26 December, 2014

Why the Regulative Principle is Neccessary

Church history has shown that God's covenant people have often been 
drawn away from the simplicity of pure gospel worship into all manner 
of manmade innovations. Because of man's fallen nature and proneness 
to sin, it was inevitable that human autonomy in worship would pervert 
and then force out true worship. "And it shall be unto you for 
a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments 
of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own 
heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that 
ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto 
your God" (Num. 15:39-40).

Many argue that God's regulative principle is too strict. They argue 
that it confines the human spirit and stifles human creativity. They 
teach that it is an overreaction to the abuses of Roman Catholicism. 
But let us look at the logical implications of allowing anything into 
God's worship, as long as it is not forbidden in the Word of God.

The first thing is that the simplicity and transcultural nature of 
pure Gospel worship are replaced by a virtually infinite variety of 
manmade innovations. Since God no longer draws the line for worship 
content and ceremony, man will draw and redraw the line as he pleases. 
A church that does not obey God's regulative principle finds it impossible 
to stop new-fangled ideas and innovations in worship. The Presbyterian 
and Reformed denominations which abandoned the Regulative Principle 
in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century prove this point. 
The pattern of perversion goes something like this: First, man-made 
hymns (not commanded) are sung along with God's inspired Psalms (commanded); 
then, within a generation or two, the Psalms are completely replaced 
by hymns and grossly paraphrased Psalms. The old fashioned hymns, 
after a while, are replaced by "charismatic" campfire songs. 
Initially, the Reformed churches would sing the Psalms without musical 
accompaniment, because musical instruments were used only in association 
with God's temple and therefore ceased as one of the aspects of the 
ceremonial law. Many Reformed churches abandoned a capella Psalm singing 
and brought in organs. Then, within a generation or 
two, churches were using folk guitars, orchestras and even rock groups. 
The innovations just described are only the tip of the iceberg. You 
can find the following in so-called Presbyterian and Reformed churches: 
celebration of holy days (Christmas, Easter, etc.), choirs, intricate 
liturgies, liturgical dance, rock groups, drama, rock videos, the 
church calendar, pictures of Christ, crosses, etc.

If you give sinful man the autonomy of choosing how he will worship, 
the historical pattern is clear. Man will choose man-centered worship. 
Sinful man is drawn to entertainment (thus the popularity of the clap-your-hands, 
stamp-your-feet "charismatic" style worship, rock groups, 
drama, choirs, music soloists, pop and country singers, etc.), and 
sinful man is drawn to ritual and pomp (cathedrals, incense, candles, 
bells, holy days, popish vestments, liturgy, etc.). When will man-made 
innovations stop? They won't until the church obeys God's regulative 
principle of worship. God has given a command which man is not to 
ignore. "[T]he acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted 
by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, 
that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices 
of men. . . or any other way not prescribed in the holy 
Scripture."12 False worship originates in the mind of man, 
according to his imagination. True worship originates in the mind of God 
and is revealed in the Bible. "But this thing commanded I them, saying, 
Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk 
ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. 
But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the 
counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, 
and not forward" (Jer. 7:23-24). Calvin, in his commentary on 
Jeremiah, uses this verse to condemn all the perverse innovations 
of papal worship: "Moreover, if the origin of the whole Papal 
worship be considered, it will appear, that those who first devised 
so many strange superstitions, were only impelled by audacity and 
presumption, in order that they might trample underfoot the word of 
God. Hence it is, that all things are become corrupt; for they 
brought in all the strange figments of their own brains. And 
we see that the Papists at this day are so perversely fixed in their 
own errors, that they prefer themselves and their own trumperies to 
God. And the same is the case also with all heretics. What then is 
to be done? Obedience, as I have said, is to be held as the basis 
of all true religion. If, then, on the other hand, we wish to 
render our worship approved by God, let us learn to cast aside whatever 
is our own, so that his authority may prevail over all our reasons" 
(Emphasis added).13

No comments: