The following report was submitted to the Fifty-eighth General Assembly (1991). It is taken from the Minutes, pp. 264-328, with slight corrections. The GA adopted the two recommendations of the Committee stated at the end of the report (before the Appendix). A motion that the report of the Committee and the reports of its minorities be sent to the Committee on Revisions to the Directory for Worship, requesting them to seek to revise the DPW to allow for all three positions at the discretion of the local session, was indefinitely postponed.
Note: General Assembly reports (whether from a committee or its minority) are thoughtful treatises but they do not have the force of constitutional documents—the Westminster Standards or the Book of Church Order. They should not be construed as the official position of the OPC.
Your Committee is composed of the Rev. Messrs. Kenneth J. Campbell, Charles G. Dennison, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Glenn D. Jerrell, and Jack J. Peterson. The Committee has met twice since the last General Assembly. The officers of the Committee are Mr. Jerrell, Chairman and Mr. Peterson, Secretary.
The mandate given to the Committee by the General Assembly is "to study the question of the involvement of unordained persons (men and women) in the regular worship services of the church; that the Committee on Revisions to the Book of Discipline and the Directory for Worship be informed of the study committee's findings; and that the study committee report to the 56th General Assembly."
The Committee struggled with the questions involved and with the Scripture as it dealt with the answers to those questions. Out of those struggles three positions evolved. Those three positions are set forth in the appendix to this report. It is the intention of the Committee not to have the Appendix printed in the Minutes of this General Assembly.
The Committee has sent a copy of the final report to the Committee on Revisions to the Directory for the Public Worship of God as requested by the 55th General Assembly explaining that we have not come to unanimity.
Mr. Gaffin was appointed as a corresponding member of the Committee to the General Assembly.
- THE INVOLVEMENT OF UNORDAINED PERSONS (Gaffin, Jerrell, Peterson)
- ONLY THE MINISTER MAY LEAD IN WORSHIP (Dennison)
- ONLY QUALIFIED MEN MAY LEAD IN WORSHIP (Campbell)
1. Our Directory for the Public Worship of God (DPW) already makes provision for the involvement of unordained persons in public worship. As members of the assembled congregation, they are to be active participants in congregational singing, responsive reading, bringing offerings, and receiving the Lord's Supper, as well as in giving undivided attention to the reading and preaching of Scripture, prayer, salutation, and benediction by the minister. Additionally, although it goes beyond the express provisions of the DPW, unordained involvement in reciting the Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed, and in singing in choirs or even, on occasion, as soloists has become accepted, largely uncontroverted practice in our churches.
2. The DPW, however, also sets definite limits on the involvement of the unordained. Specifically, an individual role or individual expression, in distinction from the rest of the congregation, is limited to the minister; besides preaching, only he, for instance, may pray aloud and read Scripture to the congregation. Even ruling elders, by implication, are excluded from such individual expression.
3. These restrictions have become the source of ongoing disagreement in the Church and have led, eventually, to the election of our Committee. Accordingly, the Committee has understood that its mandate is to evaluate the DPW and to consider whether changes are in order to provide for individual participation, in addition to the minister, by unordained persons (as well as ruling elders) in public worship. The undersigned offer the following considerations in support of their conviction that our Church ought to consider making such changes in the DPW.
1. The so-called regulative principle is determinative for the worship and government of the OPC; this is part of the distinctive heritage we share as a Reformed church. To affirm that may well be to state the obvious and what is commonplace. But in fact it is not so obvious that there is a common mind on what the regulative principle is and entails. It appears necessary to clear away a certain amount of confusion and equivocation in its use and the appeal made to it.
2. a. The expression "regulative principle" is difficult to document before the 19th century, but its substance is expressed clearly enough, on its negative side, in the Westminster Confession, 20:2: believers are free from, and are therefore not to be bound by, "the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship." The phrase "or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship" should not be taken to set worship apart from the rest of life. It does not intend to say that, in comparison with other areas of life, the authority of the Word is somehow another, or of a qualitatively different order, for worship (and doctrine), as if there is a separate principle of authority for public worship. The thought, instead, is that in teaching comprehensively "what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man" the Scriptures do so with such a fulness and sufficiency that in matters of doctrine and worship we are not left free to introduce our own inventions ("the imaginations and devices of men") "or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture" (21:1).
b. In other words, 20:2 does not go beyond but is a focussing of the more sweeping assertion of the all-inclusive authority of Scripture made already at 1:6: "The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture": The concern of the Reformed tradition especially, beginning with Calvin and John Knox, has been that the Reformation of the church should not stop short of its government and worship; the regulative principle is simply the solo scriptura carried through to worship. This principle is further expressed, in the handling of the Second Commandment, in Shorter Catechism, 50-52 and Larger Catechism, 108-110.
3. a. It is necessary to be precise about the regulative principle, to specify, as clearly as possible, its scope and provisions. In point, it is a principle (or guide), not a completely elaborated program or procedure. The regulative principle is misunderstood (and begins to be misapplied) when it is construed to mean that God has specified our worship "down to the last detail" or told us exactly how we are to worship him. Such a misconception is contradicted by the Confession when it goes on to say in 1:6, just beyond the passage quoted above, that "there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed."
b. True to this confessional insight, and building on it, is the distinction, absolutely essential for a proper conception of the regulative principle, between elements (or parts) of worship, on the one hand, and forms and circumstances of worship, on the other (see, e.g., J. Bannerman, The Church of Christ (1869), volume 1, pp. 348-360, who builds on the earlier distinction of George Gillespie, made around the time of the Westminster Assembly, between matters necessary and proper in sacris [in worship] and circa sacris [about worship]). The regulative principle has reference to the former, the proper parts of worship, not the latter. Or better, it applies to formal and circumstantial matters as these are to be "ordered...according to the general rules of the Word." It is fair to say that no end of confusion has entered discussions of worship in Reformed churches, not to mention the bitterness and even unnecessary divisions that may have resulted, because of the failure to appreciate this distinction and carefully weigh its implications.
c. Admittedly, a "gray" area emerges here; it is not always possible to distinguish cleanly between the material and formal in worship, between the elemental and the merely circumstantial. This accounts, at least in part, for the fact that issues of worship were among the most controverted at the Westminster Assembly, and that the Assembly did not undertake, as a few of its members initially desired, a thorough revision of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. They produced a directory, rather than a fixed, prescribed liturgy. In so doing, although some continued to hold that a established liturgy of prayers was permissible, even preferable, it wisely adopted a kind of middle ground between the more strictly regulated liturgical approach of earlier Reformed worship in Scotland, Geneva and elsewhere on the continent, and some Puritan Independents who were opposed even to a directory. A clear and firm commitment to the notion of the regulative principle enabled them to achieve this balance.
d. To cite one other especially pertinent example from that time, Robert Baillie, one of the four Scottish commissioners to the Assembly (who distinguished themselves by exercising an influence all out of proportion to their small number), opposed the decision, urged largely by the English Presbyterian majority, to restrict the public reading of Scripture to the minister. Further, he registered his regret in writing and his judgment that this elimination of the existing practice, in Reformed worship in Scotland and elsewhere, of using lay readers (roughly equivalent in their function to what are currently called worship leaders) was unnecessary, and would prove unduly burdensome on ministers and detrimental in the life of the church in general (noted in T. Leishman, The Westminster Directory , pp. 92, 190f.; see also B. B. Warfield, The Westminster Assembly and Its Work , p. 49).
e. Orthodox Presbyterians, standing as we do largely in an "Old School" tradition, especially need to ponder the fact that matters we now accept with virtual unanimity have in the past been rejected as clear, even flagrant violations of the regulative principle. The use of the Lord's Prayer, the Doxology, the Gloria Patri, the Apostles' Creed, hymns, instrumental music (especially the introduction of organs!), choirs, even responsive readings and offerings, have all been vigorously resisted, at one time or other and to a greater or lesser extent, sometimes even as "abominations."
f. If recounted accurately, there is something both admirable and pathetic about the practice of an aging Samuel Miller and his wife continuing week after week to stand alone, in protest, long after the congregation where they worshipped had changed to sitting for the long or pastoral prayer (reported in J. Melton, Presbyterian Worship in America , p. 38). Their concern for principle is laudable, but their confusion of principle with a particular implementation is sad. Particularly in a time like our own, where, undeniably, the regulative principle is widely disregarded and grossly violated, there is need to be on guard against aggravating a bad situation by seeking to impose on others, in the name of principle, what in actuality is a matter of preference or even, in its own way, "will-worship." Too often in the history of Presbyterianism debates about worship have run aground because on at least one side, sometimes both, formal/circumstantial matters have been escalated into an issue of (the regulative) principle.
g. It is certainly noteworthy that the most explicit statement of the regulative principle in the Confession is found in the chapter "Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience." At stake in the regulative principle is what is at the heart of the Reformation—in Luther's words, "the freedom of the Christian man." As James Bannerman, for one, demonstrates in great length (The Church of Christ, 1:360-375), the regulative principle stipulates not only the extent but the limits of church power. Undoubtedly, the inveterate tendency of the human heart is toward idolatry, toward creating and imposing inventions of our own in worship. But in opposing that tendency we must not exceed Scripture in the restrictions we seek to impose. On (biblical) balance, the regulative principle makes ample provision for what Douglas Bannerman, in a useful, still timely survey, has called "the ideal of Presbyterian worship": worship that is (1) "spiritual," (2) "scriptural," (3) where "the Word of God [is] central," (4) "congregational" [in the sense of involving the congregation in all parts of worship, in both its entirety and its individuality], and (5) "simple and elastic" (The Worship of the Presbyterian Church , pp. 1-13).
h. If, then, the regulative principle is to function properly, that is, if our worship is to be truly biblical, it is essential not to confuse the elements (parts) of worship with the forms and circumstantial aspects of worship, but to keep that difference clear.
4. What are the elements or parts of worship stipulated by the regulative principle? In answer, it is useful, in identifying specifics, not to lose sight of a basic profile. Biblical worship, as reflected in our DPW, has an essentially dialogic structure: the address of God to his people and their response to him. Further, the substance of this pattern (reflecting the basic structure of the covenant) is readily identifiable. True worship is constituted in its parts by the "means of grace," what the Catechisms call "the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption/his mediation" (SC, 88/LC, 154), namely, the word, sacraments, and prayer. But since the sacraments are a species of the word, basically there are only two elements in worship, corresponding to the covenantal, dialogic structure noted: the word of God and prayer.
a. All of the particular parts enumerated in our DPW reduce to either one of these two parts. From God's side, his word comes in its reading and preaching, in the salutation, the benediction, and the sacraments. From our side, there is prayer, strictly speaking, in all its fulness, and what also, by extension, is fairly seen as prayer (our address to God): singing Psalms and hymns, responsive reading, and the offering. On biblical warrant, public worship consists of these (two basic) parts, of all of these and these alone. The regulative principle has a simple profile; it is not complicated or difficult to comprehend. In sum, worship of the triune God is to consist of his word and our prayer/praise, in appropriate forms and ordered circumstances.
5. In this connection it is important to recognize that I Corinthians 14:40 ("Let all things be done decently and in order"; cf. verse 33: "God is not a God of disorder but of peace") is not a statement of the regulative principle, nor even of an aspect thereof. Better, it bears on the regulative principle only as it is an ordering principle; it belongs to the latter part of 1:6 of the Confession rather than to the first part or to 20:2 or chapter 21. It rightly enjoys prominence in discussions of worship because it is perhaps most explicit among "the general rules of the Word" that mold "Christian prudence" in ordering "some circumstances concerning the worship of God." It does not deal with the elements of worship but with circumstances and forms, the how of worship not the what. Worshipping, it says, is to be done "decently and in order" (KJV), "properly and in an orderly manner" (NASB), "in a fitting and orderly way" (NIV).
a. What is order in worship? What in its external forms and circumstances is fitting and proper? To ask such questions is already to bring to light that in worship, so delimited, the church has been granted a "large measure of liberty" (DPW, 2:7) and discretionary judgment; a dimension of worship has been left to Christian "common sense." What has been forbidden for the parts of worship (nothing in addition to Scripture; anything even "beside it" is strictly prohibited) is allowed for the circumstances and external forms of worship. Where in the one instance the church is bound only to administer, in the other it has some freedom to legislate. To put the point somewhat provocatively, the Lutheran and Anglican approach to worship (what is not necessarily taught in Scripture expressly but is not contrary is permissible), to be rejected resolutely so far as elements are concerned, finds approval with regard to formal and circumstantial aspects.
b. Calvin, in commenting on 1 Corinthians 14:40, makes a striking and perceptive observation in this respect, and one that is not always appreciated: "The Lord allows us freedom in regard to outward rites, in order that we may not think that His worship is confined to those things." If we have understood him correctly, Calvin is saying that the church has been given latitude in ordering worship to keep us from confusing (mandatory) elements and (discretionary) forms, from confounding what is essential with what is circumstantial, and he is reminding us that such confusion is a likely result when we are bound too strictly to particular forms or seek to enforce conformity in the church to a single pattern.
6. What is a responsible ordering of worship? How are we to determine the scope and legitimate exercise of the discretionary power granted to the church in 1 Corinthians 14:40? Three conditions, enunciated already by George Gillespie (in A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies, cited in Bannerman, The Church of Christ, 1:355-357), help to answer such questions. (Strictly speaking, Gillespie is concerned with distinguishing those matters the church has the right to legislate from those parts or elements it has no authority but to administer. But what he has to say, on the one side, applies as well to the degree of latitude the church may decide to allow.) (1) "It [any matter legitimate for the church to legislate] must be only a circumstance of Divine worship, and no substantial part of it—no sacred, significant, and efficacious ceremony." It must not be an element in worship (in sacris), but something concerning worship (circa sacris). (2) It "must be such [as is] not determinable by Scripture." The Scriptures must be silent about it. (3) It must be something for which the church is "able to give a sufficient reason and warrant." The point of this last condition, in other words, is that, with the first two conditions met, it is not an "anything goes" situation. In the case of a merely circumstantial matter, about which Scripture is silent, the church is not free to do, or to permit, just anything it wishes; it must have a good reason. These three tests, Bannerman observes, are combined in "the singularly judicious and well-balanced statement" (already quoted above) at the close of 1:6 of the Confession.
a. By now it should be clear that, taken as a whole, the DPW does not embody the regulative principle but represents an attempt to implement that principle. The regulative principle is at stake in the DPW only to the extent that the latter is concerned with the parts of worship. The regulative principle is of the essence of Reformed worship; the DPW is not. The regulative principle belongs to "the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture" (e.g., cf. 1:6; 20:20); the DPW does not.
b. This difference is reflected in the fact that, though the OPC has had a Directory for Worship since 1939, it only began to require subscription to it in 1979, and the terms of that subscription are of a different, less binding order: "approve" for the DPW (along with the Form of Government and the Book of Discipline), "sincerely receive and adopt" for the Confession and Catechisms. Our history in this respect mirrors the earlier history of Presbyterianism in America, which, while widespread use was certainly made of the Westminster Directory from the beginning, did not adopt a directory for worship until 1788, long after the Adopting Act of 1729. (This was a revision of the Westminster Directory, on which, in turn, our own Directory is based.) Moreover, from the time of its adoption its status was ambiguous; it proved to be a largely "nondirective Directory" (Melton, Presbyterian Worship, p. 27).
1. The preceding discussion, though lengthy and preliminary, serves to put the Committee's mandate in proper perspective. For that mandate, though ostensibly focussed only on a question of detail in worship, in fact touches the total fabric of worship. The issue, then, has several dimensions: (1) Does the regulative principle exclude unordained persons from exercising individual roles in public worship? If it does, then the matter is settled; such expression is prohibited. (2) If, however, such roles are not a violation of the regulative principle, then the question concerns their propriety; are they permissible in the light of 1 Corinthians 14:40 and other biblical and prudential considerations? More specifically, Scripture would have us ask, do they promote edification (1 Corinthians 14:12)?, is their exercise "for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7)? (3) Both these questions must be addressed in terms of the dialogic (God to his people/his people to God, word/prayer) structure of worship.
2. In answering these questions it will be useful to keep in mind several additional considerations bearing on the nature and ordering of worship.
a. We must be careful not to compartmentalize corporate worship nor isolate it from the rest of life. We recognize that few, if any, would disagree with this statement. Nonetheless we do believe there is a tendency on the part of some, often in the name of the regulative principle, to highlight the importance of public worship by setting it apart from everything else believers do. Certainly, we must not slight the importance, even the uniqueness, of corporate worship; here, as believers with our children, we come to Mount Zion and are a part of the heavenly assembly (Hebrews 12:22f.), and in a way that is not true of anything else we do.
Still, we must not forget that Scripture sees things on a continuum. Without going into any length here, Romans 12:1 teaches that believers are to offer themselves, in all they do, as a "living sacrifice," and that to do so is their "spiritual [= reasonable, appropriate] worship" (cf. Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5). What is noteworthy is that among the various New Testament word groups for worship, the term used here is from one with the narrowest semantic range, referring almost always to the temple cultus and priestly duties (e.g., Romans 9:4; Hebrews 9:1, 6); Paul's thought is that, for believers, life in its entirety is to be "your appropriate priestly activity." Similarly, in a negative vein, the sin of covetousness is viewed in explicitly cultic terms; it is "idolatry," a violation of the first commandment (Ephesians 5:5; cf. the cultic construal of the believer's entire existence in verse 2). "The whole of life is worship"; surely that is the Reformed ideal (and not just as a loose metaphor).
b. (1) Similarly, looking at worship in the narrower, more direct sense, we must be careful not to set public worship at too great a distance from other kinds of worship. Certainly, there is a distinction; other types are not the church worshipping as the gathered messianic assembly. But, again, that is not really a fundamental, categorical difference, as if other kinds of worship have a less integral place in the life of the believer. In this connection, we would suggest that the formal-informal distinction applied to worship (cf. the structure of the original edition of the Trinity Hymnal) is not particularly helpful, since it seems to suggest that "formality" marks off public worship from other types.
