Reformed Baptist Fellowship

A Step Backwards

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on February 8, 2010 at 1:47 pm

My wife and I recently left a church that we had been members of for over twelve years, to begin attending a Reformed Baptist church. It’s not that the old church was necessarily “bad”; there was much that was good about it, and we should be grateful whenever God’s people gather together to worship Him. And we certainly don’t believe that only Reformed Baptists are true Christians. We simply came to the conviction that the most important thing in the Christian life is the worship of the true and living God, and we could no longer do that where we were. This sounds odd to the modern American evangelical. “Sure, worship is important, but doesn’t God also care about…” Fill in the blank: “the poor”, “evangelism”, “global warming”, “the culture”; there are any number of things that we assume God is “concerned” about. Jesus said to the woman at the well,

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”  (John 4:23)

We left the old church not because we wanted everything “just our way,” but because we wanted to be with people who believed that the worship of God is the most important thing that happens on the Earth: more important than how “successful” the church is, more important than who the President is, more important than the latest Hollywood offering (even if there IS some kind of “redemptive theme”), more important than our own personal peace and prosperity, more important than someone’s notion of “relevance.”

So now we attend a church that is a sixth of the size of our previous church, and takes us three times longer to drive to, in the middle of nowhere instead of “strategically positioned”, singing out of old Trinity hymnals, and pastored by a faithful man who has been in this one place for decades, and who very simply and eloquently opens his Bible each week and preaches to us “the whole message of this Life.”

To some it may seem to be a step backwards, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

  1. Great job! I was encouraged by this. What you said was very true, the most important thing in the Christian life is the worship of the true and living God!

  2. I agree with Steve! May we keep the main thing the main thing!

  3. Thank God for you, who ever you are that wrote this article. May your tribe increase. Would to God there were more of your mindset, who put the worship of God above all else. Thank you for the encouragement that there are sheep who hunger for God’s Glory above all else still out there.

  4. RE: recently left a church that we had been members of for over twelve years, to begin attending a Reformed Baptist church…” I wish I could hear more of this, but more and more I am hearing that people are leaving Reformed Baptist Churches because they are tired of the same old stuff. They want something with a little more pizzazz in it. And our elders are giving in and changing the worship service of our churches to be more “accomodating” or culturally relevant. And, as offensive as this sounds, it is is the first generation of Reformed Baptist preachers who are now in the cross hairs. I.E. Albert N Martin. Well, this should start off a firestorm. But I am seeing a lot of it – at least here in Western Michigan.

  5. Thomas, as you know (and agree) pastor Al Martin is a faithful servant of Christ and His people. We should not be surprised that there are some who will take shots at him. BTW he will soon be added to our list of contributors on this site!

  6. I found this article very curious indeed. The article asserts that the most important thing on earth is the worship of God. From reading it I can only assume it should read the corporate worship of God according to the regulative principle as stated in the 1689 Confession of Faith.

    As a committed Reformed Baptist who does indeed delight in the things stated in Chapter 22 of our Confession regarding worship I do however have to strike a note of caution when we say it is the most important thing on earth, I think that such an assertion is to do what we need to be careful not to do, and in fact in some regards need to stop doing as Reformed Baptists, overstating things. John 4v23 does not assert the most important thing on earth is worshiping God according to the regulative principle as stated in the 1689 Confession of faith and we dare not make it say such either.

    There are many aspects to our Christian lives that are important and an over emphasis in one area leads to a defective walk in another. The reality of imbalance in this article is striking.

    This article is no doubt sincere but I fear brothers it does not do justice to the whole counsel of God and is not really as good and wonderful as has been applauded. We need to stop overstating things as it leads us in the direction of making issues where issues ought not to be made. There are no doubt genuine concerns to be considered about where some churches are at regarding worship, but this article does not really help the case.

    Such a subjective article that lacks exegetical weight is not useful and sheep need to be challenged to think things through much more biblically.

    Pity that it is anonymous, I do not think that helps either.

