Thursday, December 11, 2008

Acorn Located!

You know that saying that even a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut? After two documented failures (one) (two), Mr. Matthew Bellisario has finally done it! He has located a "Protestant" service with some inappropriate material (in this case a mime show - link to Bellisario's post) Mr. Bellisario finds this sort of thing absurd, and states: "By the way, if this nonsense, or anything like it is going on in any Catholic Church, it is equally absurd! I pray no bishop would allow such foolishness."

Naturally, similar nonsense can be found in Catholicism (as evidenced by this passion mime from "St. Luke's Catholic Church"):

You're thinking, "But maybe the YouTube video has just been mislabeled?" No, the web page for St. Luke's currently advertises that Good Friday 2009 will include "Stations [of the Cross] in Mime" (link). So, it seems safe to say that the labels for the video are correct. And Mr. Bellisario is right (did I just say that?), it is absurd in both cases.

What Mr. Bellisario doesn't explain is why this miming is not proper worship of God. It's "absurd" to him, but it mostly seems as though he can only express its supposed absurdity as a matter of taste: and a lot of people will actually find the performance at the "Protestant" church to be musically and artistically superior to the performance at "St. Luke's" above. They are not equally absurd because of similar artistic value.

Why then are such forms of worship improper and absurd? There is an answer: the Second Commandment: "Thou shalt not make unto they any graven image ... ." The Second Commandment forbids explicitly the worship of God by images, and using this metonymy forbids worshiping God in any way not appointed in his Word.

The worship of God must be regulated by the Word of God, not the creativity of man. We must worship God as he desires to be worshiped, not as we desire to worship him. We are supposed to go to church to meet with God, not to be entertained. I know I will step on a lot of toes by pointing this out, but there is no Biblical sanction for the worshiping of God by the use of drama, for miming, or the like in Scripture. There is no call in Scripture to burn candles as an act of worship. There is no call in Scripture to ring bells as an act of worship. There is no call in Scripture to use icons or other images in worship. There is no call in Scripture to offer prayers to anyone but God.

Mr. Bellisario (though I am picking on him a bit - particularly with the blind squirrel analogy) is not alone, which is the greater pity. Most "Protestants" today do not seem to understand that the one authorized representation of our Lord Jesus Christ is the bread and cup in the Lord's supper. Few "Protestants" openly employ images of God in their worship, but there are certainly numerous "Protestant" churches that are nearly as guilty as the papists in innovating new elements into their worship, whether it be miming or other performance art.

It is only with the Reformed doctrine of the Regulative Principle of Worship as an outgrowth of the Reformed doctrine of Sola Scriptura, that we can explain why the very beautiful performance provided by Mr. Bellisario's example video is not proper in God's sight, and why it would be inappropriate for a Christian elder to permit such activity. God has not asked for us to mime in worship to him. If you or your church does this, on what grounds do those who offer such worship hope to have it accepted? For those in Catholicism, what makes you think that saying the "Hail Mary" is pleasing to God? For those in Eastern Orthodoxy, what makes you think that lighting a candle in front of an icon, whether of Jesus, Mary, or anyone else, is pleasing to God?


1 comment:

Kyle said...

I daresay a pantomime performance is hardly any more absurd than men in dresses conducting an entire service of worship semi-audibly in a language few people understand.