Thursday, November 27, 2014

Liturgy and Apocalypse

Preliminary points (because hard core Reformed people will not grasp this).

  1. Bowing down to man made pesels and pretending that they mediate a higher degree of worship is idolatry and will bring a multi-generational curse from God.
  2. Christ's work is finished and effected in the lives of believers.  Re-enacting it "bloodlessly" is pointless at best and dangerous at worst.
  3. It is true we should not introduce man-made religion into God's worship.
  4. However, even Reformed people are not always consistent.  The Psalms say we should sing a new song to the Lord, but hard-line RPWers say we should sing only psalms, which themselves say we should sing a new song to the Lord.  To say that injunctions to sing new songs with instruments apply only to the ceremonial order seems ad hoc at best.
  5. The Exclusive Psalmody position has the further difficulty of being based mostly (I understand the appeal to Ephesians) on Old Covenant orders.
  6. The EPer gets around this by saying elements of the Psalms are no longer binding today (any reference to singing new psalms and using instruments).
  7. As it stands, (6) seems ad hoc and special pleading, so I do not find the strict RPW case persuasive on a surface level reading.
  8. The distinction between circumstance and element, essential to the RPW, is good but ultimately subjective.  It is a difference in degree, not kind.
With that out of the way.  I agree with the RPW that some ceremonial elements of the Old Covenant typify the work of Christ.    I just don't believe every liturgical "thing" in the Old Testament typifies the work of Christ.  Incense, for example, is not tied to the work of Christ but to the prayers of Christ's people (Revelation 5:8).

The objection often comes:  liturgy deadens worship and detracts from the preaching of the Word.  Yes, there is much dead worship in all mainline churches.  No argument here, but what is "liturgy?"  Usually it means something like "any kind of formal structure that I am not comfortable with."  The problem with that is the NT carries forward a number of OT practices:

  1. Liturgical worship in general (Acts 13.2)
  2. Incense (Revelation 5:8)
  3. The Trisagion (Isaiah 6:3 --> Revelation 4:8)
Someone could respond, "But we aren't supposed to imitate the liturgical structure of Revelation," but this is ridiculous.  Consider:
  1. Revelation specifically says blessed are they who hear and do what is written therein (and this immediately fells all "spiritual" interpretations of Revelation because if everything is "spiritualized," then there is nothing specific "to do").
  2. Liturgy is done in Revelation.
  3. Therefore, we should do liturgy (premises 1, 2). 

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