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It may help the reader to know that The Whole Manner of Worship... was originally prepared as a term paper for Symbolics 1411 at the Theological College of the Canadian Reformed Churches in Hamilton, Ontario. It has been heavily revised since that time and several of the changes are intended to make the paper more accessible to the general public. One thing that I have not changed is the number and style of the footnotes. Thorough bibliographical footnotes allow others to duplicate and confirm the results of research. Some explanatory footnotes alert the reader to controversies or issues which play a role in the background of this topic but cannot exhaustively be dealt with in the body. Three book reviews related to the topic of worship are also added as appendices. These three books will assist the interested reader in pursuing further study concerning the Reformed doctrine of worship and its historical development. The Select Annotated Bibliography is likewise intended to serve that end.
The Whole Manner of Worship... is offered in the hope that the doctrine of worship found in the Belgic Confession will receive the greater attention which it deserves. All around the Reformed churches there is great apostasy, and this should force us to pay greater attention to what our forefathers have written and what our churches confess. The conclusions reached in this little booklet may not be popular, but they represent the Biblical truth which the Church ought to believe and confess wholeheartedly.
Several brief acknowledgments are due: Thanks to Dr. N.H. Gootjes for his helpful comments on the original term paper; Kevin Reed for the helpful information on John Calvin and the Genevan Book of Order; finally, Johanna VanderPlas for allowing the use of her translation of the chapter on Article 7 in J. VanBruggen's Het Amen der Kerk.
"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith." Hebrews 13:7
Occasionally one hears that the regulative principle of worship1 is something peculiar to the so-called Presbyterian tradition. However, recently there has been a considerable amount of discussion concerning the place of the regulative principle within churches of a continental Reformed background.2 At Christmas and Easter, you can sometimes hear Reformed Internet discussion groups debating about principles of worship, and especially how they relate to the days commemorating the events of salvation history (or "feast-days" as some people call them). At other times, Reformed Internet aficionados debate one another about such questions as the use of musical instruments in worship and the exclusive singing of Psalms or inspired songs. Through all these discussions the participants often appeal to the Reformed confessions. Those who argue for the classical understanding and application of the regulative principle frequently make reference also to the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism.3 They make these references in order to shore up their assertion that the regulative principle is not a Presbyterian innovation, but a central teaching of the Great Reformation of the 16th century. Reference is made not only to Article 32 of the Belgic Confession ("The Order and Discipline of the Church"), but also frequently to Article 7, concerning the sufficiency of Scripture.
The Belgic Confession begins with a brief portrayal of the one God (Article 1) and then quickly moves into the revelation of that one God (Article 2). Articles 3-7 outline the Reformed doctrine of Scripture, confessing the origin of the Word of God (Article 3), the contents of the Word (Article 4), the authority of Scripture (Article 5), and the difference between Scripture and the Apocryphal books (Article 6). After these important subjects, we find an article about the sufficiency of Scripture, the doctrine which states that Holy Writ sufficiently reveals to us the will of God. In this article is another exposition of the Reformed doctrine of Scripture, except this time the author of the Confession has also added something about the Reformed doctrine of worship. The relevant part of Article 7 reads:
"We believe that this Holy Scripture fully contains the will of God and that all that man must believe in order to be saved is sufficiently taught therein. The whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in it at length. It is therefore unlawful for any one, even for an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in Scripture: yes, even if it be an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul says. Since it is forbidden to add or take away anything from the Word of God, it is evident that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects."4
Our central focus in this study will be the second sentence: "The whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in it at length." I would like to answer two questions about this sentence and its context: does the Belgic Confession contain the regulative principle of worship here in Article 7? And what is the nature of the connection between the sufficiency of Scripture and worship in this article and in the historical-theological context of the Belgic Confession? These are important questions, especially in light of recent discussions.
Moreover, various writers have made claims that magnetically draw the present author to as thorough a study of this topic as possible. Greg Price claims that the sufficiency of Scripture is a theological principle which lays a foundation for the regulative principle.5 Rowland Ward in his defence of exclusive psalmody uses the Belgic Confession Article 7 to bolster his claim that "in the church of Christ we must rest content with what Christ has instituted. We must not add nor must we take away from what He has commanded."6 Are these claims in fact supported by the Belgic Confession? An examination will be made of the other writings of Guido de Bres, John Calvin, and the closely related Gallican Confession to see if what we have in Article 7 can justifiably be used by defenders of the regulative principle of worship.
Guido de Bres (1522-1567) was born in Mons in the present day region of southwestern Belgium, the fourth son of devout Roman Catholic parents. Apprenticed as a glass painter, the young de Bres was converted to the Reformed faith before he turned 25. This was a time of great persecutions in the Lowlands and to become Reformed was no small matter. Eventually, de Bres became a preacher in the Reformed churches in the Netherlands. Owing to the terrible persecutions of King Philip of Spain, de Bres was forced to go into exile numerous times. He lived much of his life as a hunted man. Eventually the authorities caught up with him and hanging from a scaffold as a martyr, he was received into the arms of the Lord. During his life, he had written the Belgic Confession partly as a testimony to the government that the Reformed churches were not seditious (as many of the Anabaptists were), but were good, Christian citizens.7
Besides the Belgic Confession, two other writings of de Bres were available for this study. The first is his anti-Romanist work, Le baston de la foy Chrestienne (The Bastion of the Christian Faith), written in response to a Romanist book, Le bouclier de la foy (The Buckler of the Faith).8 In this work of 1558, de Bres attacks many of the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He does this mostly by offering relevant Scripture passages and quotations from the Church Fathers. One topic that he does not touch on explicitly is the proper manner of worshipping God.
However, in this book de Bres does touch on the main issue of Article 7, namely the sufficiency of Scripture. He maintains the immutability of the Word of God. The heading of this section sounds very similar to Article 7 of the Belgic Confession:
"To Scripture we may not add anything, nor take anything away."9
Following this are a number of quotations from Deut. 4:2, 12:32, Prov.30:6, Gal.1:8, and Rev.22:18-19. All of these texts support the statement that we are not to add or subtract from Scripture in any way. If we compare the texts used to support the same assertion in the earliest edition of the Belgic Confession, we see some differences. The Belgic Confession includes Galatians 1:8 and Rev.22:18-19, but does not include any of the Old Testament references. It is only later on that the Old Testament text references are added to Article 7.10 Is this a significant point? Not necessarily, since many additional proof-texts could be proffered for various doctrines within the Belgic Confession. The proof-texts given by de Bres are not meant to be a comprehensive Scriptural repository for the doctrines expounded. Nevertheless, a brief examination of the Old Testament passages not present in the earliest edition of the Belgic Confession may give some clues as to whether or not de Bres made a connection between worship and the sufficiency of Scripture in Le baston.
The first passage is from Deut.4:2, "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." The following verse makes clear reference to the Baal idolatry which took place at Baal Peor. The command given here is certainly very broad, and it applies not only to those commands dealing with worship, but all the commandments of Jahweh. However, considering the context, especially verses 15-40, leads us to conclude that there is a special emphasis placed here on worship in general and idols in particular. The necessity to keep rigorously the commands of Jahweh with regards to worship is particularly in view.
Next we consider Deut. 12:32, "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it." Once again this passage is found within the context of sin against the second commandment. Verse 31 warns the Israelites not to worship God in the manner of the heathens and chapter 13 continues speaking about idolatry and false prophets. So here again is a command not to add or take away anything from the commands of the LORD, especially as they pertain to worship. The Word of Jahweh is to be sufficient for His covenant people.
Finally, Prov. 30:6, "Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar." This is the only Old Testament passage given in Le baston which does not make a clear reference to worship. Here a general truth is expressed that we should always be placing our trust in His word and not depending on our own strength. This would fit in with what one would initially think about upon reading the words of de Bres. Though not in the original editions, this proof text was later on added to Article 7 of the Belgic Confession.
These Old Testament references, particularly the ones from Deuteronomy are suggestive. It could possibly be that when de Bres wrote the quoted words he was already connecting the sufficiency of Scripture with worship in such a way that the regulative principle is present. However, this is mere speculation based on some text references. The New Testament references, combined with Prov. 30:6, seem to point to a simple expression of a general truth. The only thing that is really clear from de Bres' words in Le baston is that he did maintain the sufficiency of Scripture in a broad sense. Whether this doctrine of sufficiency applied in some way to worship is difficult to state conclusively from the evidence of de Bres' writings apart from the Belgic Confession, although the possibility is there.
It is clear that the Protestant motif of sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) is being stated here against all the additions of the Roman Catholics. But again it is not clear whether this extends to the additions with respect to worship. De Bres gives us no firm indication as to his full intent. This uncertainty regarding the full intent of this section in Le baston is intensified by an examination of the immediate context. The preceding context is completely irrelevant, but what follows the Scripture quotations is not. What we find there is a number of quotations from various Church fathers, translated into French (presumably by de Bres himself).
The first quotation is from Tertullian's Prescription Against Heretics. In chapter 6 of that work, Tertullian is arguing that "Heretics are self-condemned. Heresy is self-will, whilst faith is submission of our will to the divine authority."11 In the section quoted by de Bres, Tertullian writes,
"We, however, are not permitted to cherish any object after our own will, nor yet to make any choice of that which another has introduced of his private fancy. In the Lord's apostles we possess our authority; for even they did not of themselves choose to introduce anything, but faithfully delivered to the nations (of mankind) the doctrine which they received from Christ."12
Tertullian is writing within the context of grave doctrinal error. He is railing against self-willed doctrine, and to be sure, later in the same writing he does connect heresy with idolatry,13 but de Bres' use of this passage does not seem to be pointing exclusively in the direction of worship. The idea of worship may certainly be included here, but it does not seem to be primarily in view, not from Tertullian's perspective, and probably not from the perspective of de Bres either. Just the same, the point is well taken: we may not place our wills and fancies above what the Lord has taught us. This is the broad, general truth that de Bres seems to be driving at by providing this quote from Tertullian.
