Monday, January 11, 2010

8/10/01 A Reply to Credenda Agenda

Leithart, Schlissel, Wilson  and Hal Lindsey  versus the Westminster Assembly, Ursinus, O.T. Allis, R.L. Dabney and John Knox 

[Something else grubbed up from the archives and  formatted for the web, in light of Mr. Schlissel's latest confusion on the RPW.]

Letter to the Editor
Credenda Agenda
Mr. Doug Wilson
August 10, 2001

Dear Sir,

In order to forestall any incipient prelacy in the New World order, Moscow, Idaho style, the Credenda Agenda, if not its good Editor, need to stop hem-hawing around and clarify its position on worship. Specifically this means explicitly affirming the historic reformed exposition of the Second Commandment commonly known as the Regulative Principle of Worship (the RPW hereafter): "Whatsoever is not commanded in Scripture is forbidden in the worship of God."

Not only is this principle found in the historic confessions of the Reformation such as the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Confession –  which  according to its Statement of Faith, the CA is "in essential agreement with” –   in light of the Editor's latest book For Kirk and Covenant: The Stalwart Courage of John Knox (Cumberland, 2000), the latest electronic edition of the Credenda Agenda, as well as past printed editions confuse things. In that a double minded magazine, if not its Editor, is  unstable in all its ways, for the sake of the reformed credibility of the CA, consistency in upholding the RPW is a prerequisite.

Leithart's Liturgy
Mr. Leithart's article, "Synagogue or Temple?" in the most recent CA (Liturgia, 13:1), supposedly answers the question as to which of the two is the basis and pattern for Christian worship. Unfortunately, it only confirms the (willful?) ignorance common in many presbyterian and reformed circles in agreeing with Mr. Schlissel's critique of the RPW:
Schlissel is using the synagogue to attack the idea that "Whatever is not commanded in worship is forbidden." As he rightly points out, the very existence of the synagogue makes hash of this view, for synagogue worship went on century after century without being regulated by a single word from God (emph. added). Schlissel concludes, "But for us the synagogue presents no problem at all. We find that it is sacrificial worship only, from Deuteronomy 12 on, that is absolutely restricted in regard to place, performers and particulars. Such restrictions never governed common sacred assemblies.”. . . .
Yet he will not go so far as Mr. Schlissel to say that the synagogue is the pattern for New Testament worship.
Moreover if we take the synagogue as our model of Christian worship, then we have virtually no biblical resources for formulating the theology and practice of worship. Weekly synagogue-like assemblies were required by the law (Lev. 23:3), but there is no explicit biblical information about what they did (emph. added)....
Still, since again Credenda Agenda is "in essential agreement with the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646," the Minutes of the Westminster Assembly (Mitchell & Struthers, ed. 1874, rpt.  SWRB, 1991), shed more light on the regulation of synagogue worship upon which Mr. Schlissel's supposed argument against the RPW largely turns.

The Westminster Assembly on the Synagogue
During the debates running from May 5, through June 8, 1646 it was determined "That  the jus divinum [divine law] and the will and appointment of Jesus Christ is set out several ways in Scripture," one of which obviously, is "in express words (p 227)."  As for the second "The proofs that a necessary consequence is a sufficient argument of Christ's will" include Matt. 22:31,32, Acts 13:34 and Heb. 1:6 which respectively prove the resurrection of the dead, the resurrection of Christ and that Christ is the son of God "by consequence only (pp. 231, 232, emph. added)." Session 649, June 1, 1646, on Monday morning, continues further regarding the force, if not the good and necessary consequences, of examples in Scripture by saying:
Resolved upon the Q. `Some examples show a jus divinum and the will and appointment of God; as in the Old Testament the building of altars to the Lord and offering of sacrifices by the fathers from Adam to Abraham, which was done in faith and acceptance, for which there was no foregoing precept recorded in Scripture. . . .
Resolved upon the Q., `The like also we may say of Jews having of synagogues and worshipping God in them, and in particular if their reading Moses and the prophets there every Sabbath-day.'
Resolved upon the Q., `In the New Testament we have the like instances of the observation of the first day of the week for the Christian Sabbath. . . .
Resolved upon the Q., `In all which examples, as we have cause to believe that the  fathers at the first had a command from God for those things whereof we now find only their example for the ground of their posterity's like practice for many generations, so likewise, though we believe that Christ, in the time that He conversed with His disciples before and after His resurrection, did instruct them in all things concerning the kingdom of God, yet nothing is left recorded to show his will and appointment of the things instanced in, but the example and the practice of the apostles and the churches in their time. . . (Minutes, pp.237,238, italics added)
This is to say, for the divines who wrote the Confession of Faith which includes both the RPW of Chapt. 21:1 and the "good and necessary consequence" of Chapt. 1:6, the very existence in Scripture of the synagogue, much less its worship, means that God did both institute and regulate it, not to mention the other approved examples of altars and sacrifices in the O.T. and the change to the first day of the week for the Christian Sabbath in the N.T. These all presuppose God's command and appointment. This regardless if we do not find any explicit commands or detailed instructions in Scripture, but rather only that the obedience is explicitly recorded. Consequently neither the synagogue nor its worship contradicts the RPW according to the Westminster Assembly,  however much it is contrary to Mr. Schlissel's view and Mr. Leithart’s approval of it.

