particularly from Scripture rather than broad assertions/claims. IOW to the law and the testimony Is. 8”

    Ok, whose interpretation of the Scriptures? Who determines what is canonical in order to determine the correct interpretation of Scripture?

    “A case in point would be Matt. 16. One would be hard pressed to find a majority of early church fathers who hold to the Roman line on the primacy of Peter. We at least know Augustine did not.”

    This is not true, see the commentary on verse 18 here http://haydock1859.tripod.com/id34.html

    “Further, in that Christ explicitly calls Peter “Satan” in the next paragraph, while it is at least arguable that Christ is referring to Peter’s faith as demonstrated in his acknowledging Christ as the son of God, much more if Christ himself is not the rock upon which his church is built, we know not what.”

    “Read this article http://www.catholic.com/tracts/peter-the-rock But then maybe Peter really is both the pope as Rome teaches and the antiChrist as Protestantism used to teach. For my money, I think it was “Pope” Gregory that first called anyone what wished to usurp supremacy in the church of Christ, “antiChrist”. Go figure. ”

    You need to do a little more research on this one, “It is without doubt true that St. Gregory repudiated in strong terms the title of universal bishop, and relates that St. Leo rejected it when it was offered him by the fathers of Chalcedon. But, as he used it, it has a different signification from that with which it was employed in the Vatican Council” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12260a.htm Read the whole article.

    “As far as G&N consequences go, the Roman church denies them and substitutes doctrinal development ala the magisterium for them.”

    I don’t think I would agree with this, why do you assume these two are mutually exclusive?

    “But regardless if that is right or wrong, you have no authority or standing in the Roman church to declare the magisterium’s position other than perhaps to quote it explicitly. Which is to say, good luck with that, if you actually know or can find the position out and two, the whole premise this website operates on as a place for Roman lay persons to argue the faith is essentially that of protestantism as in private judgement and the priesthood of believers.”

    If I’m understanding your argument correctly I don’t think you understand the Catholic position. The church isn’t saying one cannot interpret Scripture, it is simply saying that the final word on the matter belongs to the magisterium. If I find my interpretation is at odds with the Church then my interpretation falls and I am to believe what the Church teaches.

  30. Robert,

    Sorry that I didn’t include this part in my last reply to you above, but I had to comment on this.

    You wrote to Daniel “As above, most so called protestants today – evangelical, baptist or pentecostal – deny the bondage of the will and are in principle arminian, which is to say they are romanists without the window dressing in as much as they hold to a works righteousness of some sort.
    It can be that either of good works of some kind or more to the point, the good work of man’s free will choosing of Christ.
    IOW to a man, Luther, Calvin, Knox and the English reformers repudiated free will and considered anyone who believed in free will, to to be romish. Not so modern arminian revivalist dispensational evangelicalism, which the pentecostals are descended from. ”

    This is just outrageous. The Catholic Church is not at all Arminian. The Church would be in agreement with Aquinas on predestination. Check Aquinas out in the Summa on this issue and see if he sounds like an Arminian. As far as works righteousness, the Catholic Church does not believe in works righteousness as you as a Protestant understand it. Our salvation is all because of God’s grace, apart from it we would have no part with Him. Free will is not a good work. God’s grace is necessary in order to believe, but man must still believe because God will not believe for us. If you are saying man does not believe, once aided by God’s grace, but that it is God who makes man believe, then you have expressed a Christological heresy because this would mean that man lost his will, and if man does not have a will then neither did Christ when he assumed our nature.

  31. Robert #28

    27 JJ

    Double huh. You wrote what you wrote and until you qualified it the second time, just how else is one supposed to take the plain meaning of the words.

    What you seemed to say in #23 was that I believe:

    our conversion is not a matter of God waiting for us to believe before he regenerates us unto salvation

    I cannot imagine my ever saying such a thing, nor any Catholic saying it – but maybe I did. If so, sorry about my forgetfulness and all, but can you point me to the place I said it?

    If something I said was unclear and you thought I meant that, I am sorry. That view would be semi-Pelagianism and no orthodox Catholic believes it.

    jj

  32. JJ

    When you assert that no orthodox RC believes in semi-pelagianism is that according to the Council of Trent or the Council of Orange?

    Thank you.

  33. Robert (re: #32),

    I’d be interested to hear how you understand semi-Pelagianism. In my own experience with Reformed folk, it seems that it is often simplified to any belief of cooperation with grace. Yet, it is unclear where this notion comes from. Even Augustine believed that we have to work with grace, by grace itself, to be saved. God who created us without us, will not save us without us (to paraphrase the Bishop of Hippo).

    The problem with semi-Pelagianism is the idea that the primary desire for salvation comes from man’s natural powers, that man does not need grace to persevere, and that man can merit the first grace by his own natural effort. Which of these do you find in the Council of Trent?

  34. Here are the first three canons of the sixth session of the Council of Trent, for good measure:

    CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

    CANON II.-If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

    CANON III.-If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

  35. Perhaps we should move the discussion on synergism, in order not to stray too far off track:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/04/thought-experiment-for-monergists/

  36. Robert (#32)

    When you assert that no orthodox RC believes in semi-pelagianism is that according to the Council of Trent or the Council of Orange?

    Could I just find out, first, before we shift to another topic (e.g. whether the Catholic Church is semi-Pelagian) why you supposed that I believed:

    our conversion is not a matter of God waiting for us to believe before he regenerates us unto salvation

    You had said:

    You wrote what you wrote and until you qualified it the second time, just how else is one supposed to take the plain meaning of the words.

    which seems to imply that you think I believe that ‘conversion is … a matter of God waiting for us to believe.’ Your words ‘you wrote what you wrote’ seems to imply that you think I not only believe that but actually said it in so many words. I am still trying to find out why you think I said that.

    jj

  37. 29 Michael

    Don’t know if this will work but the HTML tag for a blockquote is “” then whatever you want to quote then “” but leave out all quotation marks

    As re. tu quoque, we can play epistemological dodgeball all day long, but regardless you are relying on your perception/judgement when you assert that you are relying on apostolic succession. How do you know it is apostolic succession? And while you cede/delegate your judgement to AS it all ultimately it boils down to faith, even a reasonable faith or if you will “fideism”. I don’t have a problem with that, but your position does. IOW A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven Jn. 3:27.

    The article in Q&A 4&5 essentially appeals to a mystical jump to escape the contradiction Rome is faced with in critiquing private judgement. Q&A 6 is no more that raw assertion and appeal to authority, if not roman authority – not an argument or persuasive to those of us disagree, much more, it assumes precisely what is to be proved. But what else is new? Mr. Cross started out his little journey as a supposed protestant, much more presbyterian, who couldn’t answer the Mormons at his door. IOW his confusion about what protestantism actually taught as well as his dialectical ability was marred from the beginning.

    Further, one really shouldn’t be required to follow all the rabbit trail links to get to the heart of the matter. We are either capable of articulating and defending what we believe here or else we can only parrot what we have been told and waste other people’s time making them do the legwork we should be providing if it is part of our position/argument.

    OK so you named some prot scholars. Are they P&R and that in more than name? Much more your appeal is to history per se, not Scripture. As such it is a second order/tier authority. Which is fine, but hardly decisive.

