Re: [Covenanted Reformation] Why Stay at Home?
- Greetings Glenn,
For one, say hello to John J. one of your elders for me. I met him and his family when they visited here in Lynden back in the `90's, when Boise was looking at affiliating with the Prot. Reformed Churches and they stayed over with the pastor, Carl Haak.
The issue in attending worship in part seems to be what one is required to actively participate in. One reason people stay home as mentioned, is because contra the SL&C, the Westminster confession and their conscience, only uninspired hymns are sung in the public worship that is available. You can either sing, go through the motions, but refuse to sing or remain seated while everybody else stands and sings. It can get kind of old. So you either stay home or move.
Further while I don't care much for women deacons or musical accompaniment, IMO there is not active participation in the error. Of course I wasn't too thrilled when I stopped attending a PCA church and started attending an RPCNA church because of the RPW/EP. While there had been a male precentor the last time I had visited that RPCNA congregation for a conference, this time there were women up in front `directing traffic'.
Come to find out that particular congregation was on the cutting edge of feminism in the RPCNA and the pastor's wife was leading the charge, much more I was unaware of the denomination's position on "ordaining" women as deaconesses. (There were older unordained women helping the deacons out in the PCA congregation. I didn't have a problem with that. Nor does John Calvin, to my knowledge.) Further all this was particularly and providentially ironic since I had an appeal before the PCA presbytery not only on psalmody, but also women in authority in the church.
Upon moving to the PRC's from the RPCNA, there was more of an emphasis on preaching, but an inferior psalter, musical accompaniment and holy days.
The last though, is easy. Don't go to public worship except on the Lord's Day. The others, one tolerated at the time for the sake of the preaching.
As regards the prayer/praise distinction or lack thereof - the "we have freedom in song, just as we do in prayer or preaching" position - to my reading of it, there are four ordinary parts to the worship of God according to WCF 21:5, apart from the sacraments which are not necessarily administered weekly.
They are: The reading and preaching of Scripture and the praise of God in psalm and prayer.
Two, both the reading of Scripture and the praise of God in psalms are restricted to the inspired Scriptural text.
On the other hand, both the preaching and praying are, though based on Scripture, free to enlarge and expand upon the same and its themes.
Further, the reading and preaching are directed to the congregation, while congregational prayer and song/psalmody are directed to God, ie. the audience and purposes are different. For one, the praise of God is the praise of God and to put inspired songs on the same foot and basis as uninspired songs is to debase the inspired songs. That is a WCF Chapt. 1 issue.
This paradigm or framework is important because otherwise IMO the confessional position is compromised and surrendered in principle.
I think this is one of the chief errors and compromises of those who oppose uninspired hymnody in our day.
People are free to assume that singing is just like preaching or prayer where there is freedom. Ergo uninspired hymns are OK. Those who object are nitpickers and obscurantists.
For all their opposition of those like Ian Murray in his recent little "exception is the rule" tract, The Psalter - The Only Hymnal?, psalmsingers end up agreeing with him in part and conceding first principles. Thereby in the long or short run, they lose the battle for the covenantal, confessional and Reformation practice.
For that matter, do those in your church who are unpersuaded of the confessional EP position, object to singing only psalms? I realize the church is not to descend to the level of the weaker brother - in this case one who holds the classic confessional position - while individually one must tolerate and make allowances for the same, but that just goes to show how upside down things are today.
Growing up in Spokane, I didn't usually make it much further past Pullman/Moscow to Boise, though I did a time or two. Yet apart from the Mormons down there in that wasteland of sagebrush, how about the FV and Mr. Wilson in Moscow. Is there much of an influence or presence?
Likewise Norman Griggs, ex JBirch Society is down in your neck of the woods also, isn't he?
cordially in Christ,
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Glenn Ferrell <jglennferrell@...> wrote:
> What if one lived in Idaho, a huge state with few Reformed congregations? I came here to become pastor of Sovereign Redeemer Presbyterian Church three years ago because of their basic commitment to confessional Presbyterianism and the Regulative Principle. We're in a sea of Mormons, Papists, Arminians and Charismatics. This is mission territory.