(2) Our Confession (21:6) distinguishes three kinds of worship as to occasion: "in private families daily," "in secret, each one by himself," and "in the public assemblies." The latter, it is true, is to be done "more solemnly," but surely this does not mean that other, nonpublic worship may be "unsolemn," that is, unceremonious and lacking in dignity; the difference is only one of degree and circumstance. The regulative principle, we should not forget, applies to all worship. There are elements of public worship (e.g., preaching, the sacraments) that have no place in our other worship. On the other hand, however, there is no room in family or private worship for what is not permissible in public worship; irreverence, frivolity and undue familiarity are all just as reprehensible in the one as the other.
(3) What, then, constitutes the solemnity or dignity that ought to characterize all our worship to a greater or lesser degree? With this question, the Committee believes, we touch on the nub of the concerns that have given rise to our mandate. In answer, we suggest that much contemporary worship (and discussion thereof) is polarized by a false dilemma, one that may often be unrecognized, but is counterproductive because unbiblical.
(4) Within current evangelical Christianity, especially in the West, we have witnessed the widespread emergence of public worship that is marked by what is not unfairly described as "chatty informality," worship which in fact verges dangerously close to or sometimes even crosses over into outright irreverence and flippancy. Others, particularly within Reformed churches, have rightly reacted against this trend, and have sought to maintain in worship a sense, above all, of the transcending holiness and awesome majesty of God.
(5) But this Reformed reaction, we submit, seems sometimes to be caught, perhaps without being fully aware of it, in a tension between approaching God as King and God as Father, between the church as Christ's kingdom and the church as his family. To be sure, this tension is not made explicit or absolute, but, applied to worship, the impression is sometimes left that in private and family worship God may be approached as our Father in more familiar, affectionate, family terms ("informally"), but that in public worship, in contrast, such intimacy is out of place and God is to be approached in terms of his heavenly exaltedness and kingly transcendence ("formally").
(6) But surely that is a false dilemma. Surely this pulls apart what belongs together. That can be seen, for instance, in the so-called Lord's Prayer. Taken in context, that prayer is better designated the "Kingdom Prayer," a prayer which, as such, has as its opening, controlling address, "Our Father..." The God we worship is the "King of the universe" (a favorite designation of the deity in orthodox Judaism), but he is also, and at the same time, our "Abba" (what only Christians are free to call him). In its corporate worship the church is not, sociologically considered, an extended family (a fundamental misunderstanding in much contemporary Christianity); it is in fact the kingdom of Christ. But, at the same time (if the covenant means anything), it is families (believers and their children) in covenant with God; it is "God's household" (1 Timothy 3:15). What God is seeking in his people is worship, both public and nonpublic, marked by a holy intimacy and loving reverence, by a sense both of his heavenly majesty and his fatherly concern, by the conviction that he is both our awe-inspiring creator and our trusted friend.
c. 1 Corinthians 14:40 (cf. verse 33), so frequently appealed to in Reformed discussions about worship, stands at the close of the longest and most detailed description of Christian worship found in the New Testament; this verse is in fact the concluding, capstone declaration of the passage. One noteworthy characteristic of the worship described here (and ordered by verse 40) is the presence, perhaps even prominence, of individual participation (see especially verse 26: "When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation"; cf. verse 6).
d. How are we to assess this individual involvement?
(1) Some might want to argue that it was confined to those who exercised the revelatory gifts of prophecy and tongues (with interpretation), and that since these gifts, by God's design, were unique to the apostolic era and are no longer present in the church, therefore individual involvement of any sort ought likewise to cease. Such reasoning would seem to rest on the assumption that individual participation was a function of inspiration. That is, other than those set apart by ordination, only those were permitted to speak (to prophesy or speak in tongues) who did so not by their own will or initiative but under the inspiring control of the Spirit; ultimately it was not really the individual but the Holy Spirit speaking.
(2) But that assumption, and the reasoning based on it, is almost surely wrong. It is not the case that prophets or tongues speakers (or apostles) were so possessed by the Spirit that they had no control over the exercise of their gift (although that is a frequent misunderstanding). The drift of the passage is definitely to the contrary: "the spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets" (verse 32). A large part of the teaching in this chapter proceeds on the assumption that those with revelatory word gifts were quite capable of taking personal, noninspired initiative in their proper exercise and even of abusing them (cf. Paul's rebuke of Peter's apostolic prostitution of the gospel in Galatians 2:11-14). The "ardor" of the Spirit's (inspiring) presence does not exclude the need for order and responsible exercise. In 1 Corinthians 14, then, individual expression in public worship is not a function of (a safe-guarding) inspiration.
(3) Further, this individual participation is not limited to those with revelatory gifts; verse 26 mentions as well those with a "hymn" or "a word of instruction." Nor is anyone in the congregation excluded from such participation; "each one" (verse 26) is potentially involved, with the exception of the restriction placed on women (verses 33b-35). Nothing in the chapter suggests that individual expression is limited to the elders or the one presiding.
(4) These considerations are reinforced, and the restriction on women qualified, within the wider context (chapters 11-14, which for the most part treat issues relating to corporate worship). How are we to understand the references to women as well as men praying and prophesying in 11:4-5,13? Some (e.g., Charles Hodge) maintain that, in the case of women, Paul is making a concession for the sake of his argument: although he really does not approve of women speaking in church meetings, as 14:33b-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-14 plainly show, he grants that practice here in the interest of highlighting his main point, namely the impropriety of women praying and prophesying with uncovered heads. Others (e.g., B. B. Warfield) stress the lack of clarity in 11:4-5, 13, but hold, nonetheless, that there is certainly no reason to believe that praying and prophesying in public worship is meant.
(5) There are several substantial objections to either of these understandings. (1) If the passage is read on its own terms, its plain suggestion is that men and women praying and prophesying in public meetings of the church are recognized and accepted practices; nothing in the passage even intimates disapproval, and it is even more unlikely that the passage is concerned with private activities (see the third objection below). It seems fair to say that those who reject this suggestion do so only because of the resulting contradiction with what they believe 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 plainly teach. (2) The fact that Paul repeats his reference to women praying at a different point in his argument (verse 13) counts against the idea that the reference is concessive and points instead to an established and accepted practice. (3) Verse 5 takes for granted that women receive and exercise the gift of prophecy. So, on the view that its public exercise is prohibited to them, presumably only a private exercise of some sort remains. But what can that mean? In the light of (a) the overriding emphasis in chapters 12-14 that all spiritual gifts are given "for the common good" (12:7) and "for the edification of the church" (14:12), as well as (b) the stress in chapter 14 on the special, heightened value of prophecy just in this respect, such a notion of "private prophecy" is a virtual contradiction in terms, and certainly an artificial abstraction.
(6) Our conclusion, then, is that 1 Corinthians 11:4-5, 13 plainly imply that in some form public prayer and prophecy, by both men and women, were accepted practices in the churches known to Paul (see verse 16; cf. the four daughters of Philip the evangelist who were known by the fact that they prophesied, Acts 21:9).
(7) Consequently, 1 Corinthians 11:3f. limit in some way the apparently absolute sweep of the command in 14:34 for women to be silent. How? Several explanations have been offered (see J. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective , pp. 186-188). None is entirely convincing, but if we recognize that yielding to authority is the key issue (women "must be in submission"), most satisfying is the view, in the light of the immediately surrounding context, that 14:33f. prohibit women especially from participating in the (authoritative) judging or evaluation of prophetic utterances. How exactly the prohibition is limited may not be so easy to answer; that it is not absolute, however, seems clear in the light of 11:5, 13. (For a fuller treatment of both the 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 passages, see the "Report of the Committee on Women in Church Office," Minutes, 55th  GA, pp. 327-29.)
(8) Certainly, there are substantial differences between the worship described in 1 Corinthians 11-14 and worship today (the presence of revelatory word gifts then, their absence now). But individual, unordained involvement is not one of these discontinuities. If we are to continue giving 1 Corinthians 14:40 its historic prominence as one of the "general rules" (CF, 1:6) of Scripture for ordering our worship, then we must be careful not to lift it out of its immediate context. Nor should we fail to recognize that in that context, regulating individual involvement, without prohibiting it, is in fact the primary concern of its "decently and in order."
(9) With these considerations in view we can now draw some conclusions about the involvement of unordained persons in public worship.
3. a. We value our DPW as an effort to order the elements of worship in an edifying way; time has proven it (along with its predecessors) a worthy guide. Nonetheless we do question its restriction of individual involvement exclusively to the presiding minister. That restriction, we believe, is neither demanded by the regulative principle nor necessary for maintaining good order; it is a circumstantial matter.
b. So far as the people's approach to God is concerned, we can find no biblical consideration that excludes latitude for the session to provide opportunity for prayers and expressions of praise by individuals. To the contrary, as shown above, in addition to considerations drawn from I Corinthians 14, 11:4-5, 13 provide the precedent, with apostolic approval, for unordained persons, both men and women, praying in public worship. That is as we should expect in congregations where all share in the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17-18; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 2:1).
c. Will not such latitude tend to be abused, and does it not threaten to displace the central place of preaching? That objection has weight. In fact, sessional direction must be clear, and particularly in situations where the level of congregational maturity is low, discretion may decide against this practice. But that does not mean that other congregations have to be deprived of the opportunity. Here as elsewhere, abusus non tollit usum (the abuse of a thing is not a valid argument against its proper use) ought to be writ large over our discussions of worship. On the other hand, the objection that prayer or praise by unordained individuals necessarily involves them in usurping leadership should be disposed of for what it is—specious at best. The authority of the minister is no more compromised by such activity than is the headship of the father when, during family worship, he asks his wife or children (or a guest) to "lead" in prayer.
d. So far as the address of God to the people is concerned, the exclusive prerogative of those ordained to preach (and of licentiates) to do so must be maintained; such official proclamation is mandated by Scripture (cf. Minutes, 55th GA, pp. 326-331). We do believe, however, that our Church ought to consider giving sessions the latitude, for instance, for unordained persons involved in the work of the church (e.g., missionaries) to encourage and challenge and otherwise report to the congregation concerning their work. Certainly an account of the magnalia Dei (Acts 2:11) being done today, elsewhere as well as in the life of the local congregation, is appropriate in its public worship.
e. Such latitude needs to receive serious consideration in the light of 1 Corinthians 14 (see our comments above). Further, according to 1 Peter 4:10-11:
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength that God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
These verses are unique in the New Testament for the overview they provide on the sum total of gifts and graces given to the church ("whatever gift," "God's grace in its various forms").
f. Two observations are pertinent to our concern:
(1) These verses almost certainly have in view the exercise of gifts variously distributed through the congregation at large. There is no contrary indication of any restriction. Further, in the immediate context, on either side (verses 7-9, 12-19), Peter is addressing the whole church, all believers without exception. It is highly unlikely, then, that in verses 10-11 only some within the congregation, a delimited group such as those holding special office, are in view (the elders, specifically, are addressed subsequently beginning at 5:1).
What verse 11 provides is a basic, dual profile on the full diversity of gifts given to the church (if anyone speaks...if anyone serves...); each gift is a ministration of God's grace, either in word or deed. This twofold structure likely reflects and is reflected in the twofold pattern of special office permanently established in the church; the elders correspond to the word-ministry of the general office, the deacons to its deed-ministry (cf. Ephesians 4:12). But in view here is not that special office arrangement itself but the functioning of the general office of all believers (which the special offices exist to facilitate).
(2) It would obviously be wrong to limit the scope of verses 10-11 to what takes place in corporate worship. But there is no good reason to exclude such worship from their purview. Consequently, when Peter says, "If anyone speaks...," we ought to hear in that a challenge to consider how, in the light of what we have seen in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14, we are to implement such general office speaking in our worship today.
Further, we question the stipulation that only the minister is to read Scripture (DPW, 3:2; cf. LC, 156). While the reading of Scripture is an elemental matter, who reads it is circumstantial (as at least one member of the Westminster Assembly argued in defense of the retention of lay readers; see above, B.3.d). The records of the Assembly are such that the argumentation on this issue (and others) is difficult to recover (although we, as a committee, have not made this a matter of extended historical research).
The texts appended to Larger Catechism 156 (Deuteronomy 31:9, 11-13 and Nehemiah 8:2-5) are directives for priests to read the law to the people. This makes a prescriptive appeal to these texts (and, implicitly, to the Levitical order), for New Testament worship, that is more than they can legitimately bear. We do not deny an analogy, in terms of office, between old covenant priest and new covenant minister (cf., e.g., Isaiah 66:21). In view of that analogy, among other considerations, it is surely appropriate for the minister to read the Scripture passage from which the text for his sermon is taken. But may that practice be made mandatory? To insist that it must or, further, that any other reading of Scripture is the exclusive prerogative of the presiding minister is unwarranted, and seems to rest on an overdrawn use of Scripture (and the Levitical analogy). Also, it does not sufficiently appreciate that all (not just some) in the congregation, as Spirit-and-fire baptized (Luke 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13), are the refined and purified "sons of Levi" (Malachi 3:3).
4. It should be plain by now that the individual involvement we are advocating is not mandatory but a local, congregational option. Some may object that this will disrupt uniformity in worship across our Church as a whole. Maintaining a basic structure in common is certainly important, but is strict uniformity in worship really an ideal, or even desirable? The wise words of Douglas Bannerman over a century ago are applicable here and still worth quoting at length, for the basic point they make as well as the answer they give to objectors to that point (The Worship of the Presbyterian Church, pp. 10-12, original italics):
The individuality of a congregation in a purely mining district is quite distinct from that of a congregation in a pastoral one; and both of these, again are very different in history and character from a congregation in a fishing village, or from a West-end city charge.
Given an equally high spiritual condition in all the four cases, the congregational individuality will and should develop itself differently in worship in each of them respectively.
It will be objected, perhaps: "This is making class distinctions where none ought to be admitted." But the answer is very plain. It is not making distinctions. It is simply recognizing facts in Providence, which are there, whether you recognise them or not, and seeking to act accordingly. In what is highest and deepest in their worship, in the great essentials of it, all Christian congregations, worshipping in a spiritual and Scriptural way, are one, and rejoice to know and feel that they are so. But, in the circumstantials of their worship, there may be, and there ought to be, a good deal of difference.
The whole "environment" of the members of a West-end congregation in Edinburgh or Glasgow is, by necessity of nature, very different from that of a congregation amid the mining "rows" of Ayrshire or the Lothians, or in the Highlands of the north or of the south of Scotland. No slight to the one nor exaltation of the other, in a moral or spiritual point of view, is at all implied in our recognizing that fact. The members of the city congregation and of the country one live in different sorts of houses; they hear and join in a different kind of music during the week. If they are to be themselves on the Lord's Day, it follows that the house which they rear for the worship of God and the form in which they praise Him there will, in some respects, be different also. What would be most creditable to the one congregation, and would justly command the respect and touch the heart of the most intelligent and cultured stranger worshipping with them, would be most unworthy of the other. It would have quite a different aspect and meaning there.
If these comments were pertinent to Presbyterianism in relatively monolithic Scottish culture 100 years ago, how much more so are they to the OPC in America today?
5. a. We are well aware that our advocating latitude for a measure of individual involvement by unordained persons in public worship is an innovation (though that is not really true for the actual worship of many Presbyterians past and present, only for the directories of worship adopted by Presbyterians). We anticipate that on that account some will reject our proposals out of hand, and others will view them with suspicion. We can appreciate that still others will want to proceed with caution in considering them. We also expect that some will see in our report yet another indication of the individualistic depreciation of special office and its prerogatives that is on the increase in our spiritually self-centered and narcissistic age. We regret that reaction, in our judgment unwarranted, and caution that in a time when, beyond doubt, special office needs to be defended against populist neglect and disparagement, it only makes a bad situation worse to deny to the general office its prerogatives.
b. In this connection we believe the following observation deserves pondering. In its desire to be faithful to Scripture, nothing has determined the development of Reformed worship more than its reaction against Roman Catholic perversions. In Great Britain, Presbyterians (and Independents) rejected the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, despite its many fine qualities, because in it (and especially in its use) reformation had not gone far enough, and prelatic and sacerdotal tendencies were still too much in evidence. In contrast, Reformed worship has taken on a strongly "prophetic" cast, with the preaching of the word dominant. But where Reformed worship is so structured that the presiding minister is the only participant with an individual role, and if in the solemn assembly the people may address God only as the minister does soon their behalf and are not free, on occasion, to do so individually, then the question has at least to be asked whether, despite its intention, such worship does not betray its prophetic genius by leaving an unmistakably sacerdotal impression.
c. Especially those with objections and reservations ought to consider whether the innovations proposed, such as they are, do not present us as a Church with a valuable opportunity. Could not their implementation in fact be "for the edification of the church" (1 Corinthians 14:12)?
1. Of late worship practices in the OPC and the church's Directory for the Public Worship of God (DPW) have been much discussed. A number of presbyteries have faced questions related to worship, and in at least two instances conflict over worship policies resulted in significant disruption. In some ways, the New Life "movement" could be described along the lines of its worship innovations, adding pressures to the denomination to address the subject. That pressure, according to some, is acute because of the decision of the 46th GA (1979) to add the words "...and worship..." to the ordination and installation vow that formerly called for approval only of the church's government and discipline.
2. Furthermore, the question about women and their role in worship has complicated an already complicated subject. A simplified presentation of the argument runs like this: women prophesied and prayed in public worship at Corinth (I Corinthians 11:5); women were not ordained; therefore, the unordained were permitted this liberty in the early church and so ought they to be now. Whatever Paul means in I Corinthians 14:34 and I Timothy 2:12 does not contradict this fundamental commitment.
3. Those within our circles who hold this position point out that they are not advocating reconsideration of the current availability of the prophetic gift. In the apostolic period temporary gifts and continuing gifts were granted both to the ordained and the unordained. The praying and prophesying women of Corinth prove the point; e.g., the prophetic gift ceased, the prayer gift continues.