    Simply making an assertion that something doesn’t follow is not an argument. Read what I wrote again on this and critique it.

    Exactly. And your argument – not assertion – on “offer” for the Lord’s Supper is exactly what?

    As re. adiaphora, the P&R position is that the govt. and worship of the church are not adiaphora.
    How do I know that? For starters what does the Bible say about worship? Are we free to do as we please? Can we make images for the worship of God? Why not?

    As re. John 6, one alternative to your position is that the pharisees were offended that they had to believe in order to be saved, not trust in their own self righteousness. How do you know your view is correct?

    As for the appeal to Haydock’s Commentary on Matt. 16, it is simply pathetic.
    What does Augustine actually say? You ought to be able to find it on the web. I know I can.

    Likewise you haven’t explained why Christ explicitly calls Peter “Satan” after declaring that he is the rock upon which the church is built. Just giving a link and saying go there doesn’t qualify as an argument.

    But “if I find my interpretation is at odds with the Church then my interpretation falls and I am to believe what the Church teaches”.
    But I thought in all this we were being told what Rome actually teaches authoritatively or else why bother?

    As regards free will,
    Rome denies total depravity, correct? Further Rome believes in the infusion of righteousness by the Holy Spirit and not the imputation of righteousness through faith alone, in that salvation is by faith and good works or faith working by love, no?

    36 JJ

    FWIW the remark that kicked off mine was: “The Protestant does not come to believe this or that doctrine because the Scripture says so until he has come to believe that the Scripture is the Word of God.”

    Thank you.

  38. Gentlemen:

    A few tips on formatting (including block quotes) may be found here.

    Enjoy!

    Fred

  39. #37 Robert:

    FWIW the remark that kicked off mine was: “The Protestant does not come to believe this or that doctrine because the Scripture says so until he has come to believe that the Scripture is the Word of God.”

    OK, clear! Yes, I see how you took me to say that first we believe and then God gives us faith. That is not what I meant in my #21 above. I meant that God gives us faith to believe something – supernatural faith, the gift of the Holy Spirit, not something that we can do ourselves. In both cases faith is faith in God and in Jesus Christ as His only-begotten Son. In the Protestant case, that faith involves the belief that the Word of God is Scripture – that Scripture is the way in which the Word of God infallibly comes to him; in the Catholic case, it involves the belief that the Church of God – the Catholic Church, in fact – is the way in which the Word of God infallibly comes to him. To be sure, the Catholic believes that the Scripture is involved in that – but he believes that his interpretation of that Word is subject to the Church; the Protestant believes that, ultimately, he himself must do that interpretation, although he may use the Church’s insights to achieve it.

    Which is a longer and, I hope, clearer way of stating what I meant above in #21. Faith is the gift of God. It is not of us.

    jj

  40. Robert (Re: #23),

    For some reason, I did not notice your reply above, so I’ll respond here. (But, if you have time, please address the above post as well.)

    You write:

    At the very least the minutes of the West. Assembly along with their doctrinal standards, i.e. the Conf. of Faith, L&S Catechisms, the Directory for Worship and the Form of Church Govt. make it clear what the presbyterian position on psalmody was – as in the affirmative.

    Do you mind quoting these sources? I can’t seem to find them. I was a Three Forms of Unity man myself…

    Likewise the history of presbyterianism on musical instruments. True, modern presbyterianism does not hold to either, but neither have the original objections against hymnody and instruments been answered in principle. Rather ignorance and pragmaticism reigns, if not the arrogance of more than a few who later went FV who say they believe the RPW, but for starters cannot even give us the confessional definition in the first place.

    You do realize that FV aren’t the only people who use instruments or sing hymns, right? So are all of these hymn singing folk not truly Reformed? What about those who are not under the WCF?

    IOW all the glitters is not gold nor are all who claim to be reformed actually reformed. Counterfeits and ignorance are both facts of life in this sinful world. Which might be yet another reason for many of the supposed contemporary reformed defections to romanism. Most of them don’t really seem to know what is of substance in the reformed faith, beginning with . . . let’s say, Scot Hahn for example.

    So who determines who’s Reformed? Your interpretation of the Confessions? Calvin’s Genevan Psalter included uninspired hymns, so did the first Scottish, Dutch, and English Psalters… What do you do with these folks? I’ve been to ardently anti-FV and pro-confessional Reformed churches that sing hymns for worship. Are they not truly Reformed?

    And I think it’s disingenuous to say that this is why that are so many ‘defections to romanism.’ I’m quite sure that many ex-Reformed bloggers here are familiar with the substance of the Reformed faith. I’d like to think that I actually understood what I learned at seminary. I actually did decently in my classes…

    As for Scott Hahn, I must say that I actually thought in a similar way as you seem to think. And I do agree that the Reformed tradition that he came out of is not identical to my own former tradition. But that alone doesn’t make his argument invalid. My judgment of the man changed after I read some of his biblical theological work on the covenants, which is quite substantial. There are (at least according to historical scholars like Richard Mueller) several confessions and traditions of the Presbyterian and Reformed heritage. Just because someone who is not in your particular ‘tradition’ converts to Rome, doesn’t mean that they didn’t understand their Reformed tradition. Moreover, it’s far too easy to simply disassociate with anyone and everyone who converts and blame their deficient knowledge of your particular stance. I can easily say that you only left the Catholic Church because you didn’t really understand it, but this would not make for a very good argument.

    IOW at the Reformation, the reformed church on the basis of Scripture seceded from the Roman church, which was deformed in doctrine, worship and government. Much more if God is God, he is sovereign and therefore sovereignly determines: how we will be saved, what we are to believe after salvation, how we are to worship him and how we are to administer his church. IOW we are talking about the doctrines of grace, sola scriptura, the regulative principle of worship and jus divinum church govt., all of which are implicit, if not explicit in the West. Standards.

    There were certainly corruptions in the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, no one denies that. But there have been corruptions in every Protestant denomination as well. But who gets to decide what is a deformation of the Church? Can’t FV folks simply say that your version of Protestantism is a deformation of the true faith and leave and start a new church?

    But the question doesn’t ultimately come down to what the WCF teaches, it’s whether the WCF is in accord with Scripture. And I don’t think any Catholic would concede that the Catholic Church misunderstands Scripture. Also, Catholics believe that God has sovereignly deposited the faith in the Church, ‘the pillar and bulwark of faith.’ This is what the Church has taught and confessed; then the Reformation happened saying that the Church and all her members were wrong for 1500 years… On what basis? A diverging interpretation of Scripture.

    To be quite honest you argue and appeal to your confessions in a way that make them seem infallible. I don’t see how you’re not, at least formally, treating them that way. If an FV person disagrees with your interpretation or even, hypothetically, with the confession itself on the grounds of Scripture, what would you say? Would you dismiss them because the Confession trumps any other interpretation of Scripture?

    Not to proselytize per se, but strawmen do not become presbyterians merely on their own say so whether it is Mr. Hahn or the Federal Division bunch.

    As stated above, Scott Hahn is an able theologian and biblical scholar. [I must honestly and somewhat shamefully admit that this was a surprise to me as a Protestant, so I know where you’re coming from when you say these things.] I strongly suggest you read some of his writings on biblical theology and covenant theology.