    Warmest regards


  7. I appreciate the heart that loves worship and I do too. And I am sick of trifles. Give me the deep, soul satisfying truths of redemption at the cross. But I have come to see in myself that many times I have had the “worship service” correct while many other areas of my life were in disobedience to God. In fact, I was often like the priest in the levite in the parable of the good Samaritan- using my “worship” as an excuse to be indifferent to real needs around me. The truth is, in trying to Love God first, I failed to love my neighbor, and consequently did neither. I know this is not true of everyone, but I have seen it before. I can also remember times when I was so busy criticizing others who were not reformed baptists that I failed to see the log in my own eye. Bless God that he continues to show us our sins and lead us to the cross where we can be humble.

    I agree with Robert. It is really hard to make a case that a Biblical idea of worship is limited to our worship service on Sunday. I know that for a long time that was true in my mind. This kind of mistake is similar to the one made by so many evangelicals who equate worship with “worship songs.”

    I think it is dangerous to pit things that are important to God against each other…as if Worship is really important but “making disciples” is not, or if it is on a second tier. Oddly enough, when Jesus does speak of the “weightier matters of the law,” Sabbath worship isn’t on his list. It is “Justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (Matt 23:23)

    It is hard to escape the words of James: “True and undefiled religion in the sight of God is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” It is clear from many places that we can get the “forms” of worship right, but because of indifference to the poor God will hate our worship (Amos 5:11 and 21). We are commanded to make disciples in the great commission (and its various forms). If we are good at “worship” but fail to do that, Jesus’ description fits us: “good for nothing” (Matt 5:13). If Jesus hadn’t said it, I wouldn’t believe it.

  8. Rob,

    Slow down. It appears to me that you are doing what you claimed the poster did – read more into a statement than was intended. I could be wrong. I will let the poster speak for himself/herself on this.

    Now, about what the most important thing on earth is. If the earth was created to be a temple in which God’s special presence was enjoyed by God’s sons/priest-kings in communion with Him, and if the church is God’s already/not-yet interadvental temple, where God’s sons/priest-kings offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, and if the Lord’s Day has been appointed by the Lord for His interadvental sons/priest-kings to offer up sacrifices as temple-ites in anticipation of the eternal state which is described in temple-garden-city language in Rev. 21-22, then I cannot see anything more important on the earth than when the church gathers and functions as the Bible states. It is the closest thing to the eternal state, when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, all His sons/priest-kings will be there, and the tabernacle of God will be among men. The local church in its function as a worshipping community is a microcosm, a faint type of what matters most in the Bible – the glory of God manifested in the Son of God as redeemer taking image bearers where Adam failed to take them. What we will one day enjoy without interruption in the eschatological state is what the whole Bible tends toward – special revelation is eschatological. As a matter of fact, as Vos said, in the Bible, eschatology preceeds soterioolgy. What we today enjoy with six-day interruptions is a glimor of what we will one day enjoy without interruption – sons/priest-kings of God in the New Heavens and New Earth serving our Lord, glorifying Him and enjoying forever. Those are some of the reasons I think interadvental temple services are the most important events on the earth.

  9. “Or let us look at the first Epistle of John, which was written to correct this very danger. It has in mind those people who were very ready to say certain things, but whose lives were a blatant contradiction of what they professed. John produces his famous tests of spiritual life. He says: ‘He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’ ‘If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.’ There were people who were doing just that; they were saying, ‘I am a Christian, I am in fellowship with God, I am a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ’; but they were living in sin. That is a lie, says John; it is transgression of the law, it is disobedience to God and His holy commandment. However much a man may say he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, if the habit of his life is persistently sinful he is not a Christian. And clearly the way to discover this is to examine ourselves. We must look at ourselves and examine ourselves in the light of the commandments, in the light of scriptural teaching, in the light of the Sermon on the Mount, and we must do so honestly. And, furthermore, when we come to the question of the works which we do, whether prophesying or casting out devils and doing ‘many wonderful works’, we must examine our motives. We must ask ourselves honestly, ‘Why am I doing this, what is the real urge behind it all?’; because a man who does not realize that he may be doing the right things for a thoroughly wrong motive is a mere tyro in these matters. It is possible for a man to preach the gospel of Christ in an orthodox manner, to mention the name of Christ, to be right in doctrine and to be zealous in the preaching of the Word, and yet really be doing it the whole time for his own self-interest and his own glory and his own self-satisfaction. The only way to safeguard ourselves against that is to examine and scrutinize ourselves. It is painful and unpleasant; but it has to be done. It is the only way of safety. A man has to face himself squarely and ask: ‘Why am I doing it? What is the thing that, in my heart of hearts, I am really out for?’ If a man does not do that he is exposing himself to the terrible danger of self-delusion and self-deception.”

