can I join the PCA?

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Preach

Puritan Board Sophomore
Here's the situation:

Myself and another former Southern Baptist minister have converted to covenant theology. We are in the middle of a church plant (the Sunrise church). We adhere to the WCF except in the area of church polity.

However, our situation has a wrinkle. Unlike the independents (I'm assuming their motives)at the Westminster assembly, John Owen (most of his life?), Jonathan Edwards, and the New England Puritans, my colleague and I do not advocate independency.

We have studied church polity and simply cannot resolve the issue. We are ine the process of dialoguing with the local presbytery regarding the possibiolity of joining the PCA and persuing licensure and ordination.

I flat out asked the following question (rough paraphrase): "Is it possible for a man to be ordained in the PCA if he will not say'believe that the Presbyterian form of government is the only Biblical form of government".

As of now, it seems that the two men I spoke to within the Presbytery seem to think it may be a possibility. I was interested in any comments, especially from those in the PCA that may be able to give insight. Thanks.
"In Christ",
Bobby
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Bobby,

On a practical note, never become part of something as an "associate" - always be a full fledged member. Otherwise, you are going to have a rough time, even though you can't see the forest for the trees right now. There are ogres in there! They will bite you in the end.

I would do this - at http://www.naphtali.com/index.htm they have the "Jus Divinum" or "Divine Right of Church Government". EXCELLENT book. Get it and read through it. They have it in paperback form, and it costs, I think like $20. Read through that and see what you think. Then if you still can't resolve it, take next steps. But do everything you can to resolve it. It would be a great help in doing so. it is thoroughly exegetical and very thoughtful (understatement).

Its here:

http://www.naphtali.com/index.htm

Scroll down.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Bobby,

I find it absolutely amazing. You don't have to be a Presbyterian to be an officer in the Presbyterian Church. I would suggest you get a another opinion.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I recall a survey was done, maybe 10 or more years ago, that found in the South, a surprising percentage of PCA Ruling Elders did not hold to Paedobaptism! So maybe this is not really that surprising.
Thanks for the book plug Dr. McMahon!:banana:
Now, one of these days maybe I will publish Divine Right of the Gospel Ministry by the same folks who wrote Divine Right of Church Government....
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Here's an offer. Anyone who orders Jus Divinum from Naphtali Press and mentions Dr. McMahon's plug for the book here on the Puritanboard will get free priority shipping (sorry, USA only). Quantities of the hardback edition are limited.
See http://www.naphtali.com/

[Edited on 3-23-2005 by NaphtaliPress]
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Originally posted by NaphtaliPress
Here's an offer. Anyone who orders Jus Divinum from Naphtali Press and mentions Dr. McMahon's plug for the book here on the Puritanboard will get free priority shipping (sorry, USA only). Quantities of the hardback edition are limited.
See http://www.naphtali.com/

[Edited on 3-23-2005 by NaphtaliPress]

Sweet. How long is this good for? (I won't have money until next Friday...)
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
I recall a survey was done, maybe 10 or more years ago, that found in the South, a surprising percentage of PCA Ruling Elders did not hold to Paedobaptism! So maybe this is not really that surprising.

WOW! :eek: That is very surprising. I know that in general the PCA doesn't really think much of the office of Ruling Elder but to allow an RE to take that exception is incredible. The implications of allowing this exception based on the Reformed Theology presented in the Standards is disastrous.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by wsw201
I recall a survey was done, maybe 10 or more years ago, that found in the South, a surprising percentage of PCA Ruling Elders did not hold to Paedobaptism! So maybe this is not really that surprising.

WOW! :eek: That is very surprising. I know that in general the PCA doesn't really think much of the office of Ruling Elder but to allow an RE to take that exception is incredible. The implications of allowing this exception based on the Reformed Theology presented in the Standards is disastrous.

This cannot be the case formally. An exception to Paedobaptism disqualifies one from the office of RE. The GA ruled on this specific issue some time ago. It is not an option "permitted" to the Presbytery or Session. The ruling was VERY clear.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
This cannot be the case formally. An exception to Paedobaptism disqualifies one from the office of RE. The GA ruled on this specific issue some time ago. It is not an option "permitted" to the Presbytery or Session. The ruling was VERY clear.