  41. 40 Joshua
    I’ll try to get back to you on 33-35 and semi pelagianism/Trent.

    Till then, the L&S Catechisms talk about the RPW in loco on the 2nd Commandment. WCF 21 talks about the RPW in 21:1 prooftexting the 2nd and psalmsinging in 21:5. The Directory of Public Worship mentions psalmsinging eight times and last rubric is entitled just that: “Of the Singing of Psalms”:

    It is the duty of Christians to praise God publickly, by the singing of psalms together in the congregation, and also privately in the family.
    In singing of psalms, the voice is to be tunably and gravely ordered; but the chief care must be to sing with understanding, and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord.
    That the whole congregation may join herein, every one that can read is to have a psalm book; and all others, not disabled by age or otherwise, are to be exhorted to learn to read. But for the present, where many in the congregation cannot read, it is convenient that the minister, or some other fit person appointed by him and the other ruling officers do read the psalm, line by line, before the singing thereof (p.393, emph. added).

    Bringing up the rear, the FChGovt. mentions psalmsinging twice.

    As for the Minutes of the Assembly, it is clear that the debate was in regard to whether Rouse’s psalter was to be preferred over Barton’s. On Nov. 14, 1645 in answer to a request by the House of Lords to consider Barton’s psalter, the Assembly replied:

    Ordered – That whereas the Honble House of Commons hath, by an order bearing the date the 20th of November 1643, recommended the Psalms set out by Mr. Rouse to the consideration of the Assembly of Divines, the Assembly hath caused them to be carefully perused, and as they are now altered and amended, do approve of them, and humbly conceive that if may be useful and profitable to the Church that they be permitted to be publicly sung.

    For instance:

    That whereas on the 14th of November 1645, in obedience to an order of this Honourable House concerning the said Mr. Barton’s Psalms, we have already recommended to this Honourable House one translation of the Psalms in verse, made by Mr. Rouse, and perused and amended by the same learned gentleman, and the Committee of the Assembly, as conceiving it would be very useful for the edification of the Church in regard it is so exactly framed according to the original text: and whereas there are several other translations of the Psalms already extant: We humbly conceive that if liberty should be given to people to sing in churches, every one the translation which they desire, by that means several translations might come to be used, yea, in one and the same congregation at the same time, which would be a great distraction and hindrance to edification (emph. added).–Journals of House of Lords, vol. viii. pp.283, 284 . Minutes of the Westminster Assembly, fn. pp.221, 222.

    As again, the modern P&R church does not hold to the original positions of the P&R church. Early on among the Reformed, hymnody, instruments and observation of feastdays came back in to the worship. The standard on this would be Van Dellen and Monsma’s Commentary on the Church Order who while they might not agree with the original position are at least honest as to what it was. IOW the Reformed church is not quite as reformed in the area of worship as it should be, but in the main is reformed on the gospel, justification by faith alone and sola scriptura.

    As to who determines who’s Reformed, the Confessions are clear enough. The UPCUS might still claim to reformed, but what do they affirm confessionally? That would seem to be the answer.

    Yes, there were hymns in some of the psalters, but these were largely put in by the printers and were not ecclesiastically sanctioned. David Hay Fleming pretty much put Bonar to silence in the 1800’s over the question. (Both were Scotch presbyterians).

    As for Calvin, the Articles of Church Organization and Worship of 1537 which led to his exile from Geneva till he returned in 1541 included not only his notorious demand that the church alone have oversight of communion, but also this on psalmody.

    Further, it is a thing very expedient for the edification of the Church, to sing some psalms in the form of public devotions by which one may pray to God, or to sing his praise so that the hearts of all be roused to and incited to make like prayers and render like praises and thanks to God of one accord . . . On the other hand there are the psalms which we desire to be sung in the church, as we have it exemplified in the ancient Church and in the evidence of Paul himself, who says it is good to sing in the congregation with mouth and heart. We are unable to compute the profit and edification which will arise from this, except after having experimented. Certainly as things are, the prayers of the faithful are so cold, that we ought to be ashamed and dismayed. The psalms can incite us to lift up our hearts to God and move us to an ardour in invoking and exalting with praises the glory of his Name. Moreover it will be thus appreciated of what benefit and consolation the pope and those that belong to him have deprived the Church; for he has reduced the psalms, which ought to be true spiritual songs, to a murmuring among the themselves without any understanding.

    This manner of proceeding seemed specially good to us, that children, who beforehand have practiced some modest church song, sing in a loud distinct voice, the people listening with all attention and following heartily what is sung with the mouth, till all become accustomed to sing communally (Calvin: Theological Treatises, 1954, pp.53,4).

    Where did you go to seminary? That might tell us something to begin with. It is one thing to say someone is an able student. Another that their teachers were competent.

    Yes there are different traditions or currents in the P&R churches. One would be the Scotch Presbyterian which took exception to the Reformed Helvetic Confession on feastdays. Yet in the main, they held to the same fundamental doctrines.

    My comments re. Hahn’s conversion are similar to mine re. Cross. I haven’t yet heard either one give a correct summary of the protestant doctrine of Scripture – which is that from which all else flows. While that may not rule out everything else they say, for all practical purposes in this discussion it does. The doctrine of Scripture is fundamental to protestantism.

    Corruptions come with the church. That’s part of life even as justified in this flesh. But there are corruptions and there are corruptions. Doctrine trumps life, because life flows from doctrine, which is why Luther went the route he did on justification as opposed to Erasmus who only mocked the hypocrisy and immorality of the Roman clergy.

    As for the FV folks simply leaving and starting a new church, they don’t want to do that. They like to claim that they are the true heirs of the Reformation and take over the reformed churches, if not that one of your own Taylor Marshall claims they helped push him into the arms of Rome, if they are not Romish themselves, no? The last of which would be my take. They claim that we are finally acquitted/justified on the basis of our faith and works. Nyet.
    Further all the NAPARC P&R have come out against FV so that might not be just my personal bias.

    You assert that my appeal to the confessions makes them seem infallible. What of it? That’s not an argument and you know it.
    Neither do I have a problem with infallibility per se and neither do you. We merely disagree on where it is seated, in Rome or in Scripture. Further the confessions are a tried summary of Scriptural doctrine, in that protestantism has always confessed the clarity of Scripture along with its authority and infallibility. IOW we cannot only know the truth, we can and are commanded to confess it. Hence the Reformation standards.

    Again, we’ll have to agree to disagree on the merits of Mr. Hahn’s theological ability or incompetence.

    Thank you.

  42. Robert (Re: # 41),

    Thanks for the reply. You have sufficiently shown that at least one Reformed tradition encouraged Psalm-singing. Whether this is binding on anyone who calls themselves Reformed seems to me to be another question altogether (a claim that does not appear in any of the quotes). I was in a URCNA church that sang hymns. Was this church not truly Reformed? (To be honest, it doesn’t matter whether my old church is considered to be ‘truly reformed’ or not–I’m just curious to see how far you’re willing to take this.)

    Moreover, as I said, there are those who disagree with exclusive Psalmody on Biblical grounds (and in this sense are seeking to be Reformed and ‘always Reforming’). Are they all to be dismissed as Anabaptists?

