I’m going to take a look at the Regulative Principle of worship as expressed in Reformed and Presbyterian theology, show it’s inadequacies, and suggest an alternative principle based on Jesus’ own words. Having a good theology of worship is often an afterthought for most people, and even for worship leaders and theologians. A little reflection and interaction with some of our forebears might help stimulate some thought.
Problems with the Regulative Principle of Worship
Worship in the Reformed & Presbyterian traditions claims to be governed by what is called the “Regulative Principle.” Briefly stated, the Regulative Principle requires that only worship practices commanded in Scripture are legitimate worship practices. Other reformers, especially the Lutheran tradition, sought to preserve anything that wasn’t prohibited in Scripture. The Reformed side (Calvin and Knox), weren’t as ready to be so generous, and thought even some of the practices that were not prohibited were…
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