De Bres then adds a quotation from Augustine, from his work on the Gospel of John. In this passage Augustine is discussing John 10. The quotation reads:
"For sitting in Moses' seat, they teach the law of God; therefore God teacheth by them. But if they wish to teach their own things, hear them not, do them not. For certainly such seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's..."14
This passage is not as explictly directed towards false teaching as the one from Tertullian. Augustine is dealing with a passage concerning the Pharisees who added to the law of God and taught their own things. They did this also with respect to worship, for the law of God is not only the moral law, but also the ceremonial law. But the point of the passage is that we not follow after those who teach their own things. The context is again very broad and can certainly be understood to include worship. Following this passage there are two more quotes, one from Jerome and one from Chrysostom, both comparable in tenor to the passages from Tertullian and Augustine. From this brief examination, we must conclude that nothing really definite about de Bres' connection between the sufficiency of Scripture and worship can be extracted from Le Baston. We are left with more generalizations than anything else.
The second work of Guido de Bres that may be briefly considered is La racine, source, et fondement des anabaptistes (The Root, Source and Base of the Anabaptists). This work, written in 1565 (after the Belgic Confession), was a lengthy diatribe against some of the more pernicious doctrines held by the main Anabaptist groups in the Netherlands and Germany.15 Within the context of Book 1, where de Bres is discussing the historical background of the Anabaptist movement(s), he does bring up the matter of Scripture and divergent Anabaptist ideas regarding the Word of God. For instance, de Bres maintains that Scripture contains the teaching of the Holy Spirit, contradicting the teaching of Thomas Muntzer.16 Further on, he attacks such Anabaptists as Bastian Franck who deny that the reading of Scripture is necessary.17 But through all of this there is no relation of the sufficiency of Scripture to worship. In fact, throughout La racine de Bres does not seem to indicate that he has an explicit problem with Anabaptist principles of worship.
The reason for this is indicated in the article concerning public worship among the Dutch Anabaptists in the Mennonite Encyclopedia:
"Concerning the order of service in early times and in the 17th century there is only scarce information...The order used by the Lamists and the Zonists was largely influenced by the Calvinists: invocation by the minister, singing of a Psalm, a long prayer by the minister, then mostly, but not always, Scripture reading, sermon, from the early 18th century interrupted by congregational singing, during which an offering was usually taken, prayer after the sermon, another psalm, benediction and offering at the exit."18
The Lamists and the Zonists were two of the three large groups of Anabaptists in the Netherlands, the other being the Fijne.19 The Fijne Anabaptists also had an order of worship which is not radically different from that of the Dutch Protestants of de Bres' time. An order of worship does not always give clear evidence concerning the principles of worship held, so one must be careful in drawing conclusions from this information about Anabaptist ideas concerning worship. What may be concluded is that since there were no or few differences between the Calvinists and the Anabaptists in practice, de Bres passed the subject over in light of more serious things such as the erroneous Anabaptist Christology and doctrine of baptism. The end result is that we are left with nothing of value from La racine for our present topic. However, for our discussion of Article 7, this brief examination will prove to be helpful, for we may rule out the possibility that de Bres had the Anabaptists in mind when he connected the sufficiency of Scripture with worship.
Though it has occasionally been debated, there can be little question that the greatest influence upon Guido de Bres was the Genevan reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564). As Dr. J. Faber has remarked, "De Bres met Calvin, studied under his leadership and acknowledged him as his teacher, who had formed him theologically and still guided him. Already in 1556 de Bres corresponded with Calvin, whom he must have regarded as his spiritual father."20 Recognizing this, no apology need be made for looking to Calvin for the theological roots of the Belgic Confession, also with respect to Article 7, especially considering the fact that de Bres' available works contain little of value for our present topic. To understand de Bres' confession properly, an examination of Calvin is required. Does Calvin make a connection between the sufficiency of Scripture and worship, and if so, how does he do this?
It is natural to begin with Calvin's magnum opus, the Institutes. In Book 1, Calvin discusses the knowledge of God. Within that context he also writes about how that knowledge is revealed and how it relates to worship. In 1.10.2, he writes,
"Indeed the knowledge of God set forth for us in Scripture is destined for the very same goal as the knowledge whose imprint shines in his creatures, in that it invites us first to fear God, then to trust in Him. By this we can learn to worship him both with perfect innocence of life and with unfeigned obedience, then to depend wholly upon His goodness."21
The knowledge of God is revealed in Scripture. From Scripture we learn how we are to worship God in perfect obedience. Though it is not explicitly stated, the implication seems to be that only with Scripture are we able to worship God properly. Only Scripture is sufficient to provide us with the knowledge we need to worship God -- though it is noted that Calvin adds "with perfect innocence of life and with unfeigned obedience." This would seem to indicate that Calvin is not here working along the lines of corporate worship, but a daily obedience to God's Word. Naturally, this daily obedience does not exclude the worship of God according to His will.
What is obscure and only implicit in the first book of the Institutes becomes clearer and more applicable to our topic in the fourth book. In the context of the worship of the Roman Catholic Church, Calvin says the following in 4.10.17:
"For God threatens not one age or another but all ages with this curse, that He will strike with blindness and amazement those who worship Him with the doctrines of men. This blinding continually causes those who despise so many warnings of God and will fully entangle themselves in these deadly snares, to embrace every kind of absurdity. But suppose, apart from present circumstances, you simply want to understand what are those human traditions of all times that should be repudiated by the church and by all godly men. What we have set forth above will be a sure and clear definition: that they are all laws apart from God's Word, laws made by men, either to prescribe the manner of worshipping God or to bind consciences by scruples, as if they were making rules about things necessary for salvation."22
In this passage Calvin is attacking the heavy emphasis on tradition among the Papists. The traditions that should be rejected are those which are not commanded in God's Word. The many regulations which have been added by men are to be excised from worship -- the implication being that only God's Word can give us guidelines for how we are to worship God. The regulative principle is definitely being stated here, but does this say anything about the connection between the sufficiency of Scripture and worship? Again, it is not explictly stated here, but the presupposition resting behind this statement and application of the regulative principle certainly seems to be that Scripture is sufficient for supplying the principles which undergird our worship of God, for all human traditions are "laws apart from God's Word." This can be said of nearly any passage in Calvin which mentions the regulative principle (and there are many of them),23 so we must try to be more specific in our examination. Is there any place where we Calvin can be found making a directly explicit connection between worship and the sufficiency of Scripture?
The Confession of Faith in Name of the Reformed Churches of France was written by Calvin in 1562. This confessional document, not to be confused with the Gallican Confession, is a reliable summary of Calvin's theology on many points.24 Article 5 of this Confession establishes the Bible as "the only rule of our faith, so that we receive all that is conformable to them." Calvin then outlines some of the Christological heresies of the early Church which the Reformed churches detest. He then adds, "God forbid that we should be infected with those reveries which troubled the Catholic Church at the time when it was in its purity." Article 6, combined with Article 5, is directly pertinent to our topic:
"Wherefore all our differences relate to the following points:on what our confidence of salvation should rest, how we ought to invoke God, and what is the method of well and duly serving him. And there are points depending on these, viz., what is the true polity of the Church, the office of prelates and pastors, the nature, virtue, and use of the Sacraments."25
Immediately following the article about Scripture and the emphasis on sola Scriptura in that article, we read here about the major differences between the Reformed churches and the Romanists, differences which take place because of a different view of the nature of Scriptural authority -- is it exclusive (or sufficient) or do we need extra-Scriptural authority?. The Papists hold to a "Scripture plus" view, Scripture plus tradition. The Protestants, on the other hand, maintain a "Scripture alone" view, Scripture plus nothing else. This initial statement of the position of the Reformed churches is made clearer further on in the Confession.
Article 16 deals with prayers for the dead, and explains why the Reformed churches do not offer prayers for the dead. In connection with this we find the sentence, "We deem it sufficient to hold by the pure doctrine of Holy Scripture, which makes no mention of all this."26 Here there is a clear connection made between the sufficiency of Scripture and public worship in an ecclesiastical setting. Prayers for the dead were normally offered in a eucharistic context in the Romanist churches, thus what is said here is definitely directed towards the realm of the corporate public worship of the church.27 John Calvin again emphasizes that we may not arbitrarily add to the commands of Scripture with regards to worship. Scripture is a sufficient revelation of the will of God concerning how He wants to be worshipped.
Article 17 takes us even further and discusses "the service of God" which was mentioned already in Article 6. Here Calvin is slightly less explicit about the relation to Scriptural sufficiency than in the previous article:
"The second principal point in which we differ from the custom and opinion received in the world, is the manner of serving God. Now on our part, in accordance with His declaration, that obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam.15:22) and with His uniform injunction to listen to what He commands, if we would render a well regulated and acceptable sacrifice, we hold that it is not for us to invent to us [sic]what seems good, or to follow what may have been devised in the brains of other men, but to confine ourselves simply to the purity of Scripture. Wherefore we believe that anything which is not derived from it, but has only been commanded by the authority of men, ought not to be regarded as the service of God."28
The statement that the confessors will confine themselves to the purity of Scripture with regards to worship reveals the presupposition which undergirds Calvinist worship. We remain with Scripture, for it is sufficient for our worship according to the command of God. It is not only that we do what God commands, but also that whatsoever He has not commanded is forbidden, for "we confine ourselves to the purity of Scripture." The words of Scripture are pure, whereas the words of men, whether they propose to add or subtract from God's commands, are impure. We cannot presume "to invent to us what seems good." God wants to be worshipped in precisely the way that He has ordained. No more and no less. The regulative principle (as defined in the Introduction) is certainly here in Article 17 and it certainly is given in the context of corporate worship (the articles which follow deal with church ordinances), although the relationship between the sufficiency of Scripture and worship is marginally less evident than in Article 16.
