Friday, November 30, 2007

Ministry of Worship

This is the course I am taking at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Our main texts for this class include: With Reverance and Awe by D.G. Hart and John R. Muether, Worship Reformed According to Scripture by Hughes Oliphant Old, and The Lord's Day by Joseph A. Pipa, and Old Light on New Worship by John Price. These works are to be read for the class in the order that I have them listed here. One thing is for sure about this term, while I have less "work" to do per week the reading has doubled. This thankfully, does not present too much of a problem for me as I am a quick reader with the uncanny ability to comprehend what it is that I have read. The book I am most looking forawrd to read is the book by Joey Pipa on the Sabbath. I have always had misgivings about the laxity that most treat the Sabbath and would like to receive a more thorough understanding of Christian Sabbath. Also of interest is the work by John Price, especially since RPTS is the seminary for the RPCNA. It will be very interesting when we get to the part of the course where the professor explained in the first class he will present a defense (using the Price book and some of his own writings on the subject) of Exclusive Psalmody and non-instrumentals in worship. This should be a fascinating class.

Here, as promised, is a couple selections from a main text:

"We worship God because God created us to worship him. Worship is at the center of our existence, at the heart of our reason for being. God created us to be in his image-an image that would reflect his glory. In fact the whole creation was brought into existence to reflect the divine glory."
Hughes Oliphant Old, "Worship Reformed According to Scripture" pg. 1

"If you listen carefully to current debates, you will encounter rhetoric that is strange for Reformed Christians. Here are some comments we have heard, none of which is terribly unusual:
  • "I like a church thats is casual, where I know I can go and relax during worship"
  • "I don't always enjoy my church's worship, but that's okay. I know it will be different next week."
  • "I'm tired of the barrenness of worship-I'm looking for something with more beauty."
  • "Worship is ultimately a matter of taste, and there is no accounting for that."
  • "If there is one thing you can say about our worship, it's not boring!"
These popular sentiments all remind us that there is significant confusion about the nature, purpose, and practice of worship. This confusion extends to the Reformed community, and it underscores the urgency of recovering a biblical view of worship.
D.G. Hart and John R. Muether, "With Reverence and Awe" pg.11-12


will said...

I'd be interested on your thoughts on the Sabbath - and how this class affects them. I tend to go the other direction in terms of a Christian Sabbath - not seeing it in obligatory terms. (I know this is very dissimilar to the views of historic Presbyterians, Puritans, and other Reformed groups.) I would love to hear (or spend more time considering) the arguments in favor of the practice.

will said...

As far as worship is concerned, yes - there is an alarming tendency to make it about us, our entertainment, and our preferences. Not sure what the right corrective to this is, though.

Gary said...

Their argument for the no instruments is simply: The New Testament does not tell us to use them.

That means they throw out the Old Testament many instances where it says to use harps, trumpets and stringed instruments to praise the Lord.

And I repeat my often said, its ridiculous to be singing "Praise the Lord with a Harp", or whatever instrument, in worship when you're not allowed to use it.

Go listen to the first lecture at RTS virtual campas to their first Old Testament survey course(its free). Somewhere in there, the professor attacks this tendency to ignore the OT and go with this no instruments worship.

The real reason the NT doesn't say to do it is simply the authors felt no need to when the Psalms are filled with instructions to praise the Lord with instruments.

As well as writing NEW songs of praise.

Gary said...

Sorry I hate acapella with a passion

tempe said...

Benjamin, I have Pipa's book and it is pretty good. It should clarify a good many of the issues, and it's an easy read as well (more so for you!).

I remember attending a Ligonier Conference a few years ago, and Mark Dever, R.C. Sproul, and Derek Thomas were all involved in a panel Q&A. Someone asked the three about the issue of the Sabbath. The responses were fairly predictable. The Baptist (Dever) was against it, Sproul favored a "Continental" approach, and Thomas was pro-Sabbatarian. I thought Thomas' comment (and I thanked him for it later) was insightful: if anyone had observed the Sabbath in Puritan circles or on the Continent in previous centuries, the difference would have been virtually indiscernible.

I read someone quote Old recently as saying that if anyone rejects the Puritan Sabbath in favor of a Continental Sabbath, he must be in favor of a "Catholic Continental" approach to the Sabbath. I wish I could find the source of that quote. Benjamin, if you run across that in your class, please send it my way!