Both the OPC and the PCA use the term Public worship in their Book of Church Order. However, occasionally I have heard of Corporate worship. I also found some theologians such as R.B Kuiper (The Glorious Body of Christ) and Edmund Clowney using Corporate worship in their writings.
When we designate the Lord's day worship service, I would want to know whether these two terms are interchangeable or to be used discretionary. What then is the main difference of these two terms?
Thank you for your help.
It is my opinion that the two designations that you asked about (Public Worship and Corporate Worship) are virtually synonymous.
At the time of the writing of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, the worship of God by the congregation of God's people was always (as far as I can determine) referred to simply as "public worship." The use of the other designation (corporate worship) by such theologians as R. B. Kuiper and Edmund Clowney was probably chosen to avoid possible connotations of the word "public" that are not desired, and to focus on the fact that the specific worship these men were concerned with in what they were writing is the worship of the assembled congregation of the Lord's people. That is also precisely what the older writers were thinking of when they spoke of "public worship."
I hope this brief answer is of help to you.
"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)
The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.
The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.
While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.
You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.
The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.
Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been editedall personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expandedto make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.