Maybe the RE's are taking a "Scruple". :p
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by wsw201
I recall a survey was done, maybe 10 or more years ago, that found in the South, a surprising percentage of PCA Ruling Elders did not hold to Paedobaptism! So maybe this is not really that surprising.

This cannot be the case formally. An exception to Paedobaptism disqualifies one from the office of RE. The GA ruled on this specific issue some time ago. It is not an option "permitted" to the Presbytery or Session. The ruling was VERY clear.
That may be Fred (do you recall the date?), but I suspect there was a lot of grandfathering. If so at least these cases "should" die out. Or rotate off if you're into that (I'm not).
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Chris,

The case in question was TE David Bowen vs. Eastern Carolina Presbytery (Case 90-8, p. 448 of PCA Digest). The GA specifically ruled that:

"Infant Baptism (WCF 28-4) and Limited Atonement (WCF 3-3, 8-5 and 11-4) are to be considered fundamentals of the system of doctrine and that there can be no exceptions given in the case of officers of the church" (at 451)

I read that very plainly. If a man were to make that view known, it would be grounds for his dismissal from office.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Pretty plain Fred. Yet in the mid 1990s, I knew of a session here in Texas that all the REs held Baptistic views. Both men in question have since passed away.
Regards,
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Going back to Bobby's original post; how can a Presbytery ordain a man who does not accept the Presbyterian form of Government? How could a man be ordained by a Presbytery when he doesn't accept the authority of the Presbytery or any of the higher courts? How about the ordination vows? Question 3 is "Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity?"

[Edited on 3/23/2005 by wsw201]
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by NaphtaliPress
Pretty plain Fred. Yet in the mid 1990s, I knew of a session here in Texas that all the REs held Baptistic views. Both men in question have since passed away.
Regards,

Must be a result of the old "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by wsw201
Going back to Bobby's original post; how can a Presbytery ordain a man who does not accept the Presbyterian form of Government? How could a man be ordained by a Presbytery when he doesn't accept the authority of the Presbytery or any of the higher courts? How about the ordination vows? Question 3 is "Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity?"

[Edited on 3/23/2005 by wsw201]

Wayne,

I would say that the Presbytery could not ordain a man who did not approve of Presbyterianism. But I would think thye could ordain a man who accepted Presbyterianism without saying that it was the exclusive form of government, and that all others were unBiblical.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by wsw201
Going back to Bobby's original post; how can a Presbytery ordain a man who does not accept the Presbyterian form of Government? How could a man be ordained by a Presbytery when he doesn't accept the authority of the Presbytery or any of the higher courts? How about the ordination vows? Question 3 is "Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity?"

[Edited on 3/23/2005 by wsw201]

Wayne,

I would say that the Presbytery could not ordain a man who did not approve of Presbyterianism. But I would think thye could ordain a man who accepted Presbyterianism without saying that it was the exclusive form of government, and that all others were unBiblical.

Sounds pretty wishy-washy to me.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Originally posted by wsw201

Sounds pretty wishy-washy to me.

While I do think that the presbyterian form of church government makes the most sense of the totality of the Biblical data, I don´t think that what Fred has here suggested should be called "œwishy washy."
It is ultimately true that mutually exclusive positions cannot both be true simultaneously. However, it is possible to hold a position with conviction, passion and certainty while also having enough humility to admit that there are other godly Christians who have arrived at a different conclusion. Thus I can affirm that congregationalism is "œunbiblical" in the sense that I am convinced that it is not the correct interpretation of Scripture, but I would not say that it is "œunbliblcal" in the sense that it is morally wrong to hold to it and therefore all who do are in sin.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by SolaScriptura
Originally posted by wsw201

Sounds pretty wishy-washy to me.

