Monday, May 19, 2008


Hello readers. As many of you know, very recently we have had to "eat crow" and admit we were (we think) wrong on the doctrine of baptism. We embraced covenantal infant baptism, and of course it has been very practical for us.

But the Lord has a sense of humor. Lately, I have had to rethink a lot of where I have been on Reformed issues. By God's grace, He will keep me in the Reformed faith. However, lately I have had a kind of makeover of my Reformed theology.

Not the least of which below is what I have had to take a look at (again) and restudy all over again:

*The covenant of grace. I am not so sure the John Murray view is in line with Scripture; although Murray was a wonderful man of God, and he did uphold the imputation of active obedience, his denial of the covenant of works opened the doorway to the Federal Vision heresies. I am looking into a Meredith Kline approach.

*Two Kingdoms and Natural Law. The above has also paved way for me to become disallusioned with a Kuyperian "transform the culture" type approach which is so prevalent in Reformed thought. I am considering two kingdoms and natural law as I rethink my ethic.

*Is Postmillennialism True? The above had me relook as well at my eschatology and reconsider whether postmil is true or not. I think I had been interpreting various prophecies in a wooden-literal fashion, almost like dispensationalism. This caused me (along with my disallusionment of "transform the culture") to reconsider amillennialism.

*The Regulative Principle. I just ordered R.C. Sproul's book on worship, as well as D.G. Hart's. Where do we find the idea of the RPW in the NT? It seems to me that we find descriptive aspects of the church, but not prescriptive. More on this later.

*Liturgy. I am reading D.G. Hart's book Recovering Mother Kirk: The Case for Liturgy in Reformed Worship and I find it very beneficial. Many consider liturgy "dead orthodoxy," but is it really that? More on this later as well.

I have to go now, but I just wanted to ask you readers to pray for our spiritual journeys. Most of all, may Christ be exalted in all our studies.


orthodox said...

I guess another Church hop is now in the cards, if your current one doesn't garner maximum points? It could be very awkward if your current church is holding a different position on the regulative principle, or these issues.

Josh Brisby said...


"Another church hop"? I don't understand. We've been at our RB church for nine years, and we have taken it very slowly to join the OPC. If I come down on not embracing the regulative principle, I don't see how that would make us have to "hop" churches.

BTW, when you post here, do it respectfully. Otherwise I'll ban you here even as you were banned over at Triablogue.

Gospel.or.Death said...


Don't be too hard on yourself. I eat crow every Sunday.

Sometimes, the way to really give a view you disagree with a fair hearing, you need to sit under the preaching of someone who holds that view.

What I mean is, it's hard for someone to leave dispensationalism behind until they sit under the preaching of someone who understands covenant theology. Or it's hard to be an amillennialist until you sit under amill preaching for a while. It's hard for an Arminian to become reformed until they sit under some reformed preaching.

Why? Because it is in preaching that we hear the Word proclaimed to us with authority. And when the pastor proclaiming that Word has those certain views, and he proclaims the Word so as to be consistent with that, then we learn that the Word actually teaches that position. We see that position being proclaimed by the Word itself.

But that brings up an interesting question. Does that mean that the minister is merely deceiving us into thinking that the Bible is saying something it is not? Well, to be sure, some preachers are. But when we hear the truth, the Spirit helps us to understand that it is in fact the truth that we are hearing. Furthermore, when a pastor is endeavoring to be very clear about the fact that he's only saying what the text is saying, then you know you can trust him.

Often, in, say, Arminian churches, you don't get the kind of thoroughly Scripture-saturated sermons you will in a reformed church. They'll maybe read a little Scripture, but the sermon won't have a whole lot to do with what that Scripture says. Often, Arminian ministers can't study the passage in the original languages. (If they could, they'd undoubtedly see their errors.) So you have a preacher who doesn't understand the text well, and whose sermon doesn't really preach what the text says.

As you move further towards the reformed side, the preaching becomes more biblical, more closely tied to the text. And then you hear someone like the preacher you are hearing now, when all his sermon is doing is exegetically explaining the text to his audience, helping them to understand what it is saying to them. In preachers such as these, they are doing what Paul charged Timothy to do: "Preach the Word".