    See here for one example.

    As to who determines who’s Reformed, the Confessions are clear enough. The UPCUS might still claim to reformed, but what do they affirm confessionally? That would seem to be the answer.

    But what about confessional Reformed denominations that are in NAPARC? You realize that many of these churches sing hymns with instruments, right? Do they all cease to be Reformed the moment an organ note is played during their worship service? What happened to the two marks of the church…

    Where did you go to seminary? That might tell us something to begin with. It is one thing to say someone is an able student. Another that their teachers were competent.

    I went to Westminster Seminary, California. And you?

    My comments re. Hahn’s conversion are similar to mine re. Cross. I haven’t yet heard either one give a correct summary of the protestant doctrine of Scripture – which is that from which all else flows. While that may not rule out everything else they say, for all practical purposes in this discussion it does. The doctrine of Scripture is fundamental to protestantism.

    This is interesting. I’d like to know specifically where you see either of the two erring in their understanding of the Reformed doctrine of Scripture.

    Corruptions come with the church. That’s part of life even as justified in this flesh. But there are corruptions and there are corruptions. Doctrine trumps life, because life flows from doctrine, which is why Luther went the route he did on justification as opposed to Erasmus who only mocked the hypocrisy and immorality of the Roman clergy.

    Yes, and you realize that Erasmus is not the only Catholic, right? There were reforms within the Church via the Council of Trent. There were those who saw corruption and abuse and actually did something about it without leaving the Church. As to the doctrinal validity of the Reformation, we can perhaps discuss that in relation to the above point on Bryan Cross’s or Scott Hahn’s allegedly erroneous understanding of what Protestants actually believe about sola scriptura.

    As for the FV folks simply leaving and starting a new church, they don’t want to do that. They like to claim that they are the true heirs of the Reformation and take over the reformed churches, if not that one of your own Taylor Marshall claims they helped push him into the arms of Rome, if they are not Romish themselves, no? The last of which would be my take. They claim that we are finally acquitted/justified on the basis of our faith and works. Nyet.
    Further all the NAPARC P&R have come out against FV so that might not be just my personal bias.

    Of course they don’t want to. Because they claim to be right in their understanding of Scripture. Are you going to bind their consciences with something other than Scripture? If you say that the Confessions are scriptural and binding, I would argue (and wholeheartedly believe) that the Catholic Church teaches what is scriptural and binding, and yet Luther, unconvinced of this, began his own reformation. Why is Luther allowed to do this, but not the FVers? They’re not leaving and starting a new church, they’re fixing the corruptions they see in the present Reformed church (this is how they might conceivably put it–I was never a Federal Visionist). The point is, how would you answer this? Well, I suppose you answer this, in part, below:

    You assert that my appeal to the confessions makes them seem infallible. What of it? That’s not an argument and you know it.
    Neither do I have a problem with infallibility per se and neither do you. We merely disagree on where it is seated, in Rome or in Scripture. Further the confessions are a tried summary of Scriptural doctrine, in that protestantism has always confessed the clarity of Scripture along with its authority and infallibility. IOW we cannot only know the truth, we can and are commanded to confess it. Hence the Reformation standards.

    Actually, this is an argument; and your reply is somewhat surprising. The Reformation railed against the Church’s claim to infallibly interpret Scripture. So to claim that your denomination (which seems to get smaller every time you exclude another sector of what was once considered Reformed) has infallibly interpreted Scripture is really to claim to have the same authority as the Catholic Church; and though you make this claim of authority for Scripture (Catholics claim this as well), the question is whether you’re not actually attributing magisterial authority to the Confessions (over and above Scripture–and, of course, many non-Reformed Protestants frequently point this out). It’s not a question of Rome vs. Scripture, but a question of whose interpretation of Scripture is correct: Rome or a given Protestant confession.

    Again, we’ll have to agree to disagree on the merits of Mr. Hahn’s theological ability or incompetence.

    Just curious, what of his work have you actually read through entirely?

    I’m now mainly interested in hearing where you see a deficiency in Cross’s understanding of the Reformed doctrine of Scripture. So if you don’t have time to address other things, I’d really like to hear that.

    Thanks, Robert.

  43. Hello Joshua,

    There is no question that originally, historically not only Calvin in Geneva, but also presbyterians were psalmsingers. Likewise the reformed though today such is not the case.

    But if you went to Westminster you should know the answer to some of your questions.
    The Belgic tells us that the true church and the false church are easily distinguished. The Westminster that there are degrees of faithfulness in the true church. Some disagree over the RPW and its application, but it is not like they deny justification by faith alone or sola scriptura.

    Further the second mark of the church is faithful administration of the sacraments. But how do we know what is a genuine sacrament? Only those commanded by Christ, IOW the RPW.

    Much more the reformed faith does not boil down to the five points of calvinism. Scott Clark of in ‘08 Westminster West wrote Recovering the Reformed Confession, Our Theology, Piety and Practice which among other things, brings up what it means to be reformed in worship. Again, the reformed church on the basis of Scripture at the Reformation, reformed its doctrine, worship and government in seceding from the deformed roman church. IOW a three fold cord is not easily broken Eccl. 4:12. The Lord Jesus Christ is prophet, priest and king of his church.

    As for that old tired canard or rather its misrepresentation, the reformed church is always reforming its practice to bring it up to speed with its confession. There is no need to raze the building to its foundations in every generation and reinvent the wheel. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us in the faith.

    But whatever, the unanswered and unanswerable contemporary classic on the question, blackballed/listed in the modern P&R church is Bushell’s Songs of Zion.

    In regard to the confessions and their supposed infallibility I refer you to the Westminster. Churches can and do err in making a confession. When that happens, you bring a case through the ecclesiastical govt. channels. At least that is how protestants do it – and NB not how the FV proceeded. They conducted a guerrilla campaign and for the longest time professed to be teaching nothing more than what the confessions taught, but amongst themselves and behind closed doors, they admitted it was poison. So JBJordan on the Godfather of the FV on his private Yahoo Biblical Horizons forum. Meyers openly called for revision of the Westminster, without really doing anything to further that other than stir the pot.

    Further, Chapt. 1 tells us the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture is the final authority in the church and in as much as a confession correctly summarizes Scripture it is binding. Neither did Luther start his own reformation or church. Others came on board almost immediately and despite the diversity of reformed confessions, as protestants affirm justification by faith alone and sola scriptura.

    As for various former protestants and their deficient view of scripture, suffice it to say, when a man tells me that he can’t answer the Mormons when they come to his door because he doesn’t belong to a church with an infallible apostle or apostolic magisterium, I know that he doesn’t really have a clue. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, after him there are no more prophets, which categorically rules out both Mohammed and Joseph Smith. Sorry. End of story, not to mention both false prophets advocate polygamy, contra Christ’s appeal to the original couple in the garden, yet both claim to come after Christ. Need one say more? If you don’t know the protestant position – regardless of how many degrees you have – you are incompetent to the question. Period. Everything else is mere ruffles and flourishes, if not indeed, propaganda. As one born in the Roman communion, that ain’t good enough.

    Thanks again.

