Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cathy Tan on The Quest for Calvin's Essence of Worship: Passion and Love of God -A Journey Away from Ritualistic Worship

One of the best ways to get at the heart of Calvin's concept of worship , preferably his idea of liturgy is to study his interpretation of the first tablet of the law. The Institutes contains a chapter devoted on the law. Surely a completely study of Calvin's theoloy of worship will also deal with his chapters on the sacraments, his chapter on prayer, the Genevan Psalter,and other documents.

This study, however deals with Calvin's theology of worship as found in his liturgy in Strasbourg. Cathy Tan, a part-time music ministry advisor for Jubilee Presbyterian Church Singapore, a choral conductor, a music educator, and a speaker and writer on music and worship,provides pratical wisdom concerning the purpose of Calvin's liturgy, calls us back to biblical worship with theological content as the priotity in today's church. She opens it this way:

「1538年,年青的加尔文接受布赛尔(Martin Bucer) 的邀请,到斯特拉斯堡(Strasbourg) 牧养日益增多的法国难民。本文要探究的,就是这间拥有数百名会众,被加尔文呢称为「小法国教会」(Ecclesiola Gallicana) 的崇拜礼仪。从加尔文在流程的修订与元素的取舍上,认识其考量的依据,希望藉此为今日教会提供一个崇拜更新的标引。」

Pastor Gao from Shanghai, a reflective pracitioner of regulative principle of worship, his review in chinese here, and english translation done by brother Daniel Chew here.

[This paper and review are now open for discussion.]


CREDO500 said...

What a nice piece to read, thanks for that. Cathy has done a well researched paper here, any thoughts on that, anyone?

The reform of the worship of God was a central concern for Calvin. Finding the first commandment to mean that we are to worship God and God alone, he effectively brings into question many of our contemporary motivations and justification for worship.

My random thoughts in chinese:

On John 4:24 concerning the worship that is in spirit and truth:

On Romans 12:1 speaking of the reasonable worship of Christian life :

CREDO500 said...

John Piper is correct whenever he underlines that the chief end of the church is not missions, but worhip. Worship is what we were made for and saved for, that instituted by God in accordance with his own and for the purposes of advancing his own glory.

Reformation in worship is in desperate need for todays’ churches, I’m with Pastor Gao on that. For Calvin and Puritans, medium is the message. However, the distinction rises between principal of worship based directly on Scripture or on inference from Scripture.

RPW is a great place to start,that is what describes reformed view of worsihp.

PuritanReformed said...

>RPW is a great place to start,that is what describes reformed view of worsihp.

Jonah, I agree with you.

CREDO500 said...

Various charges have been made that a gap exists between Calvin and Westminster (out-Calvined Calvin). Whether be the lapsarian view, as well as to Worship.

Packer asserted that the RPW is only a“Puritan innovation” which departed from Calvin and Knox. Really?

PuritanReformed said...

So, upon what basis does Packer make such a claim?

CREDO500 said...

Good question, Daniel.

The burning issue regard to the relationship between the Puritans and Calvin, is that whether the RPW have absolutize Calvin’s formulation to the extreme? Does the Puritans took RPW in a direction where Calvin did not intend?

Packer stated below:“The idea that direct biblical warrant, in the form of precept or precedent, is required to sanction every item included in the public worship of God was in fact a Puritan innovation, which crystallized out in the course of the prolonged debates that followed the Elizabethan settlement.”

He goes on:“A truer way of stating the issue would be to say that the authority and sufficiency of Scripture in all matters of Christian and church life was common ground to both sides(Calvinian-Puritans and Lutheran-Anglican), but that they were not agreed as to how this principle should be applied.”

In light of this, Packer inteprets the differences between Westminster Assembly and Continental Reformers: First, different commitments of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Second, different hermeneutical approaches to the reformed dogmatic.

In other words, Packer has rejected the RPW on the ground that it is a PURITAN INVENTION.

PuritanReformed said...


I wonder how does Packer explain the fact that many continental Reformed traditions practice Exclusive Psalmody, and even those that use Hymns and Spiritual songs do so after some initial resistance...

CREDO500 said...

Daniel, you may access Packer’s AT here:

I believe what he’d expressed reflects theological prejudice(normative principle), since he do not demonstrate a convincing historical facts. RPW is not a distinctive principle of Puritans as over against reformers. It is clearly stated in Article 32 of the Belgic Confessions(1561).

Need to goes into this subject in more detail.

CREDO500 said...

Calvin called upon the church to reject all popish rites and ceremonies, and all forms not true to scripture in his polemical tract:“The True Method of Reforming the Church” written in 1548(some years after his works of liturgy in Genevan and Strasbourg).

Much of Calvin’s reforming concern was to emphasize the inward aspects of worship. Thus when he speaks of the OT law, if we don’t know “how”(the methods) to approach God in worship then everything else will turn to meaningless. Obviously, the RP is there in practice.

Thus, Calvin is relevant to puritans and us because it addresses the worship wars in the post-reformation world. I think Calvin believed in RPW(laid in Scripture) precisely the way it’s defined in the Westminster directory of Worship, Word-centered from beginning to end, nothing more nothing less.

The point was clear, RPW is merely a first-rate Calvinistic view of worship. It seemed to me, it would be reasonable for those who love the scripture alone principle to diligently be on guard against Packer's conclusion on the issue and his tendency in deregulating the worship.