  10. Brother Robert,

    I was taken aback by your post and I agree with Rich Barcellos in that you are doing the very thing you claimed the poster did. Whether it is John Piper, John MacArthur, Edmund Clowney, or John Calvin, it is commonly confessed among those who subscribe to Reformed Theology that worship is the most important element of the Christians life. The theme of Piper’s book concerning missions, “Let the Nations Be Glad” is that the ultimate goal of the church is worship. In his book “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”, Piper writes, “Nothing makes God more supreme and more central than when a people are utterly persuaded that nothing – not money or prestige or leisure or family or job or health or sports or toys or friends – is going to bring satisfaction to their aching hearts besides God. This conviction breeds a people who passionately long for God on Sunday morning. They are not confused about why they are here. They do not see songs and prayers and sermons as mere traditions or mere duties. They see them as means of getting to God or God getting to them for more of His fullness.” Likewise, John MacArthur has written, “The Father and Son have sought to redeem us that we may become worshipers. Jesus said that the Son of Man came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). In John 4 he reveals the purpose for His seeking: “For such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (vs. 23). The Father sent Christ to seek and save for the specific purpose of producing worshiping people” (The Ultimate Priority).

    Any church that does not believe that worship is the ultimate priority will be unbalanced and will move in a man-centered direction. Equally, any pastor who does not rightly perceive this truth will fail to lead his people in the fulfillment of their ultimate purpose.

  11. Rich, are you saying the eternal state will be an uninterrupted worship service with no other activities? I don’t think that is what you meant, but it would be good to have some clarification.

    It seems to me that the author has pitted the “worship of God” (RB style) as so supremely important that those other things are not important. He also seems to imply that worship in spirit and truth is the same as a worship service.

    I agree that worship is important, but that worship (to be all that scripture describes) is much bigger than simply the church’s gathering. It includes the corporate gathering, but much much more. It also removes any sacred/secular dichotomy. Eating, and working (like Adam did before sin in the garden) are all to be acts of worship.

    Rich, I agree with you about the importance of the gathered church’s worship. But the author didn’t simply say worship is important. He said worship is important and at least suggested that other things are not. How would you interact with the host of texts that, not by theological inference, but explicitly say that God is not interested in any worship that neglects those “other concerns?”

    Matt 9:13 (concerning evangelism) “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    Matt 23:23 (concerning the Pharisees who want to choose between acts of worship and concern over “other” issues) ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

    Proverbs 28:9 “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”

    I John 4:20 “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

    Is what the author seems to be applauding- having a church in the middle of nowhere, that preaches simple sermons and sings out of the trinity hymnal- and that doesn’t get mired down with all of those other things that other “modern American evangelicals” think “God is concerned about”- is that the same as what you are talking about as the sum of New Covenant worship? So important that we can brush aside evangelistic or social concerns about the poor as unimportant? Is there any such thing as a church that “gathers and functions as the Bible states” that does not care about the poor and the perishing? And if we cannot be a biblically functioning church without those concerns, why don’t we gently correct evangelicals more carefully when they are wrong, and leave them alone when they are trying to obey?