The final document to be examined in relation to John Calvin is the Genevan Book of Order. Though not written by Calvin himself, he gave advice for its production and the final edition was approved by him and thus can be employed as reliable barometer of his thought about worship.29 In the Preface to this document (written by William Whittingham), the connection between worship and the sufficiency of Scripture is very explicitly drawn:
"We, therefore, not as the greatest clerks of all, but as the least able of many, do present unto you which desire the increase of God's glory, and the pure simplicity of His Word, a form and order of a Reformed church, limited within the compass of God's Word, which our Saviour has left unto us as only sufficient to govern all our actions by, so that whatsoever is added to this Word by man's device, seem it never [sic] so good, holy or beautiful, yet before our God, who is jealous and cannot admit any companion or counsellor, it is evil, wicked, and abominable."30
Here there is no question about the foundation for the regulative principle: it is the sufficiency of Scripture. Christ left the Church with His Word to be sufficient for the determination of her worship and order. Nothing else needs to (or can) be added to what Christ has decided is sufficient. No one can presume to be God's counsellor, saying, "It is not enough, Lord," or "It is too much, Lord." John Calvin himself sums it up, "Every addition to His word, especially in this matter [worship], is a lie. Mere 'will-worship' is vanity. This is the decision, and when once the Judge has decided it is no longer time to debate."31 Thus Kevin Reed may aptly pen, "Note specifically that the Reformation documents clearly show that the regulative principle grows out of the sola Scriptura rule of Protestant theology."32
We may summarize our study of Calvin by stating that the sufficiency of Scripture (flowing out of its purity) is the starting point or presupposition for Calvin's understanding and employment of the regulative principle. Without the doctrine of sufficiency, the regulative principle would not be in existence. Scripture alone is sufficient, not only for doctrine and life in general, but also for the worship of the Church. Scripture is all that is needed and one may not add or subtract from God's commands concerning worship, or any other matter. The sufficiency of Scripture is the sine qua non33 for the regulative principle in Calvin.34
If John Calvin is considered the spiritual father of Guido de Bres, then the Gallican Confession35 can surely be spoken of as the mother of the Belgic Confession. Many things from the Gallican were taken over into the Belgic and Calvin played a role in the formulation of this confession as well. Philip Schaff relates that "the Gallican Confession is the work of John Calvin, who prepared the first draft, and of his pupil, Antoine de la Roche Chandieu, who, with the Synod of Paris in 1559, brought it into its present enlarged shape."36 As a result of this outside influence and because this document is directly responsible for the shape of the Belgic Confession, it deserves a separate and more complete examination.
The relation between the sufficiency of Scripture and worship is laid out from the very beginning of this confession. Before even one article has been given, the Preface to the King has already made mention of our topic in conjunction with the worship of the Roman Church:
"For the articles of our faith, which are all declared at some length in our Confession, all come to this: that since God has sufficiently declared His will to us through His prophets and Apostles, and even by the mouth of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we owe such respect and reverence to the Word of God as shall prevent us from adding to it anything of our own, but shall make us conform entirely to the rules it prescribes. And inasmuch as the Roman Church, forsaking the use and customs of the primitive Church, has introduced new commandments and a new form of worship of God, we esteem it but reasonable to prefer the commandments of God, who is Himself truth, to the commandments of men, who by their nature are inclined to deceit and vanity."37
The strong emphasis upon sola Scriptura can hardly be overlooked. God has sufficiently given us His word and we cannot dare to presume to add anything new to it. God's Word alone is sufficient and this is the main thrust of the Gallican Confession according to the first sentence. The authors of this Confession then apply this rule to the Roman Catholic Church and her "new form of worship of God." In reaction to this, the confessors would rather follow the commandments of God than the commandments of men, since men are sinful and fallible creatures. An argument is presented here which has as the first premise the sufficiency of Scripture. From there the confessors move toward their conclusion which is that we should only worship God as He has commanded us. Also noteworthy is that this is presented not within the context of personal obedience and a godly life, but within the context of corporate worship in the Church. This principle of worship does have application elsewhere, but the main thrust here is to deal with corruptions of worship within the Church.
Within the body of the Gallican Confession itself, it is Article 5 which corresponds to Article 7 of the Belgic Confession. The relevant part of this article reads:
"We believe that the Word contained in these books has proceeded from God, and receives its authority from Him alone, and not from men. And inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that is necessary for the service of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it."38
This translation from Schaff's edition (made by Miss Emily O. Butler of New York) is too wooden and narrow when it translates "service" from the original French into "service" in English. The Preface contained the same word when it spoke about the "worship of God" (service du Dieu). In French ecclesiastical literature of this time, "service" was used to describe the divine worship service. The Dictionnaire de la langue Francaise classique defines the ecclesiastical usage of "service" as public worship.39 The 1611 Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues also places "service" in the context of a public worship service.40 The same assertion can be made of the authoritative Dictionanaire Historique De La Langue Francaise and the Dictionnaire Universel of 1690.41 French usage of the era within an ecclesiastical context points us in the direction of public worship within the Church. Butler's translation in Schaff weakens the force and true meaning of what is really being said in the French. Therefore it would be wise to follow the translation given in the Harmony of Protestant Confessions: "...containing whatsoever is required for the worship of God."42 As will be seen further on, these observations are important for our understanding of Article 7 of the Belgic Confession since it uses the same word.
Especially when we consider the connection made in Calvin between the sufficiency of Scripture and worship in an ecclesiastical sense, and when we take into consideration what was said in the Preface, it is only reasonable to conclude that the authors of the Gallican Confession were thinking about the worship of God within the Church, rather than worship or "service" in a broader sense which would include personal obedience to the Word of God.43 This is supported by what follows in the Gallican Confession, namely a rejection of the weight of various ecclesiastical "authorities." While the authors would certainly not deny that the Word of God is to regulate the life-service/worship of the individual Christian, the confession is one for the Church and the evidence indicates that the Church is in view here in Article 5 of the Gallican Confession.
Moreover, it is noteworthy that this article combines the doctrines of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. The confession asserts that the Bible possesses self-attesting authority because it is the Word of God, "the rule of all truth." It then adds the phrase concerning worship and our salvation. Scripture contains "all that is necessary," nothing can be added to it. This doctrine of authority and sufficiency is the governing presupposition in the Reformed principle of worship.
This principle of worship is brought in later again in the Gallican Confession in Article 33 in the unambiguous context of the church:44
"However, we reject all human inventions and laws which men may introduce under the pretense of serving God, by which they wish to bind consciences; and we receive only that which conduces to concord and holds all in obedience, from the greatest to the least."45
Although the Reformation principle of worship is expressed, the connection with Sola Scriptura is not made, instead the emphasis falls on unity among the believers who are held in obedience to God's Word. Moreover, here again the word translated by Butler as "serving" is actually the French word "service." A better translation would be: "under pretense of the worship of God..." However, the context in this case makes it quite clear that the authors of the Confession are speaking about human inventions and laws within the worship and life of the Church. The articles surrounding this particular one are dealing with various elements within the Church, such as general doctrine of the Church (Articles 25-27), government of the Church (Articles 28-32) and the sacraments (Articles 34-38). The Gallican Confession places the regulative principle always in the context of the life of the Church, and in the context of corporate worship. The authors take it for granted that the Word of God is also to be the rule for our personal lives.46
In the contention of the Reformed against the Roman Catholics, the great bulk of the fight against false worship was directed towards the realm of corporate worship within the Church, rather than the personal devotion of the individual Christian. This is what Eire is pointing towards when he writes that Calvin's primary objective (the eradication of compromise) in his dealings with the Nicodemites47 was grounded upon "the necessity of maintaining 'true' and 'uncorrupted' worship in a visible church."48 What is true about Calvin's experiences with the Nicodemites holds true for the wider picture of Calvin's life and the Reformation in general. We must be careful that we do not read the individualistic presuppositions of our day into our historical understanding of Calvin and the Reformation. Calvin's reformational motivation was not primarily based on an existential desire for each individual to worship God properly with his life, although, as in Book I of the Institutes, this is important. Rather, Calvin was motivated by the larger picture of the worship and purity of the Church. The Reformation was not a movement stressing individual piety (as was the Devotio Moderna, for instance), but a struggle for the piety and purity of the Church. The emphasis falls upon the community rather than upon the individual. Carlos Eire elaborates:
"The Reformation for which Calvin struggled was not so much one of doctrine, but rather one of piety, which involved profound social and cultural changes. To be properly 'Reformed,' a community would not only have to change its theology, but also its outward expression of faith, not to mention its attitude toward the material world."49
Therefore it is correct to conclude that when the Gallican Confession connects the sufficiency of Scripture with worship, it does so primarily in light of the corruptions of the Roman Church, and with a view to the maintenance and reformation of worship of the Church according to Scripture and only Scripture.
Having analyzed the historical-theological background of this article, we may now turn our attention to the pertinent parts of the article itself. The background will help fill in the total picture behind the phrase, "The whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in it at length" and its connection to the sufficiency of Scripture.
The very first thing which should be considered is a small text-critical question. Some later texts of the Confession have the words, "car puis que" (For since), whereas others do not.50 The earliest available text, however, does not include the words.51 The present Canadian Reformed translation works with the original text that does not have these words, but rather replaces them with a "parquoy" (modern French: pourquoi, therefore) in the following sentence.52 There is a difference in meaning between these two variants. A structural analysis of the variants shows this quite clearly. The variant with the "car puis que" appears thus:
1) Since the whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in them at length, 2) Therefore it is unlawful for anyone, though an Apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scripture.
In this variant, the first sentence of Article 7 is left to stand on its own. The following two sentences represent an argument for holding to the doctrine that it is unlawful for anyone to teach anything beyond Scripture. The sentence concerning the whole manner of worship becomes a premise for the argument maintaining Scripture alone.
When structurally analyzed, the variant without the "car puis que" looks like this:
1) Since Scripture fully contains the will of God, consisting of a) all that is necessary for salvation b) the whole manner of worship which God requires of us 2) Therefore it is unlawful for anyone, even for an Apostle, to teach otherwise...
