Family-Integrated Church 15: Why the family-integrated church is not demanded by the regulative principle! (Part 2)

by | Jun 1, 2011 | Family-Integrated Church

Last time I noted the argument for family-integrated views which Scott Brown in A Weed in the Church launches on the basis of the regulative principle of the church. My first counter-argument was that (1) leaving aside for the moment the issue of nurseries for babies and (2) acknowledging that children’s church is a really bad idea and (3) assuming that age-segregated Sunday schools and youth ministries ought not to replace attendance on the worship of the church for young people, the regulative principle of the church’s corporate worship does not apply in the same way to meetings called by the elders of the church for something other than the whole church. Thus, there is no straightforward argument against such meetings based on the regulative principle.

But there is something else about the regulative principle that needs to be taken into account here. As A Weed in the Church makes clear, the regulative principle of the church was never intended to be applied to the circumstances and applications of the worship of the church, but only its parts or elements (as they are called). It is well-known and acknowledged by advocates of the regulative principle of the church that the regulative principle is qualified by chapter one, paragraph six of the Westminster and 1689 Baptist Confessions. Scott himself quotes this qualifying statement (82). Here it is: “… there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.”

Simply put, many of us believe that having nurseries for babies below the age of understanding during the church’s worship is a circumstance and not a part of worship. We also think, for instance, that special meetings for youth, young theological students, or young women at other times (2 Tim. 2:1f; Tit. 2:3-4) fall into the same category. They are mandated generally by the Great Commission and need not have explicit biblical warrant. I really think the onus is on those who reject such things to show that they are elements or parts of “the worship of God, and government of the church” and not mere circumstances or applications. Since the regulative principle applies particularly and strictly to the corporate worship of the church, this observation has particular relevance to the whole issue of nurseries for babies during church meetings. To that vexed subject I will turn in my next blog post.

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