Mr. Schlissel's Baptist Inconsistencies
Yet Mr. Schlissel, in his series of articles, "All I Really  Need To Know About Worship . . . I Don't Learn From the Regulative Principle (hereafter AIRNTK)," does acknowledge that "good and necessary consequence" trumps the Baptist position that "the absence of a clear N.T. command to baptize babies, joined to many examples of adult baptisms following profession, leads to their conclusion that babies,  covenant or otherwise,  may not be lawfully baptized." He also at least allows "Apostolic example as well as Christ's own resurrection and appearances to justify a change of day (AIRNTK II:1, 8, emph. added)," from the seventh to the first of the week for the Christian Sabbath. That he can't see the force of the patriarchal examples for worship in the O.T.,  is not only inconsistent with the view of the Westminster divines, but also the precedent implicit his own previous statement.

Mr. Schlissel can either affirm good and necessary consequence all across the board by affirming the RPW and its application to the synagogue along with infant baptism and the change of the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first. Or he can consistently deny them all by becoming a good old Hard Shell Seventh Day Baptist that worships on Saturday  with hymns, musical instruments, solos, choirs, altar calls and feastdays for starters. This is the horns of the dilemma Mr. Schlissel is tossed upon all the while our dude rancher and wannabe cowboy from Brooklyn insists the RPW is a bum steer, not withstanding that his arguments and antics more resemble the rodeo clown. At the very least, he ought to stand down off his superficial soapbox and shut up, if he will not repent of his flippant question begging contra the RPW, or go on to follow his illogic into the theological dead end where it leads. Instead he hypocritically straddles the fence and picks and chooses when he will apply good and necessary consequence to the question at hand.

The Real Regulative Principle of Worship
In other words, as per the counter remarks and criticisms respectively of Messrs. Schwertley, Grossman and Williamson of Mr. Schlissel's AIRNTK series and which  Mr. Schlissel petulantly refuses to respond to in substance even as he posts  them on his website, the RPW is the good and necessary consequences of the Second Commandment as clearly confessed  in the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster  Confession –  if not the Westminster Standards –  of the Protestant Reformation, all of which the CA claims to be "in essential  agreement with," Whatsoever is not –  explicitly or by good and necessary consequences –  commanded in the worship of God is forbidden. Chapter 21:1 of the Westminster Confession  entitled "Of Religious  Worship, and the Sabbath-day," spells  out specifically  the grand overall presupposition and principle that qualifies all lawful reformed worship, (much less the basis for the Assembly's Directory of Publick Worship) by saying:
(T)he acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestion of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture (Deut.12:32, Matt.15:9, Acts 17:25, Matt. 4:9,10, Deut. 4:15-20, Ex. 20:4-6, Col.2:23, emph. added).
But it is not enough that the Second Commandment is contained in the proof texts of the Confession at this point. The same doctrine is expressly mentioned in the Assembly's Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Q&A 109 and 51 respectively. As John Owen, a Puritan contemporary of the Westminster Assembly, put it, "It was a witty and true sense that one gave of the second commandment: "Non imago, non simulachrum prohibetur, sed non facies tibi;" - it is a making to ourselves, an inventing, a finding out ways of worship, or means of honouring God, not by him appointed, that is so severely forbidden (Works, Banner of Truth, 1997, II:154, emph. added)." Any worship, instituted by or added unto the worship of God by man and which is not of God alone, is forbidden by the Second Commandment. Not only is this the classic understanding of the Reformation, it is precisely what Mr. Schlissel explicitly disagrees with.

The best he can do with all this is to ignore, if not deny, that the Second Commandment is the locus classicus of the RPW and substitute Deut. 12 in its place claiming that v.32 "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it," only applies to the sacrificial worship in the preceding chapter. Obviously he then can claim that the RPW is only a part of the ceremonial law which has been done away with in the New Testament by Christ. Those who defend the RPW then become Judaizers and Pharisees seeking to lay the burden of the works of the law upon the back of the Christian church (AIRNTK  I:5,6, IV:3). Yet the chapter speaks to more than just sacrificial worship as well that taken in context of the entire Scripture on the question of worship, it applies to the purity of all worship, both ceremonial/sacramental and moral/didactic as Grossman mentions.

Mr. Schlissel Literally Can't Find It
When he can no longer avoid the place of the Second Commandment in the doctrine, he refuses to recognize the RPW's basis in the same because the commandment does not explicitly and literally spell out the RPW. Under the heading "Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse (AIRNTK V:5)," after quoting the Second Commandment, he goes on to make a number of comments.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments (Ex.20:4-6, Deut. 5:8-10).

Where is the RPW here? I do not see it. The commandment forbids making images (emph. added) It seems to me that discovering the RPW here is at best a little ticklish. First, the RPW claims to govern corporate worship. Would the regulativist suggest that this command's scope is limited to corporate worship, that it is okay to make idols for use outside of corporate worship? Of course not.
He then quotes Q&A 96 of the Heidelberg only to further incriminate himself.
Q 96 What does God require in the Second Commandment?
A 96 That we in no way make any image of God, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded us in His Word.


So far, so good. The question then becomes, "Just how has God commanded in His Word that He be worshipped?" I answer, "He has forbidden certain things, as this commandment, among other texts, proves. He has also commanded that He be approached only through His own provided atonement. He has also given us many principles which serve as borders within which we may freely employ faithful, covenantal sense, taking into consideration always the general rules of the Word." That is how He has commanded that He be worshipped.
Then he continues with the same old diatribe as he has previously:
The regulativist, however, answers by saying, "God's will is that if He has not commanded a thing, it is forbidden." But where does he find that in the Second Commandment? He does not. He has obviously first assumed it and then imposed it.
In fact, what the Second Command does - and this might be a shock to some - is to forbid idolatry and the use of images as representations of God or as objects of worship. Most humble readers of the Bible would conclude this without help (AIRNTK V:5, emph. added).
Yet if the brother could bother himself to make a visit to the New York Public Library, he might be in for a little surprise. The original intent of the primary source gives lie to his position, no matter how popular it is these days. Which is all to say, if the brother would do a little more reading than talking on the question, we all might benefit.