4. However, prayer is only one of the continuing gifts among the unordained. In fact, in keeping with the doctrine of the general office of the believer, all in the church have been gifted in some way or other (I Peter 4:10). A number of these gifts, like prayer, rightly express themselves in the church when it gathers for public worship.
5. Those who hold this position contend that they remain committed to the DPW in its basic structure. However, they are suggesting that among those parts of worship in which the worshippers "are active," there may be individual expressions of prayer, reading, singing, testifying, confessing, etc. This carries them away from some of the explicit statements of the DPW and, as far as the regulative principle is concerned, places the question of who may lead public worship in a wider context.
6. We hear in what has just been reviewed an outline of the majority position in the Committee on the Involvement of the Unordained in Worship. It, therefore, recommends "[t]hat the Assembly direct the Committee on Revisions to the Directory for Public Worship to propose revisions...that provide for individual involvement by unordained persons in public worship."
7. A minority position is also recommending change. By way of extensive exegesis, it argues that leadership in public worship belongs to qualified men; i.e., elders whose prerogative is established by divine appointment. The regulative principle is understood to restrict leadership along these lines.
8. As far as redirection of the DPW is concerned, this position asserts that ruling elders as well as teaching elders are called to lead public worship. Therefore, it recommends "[t]hat the word minister' in the appropriate sections of Directory for Worship be changed to qualified men' or such word that expresses inclusively teaching elders, ruling elders and recognized would-be elders."
9. Although appreciative of the exegetical work of the minority, this present report takes a different tack and comes to different conclusions. Its approach is historical. There is great ignorance in our church about what stands behind the current directory. Too often it is assumed that the directory together with its predecessors, particularly the directory of the Westminster Assembly, are more the product of cultural forces than a good hermeneutic. Therefore, in light of the need to make informed judgments, we would be well served if we better understood the directory in its historical frame.
a. The minister is the most visibly active ordained figure in the directory. To be sure, the session scrutinizes the ministry of the word (III.3) and the offerings made to the church (III.7). It also certifies exceptions to the regular location of the Lord's Supper (IV.3) and examines candidates for public profession of faith (V.2). Each of these matters is important and outlines responsibilities for the ruling elders as they oversee the general order of the people in their worship. Leadership in worship, however, is assigned specifically to the minister.
b. In providing the broad outline for public worship, the directory recognizes two kinds of activity: "those...performed on behalf of God" in which "the worshippers are receptive;" and "those.... performed by the congregation" in which "[the worshippers] are active" (III.1). The former part is the province of the minister.
c. What follows makes this clear. The next paragraph, for example, tells us, "The public reading of the Holy Scriptures is performed by the minister as God's servant" (III.2). From the way in which the directory then describes the public reading, the minister exclusively is in view. The congregation is receptive as "God speaks most directly;" the reading by the minister speaks even more directly than his "interpretation of Holy Writ in the sermon". He is "to refrain from interspersing the reading...with human comments." The congregation, as distinct from the minister in his official role (i.e., that of performing specific parts of worship in God's stead), "should attend to the reading with deepest reverence."
d. As for the sermon, in it "God [again] addresses the congregation by the mouth of his servant" (III.3). God's servant here, as in III.2, is the minister. No one else but the ordained minister is recognized as an appropriate spokesman for God in public worship. Therefore, the minister is bound to "preach only the Word of God," to prepare his sermons "with the utmost care," to expound the text, to explain and apply, to join Christian duty to Christian truth, "to warn the congregation of prevalent soul-destroying teachings by enemies of the gospel," "to perfect the saints by building them up in the most holy faith and in Christ's stead...beseech the unconverted that they be reconciled to God."
e. Thus far, the directory expresses its commitment to the distinction in worship between what God himself is actively doing in addressing his people and what the congregation corporately does in receiving his address. This distinction is further underscored by what we find in Chapter III, paragraph 4. The "welcome in God's name" at the beginning of a service belongs to the minister. The salutation is understood as God's address to the people. Similarly, the directory reserves the benediction for the minister. It states emphatically, "the salutation and benediction, as pronounced in God's name, are properly used only by an ordained minister and in a gathering of Christ's Church."
f. Since God truly officiates in the sacraments they are not tied in their efficacy to the piety or intention of the minister. However, the directory prescribes administration by no private person "but only by a minister of Christ" (IV.A.4). God also presides in a public profession of faith (v. 5) and in the ordination and installation of ruling elders and deacons (V.B.2/V.C.2).
g. The directory further grants prerogatives to the minister in two other respects. He leads God's people through the responsive reading, in expressing "in the words of Scripture...their contrition, adoration, gratitude and other holy sentiments" (III.2). The directory sees a difference between the minister's reading of Scripture and the responsive reading along objective and subjective lines. But because the responsive reading is still a reading of the word, the minister is given the lead. The combination of minister and congregation conveys a sense of the divine action in the Psalms particularly where God speaks through the mouth of his subject, often sorely tested and distressed.
h. The remaining area in which the minister has a unique place is public prayer. According to the directory, "the minister [in public prayer] is the voice of the congregation" (III.5). His responsibility in this regard is deliberately set over against that of each person who, before the service, engages in silent prayer. Consequently, according to a plain reading, the directory is not describing what is merely proper to the ministerial office but what is its exclusive prerogative. This prerogative extends to the duty of the minister to "either precede or immediately follow [the offering] with a brief prayer" (III.7).
i. Earlier we noted the unique role the minister plays in those parts of worship in which God addresses his people. It now must be granted that, from the directory's perspective, the minister leads even in those areas in which the people are giving expression to their devotion to God: corporate reading, public prayer, presentation of offering. While there have been changes to the Form of Government, that document continues to uphold the general principles of the directory when it states:
It is [the minister's] task to conduct the public worship of God; to pray for and with Christ's flock as the mouth of the people unto God; to feed the flock by the public reading and preaching of the Word of God...; to administer the sacraments; to bless the people (VIII).
a. The directory is decidedly "three-office" in its formulations. Therefore, its distinctions are between the minister and the congregation. Ruling elders and deacons are not, by their ordinations, welcomed to the prescribed ministerial functions but in worship are understood as part of the congregation.
b. The directory reminds the people of God as a whole about the sanctity of the Lord's Day (I). It lays before them generally the demand of Scripture that they worship publicly on the Lord's Day. Its tone and content reinforce the traditional Reformed outlook on the Christian life, namely that public worship is but a focused, essential part of an entire life lived in service to (or worship of) God.
c. Therefore, the people are called to service that, in its broad expression, finds them constantly active in their worship. The special activities of public worship on the Christian Sabbath are prescribed for the corporate glorifying of God and to the end that Christians learn better to serve God all the days of the week in every activity (II.2).
d. According to the directory, public worship should find worshippers meeting on the basis of Scripture, with the triune God, to his glory, through the mediation of Christ, in spirit and truth, decently and in order, in simplicity and humility, with thanksgiving (II.1-9). They are receptive to God's ministry to them through his servant the minister by hearing the word read and proclaimed by him, by being led by him in corporate prayer, by receiving from him the sacraments and the divine salutation and benediction, and by being charged through him in their vows. They are also actively engaged in the responsive reading (III.2), silent prayer prior to the service and praying with the minister in corporate prayer (III.5), prayer and praise in congregational singing (III.6), presentation of offerings (III.7), participation in the sacraments (IV), and the taking of vows (V).
e. From this listing, it becomes clear that the axiom marked out in Chapter III, paragraph 1 demands further explanation. When the directory identifies the two parts of public worship, it has in view the corporate and dialogical nature of such worship. Actually, the worshippers are to be engaged in all parts of the service. For example, while receptive, they are not passive in those parts where God is addressing them. There is an activity peculiar to their receptiveness. However, such activity is distinguished from the corporate response to those parts of the service specifically performed on God's behalf by the minister. Thus, the directory calls attention to the alternating structure in which God addresses his people, then his people respond.
f. Some have pointed out that the provision in chapter 3, paragraph 6 introduces an exception to the overall scheme and that this exception opens the door to the general break-down of the directory's position. Here, provision is made for the "musical service" and the allowance for individual and group participation. No restriction is enjoined with respect to instrumental, choral, or solo involvement. Complicating things is the fact that singing is denominated "congregational" and defined as "prayer and praise".
g. The problem is this: How can the directory allow individual prayer and praise or prayer and praise by a restricted group when it is sung but not when it is spoken? In the judgment of some, the directory is guilty of obvious contradiction. Sides are taken. On the one side are those who reject solos, choirs, and all instrumental music beyond necessary accompaniment. On the other are those who encourage a wide expression of musical talent but then, beyond that, cultivate individual lay-leadership in worship through the giving of testimonies, the delivering of "messages," the offering of prayers and other activities that seem to violate the directory. Of course, there are also some not aware of the directory's apparent difficulty, nor are they especially sensitive to the directory generally, who have devised their own services in which the laity is given a very free rein.
h. The statement in the directory is itself a mediating position. It allows for special musical service which, in public worship, is under the rule of the session, the lead of the minister, and subject to the general principles of worship found in the directory. Described as "prayer and praise," and considered in the section devoted to congregational singing, the musical service must conform to the specific provisions of the directory. However, being in the medium of music, it is judged in no sense to trespass upon the prerogative of the minister and is the only form, because of its special category, in which the laity can then singly or in a restricted group participate in public worship.
3. a. In conclusion, the OP directory clearly reflects commitment to a specific doctrine of worship. The unity of the congregation is an obvious operating principle. Therefore, the assembly acts corporately in its response to the activity of God. If I Corinthians reflects a time in which some, by way of individual charismatic endowment, were given special roles in public worship, the assumption seems to be that the church has moved beyond the day.
b. In addition, the directory confronts us with a definite view of office. It operates on the basis of that traditional view of the minister; i.e. "The office of the minister is the first in the church for dignity and usefulness" (DPW, VI.A.2). As far as worship is concerned, the minister is specifically related to God and Christ. He is active on behalf of God as God addresses his people. He is engaged in Christlike fashion as the people direct their prayers and offerings Godward.
c. The overall simplicity of this doctrine of worship expresses itself in the words "... a service of public worship is in its essence a meeting of God and his people..." (III.1). What God does while addressing his people, the minister does on his behalf; what the people do in response to God's address, they do together.
In its basic theology the OP directory is a direct descendent of its 16th and 17th century ancestors. Individual members of the congregation "having the floor" in public worship is uniformly rejected by the tradition. For example, some Independents during the time of the Westminster Assembly divided the service between different members of the congregation, "one to pray, and another to preach, a third to prophesy, and a fourth to dismiss with a blessing" (Thomas Leishman quoting Baillie in The Westminster Directory , 97). The participants may have had some official standing in the meeting. Still, the assembly in keeping with a particularly strong view of the ministerial office rejected the practice.
Granted, there were exceptions, such as the involvement of probationers and those who "lined-out" the psalms. The case of the reader is a study in its own right. Traditionally, the reader was given the responsibility to open the service. He read the Scriptures and often some of the read prayers, the creed and the commandments, and maintained a place in Reformed churches, especially on the continent. In England and Scotland, the Reformed church became increasingly sensitive to the Roman Catholic and Episcopal use of this "office". Cases of the reader overstepping his bounds led the general assembly of the Church of Scotland to outlaw the position in 1581. Neither this act nor the refusal of the assembly at Westminster to recognize the reader were able to diminish its popularity among the Scots who, in many places, honored it well into the 19th century (cf. Andrew Duncan, The Scottish Sanctuary , 45ff.; George W. Sprott, Worship and Offices of the Church of Scotland , 13, 14; B. B. Warfield, The Westminster Assembly and Its Work , 49).
a. Actually, when it came to the ministerial office, Luther was more the odd-man-out during the Reformation than is ordinarily recognized. He compactly states his case in The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520):
...everyone who knows...he is a Christian should be fully assured that all of us alike are priests, and that we all have the same authority in regard to the word and the sacraments, although no one has the right to administer them without the consent of the members of his church, or by call of the majority... (John Dillenberger, ed., Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings , 349).
b. Luther, in his devotion to the gospel and the word of God, subordinated the ministry to an individualism and congregationalism that pragmatically designated the office to a particular person. He revered the office and reserved the Lord's Supper for the clergy's official administration. Still, the office was but a function of the Word; and, where the Word was present, there Christ was present in his authority. As was true in Catholicism, clergy were not essential to baptism; women could perform this rite. Heads of households were adequate worship leaders in certain situations.
c. Subsequent Lutheranism followed Melanchthon, not Luther. According to Melanchthon, the church was tied to and dependent upon office. He said, "Non est ecclesia, ubi non est verbum ministerium" (quoted in Paul D. L. Avis, The Church in the Theology of the Reformers , 102). Although his position was much stronger than Luther's, both men adamantly rejected the obliteration of the distinction between clergy and laity. Together they stood against Karlstadt who, in the name of the priesthood of all believers, granted the laity "all duties normally reserved to the clergy" (Avis, 96).
d. Even the Anabaptists did not go to this extreme. The Fifth Article of the Scheitheim Confession (1527) states:
The pastor in the church of God shall, as Paul has prescribed, be one who out-and-out has a good report of those who are the faith. This office shall be to read, to admonish and teach, to warn, to discipline, to ban in the church, to lead out in prayer for the advancement of all brethren and sisters, to lift up the bread when it is to be broken, and in all things to see to the care of the body of Christ, in order that it may be built up and developed, and the mouth of the slanderer be stopped (John Leith, ed., Creeds of the Churches , 287).
e. Disagreement between the Anabaptists and the other Reformers did not arise over the issues of the necessity and role of the ordained clergy in worship. With the exception of Karlstadt and certain anomalies in Luther, the Reformation spoke with one voice in maintaining a high view of office that effectively insured the prerogatives of the ordained ministry in the leadership of public worship.
f. Calvin's position on office was as strong as Melanchthon's. Not only did he recognize pastors and teachers as those "whom the church can never go without" (Institutes, IV, 3, 4) but the "human ministry [as] the chief sinew by which believers are held together in one body" (IV, 3, 2). In line with these views, the minister's leadership in public worship is nowhere contradicted and always assumed.
g. Today, many might judge the Reformers too clerical and restrictive. However, at the time, their vision for the church, its officers, and worship signalled extraordinary liberation. Worshippers no longer "viewed" a service in which "the choir sang incidental music of an intricate kind...[and]...the Mass was not even intelligible to the great majority of the people..." (Horton Davies, The Worship of the Puritans , 14). The Reformation meant direct involvement by the people in the government of the church. It meant respect of their rights of membership. In worship the people joined together in singing, in liturgical prayers and responses, in recitations (sometimes in song) of the commandments and creed. They came together at the Table and partook of both elements, while being instructed, encouraged, and warned in language they understood. They became the objects of that service rendered on God's behalf by the ordained minister.
a. Two principles triumph in the Westminster Assembly: 1) the supremacy of God and his Son to Caesar and Pope; 2) the authority of the Scripture over all opinion public and private. These principles are as much at issue in worship and in the formation of the Directory for the Publick Worship of God (1644) as they are in matters of doctrine and government.
b. Reformation deepens and the road to later presbyterianism is cleared as the assembly strives to remove, in the words of one commentator, "[A]ll human inventions, all ritualistic addenda, all ceremonial pomp and pageantry, everything not warranted by the Word of God" (Robert F. Coyle, "The Westminster Polity and Worship," Addresses at the Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly, ed. W. H. Roberts , 141). This commentator continues:
The Church was so filled with ecclesiastical bric-a-brac that the Church's Lord could not be seen. Under the mass of rubrics, and rites, and formularies imposed by prelacy, spirituality lay stifled, choked, dead. The burden became intolerable.... [I]n the estimation of the prelates the Service Book was everything, the Word of God nothing. Man-made liturgies encouraged an idle and unedifying ministry.... The people were fed on chaff blown in their faces from the prelatical mill, and the wretched fare maddened them (142).
c. The assembly craved freedom in this desperate situation. It advocated worship known for its simplicity and spirituality, where the people in their hearts would meet with the invisible God through the word and Spirit. Such worship, true to the Reformation, did not dispense with the ordained ministry because of the abuses. Instead, it sought to elevate the minister in dignity and duties according to the Scriptures' reforming principles.
d. Thus, like positions before and after it, the Westminster directory insists on the prerogatives of the minister in leading public worship. It allows none but the minister to preach and read the word except "such as intend the ministry." Only the minister leads public prayer, administers the sacraments, and dismisses the people with a blessing.
e. While the assembly elevated the minister even to the point, as was seen earlier, of dispensing with the office of the reader, it authorized the presenter whose task it was to "read the Psalm, line by line, before the singing thereof." The practice was enjoined because of weaknesses among the worshippers; i.e. illiteracy, age, etc. This task was assigned to the minister or, in order to spare him, "to some other fit person appointed by him and the other ruling officers." The French Reformed called it a "childish custom" and threatened discipline against those who practiced it. The Scots, believe it or not, were originally insulted by its introduction but a century later rebelled at its removal (Leishman, 147, 148). It constitutes the single exception to the minister's exclusive role in the leadership of worship.
f. The people's part is no different from what has already been noted except that the Puritan Sabbath is much in evidence and the congregation's disposition is regularly commented upon. As an example of the latter, all should "enter the assembly, not irreverently, but in grave and seemly manner...abstaining...from all private whispering, conferences, salutations or doing reverence to any person present, or coming in; as also from all gazing, sleeping, and other indecent behavior...." Much of this language was preserved in the old PCUSA directory (II) but with the addition of "smiling" to the list of indecent behavior.
g. But what about the scriptural justification for the assembly's position on office and worship? Actually testimony does not come from the directory itself but, rather, from The Form of Presbyterial Church Government published in the same year. Here, in the chapter on "Pastors," the assembly presents its "biblical theology" of office. If the Reformers seemed weak in their argumentation, hanging their position for the exclusive prerogatives of office solely on NT considerations or precariously on pragmatic constraints, the assembly does much better. It argues on the basis of the continuity of OT and NT and the unity of the church through both. Without batting an eye for fear of Catholic priest or Episcopal prelate, it appeals to an OT foundation to NT office, namely to the Jewish order of priests and Levites.