And when you hear it, you know it. And you can see that he's preaching what the text says. You can see it because he lays that bare to you because that's exactly what he wants you to see.

In other churches, that's not so much the goal. As you move away from the Reformed to the Arminian side of things, you get further and further away from the text, and it becomes the word of the preacher that is preached, and less the Word of God.

So in this, the Spirit helps us to discern the truth of Scripture, so that we know it when we see and hear it.

And you have heard it, and embraced it. There's no shame in that! It's not crow you have eaten at all, but the flesh of Christ, the Word of God. Bon appetite!


orthodox said...

"We've been at our RB church for nine years, and we have taken it very slowly to join the OPC."

Yes, but you are, or sounded like you were morally committed to now be in the OPC.

"If I come down on not embracing the regulative principle, I don't see how that would make us have to "hop" churches."

Well, for that checkpoint it is probably more problematic if you hold to RP, but your church doesn't. But I've seen problems the other way - services which are so restricted by their idea of the RP that there are 60 minute sermon type services that go beyond what your concentration level, or your children can bear.

"BTW, when you post here, do it respectfully."

How was my post not respectful? Your last "theological makeover" resulted in movements in your church membership, how is it not respectful to point out that may happen again?

Gospel.or.Death said...

"orthodox", I'm not sure you understand what the regulative principle even is.

There is nothing about the regulative principle that mandates a 60 minute sermon.

You seem to imagine the regulative principle as being like a boa constrictor around the necks of the saints in the worship service, crushing the life out of us, choking our ability to worship God "properly".

You couldn't be more wrong.

Consider the law. Do you find the law of God constricting in this way? When God says, "You shall not kill", do you feel choked, like you can't express your life properly, like you can't live? Do you feel oppressed by this commandment?

I should hope not. And yet, you seem to think that the regulative principle of worship, ostensibly because it entails rules for worship, is constrictive. But the only way you can support such an assertion is by saying that ALL rules only constrict us.

If that's not your support for your assertion, by all means, bring forth your support.

But a rule, simply because it is a rule, is not necessarily restrictive, any more than the commandment not to kill is restrictive, oppressive, choking the life out of us.

Doesn't God have the right to tell us how to live our lives? Is he MEAN when he does so?

If God can and SHOULD tell us how to live our lives, can't he - shouldn't he - tell us how to worship him?

I mean this is really simple. We give worship to God. We are adoring him and magnifying him. It only makes sense that he would be the one to instruct us in how we should do that.

I mean, if my wife has a birthday coming up, and I want to give her something, I'm not going to give her something I would want. No, I'll ask her what she wants. I'm not going to give her a bowling ball. I'm not going to give her golf clubs. I'm not going to give her a box of cuban cigars. My wife has no interest in those things.

So why do we think we can give God whatever worship makes US feel good? Why don't we ask God what kind of worship he actually WANTS?

And as a matter of fact, he has told us what he wants in Scripture.

The regulative principle is only a matter of common sense. It simply says that we worship God according to the commandments of Scripture. Nothing more, nothing less. Whatever Scripture commands us to do in worship, that is what we do.

Why is this such an offense to you? Why does this very idea make you feel like someone is choking you?

Do the 10 Commandments stifle your emotions, your creativity? Are they evil? Is it mean for God to command us not to make images of him? Is it mean for God to tell us not to worship other gods? Is it mean for him to tell us not to lie or sleep with someone else's wife or to disobey our parents or to steal someone else's property? Does that make God mean?

If he is not mean to tell us how to live, then he is not mean to tell us how to worship. And if he has told us how to worship, then shouldn't we obey him, knowing that it's GOOD for us?

God has commanded us how to worship in his Word. He has not commanded every last detail to be sure, but he has said a lot. The regulative principle simply says that we must endeavor to obey those commands.

And nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to preach 60 minute sermons.

So your caricature of churches that practice the regulative principle as having 60 minute sermons of mind crushing, child killing unending chatter is fallacious and wrong. Wrong because it's not the case. Fallacious because the regulative principle has nothing to do with the length of the sermon.