Ursinus's Authoritative Exposition
The translator's preface to the first American edition in 1851 of Ursinus's  Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, says ". . . as Ursinus was the chief compiler of this symbol, he must always be regarded as the most authoritative expounder of the doctrines which it contains (Geo. Williard, trans., The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, 1645, rpt. Eerdmans, 1954, p.v, emph. added)." The same Ursinus says in part in his exposition of the Thirty-Fifth Lord's Day, Q&A. 96 regarding the Second Commandment:
. . . To worship God truly, is to worship him in the manner which he himself has prescribed in his word.
This commandment forbids, on the other hand, every form of will-worship. . . any other kind of worship which he himself has not prescribed. For when God condemns the principal, the grossest and most palpable form of false worship, which is that of worshipping him at or by images, it is plainly manifest that he also condemns at the same time all other forms of false worship, inasmuch as they all grow out of this. He forbids the most shocking kind of idolatry, not that he would overlook or exclude other forms of worship opposed to that which he has prescribed; but because this is the root, the foundation of all the rest. Hence all kinds of worship not instituted by God, but by men, as well as those which contain the same reason why they should be prohibited, are forbidden in this precept of the Decalogue.
All those things, therefore, which are opposed to the true worship of God are contrary to this second commandment; such as
1. Idolatry, which consist in a false or superstitious worship of God. There are, as we have already remarked, two principal kinds of idolatry. . . The other species of idolatry is more subtle and refined, as when the true God is supposed to be worshipped, whilst the kind of worship which is paid him is false, which is the case when anyone imagines that he is worshipping God by the performance of any work not prescribed by the divine law. This species of idolatry is more properly condemned in the second commandment, and is termed superstitious, because it adds to the commandments of God the inventions of men. Those are called superstitious who corrupt the worship of God by their own inventions. This will-worship or superstition is condemned in every part of the word of God (Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, pp. 517, 518,  it. added).
For the record and for those who are really stubborn about it, Ursinus here categorically affirms the RPW. Not only does the Second Commandment condemn  gross idolatry, it also condemns the other kinds of false worship that grow out of idolatry, which are termed superstitious and consists of any worship not prescribed by, but added to, the divine law. Ursinus cannot be any more perspicuous about it while Mr. Schlissel is too clever by half in – only restricting the application of the commandment to gross idol worship.

Nothing New Under the Sun
Of course there were objections to this doctrine in those days too. One was that:
(C)ertain of the saints have worshipped God with acceptance without any express commandment of his; so Samuel offered sacrifices in Ramah, Elijah in Mount Carmel, Manoah in Zorah,&c. (1 Sam.7:17, 1 Kings 18:19, Judges 13:19.) Therefore there are certain works which constitute the worship of God, though not expressly commanded by him (Ursinus, Commentary, p. 523, emph. added).
The last is exactly Mr. Schlissel's position based on his mistaken conclusion that the RPW does not apply to the synagogue and its worship; that the approved examples of worship do not presuppose God's command as per the Westminster Assembly's position. The Editor as well has previously asked whether Samuel's sacrifices were not contrary to the RPW in that Samuel was not a Levite (CA 12:3, p. 22). Ursinus replies to this Objection which was old in his day, thus:
Ans. These examples establish nothing conclusively in reference to will worship; for in the first place, as it respects these sacrifices, they were the worship of God, because they were works commanded by him. And then as it regards the place appointed for offering sacrifices, the saints of old were free before the erection of the temple. Samuel fixed upon the place where he lived as the one in which he would offer sacrifices, this being the most convenient. And the prophets very well knew that the worship of God did not consist in the circumstances of place, in respect to which the godly were left free, while as yet the ark of the covenant had no fixed place. And finally, as it respects the persons themselves who offered these sacrifices, they had extraordinary power conferred upon them, being prophets, as Samuel and Elijah were. And as it respects Manoah, the father of Sampson, he either did not sacrifice himself, but delivered the sacrifice over to the angel whom he supposed to be a prophet, to be offered up; or else he offered it, being commanded by the angel, so that nothing was done contrary to the law.
So we may easily return an answer to the other examples which are adduced by our opponents. Abel and Noah, say they, offered sacrifices; (Gen.4&8) but they did not do it without a command from God; for they offered their sacrifices in faith as Paul affirms in Heb. 11. Faith now cannot be without the word of God (Ursinus, Commentary, pp. 523-4, italics. added).
Neither can the worship of God be without the Word of God nowadays if it is to be  done in faith, "for whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23)."

Mr. Schlissel's UnInformed Principle of Worship
We quote Ursinus at such length to the end at least that if the unInformed do not become Informed on the question, even the unInformed will not be able to  Ignore who is responsible for their Incompetent Ignorance, all excuses and Mr. Schlissel's Informed Principle of Worship notwithstanding. The Heidelberg Catechism plainly and explicitly understands the Second Commandment to teach 'Whatsoever is not commanded in the worship of God is forbidden.' If the author of the Catechism in his Commentary on the Catechism in regard to the Second Commandment is incompetent to what the Catechism says about the Second Commandment it is no matter, Mr. Schlissel himself is previously and categorically incompetent, in aces and spades. But we already know that. There is nothing new under the sun, much less that quite a lot came to light at the time of the Reformation, whether many presbyterian and reformed churches these days know it or not. And until they repent of that ignorance, which many times is nothing but arrogant, they will never surpass the church of the Reformation, much less come up to her attainments.

