Unfortunately, in my Christian life I have seen many in the Reformed movement wander into very strange territory. They seem completely unaware sometimes how far they've wandered from Sola Scriptura (the authority of the scriptures alone).
Take, for example, this line from a recent post at Reformation Charlotte (Click for the entire article by Jeff Maples):
J.D. Greear is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and his image fits a growing swath of millennials who are hell-bent on undoing the sacred traditions of the historic church...
Imagine a Reformed site defending "the sacred traditions of the historic church." Who is writing these articles, Pope Leo X? Tradition, in almost every case, is Scripture's greatest enemy.
I'm not going to defend every practice in contemporary congregations, but give me scripture, not "the sacred traditions of the historic church." Are you kidding me?
the reverence of the regulative principle of worship, and most importantly, the primary function of the Church — to go into all the nations and make disciples
To sum: they teach that only that which is expressly instructed in scripture is permitted in worship (don't miss the irony in also promoting "the scared traditions of the historic church"). Of course, as a proponent of Right Division, I would draw from only that which is given to me (if the regulative principle were my guiding principle). So, immediately, I would conclude that these who do not Rightly Divide, no matter if it is in scripture or not, are not being obedient to our commands. Immediately, I would have to object to the inclusion of Matthew 28:19 as the "primary function of the Church." Just because something is "in scripture" does not mean it is applicable in every age.
That aside, the idea that anything not expressly given in scripture is condemned is misguided. We have covered worshiping in spirit and in truth elsewhere. Let me quote just one small excerpt:
Truth is independent of time ("it's an ancient practice!"), independent of man's authority ("the church teaches it!"), independent of numbers ("millions worship this way!") and independent of anyone's opinion ("it works for me!"). None of these arguments will
make something into truth.
How many of these "Reformed" congregations practice Jewish rituals? How many have adopted Catholic structures? How many disobey the commands of Colossians 2?
In my early Christian life I found myself in Philadelphia. being an admirer of Donald Grey Barnhouse's ministry, I visited the famous Reformed Tenth Presbyterian Church. I though I was in a Catholic service. Dr. Boice provided an application message from Jeremiah, but the whole thing reeked of Catholic leftovers. You'd be hard-pressed to find any of that service in scripture. Applying the Regulative Principle, one would have to condemn the whole thing as Satanic.
In regard to music, how many sing hymns which contain error? Which were penned by Catholic composers? We have also covered music in earlier posts. I attended a performance of Handel's Messiah in my local Presbyterian Church in Alabama. Can I say I was entertained? Does that contaminate the evening? can that which is edifying also be entertaining? Are these mutually exclusive ideas?
It seems the arbiter of what is allowable to these folks are songs which are "ancient" or "historic" while not being "entertaining." Odd, as none of that is particularly scriptural.
I am familiar with one line of argument which posits that musical notes were found in some manuscripts and we are thus bound to them. I have also wasted my time in arguments on the complexities of composition which require an advanced degree in music to understand (and which are highly debated at the highest levels in any regard).
Things such as wearing a tie, using only certain instruments, building facilities based on historical patterns, practicing only that which passes the "Sacred Tradition" test are dangerous. This is not an endorsement of every sort of entertainment or "worship" in the congregation, but it does not exclude anything unless it is expressly forbidden in scripture. This is the standard by which we apply across the culture.
But, again, if you are looking in parts of scripture not directed to you, you will most likely end up in more damnable practices than using a PowerPoint and an electric guitar. Practicing the Lord's Supper (Passover) or robbing from Israel is other ways is more of an affront to Christ than
One last thought from the article:
My recommendation is that if you’re looking for a place to worship on Good Friday, find a small church who preaches the gospel and obeys the calling of the Church. God doesn’t need your money to worship Him.
I would note, from the principle of Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth and not from "Sacred Tradition" :
- God never instructed anyone to build a church building.
- "Good Friday" is a Catholic invention
- We preach the gospel of the dispensation of the Mystery in this age, not Matt 28.
- "God doesn't need you money" but they all ask for it. Tithing is for another age, but many reformed "churches" teach it (or "free-will offering") as necessary for this age.
In short, Christians have obligations both to tithe (free-will offering is probably better term) and to care for the poor.
[T]he New Testament nowhere revokes the command to tithe, and Jesus himself affirms it (Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42; however see, "as long as you live in your land," Deut 12:19).
About that "as long as you live in the land." Why do they quote it here as they dismiss it? Are Reformed pastors claiming to be a Levitical priesthood? The "church" has no land and the "church" is not Israel. As for the other verses (spoke to Pharisees) they merely state that the Pharisees tithed while neglecting greater matters of the law. How is that an affirmation of tithing in this age? Pulling back from that, do they really want to declare that the Lord's commands are for us to obey today? What gospel did he preach? Not the gospel of this age. So, should I declare a coming kingdom, a gospel which is devoid of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord? That's the gospel he preached. Should I preach it only to Jews and only in Israel? That's what the Lord commanded.
You're not "obeying" any of this:
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. 9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10 nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. 11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. 12 And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
As for the rest of the New Testament, do they still separate Jews from Gentiles in their teaching as the Apostles did in the Acts age? Do they keep the Law as the apostles did? Do they warn gentile believers (only) that they may be "cut off" from Israel? The Lord does not mention tithes in The Book of John. The Apostles don not mention it, save Paul as part of Israel's history in Hebrews.
It is very dangerous to fail to rightly divide. It enslaves both the one who fails and those who put themselves under his dominion.
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I seem to remember how Jesus reacted once when he came into His people’s place of worship and found money changers there.
Reformed T-shirts and other gear are available for purchase here at the money-changers table: https://reformedgear.com/ God's word on a t-shirt for only $24! But it's the Southern Baptists who are temple money-grubbers?