Les Lanphere is the filmmaker who gave us CALVINIST. Les and Tanner host the Reformed Pubcast. He is working on a new film on a most important topic: worship. How important is it? In his response to the Leipzig Interim (1548), which said that things the Reformed regarded as forbidden by God were adiaphora or morally indifferent, Calvin wrote a response. In that document he called the Interim the “Adultro-Interim.” He said that there were two hills, as it were, on which he was prepared to die: worship and the gospel. He put them in that order. He spent his entire ministry trying to bring about a Reformation of worship according to the Word of God. With all the Reformed churches he confessed that God has given us a “rule of worship,” which has come to be known as the “regulative principle of worship.” That principle says that we may worship God only in the way that he has commanded.
Calvin had a point. In Scripture God repeatedly demonstrated that he is concerned that we not only worship the true God but that we worship him truly. Consider the case of Nadab and Abihu:
Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before Yahweh and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before Yahweh, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before Yahweh and consumed them, and they died before Yahweh. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what Yahweh has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace (Lev 9:22–10:3).
Ask Ananias and Sapphira whether God has changed (Acts 5:1–12). Hint: “For I Yahweh do not change; utherefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Mal 3:6) and “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:28–29).
The Reformed churches confess this principle explicitly. Heidelberg Catechism 96 asks, “What does God require in the second commandment?” In response we confess, “That we in no way make any image of God, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded us in His Word.” This was the unanimous confession of the Reformed churches yet relatively few of us who regard ourselves as Reformed seem to be aware of this principle and its application to worship.
Week after week, billions of Christians all over the world gather together in church buildings, homes, and secret locations to participate in an activity that dates back to the creation of the world. They worship.
From euphoric emotional rock shows to solemn sanctuaries where men in robes are surrounded by stained glass, philosophies on how we should approach God are all over the map. Does it matter how we worship God? Is it just about our preference? Does God care how He is worshipped?
I believe that the way we worship God is the most important thing we do in all of life. I want to make a film that explains what Biblical worship is all about.
As a Reformed filmmaker, I’m passionate about making the exploration of the glorious truths of God clear and enjoyable. In making my first documentary film Calvinist, I learned so much about the craft of filmmaking, and I’m confident Spirit & Truth will be better in every way. I hope that by watching this film, people will become excited to learn about what God has to say about worship.
There is a Kickstarter page for this project. There you can see a longer trailer and another short video by Les about how to support the project.