Hal Lindsey's Literal Principle of Worship
Of course, as should be obvious by now, the main reason our Bible student from Brooklyn denies the classic RPW besides simply ignoring the classic arguments for it' based on the Second Commandment, is because however he might criticize Mr. Lindsey's dispensational errors below in his Hal Lindsey & the Restoration of the Jews (SWRB, 1990), he will himself insist on mischaracterizing the RPW in a dispensational/fundamentalist manner: Only whatsoever is not explicitly commanded in the worship of God is forbidden. In its place he will propose his beloved Informed Principle of Worship: "What is not forbidden might be permitted. It depends (AIRNTK III:3-6)." Indeed it does. On dispensational principles.
   
Mr. Schlissel tells us that:
The basic hermeneutical principle of the Dispensationalist (from which is derived their dogma that "Church" always and only means church, and "Israel" always and only means Israel) is, "If the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense." This has gotten them into no little trouble since they understand that to mean, "If there is any possible way that you can interpret something as being capable of a literal fulfillment, go for it (p.181, emph. added)."
For those perhaps not so well read or of short memory in the back woods of Idaho or downtown Brooklyn, Hal Lindsey is the dispensational author of the best seller of the 1970's, The Late Great Planet Earth.

O.T. Allis on Dispensationalism
For those who by this point, might not be inclined to take Mr. Schlissel's opinion as the last word on dispensationalism, Oswald T. Allis, the well known Professor of Old Testament at Princeton and Westminster Seminaries, said essentially the same thing forty five years previous to Mr. Schlissel's comments.
One of the most marked features of Premillenialism in all its forms is the emphasis it places on the literal interpretation of Scripture. It is the insistent claim of its advocates that only when interpreted literally is the Bible interpreted truly; and they denounce as "spiritualizers" or "allegorizers" those who do not interpret the Bible with the same degree of literalness as they do. None have made this charge more pointedly than the Dispensationalists. . . .
This Dispensational system of interpreting Scripture is very popular today. The reasons are not far to seek. Literal interpretation seems to make Bible study easy. It also seems reverent. It argues on this wise: "God must have said just what He means and must mean just what He has said; and what He has said is to be taken just as He said it, i.e., literally." But the New Testament makes it plain that literal interpretation was a stumbling block to the Jews. It concealed from them the most precious truths of Scripture (Prophecy and the Church, Pres. & Reformed, 1945, pp. 16-17, 258, emph. added).
Likewise Mr. Schlissel's principle of literal interpretation applied to the Second Commandment conceals from him and his adherents, the precious truths of the Scripture brought to light and expounded at the time of the Reformation regarding the worship of God. In other words, Mr. Schlissel's criticism of Mr. Lindsey's principle of literal interpretation of biblical prophecy retorts with vengeance upon his own principle of literal interpretation which finds fault with, if not totally ignores, the Regulative Principle of Worship as the historic Reformed exposition of the Second Commandment. What we have here is Steve Schlissel's Restoration of the Dispensational Principle of Worship, as in again, the Strictly Literal. He insists on omitting the implicit consequences of Scripture and restricts the RPW exclusively to the express and explicit negatives of God's Word, or what is only half of the genuine whole RPW. In other words again, Mr. Schlissel is a dispensationalist, if not a fundamentalist, albeit no doubt a very humble one, but no less than. Rather, if his Bible doesn't explicitly and literally say so, it ain't so, at least on the question of the Second Commandment and the Regulative Principle of Worship.

Literal Dogmatism
And as per the Dispensational Premillenialists who insist on literally interpreting the Scripture, Allis says, "The dogmatism with which many writers on unfulfilled. prophecy express themselves regarding things to come is deplorable. The facility with which they ignore the views of all who differ from them is inexcusable (Prophecy and the Church, p. 53)." Need we say more? The dogmatism of the brother from Brooklyn regarding the doctrine of worship is deplorable. The facility in which he ignores, if not contradicts, the views of the Westminster Assembly on the nature of synagogue worship and the author of the Heidelberg on the Second Commandment –  which views greatly differ with his –  is inexcusable. The, real question then becomes, if Mr. Schlissel refuses to recognize the RPW as properly found in the Westminster Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism in the first place, why - apart from ignorance - would anybody listen to him propose a substitute in its place and then build an argument upon it as Mr. Leithart has done?

Of course, on his mistaken basis, Mr. Schlissel's thesis that the synagogue is an uncommanded, unregulated, human tradition in worship that is approved by God carries the day. We only wish it could carry the weight of examination by other than theological novices and naive sophomores. Furthermore, that it is not indicative of the caliber of pious poop and pretentious humbug that just might earn Mr. Schlissel the honorary doctorate from New St. Andrews, now that his "All I Really Need to Know About Worship . . ." series has earned him the prerequisite B.S. degree. Not only does Mr. Schlissel prove himself the proverbial fool, who - however glib - is really only interested in hearing his own mistaken opinion - which doesn't say much for those who buy into his shtick - it is extremely irritating that although Mr. Schlissel would seem to be fully capable of understanding the truth on the matter, he has demonstrated no real desire or love for it.