  44. Great post David Anders.

    In my experience at a conservative PCA congregation, I experienced first hand the perplexities of the “regulative principle”. First of all was the head scratcher of where was the RP in scripture. But if someone is willing to accept the contradiction of sola scriptura (which I was) then the RP is easy to swallow. But it seemed never to be followed because there were things commanded that we didn’t do, and things mentioned in scripture that we should be doing. And there were many things not commanded that we did, and things forbidden that we did.

    1. Things commanded that we didn’t do:
    a. Weekly communion. Over and over again the phrase “word and sacrament” is pounded home, often in sermons within a service with… (ta-da!)… no sacraments! This glaring cave to zwinglianism over and above the scripture eventually led me to be quite cynical of the Reformed claim to follow the RP.
    b. Taking the Lord’s Supper to the sick/elderly. Directly talked about in scripture, yet ignored. I often thought: what about when I got old: would there come a time when I was to old to go to a church building and I would never be able to receive communion?
    c. Anointing sick people.
    d. confessing sins and receiving absolution.
    e. Women covering their heads.

    2. Things mentioned in scripture that we should be doing:
    a. What about incense? What about candles? Robes? What about special services for Christmas and such? Fasting?

    3. Not specifically commanded that we did:
    a. Special rituals for accepting new members.
    b. Sunday school.
    c. Musical instruments.

    4. Things forbidden that we did:
    a. Grape juice in place of wine for communion.

    And these were just off the top of my head. I can now see that like sola scriptura itself, the bible nowhere asks us to use the RP. So perhaps as soon as we use it, we must then not use it because it is not in the bible! ;-)

    -David Meyer

  45. Robert,
    Another Josh here, sorry :o)
    Not to get into your discussion, but I was curious by what you said about the Belgic Confession saying that the true and false church are clearly distinguishable. This is something that has been needling me about Protestantism for a while and was somewhat involved in me declining to become an elder in my PCA church last year.
    The Belgic Confession says, “The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church– and no one ought to be separated from it,” (Article 29).
    The Westminster Confession also says, “The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion” (XXV.II).
    To me it seems like both of these statements just beg the very question under discussion. What is the “pure preaching of the gospel”? What is the “pure administration of the sacraments”? What is the “true religion”? I mean aren’t these the very points under discussion?
    To some degree it makes it hard to compare Protestantism and Catholicism, because Protestantism is so vague. Even if make it the Reformed world, which I’m a part of, there’s still a lot of diversity there. What do we do between Reformed baptists and Presbyterian infant baptists? I guess the issue is, from the Protestant (or Reformed) paradigm, how do we determine the bounds of orthodoxy? That is, when do I move from orthodoxy (or orthopraxis) into heresy?
    My tendency in the past has always been to be pretty generous in this regard, but I’ve realized recently that it is just me deciding what I think the theological borders are (Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox in; Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses out) and that seems to be shaky ground when there is so much diversity.
    Anyways, carry on with your discussion. Seeing that made me want to get this out.

  46. #45
    Josh,
    Thank you for succinctly pointing out why it is that the wording from both of those confessions do no better defining the substance of those terms than creeds from other denominations and sects. You’re right, it is vague. I want to know everything that is orthodox to Christianity too. Protestants complain that the Catholic church keeps moving the goal-post, but if that it true it is also true in P&R denominations.

    I have a question that I have been wondering: Do the P&R believe that it would be acceptable if say a Calvary Chapel had communion every Lord’s Day, and believed that it was more than a memorial? And would they have any problem if a Calvary Chapel or any “bible church” had public confession and the declaration of pardon? Just curious.
    Thank you!

    Alicia

  47. Mr. Meyers,

    It doesn’t sound like you were in anything more than a conservative evangelical church regardless if it was PCA or not.

    But for that matter, did you bother to read the comments?
    As above, the RPW is the good & necessary consequence of the Second Commandment as confessed in the Westminster and Heidelberg: whatsoever is not commanded explicitly or implicitly – by G&N consequence, even that of an approved example in Scripture – is forbidden in the worship of God. Further, there are some things, common to human actions or society, that are indifferent.

    But the real herd of elephants in the living room is the explicit injunction against images in worship, much more their worship before we even get to G&G consequences of the commandment. Any idea which communion violates the Second with a vengeance habitually and without repentance? It was one of the reasons after all why the reformed church seceded from the Roman church at the Reformation.

    Further regarding your list of violations of the RPW, neither weekly/private communion or sacramental anointing of the sick is commanded. Confession of sin/absolution generally takes place in the public prayer. Headcovering for women is cultural. Musical instruments, candles, robes, incense and special feastdays all were part of the typical temple/ceremonial worship done away with in Christ. To return to those elements is to judaize.

    Yes, SSchool unfortunately has replaced catechism in some reformed churches, but it is no proper part of worship, but takes place outside of it. Likewise grape juice at communion is deplorable/wrong – unless I suppose it was all the persecuted church would have in an emergency. IOW the P&R churches are not perfect in their practice – but they are far closer to the truth than other churches which submerge the gospel and the preaching of it in the superstitious observation of the sacraments, which work in the recipient apart from faith in the author of the sacraments.

    Josh,
    In answer to yours, I would think by Art. 29 of the Belgic and Chapt. 25 of the Westminster, if not after, there had been some kind of discussion of the pure preaching and administration of the sacraments. As in for starters, sola scriptura, justification by faith alone and observation of the two sacraments instituted by Christ.

    Alicia,
    Having attended Calvary Chapel, I think it safe to say that the P&R churches would consider CC unconfessional, arminian and semi charismatic/pentecostal. But weekly communion is not beyond the pale for the P&R, while considering the Lord’s Supper a mere memorial is if one bothers to read the Westminster, Belgic or Heidelberg. Neither is a public confession and absolution of sin reprobated by the P&R. That the CC or a so called “bible” church would actually do something like that is another question.

    Thank you.

  48. Robert (#47)
    It seems to me that if the RPW means that everything must be commanded explicitly then there is just about nothing left. Even Sunday worship (as opposed to Sabbath) appears to me only exemplified. The Lord’s Supper would seem to be optional (“…as often as you do it…” only explicitly says “…if you do it, then…”). On the other hand, if the command can be implicit, then we are, surely, back to private interpretation. In particular, it seems possible to make a good case for anointing of the sick – and of foot-washing.

    jj

  49. JJ

    For starters, we do have explicit commands for reading, preaching, praying and singing of psalms do we not with Acts 15:21, 2Tim.2:4, 1 Tim. 2:8, Ps 105:2 respectively?

    And by implicit command is meant that which is a good and necessary deduction from scripture, not a private interpretation, but rather something that is reasonably/logically/objectively verifiable from Scripture.

    True, the change from the seventh to the first day of the week is only exemplified in the NT, but as per the standard reply/rebuttal of the 7th Day Adventistism: if the example of Christ and the apostles is not good enough, nothing is.

    And whatever the passage in James means, whether medical or sacramental anointing, it does not take place in worship. Likewise footwashing was to be an example of serving each other Jn. 13:15 and has no typical counterpart, among other things, in the OT as circumcision and the passover do for baptism Col. 3:11,12 and the Lord’s supper Lk. 22:15-20.

    Thank you.

