My name is Walter Webb. I am currently an inmate here at Cummins Prison. I am Presbyterian and striving by the grace of God to be a faithful servant here. I would like to get a subscription to your publication and back issues if possible. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely, Walter Webb
P. S. I would love to have a Presbyterian Pen Pal. Feel free to share my name and address: Walter Webb, #108035, PO Box 500 Bks 18, Grady, Arkansas 71644
Dear Frank and Bob:
I liked the most recent issue of the P&R News most of any so far. I want to respond to the editorial "Ecclesiastical Schizophrenia."
In that editorial you said: "the two approaches to worship clash. One cannot simultaneously hold to a 'contemporary' and sensualistic view on one hand and to simple Puritan, regulated worship on the other. The church will either cling to one and despise the other, or it will embrace one and hate the other. A church cannot consistently serve both views."
Why not? This assumes the law of mutual exclusion (which Jesus applied to money and worldliness vs. godliness not worship style). This is simply an argument founded upon tradition and personal preference not on the facts.
You make many false assumptions in this assertion:
1. Contemporary worship is sensual.
2. Contemporary worship is unregulated.
3. Contemporary and traditional worship cannot be done together.
4. This will cause division in the church.
I will respond numerically.
1. Contemporary worship is not sensual it is simply contemporary.
2. Contemporary worship is regulated-examine the content.
3. Contemporary and traditional worship can and have been blended very well in many contexts (Presbyterian). I know of more than one church that utilizes psalms, hymns and spiritual songs very well. Sure, there are many who have a preference to a certain style (just like you prefer a certain style). But that is not necessarily a division-just a preference.
4. The only way this will be a point of division is when people choose to make this a point of division. If handled well, there can and should be much unity with the ancient and modern.
I think your statement that many who were offended by the "spectacle" did the right thing when they "walked out" was great. If you don't like something-don't participate.
You assert that there is a need for repentance and the GA is double-minded. This is such a heinous charge. To choose modern music is not a choice to sin. It is the application of the relevance of the gospel to the world in which we live.
There was a time in which all music we ever sing (no matter how old or who wrote it) was considered modern or contemporary. The church does not need the traditions of some to prevent us from serving the Lord with worship in "spirit and in truth."
In His Grace,
Linden (Ala.) PCA
This is picky, but in a paper concerned with accuracy, this counts. Boston College is a Jesuit institution. The Methodist school is Boston University. King attended there. You must print the letter as written, but surely an editor could put a note to that effect with the letter.
Hugh Brom, Laguna Hills, Calif.
[Mr. Brom is referring to the letter-to-the-editor in the last issue which made reference to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the school he attended for his doctoral work. (Furthermore, he's right-the Editor should have caught it.)-Ed.]
Having been a PCA MTW missionary in Korea 1979-1992 and now MTW Mexico, I would like to applaud you for the article "Back to the Future of Church Planting" in the September 1999 issue. It is refreshing to see that there are still some who use the older proven methods in this electronic age. As one who has been a disciple of the Nevius principles, I would like to give a little more balance than your article could provide. The principles themselves have as the goal of biblical church planting the "self-support, self-propagation, self-government". The basis for the principles is lay training in the Bible. Without that basis, one ends
with an aberration such as the "Three Self Church" in China. As I plan for a PCA team in Tijuana/San Diego, I will be using the Nevius Principles as much as possible; and I hope many others will see that Scripture training is still the best church growth movement!
PCA MTW BEAMM
I truly appreciate your excellent reporting on the good, the bad, and the ugly in the PCA. I have been enjoying P & R News since my Church, Bridwell Heights PCA, became a sponsoring congregation almost a year ago.
The September 1999 issue of P & R News briefly discusses the worship views of the Rev. Mr. S. Wesley Baker, Jr. in "Mississippi Valley and PEF Begin Work in Peru: Team Will Work with Psalm-singing Denomination" (p. 14). "'Worship is very close to the Westminster Directory, though we're bending it in the direction of Knox's Liturgy,' declared [Rev. Baker]. He wants to rediscover a 'very clear distinct Reformed liturgy' which he says stretches 'from Bucer to Knox.'"
