Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Scripture in church - the Directory

Thinking about the Bible in worship sent me back to the Directory of Public Worship (Westminster Assembly, 1645) to re-read its instructions.

Fascinating stuff.

First of all since it is part of public worship the reading is to be done by the pastor or teacher or by someone training for ministry. I don’t think that public reading should be restricted to that office, but I wonder if we send the message that it dosen’t matter than much when our ministers never read.

All the books of the Bible are to be read in the common language from the best translation and to be read clearly so everyone can hear and understand.

The minister decides how mauch to read each time, but usually there should be a chapter of the Old Testament and a chapter of the New, or more if that is to short or it is is easier to follow if a longer portion is read!

The books should be read through in canonical order and chapter by chapter, but books like the Psalms shuld be read more often.

The minister might give an exposition along with the reading. Now don’t think that is the sermon, no there would be an expostion (or maybe two) and a sermon later in the service. But the minister is advised to complete the whole reading first, not commenting along the way and to be careful about how long this takes so as not to limit time for preaching or to make the whole servie “tedious”.

Literate people were to be exhorted to own a Bible and read it privately, while others should be encouraged to learn to read.


Marty said...


Anonymous said...

On the matter of Scripture reading: Terry Johnson's article in The Hope Fulfilled (P&R 2008) on Lectio Continua and his article with Ligon Duncan on Reading and Praying the Bible in Corporate Worship in Give Praise To God (P&R 2003)are thought provoking contributions to this topic. The Lectio Continua article is available for download at the Independent Presbyterian Church site.
In Leading in Worship Johnson makes what to me is a telling point: our theology informs our worship and our worship nourishes our theology. To alter our practice will have an effect on our theology.
In this case I fear the reformed theology which gave rise to reading of the Bible as a substantial part of corporate worship will eventually become compromised if reading the Bible is discontinued or severely reduced in our corporate gatherings.
Gary Ware