I don't know what kind of crazy, neo-Puritan, fundamentalist, moralistic church you went to where the sermon was so long, but it's not the fault of the regulative principle.

As John says, "His commandments are not burdensome."

Why are God's commands to us not a burden? Because the work of the Spirit in our hearts involves transforming our desires. Is it hard to love your brother in Christ if the Spirit of God is dwelling in you, causing you to WANT to do just that? If the Spirit of God lives in you, don't you WANT to love your brother? Aren't you inspired to acts of love toward him? Don't you want to have your brother over for dinner for fellowship? Don't you want to help him move because you love him? Don't you want to be kind to him? Don't you want to let him cry on your shoulder when his mother or father dies?

If God's commandments toward us are summed up in the command to love our brother, are God's commandments really burdensome?

Is it a burden on us to not be able to steal from our brother whom we love? Is it a burden on us to not be allowed to commit adultery? Is this a burden? If anything, the burden is being constantly bombarded with sexual imagery on the TV!

God's commandments are not burdensome. He commands us to do the very things we want to do, and he commands us not to do the very things we don't want to do. His commandments do not choke us or stifle us or constrict us, sucking the life out of us. No, rather, they are a joy, because they help us understand the new desires we have been given in Christ.

After all, if Christ loves us so much that he would take on mortal flesh and give his sinless life for us all, a pleasing sacrifice to God, to take away the wrath of God at our sin - if he loves us that much, how could we not love him in return? If he has ridden in like a knight in shining armor and rescued us from the dragon that oppressed us and would have surely destroyed us, if he has rescued us from our sin and set us free from being slaves of sin and death - how could we not be grateful?

How could we not be grateful and long to express our gratitude? How could we not love him in return? How COULD we, if we really believe what he has done for us?

And if we love God, how can we not love our brother made in the image of God? When we look at our brother, we see a faint glimmer of the God that we love. How could we not love him for it?

Don't you have friends that you love, and when you see their children that look like them, don't you also love their children because they are their parents' children? Don't you find them adorable because they are the offspring of their parents, looking like little versions of their parents, your friends whom you love? Don't you love children because you love their parents?

How could it be any different in God's family? If you love God whom you cannot see, don't you also have to love your brother who is made in the image of God whom you can see?

But is this a burden? No! It's not a burden at all. In fact, it comes quite naturally to believers. It's the very thing we long to do.

So it is with worship. We were created to worship God in the way he commands. It is the very thing we long to do. This is what we were made for!

But in America, in our day and age, particularly in the Evangelical church, we are taught to hate any and all rules, any and all authority, and we find such things restrictive and choking and stifling.

It's not true. It's a lie, and its author is the father of lies. Commands from God do not stifle, they do not choke, they are not burdensome. And that's just what God says through the pen of his chosen apostle John.


Josh Brisby said...


Pastor Keele has done an excellent job in preaching the Word. I am blessed to be under his preaching, and soon under his authority (along with the authority of the ruling elders as well). Indeed, it was his preaching which had a lot to do with my abandonment of postmillennialism. You are right--the Spirit shows us what His Word says through the preacher.


It was not so much *what* you said as to *how* you said it. "I guess another church hop is now in the cards, if your current one doesn't garner maximum points" conveys the idea that I'm all about church-hopping and that I only want a "perfect" church. I have observed the way you act on Triablogue; you continue to not respect their rules and, even though they banned you, you continue to try to post there. How is this not disrespectful?

Orthodox, here at The Reformed Oasis, we have our rules like any other blog does. We encourage discussion and debate here, and even sharp debate. But we strongly discourage disrespect. Your thoughts are always welcome here, but any disrespect in the future will not be tolerated.

Josh Brisby said...


I appreciate your thougts to Orthodox as well. I couldn't agree more that God desires to be worshiped in a true way.

Also, I am very attracted to the liturgy at the EOPC, especially b/c I have a bad taste in my mouth from evangelicalism and its "worship." However, I have seen that kind of worship (or at least what seems to be that kind) even in other Reformed and Presbyterian churches, some of them very close to us. Which raises a question for me.