Here the teaching about worship is a subsection of the the reason for holding to the doctrine about the immutability of Scripture. It is not really a part of the argument as such. The main point is that Scripture fully contains the will of God, and therefore no one may presume to add or take away from it. This will of God includes all that is necessary for our salvation and also the manner in which God wants to be worshipped. This earlier reading of the Belgic Confession not only makes more sense theologically, it also follows the structure of Article 5 of the Gallican Confession:
"And inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that is necessary for the worship of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it."53
The full expression of the will of God (concerning our salvation and how we worship Him) means that we may not alter Scripture in any way. Scripture is the full expression of God's will and therefore to "teach otherwise than we are now taught in Holy Scripture" is a grievous sin. God has spoken and spoken fully, so we may not add or subtract from what He has spoken. The areas of worship and salvation elicit a special mention in connection with that truth, since both were central contentions of the Reformation. Man may not presume to add or subtract from the doctrines of worship and salvation.
Looking at the text itself, it should be noted that the original French text of the Belgic Confession, as in the Gallican Confession, uses the French word "service" where we have the translation "worship." The same considerations which were applied in reaching the conclusion that "worship" is the best translation in the Gallican Article 5, are also relevant here with the Belgic Article 7.54 The theological background (especially of Calvin) as well as the contemporary usage of the word "service," points us to the conclusion that was in view here with this word "service" is indeed the public worship offered within the context of the Church. Moreover, this is supported by what is found in Article 32 of our confession:
"Therefore we reject all human inventions and laws introduced into the worship of God which bind and compel the consciences in any way."
The word translated by "worship" is again the French "service." This is clearly within the context of the articles of the Belgic Confession which deal with the Church. Article 33 itself is accurately described by the heading in our translation:55 "The Order and Discipline of the Church." From all this evidence we may conclude that the worship spoken of in Article 7 is not the worship (better described as "service" or "devotion") offered by a pious Christian life, but the worship of the Church offered in the public services. The sufficiency of Scripture is attached to that worship -- Scripture is sufficient to provide the guidelines for worship within the Church (as well as everywhere else, but the focus here is on the Church). As was concluded earlier with respect to the historical-theological background, the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is the sine qua non for the principle of worship expressed here in this article -- a principle of worship which can be identified with the regulative principle of worship defined earlier on in this study.
Few commentators seem to agree with this conclusion. N.Y. Van Goor does not so rigorously attach the sufficiency of Scripture in Article 7 to the worship of the Church as such. He summarizes the relevant section of Article 7 by saying that "Holy Scripture is for the Reformed the only rule for faith and life."56 Van Goor makes the phrase broader so that it speaks to the whole of life and not just to corporate worship in particular. Moreover, Van Goor seems to place more emphasis on the authority of Scripture, rather than its sufficiency especially directly pertaining to ecclesiastical government. He writes, "This highest and decisive authority of Holy Scripture is the formal principle of Protestantism over against the Roman Church with her councils and decrees, her traditions and apocryphals."57 Van Goor's one-sided approach loses sight of the connection between the doctrine of sufficiency and the manner of worship in the first part of article 7. This is amplified in those commentators on the Belgic Confession who do not even see the element of worship present here in this article. For example, M. Eugene Osterhaven does not even mention the word or the concept worship in his chapter on Article 7 but misses it completely.58 The well-respected Dutch commentator, J. VanBruggen, gives a beautiful and thorough explanation of most of Article 7, but also fails to mention the place of worship in this article.59 The same oversight is found in C. Stam's short overview of the Belgic Confession.60 More generally speaking, when G.C. Berkouwer in his dogmatic study on Scripture deals with sufficiency, he also fails to mention any connection with worship, although he does spend a great deal of time discussing the concept of Scriptural sufficiency in the time of the Reformation.61 The reason for these oversights can only be the subject of speculation, but one suspects a lack of sensitivity to the principle of worship which is advocated in the Confession.62
There is, however, one commentator who does pay considerable attention to the place of worship in Article 7. P.Y. DeJong comes closest to the conclusions reached thus far. He writes,
"Not only must God alone be worshipped; He must be worshipped in accordance with His revealed will. True and acceptable service is grounded in the Bible...[I]n arranging for public worship and instructing the believers in their duties towards God, the church was under obligation to remain true to Scripture. Also here God's word sufficiently declares unto man His will. The church may never try to be wiser than God."63
Though his comments are not stated very strongly, the actual implication of what DeJong writes means that the only "acceptable way of worshipping God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His revealed will that He may not be worshipped in any other way than that prescribed in Holy Scripture, that what is not commanded is forbidden." DeJong even goes so far as to say that all elements of Christian worship must have warrant in Scripture!64
That summary of the doctrine of worship in Article 7 stands in plain contrast against the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, against whom this Article seems to have been primarily directed. De Bres clearly had the Roman Catholic Church in mind with its insistence upon adding or taking away from the Word of God in many different ways, also with respect to worship. It is primarily because of the Papists that this article is present. As was noted earlier, there were few if any practical differences between the Reformed and the Dutch Anabaptists with regards to worship. There may have been differences in principle but these seem to have fallen to the side in light of the more important contentions, especially concerning Christology. J.G. Feenstra sees Article 7 as directed not only against the Roman Church, but also against mysticism and the ethical school.65 However, in his comments, he does not say anything concrete about the role of worship in the polemical thrust of this article. J. VanBruggen follows in the same line, seeing this article as directed against both the Romanists and Anabaptists. He writes:
"Anabaptists and other fanatics have repeatedly scorned God's Word. According to them it was no more than a dead letter. It is the Spirit who makes alive, they said. This Spirit will guide by means of direct works of revelation to the conscience, an inner light (lumen internum). To a lesser extent one also detected such fanaticism in all kinds of coventicles (meetings) where the pious, in times of church deformation, attempted to edify one another. It was often the case that in such circles more value was ascribed to what enlightened believers had to say than what Scripture said. In those circles too the writings of pious ancient writers were highly respected. At the beginning of its third part our article rejects all this as being a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture."66
There are two significant problems with this understanding of the polemical thrust of Article 7. In the first place, a substantial portion of Article 7 is taken over almost directly from the Gallican Confession. This confession was not made in the Lowlands and Germany, the places where Anabaptists and mysticism were born and flourished, but rather in France. The French Reformed churches did not face theological struggles with the Anabaptists the way that the Reformed churches of the Lowlands did. Geographically speaking, the comments of Feenstra, VanBruggen (and Vonk) do not fit with the historical reality of where the Anabaptists and Mystics were located. Second, the text of Article 7 itself (and Article 5 of the Gallican) does not lend itself to this interpretation. The second paragraph of the Belgic Confession speaks of "custom, the great multitude, antiquity, succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes." Such cannot be spoken of in regards to the Anabaptists or Mystics. At certain points we may be able to say that they are included in that sentence, but the intent is almost certainly not in that direction.
We may come to our own conclusions about this matter. From our earlier study in the theological-historical background, it is evident that the Roman Catholic Church is in view. The Roman Church would have a significant problem with what is being stated here in Article 7, whereas many of the Anabaptists of the 16th century would likely be able to agree to a considerable extent. The original force of this article was directed against the Roman Catholic Church, there can be no question about that. The principles of worship outlined in Scripture are used in Article 7 as offensive weapons against the corruptions of Rome. Naturally, this expression of the regulative principle of worship (with a theological basis) is not restricted to the time of de Bres, but it is a timeless truth which applies to the Church in all ages and times.
This study began by asking whether or not the regulative principle is in fact found here in Article 7 of the Belgic Confession. We were also interested in determining the nature of the relationship between worship and the sufficiency of Scripture in this article. The first question must be answered in the affirmative. What is understood as the regulative principle of worship is present here in this article and as such may be justifiably employed by those who defend the Regulative Principle. The regulative principle was a foundational truth in the contentions of the Reformed during the 16th century, and as such it should not surprise us to find it here in the Belgic Confession. Moreover, the relationship between the sufficiency of Scripture and worship further elucidates this significance, for it is the Reformational principle of sola Scriptura which is foundational for the regulative principle. Without the sufficiency of Scripture, the regulative principle falls flat. The Reformed had to establish and confess the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture before they could set forth, maintain, and defend their ideas concerning worship. Article 7 contains this phrase concerning worship as a result of this integral relationship. What is said more explicitly concerning worship in Article 32 thereby has a theological leg to stand on. Were worship not connected with the sufficiency of Scripture, antagonists could claim that the Reformed were simply begging the question when they argued for the application of the regulative principle in various areas. As it is, the Belgic Confession presents a tightly cogent and Scriptural argument for the principle that we should only worship God as He has commanded us in His Word, neither adding nor taking away from His most pure Word.
1 The definition of the regulative principle of worship which I will use is the traditional one of John Murray: "The Reformed principle is that the acceptable way of worshipping God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His revealed will that He may not be worshipped in any other way than that prescribed in Holy Scripture, that what is not commanded is forbidden." From Collected Writings (Vol.1), Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976, p.168.
2 See also Public Worship and the Reformed Faith, Barry Gritters, Byron Center: Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church, 1987.
3 Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 35, Question and Answer 96.
4 This is the translation given in the Canadian Reformed Book of Praise (Winnipeg: Premier, 1993), pp.445-445. The same passage in the earliest French version (Confession de foy..., Rouen: Abel Clemence, 1561, with original spellings) reads:
"Nous croyos que ceste Escriture saincte contient parfaictement en elle la volonte Divine, & que tout ce que l'homme doit croire pour estre sauve, y est suffisament enseigne. Toute la maniere du service Divin que Dieu requiert de nous y est tres-au long descrit. Parquoy les hommes, voire fussent-ils Apostres, ne doyvent enseigner autrement que desia nous a este enseigne par lest sainctes Escrits: encore mesine que ce sust un Ange de paradis, comme dit sainct Paul. Car puis qu'il est deffendur d'adiouster ne diminuer a la parole de Dieu, cela demostre bien que la doctrine est tresparfaite."