> SRPC is part of the OPC and therefore part of a denomination which by their Directory of Worship seems to permit a blanket exception to the Confession's [XXI:v] listing of "singing of psalms with grace in the heart" as an element of worship:
> "As it is the aim of public worship to glorify God, prayer and praise should predominate in congregational singing. Let every member of the church take part in this act of worship. It should be performed not merely with the lips but with the spirit and the understanding. Since the metrical versions of the Psalms are based upon the Word of God, they ought to be used frequently in public worship. Great care must be taken that all the materials of song are in perfect accord with the teaching of Holy Scripture." [OPC DPW III:6]
> to include something other than canonical songs as the material in sung praise. To their credit, the OPC includes both the 1946-47 majority and minority reports regarding this issue on their web site for study, neither of them having been adopted as the official position.
> Some would honestly argue that the content of sung praise is equivalent to prayer and unspecified, though it should include Psalms, which serve as a model for other praise. The argument of the 46-47 majority report is unconvincing to me and is what turned me in the Exclusive Psalmody direction. However, there are non-EP people who still believe they adhere to the RPW.
> SRPC's elders are among those. They are not convinced of EP, yet want to follow the RPW to the best of their understanding. Therefore, we acknowledge no so called "holy days," have no choir or special music, and follow a simple and reverential order of worship. Every service includes at least two selections from the Scottish Psalter, and one or two from the Trinity Hymnal, these more often than not being Psalms also. Most Lord's Days all eight sung selections (at two services) will be all Psalms, but there is no definite policy of sing EP. We're the closest thing to a RPW congregation one will find for many miles around. I introduced the Scottish Psalter after my coming. They're still adjusting to that.
> We have several people who sing only Psalms. There is a definite commitment to see that these may in good conscience participate in most of the sung praise of our public worship, and no expectation they should violate their conscience. One will not hear preaching opposed to the RPW or EP. Also, I took an exception to the American amended version of the WCF and affirmed instead XXIII:3 of the original Confession. Therefore, one will not hear anti Establishment Principle preaching; and I have no problem publicly affirming the pope is the Antichrist.
> My stated desire for SRPC would be for them to sing only canonical content. However, I know if they don't arrive there themselves such practice will not survive beyond my pastorate. Therefore, through teaching and positive experience singing the Psalms, I hope to move them in that direction. Whether this congregation is able to remain within the OPC with its distinctives, I don't know. All American Reformed bodies are transitional and future realignments are inevitable. However, it is interesting that some EP denominations (RPCNA, RPCI, FCoS, and FCoS-Continuing) maintain fraternal relations with the OPC.
> I do believe one should be willing to move, if possible, even a great distance to be part of a sound church. (My wife, at one point prior to our marriage, moved to Scotland primarily to be part of an EP/RPW Free Church of Scotland Continuing congregation.) If that is not possible, driving a distance to be part of such periodically is possible. We have one family which drives three hours to be part of SRPC. Sometimes, they are hindered from travel by snow in the winter.
> I'm sorry more of you with your convictions would find yourself hindered from worshiping with or becoming members of SRPC. You would certainly be welcome and your contribution to the development of this congregation would be helpful. Starting a faithful congregation is one option; but reforming one is another, especially when leadership is open to such reform.
> While I regard the singing of Psalms as important, it is not an essential. I would find it easier to be part of a congregation which is in practice, though not yet in principle, EP than to be part of an EP Dutch Reformed body which acknowledged Christmas and Easter in public worship. However, if I were traveling, and the only available congregation was PCA, where they acknowledged the fifth Sunday of Lent and sung only hymns, I'd still attend and hope to hear the gospel preached and have opportunity for fellowship with believers. I find myself in that situation a couple Lord's Days each year when I'm on vacation. I no longer have young children at home; but when I did, I had no problem with their occasional exposure to less than perfect churches. It gave me opportunity to point out and correct questionable theology and practice, and hopefully made them more discerning. I wouldn't have exposed them to such on a regular basis. I have on occasion driven an hour or more to attend an OP church, which didn't celebrate "holy days," rather than attend the PCA fifteen minutes away which did. I acknowledge the non "holy day" OP congregations are a minority these days.
> We certainly have a messed up church situation in America. I pray Christ will send revival and reformation. In the meantime, we each must determine how we can best be faithful and make something of the providence God has given us. But, if any of you do find yourself in Boise, I hope you will at least have coffee with me and offer some encouragement.