While I do think that the presbyterian form of church government makes the most sense of the totality of the Biblical data, I don´t think that what Fred has here suggested should be called "œwishy washy."
It is ultimately true that mutually exclusive positions cannot both be true simultaneously. However, it is possible to hold a position with conviction, passion and certainty while also having enough humility to admit that there are other godly Christians who have arrived at a different conclusion. Thus I can affirm that congregationalism is "œunbiblical" in the sense that I am convinced that it is not the correct interpretation of Scripture, but I would not say that it is "œunbliblcal" in the sense that it is morally wrong to hold to it and therefore all who do are in sin.

Exactly.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Just as a note, as a practical plug, in the Reformed Baptist church I was in years ago, we had an "associate" member (a family) that was PCA but wanted to be part of our church. The elders, having thought through it (I guess) allowed them as associate members (whatever that means). Most of the congregation was "confused." They were not allowed to do certain things in the church, but could do other things that allowed them fellowship, etc. It was, in a word, strange.

I would say again, don't go with part of the deal. Be sure that you are persuaded.

Chris - does the "plugger" get a free hardabck copy of the book? :D
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
That's a thought, Matt. You know it is possible that a single church made the decision and didn't inform the Presbytery of all the details. I know that a Dutch church I belonged to had at least one elder who confessed to a few that he thought the Baptist position was more Scriptural. It didn't seem to bother anybody. There are things in a close-knit community that just don't go outside that circle. You just don't rat of someone. I know its more like a social club when that happens, but it does happen. Kinda belongs in the "strange but true" category.

But, Chris, could you say that the decision of that Session in Texas was an official policy of some sort? Or did they manage to slip one by?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Originally posted by webmaster
Just as a note, as a practical plug, in the Reformed Baptist church I was in years ago, we had an "associate" member (a family) that was PCA but wanted to be part of our church. The elders, having thought through it (I guess) allowed them as associate members (whatever that means). Most of the congregation was "confused." They were not allowed to do certain things in the church, but could do other things that allowed them fellowship, etc. It was, in a word, strange.

I would say again, don't go with part of the deal. Be sure that you are persuaded.

Chris - does the "plugger" get a free hardabck copy of the book? :D


When I was at the Baptist church we too had a couple who were associate members - they were snowbirds who were also members at Sproul's church where they spent the other half of the year. In their case they were, for all practical purposes, fullfledged members... except that they couldn't vote or serve as officers.
I agree with Matt that you should avoid the "associate member" route.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Originally posted by JohnV
But, Chris, could you say that the decision of that Session in Texas was an official policy of some sort? Or did they manage to slip one by?
I wouldn't be surprised if many of the Presbyters knew. My pastor and elders did and it wasn't as if the two men in question were hiding it. There was probably a great willingness and latitude to let folks "come along." I don't think there was any official policy; I suspect it has most to do with the history of the PCA and the state of the churches as they came into it.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Originally posted by webmaster
Chris - does the "plugger" get a free hardabck copy of the book? :D
Matt, if I make some sales via the Puritanboard, I'll be more than happy to send you a gratis copy.:handshake:
Regards,
 

Preach

Puritan Board Sophomore
Just how many forms of church government are there? Did God really set forth more than one Biblical form. In my discussions I was working under the assumption that there was only one. What do you all think. I just wish I could get a straight answer.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Originally posted by Preach
Just how many forms of church government are there? Did God really set forth more than one Biblical form. In my discussions I was working under the assumption that there was only one. What do you all think. I just wish I could get a straight answer.

There is only one correct form of church government: presbyterian. If you want to align yourself with the form of government that is most faithful to the Scriptures, then you'll align yourself with a church/denomination that practices presbyterianism.
Is that the type of straight answer you were wanting?
 

rmwilliamsjr

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Preach
Just how many forms of church government are there? Did God really set forth more than one Biblical form. In my discussions I was working under the assumption that there was only one. What do you all think. I just wish I could get a straight answer.

hierarchical
presbyterian
congregationalist

reformed have practiced all 3.
but the strong tendency has been towards presbyterian with congregationalist a not too distant second.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by NaphtaliPress
Originally posted by webmaster
Chris - does the "plugger" get a free hardabck copy of the book? :D
Matt, if I make some sales via the Puritanboard, I'll be more than happy to send you a gratis copy.:handshake:
Regards,

This book gets my endorsement. Its an excellent defense of Presbyterianism.
 
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