5 Foundation for Reformation: The Regulative Principle of Worship, Greg Price, Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books, 1995, p.13.
6 The Psalms in Christian Worship, Rowland S. Ward, Melbourne: Published by the author, 1987, p.4.
7 There is controversy surrounding the authorship of the Confession. Various authors and combinations of authors have been proposed, but the arguments for de Bres' authorship are the most convincing, although based on circumstantial evidence. Among these arguments is the fact that the Confession was first found in Doornik/Tourneille in 1561, the place where de Bres was a minister.
8 Written by Nicole Grenier (Regular Canon of St. Victor) and published in 1547 in Paris. Cf. Het Amen der Kerk, J. VanBruggen, Goes: Oosterbaan & Le Cointre N.V., 1964, p.13.
9 "A l'Escriture on ne doit rien adiouster, ne rien en oster." Le baston de la foy Chrestienne, Guido de Bres, Geneva: Nicolas Barbier & Courteau, 1558, p.269.
10 Cf. The Belgic Confession and Its Biblical Basis, Lepusculus Vallensis, Neerlandia: Inheritance Publications, 1993, pp.25-40. In the text given by J.N. Bakhuizen VanDenBrink in De Nederlandse Belijdenisgeschriften (Second edition, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Ton Bolland, 1976), Prov. 30:6 is also included. The textual apparatus does not indicate which edition the proof texts come from. At any rate, Prov. 30:6 is not included in the earliest extant edition which was used for this study.
11 "On Prescription Against Heretics," in Ante-Nicene Fathers (Vol.3), Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968, p. 245.
12 Ibid., p.246.
13 Ibid., pp.262-63.
14 "On the Gospel of St. John," in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Vol.7), Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956, p.258.
15 J. VanBruggen writes about La racine, "This little book is a defense against the Anabaptist errors concerning the incarnation of Christ, the baptism of little children, and so forth." Het Amen der Kerk, p.13 (translation mine, WB).
16 La Racine, source, et fondement des anabaptistes, Guido de Bres, Rouen: Abel Clemence, 1565, p.81.
17 Ibid., p.87
18 "Public Worship" in the Mennonite Encyclopedia (Vol.4), Harold Bender, C. Henry Smith et al. (eds.), Scottdale: Mennonite Publishing House, 1959, p.986. On a recent trip to a Mennonite museum in Waterloo, Ontario, I was impressed by how similar Anabaptist worship was to Reformed worship in the period during and shortly after the Reformation, for instance: the use of Psalms in worship rather than man-made hymns. It should be noted, however, that this changed. Greg Price relates how German Anabapists composed some of the earliest Protestant hymns, cf. Appendix 1 in Saul in the Cave of Adullam, Reg Barrow, Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books, 1997, p.123.
19 The Zonists split off from the Lamists in the early 17th century. Both groups were found in the Amsterdam area. The Fijne Anabaptists do not appear until the 18th century. The late date of these groups does not present a problem, since it can be argued that the Calvinist mode of worship had been preserved among at least some of the Anabaptists up until the time when these groups first appear. At any rate it is nearly impossible to know about the worship practices of these groups since they too were persecuted in the time of de Bres and continued to be persecuted for quite some time. The best that can be done is an extrapolation into the past from when we first hear about their worship practices.
20 "De Bres Versus Calvin? Early History of the Belgic Confession," J. Faber in Clarion 28:17, pp.354-356. Cf. S.A. Strauss who concludes, "Our final conclusion is that Calvin undoubtedly had an enormous influence on the Belgic Confession. In order to understand and explain this church symbol it is therefore essential to study it against the background of Calvin's writings." From: "John Calvin and the Belgic Confession," in In die Skriflig, 27.4 (1993), p.517. That Calvin met de Bres is further supported by Thea Van Halsema who relates that "In September of 1556 John Calvin came up from Geneva to see if he could settle the problems in the French church. And so de Bres met the great reformer whose writings he had read and followed." Three Men Came to Heidelberg and Glorious Heretic, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982, p. 106.
21 Institutes of the Christian Religion (Vol.1), John Calvin, (John T. McNeill ed., Ford Lewis Battles trans.), Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960, p.98. All references to the Institutes are to this edition.
22 Institutes (Vol.2), p.1194.
23 E.g. Institutes (Vol.1), p.49, p.117, p.120; Institutes (Vol. 2), p.1202-3; "Necessity of Reforming the Church," in Tracts and Treatises (Vol.2), Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958, pp.151-54; On Shunning the Unlawful Rites of the Ungodly, Dallas: Presbyterian Heritage Publications, 1996, pp.17-18.
24 Philip Schaff comments on this confession: "Calvin also wrote another French Confession of Faith, in the name of the French churches, during the war, to be presented to the Emperor Maximilian and the German Diet at Frankfort, 1562." Creeds of Christendom (Vol.1), Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993 (1931), p.493.
25 Tracts and Treatises (Vol.2), p.141.
26 "Confession of Faith in Name of the Reformed Churches of France," in Tracts and Treatises (Vol.2), p.147.
27 Cf. "Prayer for the Dead," George W. Gilmore in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Vol.9), Samuel Macauley Jackson (ed.), Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, p.157.
28 Tracts and Treatises (Vol.2), p.147.
29 The Genevan Book of Order was first published in 1556 under the title: The Form of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments, etc., used in the English Congregation at Geneva: and approved by the famous and godly learned man, John Calvin. It was also published in Latin in 1556 under the title: Ratio et forma publice orandideum, atque administrandi sacramenta, et caet., in anglorum ecclesiam, quae Genevae colligitur, recepta: cum iudicio & comprobatione D. Iohannis Calvini. As Kevin Reed pointed out (in private correspondence), "Now, obviously, Calvin did not read the English version of it. Yet, a Latin translation of the work was also issued; moreover, the English exiles were living in Geneva in consultation with Calvin: therefore, it seems fairly certain that Calvin's objection would have been loudly stated, if the English congregation had claimed his approval without actually having it."
30 The Genevan Book of Order, Dallas: Presbyterian Heritage Publications, 1983 (1556), p.25.
31 "The Necessity of Reforming the Church," in Tracts and Treatises (Vol.1), p.129.
32 Presbyterian Worship: Old and New, Kevin Reed, Dallas: Presbyterian Heritage Publications, 1996, p.4.
33 Latin for: "without which it would not be."
34 R.J. Gore Jr. fails to take this into account in his treatment of Calvin and the regulative principle and instead places all the emphasis on Calvin's concept of adiaphora (Latin: things indifferent). Certainly adiaphora played a role in Calvin's liturgical principles, but these adiaphora are really concerned with the circumstances of worship rather than the elements. Calvin emphasizes that the elements must have divine warrant and cannot be added to or subtracted from. Cf. "Reviewing the Regulative Principle: Part II," R.J. Gore Jr., in Presbyterion, 21.1 (1995), pp. 29-47.
35 The Gallican Confession is also commonly referred to as the La Rochelle Confession, and is still in use today, for example, in L'Eglise Reformee du Quebec (the Reformed Church of Quebec).
36 Creeds of Christendom (Vol.1), p.493.
37 Creeds of Christendom (Vol.3), p.357.
38 Creeds of Christendom (Vol.3), p.362. In this article, the origin of Scripture is emphasized, though this follows closely upon the purity that was emphasized by Calvin. Scripture is pure because it has its origin in God.
39 Dictionnaire de la langue Francaise classique, J. DuBois and R. Lagane, Paris: Librarie Classique Eugen Belin, 1960, p.448.
40 A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, Randle Cotgrave, Menston, England: The Scolar Press Limited, 1968 (1611).
41 Dictionnaire Historique De La Langue Francaise (T. 2), Alain Rey et al., Paris: Dictionnaires Le Robert, 1992, p.1932. Dictionnaire Universel, Antoine Furetiere, Geneve: Slatkine Reprints, 1970 (1690).
42 Harmony of the Protestant Confessions, Peter Hall (ed.), Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books, 1992 (1842), p. 8. It is not certain who was responsible for this translation, but it was translated very early on in 1586, probably from the Latin. This early date is also an argument in favour of translating "service" as "worship," since we would expect the translator to be more familiar with the usage of the day.
43 In such a case the authors of the Gallican Confession (and the Belgic) could have employed the word "piete" which has more of this individualized connotation, cf. Dictionnaire Historique De La Langue Francaise, p.1516.
44 It does occur before this yet, for example, Article 24: "We believe, as Jesus Christ is our only advocate, and as he commands us to ask of the Father in his name, and as it is not lawful for us to pray except in accordance with the model God hath taught us by his Word, that all imaginations of men concerning the intercession of dead saints are an abuse and a device of Satan to lead men from the right way of worship. We reject, also, all other means by which men hope to redeem themselves before God, as derogating from the sacrifice and passion of Jesus Christ. Finally, we consider purgatory as an illusion proceeding from the same shop, from which have also sprung monastic vows, pilgrimages, the prohibition of marriage, and of eating meat, the ceremonial observance of days, auricular confession, indulgences, and all such things by which they hope to merit forgiveness and salvation. These things we reject, not only for the false idea of merit which is attached to them, but also because they are human inventions imposing a yoke upon the conscience." Creeds of Christendom (Vol.3), pp.373-374.
45 Creeds of Christendom (Vol.3), p.378.
46 After all, if Scripture is to be the rule for the covenant community, how much more so for the individuals which make up that community.
47 The Nicodemites remained members of the Roman Church while personally holding to the doctrines of the Reformation. The name was never entirely satisfactory to John Calvin, as Carlos M.N. Eire writes: "He points out that Nicodemus was never really the prototype of the religious dissembler: Although he came to Jesus secretly at first, Nicodemus later professed his acceptance of the Messiah and even asked Pilate for the body of the crucified Jesus (John 19:39). Calvin argues that since the cowardly Nicodemus changed into an honorable and courageous Christian, it is not right to use his name for timid simulation." War Against the Idols (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986), p.243.
