Everyone expects me to say “Predestination” or something. But that’s so far down the list that I’ll forget to even mention it.
There are three things that prevent me from becoming a Methodist.Â (1) The entry and exit of “the light” (i.e. a child carrying a candle/snuffer contraption that walks down the aisle to light candles at the start of the service, and at the end, after snuffing, processes back up the aisle. (2) The “passing of the peace” (cupping your hands to receive the invisible stuff that your neighbor “pours in” which you then “pass on.”) (3) Greeting the people sitting next to you as a ritual part of the service.
I actually visited the local Methodist church Sunday before last, but told myself, “self, if they do any of those three things, we’re leaving.”
So I was gratified to see Garrison Keilor write,
There are basically two types of Americans and the first is the type that most of the world considers typical: the Americans who when the big smiley preacher stands in the pulpit and says, “How about everybody turn around and shake hands with the person behind you and give them a big howdy!” they all turn around and shake and say howdy and feel sort of uplifted by this. And then there are the Americans who would do anything to avoid this, including staying away from church entirely.
It is an aesthetic insight in the first place. But it points to a deep principle.
If God commands something that we find distasteful, we must of course do it. But not when man commands it.
Understanding this, is one entry into the Regulative Principle. Men are prohibited from commanding things in worship based merely on what they think is good.
The deeper insight is, that only God could possibly specify what pleases him in worship. Anything other than this is finally a denial of the Creator/creature distinction.
I submit that the Regulative Principle of Worship, not Predestination, is the rock-bottom fundament of the Reformed Church.