    BTW, the only text the author quoted to support the idea that evangelism is not as important as Sunday worship comes from an evangelistic conversation where Jesus is speaking with the woman at the well (calling her to be a worshipper), and afterward he rebukes his disciples for their blindness to the lost Samaritans. The harvest is plentiful, and people who truly care about worship will want others to come and worship God (like the Samaritan woman did)- that is what the harvest is all about. When Jesus told his disciples that they were the light of the world and that they should let their light shine, it was so that other people who see might become worshippers when they see our good works. In the final analysis, the great commission cannot be separated from worship, nor worship from evangelism. In the present fallen world, any divorce is a perversion.

  12. A general observation. There is a view in evangelicalism that evidently believes that many things are more important than worship. There is a Calvinistic church in SoCal that does not hold ANY services every time there is a fifth Sunday in the month (they are not alone, this is a bit of a trend). On those days they go into the community to paint over graffiti, work soup kitchens, help clean homes, and a host of other “good” things. I believe they are ommitting the best thing.

  13. Ah my beloved brothers, please read carefully what I said, I knew this would happen. I may have overstated as you say, it was not my intention.

    Rich you are not really advocating eternal hymn-singing with the Trinity Hymnal and eternally sitting in a corporate gathering of saints without doing anything but looking at the person of Christ?

    Surely experiencing the presence of God with us which is how i understand the Edenic temple through the New Heavens and New Earth is far more glorious and far more extensive than a corporate gathering of the saints ? Surely worship is far more extensive than that even now ! What about Paul’s words in Romans 12v1-2 and how he then fleshes that out in application? Yes corporate worship matters, yes we ought to hold it in high regard but let’s not place it in a category not granted to it by the Scriptures and denegrate other aspects of God’s will for our lives into the bargain. I am sorry I moved too fast for you Rich, hopefully you are keeping up now 🙂

    Steve my point was not that corporate worship is not important, and that it does not matter, but I get concerned when we start to assert things in a way that so easily leads us into a formalism that is actually not healthy. Quoting John 4 as though it supports the assertion made is surely a misuse of scripture and needs to be pointed out as such.

    It may simply be my sensitivity to over emphasis, and if it is then my humble apologies, but I have been a Reformed Baptist long enough to know we can boast in our forms all we like, but it is the heart of the issue that needs addressing. Over-emphasis on public worship in the manner I read this article leads to dead orthodoxy and we need to be careful. If I have misread the emphasis then my apologies to the author whoever they may be.

    I honestly thought I was simply calling for caution. We live and learn.

    Warmest regards


  14. Perhaps this bit of further clarification might help you understand my concern.

    In re-reading the article and the cautions of Rich and Steve I simply would say this.

    Priding ourselves in our form of worship is certainly not possessing the right spirit in terms of our worship. I found the article to be of that ilk. This is the kind of spirit that I believe has harmed our testimony as Reformed Baptists and it is this that I desire to caution against.

    I am seriously concerned that we recognize it in ourselves and seek to humbly address it. I have been guilty of it far too often and I have seen the Lord judge churches because of it, and rightly so.

    The text quoted from John 4 places its emphasis on the spirit we possess as well as the truth. I fear brothers when we boast in our form at the expense of others we are not in possession of the right spirit. Thus according to the text, we are not yet the worshipers God is looking for, even if we might think we are because of our form.

    Hope I am understood better now. Thanks for your patience and admonitions.

    Warmest regards


  15. Matt, the original poster said: “…we wanted to be with people who believed that the worship of God is the most important thing that happens on the Earth…” I took that as public worship on the Lord’s Day. I agree with that statement – i.e., that the most important thing that happens on the earth is public worship on the Lord’s Day. That is not to say that other things aren’t important. God’s law has a built-in hierarchy in it – God first, then man. My post was an attempt to make sure that we keep the God first then man approach to everything. Some things we do are more vertical than others. I think public worship on the Lord’s Day is one of those things. I think it’s the church’s primary task. I think this is so because of the over-all canonical trajectory of Scripture.