Perversions, Spiritual and Otherwise
Still, in his attempt to leave his controversy with the RPW behind, Mr. Schlissel has the gall in a number of his recent fund raising newsletters with all the customary pictures of the lovely family, to major on the growing acceptance of  pedophilia in the ongoing disintegration of American culture and society, not to mention those who would like to redefine marriage to include all the adult sodomites who want to shack up and play house just like Mummy and Daddy. Yet as the unattributed quote on the title page to James Begg's 1875, but still relevant title, Anarchy in Worship (Lyon & Gemmell, 1875) reads, "When nations are to perish in their sins, Tis in the Church the leprosy begins." And begun it surely has. Now, if the brother would only cover his lip, cry "unclean" and go without the reformed camp when speaking to the question of worship, we would be satisfied. But not until.

While the pedophiles of the world are busy conspiring to further trash the Seventh  Commandment, Mr. Schlissel and all who agree with his version of the presbyterian and reformed theology of worship, are only bashing the Second. Somehow, we don't think it's even close to being an even-Steven kind of deal. Rather to whom much is given, much is required. The rest of Begg's title only too pointedly reads, Recent Innovations contrasted with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church and the Vows of Her Office Bearers. Or as the psalmist says, "He hath broken his covenant," and this however much Mr. Schlissel may care to tout the supposed superior covenantal character of the Continental Reformed approach to worship –  including we suppose, among many other things  – confessional covenants and creedal subscription to the RPW, as opposed to poormouthing the Presbyterian creeds and worship (AIRNTK V:9).

Spiritual Fornication
Again, to whom much is given, much is required. It is not for nothing that repeatedly in the Scriptures, idolatry is referred to as whoring after false gods –  it is nothing more than spiritual fornication and adultery. Whether he realizes it or not, even one of Mr. Schlissel's very own fathers in the faith  – and Mr. Schlissel is a congregationalist, his views in various ‘97 newsletters on Acts 15 make that clear – William Ames, the theologian and patriarch of American Puritan congregationalism, considered the Second Commandment as "forbidding all spiritual fornication," even as the Seventh "doeth that which is carnal (Fresh Suite Against Human Ceremonies, SWRB, nd. II:369,370)." The battle over the reformed doctrine of worship is a battle for no small thing in our day and Mr. Schlissel unfortunately gives every indication that he wants to know nothing at all about the Second Commandment.

Consequently as a know-nothing-at-all, it would behoove him to stop playing the ingratiating part of a know it all, all the while whining about the state of the nation vis a vis the Seventh Commandment. If nothing else, for the love of God and His truth, he needs to stand down and shut up, if he won't confess the truth about worship. Those who know and do not, shall be beaten with many stripes. It is Mr. Schlissel as a nominally reformed teaching and preaching elder, who has not only brought up the question in the first place, but in his AIRNTK series has butchered the Second Commandment after the fashion of the Levite his concubine and shamelessly distributed the pieces to the wider presbyterian and reformed church in order to stir up their ignorant wrath and resentment against the historic reformed doctrine of worship. If the Lord's people are to "perish for lack of knowledge," let it not be also said that "they loved to have it so (cf. Hos. 4:6, Jer. 5:31)."

Liturgical Judaizing
Mr. Leithart errs further by saying that "(E)ven if Christian worship grew from the synagogue, therefore, the ultimate roots of that worship are from the temple (emph. added)" His conclusion is that:
Worst of all, if we take the synagogue as our model of worship, we are almost completely dependent upon Jewish tradition for our liturgical theology and practice. Far from being a step toward Romanism, taking the temple as our model for worship is the only possible way to arrive at a biblical view of worship. There simply is no other model (emph. added),
Mr. Leithart might as well say the Book of Hebrews is not found in the New Testament. At least he shows no sign of understanding it. To insist on the temple as the pattern for Christian worship is to totally confound the distinction between type and antitype, ceremonial and moral, and ultimately the differences between the Old and New Testament This is nothing more than Judaizing with a vengeance.