The question is, how would you defend the RPW biblically? Granted that God prescribed the kind of worship He received in the OT, did He do that in the NT as well? RPW adherents define the RPW as "whatever is not commanded for NT corporate worship is forbidden." But that's what I'm wondering. Do we really have commands for NT corporate worship? I see that we have description of what the early church did, but I don't see that we have prescription. I could go deeper on this, but you understand what I'm saying.

Also, would some of the professors that attend PCA churches say they hold to the RPW? I've been to some of their churches, and at least to me they don't seem to be oriented to the RPW. But if they are, it seems that different people understand the RPW in vastly different ways. I know some would argue that the RPW leads to liturgy, whereas others wouldn't. I know some would argue that the RPW leads to psalms-only, no musical instruments, etc. Many understand it differently.

I like the worship at the EOPC b/c I find it reverential. There are some other Reformed and Presbyterian churches, which, to my taste, the worship doesn't seem so reverential, but that may be just my taste. I'm sure they would argue that it is reverential. So another question would be, does the RPW require liturgy? Also, must we have liturgy to worship God reverentially in a corporate worship service?

Sorry for all the questions, but I've just been thinking about this stuff lately. Thanks for your help!

orthodox said...

"I guess another church hop is now in the cards, if your current one doesn't garner maximum points" conveys the idea that I'm all about church-hopping and that I only want a "perfect" church."

I never even hinted that you "are all about church hopping". What does that even mean?

Don't you want to be in a church that agrees with your beliefs? I assume so, since you made moves towards the OPC when you changed beliefs. I don't have a problem with you moving to match your beliefs.

"It was not so much *what* you said as to *how* you said it."

So what is wrong with how I said it?

"I have observed the way you act on Triablogue; you continue to not respect their rules and, even though they banned you, you continue to try to post there. How is this not disrespectful?"

Gene at Triablogue said a while back that he doesn't mind me posting there, although in true inconsistent fashion, he leaves my posts censored. I think you're better off worrying about your own blog than trying to figure out the schizophrenic goings on at Triablogue.

orthodox said...

"I should hope not. And yet, you seem to think that the regulative principle of worship, ostensibly because it entails rules for worship, is constrictive. But the only way you can support such an assertion is by saying that ALL rules only constrict us."

Since I come from a church which has VERY well defined guidelines for church services, clearly you have missed the point.

The problem is, no two churches seem to be able to agree on what kind of service the supposed RP is supposed to mandate. Yes, I've been to churches who believed that the bible indicates that services should be predominantly focused on the Word, and thus they had about 3 short hymns, a prayer, a 60 minute sermon, and 1 more hymn.

Now if it so happens you like this program, then you would be in for a treat. But if you're not, then there's a good chance you're fuming in the back row while your kids go wild with boredom, or maybe you're fallen asleep. In this case, you're likely disagreeing with your church's idea of the RP and how they interpret it.

Now if Josh agrees with RP, but not the church's interpretation of it, or he doesn't agree with RP, and finds his church's implementation of it strongly contrary to his taste, then there's going to be a tension there, in either case caused by differing interpretation of scripture. Yes, there are a lot of protestants moving churches because of the style of service, including this scenario. Actually, I've known some protestants who were committed to Reformed theology but after trying 3 churches abandoned Reformed churches because they couldn't make it work with their kids and didn't seem to be getting much out of the services. They reasoned, better the kids are getting a positive impression in church somewhere else than learn to hate it for the sake of being "Reformed".

If that's not your experience, fine, but I've seen it happen.

orthodox said...

"Often, Arminian ministers can't study the passage in the original languages. (If they could, they'd undoubtedly see their errors.)"

Hmm, I wonder what language the early church fathers spoke...

Except Augustine, who couldn't speak Greek.

Gospel.or.Death said...


I'm not sure what more I can say that I haven't already said.


Gospel.or.Death said...


First, I must say that this issue cannot be fully understood in a quick blog answer. I'd encourage you to talk to the good minister, and I'd recommend Hart and Meuther's book, "With Reverence and Awe". That's the book I cut my teeth on about worship. I haven't found a better one yet. It's an easy read too.

That said, the regulative principle's biblical backing begins with the second commandment.

