Tag Archives: RPW

Question #13: Do the same rules that apply to public worship (RPW, the regulative principle of worship) also apply to private and family worship?

Question #13:  Do the same rules that apply to public worship (RPW, the regulative principle of worship) also apply to private and family worship? Are the songs we sing in private/family worship considered to be praise songs?

In an earlier post Raymond raised the following questions that can be addressed here, “the question to raise is whether meditations or devotions are a part of worship? If not, then the only problem is what to do when musical meditations or devotions take the form of praise? Can they or should they?”

The full post includes a number of related questions: “…the question to raise is whether meditations or devotions are a part of worship? If not, then the only problem is what to do when musical meditations or devotions take the form of praise? Can they or should they? Nextly, the question must be raised whether it is possible to sing a song which was meant (whether rightly or wrongly) to be used in worship without offering it up as worship? What if the portion of Scripture to be memorized happens to be one of the songs of the Bible outside the Psalter? Are there some songs which, in and of themselves, when sung or listened to are seen by God to be offered up in worship to Him? If so, then we need to look at it from another end also. How about musical meditations which people offer up in worship that were never meant to be offered up in worship? Does authorial intent matter? If so, how could we tell authorial intent in some cases? Are there some songs which, in and of themselves, when sung or listened to are seen by God to **not** be offered up in worship to Him because they were merely meditational or devotional in nature and were never intended to be offered up as worship?

So the major question then is: Is it lawful to sing or listen to something that takes the form of praise (even inspired praise in the case of the Psalms and the setting to music of Scripture in order to aid in the memory of Scripture when such music happens to fall into the songs outside the Psalter in Scripture) without offering it up as worship to God? If yes, then the implication seems to be that the Psalms themselves could be used outside of worship–unless of course I’ve messed up in my reasoning somewhere or am forgetting certain portions of Scripture.”

“Whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden.”

” ‘Whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden.’ This, the Scriptural law of worship, is the acropolis of the Church’s liberties, the palladium of her purity, and her God-given moorage. Let the Protestant Church, in creed or conduct, in profession or practice, depart from this divine principle, and she has weighed her sheet-anchor only to find its flukes sundered and herself adrift on the high seas, a craft without compass or chart or polestar, in the midnight darkness of rationalism and ritualism, with her prow pointing to ‘Rome’ as her probable landing-place.” William S. McClure, from The Scriptural Law of Worship, Ch 4 of The Psalms in Worship, ed. by John McNaugher, 1907, full text The Psalms in Worship CH4 The Scriptural Law of Worship by William S McClure

Do you agree with McClure’s view of the Regulative Principle of Worship? Is he putting too much emphasis on the doctrine itself?

From his perspective the churches who have abandoned the RPW are headed toward Rome. As EPers, should we take this approach in our discussions with others?