Thursday, October 30, 2008

Follow-up Regarding the Public Reading of Scripture

The following question was prompted by my last post: A woman in the congregation shares her testimony during the service. Said testimony includes the reading of a passage of Scripture. Is such a practice allowable?

I'll probably get myself in trouble with my answer, as it will be so hopelessly out of date and so terribly rigid. Neither the Westminster Confession of Faith nor the PCA Book of Church Order include "testimonies" as an element of worship. Hence, I think testimonies ought not be allowed in the public worship of the church. They are fine in any other setting, such as group Bible studies or prayer meetings. By extension, someone reading a passage of Scripture in the context of such a testimony is disallowed.

Further, I think women reading Scripture in public worship is disallowed. The Word of God is authoritative, which makes its reading in public worship an authoritative act. This would be disallowed by the strictures of 1 Tim 2:12


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response Dr Shaw. Would the following from the PCA BCO be examples of recommended "testimonies"?

57-3. When unbaptized persons apply for admission into the Church, they shall, ordinarily, after giving satisfaction with respect to their knowledge and
piety, make a public profession of their faith, in the presence of the
congregation, and thereupon be baptized.
57-4. It is recommended, as edifying and proper, that baptized persons,when admitted by the Session to the Lord’s Supper, make a public profession of their faith in the presence of the congregation. But in all cases, there should be a clear recognition of their previous relation to the church as
baptized members.

Prodigal said...

"The Word of God is authoritative, which makes its reading in public worship an authoritative act."

Now I know you reformed Presbyterians live and die by the confessions and such, but this is extreme to say the least.

Now lets say that one of your churches (that is, under your denom) allows a more contemporary type of worship, one that is not on the cutting edge of the 18th century. And just as all good worship is, it is literally woven through with the word of God. Would you consider the singing of this worship music by a women improper?

Maybe this isn't such a good example, but I think that you may benefit from a more complementary view on this subject.

As long as a women is approved by the proper male leadership, why not allow a women to read a text from the word? The Pastor is the one exegeting the text is he not?

Nicholas T. Batzig said...


Would you be willing to let us know who you are and what denomination you worship in so that we could answer you better. I found my way to your blog the other day on a completely different site and was discouraged by the anonymous nature of your blog. I would simply like to know who I am writing in response to, before I post something.