However, my explanation begins with something else. You may notice that in our liturgy -

excursus on liturgy: every church has a liturgy, even Pentecostals.

- in our liturgy, you may notice that we begin with the call to worship. There, usually a psalm is read. But what is this Scripture doing in the worship service? In this part of the liturgy, the minister calls the people to worship on God's behalf. He is reading Scripture, he is speaking for God. He is calling the people to worship on God's behalf.

So what? Well, you'll notice that this amounts to a command from God to worship him. Our worship service begins with God commanding us to worship, to which we respond by worshiping him. God calls out to us, and we respond like Abraham, "Here I am."

You'll notice that the Scriptures that are read for the call to worship typically include very explicit commands in the word of God to worship, "Sing praises to the Lord" or "let us worship the Lord" or something like that. So that's how it's functioning.

Now we believe that we worship because that's what God created us to do. We worship in obedience to his command to worship him. This command is continually echoed throughout Scripture. This is not a NT or OT thing. Rather, the command to worship God is part of the very created order. It goes all the way back to Adam in the garden. He communed with God, walked and talked with him.

We were created to worship him. So of course, Adam was worshiping God prior to the fall. He was still his creator, after all. He was still his God, even before the fall.

So that we must worship God is a matter of course.

But we have very clear revelation that teaches us to worship him according to how he commands us to worship him.

For example, Jesus says that we must worship the Father in spirit and in truth. So what does Jesus mean by truth here? Does he mean truth in the abstract with no content? No, he means we must be informed about the God we worship. We must worship him truly. We must know something about the God we worship.

This is a very important point. How can we know anything about God? He must reveal himself to us. We cannot search and find him out. So if we have to worship him truly, then we are dependent upon him to reveal himself to us so that we can worship him properly.

And this is what the second commandment is all about. You can't just make an image and call it God or a god. God must reveal himself to us, and he doesn't do so in images. He does so in his word.

So God's self revelation in his word must be in control of our worship. We must worship him according to how he has revealed himself, and not according to our own imaginations. We can't just make up how we are to worship him. We can't worship him with an image, which means we cannot design our own methods of worship.

Another important passage comes in Heb 12, where the author implores us, "Let us worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."

This is very important. First, there is an acceptable way to worship God and an unacceptable way. We must worship him acceptably. How are we to do that? Who will guide us? The Word, of course, which guides us in all things in the church.

Reverence and awe is pretty self explanatory, though I have heard some claim that dancing can be with reverence and awe, but I suspect such people lack common sense.

But when it says, "for our God is a consuming fire," your ears ought to perk up. There are a number of possible things that the author is referring to, but the most likely, in my opinion, is the sons of Aaron who decided to bring "strange fire" before the Lord. All this means is that they worshiped in their own way, instead of according to the commandment. And what happened? They were consumed with fire from the altar.

By referring to this incident, the author to the Hebrews is essentially reaffirming that yes, there is an acceptable way of worshiping God, and it is according to his command. The author is reminding us that there is a penalty to pay for breaking the rules of worship. Worship him properly, he says, because remember, our God takes worship seriously. Remember Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, who were burned up alive and destroyed before the Lord for worshiping however they felt like.

So that's a very rudimentary, amateurish biblical support for the regulative principle. Hope that helps.


orthodox said...

"Reverence and awe is pretty self explanatory, though I have heard some claim that dancing can be with reverence and awe, but I suspect such people lack common sense."

Here we are with the debates, some think dance is with reverence, and some do not.

Of course one might ask what verse says that the whole church service is "worship".

One might ask the counter question that isn't our whole lives worship? "present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship". Does that mean dance is banned altogether? Some protestants have claimed that.

Here's another verse about worship: Psa. 2:11 Worship the LORD with reverence. And rejoice with trembling. So rejoicing and worship are linked. Then we have "Jer 31:13 “Then the virgin will rejoice in the dance". So then, dance, worship reverence are linked.

This is how these RP debates play out. You can link anything to anything to prove what you want to prove.

Another debate goes like this. One person will say musical instruments are banned, lacking a verse in the NT mentioning them. Then the other will say their use is implied by their mention in the Psalms and the clear imperative for the Church to use the Psalms. Nobody ever wins that debate either.