48 War Against the Idols, p.272.
49 Ibid., p.233.
50 De Nederlandse Belijdenisgeschriften, pp.78-79.
51 Namely the edition of 1561 published by Abel Clemence of Rouen which was quoted in an earlier footnote.
52 The same is done in the Dutch edition of the Belgic Confession used by the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (Vrijgemaakte), cf. the text of the Confession provided at this WWW site on the Internet: http://www.startnet.nl/geref/test2.htm
53 Creeds of Christendom (Vol.3), p.362, with "service" changed to "worship."
54 This is further supported by the Latin translation "cultus" (Nederlandse Belijdenisgeschriften, p.79) and its ecclesiastical usage at this time. Cf. Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin, Leo F. Stelten, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995, p.63.
55 Though this heading is not official or original, it does in this case accurately describe the content of the article.
56 "De Heilige Schrift is voor den Gereformeerde de eenige regel voor geloof en leven." Het Geloof der Vaderen, N.Y. Van Goor, Groningen: Firma Jan Haan, 1929, p.78.
57 "Dit hoogste en beslissende gezag der Heilige Schrift is het formeele beginsel van het Protestantisme tegenover de Roomsche Kerk met hare concilien en decreten, hare traditie en apocriefen." Ibid., p.79.
58 Our Confession of Faith: A Study Manual on the Belgic Confession, M. Eugene Osterhaven, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964, pp.47-52.
59 Het Amen der Kerk, pp.36-41.
60 Everything in Christ: The Christian Faith Outlined According to the Belgic Confession, Clarence Stam, Winnipeg: Premier, 1979, pp.15-17--it is noted that this book is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of the Confession (cf. p. XI). Another recent book on the Confession which neglects the element of worship in Article 7 is Notes on the Belgic Confession, C. Bouwman, Kelmscott, Australia: Pro Ecclesia Publishers, 1997, pp. 25-27. As with Stam's book, so also this one is, according to the Preface, "not the result of ripe theological reflection."
61 Holy Scripture, G.C. Berkouwer, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.
62 Especially in light of modern Reformed liturgics which places so much emphasis on the covenantal structure of worship that it seems to have lost sight of the beginning principles which were in the foreground in the Reformation. Cf. The Beauty of Reformed Liturgy, G. VanDooren, Winnipeg: Premier, 1980, pp.16-23 and Where Everything Points to Him, K. Deddens, Neerlandia: Inheritance Publications, 1993, pp.14-15.
63 The Church's Witness to the World, P.Y. DeJong, St. Catharines: Paideia Press, 1980, pp.157-159.
64 "Yet the church should take to heart their teaching that all forms of Christian worship must find their justification in New Testament teaching." Ibid., p.159.
65 Onze Geloofsbelijdenis, J. G. Feenstra, Kampen: Kok, 1966, p.69. Vonk also sees this article as directed against the Roman Catholics and the Fanatics (Geestdrijvers), who have extra-Scriptural revelations, De Voorzeide Leer, Deel IIIa: De Nederlandse Geloofsbelijdenis, Barendrecht: Drukkerij Barendrecht, 1955, p.197.
66 Het Amen der Kerk, pp.36-37 (translation by Johanna Vanderplas).
Occasionally one hears comments among Reformed church members which lead us to question whether the Roman Catholic Church is really as bad as our confessions make it out to be, or at least, whether the Roman Catholic Church has changed for the better since the time of the Great Reformation. Some university students may take ethics courses from Romanist priests or nuns where their knowledge of the Roman Catholic Church from the confessions and church history is put into question. Others may come into contact with Roman Catholic Church members in their daily work or through involvement with pro-life organizations. Here too conversations may reveal that our knowledge and criticisms of Rome are not as strong as we once thought they were. We therefore become softer in our attitude towards the Papal Church. Besides all this, aren't "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" overcoming their differences and working side-by-side now?
I dare say that we have been gravely deceived if we think that the Roman Catholic Church as an institution has changed substantially since the 16th century. Recently I had the opportunity to observe a Roman Catholic mass on television and what I saw taking place there was the very same accursed idolatry spoken of in our Heidelberg Catechism. Moreover, as I read John Calvin's little booklet, it was as if I was reading a commentary and description of what I had observed. The false Roman Church of Calvin's day is the false Roman Church of our day.
Though written so many hundreds of years ago, this small work by the powerful Geneva Reformer contains much of value for us. Calvin wrote it to persuade a friend to leave the Roman Catholic fold. His friend had written to him and asked whether it was possible to remain a member of the false church while inwardly being of Reformed convictions. At that time, there was a large group of people in Reformation Europe, referred to as Nicodemites (after the Pharisee Nicodemus of John 3), who were in prestigious positions, and for whom conversion to the Reformed faith would mean disaster in terms of social consequences. Such people could lose their family, their incomes, and even possibly their lives. It was one of these Nicodemites who had written to Calvin wondering what he should do. The question is phrased this way in the Translator's Introduction: "Is it lawful for a person who has renounced Popery in his heart to conform outwardly to its rites, for the purpose of avoiding persecution, or for any other imaginable cause?"
In the 64 pages of this minute tome, Calvin gives his reasons why his correspondent should remove himself immediately from fellowship with the Roman Church. Calvin's arguments are completely founded on Scriptural grounds, as we would expect. He outlines why the Roman Catholic Church is a false church and why true Christians can have nothing to do with the blasphemies and idolatries found within. Even being in the presence of the mass can give the appearance to others of conformity to sin against the second commandment. Calvin describes Roman Catholic worship and the Mass and argues "that those only preserve the holy religion of God who profane it by no defilements of unhallowed superstitions, and that those violate, pollute, and lacerate it, who mix it up with impure and impious rites" (pp.17-18).
Readers at this point may be wondering to themselves if such a book is valuable only as an historical artifact or of interest to theologians. Certainly there is meat here for historians and theologians, but also others may benefit from this work. This book is immensely relevant for our modern times and two factors in particular impel my hearty recommendation. First, Calvin lays out quite clearly the Reformation principle of worship (cf. Heidelberg Catechism QA 96). In a time when so many do not understand worship and the Biblical principles which should guide it, Calvin is calling us back home. Second, the old Genevan applies the Reformation principle of worship to the Roman Catholic Church and shows us clearly why we can have no fellowship with a false church which has not repented of its blasphemy and idolatry in the last 500 years.
Calvin is sometimes known as a fiery polemicist whose wrath often overtook his reason. However, this little booklet, like all of Calvin's letters, reflects Calvin's pastoral spirit. Certainly one can detect Calvin's animosity towards the Godless foolishness of Romanism, but fondness for his correspondent shines through clearly. Modern-day readers will learn to appreciate the gentler, human side of John Calvin.
Protestant Heritage Press deserves our commendation for their reprint of this booklet. It is printed attractively and has been edited for easier reading. Comparing with the edition found in Volume 3 of Calvin's Tracts and Treatises (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958), this booklet has headings, subheadings, improved punctuation and grammar, and an informative Translator's Introduction. An improvement has definitely been made which ensures that Calvin will not wither away under the pretext of unintelligibility. Even three years short of a new millennium, Calvin's voice can be heard loud and clear. We can only be enriched if we strive to listen closer to the words of this saint.
Our modern age finds many people with different ideas about what Christian worship should be. Some say that worship must be pleasing to the human senses. These people introduce not only things which are pleasing to the eyes and ears, but even things, such as incense, which are pleasing to the nose. Others argue that worship must fit the standards of human reverence. Still others say that worship must be according to what we think will please God. As long as we have good intentions in our worship, then God will be happy with it.
Reformed Christians have a special interest and heritage in the area of worship. As Carlos Eire points out in his book War Against the Idols (Cambridge UP: 1986), worship was one of the most central contentions of the Great Reformation of the 16th century. Especially with the Calvinists, the right and proper worship of God was no small matter. The Calvinist Reformers pointed the Church back to the Biblical principle of worship.1 As the Heidelberg Catechism states it in QA 96: "We are not...to worship Him in any other manner than He has commanded in His Word." (cf. Belgic Confession, Arts.7 and 32).
John Knox, the famous Scottish Reformer and author of True and False Worship, followed in the footsteps of Calvin with regards to worship and also went further in some respects. The booklet under review is subtitled, A Vindication of the Doctrine that the Sacrifice of the Mass is Idolatry. Knox, the former Roman Catholic priest, vigorously attacks the Roman Catholic Church and her false worship. He does this by means of two syllogisms (arguments), the first to show that the mass is idolatry, and the second to show that it is an abomination. The reason that the mass is idolatry is that it "is invented by the brain of men, without any commandment of God." Here we find Knox's application of the Reformation principle of worship. It is interesting that the Heidelberg Catechism (QA 80) uses the exact same reasoning, though it is not as explicit. In the second syllogism, Knox shows that the mass is an abomination, namely a "service of God whereunto is added a wicked opinion." In the struggle for the Reformation in Scotland, Knox's booklet proved to be a worthy weapon. Biblically and logically sound, it is difficult to refute when one submits to the Scriptures as ultimate authority.
