In a previous post I reviewed Derek Thomas's contribution to the book Always Reforming. He wrote a chapter on the doctrine of the church, and included a few comments on the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW). He has written more fully about the RPW in another place, but the few comments I read were enough to worry me just a little.
RPW is defined by Thomas as follows: nothing must be required as essential in public worship except that which is commanded by the Word of God. Thomas seems to think this is opposed to what he calls the Lutheran/Episcopalian worship principle: anything is acceptable as long as it is not explicitly forbidden. Already there is a sense of false dichotomy here.
But my concern grows. One thing to write that worship must be counter-cultural, conscious of not bowing to the prevailing ways of the world. But another thing entirely to claim that it would be "relatively easy to present a case for what some would regard as high-brow culture..."
The choice is between applying biblical principles in context, or following a tradition. I'm not sure you can really do both at the same time, in the same place. Too often I reckon RPW becomes following a tradition rather than biblical principles in cultural context.