Liturgical Nestorianism (Jordan)

The Elements of Worship

terminism: defining one term by its other. There is a tendency to reduce everything in theology to laws. Laws are important, but God didn’t always do that. There are types, symbols, analogies, etc (66). This means God is only allowed to communicate his desires via commands and not in patterns.

Disclaimer: I am certainly NOT advocating Jordan’s approach to worship nor really much else associated with the man. But I do think Jordan neatly summarizes the situation and points out several flaws in some (not all) RPW approaches. Jordan’s thesis is more or less correct: As (practical) Nestorianism is the separating the human and divine natures in Christ, leading to a diminution of the human nature, so liturgical Nestorianism means keeping the human so far away from worship that he is nothing more than a recipient who hears preaching sings (a little).

Initial key points:

(1) Strict RPW advocates charge any kind of maximalism in worship as going back to OT types and shadows, as best seen in Roman Catholic worship. Jordan asks the obvious question: “Why do you assume (without proof) that Rome got Old Covenant worship correct?”

(2) The contrast in biblical is not a move from exterior to interior (this is Plato on crack) but from glory to glory. The goal is eschatological maturation, not Platonic interiorizing.

(3) Strict RPW advocates claim that a) NT worship is based on the Synagogue and not the Temple; and b) NT worship is regulated by God by direct command. Jordan points out that obvious: If this is true, then it is a meeting of silence. Nowhere does God command what goes on in the Synagogue. God simply commanded a holy convocation every Sabbath (Lev. 23). He didn’t say anything else.

(4)If something is “Fulfilled” in the New Covenant why do we normally assume that “fulfilled” means “done away with?” Isn’t this the textbook definition of dispensationalism? Mind you, I don’t think that everything should be done in the New Covenant.

(5) When God commands singing in the Bible, it is always accompanied by instruments. The 4th book of the Psalter (specifically Psalms 90-98) progresses from the arrival to the enthronement of Yahweh’s king). Music is connected with ascension and enthronement (Jordan 37).

(6) Levitical priests weren’t really mediators. There weren’t any mediators before Moses (not systematically). Levitical priests were household servants. Psalm 110 tells us who the true Mediator is in the old covenant. Only priests in union with the Melchizedekian priest-king mediate. But this is exactly what new covenant believers are (44).

(7)Can Revelation be used as an order of worship? Maybe.

Exclusive Psalmody

Jordan points out that Eph. 5.19 and Col. 3:16, which some used to refer to “three types of Psalms,” do not refer to corporate worship at all, but to the daily life of the believer (85).

If the Song is an element in worship, it should be applied the same as other elements (86). When we preach, we use “new words.” When we pray in worship, we use “new words.”


This book highlights all of the weak points in an overly strict interpretation of the Regulative Principle of Worship. Jordan’s idiosyncrasies are kept at a blessed minimum.

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