I applaud Rev. Baker for understanding a forgotten perspective in historic Presbyterian Worship, which some consider "Genevan" or "liturgical". Like the more "Puritan" of our brethren, we have a considerable disdain for childish, entertainment-oriented "seeker-sensitive worship"; but unlike our brethren, we have a distaste for minimalistic "three songs and a lecture" Puritan worship. Neither the cabaret show with rock band, nor the academic lecture hall suit us.
A brief examination of Calvin's Liturgy reveals such elements as corporate Confession of Sin, Declaration of Absolution, the Decalogue, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Sursum Corda, and the weekly administration of the Lord's Supper (though sadly Calvin "wimped out" and accepted the Genevan town council's unbiblical practice of monthly Communion).
Our view of the Regulative Principle of Worship may be defined by Reformed liturgical scholar James B. Jordan as the "catholic" form (i.e., ". . . we are to worship only as the Bible teaches, and that such teaching is found by way of command, principle, example, pattern, and every other mode of communication God has chosen to use"), as opposed to the Puritan "sect" form (i.e., ". . . whatever is not actually commanded in the New Testament to be done in worship, is forbidden").
The ancient liturgies have served Christ's Church quite well for much longer than either contemporary "seeker-sensitive worship" or "sect-like" Puritan worship. Contemporary "worship" does not look past 1999. Puritan worship does not look past 1650.
Those who love Biblical Worship, the ancient Faith, and the Presbyterian Church should obtain multiple copies of Leading in Worship (edited by Rev. Terry L. Johnson) and the 1946 The Book of Common Worship (both are available through the PCA Bookstore), to see how Biblical, God-centered, and beautiful the ancient liturgies of the Church truly are. May our Sovereign Lord use the light of the past to bring about reformation in our day.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Jonathan W. Williams, Bristol, Tennessee
In an editorial in the September 1999 issue you say, "We also agree [with Dr. Laird Harris?] that the phrase, 'in the space of six days', does have a definite meaning, and one which was known [to the Westminster Assembly?] to indicate six 'literal' days of twenty-four hours duration each."
It may be that the Westminster Divines had some such meaning in mind but to say that the phrase "in the space of six days" has a definite meaning is not at all a true statement. By definition every day has 24 hours-24 periods of 15 degrees rotation. However, that says nothing about the length of time occupied by an hour of rotation or a day. What we know from Scripture is that each of the six days is a natural day having an evening and a morning as it rotated relative to a light source (including on days one through three)-we know nothing about the length of time occupied by those days as we do not know how fast the earth was rotating. The Scriptures, by recording a number of major cosmic disturbances, clearly hint that those days (though each naturally enough being 24 hours-24 hours of 15 degrees being one complete rotation) were not of the same length of time as we presently observe. It is likewise true that we do not know the orbital path of the earth (hence nothing on which to base certain concepts of dating such as carbon-14) during the years prior to the most recent of many cosmic disturbances. We know they were years consisting of one orbit around the sun but we know little or nothing more than that.
Elsewhere in the same issue you report that the 27th GA adopted a position that all created things "were brought into existence simultaneously". How can the GA adopt a position clearly contrary to Scripture? Scripture records numerous creative acts during those six days that were clearly process over time and not instantaneous. As examples I would cite the separation of light from darkness and the bringing forth from the earth both plant life and animal life. Such resolutions as adopted by this court do not, can not, bring healing if they fly in the face of Scripture.
John O. Kinnaird, Nottingham, Pa.
Contrary to the report in Presbyterian and Reformed News, R. Laird Harris, past Moderator of the PCA GA (1982), and Professor Emeritus of Covenant Theological Seminary holds the long or "day/age" view. He clearly taught it when I was in the Seminary in 1975-1981. The quotations in the September P&R News (p. 17) are probably accurate, but the conclusion that the editor makes is exactly opposite to what Harris was saying. He is using Paul's method of asking what he considered was an outrageous question to which the answer was obviously, "NO!"
That having been said, let me testify that Dr. Harris is an extraordinary scholar and a wonderfully spiritual man. He is much loved by his former students and brother presbyters alike.
Charles H. Morrison III
Chaplain, US Army (Ret)
Member, Central Georgia Presbytery