    Also, I said, “The local church in its function as a worshipping community is a microcosm, a faint type of what matters most in the Bible – the glory of God manifested in the Son of God as redeemer taking image bearers where Adam failed to take them.” This-age corporate worship is only a faint type of what is to come. Certainly there will be continuity and discontinuity between what we do now in all realms of life and what we will do then. Only the Lord knows the details, though.

    As far as evangelism and social concerns go, they have their place. I think the Great Commission warrants evangelism a place much above social concerns, though. I think the Great Commission is best exemplified in the Book of Acts, a book that illustrates what our Lord Jesus continued to do and teach upon His ascension – i.e., He used the apostles to preach the gospel and plant churches. A final note on social concerns, I do not think the Apostle Paul (or the other Apostles) had as much concern for social issues as many in our day seem to be promoting. I think what is happening is an over-reaction to perceived wrongs of the past and a degenerating culture. Whether those perceived wrongs are real or merely perceived is another issue. However, I think the most important thing is to uphold the primacy of public worship in a day when many seem to be substituting it for other important, though secondary things.

  16. Thanks for your reply. I think the important thing is to obey all that God has said and not use obedience in one area as a substitute or excuse in another. That has always been a real danger, and it still is.

    I am not sure who the “many” in our day are that you are referring to. I am sure they are out there, and If I was reading their stuff I would probably be really upset. I know liberals do social justice and chuck the gospel. But we shouldn’t let them rob us of the privilege of serving Christ. I don’t know of any RB church in America that is in danger of being “too” concerned about orphans and widows or any other social issue. I am not sure that you can emphasize the importance of social issues more than James did when he said that “true and undefiled religion”-the purest form of religion is to care for orphans and widows in their distress. Is there any stronger language? Is the real truth that the regulative principal of verses applied to texts like those convict us too much? I don’t know…. It convicts me deeply, so deeply that I dare not criticize another professed christian who is serving in these areas for fear of being a pharisee.

    chewing on that lasts paragraph… Maybe I am taking your words the wrong way, but I am concerned by the idea that the “Great Commission” gives evangelism a “place.” Of course, that is practically how Americans live. It is something we get to if we have the time. But from the head of the church it is a command, and it is repeated in various forms in clear language. It is the marching orders for the whole church age. It is the fulfillment of OT covenantal promises. It is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. It is what will populate heaven. How shall they hear without a preacher? It is the reason the Lord has not yet returned, and we are to hasten his coming by fulfilling it. It is the purpose for which Jesus came into the world, and sent the spirit. It is the purpose for which he sent us. We are to be advancing his kingdom. It is not one item on the agenda, it is the agenda. Anyhow…that is how I feel about it.

  17. RB,

    Trinity Hymnals in the eternal state? Well, I think I would be greatly dissapointed if things produced in this age were carried over into the age to come on a one-to-one correspondence. My eschatology gives me much more to expect than that. 🙂 What we taste now is only that – a taste of that which is to come. Looking at the person of Christ, btw, is not that bad of a thing – 2 Cor. 3:18. 🙂 From the glimpses of what we get in the Bible concerning the age to come, constantly learning of His surpassing grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus sure seems inviting to me (Eph. 2:7). What that will look like, the Lord has not yet revealed. My point has been and is still this – let’s not sell the farm of corporate worship for anything else. Me thinks that one of the things being attacked in our day is something RBs have, in the past 30 or so years, sought to uphold – the primacy of public worship. Granted, we have not always held this with grace and humility as we ought to have, much to my own shame. But no one is doing that nor can do that – no one! Our sins are not the issue I am addressing. Our imbalances are what they are – the Lord knows. However, that does not mean we should throw the baby out with the bath-water, something I know you agree with. If public worship is primary in the Scriptures, then let’s preach it from the housetops and live it. If we have neglected other things, then let’s wake up and smell the coffee. I would be the second to admit that I have not evangelized or sought the well-being of other image bearers as I ought – God being the first to admit it. Let’s continue to uphold that which is most important. Let’s also think about what’s important, though secondarily so, and seek to reform our own lives and the lives of our people around those things. I think we can agee about this.