h. Regarding the public reading of the Word, the assembly posited two facts it judged irrefutable: 1) "that the priests and Levites of the Jewish Church were trusted with the publick reading...." The proof-texts appealed to were Deuteronomy 31:9-11 and Nehemiah 8:1-3, 13. 2) "That the ministers of the gospel have as ample a charge and commission to dispense the word, as well as other ordinances, as the priests and Levites had under the law [is] proved;..." Here, it cites Isaiah 66:21 and also Matthew 23:34 "where our Saviour entitleth the officers of the NT, whom he will send forth, by the same names of the teachers of the Old."
i. The assembly did not set forth its arguments for the pastor's responsibilities in preaching, catechizing, administering the sacraments, caring for the poor, and ruling the flock. These it judged sufficiently plain without its case being woven into the text of the chapter. It did present, however, its case for blessing the people which, by the way, included both salutation and benediction. Numbers 6:23-26, together with Revelation 1:4, 5 and Isaiah 66:21, are woven into a defense binding OT and NT practice.
j. Interestingly, the argument about public prayer moves along different lines. Only NT texts are cited (Acts 6:2-4; 20:36). The defense takes these passages as proof that preaching and prayer belong to the same office. It then argues that ministerial prayer is promised blessing when offered privately (James 5:14, 15); even more, therefore, when the minister prays "in the publick exercise of his office."
k. Admittedly, a stronger case could be offered in the last instance and possibly a better case could be presented at every step. The over-all effect of the assembly's position, however, is striking. While alert to the change of administration and the falling away of the OT priesthood, the assembly was especially sensitive to the unity of the church and continuity of office in the history of redemption. The pastoral role is constant. In fact, as the assembly pointed out, the NT ministry is the fulfillment of OT prophecies regarding the shepherding of God's people (Jeremiah 3:15-17; Isaiah 66:21). The perpetual office of the pastor has more than a NT starting point.
a. Although it survived as a standard only among the Scots and that after much difficulty, the directory had remarkable influence. As Davies says:
...it formed the Free Church tradition of worship for almost three hundred years in Britain, the British Commonwealth, and the United States of America. This tradition would come to include the Baptists and Methodists, as well as the Presbyterians and Independents (or Congregationalists); in short, all who can be called a part of the Puritan-Pietist tradition (Worship and Theology in England: 1603-1690, I , 406).
b. In colonial America the directory was "recommended" to the churches by the synod of 1729 "as near as circumstances will allow, and Christian prudence direct." Debate still rages over the qualified language the synod used. Was there doubt about the contents of the directory? Were the unique American setting and the variety in American expressions of worship, as some including Hodge thought, the reasons for the synod's reserved endorsement?
c. As significant a factor as any was the unwillingness of the synod to suffer through another debate similar to what it had just experienced in adopting the confession. That debate was not over whether the confession was scriptural, but whether the church needed anything beyond Scripture. Undoubtedly, the synod did not think Westminster's government, discipline, and worship any less scriptural than its confession. However, after having prevailed by and large on the doctrinal question the subscriptionists did not press the other.
d. In 1786 the synod again adopted the confession and, this time, "received" the directory "as in substance agreeable to the New Testament." Two years later it revised a proposed directory that remained the basis for worship among American presbyterians into the 20th century. Despite the tentativeness, the refocusing, the alterations, Hodge viewed the new document as a mere revision and correction of the Westminster directory. Others disagreed; for them, here was a clear replacement, setting the church on a new course. (cf. Louis F. Benson, "The Liturgical Position of the Presbyterian Church, etc.," The Presbyterian and Reformed Review , 430).
e. Actually, both positions were correct. Much in the new directory calls to mind the old one. For example, the insistence upon the role of the minister in worship is formally unchanged. At the same time, the synod moves away from the underlying rationale of the Westminster directory. Two years before, it made exclusive appeal to the NT in "receiving" the directory; now the "biblical theology" of office was nowhere explicitly stated. While many presbyterians at the end of the 18th century might have assumed the underlying biblical theology, subsequent generations were bound to lose it. In fact, through the 19th century, presbyterian claims for the ministerial office and its position in worship will increasingly hang on exclusive NT argumentation if not on natural law (in Scotland this approach is evidenced in James Bannerman, The Church of Christ, I , 421ff.; also Thomas Witherow, The Apostolic Church: Which Is It? ).
f. The new tone sounding from the presbyterians harmonized well with the spirit in the new nation in which the democratic ideal blended with the rising evangelical movement. The evangelicals traced themselves "straight back to the charismatic aspects of New Testament worship" (Ilion T. Jones, A Historical Approach to Evangelical Worship , l50). Their perspective had been promoted in part by the Great Awakening and more conspicuously by the triumphs of Methodism. With some, so-called "gifts" were identified with NT endowments. With most, there "was a deliberate attempt to keep ministers and laymen on the same plane" (Jones, 155).
g. The evangelical movement made a deep impression upon and registered long-standing, if not permanent, gains in American presbyterian worship during the 18th and first half of the 19th century. Those opposed, such as Samuel Miller, responded with lists of unacceptable practices ("Worship of the Presbyterian Church," A Series of Tracts on the Doctrines, Order, and Polity of the Presbyterian Church, Vol. X [Miller's article originally published in 1835 in his book Presbyterianism, etc.]) and with advice on how to increase the severe gravity of the worship experience (Letters on Clerical Manners and Habits, etc. [revised ed., 1852]).
h. The evangelical mood idolized evangelism; therefore, worship was recast to that end. The clergy was still respected, but the services were opening up; e.g. lay preaching and evangelism, increased participation of members in leading worship, at times an almost camp-meeting spontaneity and informality (cf. Julius Melton, Presbyterian Worship in America , 43-58). Much was done to make worship an attractive and compelling experience for all, and one increasingly in which the distinction between the minister and the people was more a convenience than a principle.
i. If the prominence of a NT apologetic for worship practices led, in the judgment of some, to unbridled individualism, where might the church turn for a more sane approach? Certainly, they concluded, not to the historic presbyterianism of Miller and others. The appeal of the evangelical was admittedly animated but superficial; on the other hand, the appeal of historic presbyterianism was forced and unconvincing. No, the NT offers illustrative materials of the general habits of men in worship. A distinctive Christian cultus actually takes shape in the 2nd and 3rd centuries "when the practices, actions, procedures, materials, and the exact manner of their use and their position in the liturgy settled into traditions" (Jones, 161).
j. The liturgical revival utilized the abilities of Baird, Schaff, Nevin, Briggs, Hopkins, and DeWitt. It involved a number of influential laymen, who fought for more congregational involvement along liturgical lines. Not only did this lead to the formal adoption of the presbyterian Book of Common Worship in 1906 but to a position ironically similar to the evangelicals. Both the liturgists and the evangelicals defended more direct involvement of the laity in public worship: the evangelicals because of a view of spiritual gifts and the Holy Spirit's universal endowment to believers; the liturgists because of a view of personal abilities that enhanced worship in terms of its over-all sensitivity to aesthetic and ecumenical values.
k. The 20th century has witnessed the collateral development of these two strains. In both, great emphasis is placed upon diversity. The liturgist side moves from its aesthetic concentration (ending in 1945) through an historicism period (1945-65) to the present era of the new ecumenicism (John F. White, "Public Worship in Protestantism," Altered Landscapes, ed. David W. Lotz , 106-124). The evangelical side has witnessed the rise of the charismatic movement as well as the widespread success of the laity led enterprises inside and outside the institutional church, all in an environment that relativizes denominational distinctives and traditions.
l. Added to the picture are the complex social considerations; e.g., racial diversity, multiculturalism, disestablishmentarianism, feminism. Pressures mount in an era punctuated by folk masses, Jesus Movement extravaganzas, and experiments in laid-back worship styles. Increasingly difficult to accept is any justification for a position that claims a biblically based standard for uniform worship, let alone a position that, from a supposed biblical base, insists on exclusive ministerial prerogative.
m. For the presbyterians the Book of Common Worship was repeatedly revised while the 1788 directory remained in place. The incongruities, however, were becoming increasingly difficult to bear. In 1961 the PCUSA received its new directory which now officially opened the worship service to greater lay involvement in worship leadership.
n. The OP directory was received in 1939. It was produced in a day when general confidence in the 1788 directory had eroded, when evangelical practice and liturgical renovation were well entrenched. Still, given the opportunity to establish foundations for worship in the new church, the OPC actually tightened the basic commitments of the 1788 directory. Although structured and written differently, the OP directory explicitly maintains, as we have seen, the position on the roles of ministers and laity in worship that descended from 1644.
o. Presently, the OPC experiences pressures largely of an evangelical variety, although the liturgical orientation is not unknown. Worship practices even among the most conservative congregations are not strictly in line with the directory.
p. Undoubtedly, correspondence between practice in the churches and principles of the directory has never been consistent. This fact raises the question of the intentions of the directory. Obviously, it was an ideal standard meant, on the one hand, to restrict the church from flagrant abuse and, on the other, to encourage the church in the direction it proposed. Practice, by and large, did not determine principle; rather, principle beckoned practice.
q. It, of course, remains an open question whether the framers of the OP directory accepted the Westminster divines' specific understanding of the biblical grounds for the principles presented. However, knowing what we do about our OP forebears, how they wished to subject everything to the test of Scripture, it is impossible for us to think of them as consciously moving without adequate biblical warrant. As Ned B. Stonehouse said of the DPW when it was received:
It is faithful to the best traditions of historic Presbyterianism. Above all, the new Directory recognizes the supreme authority of the Bible, affirming that "the principles of public worship must be derived from the Bible, and from no other source." [In it] the church seeks most effectually to honor and obey the Word of Christ its king (The Presbyterian Guardian [June 1939], 188).
1. The original "Black Book" of the OPC could boast an internal consistency and a clear line to historic presbyterianism. Subsequent revisions have been compromise documents, increasingly showing the strains of the competing philosophies that lie beneath them. Certainly, we can find evidences of compromise in the "Black Book" and the Westminster standards. However, we are now facing difficulty on fundamental matters about which there was overwhelming consensus in historic constitutional documents. Not only do the new directions promise to bring greater pressure to bear upon the continuing cohesiveness of our standards, even our ties to a true catholic Christianity are threatened.
2. In hermeneutics we are approaching a position that breaks the bond between the Old and New Testaments on issues where formerly that bond was very strong. Historic presbyterianism's conviction about Old Testament roots for New Testament office has been greatly weakened if not largely removed. Also, in a specific instance, we are moving toward interpreting what have been traditionally thought the clear text (I Corinthians 14:34 and I Timothy 2:12) in light of what has been thought the particularly obscure (I Corinthians 11:5). These tendencies hold promise of grave consequences.
3. On the question of the gifts of believers, we hear especially disturbing things. It seems, in the language of some, that natural ability has been elevated to the level of Spiritual giftedness. Musical and rhetorical ability, for example, are translated into categories of special endowment from the Holy Spirit. But beyond that, and possibly more seriously, demands are made upon the church that such giftedness must find expression within the public worship assembly or the Spirit will be quenched. Such thinking characterizes the charismatic communions, not historic presbyterianism.
4. As for ordination, we are moving in a functional direction. This is evident in our new FOG. Where our original statement said, "The ordinary and perpetual offices in the church are ministers, ruling elders, and deacons" (III.2); the new statement says, "The ordinary and perpetual offices in the church are those given for the ministry of the Word of God, of rule, and of mercy" (V.3). According to the latter definition, office could be interpreted in terms of its function. The tendency can be to think of the office as existing only when it is active. The office of ministry of the word has its distinctiveness only as the word is expressed.
5. Even more, there are those who would not tie the word to office in the worship setting; it may come to expression through a variety of people and not proceed from the man who has the office. Since the word has equal authority regardless of who speaks it, the uniqueness of the ministerial office, at least from historic presbyterianism's point of view, is compromised.
6. We also face a reinterpretation of the regulative principle. Classically, the minister of the word was responsible by divine appointment for leading public worship and therefore bound by the regulative principle to read and preach the word, to lead in public prayer, to greet and bless the people, and to administer the sacraments. The majority position wishes to remove, in part, the restrictions and open some of these matters to others. The other minority position opens some of these matters to ruling elders, also subjecting the regulative principle to reinterpretation.
7. Furthermore, it is proper to point out that, although the worldwide church has had little appreciation for the Reformed doctrine of the regulative principle, historically speaking it has held, in its Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran expressions, to the position we wish to uphold. In the matter of the leadership of public worship, all have been agreed; it is the task of the ordained clergy.
8. The position of this report is clear enough. It does not oppose revision, but asks for revision that maintains commitment to the stand of historic presbyterianism as regards ministerial leadership of public worship.
1. This study is sent to the Assembly with the earnest desire that it may prove useful to the well-being of the church in her worship of the Triune God. It is the conviction of the undersigned that the conclusions drawn from the arguments presented do reflect the biblical foundations for involvement in worship by both ordained and unordained persons.
2. Time constraints have not permitted a more complete development of the subject at hand. The accompanying study paper by the undersigned, Appendix: "The Relationship of the General and Special Office Pertinent to Worship in the Light of the Old Testament," serves to demonstrate that in Old Testament worship "special office" always acted as the voice of God and the representative voice of the congregation.
3. New Testament worship is a reflection of both fulfillment and foretaste, a realization of the Old Testament shadow and the beginning of the heavenly reality (Hebrews 12:22-24; Revelation 19:1-7). That the "church age" is the age of eschatological tension is a reminder that even in worship the heavenly reality has not been fully realized and will not be until the Lord's return.
4. From an exegetical point of view the decisive passages of Scripture which most clearly answer the question of the committee's mandate are I Corinthians 14 and I Timothy 2. While other passages, such as I Corinthians 11 and I Peter 4:10-11, have not been ignored, studies on them have not been presented. These passages do not affect the conclusions drawn in this paper, in fact, in the view of the undersigned they support the conclusions.
1. The mandate given to the Committee by the General Assembly is "to study the question of the involvement of unordained persons (men and women) in the regular worship services of the church..."
2. In essence this mandate is a call to review the appropriate sections of the Directory for Worship to determine whether or not the guidance given for the practice of corporate worship does accurately and fully reflect the requirements of the doctrine of corporate worship in the Scriptures as it affects the involvement of unordained persons (men and women) in that worship.
3. The purpose of a Directory for Worship is surely that of guiding the church into the practice of worship which most accurately conforms with the doctrines of worship for the glory of God and the edification of the church.
4. The Directory for Worship is not a statement of doctrine. It is a statement of the practice required by doctrine so as to guide the church in the exercise of worship.
5. The Directory for Worship assumes a doctrinal and therefore an exegetical base without necessarily or ordinarily stating that base.
6. When, therefore, the Directory for Worship is questioned or challenged it, of itself, cannot defend itself. It is not a statement of doctrine, it is a statement of practice based on doctrine.
7. To question or challenge the Directory for Worship is therefore to question or challenge first its doctrinal assumptions, then the required practices of those doctrinal assumptions, and finally the accuracy of the reflection of those required practices in the statements of the Directory for Worship.
8. To be of a Reformed persuasion is to be open to such questioning or challenging. For the glory of God and the edification of His people such reviews of doctrine and practice ought to be undertaken through the courts of the church. Events in the life of the O.P.C. indicate that this appropriate course of action has not always been followed. The Directory for Worship has been compromised by prematurely published denials of its accuracy, and by the initiation and acceptance of practices in worship contrary to the stated guidance of the Directory for Worship. The pain and the disruption to the life of the O.P.C. because of such inappropriate action is an undeniable reality. The mandate given to the Committee is both timely and appropriate.
