It was disturbing in your last issue to see the varieties of expression seeking sanction under the regulative principle. I understand that the fundamental issue is over whether dancing and drama are biblically admissible, but I was most upset by the dangerous logic used to allow them under our confessional standards.
Like the majority of the old PCUS, many people in the PCA seem to look at the standards as self-evolving. They see nothing wrong with interpreting the standards as no one ever has before. The fact that no one until the twentieth century has accepted dance or drama as covered by the standards does not disturb them. Original intent and historic understanding are not allowed to stand in the way of any perceived good. In the same way that the Warren Court "discovered" the right to an abortion in the Constitution, people today are "discovering" the appropriateness of dance and drama in the Confession. It is sad that those who condemn the Supreme Court's judicial activism, seem to be practicing the same hermeneutic.
If the historic understanding of the Confession is wrong, advocates of dance and drama should seek to bring the issue before the General Assembly for consideration. They should not presume to violate the historic understanding of the Confession and still claim to be adhering to it. I came to the PCA partially because of its adherence to the Westminster Confession. Such creative interpretation guts the Confession of any objective meaning. For the moment, the issue is worship, but it will not stop there. The same approach will ultimately be brought to bear on the ordination of women as it has in other denominations. It was this same hermeneutic that brought down the Northern and Southern Presbyterian Churches before us.
In talking with a CRC [Christian Reformed Church] pastor who was leading his church out of that denomination, he told me that he felt the PCA was only 10 years behind the CRC. After hearing about the worship debate, he said he was wrong_we're only 2 years behind the CRC. If we continue down this road, I'm afraid he may be right.
Jason Wallace, Savannah, GA
I have read with some interest the various posts on worship. I thank you for the P&R News I received today. I had been looking for it.
I was very interested in pg. 3_the piece on Spanish River. Last August I and a friend attended one of their "contemporary" services. Have you been to one? It is an experience for certain. It is NO worship service at all. Not at all. It is a bit like going to a Christian conference, but it is no worship service. It's not a matter of taste or style_it's a matter of worship or not. Yes, they meet on Sunday morning, and yes, they meet in a "worship center." Call it what you like, but it's not worship. There were NO "elements" of worship. There was not even a sermon. Oh, there was a speech. But it was not a sermon.
Thanks again for a good publication.
Michael DeLozier, Providence Presbyterian Church, Murphy, NC
Thanks for telling us about the showmanship at General Assembly. Would that there were a good reason to dance. It seems a better time for other postures. Enthusiasm often erupts in otherwise stalled churches. This, in the present situation, is a sign of trouble rather than of glory. Dance in the Psalms came in response to wonderful expressions of propositional truth about the Lord. They were not contrived. It is because of pervasive reveling in inferior doctrine, weakness toward Dispensationalism and extreme antinomianism in the PCA that some make mad attempts at ecstasy. These signs are impressive special effects, generated Hollywood style. They are not coming from the Wind of God blowing with delight through the congregation.
I agree with the need to retake the arts, including the dance and drama. Indeed, their surrender is an evil disease, but in the present state of affairs it is a bit like having a party to celebrate our profits at the NYSE. Other matters need attention without delay.
D.K.Dykema, Reformation Church, Pewaukee, WI
I liked your worship issue, including reports without prejudice on styles of which I doubt you approve.
D. Clair Davis, Westminster Theological Seminary
I'm glad your church sponsors this newspaper. Please relay my appreciation to them. I've come to understand the importance of bringing all things to the light for open inspection, and services such as yours makes accountability among us a reality.
Luis Veiga, Wilmore, KY
It bothers me that these guys who claim to be contextualizing worship are in fact buying into one of the central tenets of modernity_anything old has to be useless to modern people. I believe in Apostolic tradition founded upon Scripture, and I reject traditions of recent origin which are not based upon Scripture. These folks are destroying the very thing that they claim to be rescuing.
The new light bunch [is] tolerant of anything recent but intolerant of those who hold to the old paths.
I used to think the Thornwell/Hodge debate over church government was a tempest in a teapot, but I think otherwise after attending so many GA's and seeing the bureaucrats running the denomination. Thank you again for the job you are doing with "Presbyterian and Reformed News."
Rick Barbare, Edgefield, SC
Dear Dr. Smith,
I am the pastor of Carolina Presbyterian Church, PCA (if I can use PCA without censure in my e-mail); Madden MS. I have just become a denizen of the internet via Juno, a free e-mail service. I want to encourage you in your work of reporting the news of the PCA and related matters from a Reformed viewpoint, especially the Fall 1996 issue, that reports on the zaniness that passes for worship in many churches. It dismayed me to see how the mighty have fallen to the temptation of a man centered display rather than pure and simple worship of God. Your paper's ministry fills a vital role of linking this great denomination of ours outside of the official channels, which tended to gloss rather than inform. I pray that you continue to challenge and inform us with all the news that's fit to print, even if it discomfits people. I also appreciate that you give both sides a voice; it is always good to know what the other side is saying so it can be demystified and dealt with. . . . Please persevere, and may God bless you and your ministry.
Sincerely, TE Shawn Keating (RevShawnK@juno.com)