  50. Robert #49 – I was only trying to find out if you meant that something must be explicitly commanded, or only implicitly. Clearly you do not mean explicitly – indeed, I would say that little is explicitly commanded in Scripture. but – surely? – your understanding that, for instance, footwashing was not to be done in worship because you don’t see it in the OT (though it seems to me there is plenty of evidence for OT analogues) is a result of private interpretation. What you refer to as ‘good and necessary deduction’ must be private interpretation. ‘Deduction’ from Scripture is not a matter of Euclidean syllogism. One man’s ‘good and necessary deduction’ is another’s “I don’t see it.” The 7th Day Adventists certainly think your deduction is neither good nor necessary. :-)

    jj

  51. JJ

    In that we’re up to 51 comments and the whole explict-implict distinction was introduced with comment #5, I would think that yes, it should be clear now.
    Two, clearly footwashing in the gospels does not take place in worship.
    Three, if you insist, everything on this site including these comments is “private interpretation”. IOW radical skepticism will either be fairly and consistently applied to all or not at all. While we know that perpetual motion machines don’t work, an unending/infinite chain of private interpreters interpreting the private interpreters who have gone before is a recipe for nonsense. No communication whatever can take place.
    Four, unless we want to claim to be postmodernists or nazis, polylogism doesn’t fly. There are rules of logic/syllogisms that determine what a good and necessary consequence is.
    But 7th Day Adventism, like fundamentalism, doesn’t allow for G&N consequence. They need an explicit command or statement. Sort of like: “This is my body”. Or even better “This cup is my blood” or even ” I am the door”.

    Thank you.

  52. Robert (#51)

    In that we’re up to 51 comments and the whole explict-implict distinction was introduced with comment #5, I would think that yes, it should be clear now.

    Well, I suppose it should be, and am quite sure that it is my own thickness that means it is not. But it might be easier for me the thick one if you said which it is – explicit or implicit. However, since all the things you have advocated – e.g. that ‘footwashing in the gospels does not take place in worship’ – surely need some breaking out and are not explicit – I mean, footwashing takes place in precisely that context in which the Last Supper takes place, so either that’s worship and footwashing takes place in worship, or it is not, and the Lord’s Supper does not take place in worship – given that, I will assume you mean the command need only be implicit.

    If that is so, then, it seems that I don’t understand what you mean about 7th Day Adventism. Ellen White’s big revelation was seeing the Sabbath Commandment in glowing letters (or something like that – been a while since I read about it) and knowing that there was a very explicit command. Now modern Reformed people think that we should worship not on the Sabbath but on Sunday.

    So may I take it that implicit trumps explicit in the RPW?

    jj

  53. If #49 doesn’t contain explicit commands for commands for various aspects of worship, I know not what JJ. IOW I don’t get what your beef is. Not everything is explicitly commanded, but neither is everything implicitly commanded.

    The explicit parallel of footwashing in the OT compared to the Passover – Lord’s Supper is what? Further it is said to be an example, not something that we are commanded to observe per se i.e. “Do this”.

    Again if Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, whose testimony is the spirit of prophesy Rev. 19:10, then any claims to prophecy after Christ and his apostles are bogus. That includes Muhammed, Joseph Smith or Ellen White. IOW while EW might have had an explicit command, it wasn’t found in the Bible. IOW that’s the end of story for that little vaudeville routine.

    Thank you.

  54. Robert (#53)
    I’m very sorry – somehow you think I am complaining about something – that I have a ‘beef’ :-) I haven’t any! I was trying to find out whether you think that the RPW means we follow only what is explicitly commanded, or implicitly commanded. I apologise if you think I was complaining.

    What I meant about footwashing versus the Lord’s Supper was that the Lord’s Supper itself isn’t commanded. It is a conditional command. He says “as often as you do this…” – it is, certainly, implicity in this that they might do it – but ‘as often as’ can mean ‘never.’ As often as I fly to the moon, I must take my spacesuit.

    But if the command is implicit, then footwashing could be seen to be so as well. He says that He has done this to show them what they should do. To be sure, most Protestants don’t practise this. Catholics do only once a year. But it seems difficult to me to know just why most Protestants don’t think that footwashing should be literally done.

    Regarding the 7th Day Adventists, Ellen White did have an explicit command. It’s found in Exodus 20 and again in Deuteronomy 5. That was my point. There is an explicit command to worship the Lord on the seventh day – no explicit command to worship Him on the first day.

    I just frankly don’t see how the RPW can work. It seems inconsistent. Indeed, the branch of the Ref0rmed camp that I was part of for 20 years, the ‘theonomic’ group, was inclined to believe – and many did believe – that one should literally obey some of the OT dietary laws, the punishment regulations for witchcraft and homosexuality (stoning), etc – but not the Sabbath command. I just don’t see how one differentiates.

    I have no beef whatever – just trying to understand how a consistent RPW could work.

    jj

  55. Again JJ. in that ever since #5 the RPW has been defined as: whatsoever is not explicitly or implicitly commanded is forbidden in the worship of God”, do we need a dissertation on the meaning of “is”?

    The LS replaces the Passover which is commanded. There is some freedom or liberty I suppose as to how often.

    Footwashing is stated to be an example of serving one another. Neither did I observe it practiced in all my 20 some years in the Roman church.

    The explicit command in Ex. and Deut. is one day in seven, not the seventh per se. Further, in Ex. the reason for the sabbath is creation. In Deut., redemption. Add to this, Christ and the apostles’s example, much more that there are no prophets after the death of the apostles and the close of canon, never mind that women are to be silent in church and what are you left with? Any appeal by Ellen White only trades on the ignorance of her audience.

    Theonomy/reconstruction pretty much ignores the distinctions in WCF 19 on the Law. The moral is abiding, the ceremonial fulfilled in Christ, the civil abrogated other than the general equity.

    Thank you.

  56. Robert #55
    I do pretty well understand where you are at – because I was there myself. I do also recall, however, arguing (by letter – no Internet then!) with Greg Bahnsen about the distinction between moral and ceremonial laws, saying that I didn’t see how you could distinguish except on some external criterion (which, I now realise, must be the idea of natural law – which was anathema to us in the theonomic movement) between the two.

    Regarding the Sabbath – hmm… Not so sure. “Six days shalt thou labour, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest…” – and Genesis surely makes it the seventh day. And there was some controversy, I think, in the early Church about the distinction. Didn’t many keep both for a while?

    Anyway, it does seem to me that Scripture Alone – as opposed to Scripture plus Church tradition – would make it hard to oppose the SDAs. But if Church tradition is not authoritative in telling us what Scripture must mean – and by ‘authoritative’ I mean ‘tells us and we have to believe it’ – then I do wonder whether there is any alternative to agreeing to disagree.

    jj

  57. 56 jj,

    My apologies for the delay in answering yours – which was less than substantive/satisfactory.

    That is, if you understand where I am at, because you were there yourself, again why has it taken this long to get the explicit/implicit thing resolved regarding the RPW?

    If you are talking about the distinctions between the 3 types of law in Scripture, then the question becomes how hard is it to distinguish between the ten laws written by the finger of God and the ceremonial ‘don’t plow with an ox and an ass together’ varieties?

    To ask is to answer, if not that IMO ignorance cannot be the mother of true worship and devotion.