9. To address the mandate requires a review and reconsideration of the doctrinal assumptions of the appropriate sections of the Directory for Worship. Even more specifically what is required is a review of the exegetical base of those doctrinal assumptions. The burden of this paper is to provide that exegetical base for the doctrinal assumptions upon which the practices of corporate worship rest. The conclusion of this paper is that with very slight modification the Directory for Worship in its statements of practice concerning "the involvement of unordained persons (men and women) in the regular worship services of the church" does accurately reflect the requirements of its doctrinal assumptions and that those doctrinal assumptions have a clear and sound exegetical base all of which demonstrate that the stated practices of the Directory for Worship under review are in full conformity with and fully express corporate worship requirements of the Word of God.
a. The Directory for Worship speaks of corporate worship in the following way: II.2 "A service of public worship is not merely a gathering of God's children with each other but before all else a meeting of the Triune God with his chosen people." The two parties of worship are God and the corporate body of His people. The clear implication is that both parties participate in this meeting of worship.
b. The Directory for Worship speaks of that participation in the following way: III.1 "As a service of public worship is in essence a meeting of God and his people, the parts of the service are two kinds: those which are performed on behalf of God, and those which are performed by the congregation. In the former the worshippers are receptive, in the latter they are active...."
c. The two parts of worship amount to God speaking to His people and His people speaking to Him. Involved in worship as defined by the Directory for Worship is the voice of God and the voice of the congregation. The question of the mandate given to the committee in essence therefore can be asked in the following way: "Who may act as the voice of God and who may act as the voice of the congregation?"
d. The answer given by the Directory for Worship to that question is as follows: the minister (teaching elder) may alone act as the voice of God. The congregation may act as its own voice when it speaks with one voice as a whole to God. The minister (teaching elder) may alone act as the voice of the congregation when it speaks extemporaneously.
e. That the minister (teaching elder) may alone act as the voice of God is indicated in the following sections of the Directory for Worship: III.2 "The public reading of the Holy Scriptures is performed by the minister as God's servant. Through it God speaks most directly to the congregation.... The reading of the Scriptures by the minister is to be distinguished from the responsive reading of certain portions of Scripture by the minister and the congregation. In the former God addresses his people; in the latter God's people give expression in the words of Scripture to their contrition, adoration, gratitude and other holy sentiments." III.3 "In the sermon God addresses the congregation by the mouth of his servant. It is a matter of supreme importance that the minister preach only the Word of God, not the wisdom of men, that he declare the whole counsel of God and that he handle aright the Word of truth..." III.4 "It is proper that the minister at the beginning of the service extend a welcome in God's name to the congregation by the use of the apostolic salutation.... At the conclusion of the service the minister may pronounce in God's name either the high priestly benediction. The salutation and benediction, as pronounced in God's name, are properly used only by an ordained minister and in the gathering of Christ's church."
f. That the congregation may act as its own voice when it speaks with one voice as a whole is indicated in the following sections of the Directory for Worship: III.2 "(In) the responsive reading...God's people give expression in the words of Scripture to their contrition, adoration, gratitude and other holy sentiments." III.6 "As it is the aim of public worship to glorify God, prayer and praise should predominate in congregational singing. Let every member of the church take part in this act of worship."
g. That the minister (teaching elder) may alone act as the voice of the congregation when it speaks to God extemporaneously is indicated in the following sections of the Directory for Worship: III.5 "In public prayer the minister is the voice of the congregation." III.7 "In order that the receiving of the offering may stand out as a specific act of worship it is well that the minister either precede or immediately follow it with a brief prayer."
h. The unambiguous position of the Directory for Worship is that only the minister (teaching elder) may act as the voice of God, and the voice of the congregation when it speaks extemporaneously to God, and that the congregation may act as its own voice when it speaks with one voice as a whole. The only provision the Directory for Worship makes for the audible raising of unordained individual voices as individuals in corporate worship is that of the necessary responses of commitment in baptism, public profession of faith, and ordination.
i. The conclusion of this paper will be that in corporate worship only qualified men may act as the voice of God; only qualified men may act as the singular voice on behalf of the congregation in its extemporaneous speaking to God; and that only the congregation may act as its own voice when it speaks with one voice as a whole. By qualified men is meant those men recognized as possessing the gifts and qualifications for eldership. Ordinarily that would mean ordained elders, both ruling and teaching, but within the designation "qualified men" is the provision for men recognized as possessing the gifts and qualifications for eldership who have not yet been ordained. The Directory for Worship gives expression to this position except that it limits qualified men to teaching elders (ministers). The exegetical base of the Directory for Worship does not limit qualified men to teaching elders although ordinarily and primarily the teaching elder will be the one acting as the voice of God and the singular voice on behalf of the congregation in its extemporaneous speaking.
a. The worship of God and the practice of that worship is dependent upon the determination of God and the regulation of His Word. This regulative principle of worship is expressed variously in the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter XXI.i: "...But the 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 suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture." Chapter XX.ii: "God alone is lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in anything contrary to his word, or beside it, in matters of faith or worship." Chapter I.vi: "The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.... there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed."
b. All that which constitutes corporate worship comes under the regulation of God's Word, whether it be the elements of worship, the practice of worship or the circumstances of worship. Only those elements prescribed by God's Word may form the substance of corporate worship. Only those practices necessary for the use of the prescribed elements of worship may be exercised as worship. Only those circumstances demanded by the right practice of worship may be determined by the church.
c. The Directory for Worship is to reflect in its directions for the practice of corporate worship the regulative principle of worship. If it does not, then it is no longer an authoritative guide to the proper corporate worship of God. The Directory for Worship states: II.7 "The Lord Jesus Christ has prescribed no fixed forms for public worship but, in the interest of life and power in worship, has given his church a large measure of liberty in this matter. It may not be forgotten, however, that there is true liberty only where the rules of God's Word are observed and the Spirit of the Lord is, that all things be done decently and in order, and that God's people should serve him with reverence and in the beauty of holiness."
d. The relevance of the regulative principle to the question of the mandate given to the Committee is found in the fact that the Word of God has determined who may act as the voice of God, and who may act as the voice of the congregation when it speaks extemporaneously. (When the congregation speaks extemporaneously confusion and chaos cannot be avoided if each of the many voices are all speaking their minds at the same time.) The Word of God has determined the qualifications necessary for a person to act as the voice of God or to act as the singular voice on behalf of the congregation. It has not been left to the freedom of the church to determine those qualifications. It has been left to the church to recognize and confirm by election and ordination those who meet the predetermined qualifications.
e. The determination of the Word of God, as will be demonstrated in the exegetical section of this paper, is first that only qualified men may act as the voice of God, and the voice of the congregation when it speaks extemporaneously. All other men are to remain silent. That is, all other men are not to act as the voice of God or the singular voice on behalf of the congregation. The ground for this silence is the matter of qualification. Unqualified men are to remain quiet.
f. The determination of the Word of God is, second, that all women are to be silent. That is, women are not to act as the voice of God or the singular voice on behalf of the congregation. The ground of this silence is not the matter of qualification as for men, but it is the matter of stated Law. The order of creation and the order of the fall have established and confirmed relational authority which, to be honored, requires the silence of women.
g. The determination of the Word of God is, third, that all children are to be silent. That is, children are not to act as the voice of God or the singular voice on behalf of the congregation. The role of submission belongs to children and therefore they are to remain quiet. When they come to adulthood the above criteria rule their activity in worship.
h. The determination of the Word of God is, fourth, that the whole congregation is to act as its own voice when it is able to speak with one voice as the whole. The Directory for Worship reflects a sensitivity to this determination of the Word of God. III.6 "As it is the aim of public worship to glorify God, prayer and praise should predominate in congregational singing. Let every member of the church take part in this act of worship." II.8 "Public worship differs from private worship in that in public worship God is served by his saints unitedly as his covenant people, the body of Christ."
a. The concern of the Directory for Worship is primarily, if not exclusively, corporate or public worship. The concern of the mandate given to the Committee centers on corporate or public worship, that concern being "Who may do what in corporate worship?" To answer the concern of the mandate it is necessary to define corporate worship and to distinguish it from all other forms of worship.
b. Corporate or public worship is that divinely obligatory gathering of God's people on the Christian Sabbath, the Lord's Day, for the purpose of unitedly worshipping God as one body. As the Old Covenant people were obliged to assemble at the foot of Mt. Sinai around the presence of God (Exodus 19:17), so the New Covenant people are obliged to assemble together around the presence of God (Hebrews 10:25). There is an obligatory gathering or assembling of God's people, of the congregation. When is such an obligatory gathering to take place? The fourth commandment answers that question.
c. The fourth commandment makes it plain that on six days of the week the activity of labor, as unto the Lord, has priority on the time of all people. There is a divine obligation that ordinary labor be performed within those six days. That such priority is given to labor on those six days means that there can be no obligatory gathering or assembling for God's people on those six days. If there was such an obligation, then there would be a divinely created conflict of requirements, the one demanding labor, the other demanding the gathering of the covenant community. The consciences of the people would be bound and enslaved to the impossibility of meeting at the same time two exclusive divine obligations! That priority is given by God to six days for labor indicates, by good and necessary consequence, that priority is given by God to the one remaining day for the assembling together for the changed activity of worship, corporate or public worship.
d. That which distinguishes corporate worship from all other acts of worship is the obligatory character of the gathering or assembling of God's people for the purpose of worship. It is "The Assembly" of God's people on the Christian Sabbath which both reflects and anticipates the assembly of God's people in the reality of the eternal Sabbath. Non-obligatory gatherings fall into a different category. In other gatherings the whole body is not necessarily present and is under no obligation to be. Other gatherings do not reflect the assembly of God's people in the reality of the eternal Sabbath. These other gatherings are private and the individuals present participate as individuals, not as a corporate body. In these nonobligatory gatherings we have an equivalent of private or family worship where individuals as individuals may speak, read, discuss the Word of God, sing and pray. In such non-obligatory gatherings, because they are private or family in their worship, the principle of family headship prevails if necessary. The Directory for Worship reflects a sensitivity to that which distinguishes corporate or public worship and all other worship occasions: I.6 "Although it is fitting and proper that the members of Christ's church meet for worship on other occasions also, which are left to the discretion of the particular churches, it is the sacred duty and high privilege of God's people everywhere to convene for public worship on the Lord's Day. God has expressly enjoined them in his holy Word not to forsake the assembling of themselves together." II.8 "Public worship differs from private worship in that in public worship God is served by his saints unitedly as his covenant people, the body of Christ...."
e. The question of the mandate as to who may act as the voice of God, who may act as the singular voice on behalf of the congregation, and who may act as the one voice of the congregation as a whole has its relevance within the confines of corporate or public worship as defined above. In corporate worship qualified men act as the voice of God and the singular representative voice of the congregation. All the gathered community are together the voice of the congregation when it speaks as a united whole.
a. The involvement of unordained persons (men, women, and children) in worship is total. There is no part of worship in which they are not involved. The question of the mandate can appear to be suggesting that during worship there are times of non-participation by unordained persons. Unless one is being idle or neglectful, everyone ought to be fully employed in the exercise of worship. To think that non-participation is a part to be endured by unordained persons in corporate worship is to misconceive of the very nature of worship. Silence in worship is not the equivalent of non-participation. A large portion of worship is exercised in silence. Other than when it is speaking as a whole to God, the congregation, except the qualified man acting as the voice of God or the voice on behalf of the congregation, is, in all its membership, silent. Not just women, but men and children, are to worship in silence.
b. Silence is indicative of the internalized character of worship. Worship in the age of covenantal fulfillment is in "spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24). With the church's baptism in the Spirit (Acts 2:33, I Corinthians 12:13) a new dimension and a new dynamic was added to the exercise of worship. The impersonal externalism of the old covenant worship was replaced, because of the redemptive accomplishments of Christ, with the personal intimacy of the internalized new covenant worship. With access to the throne of grace opened by the high priestly work of Christ (Hebrews 10:19-22) and with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:16-17), a new interaction with God through His Word has been made possible (I Corinthians 2:12-13). The silence of worship involves this very active interaction with God. As the voice of God is heard through the reading and the preaching of the Word or is seen through the elements of the sacraments, there is an expected internal consideration and response. The activity of worship is going on in silence in this meeting between God and His people. Indicative of this internalized worship are the words of I Corinthians 14:28, "but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God." The context of these words is corporate worship. The Directory for Worship addresses this matter of internalized worship: II.6 "Public worship must be performed in spirit and in truth. Externalism and hypocrisy stand condemned. The forms of public worship have value only when they serve to express the inner reverence of the worshipper and his sincere devotion to the true and living God. And only those whose hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit are capable of such reverence and devotion." III.6 "...Let every member of the church take part in this act of worship. It should be performed not merely with the lips but with the spirit and the understanding." It is helpful to notice that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 insofar as they are addressing worship (whether private or corporate) emphasize the internalized nature of worship. Even the outward form of worship, for instance singing, is of consequence only when it is from within, from the heart. The qualifications of these passages "making melody with your heart" and "with thankfulness in your hearts to God" demonstrate that the essence of worship is internal. Silence participates in this essence of worship just as much, if not more, than the audible expressions of worship.
c. The audible expressions of the congregation in corporate worship are not to be minimized in value whatsoever. The joy of voices raised in unison in praise and thanksgiving; the public confession of trust in the Triune God; the expressed repentance of the corporate heart; the joint cry of supplications; voices raised together to magnify the Lord are in every way part and parcel of corporate worship. But so is silence. Silence is an integral part of New Testament corporate worship. There is no deprivation in the silence of worship. There is no disadvantage in the silence of worship. That few act as the voice of God or the singular representative voice of the congregation in corporate worship is not a denial of opportunity to worship God more fully. Contrary to much careless and unbiblical thinking, the fact that few act as the voice of God or the singular representative voice of the congregation permits the majority to enter more fully into what is of the essence of worship. That women are to remain silent, that non-qualified men are to remain silent, that children are to remain silent in terms of not acting as the voice of God or the one voice on behalf of the whole congregation, is not a limitation on their involvement in worship, but rather gives them an "advantage" over the few and enhances their worship with greater opportunity to worshipfully and spiritually interact with God. The few who are called upon to act as the voice of God and the voice on behalf of the congregation are the ones whose worship opportunities are limited! Limited by being different.
a. A brief reflection on the doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers" is necessary as this doctrine is erroneously used by some to support the argument that all members may act as the voice of God or the single representative voice of the congregation in corporate worship. The doctrine will be reviewed under the four following heads: i) The Doctrine of the "Priesthood of all Believers" Scripturally Stated; ii) The Difference Between the Old Testament and New Testament Priesthood: iii) Erroneous Conclusions; iv) The Service of the New Testament Priesthood.
I Peter 2:5, 9 refers to the church in its New Testament form as a "spiritual house," that house being a "holy priesthood," that priesthood given to "offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." The whole church a "royal priesthood," every member a royal priest! That every member of the New Testament church would be such a priest was clearly foretold in Old Testament prophecy. Isaiah 61:6, "But you will be called the priests of the Lord; you will be spoken of as ministers of God." The New Testament church is being spoken of. The prophecy of Isaiah here is messianic. Isaiah 61:1f. was fulfilled by Christ (Luke 4:17-21). It is in this fulfillment that the people of God, the followers of Christ, are called priests. In Isaiah 56:6-8, the prophetic word is that Gentiles would be included in the messianic kingdom and as members they would be priests! Israel assembled at the foot of Mt. Sinai, that foreshadowing of the church of Jesus Christ, received the promise that covenantal fulfillment would make them "a kingdom of priests." Revelation 1:6 speaks of that fulfillment in this way, "And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father." The whole church a priesthood, every member a royal priest!
The primary task of the Old Testament priesthood was, by means of offerings and sacrifices, to open up access to God and to lead the people in worship to Him. Their offerings and sacrifices were to atone for the sins to the people and for their own sin, the very thing which separated them from God (Hebrews 5:1-3; 8:3; cf. Leviticus 9:7f.). The problem was that the Old Testament priesthood was not able to accomplish its task. It was inadequate (Hebrews 7:11). The inadequacy was in both the priests themselves, they were sinners, and in the sacrifices offered, these sacrifices were inadequate as substitutes for the people (Hebrews 9:6-10; 10:4, 11). The result was, as Hebrews 9:6f. indicates, with sin not adequately dealt with, the people remained at a distance from God, there was not access opened up to Him for them, they could only worship from a distance. Further, the priests representing the people could enter only the holy place and so remained at a distance from God in their representations, and the high priest's entrance into the holy of holies was flawed by his own sin and was only an entrance into a representation of God's presence and that only once a year. The Old Testament priesthood could not open the approach into the actual presence of God. The very priesthood itself signified its own inadequacy, Hebrews 9:8f., "The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place (heaven itself) has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing; which is a symbol for the time now present, according to which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshipper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation."
Hebrews 7:1-10:25 indicates that what the Old Testament priesthood could not do Jesus Christ has done. He was the perfect high priest without sin (Hebrews 7:26-27) and He was the perfect sacrifice because He was the perfect substitute (Hebrews 2:14-25). As such Jesus could and did atone for His people's sin and so cleanse their consciences (Hebrews 9:11-14). Jesus removed the barrier separating God from His people and His people from God. Jesus as the great high priest opened up access to heaven itself, to the actual presence of God. Through Him it was no longer to be worship at a distance, but now worship before the very throne of grace (Hebrews 10:19-25).
The difference between the Old and New Testament priesthoods is radical and substantial because of the high priestly accomplishments of Christ. The New Testament priesthood is not involved in seeking some way of access and approach to the presence of God. The offerings and sacrifices of the New Testament priesthood have nothing to do with any effort to atone for sin. The New Testament priesthood is not involved in bloody sacrifices, but as will be noted, the royal priests of the New Testament church are involved in offering sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. The great difference between the Old and New Testament priesthoods is that the one was seeking (unsuccessfully) entrance into the presence of God, the other has that access and is able to utilize it every living moment of each day. And the further great difference is that the few priests of the Old Testament church have been replaced by the many priests of the New Testament Church, the many being every member!
Because all now are priests in the New Testament Church, because all have equal access to the presence of God, then all may rightly exercise any role involved in the life and worship of the church. That erroneous conclusion is the "great mother" of a variety of "daughter errors"!! On the base of the doctrine of the priesthood of believers it is suggested that all distinction in role responsibility has been removed. One such conclusion is that in corporate worship any member may act as the voice of God or the single representative voice of the congregation. That means any man, any woman, any child, may on God's behalf read, preach, teach the Word of God, announce His salutation and benediction. Further any member may exercise the role of being the one audible voice of the congregation in its extemporaneous expressions. This use or misuse of the doctrine of the priesthood of believers is invalidated by the clear requirements of the Word of God. This misuse brings the doctrine of the priesthood of believers into conflict with the demands of God's Word with respect to the provisions for corporate worship. As will be demonstrated in Section D. (below), the Word of God draws distinctions and requires various qualifications for one to act as the voice of God in worship. The Word of God explicitly excludes by law some from acting as the voice of God or the voice of the congregation in its extemporaneous speaking to God. Having equal access to God as priests is not a ground for denying these regulations and the distinctions they make in the exercise of responsible roles in corporate worship.
The radical and substantial difference between the Old and New Testament priesthood is seen in the priestly service the New Testament priests are called to exercise. All New Testament priests are called to offer to God acceptable spiritual sacrifices. The nature of these sacrifices? Hebrews 13:15-16, "Through Him (Christ) then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." The sacrifices required? Praise and thanksgiving. God delights in the offering of a thankful heart. As priests every member of the church is to make such an offering. "Doing good and sharing," that is, reflecting the attribute of God's goodness in one's life, the sharing with others in need the good things that God has blessed one with, that is a sacrifice of this new priesthood which is well pleasing to God. Romans 12:1, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." The giving of one's body, that is, one's life to godliness on the one hand and so to godly practical service on the other hand in willing obedience to God is a sacrificial offering well pleasing to God. Using gifts and talents gratefully in devotion to God, for His glory and for the edification of His people including self, is an offering and a sacrifice urged upon all royal priests belonging to the spiritual house of God. As Romans 12:2 goes on to indicate these priestly activities are not to be exercised in "conformity to the world," but in "conformity to the will of God." For that very reason one's priesthood is to be exercised within the framework of the limitations, distinctions, and roles that God's Word defines even for corporate worship. A priesthood used in that right spirit of submissiveness to the proved will of God is a priesthood filled up with those sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise to God.