Dabney on Girardeau on the Synagogue
Robert Lewis Dabney's comments are to the point. They are in the context of his review of a title, Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church (New Covenant Publ. Society, 1983) by his contemporary John Girardeau regarding the lawfulness of musical instruments in the public worship of the New Testament church, recently reprinted in his Discussions, Vol. V. Miscellaneous Writings, (Sprinkle, 1999) [This book retailed for $30 at the time, if it was not available  from Mr. Schlissel's Dabney inspired  "Bob-A-Lew  Festival" for a donation of only  $1250]. He says,
God set up in the Hebrew Church two distinct forms of worship; the one moral, didactic, spiritual and universal, and therefore perpetual in all places and ages, that of the synagogues; the other peculiar, local, typical, foreshadowing in outward forms the more spiritual dispensation, and therefore destined to be utterly abrogated by Christ's coming. Now we find instrumental music, like human priests and their vestments, show-bread, incense, and bloody sacrifice, absolutely limited to this local and temporary worship. But the Christian churches were modeled upon the synagogues and inherited their form of government and worship because it was permanently didactic, moral and spiritual and included nothing typical. This reply is impregnably fortified by the word of God himself: that when the Antitype has come the types must be abolished. For as the temple-priests and animal sacrifices typified Christ and his sacrifice on Calvary, so the musical instruments of David in the temple-service only typified the joy of the Holy Ghost in his pentecostal effusions (p.324, emph. added).
He continues,
Doubtless the objection in every opponent's mind is this: that, after all, Dr. Girardeau is making a conscientious point on too trivial and non-essential a matter. I am not surprised to meet this impression in the popular mind, aware as I am that this  age of universal education is really a very ignorant one. But it is a matter of grief to find ministers so oblivious to the first lessons of their church history. They seem totally blind to the historical fact that it was just thus every damnable corruption which has cursed the church took its beginning: in the addition to the modes of worship , ordained by Christ for the new dispensation, of human devices, which seemed ever so pretty and appropriate, made by the best of men and women and ministers with the very best of motives, and borrowed mostly from the temple culture of the Jews. Thus came vestments, pictures in churches, incense, the observance of martyr's anniversary days – in a word, the whole apparatus of will-worship and superstition which bloomed to Popery and idolatry. . .
. . . . Prelatists undertake every step of the argument which these Presbyterians use for their organ, and advance them in a parallel manner to defend the re-introduction of the Passover or Easter, of Whitsuntide, of human priests and priestly vestments,  and of chrism, into the gospel church. "God's appointment of them in the old dispensation proves them to be innocent. Christians have a right to add to the cultus ordained for the New Testament whatever they think appropriate, provided it is innocent; and especially are such additions lawful if borrowed from the old dispensation." I should  like to see the Presbyterian who has refuted Dr. Girardeau in argument meet a Prelatist, who justifies these other additions by that Presbyterian's own logic. Would not his consistency be something like that pictured by the old proverb of 'Satan reproving sin?" Again, if the New Testament church has priests, these priests must have sacrifice. Thus, consistency will finally lead that Presbyterian to the real corporeal presence and the Mass (pp. 326, 327, emph. added). . .
It is likewise a matter of grief to find reformed ministers so ignorant of their first lessons of reformed theology, if not also reformed worship. We should like to think better of Mr. Leithart's competence to the question. While we can appreciate his previous efforts to expound Shakespeare and Sophocles (see Brightest Heaven of Invention, Canon Press, 1996 and Heroes of the City of Man, Canon Press, 1999), we are inclined, at this point, to urge him to stick with his expertise. If incipient Romanism can make the grade in the pages of the CA, among other things, the liturgical schlock of James Jordan's Eastern Orthodoxy can't be far behind. (It is beyond the scope here to demonstrate the further egregious errors of Mr. Jordan, yet Kevin Reed's The Canterbury Tales (Presbyterian Heritage Publ. 1984) is a good place to start.)

Mr. Schlissel's Roman Principle of Worship
As for Mr. Schlissel's competence to the question, we unfortunately are already  aware of it.  As well his opinion of Dabney as "the greatest prophet among the Southern theologians ("How the West was Lost," Messiah's Mandate 1999, p. 7)," all the while Dabney's essay is only too conspicuous  by its inexcusable absence from Mr. Schlissel's discussion of the RPW  (although only recently reprinted, it has been readily available for the last couple of years in P&R circles) which leads to his denial of it, not to mention his further bizarre comment that the RPW is similar in principle to the errors of Rome.
Rome and her stepchildren want  holy places and holy orders. Those who subscribe to the so-called Regulative Principle of Worship unwittingly commit a similar "error of motif' when they insist upon holy details. Who would have thought that the very principle designed to distance us from Rome would actually link us! But all extreme positions kiss, you know (AIRNTK I:1).
But Dr. Dabney again makes no further bones about it, in direct opposition to Mr. Schlissel's opinionated, if not inebriated, nonsense. We either agree with the RPW or we agree with Rome.
Mr. Girardeau has defended the old usage of our church with moral courage, loyalty to the truth, clearness of reasoning and wealth of learning which should make every true Presbyterian proud of him, whether he adopts his conclusions or not. The framework of his argument is this: it begins with the vital truth which no Presbyterian can discard without a square desertion of our principles. The man who contests this first premise had better set out at once for Rome: God is to be worshipped only in the ways appointed in his word (Review, p.323).
In other words, Mr. Schlissel's suppression of the truth has grown into the expression of error, as well as the deception of his disciples like Mr. Leithart and others. The question is not whether Christian worship follows the synagogue or the temple – even Dabney's erstwhile disciple agrees, however  confused, that it follows the synagogue – but whether or not we believe that "God is to be worshipped only in the ways appointed in his word" –  explicitly or implicitly, the nefarious RPW again. If we believe otherwise, we are headed for Rome. Which is exactly where Mr. Schlissel and Mr. Leithart are headed. According to "the greatest prophet among the Southern theologians." And we would suppose, the Credenda Agenda. Have a nice trip. Don't bother with the card when you get there.

John Knox on Worship
This leads to the next question. What are we to make of the good Editor's newest book, For Kirk and Covenant: The Stalwart Courage of John Knox (Cumberland, 2000)? Despite its many excellencies, the author begs the question at hand. Rather we just might learn among other things, "how a man may be greatly honored in name while studiously ignored in substance (p.12)." For all present purposes and applications the subject and "practice of worship remains largely untouched (p.37)." Nowhere does this come to a head more clearly than the chapter on "Zeal" which contains the lengthiest  mention of the issue of worship in Knox's theology. We read that:
John Knox understood well that the Word of God need temper and restrain the zeal of men... This sense of restraint is what lay behind his emphasis on what has come to be called "the regulative principle of worship (emph. added)." His purpose in advocating this regulative principle was not to smother true zeal and piety, but rather to channel the zeal. . .
Of those, we presume, who in their rash ignorance presume to improve on the worship of God?

