March 02, 2013 Q & A

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.



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