The doctrine of the priesthood of believers does not, as claimed by some, provide a biblical rationale for the denial of distinctive and exclusive roles in corporate worship. The doctrine does allow all to worship God in spirit and in truth before His glorious throne of grace in the heavenlies. The doctrine also calls all those in Christ to give themselves as priests to a life of God-centered service and worship.
1. As has been indicated in the "Preliminary Considerations" the conclusion of this paper is that only qualified men are to act as the voice of God in corporate or public worship. An exegetical study of the fourteenth chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians confirms the correctness and validity of that conclusion.
2. Arrival at this conclusion comes through a consideration of chapter 14 under three major heads: i) Corporate or Public Worship is the Context of the Apostle's Instructions; ii) Order in Corporate Worship for Edification's Sake is the Concern of the Apostle's Instructions; iii) The Orderliness Required in Corporate Worship for Edification's Sake is the Content of the Apostle's Instructions.
3. A due consideration of I Corinthians 14 and the surrounding context, under these three heads, will demonstrate that the apostle intended the church to understand that corporate worship was to be exercised in a careful manner as determined by God Himself, and has not been left to the imaginations of men, and that for the sake of the corporate body's edification and God's own glory.
a. Corporate or Public Worship is the Context of the Apostle's Instructions: The key passage to all that the apostle says in chapter fourteen is verse forty, "But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner."
(1) Since the beginning of chapter 12 the apostle has been speaking about the use of spiritual gifts. He has made it plain that, while various individuals have been given various spiritual gifts, the primary purpose of those gifts is not for private or individual edification, but for the edification and common good of the whole body of believers, the fellowship of God's people. I Corinthians 12:7, "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit (spiritual gifts) for the common good." The context of the apostle's remarks is indicated to be the corporate gathering of the covenant community.
(2) In I Corinthians 14:4, the apostle is concerned to show the preeminence of prophecy over uninterpreted tongues. Why this concern? Why the claim that prophecy is more useful than uninterpreted tongues? The answer the apostle gives is that the gift of prophecy (the proclaiming of God's revelation whether or not that revelation is new or old) edifies the church! "One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but one who prophesies edifies the church." The apostle's remarks here clearly have in mind the gathering of God's people for corporate worship. He is saying that uninterpreted tongues in such circumstances are of no value to the corporate body. The individual using the gift may be edified, but certainly not the body of worshippers.
(3) There can be no doubt that the apostle's instructions here on the use of spiritual gifts have in mind the context of the people being assembled in worship. I Corinthians 14:12, "So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound...," for what reason? for self? No! "...for the edification of the church." I Corinthians 14:16 indicates that a gathering of worshippers is in the mind of the apostle, "Otherwise if you bless in spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the Amen' at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?"
(4) To speak in uninterpreted tongues, to use that spiritual gift, is useless to the rest of the body is the sentiment expressed by the apostle. The rest of the body cannot understand, therefore they cannot enter into that act of worship. The reference clearly is to the assembly of worship.
(5) The fact is that the apostle from chapter 11 on has been speaking with the context of corporate worship in mind. His concern has been how the Corinthians should be conducting themselves in that context. I Corinthians 11:17, "But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse." The problem? A loss of sense of the proper relational order which should have prevailed among the gathered body of believers in corporate worship. That was the apostle's concern in the first half of the chapter and his concern in the second half was the misuse and abuse of the Lord's Supper in worship. The Lord's Supper had been turned into a gluttonous and drunken orgy on various occasions. I Corinthians 11:20-21, "Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first, and one is hungry and another is drunk." Corporate worship the context!
(6) This context of corporate worship continues through chapter 14. I Corinthians 14:23, "If therefore the whole church should assemble together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?" The assembly of worship! I Corinthians 14:26, "What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." The instructions for good and proper order and the instructions for the right use of spiritual gifts have in mind the context of corporate worship. That is the context. In that context the apostle wants the Corinthians to conduct themselves in a way which glorifies God and edifies His church.
b. Order in Corporate Worship for Edification's Sake is the Concern of the Apostle's Instructions: I Corinthians 14:40, "But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner." I Corinthians 14:26, "Let all things be done for edification." The concern of the apostle with respect to spiritual gifts is not so much as to whether or not they should be used, but how they should be used in corporate worship. The question of the cessation of the extra-ordinary spiritual gifts the apostle hints at in I Corinthians 13:8 and material relevant to that question appears in chapter 14. But, the apostle's concern in chapter 14 is not about the longevity of spiritual gifts; it is about the proper place and the proper use of these gifts in the corporate or public worship of God. His concern is how corporate worship is to be conducted, what order ought to prevail when Christ's body comes together in worship. His concern is to show that the order in corporate worship ought to reflect the order that God Himself gives expression to, I Corinthians 14:33, "for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace."
As indicated in the verse just quoted there is an orderliness in God's relation with His world and with His people. There is an orderly procession of relationship, there is logical order, there is sensible order, there is an on flow of activity and relationship which can be understood. Understanding and knowing what is going on is of utmost importance. God is not a God of chaos and confusion as has been noted. God has created and maintains a harmonious order for His world. That harmony of order is to be reflected in the corporate worship of God. For then the people are edified and God is glorified (I Corinthians 10:31; 14:26). The apostle's reminder as to the significance of tongues and therefore the careful and proper use of this gift (I Corinthians 14:20-25) emphasizes that his concern is for order in corporate worship. That is the concern of chapter 14 and the previous three chapters of this letter.
c. The Orderliness Required in Corporate Worship for Edification's Sake is the Content of the Apostle's Instructions: What in substance does the apostle have to say in this fourteenth chapter? The first point the apostle makes is that only those spiritual gifts suitable for corporate worship are to be used in worship. He indicates this requirement when he points out the suitability of the use of prophecy over against the unsuitability of the use of uninterpreted tongues. Prophecy brings a sensible word of consolation, exhortation and edification, I Corinthians 14:3, "But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation." Prophecy builds up the body of Christ. But uninterpreted tongues has no sensible communication for the body of worshippers, cannot build them up, and therefore is not to be used. I Corinthians 14:2, "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands but in his spirit he speaks mysteries." Uninterpreted tongues are unsuitable for use in corporate worship.
(1) On the other hand, interpreted tongues, because it is equivalent to prophecy, was suitable for use in corporate worship, I Corinthians 14:5, "Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is the one who prophesies than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying." The spiritual gift of interpreted tongues was in order and could be properly used in corporate worship (in the apostolic age). That is the emphasis of I Corinthians 14:13, "Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret." If there was no interpretation, there was to be no speaking, I Corinthians 14:28, "but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church." Only when there is a voice of understanding can there be a voice of edification and only such a voice is appropriate in corporate worship. That is the point the apostle stresses in I Corinthians 14:18-19, "I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind, that I might instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue."
(2) Only those spiritual gifts suitable to the instruction and edification of the church are to be used in corporate worship. As prophecy, interpreted tongues, revelations, knowledge, etc., in terms of bringing new revelation have ceased to exist as spiritual gifts in the post-apostolic church, the suitable spiritual gifts which may be used in corporate worship are primarily preaching and teaching.
(3) The second point the apostle makes is an insistence upon the singularity of voice in worship. Orderliness in worship demands such. Only one voice was to be heard at a time in corporate worship (whether or not that one voice was the many speaking as one voice, or the one voice speaking on behalf of the whole congregation, or the one speaking as the voice of God). There was to be no confusion of voices.
(4) It may be assumed, as it is throughout chapters 11 through 14 inclusive by the apostle, that in worship there is the voice of God speaking to His assembled people, and there is the voice of the congregation responding to God. It is evident that God speaks through the spiritual gifts that He is pleased to give to certain of His people. People so gifted speak, as it were, on God's behalf. They are His instruments through which He speaks audibly to His gathered community. In I Corinthians 14:26 it is indicated that a number of people are spiritually gifted variously, "when you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation..." All the gifts mentioned are revelatory. They have the purpose of bringing God's revelation to His people in the context of worship. They are word gifts having the purpose of bringing God's Word to the worshipping body for the sake of edification. As verse 26 continues, "...Let all things be done for edification." Remembering that not all are gifted in the same way and with the same gifts (I Corinthians 12:4-11), and remembering that there are the ungifted in the household of God (I Corinthians 14:16, 23), it can be concluded (in anticipation of the third point to come in this study) that not all are gifted to act as the voice of God. But some are gifted to exercise the responsibility of acting as the audible voice of God in corporate worship. What is important to note at this juncture is the demand by the apostle that there be a clarity and a singularity in the speaking of those gifted to act as the voice of God.
(5) This clarity and singularity of voice in corporate worship is addressed in I Corinthians 14:27, "If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret." What is the apostle saying? First there is to be a limitation on the number who may actually speak as the voice of God in any given worship service. Clearly not everyone is to act as the voice of God. More pointedly, perhaps, there is not to be an endless procession of speakers. Such a procession would surely aggravate any bodily discomfort which in turn can close the mind to the Word spoken and so the end of edification would not accomplished. The limitation of prophets speaking, I Corinthians 14:29, "let two or three prophets speak," indicates this limitation as a general rule for corporate worship. There are not to be many speakers at all, contrary to the desire of some to have numerous ones rising in worship to speak. But second what is of equal significance is the reference "and each in turn." Here is the stress on the oneness of voice, the singularity of voice. God is not a God of confusion. His voice, when spoken on His behalf, is to be clear and singular. As I Corinthians 14:30-31 also stresses with respect to those prophesying: "But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted." Those who act as the voice of God, who speak on His behalf, for them there is not to be the chaos of them all seeking to speak at once. Instead it is to be "one by one," one voice at a time, the rest remaining silent. Only when there is singularity of voice and singular clarity of voice can the body of worshippers be exhorted, consoled, encouraged, and edified with understanding. (It should be noted that when it is said "For you all can prophesy" the reference must of necessity refer, first, to those possessing the gift of prophecy, not to every worshipper, and, second, to those permitted to act as the voice of God in corporate worship. The apostle assumes these limitations either because he has already noted them or is about to speak further on them.)
(6) An important rule for the conduct of corporate worship has been established by the apostle in his demand for the singularity of voice in corporate worship. The importance of this rule is not only that the voice of God is to be singular, clear, unconfused with other voices for the sake of understanding and therefore edification, but also that the voice of the corporate body is to be singular, clear, and unconfused. To adhere to this rule, the corporate body in speaking must speak with one voice, that is, the many members are to speak together as one voice, all saying the same thing, hence the prepared prayers (hymns, Scripture, memorized prayers and confessions), or one must speak on behalf of the whole body in its extemporaneous expressions. While the apostle does not here emphasize the voice of the corporate body, because here he is dealing primarily with those spiritual gifts relating to the voice of God, he does allude to the voice of the corporate body (I Corinthians 14:16) where a response to the voice of God is called for—on this occasion a thanksgiving amen. The apostle's instructions concerning the voice of the corporate body are found primarily in I Timothy 2. (See below, E. The Voice of the Congregation in Worship [I Timothy 2:8]: An Additional Argument.)
(7) There is another aspect attached by the apostle to this rule of singularity of voice in corporate worship. It has to do with attitude. The call to singularity of voice included a call to a spirit of mutual submission. I Corinthians 14:28 "but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church," and I Corinthians 14:30, "But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, let the first keep silent." The apostle prohibits the arrogant, self-embellishing use of spiritual gifts. Instead there was to be submission exercised appropriately one to another. A submissive spirit was to rule even among those qualified to speak. This same spirit is indicated in I Corinthians 14:29, "And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment." The word of the prophets had to be subjected to the judgment of the other prophets present. It had to be subjected to a process of confirmation that indeed it was the Word of God. Each prophet had to humbly submit to his colleagues and this in the midst of corporate worship! As I Corinthians 14:32 repeats, "and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets." A spirit of submission was to mark the utterances, the raising of the voice in corporate worship. There was not to be the many wanting to raise their voices individually all at once. There was not to be that confusion born of arrogance. In a spirit of submission and for good order one qualified voice at a time was to be raised whether the one voice of God, the one voice on behalf of the congregation, or the one voice of the congregation. Why this submissive spirit and the good order in the assembly of worship? I Corinthians 14:31b, "so that all may learn and all may be exhorted."
(8) It is not without significance that immediately following the call for a submissive spirit the apostle goes on in this fourteenth chapter to speak of the role of women in corporate worship. That role is to be one of submissiveness. I Corinthians 14:33a-35, "As in all the churches of the saints let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church." This leads us to the third point under the rubric of the orderliness required in corporate worship.
(9) The third point the apostle makes is the answer to the question "who may speak as the voice of God?" and as a corollary "who may speak as the one voice on behalf of the whole congregation?" The apostle in answer defines by exclusion who may not act as the voice of God and the voice on behalf of the congregation in corporate worship. As noted above the role of all in corporate worship is to be marked by a spirit of submissiveness. In the case of women (and non-qualified men and children) that submissiveness is to manifest itself as quietness when it comes to the articulating the voice of God and the representative voice of the congregation.
(10) The apostle begins an explanation of the nature of the woman's submissive role in corporate worship with the stating of a universal rule, I Corinthians 14:33b-34a, "As in all the churches, let the women keep silent in the churches." Although not crucial to any argument, most commentators agree that 14:33b is more suitably attached to the beginning of 14:34. What needs to be noticed is the use of the plural "churches." The submissive role for women in corporate worship was a requirement in all the churches. It was not restricted just to the women of the Corinthian church. It was required of all the churches making up the whole church of Jesus Christ. The plural reference establishes the role of women in corporate worship as a universal rule. It is clear (I Corinthians 11:2-17) that in Corinth there was a difficulty being experienced in sorting out the role of women in worship. But the answer given by the apostle was such that it went beyond Corinth in its application. In fact, the way the apostle answers the problem "as in all the churches" so it was to be for the church in Corinth! The Corinthian church had to get itself in line with the universal rule as practiced in and as applying to all the other churches.
(11) The specific rule applied by the apostle? I Corinthians 14:34, "let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves." Three statements are made: women are to keep silent in corporate worship; women are not permitted to speak in corporate worship; women are to be submissive in corporate worship. Taken at face value the words of the apostle would appear to be saying that women may not participate in worship. Is that the case? The obvious answer is "No." If the apostle meant non-participation, then his words would be in conflict with the call to all in Christ to worship God. They would make nonsense of the divine obligation placed on all members of the Body of Christ to assemble themselves together on the Lord's Day for corporate worship. They would be in conflict with the requirements of the fourth commandment. What then is the meaning of the apostle's words in verse 34? In the context of the whole fourteenth chapter and its surrounds it means that women were not to act as the voice of God in corporate worship, nor were they to act as the singular representative voice of the congregation. In their context the words of the apostle can mean no less or else they are vacated of any meaning. This conclusion as to the meaning of the apostle's words does not mean that women could not be a part of the congregation's voice when it speaks with one voice as a whole. There is no denial here of women being a part of the whole body and of actively participating as a part of the whole, their individual voices raised in unison with the rest of the voices creating the worshipping voice of the whole fellowship. But, the apostle's words also make it clear that when it comes to individual participation, apart from being part of the united voice, for the women (as for the non-qualified men and the children) it is to be the participation of silence.
(12) Silence in worship does not mean non-participation (see The Silence of Worship, above). The peculiarity of New Testament worship is that it has in essence been internalized. So there is much participation in silence. There is participation in the mind, in the heart. There is an ongoing inaudible exercise of worship. The apostle was most sensitive of this reality. I Corinthians 14:28, "but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God." Here is reference to a very active and very worshipful silence. In corporate worship non-speaking does not mean non-worshipping. Active internal participation ought to be constant for every individual present in corporate worship. Silence is a natural and important part of worship. As the Word of God is read or preached all are silent except the one acting as the voice of God. But, in that silence, hearing is going on; a response to what God says is going on; there is an inward working of the Holy Spirit going on in each participant; there is response to that inward working of God's Spirit; there is the individual's spirit responding to the Holy Spirit's illumination and application of God's Word. In extemporaneous prayer there is the one voice on behalf of the many, but the silence of the many is taken up in communication with God. There is then a very active silent participation in worship in which all present are involved at one time or another. The rule, according to the apostle, is that for women this silence in worship is to prevail in so far as women are not to act as the voice of God, or as the voice on behalf of the corporate body. A women's individual voice is not to be raised audibly except when it is a part of the whole body speaking in harmony. But, it needs to be stressed that this is normally the case for every other participant—non-qualified men, children, inactive qualified men—excepting those qualified men who are officiating the worship. Almost all within a given body of corporate worship exercise the role of submissiveness and so silence in the sense explained.
