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Friday, May 08, 2015

The Day The Regulative Principle Became Meaningless

There I was, minding my own business, reading John Frame. Worship In Spirit And Truth. Enjoyable book, even if unconvincing. Even though I agreed at the time that there's nothing overtly scandalous about contemporary worship. And it's obvious John Frame loves Christ, and the people to whom he ministers. I felt it was pretty easy to make the case that Frame didn't hold the RPW at all. The Regulative Principle of Worship, if you are scoring at home. To wit: If you don't have explicit biblical warrant to do a thing in worship, or it cannot be reasonably inferred from what is there, you can't do whatever it is you want to do.

I'd just left a guest lecture on liturgy from a dude named Mike, who will remain otherwise nameless, to protect the guilty. The Deb definitely knows this guy. He was recapping a great essay he'd just written for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society on the development of Reformed liturgy. Within it, this brother made the most amazing statement, to this effect: "Whether one thinks something is 'biblical' depends on one's hermeneutical grid." Crash. That's just it, man. There's exclusive psalm-singers, their opposite, and everybody in between. All believing that they are both faithfully Reformed, and "biblical." There's that word again. The billion dollar question, no one can really answer: Who decides what "biblical" means?

You can unfriend me on the Book of Face, you can lament for the soul of your Catholic priest uncle, you can take as much pride in your hermeneutical skill as you want, but the truth is still lurking there: Christianity has to be able to distinguish revelation from human opinion. The only reason "conservative" Protestant communities survive at this moment is that they subsist on Catholic truth, applied in an ad hoc fashion. Private interpretation will eventually undo these links with the historic past. If you want to believe in unchanging, supernaturally revealed Truth, you will eventually be Catholic. I suppose you might die before this happens, but if you acted in good faith, you'll be Catholic in your heart, and you'll know.

I want to find Mr. Lake's friend, who denies the Trinity as a matter of biblical conviction. The mere existence of such people refutes the argument that orthodoxy survives an appeal to the allegedly perspicuous Scriptures alone. Arius never thought he was unbiblical. No one ever does.

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