  18. Rich, you are a great brother in Christ and I love you 🙂 And I love worshipping God with his people with all my heart too and I would die for it.

  19. Brothers,

    I hope you find the Robert Godfrey article concerning Calvin and the worship of God helpful in light of the current discussion on the priority of worship.

  20. Priority of worship, I like that Steve, perhaps captures more the biblical emphasis without overstatement.

    However one thing that came to me in pondering your responses as well as my own comments, what about Matthew 5v23-24? It seems to me that the most important thing in the mind of our Lord in that text is not the act of public worship but being reconciled to a brother? Can we deduce from this that the most important thing on the earth is not our corporate acts of public worship but our relationships with one another? Curious to know how you view this?

    Thanks for the Calvin article Steve, how I love Calvin.

    Warmest regards


  21. If we use the Trinity Hymnal in Heaven, don’t worry, we’ll be singing most of them to an alternate tune, a capella on the last two verses, of course!

  22. Pastor Briggs, it would appear that one could argue that, because public worship is of “primary” importance, it is crucial that nothing prohibit us (known sin against a brother) from being able to worship aright. However, I am not saying that this is the answer or my view. Quite frankly, I think we could argue forever about what is of greatest importance. Evidently Martha found many things that seemed to her of great importance; however, Christ said that Mary had chosen the “one thing that is needed” – that is sitting humbly at the feet of Jesus and hearing His Word.

    If we are to be “complete” and “thoroughly equipped for every good work,” then we are going to have to take up the Word of God, the WHOLE Word of God, to find what it is He wants from us – whether it be about public worship on Sunday, our relationship with our spouse and children, our attitude and life with our brethren, our daily walk with Christ, our prayer closet, our commitment and outworking of the great commission, the mortification of sin, the perfoming of the works which God prepared beforehand for us to do, etc., etc. etc.

    Mary chose the one thing needful. Let us choose the same. To know what our Lord wants from us in all areas of our life. Christ condemned the scribes and Pharisees for determining what THEY though was of greatest importance to the neglect of other things… “For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”

    Might the words of Jesus regarding these issues be, “You ought to be zealous for pure and true biblical worship, without leaving these other things undone”? Let’s be careful not to prioritize what God has not prioritized. But let us all strive to be complete, thoroughly equipped for EVERY good work, to the praise and honor of our dear Saviour.

  23. Brothers,

    When we decided to post this blog, we really thought that this would be a safe blog. Who within our ranks, would challenge a layman, who says that being a member of a small, yet faithful RB church, has been a joyful discovery?

    “We simply came to the conviction that the most important thing in the Christian life is the worship of the true and living God, and we could no longer do that where we were. This sounds odd to the modern American evangelical.”

    Note two things: The author (who I assure you is a well balanced Christian man) did not say that worship is the _only_ important issue for a Christian. No, but it is the most important activity that we are privalaged to engage in.

    Second, there seems to be a prophecy in these words “This sounds odd to the modern American evangelical.” It would seem that many of us are now more American evangelical than we would ever admit.

  24. “Above all, we must prize the blessing of corporate worship. The church of the Lord, gathered for worship, marks the pinnacle of our fellowship with the Lord and with one another. The church is the people of God, the new humanity, the beginning of the new creation, a colony of heaven …. In corporate worship we experience the meaning of union with Christ.” Edmund P. Clowney

  25. >>However one thing that came to me in pondering your responses >as well as my own comments, what >>about Matthew 5v23-24? It >seems to me that the most important thing in the mind of our >Lord in that >>text is not the act of public worship but being >reconciled to a brother? Can we deduce from this that >>the most >important thing on the earth is not our corporate acts of public >worship but our >>relationships with one another? Curious to >know >how you view this?