Josh Brisby said...


Thanks for your thoughts.

I am in complete agreement that God should be worshiped with reverence and awe. But, to be sure, the EOPC sees how that plays out quite different than, say, New Life Presbyterian in Escondido. Again, when we visited New Life in Escondido, we were concerned about the worship, and even left wondering how it could be reverential. But, I'm sure that the brothers and sisters over there have their reasons, and they would certainly argue that they think it is done with reverence and awe. I'm sure that many of them would even say that they hold to the regulative principle.

So, it seems to me that the regulative principle is worked out in extremely different ways. For example, I just ordered both Sproul's book on worship and D.G. Hart's. I plan on reading them both. But, if I understand Sproul correctly, he takes a more "high-church" view of corporate worship, whereas Hart takes a more "low-church" view. I don't know if Sproul holds to the RPW or not; but I think he even tries to argue that incense in worship would be appropriate. My initial inclination would be to say that no, incense is not appropriate b/c it goes back to the types and shadows of the weak and beggarly elements of the OC. But I'm sure Sproul has his reasons for this.

When it all comes down, it seems to me that in the OT, God definitely prescribed how He was to be worshiped. But I'm not sure He does that in the NT. All I see is description of what the early church did and how they worshiped, but I don't see prescription. In other words, just b/c the early church had a community of goods does not mean we should, as the Anabaptists tried to imitate. There are some who even meet in houses today b/c the early church did, so they think we should too. And, although I would prefer weekly Lord's Table, just b/c the early church had the Table weekly does not mean that we *must* have it weekly. I only see description, but not prescription.

I agree that God says He must be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth. But the folks over at New Life in Escondido would say they are doing that. I love and appreciate liturgy b/c of its connection to the Church as Mother and nurturer of salvation, and home for the weak and weary pilgrims. But I'm sure there are many weak and weary pilgrims over at New Life in Escondido who go there and are fed and come away refreshed. For my taste, I can't get refreshed in worship like that over there, but I think it would be wrong of me to tell someone that they are wrong to worship that way. I don't see God prescribing how NT corporate worship is to take place.

Having said that though, I think there are numerous problems with the Lutheran normative principle as well. We are easily prone to idolatry, and I have major concerns with the way Lutherans worship. To me they seem to have much in common with Rome in their worship, and I think with the whole confessional and all they still have some of the priestly system of Rome.

Anyways, again, I haven't studied all this deeply, and I plan on reading Hart's book, as well as Sproul's. But any thoughts you have are always appreciated.

Anonymous said...

You said

*Two Kingdoms and Natural Law. The above has also paved way for me to become disallusioned with a Kuyperian "transform the culture" type approach which is so prevalent in Reformed thought. I am considering two kingdoms and natural law as I rethink my ethic.

I'm curious to see where you end up with this. What has caused you to become disallusioned with the "transform the culture view"?
Could you elaborate on this for me when you get a chance.

Anonymous said...

Infant Baptism?! We have to have a meeting. Well, It has been way too long and I just learn how to drive and have cars at my disposal(ok, considering I just learned to drive perhaps bad word choice). Let me know when I could visit the fam.

Gospel.or.Death said...


It's important not to make the RP of worship say more than it's saying. All it's saying is that we worship in response to God's command to worship in the way that he commands.

Of course there is a diversity of opinions on what exactly God commands. Of course there is a diversity of opinions on how to interpret the Scriptures.

Importantly, the RP doesn't really talk about HOW to interpret the commands of Scripture, but only that we need to worship in accordance with them, whatever they might be.

Differences in worship cannot merely be boiled down to whether a church confesses the RP or whether they do not. If one church confesses the RP, but has lots of singing and worship bands and stuff, and another church confesses the RP and doesn't have those things, then it's not because they necessarily interpret the RP differently, but because they interpret Scripture's commands regarding worship differently.

How the RP plays out depends on your interpretation of all of Scripture. The defense of how EOPC worships does not end with the RP, but only begins with it. There is also the dialogical principle, coupled with the notion that the worship service is a covenant renewal ceremony, along with notions of simplicity in worship. All of these things are ably expounded and defended both historically and biblically by "Reverence and Awe". Horton's book is good too (A Better Way).

