Interdenominational Church Membership

NoahDeSpain1689

Puritan Board Freshman
I grew up in IFB churches and attend a dispensational IFB Bible College. Last spring after taking a Revelation class I changed my views on eschatology from dispensational premillennialism to a-millennialism. This shift in theology led me to question what else I might not believe anymore and by July 2020 I was a Calvinist. Through listening to Voddie Baucham I discovered the confessions of faith and adopted the 1689 LBCF. I became more rooted in my theology through listening to James White and Jeff Durbin. I love to study theology and am constantly checking on new areas where I might need adjusting.

Now I’m moving back to my home town to get married and since my fiancee and I are now Reformed Baptists we are looking for a new church. Unfortunately the nearest Reformed Baptist church is an hour away and I don’t know if we will get the fellowship and discipleship we need from a church so far away. There is however a PCA church within 10 minutes of our house that we are considering looking into. I have a couple questions about this. 1) Do you think the differences between Baptists and Presbyterians would cause too much discord to be members of the same church? 2) Are there any good free resources to learn more about Presbyterianism from a polemic standpoint? I'm willing to look into the issues more and change my views.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
In answer to your first question, it depends enormously on the Baptists and Presbyterians in question. Just as not all Baptists are the same, so too PCA churches vary enormously. I know the pastor at McIlwain Presbyterian church, and would imagine that a Reformed Baptist could dwell there very comfortably, provided they weren't out to convert everyone to their point of view (as I'm sure you aren't); the same would be true in many PCA churches. But it's hard to make a blanket statement about all PCA churches, just as it would be for all Reformed Baptist churches.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I agree with Iain. From the other side of the issue I've been in RB churches who welcomed Presbyterians who could not find a home.

While on an extended stay away from home, I found an OPC church that was welcoming and a good fit. Talk to the elders of the church or churches you are considering.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
While I commend your desire to attend a solid church, as an elder I couldn’t approve you for membership in our Presbyterian church in good conscience if you didn’t hold to a Presbyterian (Westminster) view of the covenant, including paedobaptism. If you’re married (or soon to be), then children are a strong possibility in the future and it would be problematic to have a member refuse to baptize their children in a Presbyterian church. If you already hold to LBC, I’d encourage you to continue studying, specifically in the areas mentioned, to see if you will continue growing and changing your beliefs. Finally, church membership and regular attendance should be priority # 1 in a persons life after following Christ, so I’d also encourage you to consider relocating to be closer to a solid church if there isn’t one close enough to join.
 
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Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
We, and several other families, drive close to an hour to get to church. It's not a terrible price to pay, especially as I used to drive 1:15 to get to work.
We were once accepted into the membership of a Presbyterian church while maintaining our baptist convictions when there were no other decent choices, but it's better ( I can say firsthand) to be in a church where you are in full agreement with their confessional stance.
Please note that you will not ever find a perfect church in this life--sin has infected and affected everything, and even the most confessionally sound LBCF 1689 congregation will have problems stemming from remaining sin in its members, and most are still in need of better conformity to God's word in their life and practice.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
@NoahDeSpain1689 Since you specifically mentioned PCA, I will say that the PCA does not require members to subscribe to the Westminster Standards. There are five constitutional questions which must be affirmatively answered (set out below) and the prospective member must make a good profession of faith. You would not be eligible to serve as an ordained officer of the church, and the session might place some additional limits on who and what you may teach. But there should be plenty of opportunities to serve. Depending on the PCA church, you might run into issues if you refuse to bring any minor children for baptism. Enquire of the local session if that might develop into an issue. And finally, show some discernment in choosing a PCA church. Not all are fully trustworthy in their teaching. You should be able to find a good one in the Florida panhandle.

Five Constitutional Questions: (Grabbed from Rev. Greco's church website)

  1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save [except] in His sovereign mercy?
  2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
  3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
  4. Do you promise to support the church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
  5. Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I couldn’t approve you for membership in our Presbyterian church
I don't know if you could approve ME for membership in your congregation. I applaud you for your fidelity to your standards, and would not be offended.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
We were once accepted into the membership of a Presbyterian church while maintaining our baptist convictions when there were no other decent choices, but it's better ( I can say firsthand) to be in a church where you are in full agreement with their confessional stance.

Note: Some might consider this off-topic. I do not agree.

I strongly believe that days are coming where the uniformity of the Churches will be very much a reality. That means that Presbyterians will turn to Baptist views, or the Baptists will join with the Presbyterians, or maybe both will come to some modified (yet uncompromising) and better interpretation of the sacrament. I think Jesus said as much in John 17.

Many have balked when I present evidence from John 17 for an as yet future alignment of doctrine and practice.

John 17:20-23​
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."​

Three things to notice.
  1. Jesus' prayer is for both the present and the future. Please note the "may become perfectly one" phrase in verse 23. It is in process of time that Jesus' prayer will be increasingly answered.
  2. This oneness will be inward and external to a point where the World will come to know it is true.
  3. Jesus' prayers are also prophesies. They will come to pass in His time.
This oneness goes beyond a mere invisible "Spiritual" oneness. (That's what I usually hear from fellow believers as the whole fulfillment of this prayer. Some oneness we have now, hey?). I think it's pretty clear that this kind of oneness does not exist today among even the Reformed. And where do the non-Reformed majority of Christians fit in? They too will join the mostly united Church of the future.

