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Question and Answer

What about Tenebrae or Maundy Thursday Services?


Do most OPCs have a Tenebrae or Maundy Thursday Service? (One of our members strongly opposes this type of service and I don't understand why.)


Thank you for your question. I wish to answer by first stating a Biblical and Confessional understanding of such services. Deuteronomy 12:32 tells us that God commands that nothing be added to his Law. As our Confession of Faith puts it, "the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by God himself" (WCF 21:1). As a denomination, therefore, we do not hold that such services are required by Scripture. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with holding such services, provided that no one is pressured to attend them. They are useful services for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that knows the Easter season has arrived and wish to understand more of its meaning. To that end we may (not must) hold such services and advertise them as open to the community. And the members of the church may well be edified by the focus upon their Savior's redemptive work. But, let us be clear, they are not required by Scripture and so no member ought to be placed in the position of feeling guilty or being judged for not attending such a service. Christian liberty holds here if anywhere (WCF 20).

The direct answer to the first part of your question is, I do not know how many OP congregations hold such services.

The answer to the second part of the question is some believe that to hold them is to add to God's Word a service he has not commanded. Thus they are conscience bound to not attend, and some to oppose such a service. Romans 14 speaks to the approach we must take on either side of this issue. Respect the conscience of your brother or sister who will not attend. Hopefully they will do the same.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. 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.

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.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

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 e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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