John Knox wrote this booklet in 1550. We live in 1997. More than 400 years have passed since this book was written. In that 400 years, we find more slipping away from the Reformation teachings, especially concerning worship. Someone wants to add liturgical dancing to the worship service. Another would like musical and voice soloists or choirs. Still another is in favour of open discussions instead of preaching. When one follows the Reformation principle of worship, these things are easily ruled out. John Knox has something very valuable to say to us on this very important topic. We have a rich heritage in the Reformation, we must be careful that we do not lose it. This booklet, though somewhat archaic (the revisions and footnotes of the editor are very helpful in overcoming this shortcoming), can be a valuable means to that end. Few modern books on worship can compare to the forcefulness and Biblical simplicity found in this excellent work. Simply reading the Introductory Essay by Kevin Reed and skimming through the contents ought to be enough to stir up our minds to consider these Biblical teachings which are greatly neglected in our time. However, reading the full contents may cause a revolution in your thinking about worship. True and False Worship is available for $3.99 (+ $3.95 S and H & 7% GST) from Still Waters Revival Books, 4710-37A Ave., Edmonton AB, T6L 3T5
Traditions can sometimes be a good thing. Especially if a tradition is founded upon a Biblical basis and the followers of that tradition recognize that Scriptural foundation, a tradition can be a very useful means by which God is glorified. The Continental Reformed and Presbyterian churches, having developed in different theological, social and economic circumstances, each have traditions which vary at certain points even though both claim roots in the Reformation. On both sides, we must ask if our traditions fully square up to the teachings of Scripture. Are there things, perhaps, that we can learn from each other? To answer this question, we must as humbly as possible examine both our own traditions and those of our Presbyterian or Contintental Reformed brothers and sisters.
Sometimes it is claimed that the Regulative Principle of Worship (whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden) is a Presbyterian innovation, a "tradition" peculiar to the Presbyterian churches. This small book by the pastor of the Puritan Reformed Church in Edmonton presents a forceful argument to negate the above thesis. Greg Price convincingly presents the Scriptural data which supports the idea that the only acceptable worship is that which God Himself has commanded. Rev. Price, in a balanced manner, outlines the theological arguments which support this supposedly Presbyterian invention. These arguments demolish any conception of worship which does not recognize the supreme authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Price anticipates several objections (i.e. what about Christian freedom?) and also avers that even those who hold to the Regulative Principle are not always going to be in agreement because of differences about exegesis of various Scriptural passages.
I have two minor criticisms about Price's little work. First of all, it would be helpful to make a distinction between circumstances and elements of worship. The Regulative Principle applies to the latter, but not to the former. We may use Christian prudence in determining the times for the worship services, for instance, but we may not arbitrarily decide to have a musical soloist in the worship service (something for which there is no Biblical warrant). Second, there is a real tendency towards Biblical atomism (sometimes called Biblicism) among those who have historically been proponents of the Regulative Principle. Taking individual texts out of their context has led in the past to certain Presbyterians maintaining, on the basis of Acts 1:15, that the minister was to stand only in one place during the public worship service. A warning against this atomism and an encouragement towards "dividing the Word rightly" should be found in a work on Biblical principles of worship.
Nevertheless, I do not hesitate to commend Foundation for Reformation to the readers of Reformed Perspective. Especially in the Canadian Reformed Churches, there is a tendency to overstress the covenantal nature of worship to such an extent that this first principle falls to the background. Worship is certainly covenantal in nature, but this "covenantal model" must be properly tempered by a right understanding of what God requires of us in worshipping Him. Price presents a formidable case for the revival of the Regulative Principle within the Contintental Reformed churches. Note that I said "revival." The Regulative Principle is found within our Reformed Confessions (HC QA 96, BC Arts. 7 and 32). The Reformation, after all, was very much preoccupied with the subject of worshipping Sovereign God Almighty. And that is a tradition we do well to emulate.
Foundation for Reformation is available from Still Waters Revival Books, 4710-37A Ave., Edmonton, AB, T6L 3T5, e-mail: email@example.com, for $5.98 + GST and $3.95 P and H.
1 More commonly known as the Regulative Principle of Worship.
Bakhuizen VanDenBrink, J.N.. De Nederlandse Belijdenisgescriften (Second edition). Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Ton Bolland
This is the standard reference work for historical research on the Belgic Confession. Although it is written predominantly in Dutch, the text of the Belgic Confession is also given in French and Latin (along with the original French Gallican Confession). Although Bakhuizen VanDenBrink's commentary cannot always be considered trustworthy, there is no other book available which provides a critical text of the Belgic Confession, making this book indispensable.
De Jong, Peter Y.. The Church's Witness to the World. St. Catharines: Paideia Press, 1980.
As mentioned in the text, De Jong's commentary on Article 7 is the best of the commentators researched. His treatment of many of the other articles of the Confession is of a similar quality. Among English commentators, De Jong is the best available.
Eire, Carlos M.N.. War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986.
Eire's book demonstrates the centrality of worship in the Calvinist Reformation. Scholarly, yet accessible, War Against the Idols is one of the most valuable books available on the subject of worship in the Reformation. Heavily footnoted with many primary sources quoted in the text.
The Genevan Book of Order. Dallas: Presbyterian Heritage Publications, 1983.
This book provides the regulations for the life of the English church in Geneva. Not only are the ordinances given, there is also considerable attention given to the principles which underlay these rules. The Presbyterian Heritage edition contains an excellent introduction from the Publisher.
Vallensis, Lepusculus. The Belgic Confession and Its Biblical Basis. Neerlandia: Inheritance Publications, 1993.
A tremendously helpful reference book for studying the Confession. It contains the text of the Confession, explanatory notes, fully provided Scripture references, and the Staten Bijbel (a Dutch equivalent to the Geneva Bible) notes on the Scripture passages.
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_ The Regulative Principle of Worship ($5.96, 2 tapes)
_ Exclusive Psalmody ($20.86, 7 tapes. Separate titles in series as listed below:
- Exclusive Psalmody (1/7) Inspired Song Versus Uninspired Song ($2.98)
- Exclusive Psalmody (2/7) God's Covenant Songs in Worship ($2.98)
- Exclusive Psalmody (3/7) The Sufficiency of the Psalter ($2.98)
- Exclusive Psalmody (4/7) Exclusive Psalmody and the Regulative Principle ($2.98)
- Exclusive Psalmody (5/7) Exclusive Psalmody in Church History ($2.98)
- Exclusive Psalmody (6/7) Exclusive Psalmody and the Westminster Standards ($2.98)
- Exclusive Psalmody (7/7) Objections to Exclusive Psalmody Answered ($2.98)
_ Instrumental Music in Public Worship ($5.96, 2 tapes against the use of instruments in NT worship.)
_ Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep It Holy ($14.90, 5 tapes on 4th commandment. Titles below:)
- Why Keep the Sabbath? (1/5) ($2.98)
- Is Sabbath Keeping for the Jews Alone? (2/5) ($2.98)
- Sabbath Keeping & Building the Kingdom of God (3/5) ($2.98)
- There is Left a Rest For the People of God (4/5) ($2.98)
- Lordship, Sabbath Keeping, Holy Days & Christmass (5/5) ($2.98,
against Xmas, Easter & other Roman Catholic festival days)
Terms of Communion: Presbyterian Worship and Government ($5.96, 2 cassettes)
Explains and defends the third term of communion, which is "That Presbyterial Church Government and manner of worship are alone of divine right and unalterable; and that the most perfect model of these as yet attained, is exhibited in the Form of Government and Directory for Worship, adopted by the Church of Scotland in the Second Reformation." "To many readers, the subject of church government will not seem terribly exciting. Judging from the lack of contemporary literature on the topic, one might conclude that church polity is not very important. Yet, if the truth were known, many of the practical problems facing the church are the result of an abandonment of scriptural church polity. The church is not a mere social club. The church is the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13), subject to his rule. In the Bible, the Lord has established an ecclesiastical government by which his people are to be ruled. Just as Christ has instituted civil government to ensure civil order, so he has established ecclesiastical government to preserve order in the church (1 Cor. 14:33). A man is not free to dispense with the church's government anymore than he is at liberty to disregard the (lawful--RB) civil authorities. We do not contend that the divine order for church government extends to every detail. Obviously, the Lord did not mandate how many times the elders of the church must meet each month; nor did he prescribe any particular attire for them to wear while performing their official duties. Such incidentals are adapted to the needs and exigencies of the time and place; according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed. Nevertheless, the scriptures do provide an overall plan of government which the church must follow if she is to remain faithful to her Lord. Therefore, it is important to examine biblical principles of church polity," writes Kevin Reed in his Biblical Church Government. Much the same could be said regarding worship. These tapes are an excellent introductory explanation of the fundamentals of Divine Right Presbyterian church government and Divine Right Presbyterian worship. They are jam-packed with Scripture, history and sound reasoning and should be very helpful to all those seeking the Lord's will concerning these two important subjects. Price distinguishes between the elements and circumstances of worship (contra John Frame's heretical innovations, wherein he rejects these distinctions), while the vital issues of unity and uniformity, separation from false worship and false man-made church governments are not forgotten. All this is set in the context of faithfully approaching the Lord's table. "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2).
War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from
Erasmus to Calvin
Eire shows that as the Reformation progressed the primary focus of the Reformers became upholding God's sovereign prerogative in worship -- what today is called the regulative principle of worship. Eire's _War Against the Idols_ demonstrates the extent of the Reformers clear condemnation of Arminianism in worship (i.e. will-worship [Col. 2:23]) in rejecting all elements of worship that did not have Scriptural warrant. In fact, Calvin was so intent on highlighting this point, concerning the centrality of worship (and the application of *Sola Scriptura* as exhibited in the regulative principle of worship), that he placed worship ahead of salvation in his list of the two most important elements of Biblical Christianity.
Regarding Calvin's On the Necessity of Reforming the Church Eire notes,
about the nature of worship and about the seriousness of the sin of idolatry in
his 1543 treatise, On the Necessity of Reforming the Church, where he concentrates on the significance of
worship for the Christian religion. Calvin_s argument, as indicated by the
title of the treatise, is that the Church had reached such a corrupt state that
its reform could wait no longer. The most significant aspect of corruption
singled out by Calvin is the perversion of worship, and it is in explaining
this issue that he set forth the basis for his attack on idolatry.
Calvin begins by studying the place that worship holds in the Christian faith, and he concludes that it is one of the two elements that define Christianity:
"If it be asked, then, by what things chiefly the Christian religion has a standing amongst us, and maintains its truth, it will be found that the following two not only occupy the principal place, but comprehend under them all the other parts, and consequently the whole substance of Christianity, viz., a knowledge first, of the right way to worship God; and secondly of the source from which salvation is to be sought. When these are kept out of view, though we may glory in the name of Christians, our profession is empty and vain."
