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Article on Baptists and the Regulative Principle published in Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry

I just had an article published in the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry on Baptists and the regulative principle. For those interested in reading it:

“Form and Substance: Baptist Ecclesiology and the Regulative Principle”

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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The church's mission is not societal transformation

2 Responses to Article on Baptists and the Regulative Principle published in Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry

  1. Scott, I enjoyed your article on the Regulative Principle, and have printed it for future reference (and a place in my files).

    I grew up in a rural missionary Baptist church. It had many advanced Bible students who knew the Bible well from studying it. On the other hand, they/we were mostly unsophisticated folks. The church basically held the “regulative principle” (or at least the remnants of it) without having ever heard of it. They spoke of believing the Bible and “doing what the New Testament church did”. But it wasn’t articulated in some overarching principle like the regulative principle. It seemed to be a notion that the old folks “got”. This began to break down under the assault of a modern post-World War II era. The simple life of farm folk was no longer sufficient to hold the interest of a rising generation – neither was the simplicity of worship that had prevailed intact for years. A simple “doing what the New Testament church did” didn’t quite suffice – especially when folks realized we actually didn’t always do what the New Testament church did and couldn’t explain why! Sans the regulative principle as a concept, it could be hard to articulate why the church “did what the New Testament church did” in some cases but not in others (maybe with it, too, sometimes). I spent a great part of my early ministry trying to understand why we had done what I instinctively thought was right – try to follow the example of the apostles and the New Testament churches. I came to believe that basically the regulative principle had been passed down in practice though not in name, and that we had been worshipping and practicing under the shadow of it all along.

  2. Thanks for weighing in, Robert. The regulative principle definitely is there at the root of what it means to be Baptist, so it’s not at all surprising that a church would pass it down even without the formal definition. It’s encouraging to hear stories like yours, especially when Pragmatism has infiltrated so many evangelical churches today, even Baptists.

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