    The six and one/seven day paradigm is mentioned in Gen. Ex. and Deut. while 1 Cor. 16:2 talks about the first day of the week and Rev. 1:10 mentions the Lord’s Day. That, not to mention the example of Christ and the apostles regarding the first day of the week. IOW it might seem obvious why the tradition in the Christian church is what it is. (After all, somebody appeals to Scripture in the first place to justify the authority of their communion – which is to give it all away – in the first place.)

    As far as agreeing to disagree, if you insist. Yet the non responsive responses hardly encourage one to think that somebody actually knows what they disagree with.

    One also can’t help noticing the delay in having their remarks actually show up in the combox. Seems like until or unless somebody deigns to respond, one’s comments reside in limbo, which imo is less than a forthright way of running things, but what ever. The truth will out in the end, if not that it already did at the Reformation.

    Thank you.

  58. Robert (#57)
    To try to keep it simple, maybe we could just talk about the Sabbath, in relation to moral vs ceremonial, can I take it that you would say that, although the Sabbatarian principle is moral, the fact of its being specified for the Seventh Day is ceremonial?

    jj

  59. 58 JJ

    In answer to yours, the Synod of Dort on Sabbath Observance, Session 164, May 17PM
    (trans. R. S. Clark)

    Rules on the observation of the Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day, with the agreement of the brothers from Zeeland the following concepts were explained and approved by Doctor Professors of Divinity.

    I. In the fourth Commandment of the divine law, part is ceremonial, part is moral.

    II. The rest of the seventh day after creation was ceremonial and its rigid observation peculiarly prescribed to the Jewish people.

    III. Moral in fact, because the fixed and enduring day of the worship of God is appointed, for as much rest as is necessary for the worship of God and holy meditation of him.

    IV. With the Sabbath of the Jews having been abrogated, the Lord’s Day is solemnly sanctified by Christians.

    V. From the time of the Apostles this day was always observed in the ancient Catholic Church.

    VI. This same day is thus consecrated for divine worship, so that in it one might rest from all servile works (with these excepted, which are works of charity and pressing necessity) and from those recreations which impede the worship of God.

    (Source: H.H. Kuyper, De Post-Acta of Nahandelingen van de nationale Synode van Dordrecht in 1618 en 1619 gehouden een Historische Studie (Amsterdam, 1899), 184-6. )

    Thank you.

  60. Robert (#59)
    OK, thanks, that’s clear, and what I would have supposed. But the interesting point here is that the reason given for celebrating the Sabbath on Sunday is not from the Bible, not even by an argument from the Bible, but from the practice of the ancient Catholic Church.

    Not trying to make a big deal, Robert, just noting that this practice, at least, of (most) Protestant churches is – quite correctly, in my opinion – based on the fact that it is not anti-Biblical – and that there are other, good, reasons for it. Much of the disputed practice of the (Roman) Catholic Church claims – claims which, of course, are disputed – to be of the same sort. They may not be Biblical in the sense that they can be inferred by reasonably tight logic from the Bible, but they do claim not to be disharmonious with the Bible, and certainly not against it.

    Whether the claim is true in any particular case for the Catholics, I only mean that I think that much of Reformed practice is only Biblical in this non-contradictory sense, not in a ‘directly commanded or properly inferred’ sense.

    jj

  61. JJ
    From the Westminster Assembly’s Larger Catechism of 1648:
    Q. 116. What is required in the fourth commandment ?
    A. The fourth commandment requireth of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word, expressly one whole day in seven;
    which was the seventh from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, and the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbatha, and in the New Testament called The Lord’s dayb.
    a Deut.5:12-14; Gen.2:2,3; 1 Cor.16:1,2; Acts 20:7; Matt.5:17,18;
    Isa.56:2,4,6,7 b Rev.1:10

    Note the scriptural references for observing the first day of the week. That is not to say that the reformed do not recognize traditions that are grounded in Scripture, but ultimately and obviously, the cart does not precede the horse. We accept tradition because it is scriptural, but tradition is not scripture nor can it contradict scripture explicitly or implicitly. Or to put it another way, we have the genuine apostolic tradition and teaching perfectly and infallibly transmitted to us in the Scriptures alone.

    Regarding Dordt, the Synod preceded the Westminster Assembly and is not as thorough on the 4th. I quoted it primarily in answer to yours regarding the ceremonial aspect of the 4th commandment. The argument from scripture is essentially implicit.

    The Westminster Confession I:6 further acknowledges that “there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed (1 Cor. 2:9-11).
    IOW not everything per se that occurs in the worship service needs to be commanded or inferred.

    That said, the reformed do not find the sacrifice of the mass, the veneration of the monstrance/host, auricular confession, supremacy of the Roman bishop commanded explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.

    Thank you.

  62. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the comment. I understand that the Reformed do not believe evertying in Christian worship must be explicitly commanded in Scripture.
    The point of the post, however, was to point out that Calvin insisted rather vociferously on some elements of Christian worship – to the extent of anathematizing dissent – even though those elements lacked biblical warrant.

    Take the mode of baptism – and I’m not limiting this to simply paedobaptism vs. believer’s baptism. Calvin was very, very insistent that Baptism be performed in the public liturgy, accompanied by Scripture reading, and in the presence of both parents. (There was, in Geneva, a long standing tradition of Fathers being absent from baptism. Godparents presented the child, while fathers remained home and arranged for the reception following the sacrament. Karen Spierling has documented the explosion of dissent over Calvin’s innovation. There were other elements, as well, related to naming, for example.)

    For Calvin, these were divine commands – not simply mattes of christian prudence. My question was simply, “Where did Calvin derive these elements from Scripture?” If anything, Scripture paints a very different picture of the mode of baptism. The same can be said for the mode of receiving the eucharist, and the exegetical homily. Calvin insists on a specific mode of celebrating, but without sufficient Scriptural warrant.

    Would you like to make the case that these elements of Christian worship are specified by Scripture in the sense Calvin gave them? Or, do you concede that they are not?
    Mode of baptism;
    Mode of Eucharist;
    Place and nature of biblical preaching?

    Thanks,

    David

  63. Robert (#61)

    IOW not everything per se that occurs in the worship service needs to be commanded or inferred.

    Yes, that’s what I feel as well, about Reformed worship. So…

    That said, the reformed do not find the sacrifice of the mass, the veneration of the monstrance/host, auricular confession, supremacy of the Roman bishop commanded explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.

    …even if I agreed with you – I don’t, as a matter of fact, since I think all three are implicit – well, assuming that by ‘veneration of the monstrance’ you mean, of course, veneration of the Host in the monstrance – but even if I agreed with you, it seems that you would need to show that these are implicitly, at least, contradictory to Scripture.