The Editor continues,
Knox shared with the Catholics an evident zeal, but he was distinguished from them in one notable respect - wisdom. He knew that all religious zeal had to be restrained by something outside of man, and that restraint had to be the plain word of God, as it is written to us. In one of his earlier controversies, Knox had said it this way; "all worshipping,  honouring, or service invented by the brain of man in the religion of God, without His own express commandment, is idolatry." The depth of his insight is really quite profound. Many modern Protestants see the doctrine of transubstantiation as idolatry because man worships a created thing (the host) as God - and some Protestants have trouble seeing even this. However, Knox did not identify this as the problem. This was certainly idolatrous fruit, but it was because it had  grown from idolatrous seed - an invention of man in worship. Something that began in idolatry could not hope to end in true and pure worship. In this sense, Knox was a radical. The word radical comes form the Latin word radix, meaning root. Knox was concerned with the root of the matter, the root of all idolatries.
The Catholics were not the only ones who were attracted to their own inventions in worship. Knox was faithful in testifying against this error, even when committed by his own friends and co-laborers in the recovery of the gospel. His zeal was for the pure worship of God, and God was the only One with the authority to determine what that pure worship should look like.
This was how John Knox saw his zeal, and the zeal of all others, should be constrained. Anything done in the worship of God, in the name of Christ, should have His good authority for it (p.163, italics. added).
Houston, we have a problem.

Credenda Agenda Confusion
How can the good Editor laud Knox and his theology of worship -- the Regulative Principle of Worship -- out of the same side of the same mouth he sings the fame of John Frame and Steve Schlissel, if not publishes Mr. Leithart's  latest? We still remember the Editor's review in ‘97 of "Sic et Non" John Frame's worthless  Worship In Spirit and Truth (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1996), in which same title Frame repudiates the RPW in his peculiar forked tongue pidgin presbyterian creole and in which same review, the Editor approves of Mr. Schlissel's superficial and smart-aleck shenanigans on the topic, as well as redefined the RPW in his own personal fashion, as opposed to presbyterian.

Frame's Flippant Dismissal of the RPW
While Frame does voice an affirmation of the regulative principle and his enthusiastic subscription to the Westminster Confession and Catechisms in his preface (pp. xiii, xiv), in his chapter on "The Rules for Worship," the only mention of the second commandment is his statement that: "The second forbids the worship of any god (even the true God) by means of idols." (Mr. Schlissel obviously agrees here.) He then quotes Chapter 21:1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith as a representative statement of the regulative principle without mentioning at all the corresponding foundation for it in the Second Commandment which is explicitly confessed in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms according to the exegesis and theology of the Westminster divines (pp. 37-39). The endnote (p. 47) damns the RPW with faint praise (and give Mr. Schlissel bad ideas) by claiming the Scriptures he has cited in the section on the RPW:
. . . .do not prove "the precise point that "whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden." The practices condemned in those passages are not merely not commanded; they are explicitly forbidden. For example what Nadab and Abihu did in Lev. 10:1 was not only "unauthorized," the text informs us, but also contrary to [God's] command." The fire should have been taken from God's altar (Num. 16:46), not from a private source (compare Ex. 35:3).
This is pathetic. In his pristine example of biblical theology run amuck, Prof. Frame will not see the forest for the trees. While he repeatedly voices his nominal agreement with the regulative principle of worship, he never gives an adequate' exposition of it, all the while he snipes at it and insinuates that is not as biblical as his alternative. He will go on to further beg the question and muddy the water as regards the circumstances "common to human actions and societies" and the substantive elements of worship of WCF 1:6, 21:3,5, insisting that his term "application," which seems to combine - as in confuse - aspects of both, is the more precise substitute (pp. 40-43). The concept or doctrine of good and necessary consequence in the same section of the WCF 1:6, is a total no show. He even says that "Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to prove that anything is divinely required specifically for official services (p.44)." Really? So much again for good and necessary consequences, Christian prudence and the general rules of the Word as per WCF 1:6 which Prof. Frame in a superficial stupor conveniently ignores or denies.

Wilson Affirms Schlissel's Errors
Mr. Schlissel for his part, has only pointed out and highlighted his own ignorance of the true regulative principle of worship, and following in the footsteps of his mentor, Prof. Frame again, has substituted for it an anemic invention of his own imagination, which he calls the Informed Principle of Worship. But he has yet to informs us of the real Regulative Principle of Worship. The Editor then, like Mr. Leithart now, speaks highly of the merits of Mr. Schlissel's supposed case against the RPW.
As Steve Schlissel has pointed out, the strict regulative principle in scripture is applied to the worship of the Temple (and even that principle is applied less rigorously than some of our regulativist brethren would desire). With the fulfillment of the sacrificial system and Christ's ascension to heaven, the restrictions are taken with it. The synagogue, meanwhile, which was the-prototype-of  the-Christian church, was required by God, but not highly regulated. What is still tightly regulated is the Temple service and the work of our High Priest. We are not to add to, or subtract from, the gospel.
The Editor then continues to define the RPW in his own novel way.
The regulative principle, biblically understood, is a Person. The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church; He is our regulative Principal. This is no appeal to mysticism –  this Person has revealed His gospel propositionally in His Word. When we are faithful to that, we will be faithful in worship (CA 8:5, p.35).
Yet the reply and/or proposition is only too obvious, even to a New St. Andrews schoolman, scholastic gnatstrangler or no. Jesus said, "If you love me, obey my commandments (Jn.14:15)." Yea, even the Second.

