A Sidekick's Blog

Simplicity, Sincerity and Worship

December 15, 2013
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I have been a Baptist, a Charismatic (Pentecostal), a Presbyterian, and now – for the time being – an unaffiliated “Protestant.”

In all that time, the sweetest and purest and most deeply satisfying worship experience I have ever known, apart from my own private time alone with God, was the unaccompanied singing of Psalms – scripture that was written to be sung! Unfettered by ecclesiastical traditions and trappings, uncluttered by the addition of organ, piano, or guitar, unassuming, unpretentious, and unerring in the perfection of the words of scripture itself, and sung from the heart by a handful of Jesus’ disciples who wished only to adore Him, and to do so in the way He Himself prescribed instead of inventing some fancy, elaborate pomp and ceremony as if to impress Him, or in some effort to bring Him down from heaven into our midst. That simple time of worship, lasting only minutes, was as close as I have ever come to “heaven on Earth.”

Much more so than in those times of frenzied Pentecostal efforts to “conjure up the Holy Ghost” (to put it as kindly as I can), and much more so than in the grand, lofty, High Church, Anglican-style pomp and ceremony of my last former church. Today I revisited my old church because I have family visiting this week for whom it is their home church. But if today’s visit had been my first visit to this PCA church, it would surely have been my last. While all the pomp and ceremony is beautiful and pleasing to the senses, and while on it’s face the words of the liturgy and song service were fully glorifying to God, there was little else to appeal to a simple, humble sidekick who just wants to adore his Lord as the Lord has instructed. And the sermon, the pastor walked over to the Advent Wreath and explained that neither he nor the Session really knows what it’s supposed to mean, we just have it there and light the candles in a certain order because. Just because. My first thought: “Is this a Reformed church?” My second thought: “No, apparently not (that is, more apparent than before), and that’s part of the reason I left.” So we’ve got all these symbols and ceremonial trappings borrowed from Anglicanism, Romanism, and even Eastern Orthodoxy, which we don’t even understand, yet we employ them in “Reformed” worship? Was all that pomp and circumstance supposed to make up for such a sermon?

picard headesk

Don’t get me wrong, I know this Pastor well enough to know that he loves the Lord and is passionate for His gospel. I know him to be a devoted servant of Christ who is not only a lot smarter than me, but far more disciplined spiritually, mentally, and academically than me. I’d love to be half the Christian he is! And yet, simplicity and humility in my faith, in my practice, and in my worship have become far more valuable to me lately than academic discipline and spiritual knowledge. That denomination’s willingness to tolerate the damnable heresy of “the Federal Vision” eventually manifests itself this way I suppose, since FV is basically little more than a call back to Rome! The Reformation’s Regulative Principle of Worship is simply the doctrine of Sola Scriptura applied to worship. I suppose it just figures that the Regulative Principle would be an early casualty of my former church’s tolerance for such a heresy.

It makes me sad. And at the same time, glad to have found another church that practices sincere, humble, simple, unpretentious worship – and they’ve never even heard of the Regulative Principle of Worship.