It will be so external in nature that the unbelieving world will be no longer able to deny that God sent His Son to be the savior of the World.

Note: Please spare us all from accusations of universalism, a worldly ecumenism, or of a perfect Church, or that every member of every church will be saved, or that all heresies will vanish, or that the whole world will be at peace. There shall still be tares. But, if you still want to pick on me, I do believe that Romans 9-11 (and other places) teach that there will be a national conversion of the Jews. Jealousy will be a major catalyst to their conversion, (Romans 10:19; 11:11) as they see the success of the Gospel among the Gentiles.
 

De Jager

Puritan Board Sophomore
@NoahDeSpain1689 Since you specifically mentioned PCA, I will say that the PCA does not require members to subscribe to the Westminster Standards. There are five constitutional questions which must be affirmatively answered (set out below) and the prospective member must make a good profession of faith. You would not be eligible to serve as an ordained officer of the church, and the session might place some additional limits on who and what you may teach. But there should be plenty of opportunities to serve. Depending on the PCA church, you might run into issues if you refuse to bring any minor children for baptism. Enquire of the local session if that might develop into an issue. And finally, show some discernment in choosing a PCA church. Not all are fully trustworthy in their teaching. You should be able to find a good one in the Florida panhandle.

Five Constitutional Questions: (Grabbed from Rev. Greco's church website)

  1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save [except] in His sovereign mercy?
  2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
  3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
  4. Do you promise to support the church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
  5. Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
How could a baptist answer #5 in the affirmative? wouldn't refusal to present one's children for baptism be grounds for discipline??
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
How could a baptist answer #5 in the affirmative? wouldn't refusal to present one's children for baptism be grounds for discipline??

Not in the PCA, apparently.

Not (necessarily) in the OPC either. I am well aware of several committed credobaptists that are OPC church members. The pastor of a particular OPC congregation in Maine is known to happily perform adult baptisms by immersion for those who so request it, in any case.

He said that it's ok (as a member, not an officer) to claim scruples against infant sprinkling when joining an OPC church.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
Note: Some might consider this off-topic. I do not agree.

I strongly believe that days are coming where the uniformity of the Churches will be very much a reality. That means that Presbyterians will turn to Baptist views, or the Baptists will join with the Presbyterians, or maybe both will come to some modified (yet uncompromising) and better interpretation of the sacrament. I think Jesus said as much in John 17.

Many have balked when I present evidence from John 17 for an as yet future alignment of doctrine and practice.

John 17:20-23​
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."​

Three things to notice.
  1. Jesus' prayer is for both the present and the future. Please note the "may become perfectly one" phrase in verse 23. It is in process of time that Jesus' prayer will be increasingly answered.
  2. This oneness will be inward and external to a point where the World will come to know it is true.
  3. Jesus' prayers are also prophesies. They will come to pass in His time.
This oneness goes beyond a mere invisible "Spiritual" oneness. (That's what I usually hear from fellow believers as the whole fulfillment of this prayer. Some oneness we have now, hey?). I think it's pretty clear that this kind of oneness does not exist today among even the Reformed. And where do the non-Reformed majority of Christians fit in? They too will join the mostly united Church of the future.

It will be so external in nature that the unbelieving world will be no longer able to deny that God sent His Son to be the savior of the World.

Note: Please spare us all from accusations of universalism, a worldly ecumenism, or of a perfect Church, or that every member of every church will be saved, or that all heresies will vanish, or that the whole world will be at peace. There shall still be tares. But, if you still want to pick on me, I do believe that Romans 9-11 (and other places) teach that there will be a national conversion of the Jews. Jealousy will be a major catalyst to their conversion, (Romans 10:19; 11:11) as they see the success of the Gospel among the Gentiles.
I really appreciate your thoughts, Ed. Over the years I have learned to look for the common ground that I share with all Christians regardless of denominational preference, and not make our differences a point of contention. We are members in a PCA church, but we have good friends we regularly spend time with in just about every denomination. We even at times worship with friends of other denominations and do Bible studies with them for the sake of loving God's people and living in unity with them. As long as we are united in the Gospel together, I will have good friends of any denomination and not even bring up our differences when with them. We just focus on our commonalities and live in peace together.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
How could a baptist answer #5 in the affirmative? wouldn't refusal to present one's children for baptism be grounds for discipline??
As I said, it could cause issues, depending on the congregation, and how the session would handle it, and would best be addressed up front. At some churches agreeing to to not cause dissent on the issue, and being open to hearing the teaching on the subject would be sufficient. And there have been some threads on church discipline (and even addressing this particular issue) which have discussed the problem. Church discipline should be administered in a loving manner, and not as punishment.

As a practical matter, it might be less of an issue in a large PCA church than a smaller one as the issue likely comes up more frequently and the session isn't having to deal with it cold.
 
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