    But I must say that I really think that one will never understand Catholicism this way – I mean, by analysing the individual beliefs and practices and deciding whether they are Biblical – even in this milder is-not-contradicted-implicitly form. The heart of Catholicism is not a collection of beliefs and practices. It is the belief that Jesus established a single, organic, mystical Body, with a certain organisation (like any body) and that coming to Jesus is always through (even if not consciously) that Body, and that that Body is – or ‘subsists in’ in the words of Dominus Jesus – the (Roman, that is, in communion with the Bishop of Rome) Catholic Church. If that is true, then it seems to follow that the practices of that Church – though not necessarily the practices of every member of it – must be Biblical.

    jj

  64. Robert (#61),

    You wrote:
    “Note the scriptural references for observing the first day of the week. That is not to say that the reformed do not recognize traditions that are grounded in Scripture, but ultimately and obviously, the cart does not precede the horse. We accept tradition because it is scriptural, but tradition is not scripture nor can it contradict scripture explicitly or implicitly. Or to put it another way, we have the genuine apostolic tradition and teaching perfectly and infallibly transmitted to us in the Scriptures alone.”

    The Catholic can work within this context except for your last word. Obviously, the Catholic Church does not see her Tradition, dogmas, etc. as contradicting Scripture explicitly or implicitly. The Catholic Church also does not consider Tradition to be Scripture, but that Scripture is the highest part of Tradition. In this view, you cannot separate Scripture from Tradition or Tradition from Scripture. In yours, there is only Scripture; tradition has no force or real authority over Christians. An example: you state that Sunday worship is commanded in opposition to the SDA practice, but that there is leeway with how often the Eucharist is celebrated (and even with what the Eucharist means as long as it’s not the Catholic/Orthodox understanding). That, however, is in direct contradiction with the historical practice and teaching of the Church, which was to celebrate it weekly (if not daily) and to affirm the Real Presence.

    You wrote:
    “The Westminster Confession I:6 further acknowledges that ‘there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed (1 Cor. 2:9-11).
    IOW not everything per se that occurs in the worship service needs to be commanded or inferred.”

    The Catholic Church also teaches this.

    You wrote:
    “That said, the reformed do not find the sacrifice of the mass, the veneration of the monstrance/host, auricular confession, supremacy of the Roman bishop commanded explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.”

    Apparently, the Catholic Church does hold such doctrines and practices to be either commanded or have their precedents in Scripture. However, by denying the sacrifice of the Mass, auricular confession, and even the uniqueness of the Roman bishop as the successor of Peter (with the accompanying doctrine of apostolic succession), Protestants remove themselves from what the Church had taught and practiced for fifteen centuries before the Reformation.

  65. 62 David,
    Thanks for yours,
    For the record my only concessions are:
    1. The title to the article is somewhat a misnomer in that the subject is Calvin, not reformed worship per se. R. Muller Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics makes it quite clear that while Calvin is important and very influential, he is not the only reformed divine or the whole of the reformed faith.
    2. Neither the article nor the comments correctly articulate or acknowledge the regulative principle of worship. Hence my comments up until now. The RPW is the confessional basis for reformed worship, i.e. the G&N consequences of the Second as the reformed divide the ten commandments.
    3. The comments on the examples of baptism cited from Scripture fail to mention that preaching and teaching accompanied, if not preceded most of them.
    4. Yet the most egregious example of ignorance, if not incomprehension and presentation of the biblical record concerns preaching. What, pray tell, does Christ tell us he has come to do, but to preach?

    And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. Mark 1:38,39

    Likewise Acts is full of examples of the apostles preaching, in the synagogues and elsewhere.

    Much more if without faith it is impossible to please God, and faith comes by hearing and that by the word and the word preached, then how beautiful the feet of those who proclaim the glad tidings, for there is no other way to be saved. Heb.11:1, Rome. 10:13-17

    5. As regards secondary sources, I would commend H.O.Olds’s Patristic Roots of Reformed Worship, The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth Century and Worship, Reformed According to Scripture. To be brief, in the last Olds mentions that since baptism is the solemn reception into the church it is celebrated before the congregation, though obviously there were apostolic exceptions when the Christian church was just getting off the ground. Children are baptized because of the faith of their parents, not their godparents and Christian names given at the time of baptism, because of the connection with circumcision Gen. 17, Rom. 4:11, Lk1:59,60, 2:20

    Likewise R. Godfrey’s “Calvin and the Worship of God” pp.31-50 in The Worship of God, Reformed Concepts of Biblical Worship, Mentor, 2005 is very good in focusing on both the importance of worship and the centrality of Scripture in the same at Geneva. Worship there revolved around prayer, the reading, preaching and teaching (catechism) of Scripture, singing Scripture in psalmody and observing the visible Word of God in the public administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper.

    63 JJ,
    The several parts of worship are commanded explicilty or implicitly, while circumstances common to any gathering, which includes gathering for worship are not. IOW the sacrifice of the mass and the veneration of the host/monstrance are not indifferent/inconsequential circumstances in the worship of God. Again, the reformed hold them to be clearcut violations of the injunction against idolatry in the Second Commandment, which again, Rome implicitly denies by swallowing up the Second in the First in her explication such as it is of the commandments.

    As for pious mysticism as the true way to understand Romanism, sorry, but I ain’t buying. I heard it often enough growing up in that communion, but upon my return to it after coming to know Christ, I found implicit/blind faith to be clearly contrary to the mind of Christ found in Scripture and to which believers are to aspire to. We know God pre eminently through Scripture, by hearing and understanding his word, not by eating a piece of bread or letting go and letting God.

    Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:34,35

    64 Garrison,

    If you can show me where the Roman church teaches the same thing as WCF 1:6, I’ll give you a dollar. No, make that two dollars. And I do have a current copy of the RCCatechism.
    The rest of your comments demonstrate well the Roman rhetorical practice of asserting something authoritatively and expecting your audience to fall in line promptly.

    Yet it doesn’t work like that. Rather, as alluded to but essentially avoided in the comments elsewhere on CtC by principals of the same, the real quandary is that the only , even if nominally, common ground between protestants and papists is Scripture.

    IOW that means when the Mormons show up at the door, they need to be able to demonstrate from Scripture that the Book of Mormon is lawful and Joseph Smith a true prophet. Since they generally are ignorant of Scripture to begin with, this is pretty much the end of the story, even if they just want to invite you to the Mormon version of the Jesus movie. The same goes for Muslims who profess to venerate at least parts of the Bible and Jesus. All the while the Bible condemns additional scriptures and prophets.

    Likewise the case for Rome. For my money, she would be better off if she just left off any kind of appeal to Scripture and merely claimed her own inherent authority. Which she pretty much does anyway. Vide the Second getting swallowed up in the First like Jonah in the whale.

    That is to say, if you don’t have an argument from Scripture, you can’t and haven’t even got to first base in this discussion, never mind that Rome today after Trent, is not the medieval church, never mind the ancient church, if even or ever it was the apostolic church. Reason and history, after Scripture take their toll on the blind appeals to authority.

    But enough for now.

    Thank you.

  66. Well, it’s nice that you guys are all having steady responses to Robert, but what will you do with St. Paul’s statement to Titus about admonishing a heretic once or twice and then rejecting him. See Titus 3:10, “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid. Knowing that he, that is such an one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.” It seems clear to me that Robert is not a person of good will at this point in his life. I think it’s time to end the discussion. There is also the regulative principle in 1 John 4: “We are of God. He that knoweth God, heareth us. He that is not of God, heareth us not. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” And, “If any man will not hear the church…” etc. Robert is not hearing the Catholic Church because Robert, for all his “biblical” reading and training in the WCF, is not of God but a member of a false and aberrant sect. About all you can do for him now is pray for him.

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