Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Call For Categories

I've been arguing that John Frame's desire to broaden the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) to apply to "all of life" is only possible by watering down the its strictness in order to expand its jurisdiction (kinda like what evangelicalism does with Scripture in general).

For example, he writes:
"There are, of course, human activities for which there are no explicit biblical prescriptions. Scripture doesn’t tell us how to change a tire, for instance. But there are biblical commands that are relevant to tire changing, as to everything else.... When I change a tire, I should do it to the glory of God. The details I need to work out myself, but always in the framework of God’s broad commands concerning my motives and goals. Here too, worship is parallel with the rest of life."
The alert reader will surely have noticed that, for Frame, the RPW's regulating aspect (which used to say that all worship not expressly warranted by Scripture is prohibited) now functions more like a suggestion. Worship, according to Frame, is any activity that "glorifies God," and further, the church is free to do so according to some broad "biblical commands that are relevant" while "working out the details ourselves."

Frame then leaps categories from worship's elements to its circumstances and forms:
"In worship... there are some activities for which there are no explicit biblical prescriptions. Scripture does not tell us specifically when or where to meet for worship, or how many hymns to sing, or precisely what words to use in offering prayer. These decisions require the use of godly reasoning, guided by the general teachings of the Word (WCF 1.6). The parallel between worship and other areas of human life should not surprise us, because, in one sense, worship is all of life."
By blending the elements of worship which Scripture alone may regulate (prayer and singing), its circumstantial details (the number of hymns sung), and the forms the elements take (the particular words used during prayer), Frame has walked into a discussion that has been going on for hundreds of years, redefined its terms without bothering to tell anyone first, and then broadened its jurisdiction to the point of meaninglessness.

And we think the Mormons confuse categories when they insist that, since Jesus is the Father, he was a schizophrenic who talked to himself all the time....