One of these days VERY SOON I'm going to post a lengthy study and research paper I've done on the biblical materials about the subject of WORSHIP, particularly as it relates to what is commonly called the Regulative Principle and the Normative Principle. Put in simple terms those principles are respectively, “One can ONLY do things in worship services that the Scriptures give clear warrant to do," [Regulative] or, "One can DO anything they please in worship services as long as it is not condemned in scripture." [Normative]
I believe BOTH are aiming for something good. The Regulatives [Reformed folks basically] don’t want Scripture to be silenced. They want to take textual authority seriously. They don’t want Scripture to be a dusty set of standing orders that only functions to rule out certain things. I understand that and applaud them for it!
While the Normatives [Congregationalists basically] don't want to tie the hands of the Holy Spirit in leading us into new expressions of worship that can produce a legitimate hearing from the culture and might even give means to the Body of Christ expressing their giftedness. My understanding and applause continues!
But, as you can imagine if you know me at all, I think BOTH may be missing it a bit, and as a result congregations are being led into methods and means that may very well ROB them of adequately FULFILLING the scriptures themselves AND/OR manipulating them to have an experience that is just a bit short of being entertained. [Maybe not short of it at all!]
I'm convinced BOTH the Regulative AND the Normative may very well be MISSING what I see as the most important New Testament principle of worship which, for the lack of a better term, [I actually read it somewhere] I would call the EDIFYING PRINCIPLE of worship. This Principle is introduced to us from the text and gives us a freedom to be both creative AND discerning and would MAXIMIZE the gifts, talents and abilities of MEN AND WOMEN who are in the fellowship. Now I'm REALLY APPLAUDING!
This would allow us to get back to the textual guidance for the original purpose of corporate worship which is, as I see the text, NOT for a vertical emphasis, where it's all about FORGETTING each other and focusing on GOD ALONE, but , as the text shows, IS for a horizontal emphasis, [still talking about Corporate Worship here] where we focus on all the "ONE ANOTHER'S" of the scriptures and God is GLORIFIED [honored, experienced and seen to be present] in it all. You can see I believe that the "worship hour" may wind up having very little difference from "small groups," whether they're called community groups or flocks or___whatever! Corporate Worship is to be a congregational experience and NOT an Old Testament High-Priest experience!
More to come later.