(13) The apostle has set down a universal rule for the participation of women in worship. He has also given the ground for that rule, I Corinthians 14:34, "but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says." The Law is the reason for the submissiveness required of women in corporate worship. It ought to be noticed that the rule for women to be silent was not based on some cultural habit or tradition of the day which may have made it inappropriate for women to take the role of acting as the voice of God or as the corporate body's voice. Nor was the rule based on the peculiarities of social conditions in Corinth which may somehow have necessitated women's silence in worship. The rule applied to all the "churches" in all places. The rule was based on or grounded in the "Law." What Law? Is there anything in the context which would indicate the Law being referred to? I Corinthians 14:21 answers the question, "In the Law it is written, By men of strange tongues and by lips of strangers...." This is a quotation from the prophecy of Isaiah 28:11f. The term "Law" is used in a broad sense to refer to the Old Testament Scriptures. As Isaiah 28:11f. reflects upon Deuteronomy 28:49, the term "Law" could be narrowed down to refer to the Pentateuch. Whether the reference be taken to mean the Old Testament Scriptures as a whole or to mean the Scriptures of the first five books of the Old Testament, what can be concluded is that somewhere in the Old Testament Scriptures there is a law which requires women to take a submissive and silent role in corporate worship. The particular Law in mind, the apostle indicates in the other major passage in which he deals with the rules for proper conduct in corporate worship, namely, I Timothy 2 and verses 11 through 15 in particular. The particular matter at hand in I Timothy 2 is "who may act as the representative voice of the congregation in its extemporaneous expressions" (see The Voice of the Congregation in Worship [I Timothy 2:8]: An Additional Argument, below). In this matter the apostle again points to the exclusion of women from that role and appoints to them again the role of submissiveness, I Timothy 2:11-12, "Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet." The apostle then gives the ground for this rule, I Timothy 2:13-15, "For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was first deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. But she shall be preserved through the bearing of children if the women continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." Here is the Law the apostle was referring to as the ground for the universal rule regulating the role of women in corporate worship. The Law? The order of creation. In that order is found the God-given structure for relational authority. Man has been given the role of headship. Women have been given the role of submission. In I Corinthians 11 where the apostle begins his instructions on the proper conduct in corporate worship he begins with this "Law" as foundational to all that he is to say, I Corinthians 11:2, "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is head of Christ." That the apostle is talking about the created order of authority between men and women is confirmed in I Corinthians 11:8-9, "For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man, for indeed man was not created for woman's sake, but woman for man's sake." What then is the divine rationale for the role of submission for women in corporate worship? The Law of the order of created authority demands it. Also the Law of the order of the fall of humankind into sin demands it. The fall resulted from Eve's failure to exercise her role of submission in relation to her husband and to God. That failure brought the chaos and confusion of sin to the world of mankind. The lesson of the order of the fall is the demand that the created order of roles be respected, the role of authority for men, the role of submission for women. If they are not respected how can God be glorified in worship? How can the worshipping church be edified by that which is against the purpose and patterns that God Himself has established? The judgment which followed the fall confirmed that the submissive role of women was to continue even in the fallen state of mankind. How much more in the restored, redeemed Body of Christ and especially in its one divinely obligated manifestation of itself, namely, the Lord's Day corporate worship! Here then is the Law which is the ground for the universal rule regulating the role of women in corporate worship. On that ground women are to be silent in worship. They are not to act as the voice of God, nor are they to act as the one voice on behalf of the whole body of worship.
(14) To be certain that there be no misunderstanding of what he was saying the apostle re-emphasizes by repetition in I Corinthians 14:35 what he had stated in the previous verse, "And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church." The reality of the quietness required in the submissive role means that the individual voice of a woman is not to be raised individually either as the voice of God or the representative voice of the congregation in worship. The emphasis is on the individual raising of an individual voice. That is what can happen at home but not in corporate worship. The individual's voice as a part of the corporate body's voice can, however, be raised. There is no prohibition on that activity. But to go beyond that is "improper" or, as it literally means, shameful or disgraceful.
(15) The apostle has answered the question, who may speak as the voice of God and who may speak as the voice on behalf of the congregation when the congregation and God meet in worship. The apostle has indicated that only those with spiritual gifts that edify the church may act as the voice of God. With the cessation of the extra-ordinary word gifts, the word gifts of teaching and preaching are those necessary to be possessed for acting as the voice of God. All lacking those gifts are excluded from acting as the voice of God. But the exclusion is more. All women, no matter their giftedness, are excluded from acting as the voice of God and the voice of the congregation when it speaks extemporaneously. The ground for this exclusion being no less than the Law of God. This exclusion by divine command is not be considered negatively. It prevents a woman from compromising her created womanliness. It allows a woman to enter fully into the blessings of the silence of internalized corporate worship.
1. The voice of the congregation in worship may be raised in two ways. The congregation may speak with a collective voice, all the member voices raised in unison. Or, the congregation's voice may be that of one on behalf of the many. The question of the committee's mandate is, "Who may be the one voice on behalf of the many?"
2. The speaking of the congregation can in all its parts be subsumed under the heading of prayer. Singing and responsive readings are expressions of praise, thanksgiving, contrition, confession, supplication, all of which are parts of prayer. The voice of the congregation, broadly speaking, is the voice of prayer.
3. As has been noted in the previous pages, a biblical principle of worship set forth in particular in the fourteenth chapter of I Corinthians is that there is to be no confusion or chaos of voices in corporate worship. A clear and singular sound is to come from the mouth of the congregation. The ground for this principle is stated in I Corinthians 14:33a, "for God is not a God of confusion but of peace."
4. To abide by this principle prohibiting confusion it is necessary for the congregation to predetermine the contents of its prayers so that the many can speak with one unconfused voice. Scripture, hymns, memorized prayers and confessions recited enable the congregation as a whole to speak with one voice. However, if the congregation is to speak extemporaneously then to abide by the principle prohibiting confusion the congregation must have one who would speak on behalf of the many. The question is, "Who may be that one?" The answer of Scripture is that only qualified men may act as that one voice on behalf of the many in the extemporaneous utterances of the congregation in corporate worship.
5. I Timothy 2:8, "Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension." Within this verse and in its relation to its immediate context there is distinction. Men with certain necessary qualities are called to pray. The clear implication is that men without these stated qualities are not to pray. Within the context it appears women are also not to pray, but are to remain quiet. How is this distinction to be understood? Does it mean that only certain men are permitted to pray and all others including women and children are not to pray? Or, does it mean that only certain qualified men may act as the voice on behalf of the many, on behalf of the congregation, when the congregation prays extemporaneously in corporate worship?
6. It would seem strange and contrary to the general scriptural exhortations to prayer if the distinction was taken as permitting only certain men to pray and prohibiting all others from communicating with God. This understanding of the intent of the verse can be dismissed on the grounds that such a prohibition to prayer brings this verse into conflict with the clear exhortations throughout Scripture to prayer for all to pray.
7. What must be concluded at the outset is that the distinction of who may pray has to do with who may pray audibly in corporate worship on behalf of the congregation when it prays extemporaneously. The distinction would have qualified men only exercising that responsibility.
8. In that conclusion there is the assumption that the context for the exercise of these instructions is corporate worship. Can that assumption be sustained? The answer is in the affirmative. "Therefore I want men in every place to pray...."
9. "in every place" (en panti topo). At first glance this phrase may well appear to have a very broad designation. It could appear to be saying, "wherever men are, let them pray." However the phrase can have a very specific reference and in the case at hand it does so. The use of this phrase on other occasions assists in that conclusion.
10. In I Thessalonians 1:8-9, "in every place" (en panti topo) appears: "The word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God."
11. An important question is, "Where were these in every place'?" The answer is, where "they themselves report about us." The reference of the phrase "in every place" is to the gathering of fellow believers, to fellowships raised up in faith. The phrase is more than a mere geographical reference. It has a people reference. But it is a specific people reference. Clearly the Thessalonian church was not known to all the populace of the many areas the apostle passed through. More especially the general populace would not have had knowledge of the intimacies of the relationship between the apostle and the Thessalonian church. What is clear from this Thessalonian passage is that as the apostle visited the various churches, the various gatherings of God's people, the "in every place," they reported to him and his colleagues what the church in Thessalonica had said about his work and ministry in their midst. The phrase "in every place" had as its reference point the gathered Christian communities, the congregations God had raised up.
12. I Corinthians 1:2 uses the phrase in the same way, "to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours." The church of God in Corinth, the fellowship of the saints, likened to all those who "in every place" call upon the name of the Lord. The church at Corinth is being compared with what? with the churches, the gathered community of believers, in every place. Again the phrase "in every place" is given a definite reference. It here refers to like churches.
13. In I Timothy 2:8 the reference is the same. The phrase has reference to the various churches under Timothy's oversight. Timothy is receiving instructions from the apostle which he is to implement in the life of those churches. Compare I Timothy 3:15, "but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." When the apostle says, "Therefore I want men in every place to pray..." then it can be concluded that he is saying that he wants men (qualified men) to pray in the churches. He wants men to pray in those gathered communities of God's people.
14. It is proper to conclude then that corporate prayer in the household of faith is in mind in I Timothy 2:8. More specifically it can be concluded that wherever the church comes together, gathers for worship, then men are to pray. The distinction made, that men "lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension" only are to pray indicates the presence of others not so qualified, and so further indicates a gathering of people, the gathering of the church. Corporate or public worship cannot be excluded from the context of the words of I Timothy 2:8. Every indication is that corporate worship is the context of this text. Having previously concluded that the apostles words are not a prohibition against all praying, then it can be further concluded that the praying referred to is that of the congregation made audible on behalf of the congregation by men qualified to do so. Men distinguished from others are called to pray. Others must be conceived of as present in this exercise of prayer or there would have been no need to make the distinction between those who may and those who may not so pray.
15. The reference to the church, the gathered body of God's people in the phrase "in every place"; the proper conclusion that this call to "exclusive" prayer is not a prohibition against others praying but only against others audibly praying; and the distinction between those who may and may not (audibly) pray indicating the presence of others besides those audibly praying, leads to the conclusion that the context of the apostle's remarks in I Timothy 2:8 and the surrounding verses is that of corporate or public worship.
16. The call of the text is for men to pray in corporate worship. The call of the text is for men to act as the singular voice of the congregation in corporate worship in extemporaneous prayer. It should be noticed that the reference to men (tous androus) is a reference specifically to men as opposed to women or boys and girls. The term for man is not a reference to "mankind" in general. But the call to men to be that singular voice on behalf of the congregation is not a call to all men. It is a call to men possessing certain stated qualifications. There is distinction. Only those men qualified may act as the one voice on behalf of the congregation. What is the distinction? What are the qualifications?
17. There are two limiting qualifications. First there is the "lifting up of holy hands." Second there is the lifting up of holy hands "without wrath and dissension."
18. What are "holy hands"? As there is distinction here between those who have such hands and those who do not, what are "unholy hands"? Literal hands cannot be referred to here. All things in and of themselves are clean (Romans 14:14). If nothing is unclean in and of itself then all hands no matter whose they are would come under the category of being clean. The apostle's reference here to holy hands must be taken figuratively. The word used for "holy" (osious) has the meaning of "devout," "pious," "pleasing to God." What are devout or pleasing to God hands? The reference can only be to the spiritual condition and maturity of men in their relation to God. Men "lifting up holy hands" must be men seen to be in a pleasing relationship with God, must be men seen to be devoted to God. To be devoted to God is to make God the object of one's interest. Men "lifting up holy hands" are men seen to be living God-centered lives, are men seen to be living their lives for God.
19. What is it to be "lifting up holy hands without wrath and dissension" (choris orges kai dialogismou)? This added qualification would appear superfluous if it was intended as a further explanation of the relationship between men and God. To have "holy hands" to lift up to God means that one is already in a wholesome and pleasing relationship with God. What then is the significance of this added qualification? It centers upon a right and proper relationship with others. For a man to qualify to act as the voice on the congregation's behalf he must not only be in a pleasing relationship with God, but he must also have a right relationship with his fellowmen especially those on whose behalf he would act in worship.
20. Men marked by a pleasing relationship with God and a right relationship with his fellowman; only such men as these may act as the voice on behalf of the congregation. These qualifications, however, are more general than specific. The men so qualified must be recognizable to the congregation. The congregation must have the responsibility of confirming such qualified eligibility if there is to this distinction among Christian men. If the distinguishing marks were not further elaborated upon, the task of the congregation would be most difficult indeed. These qualifications are elaborated on. It is not without significance that the only other New Testament use of "holy" (osios) is found in the list of qualifications necessary for eldership in Titus 1:8. The apostle himself is not unaware of the need for further elucidation on the distinguishing marks that make a man recognizable to the congregation as one able to act in worship on their behalf. As a continuation of the text, the apostle goes on in I Timothy 3 to explain in some detail the distinguishing qualifying characteristics of a man who could act on behalf of the congregation in corporate worship. These distinguishing marks are listed as the necessary qualifications for a man to be elected and confirmed as an elder. A review of I Timothy 3:1-7 clearly shows what a man with a pleasing relationship with God and a right relationship with his fellowman is to be like.
21. Those who would act as the representative voice of the corporate body in worship, must reflect in their lives the qualifications necessary for a man to be an elder in the church of Jesus Christ. To act as that representative voice, a man must have been recognized by the congregation to be so qualified. Ordinarily then the one called upon to act as the voice of the congregation in its extemporaneous utterances will be an elder (either ruling or teaching). However, this does not rule out the possibility of a man not yet ordained to office from being the representative voice of the congregation in corporate worship. But such a man must have been recognized as being qualified for eldership by the church.
22. To further impress this truth and to avoid any misunderstanding, the apostle explicitly points out that this role of acting as the representative voice of the congregation has not been given to women. I Timothy 2:9-15 makes clear that a role of humble submission has been given to women which excludes them from the responsibility of being the audible voice on behalf of the body of worship (see D.3.c , above). Women, like non-qualified men and children, are not excluded from praying. They may pray audibly as a part of the united voice of the whole congregation when it speaks as one. They may pray inaudibly with the one who speaks on behalf of the whole. They are not to be the audible voice of the one on behalf of the whole. In corporate worship women are to be adorned with a modest and submissive spirit. There is to be a quietness attached to the participation of women in corporate worship and that quietness is by demand of the law of the created order of relationship and the order of the fall into sin (I Timothy 2:13-15, cf. I Corinthians 14:34). In the corporate worship of the household of God, authority is attached to the position of acting as the one voice on behalf of the whole body. An element of headship is exercised which is stated as one of the reasons forbidding women from exercising that position. Women, along with children and the non-qualified men, are not burdened with the call to be the singular representative voice of the congregation. Unhindered by this responsibility, the unordained members (men and women and children) may give themselves to the blessing of the silence of worship.
23. According to I Timothy 2:8 and its context, only qualified men (ordinarily elders, occasionally recognized would-be elders) may act as the voice of the congregation when, to avoid confusion, one must speak on behalf of the whole.
1. Both the Preliminary and the Exegetical Considerations lead to the conclusion that the teaching of Scripture is that in the meeting of God with His people in corporate or public worship only qualified men (ordinarily elders, particularly teaching elders, and occasionally recognized would-be elders) may act as the voice of God and the single representative voice of the congregation. These provisions are by divine appointment. They are not restrictive to the involvement of unordained people in the worship of God. Rather they enhance the opportunity for the mass of the congregation to enter, unhindered, fully into the worship of God. These provisions do not deprive, but rather serve the congregation in its corporate worship. They allow for God's authoritative speaking in the midst of His assembled people. They allow for the exclusion of confusion and chaos and the presence of peace in the worship of God. They allow for the full experience of the silence of worship by the congregation. They demand the presence of a submissive spirit in the activity of corporate worship. They demand mature and godly leadership in worship. These provisions of God for His own worship serve the very purpose of worship, namely, the magnifying of God's name in the beauty of holiness and the edification of His assembled people.
2. The undersigned would humbly encourage the Assembly to make the appropriate modifications to the Directory for Worship in order that it would more adequately reflect the biblical provision for qualified men (teaching elders, ruling elders, recognized would-be elders) to act as the voice of God and the singular representative voice of the congregation in corporate worship. Further, the undersigned would humbly urge the Assembly to continue to resist the pressures of the day to have biblically unqualified persons (whether through lack of gifts and qualifications, or, through the requirements of the Law of God) acting as the voice of God or the one voice of the congregation in corporate worship. Finally, the undersigned would humbly encourage the Assembly to strengthen the saints through their sessions by sending copies of the above study to all sessions for their information and consideration.
This particular assignment is conceived of as a working report and is therefore prepared as such a paper.
There are three foundational exegetical and biblical theological principles or presuppositions which must be taken into account and which must rule the consideration of worship in the Old Testament:
The worship of God is revelational in the sense that both the principles and practices of divine worship are derived from the written revelation of God and not from the reason of men. The worship which the Lord has ordained and which He solicits from His people in this N.T. age is that which He has set forth in the maturity of revelation disclosed by His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, in the fullness of time (Hebrews 1:1-3). However, that maturity of revelation is the fruit born of the progressive unfolding of the divine will concerning the worship of Himself. This progressive or unfolding nature of Old Testament revelation and of Old Testament worship is demonstrated, as an instance, in the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ does not build altars of unhewn stone, but "we have an altar," even Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:10). Worship, therefore, in the fullness of time is not typological but spiritual (John 4:24). Again, the NT. church does not offer sacrifices for sin as the Old Testament church did through the Levitical priesthood. The once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross put an end to such sacrificial offerings (Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:1-4, 8-14). The N.T. church as a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9) now offers up spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving and compassionate service to others (Hebrews 13:15-16; 12:28; Romans 12:1-2). The consideration of the relationship of the general and special office pertinent to worship in the light of the Old Testament must take into account this progressive nature of Old Testament revelation.
The worship of God is covenantal in the sense that those granted the privilege and the ability to worship God are those with whom God has made covenant. The unfolding of revelation was also the unfolding of the covenant relationship. In the Old Testament dispensation there was attached to the covenant an incompleteness. Christ Jesus by means of His incarnation and death on the cross made the covenant complete (Hebrews 8:1-9:28). Throughout the Old Testament age the covenant was repeatedly renewed. With renewal came also development, a development which was to climax with perfection through the blood of Jesus. With that periodic development of the covenant came also a development in the practice of worship. From the simplicity of post-Edenic and patriarchal worship (Genesis 4, 8, etc.) there was movement to the complexity of the Mosaic system (Exodus, Leviticus, etc.) with its multifarious ceremonies and the further psalmodic additions of the Davidic period (1 Chronicles 6:31; 25:1f., 2 Chronicles 29:25f.). The consideration of the relationship of the general and special office pertinent to worship in the light of the Old Testament must take into account this incompleteness and continuing development of the covenant.
