The resurgence of Puritan regulative worship

2008 2008

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Abstract (summary)

Because of the strong respect of Southern Baptists for doctrine based solely on the Bible, a logical result includes the establishment of worship standards derived from Scripture. Southern Baptists insist that the Bible remains the ultimate standard for Christian conduct. At the end of the twentieth century, some Southern Baptists struggled with evaluating appropriate elements of worship based on biblical precedent.

The regulative principle of Christian worship maintains that acceptable forms of religious expression originated from the specific commands set forth by God in the Bible. The standards comprising the acceptable boundary for worship include only the provisions sanctioned in the Bible as theologically and morally permissible. The alternative, called the normative principle of worship, consists of a more tolerant approach by endorsing desirable practices not specifically prohibited in the Bible.

Different forms of worship appeared by the end of the twentieth century, and a popular aspect of worship included the acceptance of creative entertainment practices for the purpose of attracting non-Christians to services. Supporters of the practices describe the events as contemporary worship services and transform sanctuaries into coffee shops, theaters, and various entertainment enterprises. The shift to contemporary worship formats by some in the late twentieth century produced a resurgence of interest in the Puritan regulative principle of worship.

The researcher scrutinized the foundation of Southern Baptist worship with respect to biblical requirements and historical practices. The Puritans originally sought to cleanse and purify the church as the regulative principle emerged, and the unique focus of the study includes an examination of the reappearance of the regulation of worship among Southern Baptists. The researcher identified five churches currently practicing regulative worship and the effects produced in the spiritual maturity of church members.

In order to examine the renewed interest in the regulative principle, the study features six chapters. The first chapter introduces the unique significance of the work and summarizes the presuppositions related to the study. An emphasis in chapter two includes the historical precedent of Puritan regulative worship. Chapter three provides an explanation of the theological tenets by defining the issues and establishing worship as prescribed by God. The chapter includes an emphasis on the sufficiency of Scripture as well as the significance of reverence, honor, and orderly behavior.

In chapter four, the study presents the unique features of regulative worship including the necessity of simplicity and fellowship from horizontal and vertical perspectives. Chapter five explores the current expressions of the regulative principle by emphasizing church leaders from five Southern Baptist churches to demonstrate the resurgence of the movement. Statistics from each church include the method of implementation, different approaches, and changes experienced by the congregation.

The final chapter presents a conclusion to the study including organizational efforts, literature published, churches implementing the regulative principle today, and a recapitulation of the dissertation. The final analysis recognizes the resurgence of Puritan regulative worship in Southern Baptist churches and the necessity for establishing biblical boundaries in order to please God.

Indexing (details)

Biblical studies;
0318: Religion
0321: Biblical studies
0469: Theology
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Puritan; Puritan regulative principle; Puritan worship; Regulative principle; Regulative worship; Southern Baptist; Southern Baptist worship; Worship
The resurgence of Puritan regulative worship
Graves, Garry D.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 70/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Mahony, John
Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary
University location
United States -- Tennessee
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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