    The Scriptures are very clear that if our hearts are not right with God (Matt 15:8-9) or with our brother (Matt 5:22-23) our worship is worthless. Such passages remind us that there are inward and outward elements concerning biblical worship. These facts however do not weaken the priority of corporate worship.

  26. A concerned Reformed Baptist – Well said!

  27. I agree with Clowney, who got that from Vos, who got that from Owen, who got that from… 🙂

  28. I think if anyone disagrees with anything on this blog it is definitely because they have compromised with modern evangelicalism.

  29. Concerned RB, good post brother, I am tracking with you and believe you state it well. Biblical priorities in every area of life is what we are called to.

    As a Scot David, I am not an American evangelical so I know you were not alluding to me, not so sure about you though Matt 🙂 Pity we have such a disparaging spirit towards American evangelicals whoever they happen to be :)Maybe that is something we should discuss.

  30. I agree with Matt and I agree with Robert Briggs! 🙂

  31. Random thoughts: This thread illustrates something I think is important. Some folks give the appearance of reading blogs with a fine-toothed comb on ground level. As soon as these kinds of readers see something they think is dangerous or potentially dangerous, red flags go up and their posts reflect that (I have done this before.). Fair enough; there’s a place for this. Others read posts from 10,000 feet, giving a sort of fly-by, big-picture, historically conditioned analysis (I have done this before.). Fair enough; there’s a place for this. Most probably read with elements of both approaches (I have done this before.). Fair enough; there’s a place for this. When I read the initial post, I rejoiced for the poster. I gave it a high-level read and assumed that the poster believed more about what’s important than he/she stated. For instance, I assumed the poster knew that Matt. 5:23-24 is in the Bible, that life is not all about public worhip on the Lord’s Day during the interadvental era, that believers must deal with texts about widows and orphans, that the eternal state is not one big corporate worship service with Trinity Hymnals, etc. I do not know the poster personally, but I think he/she deserves the benefit of the doubt on these and other matters. My hunch is that if he/she knew what has come about as a result of the post, he/she would say something like, “Hey, guys, mellow out. My intention was to be selectively positive. I am happy that I now attend a church where the main thing is kept as the main thing – that’s all, nothing more, nothing less.” Are there tendencies toward imbalance where local churches advocate the primacy of public worship? Of course there are. I am certain the poster would agree with this. For me, I fully assumed this while reading his post and while responding to the subsequent comments. I think there is a tendency in me to read things like this, think about potential abuses in the future or perceived ones from the past or present and then post to correct these things. I think there is a place for that. But I also think that we should assume that the poster and others realize these things. When I comment, I try to do so assuming the entirety of Special Revelation and in respect of its over-all trajectory (and I want my readers to assume that’s the case). I am sure I fail sometimes, maybe often. When I respond to others, I attempt to do the same thing – assume more than what they have written. But in assuming more than what they have written, I try not to assume the worst. I am sure I have failed miserably at this and will in the future. I don’t want my posts to give the appearance of poking wholes at minute details and implications of the bad sort. I don’t think this is helpful on blogs/discussion lists at all. If I do not repsond to specific questions posters ask of me, it is sometimes because I think it’s a minute detail that is either unimportant in light of the whole or simply an unhelpful digression into more details that I either do not have time to address or view as assumptions that most, if not all readers already understand. Well, those are my random thoughts for a Saturday morning.

  32. My opinion of the blog was evidenced by this: Along with our regular study, I printed off this blog and read it at our last Wednesday evening prayer meeting. It was met by our people with hearty “Amens”.

  33. Brothers, fair enough 🙂

  34. Rich – As to your last post especially – and the others as well – incredibly well said. Thank you.

  35. If the Chief end of man is to; “Worship God and Enjoy Him forever” I find it difficult to find any error in a claim such as; “the worship of God is the most important thing that happens on the Earth”. I would even be led to go so far as saying; it would be difficult to truly enjoy any of the other good and true Blessings of our Lord without the aforementioned no matter how much we deem them “important”.

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