We not only have the responsibility to receive and observe the worship of God and its divinely revealed ordinances, we also are to keep pure and entire the worship of God and its ordinances. To keep them pure is to be constantly vigilant and to make the utmost effort to preserve God’s ordinances of worship from any and all mixture
with rites and practices invented by the brain of man and not commanded in the Word of God, for as John Knox said, “[a]ll worshipping, honouring, or service invented by the brain of man in the religion of God, without his own express commandment, is idolatry.”76 In keeping the worship of God pure we are “to allow or practice nothing but what is warranted by the rules which God has given us in his word; in opposition to those who corrupt his worship by intruding those ordinances into it which are of their own invention.”77 To keep them entire is, in faith, to practice diligently and regularly EVERYTHING God has commanded in His worship, leaving out not the smallest detail in its season, “so as that one duty may not justle out another,” “walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” (Luke 1:6).
76. John Knox, Selected Writings of John Knox (ed. by David Laing; Edinburgh, 1895; reprint Dallas, TX: Presbyterian Heritage Publications, 1995), 23.
77. Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 2:330. (58-60)
We cannot keep the worship of God and the revealed ordinances of worship pure and entire for long unless we are faithful and diligent in the disapproving, detesting, opposing of all false worship. (63)
Paul was stirred emotionally when he saw the name of God so wickedly profaned, and His pure worship so corrupted, because nothing was more precious to him than the glory of God. This is the common response of all true Christians, that as soon as they see their God blasphemed, they are greatly vexed in their spirit, and are moved to do what they can to stop such blasphemy. (64)
Second, Paul was not so angry and grieving over the idolatry that he saw that he was driven to despair and discouragement with a defeated spirit, paralyzed to any effort to resist and seek to overturn the idolatry. Other men, angry at what they see, overwhelmed by the extensiveness and intensity of the idolatry would give up,
because they believe that all their efforts would be in vain. (65)
There can be no unity in the church, purity of worship with the blessing of God if believers “do not break off all the bonds of impiety, separate ourselves from idolaters, and keep ourselves pure and at a distance from all the pollutions which corrupt and vitiate the holy service of God… [because] after men in their folly have
once begun to make to themselves false gods, their madness breaks forth without measure, until they accumulate an immense multitude of deities.” 87. John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, trans. by Rev. James Anderson, 5 vols. (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society; reprint Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 1:220. (65)
By monuments of idolatry, then, it is obvious that the Catechism, with Gillespie, is referring to: (1) Any monument dedicated in the past to the worship of idols that might preserve the memory of that idolatry or that might move people to return to that ancient idolatry; and (2) Those popish ceremonies obtruded upon the [Reformed and Presbyterian] Church of Scotland by the king of England and the Church of England, which were imitations of older rites and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church, for which no basis can be found in the Word of God as to their being commanded of God for us to use in His worship. This refers to such ceremonies as those set forth in the FIVE ARTICLES OF PERTH (1618) which were imposed upon the Church of Scotland by the English king: (1) Kneeling at Communion, (2) Observing holy days such as Christmas (which the Scottish Presbyterians saw as the idolatrous Saturnalia of the Romans adapted to become a popish festival), Easter, and Pentecost, (3) Episcopal Confirmation; (4) Private baptisms; and (5) Private administration of the Lord’s Supper.93 In fact, such ceremonies include any rite or liturgy in worship not commanded by the Word of God.
That it is the God-given duty of individuals, families, churches and states to remove all false worship and monuments to idolatry from a culture, according to each one’s place and calling, can be repeatedly shown from the Word of God. False worship, i.e., the worship of idols and the attempted worshipping of God by ways and means not commanded in His Word, is forbidden by God in the First and Second Commandments and is detestable to Him. Innovation in worship originating in the brain of man leads to tyranny in the state with laws imposed upon the populace originating in the brain of man, rather than the Law of God. (68-69)
The words, “shall be utterly destroyed,” are literally in Hebrew, “shall be put under the ban,” i.e., herem, which word denotes being devoted to God in death and “destroyed as execrable [detestable] and accursed, put to death without mercy.”95 Herem is a Hebrew word meaning “to utterly destroy,” “to devote to destruction,” “to place under a total curse,” “to ban.” (70)
The lesson in the Herem principle is that toleration of evil in ourselves, our homes, our churches, our schools, our businesses, our courts, our communities, and our nations is intolerable, as well as displeasing to God. A society that tolerates evil collapses under the righteous judgment and anger of the God who “hates all workers of iniquity.” ..... Above all, we must be intolerant of the sin that remains within us. We must tear down the idols of our own hearts before we start tearing
down the altars of idolators. (71-72)
[A]ll monuments of idolatry, i.e., everything that has been notoriously abused by idolatry, are to be abolished for two reasons: they remind and they move.
First, they remind, i.e., they preserve the memory of idols in people’s minds.
Second, they move, i.e., such reminders of idolatry often move people to turn back to idolatry from the worship of the true God. These reminders not only allow the memory of the superstitions they represent to continue among people, but many times that memory, imagination and curiosity seduce people to resume the superstition and the idolatrous use of them. (79-80)