> J. Glenn Ferrell, Pastor, Sovereign Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Boise, Idaho http://sovereignredeemer.org
> To: covenantedreformationclub@...: ragingcalvinist@...: Sun, 16 Mar 2008 22:35:13 -0400Subject: Re: [Covenanted Reformation] Why Stay at Home?
> I'll let Larry speak for himself, of course. But I wouldn't care about 1 mile, 10 miles, 100 miles or 1000 miles. If the issue is principle, distance doesn't make a difference.How can I teach my children that Exclusive Psalmody is God's way, and then take them to a pastor that teaches otherwise? Who are they to obey now? Who are they to believe now? Just something else to consider.gmw.Ic Neltococayotl wrote:
> Larry,For the sake of argument, what if a family had no other choice within100 miles, but to go to a Reformed hymn singing congregation? Whatwould you counsel?BTW, my sentiments are equal to yours.Edgar--- In email@example.com, Larry Bump lbump@wrote:>> Jerry wrote:> > Hi Ben,> >> > I "stay at home" because I want to be a Covenanter, and there are no> > local established Covenanter churches.>>> I would not attend a service where hymns are sung. I am not alone in> this conviction, but neither is it the only position among friends and> even family.> None would *sing* the hymns, but I believe that attending is still> partaking in the corporate sin.>
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "benhartmail"
>RPNA or RPNA(GM)? Reformed Presbyterian or pseudo presbyterian?
> It's ironic that you, who seem to have such a personal disdain for
> anything RPNA, refuse to let matters drop with them.
Who cares what
> they're doing, as far as you're concerned?Taking a page from you Ben, on one hand I don't. On the other, there
are still people that remained in the group, who seemed to be largely
untaught and were/are being led about by the nose of their tacit
consent. You probably won't agree, but I saw and still see,
FWIW/somewhat of an obligation to warn people about what's up.
My original question was
> regarding issues of unity and separation, and I'd like to keep it atThen keep it at that level please, but you do come with a background and
> that level.
I find your continual harassing of the RPNA--even if
> justified to some level--unedifying and obnoxious.So what? Or should I say, what if I find your comments maudlin,
unedifying and unable to come to a decent conclusion?
You've got a blog
> to take care of your ranting, perhaps you can keep it there.Pot, kettle, black.
> a peaceful question and was hoping for a peaceful discussion.Sorry, Ben, your past behavior and efforts preceded you.
> As far as the Effort is concerned, I didn't even bring it up in the
> first place. Edgar asked how I regard those who've been
> excommunicated by the RPNA and I gave an honest answer. Could you
> tell that I was a little confused in how to regard you and I wasn't
> coming down on a hard-and-fast conclusion?
>Well, praise the Lord. I am glad to see you have some backbone.
> As for being an RPNA clone: have you forgotten who in the RPNA was
> most vociferously against whoever wrote the law advocate email?
> Maybe you'd like to know that that email virtually got me
> excommunicated and is largely why my two girls remain unbaptized.
I was unaware of it.
But one, some of us really were excommunicated and two, that should have
clued you in to what kind of outfit the elders have become and what kind
of sinful wickedness the doctrine of tacit consent would lead to.
Instead, it seems, you waited till they disbanded and let you go. You
protested our pseudo presbyterian Perry Mason, but not the elders.
> Here's some advice from Paul that I think you would do well to heed.Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to
> "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk
> worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness
> and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
> endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
the face, because he was to be blamed.
Your dissimulation or confusion might be well meant, but that is still
what it is.
> If you have something edifying to say that will advance my?! No comment.
> understanding of issues of unity and separation, I'd like to hear
> what you've got to say.
Otherwise, it would be best to drop the RPNA
> polemic. You're almost literally beating a dead horse.For someone who defended them and bent over backward to excuse them,
yes, it would be best to drop the matter or tell others to. But I see
lessons still to be learned and some haven't learned them. You have
to get off the dime. Edgar asked you how you see us. You remained in the
group until they let you go, but we were excommunicated from the body of
Christ. So which is it?
That's the point.
But now you're onto something about unity and separation.
Well, respectfully we can be so studious that we avoid the real issues.
That's what I see and have always seen with the objections to the