(War Against the
Idols, p. 198 citing from Calvin's On the Necessity
of Reforming the Church )
The scholarly translational work found in Eire's book also gives insights into the worship question not found in any other English history books (concerning Calvin, Knox, and a host of others) -- for it contains much from previously untranslated (into English that is) Reformation documents.
A large portion of this book centers on Calvin, but its major thrust is to reveal the single most burning issue confronting the Reformers: purity of worship! Furthermore, this book's teaching regarding the Reformers (and their view of the Scriptural law of worship) is as applicable today as it was in the days of the first Reformation -- for it demonstrates the time tested Biblical principles which guard against the errors, excesses, and idolatries of the Roman harlot, Eastern Orthodoxy and all liturgical innovators on one hand and the modern "evangelicals," Anabaptists and Charismatics on the other. This is, without a doubt, one of the best Reformation history books available -- stirring, scholarly, relevant and edifying!
As far as we know this book may be out of print in the near future, so those interested would be advised to obtain a copy as soon as possible.
(Softcover) $29.95 - 20% = 23.96
Reformation: The Regulative Principle of Worship (1995)
"The central focus of Reformed Protestantism was its interpretation of worship," points out Eire (War Against the Idols, p. 3). Acknowledging this fact in the idea that the regulative principle is just the application of sola Scriptura to worship, Price convincingly argues for a return to Scriptural purity in worship. He maintains the regulative principle of worship, in all its beauty and splendor, as that which came from the hand of God, and as an indispensable component of true Christian piety. Furthermore, it should be noted, that "it is also important to realize that the regulative principle also provides the basis for the positive work of reformation. That is, it not only requires the exclusion of man-made worship; but it points us to the divine pattern of true worship" (Reed, John Knox..., p. 70). Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (1 John 5:21). A antidote to apostasy in this area.
(Hardcover photocopy) $17.00 (US funds)
"The Protestant Reformation was a conflict over many critical issues. And of all the issues contested between Romanists and the reformers, no issue was more crucial than the question of true worship" (Reed, John Knox the Forgotten Reformer, p. 37). This book explains the two preeminent characteristics of all faithful corporate worship, as seen both in the OT and in the NT. It also contains an excellent section on disputed aspects of worship. This section, in particular, is very valuable, in that it shows how many non-Romanist communions today have actually rejected the Reformation and adopted Rome's presuppositions regarding worship. Refutes modern innovations in worship (like dance, drama, etc.) and the advocates of "free-style services, wherein anyone present may exercise his 'gifts" spontaneously," what the author calls "religious democracy with a vengeance." Also deals with instrumental music, man-made hymnody, ecclesiastical holi-days and the use of the cross as a religious symbol. One of our best shorter books on this topic (80 pages).
(Softcover) $7.95- 40% = 4.77
The Canterbury Tales
Interacts with James Jordan's Geneva Papers on worship. An excellent expose demonstrating how Jordan's views on worship are seriously flawed and how his writings "often show more charity toward Papists, than toward the Reformed faith." Reed wades through the many contradictions found in Jordan's writings, to show that corruption of the Reformed faith is most evident in three major areas: 1. the repudiation of the Reformed regulative principle of worship; 2. the attempt to introduce superstitions and unwarranted practices into the church; and 3. the rejection of confessional Presbyterianism. Elaborating, Reed notes that "the primary indication of the Tyler (this was first written in 1984) corruption of worship is seen in their repudiation of the Reformed regulative principle of worship. This repudiation is manifest in four ways: by false portrayals of the regulative principle; by a failure to make proper distictions within the regulative principle; by a faulty pairing of Reformed and Anabaptist notions; and by a failure to deal exegetically with the scriptural position of the reformers (and the Reformed confessions) on the topic of worship... Moreover, Mr. Jordan does not stop with the repudiation of the Reformed regulative principle. He goes on with a program to reintroduce within the church many superstitions and unwarrranted practices" (pp. 4, 24). This is not surprising, for as historical teaches, when you reject Scriptural institutions of worship, you of necessity must replace them with some form of man-made, idolatrous, ceremony or rite; building monuments to antichrist and the false prophets of the past! This very fact is illustrated by Reed when he writes, "It is also quite telling that Mr. Jordan acknoledges his affinity with Lutheran and Anglican forms of worship, in preference to others (Geneva Papers, #25). Lutheran/Anglican worship is built on an entirely different presupposition than Reformed worshiip. The Lutheran/Anglican position holds that we may worship God by various means, as long as what we are doing is not explicitly forbidden in scripture (this error of Jordan's can also be seen in his Sociology of the Church, when after paying lip service to the regulative principle (p. XX) he then repeatedly argues for the introduction of idoltry in worship on the basis This is a good introduction to historic Reformed worship, using Jordan as an example of what misguided zeal (and a great deal of ignorance) can produce in this area. Reed writes clearly and has a very good grasp of the Scriptural and historical data concerning worship issues. Reed also includes an excellent bibliography which clearly demonstrates the point at issue, showing that Jordan has jettisoned the historic Reformed view of the regulative principle (as have most modern Reformed churches and Christian Reconstructionists), all his protests to the contrary notwithstanding.
(Booklet, 28 pages) $3.95- 40% = 2.37
Christmass: A Biblical Critique
Co-authored by Michael Schneider, this books argues that Christmas is essentially a pagan holiday; and that its religious elements foster an imitation gospel which actually keeps the world from understanding the true gospel. Committed to sola Scriptura and a desire to maintain the purity of Scriptural worship, it contains a historical survey of the Pagan roots of this Roman Catholic holy-day. Numerous citations concerning Protestant opposition to "ho-ho" are cited, demonstrating that the basis of Protestant opposition to holy-days arises out of a proper understanding of the fourth commandment -- for God alone has the authority to mark out or decree special religious (i.e. holy or separated) days. And this is exactly what he has done with the Lord's day, giving us 52 holy days per year. Whenever other "holy-days" are decreed, by human authority, worship deteriorates, the regulative principle is ignored, and a low view of the Sabbath often prevails. It is interesting to note that among the Puritans, colonial magistrates in New England banned the public celebration of the Christmass in these words, cited from one of their public notices: "The observance of Christmas having been deemed a Sacrilege... and similar Satanical Practices are hereby forbidden with the Offender liable to a Fine of FIVE SHILLINGS." Gillespie waxes eloquent on this matter, including festival days among those "ceremonies that are unlawful, because they sort us with idolaters," writing, "by communicating with idolaters in their rites and ceremonies, we ourselves become guilty of idolatry; even as Ahaz, 2 Kings 16:10, was an idolater, eo ipso, that he took the pattern of an altar from idolaters. Forasmuch, then, as kneeling before the consecrated bread, the sign of the cross, surplice, festival days, bishopping, bowing down to the altar, administration of the sacraments in private places, etc., are the wares of Rome, the baggage of Babylon, the trinkets of the whore, the badges of Popery, the ensigns of Christ's enemies, and the very trophies of antichrist, -- we cannot conform, communicate and symbolise with the idolatrous Papists in the use of the same, without making ourselves idolaters by participation. Shall the chaste spouse of Christ take upon her the ornaments of the whore? Shall the Israel of God symbolise with her who is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt? Shall the Lord's redeemed people wear the ensigns of their captivity? Shall the saints be seen with the mark of the beast? Shall the Christian church be like the antichristian, the holy like the profane, religion like superstition, the temple of God like the synagogue of Satan?" (A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies, in Gillespie's Works volume one, p. 80). The Spirit speaking in the Scriptures ought to determine our practices, and not emotions or traditions of men, thus we hope that you will give this book a fair hearing.
(Softcover) $7.95- 50% = 3.98
Making Shipwreck of the Faith: Evangelicals and Roman
This is the best book, critiquing this unholy alliance, to appear yet. It is the only book that has gone to the heart of the issues, at the most basic level, and not merely dealt with the obvious external differences with Rome. It convincingly shows that, concerning "critical aspects of doctrine and practice," many "modern evangelicals have become very much like Rome." The two major areas dealt with are the doctrines of salvation (especially regarding justification, predestination, evangelism and the bondage of the will) and worship. Arminianism, in both these areas, has already made such inroads into "evangelicalism," that most Protestant churches would not even be recognized by their own Protestant forefathers. For example, Reed writes, "[i]f you are resting your assurance of salvation upon your "decision;" if you think that your "free will" or "accepting Christ" produced the new birth within you; then you are deceived, you are no better off than a Judaizer or a Romanist. You have made your "decision" into a work, and subverted the doctrine of salvation by grace." Furthermore, it is perceptively pointed out that "[t]oday, many Roman Catholics and evangelicals decry the sins of abortion and homosexuality as manifestations of our nation's corruptions (which they are); but these same contemporary moralists are generally silent about the heinous sin of corrupt worship" (p. 35). You would think that for much of "evangelicalism" today, the first table of the law was never a reflection of God's unchanging moral perfections, or that the God of the Old Testament has forgotten His own most important moral directions to mankind -- at least since the coming of Christ. If you want the Biblical reasons for rejecting man-made gospels and man-made worship (whether they be found in Rome, or among the Charismatics, Baptists, independents, or other so-called "evangelicals") this book tells it like it is. For as Reed states, "[l]iving in an era of religious pluralism, we are too apt to forget that heresy is a form of moral corruption; it is classed among 'works of the flesh' along with adultery, fornication, uncleaness, idolatry, witchcraft, murder, and drunkenness (Gal. 5:19-21). That is how the Lord views heresy. And thus heresy is dangerous to our souls; there are heresies which are "damnable" in their nature (2 Pet. 2:1). The issues which fostered the Protestant Reformation are not simply matters for academic debate. They are great and eternal matters respecting the way of salvation and the proper worship of God" (book, p. 82). Don't miss this important and fiery rebuke against modern apostasy, calling the signers of ECT to repentance!
(Softcover) $10.95- 40% = 6.57