Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thinking Through the Deliberate Church Chapter 6

As always, if you are just joining the discussion then please check out the foreword, intro, and chapter one. You can catch up pretty easily. If you have yet to buy the book I would suggest buying it for a paltry 9 bucks, here.deliberatechurch

Quick Summary:

Chapter 6 is a very short and simple chapter.  The goal of this chapter is to introduce the reader to the difference between the Regulative Principle and the Normative Principle.  The regulative principle “states that everything we do in a corporate worship gathering must be clearly warranted by Scripture.  Clear warrant can either take the form of an explicit biblical command or a good and necessary implication of a biblical text.” (77)  The Normative Principle on the other hand states that, “as long as a practice is not biblically forbidden a church is free to use it to order its corporate life and worship.” (77)

Dever suggests that we ought to adhere to the Regulative Principle rather than the Normative Principle.  Again, it is worth noting that there is usually very little difference in content between the two in practice.  And as D.A. Carson has said, “there is no single passage in the NT that establishes a paradigm for corporate worship.”  Nonetheless, the only thing worthy of binding the conscience is Scripture.  Therefore, the regulative principle, Dever argues, is the most viable option. 

The rest of the chapter Dever makes note that “worship is the purpose of redemption” and as such God cares about worship and specifically how He is to be worshiped.  The chapter closes with considering four passages of Scripture and what they say about worship.  Exodus 20:4 shows us that God cares how he is worshipped not simply that He alone is worshipped.  Exodus 32:1-10 helps us to see that we cannot choose how we worship Him, “we are to worship in His way on His terms.”  John 4:19-24 helps us to see that you can only properly worship God when you worship Him as He has revealed Himself to be.  Finally 1 Corinthians 14 helps us to see that worship is regulated by revelation. 


If corporate worship is the goal of redemption, then it only makes sense that God would reveal to His redeemed people how He wants us to worship Him when we gather.”  (78)

Corporate worship—even charismatic worship—is regulated by revelation.”  (79)


  • Which do you think is the correct paradigm: The Regulative or Normative Principle?
  • Does your church seem to follow the regulative or normative principle?
  • The following two are from Dever.  Read 1 Corinthians 14.  What do you observe here about the dynamics of corporate worship?
  • Read Leviticus 10:1-3.  What was it that made God angry, according to the text? 

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