One of the major reasons I wrote Recovering the Reformed Confession was to call attention to a weird sort of two-way traffic. Some in the Reformed Churches in North America and apparently in Scotland seem ready to abandon the very thing that some of us Gentiles, lately grafted in as wild-olive branches to the people of God, are just discovering and recovering.
This two-way traffic appears in some of the comments made in response to Carl Trueman’s analysis of the evangelical response to the problems in the Church of Scotland. One of those suggestions is that it’s time to give up the historic approach to Reformed worship because it is no longer tenable.
As one who is part of a small movement in N. America to help confessional Reformed churches recover what some of what is now being questioned, I hope that folk will re-consider at least some of their advice. The posts advocating abandoning the historic understanding of the RPW illustrate perfectly some of what I describe in RRC. I serve and live among churches that have taken your advice for a couple of hundred years (in the case of the Am. Presbyterians) and for about a century (in the case of the Christian Reformed Church and her off-spring) and it has not worked out very well.
What began as a modest revision of the Psalter in the CRC had led to the virtual abandonment of psalms in the CRC. In my own federation, any congregation that didn’t sing hymns with instruments would be considered odd. Anyone who advocates the singing of God’s Word without instruments is considered an oddball. Perhaps I am one but it shouldn’t be for the fact that I hold the historic Reformed view of worship. The sad historical fact seems to be that, on the theology and practice of worship, there is no halfway house between Geneva and Azusa Street (revivalism). I think this is because of the very nature of the Regulative Principle (WCF 21) as an application of the 2nd commandment and sola Scriptura. Either we worship God as he as commanded or we do not. Either the principle is that we do only what he has commanded or it is not. Either the typological expression of worship has been fulfilled or it has not. Today, in the North American scene, it is almost impossible to find folk who can even articulate the RPW (WCF 21 or Heidelberg Catechism 96) correctly. When asked, most give the Lutheran principle and call it Reformed. Some of our ostensibly Reformed authors have done this in print.
The folk who gave us the RPW and its application in the Directory for Public Worship did read the Bible quite carefully. They understood the alternatives you seem to be counseling and they rejected them. Certainly our confession (theology, piety, and practice) is be subject to revision according to the Word of God (sola Scriptura) but we should not initiate the process of revision under the assumption that we’re advocating arguments that have never been considered.
ps. They’re also discussing RRC at De Regnis Duobus.