But I'd encourage you not only to read these books, but also to be in dialog with your (soon to be) pastor, who is far more capable than I. Not to mention the limitations of a blog discussion.


Gospel.or.Death said...

orthodox said...

" My initial inclination would be to say that no, incense is not appropriate b/c it goes back to the types and shadows of the weak and beggarly elements of the OC."

Mal. 1:11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name,

Gentiles.... incense...

"When it all comes down, it seems to me that in the OT, God definitely prescribed how He was to be worshiped."

In the old _covenant_ or the old _testament_?

Read through the bible in chronological order. You will not find that everything Israel did in worship was prescribed by what was previously already written. You are looking at the OT after the fact.

Josh Brisby said...


I appreciate the dialogical principle, and I agree that weekly worship seems to be a covenant renewal ceremony. (One could argue for weekly Lord's Supper based upon this principle as well.)

But, even the DP I think is something which is helpful, but even that I'm not sure one *has* to have in corporate worship. To me, the RPW and the DP make sense b/c they are practical, and especially the DP seems to make sense when one applies covenant theology. But, again, one doesn't find the early church worshiping that way necessarily in the NT.

Furthermore, I love reciting the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed in corporate worship. I don't even mind confessing "He descended into hell" b/c I believe that our Lord took the keys and freed those who were captive who were to be taken to heaven--but I confess I need to study that section of the Creed more as well. But one could argue that they are having their conscience bound by reciting creeds (although I don't have a problem reciting them). In fact, we came from an RB church which thought that to recite creeds in corporate worship was a violation of the RPW.

When it all comes down, I appreciate the RPW and the DP b/c I find them both helpful and practical. But, Reformed brethren work out the RPW in extremely different ways, and I don't find it in Scripture. Again, I just find description of how the early church worshiped. Perhaps this is b/c God wants us to worship Him from the heart, and perhaps, in our sanctification, true worship will inevitably flow b/c of it. This of course doesn't mean that we won't be prone to idolatry, but God keeps His Church.

Josh Brisby said...


Good to hear from you sister. And welcome to The Reformed Oasis!

We would love to have you over sometime to visit us. Send me an e-mail at and we'll set up a time, k?


Josh Brisby said...

Brother Dax,

Good to hear from you. I am disallusioned with "transform the culture" b/c I think it has led to numerous errors; although one cannot say "such-and-such leads to such-and-such," I have seen some of my friends who dabbled in theonomy end up in the Federal Vision camp; I have seen some of them embrace Eastern Orthodoxy; one of them has embraced Anglicanism and last I heard he was dabbling in Eastern Orthodoxy; I have gone to some of these guys' conferences and came away under the impression that all that was taking place was the social gospel, and I could go on.

To bring it to the point, the "transform the culture" approach seems to me to never deal with the heart. So we strive to make Christ Lord over every area of life and thought--but do we bind the consciences of unbelievers when we tell them to do this? God is interested in conquering people's hearts, not just their heads. If, by implementing biblical law, or whatever, someone changes a pagan homosexual to a pagan heterosexual, that may be good for society, but all we've done is just created another Pharisee. He may be hetero now, but he's still an unbeliever.

I've seen the "church" talk about outreach by building houses for orphans in Mexico; but that's all they did--they never preached them the gospel or anything. Now we have some comfortable, unbelieving orphans.

What is the greatest problem people have? It is that their hearts need to be changed. I think that the church today is not doing its job of being the church.

What is the job of the church? To be the home of weary Christian pilgrims, and to strengthen them and protect them through Word, Sacrament, and prayer and preaching. The Church is like a nurturing mother, or should be. When we go to church, we should come away feeling refreshed, and not come away learning who to vote for or how to come down on the next moral issue in politics. The Church is other-worldly, not this-worldly.

It seems to me that, when one takes a "transform the culture" type approach, it will always inevitably lead to a kind of moralism. I don't think it's a surprise at all that evangelicalism is moralistic to the core. It's rare to find the gospel preached in evangelicalism. Most of the time it becomes a list of do's and don'ts that Scripture never prescribes. It becomes man-made rules.