The Real Credenda Agenda on Worship: Repentance and Restitution
While we would rejoice to hear that the good Editor's beliefs have changed in favor of Knox and the Regulative Principle of Worship over and against Prof. Frame and Mr. Schlissel and their blatant, if not wilful misunderstandings, we are still awaiting in the pages of the Credenda Agenda, the explicit repudiation of his past explicit views and commendations of both Messrs. Frame and Schlissel in those very same pages, for credibility sake, if not Christ's. Make no mistake about it. That is the credenda agenda for the Credenda Agenda on the question. No more, no less.

Moreover, although it is true, it is entirely beside the point that "A pastor has to know his own infirmities, and confess them in humility. If he does not, then he will be severe with the lambs and sheep of Christ's fold and this, as Knox well knew, was a pastoral monstrosity (p.116)." The real burning question is what of a pastor's silence when it comes to rebuking and admonishing shepherds of the flock like Leithart, Schlissel and Frame who are "attracted to their own inventions in worship" in an obvious contradiction of Knox, who " was faithful in testifying against this error, even when committed by his own friends and co-laborers in the recovery of the gospel?"

Willful Collegiality and Compromise
For that matter, while we would not necessarily single out Mr. Schlissel, our vocal, highly mistaken and distinctly non-reformed Bible student from Brooklyn was invited to minister at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho just a couple of months ago in April. Maybe the good Editor could address Mr. Schlissel's wilful ignorance on the reformed doctrine of worship even before the next time he sits down with Stephen for coffee, dessert and the obligatory photo session with the children in the front living room? What does the fact that Knox was "more zealousness for righteousness than for a general collegiality (p.124)," say about the Editor's compromise in this regard? It is not enough that the good Editor can list Kevin Reed's forthcoming John Knox; The Forgotten Reformer (PHP CD rom) in his bibliography. Rather he ought to pay more attention to the "Biblical Law of Worship," the "Role of the Faithful Pastor" and the "Use of Plain Speech" in Knox's ministry, which are also chapter headings in Mr. Reed's book.

Mr. Schlissel (as well as Prof. Frame) has conducted himself in this controversy over worship principles like the adulterous woman who wipes her mouth and says she has done nothing wrong. Consequently, anytime the good Editor wants to get around to rebuking a certain unrepentant whore he has invited to dinner, it would be at the least a very good thing. On the other hand, if the silence of the good Editor continues, we might be forgiven for concluding that his prayer, to his shame, is not really that of the dying Reformer -`that the Lord would grant us more faithful and true pastors' - like Knox and of his mind on worship and willing to speak plainly and directly to others who were not (cf. pp. 223-226). If this is not so, "faith requires works as a testimony (p. 73)." In the pages of the Credenda Agenda no less. Explicitly and soon. Very soon.

Happy Inconsistencies in Idaho
Of course, we are happy to note that the practice of ChristKirk is better than its principles or lack thereof, of at least the real RPW. Not only does ChristKirk sing a lot more psalms than one might gather from past reading of the Credenda Agenda, one is encouraged from reading Mr. Shuler's positive "History of the Genevan Psalter" in Musica (CA 13:1), however confused the thrust of Mr. Leithart's Liturgia might be or the juxtaposition of past reviews of the Editor with his current title approving Knox and his regulative principle of worship. Perhaps we can look forward to the CA getting past its prejudices and finally reviewing The Songs of Zion  (Crown & Covenant, 1980), Michael Bushell's unanswered and unanswerable contemporary classic on the RPW and psalmody which has largely been blackballed in the presbyterian and reformed churchworld. Sooner or later we have to run out of academic and irrelevant third rate histories to review like Mr. Westin's Presbyterian Pluralism (13:1) and get serious about reformed literature.

Augustine and Calvin on Psalmody
Since Mr. Shuler seems more than willing to acknowledge the priority of psalmsinging in Calvin's theology, we might also look forward to reading Calvin's Preface to the Psalter (see The Blue Banner, 2:4-5, 1993) in the next CA, wherein among other things, he says:
Moreover, that which St. Augustine has said is true, that no one is able to sing things worthy of God except that which he has received from him. Therefore, when we have looked thoroughly, and searched here and there, we shall not find better songs nor more fitting for the purpose, than the Psalms of David, which the Holy Spirit spoke and made through him. And moreover, when we sing them, we are certain that God puts in our mouths these, as if he himself were singing in us to exalt his glory (p.8, emph. added).
B.B. Warfield's comments regarding Calvin and psalmody, were also noted previously in a letter to the Editor:
We say nothing, again, of his reorganization of the worship of the Reformed' Churches and particularly of his gift to them of the service of song; for the Reformed Churches did not sing until Calvin taught them to do it. There are many who think he did few things greater or more far-reaching in their influence than the making of the Psalter - that Psalter of which twenty-five editions were published in the first year of its existence, and sixty-two more in the next four years; which was translated or transfused into nearly every language of Europe; and which wrought itself into the very flesh and bone of the struggling saints throughout all the "killing times" of Protestant history (Calvin and Augustine, Pres. and Reformed, 1971, p. 20).
Let not Christ's Kirk be found sitting by the rivers of Babylon, neither singing the songs of Zion nor weeping for the kirk's ignorance of the same. Nor for that matter, responsible on her part for that same last ignorance. If the Credenda Agenda (5:3) can review Eire's War against Idols (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), which is far more scholarly and honest, much less worthy of review, than the puerile PCA variety presbyterianism of John Frame's Worship In Spite of the Truth,  surely among other things, Bushell's Songs of Zion can qualify for review in the CA.

Soon. Very soon. Among a few other things.

Thank you very much,

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