IS THE TEACHING OF ROMANS 14:5 INIMICAL TO AN UNDERSTANDING THAT THE LORD’S DAY IS THE PROPER DAY FOR CHRISTIAN CORPORATE WORSHIP? (Part 2)
Another question, not mentioned in my previous post, involves the relationship of the Lord’s Day to the Sabbath command found in the Decalogue (Exod 20:8-11; Deut 5:12-15). While application of the Sabbath command to Christians today is an important topic for theological reflection, for the sake of space, discussion of the Sabbath will be bracketed in this series of blogposts. This series seeks to explore a question of what Christians are to do in regards to weekly worship, but not to fully explore why Christians are to worship (as will be argued) on one particular day in seven; if Lord’s Day worship can be established as normative for Christians on the basis of Revelation 1:10 and related texts, then further discussion may take place in different formats regarding whether Lord’s Day worship is established only on the basis of Christ’s work of redemption (specifically in His resurrection on the first day of the week and in His sending the Holy Spirit on the first day of the week), or whether Lord’s Day worship is also connected to older Sabbath patterns.
The Regulative Principle
The argument below is based upon a commitment to the regulative principle of worship. The regulative principle, an argument for which cannot be developed in this limited format, is itself based upon a particular theological understanding, as expressed by the elders of Grace Heritage Church in Auburn, Alabama:
Because the distance between God and His creatures is so great, the only acceptable way of approaching God in worship must be revealed to us by God Himself. Therefore, He may not be worshiped in ways invented by us. This principle protects us from idolatrous worship and focuses our energies on those activities through which God has called us to draw near.
In the words of J. Ligon Duncan III, the regulative principle teaches that:
[T]here must be scriptural warrant for all we do. That warrant may come in the form of explicit directives, implicit requirements, the general principles of Scripture, positive commands, examples, and the things derived from good and necessary consequences.
From the above quote, it is obvious that not all aspects of worship are regulated in the same way. As the Westminster Confession of Faith declares:
[T]here are some circumstances concerning the worship of God… which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the world. (1.6)
Now it is theoretically possible that setting aside a certain day (or days) for worship would be an issue left entirely to “Christian prudence.” But if, as argued in upcoming posts, there are examples from the New Testament regarding a particular day of worship and if there are compelling reasons found to understand a particular day of corporate worship being prescribed to the Christian community through “good and necessary consequences,” then— according to the regulative principle— we do not have the authority to change the day of worship based on matters of convenience.
“What is the Philosophy of Worship that Unites Us?” accessed 29 July 2010; available from http://www.graceheritage.org/music.html; Internet.
J. Ligon Duncan III, “Does God Care How We Worship?” Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003), 23.