Because of the progressive nature of revelation and the incomplete nature of the covenant the practice of worship in the Old Testament dispensation was provisional. Only in the fullness of the Messianic age were the ongoing practices of worship confirmed or established (John 4:20-26). However, the principle upon which the provisional practice of Old Testament worship rested is an abiding principle for acceptable worship in all ages. For man to have any confidence that his worship is acceptable to God then his worship must be and can only be as God has prescribed. God, as God, alone has the right to determine how He should be worshipped. From the beginning this principle of divine prescription (the Regulative Principle of Worship) has been the foundation of acceptable worship. Abel's worship over against that of Cain's (Genesis 4:1-8) was acceptable because it was according to the divine prescription while Cain's was not. The centralized and complex Mosaic system of ceremonial worship very evidently rests upon the regulative principle. The introduction of worship not commanded by God received severe retribution (Leviticus 10:1-3). The Reformation aided the church to a return to this abiding principle of acceptable worship (see Westminster Confession of Faith XXI:1; 1:6; XX:2; Belgic Confession, Article XXXII; Heidelberg Catechism, Question 96).
It is this one great principle of worship which stands out throughout the history of redemption. It received its confirmation and seal when the incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, declared that God was to be worshipped no longer falsely as the Samaritans had in their rejection of this principle, nor provisionally as the Jews had in the incompleteness of the Old Testament age, but now in the fullness of God's revelation and the perfection of the covenant, in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:20-26). It is then in the outworking of this principle in the fullness of God's revelation that the practice of worship in the age of covenantal completeness is to be discovered. The consideration of the relationship of the general and special office pertinent to worship in the light of the Old Testament must rest upon this abiding principle of worship.
All worship of the Triune God in all ages is Christocentric. Because worship is covenantal then it is also Christocentric. Fallen man's hope of restoration of fellowship with God and of resumed worship of God from the beginning rested on the covenantal promise of Genesis 3:15. The unfolding of revelation is essentially the unfolding of that covenant promise, and its various consequences, until it reached the climax of fulfillment in the blood of the covenant, even the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3; 9:11-28; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25). Old covenant worship was by faith in that covenant promise in anticipation of its Messianic fulfillment (Romans 4:16-25; Hebrews 11). New covenant worship is by faith in that covenant promise as Messianically fulfilled (Hebrews 10:19-25). Worship in all ages then was in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ (Colossians 1:13-23; Ephesians 1:3-14; Galatians 3:6-29). Christ Jesus enables His people to worship. Christ Jesus leads His people in worship. Christ Jesus is worshipped. All worship being in and through and for Christ then the focus of worship in the Old Testament dispensation is centered in Christ and cannot be conceived of or properly understood apart from Christ. Apart from Christ Old Testament worship is vacated of sensible meaning. Participation in worship and leadership in worship are vitally connected and essentially directed by the Christocentric nature of worship. Special office in its leadership of worship exists because of the Christocentric nature of worship. Special office is no less than Christ being present in worship leading His people in worship by His Word and Spirit, that being in either an anticipatory or a fulfilled sense.
(1) There is a simplicity attached to the worship of God following the Adamic fall into sin. Abel offered acceptable worship to God (Genesis 4:4). There is no indication that this worship was other than the singular worship of Abel. Yet it is to be recognized that Abel offered his worship in the capacity of special office. Abel was a prophet. This fact is testified to by Jesus Himself (Luke 11:49-52). Hence the acceptability of Abel's worship. As a prophet he was an agent of divine revelation and his worship therefore was by divine prescription. Abel's worship was acceptable also because it was from the heart. Abel was a man of faith (Hebrews 11:4). Again by the testimony of Jesus Abel is spoken of as "righteous" (Matthew 23:35).
(2) While the Cainite community interested itself in the building of the Kingdom of this world (Genesis 4:16-24), the Sethite community, which succeeded righteous Abel, interested itself in the worship of God (Genesis 4:26) and therefore in the building of the Kingdom of God. The leadership of such worship is indicated to be prophetic, that is, belonging to special office. Enoch is spoken of as "walking with God" (Genesis 5:22-24). The phrase "to walk with God" denotes at least intercourse with God. This intercourse was of a prophetic nature. Enoch is called a prophet (Jude 14-15). By revelation and thus by prescription the Sethites "called upon the name of God". As was Abel so was Enoch, a man of faith (Hebrews 11:5-6). Sethite worship by revelation had right form and by covenantal grace had right heart and thus was pleasing to God.
(3) The division of the communities of men as seen between the Cainites and Sethites reflects the division of Genesis 3:15. Even though simple and undeveloped the Sethite worship was covenantal being centered upon the promise of the "seed of the woman." The Sethite worship therefore can be said to have been Christocentric even in its primitive form. It anticipates Christ's redemptive work of perfecting the covenant through the victory of the cross (Hebrews 11:4-5, 13-16). The prophetic leadership of this worship exemplified in Enoch, exalted in his ascension, anticipates the leadership of the exalted Christ in the worship of covenantal maturity in the church of Jesus Christ.
(1) The first recorded postdiluvian activity of man was the worship of God. In grateful response to God's deliverance of him and his family from the judgment of the flood Noah worshipped God. He is the first recorded builder of an altar to the Lord (Genesis 8:20). His worship was explicitly covenantal (Genesis 8:21-22; 9:9). His worship, with the appearance of innovation which was in fact real development, was by divine prescription for Noah was an agent of revelation, a prophet of God (Genesis 6:8-9, 13, 22; 7:1, 5, 9, 16; 8:15). Noah was also a man of faith and obedience (Genesis 7:1; Ezekiel 14:14; Hebrews 11:7). His worship was acceptable on the two counts that it had both right form and right heart.
(2) Leadership in this Noahic worship was again given to the one holding special office. Although not explicitly stated it could be fairly concluded that Noah's family was present during the exercise of worship. The family was included in God's address to Noah (Genesis 9:1), and this would seem to confirm their presence and indicate participation in the thanksgiving even if only as observers of the actions of the worship. Whether or not corporate worship did take place at this time the clear indications are that not general office but special office lead in the worship which occurred.
(3) This singular and prophetic leadership of Noah in worship is not without Christocentric significance. It is anticipatory of the singular and prophetic leadership of Jesus Christ in the worship of His church in the fullness of time. Noah is referred to as a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). Jesus Christ is spoken of as having made proclamation in the spirit to those of Noah's day (1 Peter 3:19-20). A direct link is thus established between Noah and Jesus in the area of prophetic leadership in worship. Noah was the instrument through which Christ preached to His people and lead them in the worship of God. All this in anticipation of Messianic fulfillment of the promises of God.
(4) The universal character of the covenant made with Noah in the midst of his worship anticipated the universal proclamation of the gospel and call to worship God. Out of preserved humanity (Noahic covenant - the covenant of common grace) people were to be called to the redeemed community (Messianic covenant—covenant of grace) to worship God through the only mediator Jesus Christ. Jesus in singular fashion leads His people before the throne of God in worship. Leadership in worship belongs exclusively to Jesus Christ and therefore to special office. The exalted Jesus as the Great Shepherd of His sheep ministers to His people and leads them in worship through the agency of His undershepherds (Acts 20:28). Noah was such an undershepherd through whom Christ ministered to His people and lead them before the throne of God. The aroma of Noah's burnt offering (Genesis 8:21) was the aroma of God's Son (Ephesians 5:2) leading His people in worship before the throne of God.
(1) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshipped God as those specially called and authorized to do so. Abraham, by the favor of God, was set apart to prophetic office and to leadership in worship (Genesis 12:1,7; 13:14; 15:1). With him God established His covenant of grace (Genesis 17). Isaac, as the child or promise, also received the favor of God and was set apart to special office even as had been Abraham. With Isaac also God continued His covenant (Genesis 26:2-5, 24-25). Jacob too was blessed with the prophetic office and granted leadership in the worship of God. With him the promise of the covenant was renewed (Genesis 28:10-22; 46:1-4; 49:lf.).
(2) The Patriarchal period was marked by the building of altars, often at the locality of theophanies, and these became places of worship (Genesis 12:7; 13:4, 18; 22:9; 33:20). With the administration of the covenant of grace and the establishment of a covenant community clearer indications appear of corporate worship. The cutting of the covenant (circumcision) was a corporate act of worship involving the eligible male members of Abraham's household (Genesis 17:23-27). Jacob worshipped God by means of sacrifice following a meeting with Laban his father-in-law. Jacob invited his kinsmen to join in the eating of the sacrifice. Participation in a corporate act of worship is indicated (Genesis 31:54). The command for Jacob's family to put away all the foreign gods amongst them (Genesis 35:2, 4) and the building of an altar to God (Genesis 35:3-7) suggests not only the exclusivity of divine worship but also a participation in worship by Jacob's family. Leadership in all worship remained the province of those called to special office. In their worship the patriarchs followed the prescription of God (Genesis 15:9f.; 22:lf.). Their worship was of the heart for they were men of faith (Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:17-21). Their worship was acceptable to God.
(3) With the testing of Abraham in the almost sacrifice of Isaac, who had the seed of the Redeemer in him, God introduced into worship the idea of sacrificial substitution (Genesis 22:1-19). This symbolism of substitution was to be developed in the Mosaic sacrificial system of worship as it typified the vicarious atonement of Christ on the cross of Calvary.
(4) While there was development in the worship of God throughout the Patriarchal period and corporate worship by the covenant community was in an initiatory sense instituted, leadership in worship remained within the precincts of the special office. A significant indicator of where leadership in worship belonged is found in the mention of Melchizedek "the King of Salem" and "Priest of the Most High God" (Genesis 14:18-24). He was a type of Christ (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:5-10; 7:17). Abraham acknowledged Melchizedek's authority and leadership and rendered service to Him. In the One who Melchizedek typified rests all authority to lead in worship (Matthew 28:18-20). He leads in worship through the agency of those called and set apart for such service.
(1) Mosaic worship was marked by covenantal renewal and covenantal development. Simplicity of worship gave way to complexity as worship emerged as an explicitly pre-figurative expression of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. For the covenant community promise became deliverance in typological experience. In covenant renewal, through Moses, God promised deliverance out of bondage to Egypt and promised to lead His people into the promised land (Exodus 6:2-9). That deliverance was memorialized in the Passover Feast (Exodus 12:21-28), and celebrated in the worship of praise and thanksgiving (Exodus 15:1-21) and in the renewal of the covenant at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19). In anticipation of entrance into the promised land the stipulations for covenant life and worship were specifically revealed and prescribed (Exodus 20, etc.).
(2) Mosaic worship is marked by a number of significant features. A clearer indication is given of a more general participation in worship. The people of Israel are spoken of as "bowing low and worshipping" God in response to His revealed concern for them (Exodus 4:31). "All the congregation of Israel" (Exodus 12:3) were called to participate in the worship of the Passover. "Moses, the sons of Israel, Miriam, and all the women," celebrated the deliverance from Egypt in the worship of thanksgiving and praise (Exodus 15:1-21). The whole congregation of Israel was assembled at the foot of Mt. Sinai when God came down into their midst upon that mountain to renew His covenant with them (Exodus 19). This gathering of the covenant community in worship (Exodus 19:5-6) anticipated the corporate worship of the new covenant community (1 Peter 2:9-10). The redeemed community of God is called to assemble itself (Hebrews 10:25) for the purpose of worship and mutual edification (Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24). The centralization of Mosaic worship (Exodus 25:8-9) with the building of a sanctuary (temple) and God manifesting His presence there as the place of His dwelling and the calling of the people to worship God there anticipated the corporate nature of new covenant worship. The assembled new covenant people is that place of God's dwelling (Ephesians 2:21-22, cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16) where worship in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24) is offered by all baptized and filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:33; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 5:18-20).
(3) While the Mosaic worship was marked by an evident increased participation by the members of the covenant community, leadership in worship remained the province of special office. Moses and Aaron are called to special office (prophet and priest) to lead the people of God (Exodus 4:10-17). That leadership is extended to the elders of Israel (Exodus 4:29; 12:21; 18:21-27) and with respect to worship to the Levitical priesthood (Numbers 1:47-53). The Levitical priesthood was superseded by Christ's priesthood (Hebrews 7:11-28). The new covenant people, as those united to Jesus Christ by faith, in the completeness of that new covenant have become priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Does that mean that all members of the new covenant have been given a leadership role in the corporate worship of the covenant community? No it does not! As priests the calling is that of offering up spiritual sacrifices of praise to God and compassionate service to others (Hebrews 13:15-16; 12:28; Romans 12:1). Leadership in the corporate worship of the new covenant community remains, as it did for the old, in special office. Jesus Christ of whom Moses was a type as prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; Acts 3:20-26), Aaron a type as high priest (Hebrews 7:28), and David a type as King (Acts 2:25-36), is the one who leads His church, the new covenant community in worship. His people draw near to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd of His sheep (Hebrews 13:20), by His Spirit reads, teaches, preaches His Word, brings that Word of salutation and benediction, administers the sacraments to His worshipping flock, and leads His people in prayer, through the agency and instrumentality of His undershepherds, the elders of the church of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:17, 28). To the elders has been given the ministry of the Word and prayer (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:2). The mantle of Christ's apostles (Acts 6:4) in terms of these gifts of ministry fell upon the elders, for those gifted and called to special ministry (Ephesians 4:8, 11-13) are called "God's fellow workers" (1 Corinthians 3:9) and "Ambassadors for Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:20; 6:1) and the fellowship of God's people is their field of labor. Leadership in worship in both the Old Testament and New Testament economies belongs to Christ and therefore to special office.
(4) The Mosaic system of worship with its multitude of ceremonial laws was overwhelmingly sacrificial. But this sacrificial system of worship was typical because it was not an end in itself for it could not meet the need which it exposed and that was the need for atonement, the removal of sins' guilt and the wrath of God and so the cleansing of the conscience (Hebrews 9:1-10; 10:4, 11). The Levitical sacrifices were not offered to that end for they were given as "reminders" of the reality of sin and the need of a Savior (Hebrews 9:8-10; 10:3). The sacrificial system of worship pointed to the need of a perfect sacrifice, to the sacrifice of the Son of God (Hebrews 2:9, 14; 10:12, 14, 17-18). The substitutionary nature of the sin offerings and sacrifices of the Levitical system enhanced the typical nature of this sacrificial worship emphasizing the Christocentric character of the worship (Isaiah 53). The entire sacrificial system of worship pointed to Jesus Christ. In Him it was to find its fulfillment (Matthew 4:15; 5:17-18; Hebrews 8-10). Christ is the one who alone adequately deals with sin, and cleanses the conscience, and removes the separation and distance from God, and gives entrance into His holy presence (Hebrews 9:11-10:18). Being Christocentrically typical necessitated the preciseness of regulation evident in the ceremonial law and demanded that leadership be that of special office. Christ Jesus is represented as leading His people to God through sacrifice. Special office stood as it were in the place of Christ in this typical representation. There were therefore activities which belonged to the people as they offered their sacrificial worship, but it was limited participation. Leadership belonged to special office.
(1) Leadership in Davidic worship remained within the bounds of special office. The primary concern of the Kingship of David was to see the full implementation of the Mosaic system of worship within the centralized confines of the temple in Jerusalem. This concern found its outworking during the reign of Solomon. Progressive revelation and covenant renewal brought additionally to the Mosaic worship a consistent pattern and practice of singing and music (1 Chronicles 1:31; 15:16-29; 25:1-8). But leadership of this aspect of worship remained in the hands of special office. However general office participated in singing.
(2) David himself as King led the people of God in worship (1 Chronicles 15:29; 16:1-3). Jesus Christ as David's son but also as David's Lord, crowned as King, leads and directs His people in worship by His ever present Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20), and through His Word (Colossians 3:16).
(3) The corporate worship of the old covenant people following divine prescription progressively revealed was clearly to be under the leadership of special office.
(1) Exilic worship suffered the limitations of the deprivations of captivity. Temple worship ceased for the old covenant people in exile. The judgment of God brought this just retribution upon a people of unfaithfulness and disobedience who had ignored His prescription for worship, both in form and heart (Daniel 9:7-14). Amongst the exiles there did remain a faithful remnant. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 1:6-7; 3:12, 16-18, 28-30) demonstrated a faithful personal commitment to God. Daniel, the prophet, offered private worship to God (Daniel 6:10-28) and was known for his piety. He prophetically sought the favor of God upon Jerusalem afresh that the covenant people might be restored to faithful worship (Daniel 9:2-19).
(2) Post-exilic worship was marked by a sincere effort to return to the full practice of Mosaic worship (Ezra 1:1-7; 2:68; 3:1-7; 5:1-2). The Temple was rebuilt (Ezra 6:14) and the various sacrifices and feast days were kept (Ezra 6:16-22). The Davidic singing and music was taken up again (Ezra 3:10-13; Nehemiah 12:45-47). The Law of Moses was read to the people (Ezra 7:10; Nehemiah 8:lf.; Exodus 24:7-8) as they were given in worship to God (Nehemiah 9:3). The people committed themselves to a renewed submissiveness to the Law of God (Nehemiah 10:28-29). At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem the whole of the city was drawn into active worship of God (Nehemiah 12:27-43). This full participation in the worship of God anticipated the universal character of participation in worship by the gathered new covenant community in the fullness of time ushered in by the exalted Christ when He poured out His Spirit upon His church (Acts 2:14-21, 33). Leadership in worship in the post-exilic age consistent with the prescription of God and the Christocentric nature of revealed worship continued to be exercised by special office (Nehemiah 8:1-9).
3. Conclusion: Because of the covenantal and therefore Christocentric nature of worship leadership in worship belongs to special office. Consistently, throughout the Old Testament age, even with the development and growth in general participation in worship from the singular worship of Abel in Genesis 4 to the inclusive worship of the whole of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 12 leadership in worship was the province of special office. Only those authorized and qualified for special office were given leadership roles in worship. The headship and leadership of Christ in worship was in an anticipatory sense and by faith honored. That head ship and leadership of Christ in His church and in worship is surely enhanced, not diminished, in the age of Messianic fullness and therefore would be all the more reflected in the special office of His undershepherds as He exclusively, through them, leads His redeemed covenant people in that worship which is in Spirit and Truth.