Likewise, I don't think it's a coincidence that the Reformed folks who have dabbled in theonomy and Kuyperianism started getting away from the simplicity of the gospel and started getting into the social gospel. For example, I was at a conference a couple of years ago at one of Bahnsen's flagships. In this conference, it talked about showing movies from a Christian perspective to "take back the culture." It showed a brief clip of a movie by Tony Campolo (yes, Tonly Campolo of all people) in which the plot was that a young Christian threw a birthday party for a prostitute. Then they prayed for her at the end.

After the movie, the audience and speakers discussed the movie and they called what the young man did for the prostitute "the gospel." They said he was practicing "the gospel"! One of my friends raised his hand and challenged this and he got his head chewed off. Afterwards, I came away from that conference feeling like I had just attended an evangelical (not a Reformed) conference. Furthermore, my friend's wife made an excellent point. If what that Christian young man did was "the gospel", how is that not any different than Angelina Jolee and Brad Pitt adopting orphans? Are Jolee and Pitt practicing "the gospel"?? Well, they may be practicing the social gospel, but not the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

That, in a nutshell, is why I am so disallusioned with Kuyperianism. It is not the Church's job to transform the culture. Furthermore, this seems to have a low view of common grace. In fact, R.J. Rushdoony said that common grace needed to be abandoned as a "bastard system." I don't think that's a coincidence either. His "transform the culture by biblical law" approach made him a moralist. He had no appreciation for common grace.

In the real world, we live with unbelievers all around us. This is why I appreciate the two kingdoms approach (although I'm still studying it), which says that God rules the kingdom of the left hand, or the civil kingdom, through natural law, and He rules the kingdom of the right hand, or the Church, through Word, Sacrament, and discipline. I find this approach to be Scriptural for numerous reasons, at least prima facie. I plan on doing a post or posts on this in the future.

Sorry to ramble on, but that is a sketch of where I am.

I hope you and Amber are doing well. How are your baptism journeys?

Gospel.or.Death said...


The RP doesn't mean you can find a word for word command for everything in worship. Some things are implied. Like I said, there are no simple answers to how the liturgy should be crafted. But that's not to say that the Bible doesn't give us guidance, because it does.


Anonymous said...

Hey Josh,

I'm late to the party (very busy the last few weeks), but very encouraged by your theological development. Maybe it's kind of arrogant of me, since basically I'm saying "I'm so glad that you're coming to understand as correct things that I see as correct," but good on ya anyways.

Jnorm888 said...

Hey Josh,

Can I ask you an honest question about why you have a strong desire to fight Orthodoxy?

Is it because you saw some of your friends being drawn in our direction?

Why not be happy for them? They are being drawn to the Ancient Faith. But you seem a little upset about that. I'm not going to put you down or make fun of you, because I too fell in the same trap.

One of the main reasons why I fight Calvinism is because alot of my friends became either Prespyterian (PCA) or Reformed Baptist. Including a former girlfriend.

So if this is the reason, then I somewhat understand, but Eastern Orthodoxy is the Historic Faith so fighting against Her, is like kicking against the goad.

It is like Paul fighting against the christians, and Jesus asking him "Why are you persecuting me?"

Maybe you should try to understand your friends. Who knows, maybe you too will become Orthodox one day.

I met a Dutch Reformed couple at an Orthodox conference last weekend and they seem like they are on their way to becoming Orthodox. You can't beat us Josh.

So you mind as well Join us :)


Jnorm888 said...

side note: my friends becoming calvinists happened 8 years ago while I was still a protestant.

just to put what I said in it's context. But I eventually got over it, and I'm still friends with most of them. Alot of them know that I converted to Orthodoxy

Just so you know


Pastor Matt Singleton said...

So your theology is drifting. I just now notticed that I am posting a few years too late.
An independent baptist once said you will either end up as a protestant you will eventually drift towards the papacy or the King James Bible.
Now obviously that is overs implicated but there is bizarre truth it will be interesting to see if you do feel the pull from the authority if scripture into the darkness of mysticism.