Membership Vows/Covenant

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by zsmcd, Mar 30, 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Last year my family moved from a SBC church and became members of a PCA church closer to home due to our convictions that our children should be baptized and out of a desire to be in community closer to home. This ended up being sort of an ugly process, and I fault myself for not 'leaving well.' However, one instrument in making the transition even more difficult was the 'church covenant' that we signed when we became members of the Baptist church.

    I will spare you the details (you can message me if you want them) because it is lengthy and I don't really want to speak of them in a public forum. Essentially, our church covenant made it exhausting, painful, and confusing to move. All in all, we were eventually told that we could possibly come under church discipline because we were breaking that church covenant. Looking back, however, had it not been for that covenant there would have been no biblical grounds for anyone bringing us under discipline. In the end things turned out alright, though still awkward, uncomfortable, and we did not seem to feel as though we 'left well.'

    I say all this to ask the question of the validity of membership vows/covenants. I did a search of previous threads on this topic and came across a few, but I wanted to make my question a bit more personal and direct it more so towards pastors and elders.

    After doing a bit of research - historical, books, articles, PB threads, etc. - I have come to the conclusion that I am entirely uncomfortable ever taking membership vows towards a specific congregation again. I am willing to be corrected. After all, I am young, not that educated, and prone to be immature in some areas. So I would love to be corrected if I am wrong. Also, don't hear me as saying "I am entirely uncomfortable ever becoming a member of a local church," or "I am entirely uncomfortable ever coming under the care and authority of elders." I deeply desire these things and I currently have them.

    I simply don't see any biblical case for the requirement of vows to be taken towards a particular congregation - not even implicitly - in order to become a members, take Communion, etc. I don't want to go into too much detail because I'd like to hear some discussion, but I came to this conclusion actually through one of the threads I read here. Someone pointed to Samuel Rutherford who was against requiring extra vows/covenants for admission to the Sacraments/membership as well. So I pulled up his work and found some interesting points:

    "1. There is a covenant of free grace, betwixt God and sinners, founded upon the surety Christ Jesus; laid hold on by us, when we believe in Christ, but a Church Covenant differenced from this is in question. . .

    2. There is a covenant of baptism, made by all, and a covenant vertual and implicite renewed, when we are to receive the Lords Supper, but an explicite positive professed Church covenant, by oath in-churching a person, or a society, to a State-church is now questioned.

    3. An explicite vocal Covenant whereby we bind our selves to the first three Articles in a tacite way, by entring in a new relation to such a Pastor, and to such a Flocke, we deny not, as if the thing were unlawfull for we may sweare to performe Gods commandements, observing all things requisite in a lawfull oath. 2. But that such a covenant is required by divine institution, as the essential forme of a Church and Church-membership, as though without this none were entered members of the visible Churches of the Apostles, nor can now be entered in Church-state, nor can have right unto the seales of the covenant, we utterly deny."

    So here are my questions:
    - Should Christians be required to take vows to a particular church in order to enter into membership/Communion with said church? If so, what is the biblical support? Note: I am not asking if Christians should be required to make a credible profession, submit to elders, etc. I am asking whether vows/covenants are required besides the covenant we enter into by way of faith and baptism.
    - If a Christian, such as myself, came to your church (perhaps even with a letter from another similar denominational church) looking to become a full member (Communion, government, etc.) but was uncomfortable signing a covenant, taking vows, etc., what action would you take and what would you tell that person?

    I ask these questions because we are in the military and moving again to another state in the coming year, so this is very relevant for me.

    Thanks for bearing with me.
  2. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    To say he was against it might be going too far. He was examining the position of the Independents in the context of an unified national church, and the way they used their covenant as a grounds for separation. There might be a situation where the implicit needs to become explicit. The Council of Jerusalem "decreed" certain practices, and some of them indifferent in themselves, in order to avoid scandal.

    It comes down to what the sacraments signify in terms of visible Christian profession. I think it is important even in a state of secession to recognise the sacraments are a sign of visible Christian unity, and so great care needs to be taken to ensure that explicit terms do not become a source of division.
  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Rev. Winzer points out that Rutherford is writing in a State-church settlement. Ours is another time.

    The OPC Directory for the Public Worship of God states (ch.IV), "1. Only those may be admitted to full communion in the church who have been baptized and have made public profession of faith in Jesus Christ." To whom shall the Table of communion fellowship be administered and shared? The answer in part is: we sit beside those with whom we have made our public and common covenant. Perhaps we can invoke Lk.12:8 here, "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God."

    It is not the case that if someone simply sits beside me to participate, I should then in our present state assume he partakes worthily in "the bread which we break" because we warm the bench together. I may assume, based on my church's order, that he should have been admitted by them serving (and not admitted himself). There may be a place for visitors. But as the rule of the fellowship goes, we sit and eat with those whom we already acknowledge. We do not first acknowledge each other by virtue of the fact we ate together.

    The eating together acknowledges something prior, something including baptism and some session's positive evaluation, which could (in extremity, perhaps) be rigorously pursued. Besides that, a public recognition of the members assures all parties at the Table that these who sit belong there.

    When we receive from outside one congregation new members already belonging to the same church (OPC), there is this permissive statement, section C.: "When a person is received into membership on letter of transfer from another Orthodox Presbyterian congregation, that reception is effective at the time of the action of the session to receive him. Nevertheless, a session may deem it appropriate to welcome that person publicly into the congregation and allow him to give public expression to his faith. If this is done, it shall be made clear to the congregation that the person has already been received by action of the session. Nevertheless, the minister may address him in appropriate words similar to those found below in Section D.4." So, no public profession must be made.

    But coming from another church of like faith and practice, section D. states: "1. When a person is received into membership on letter of transfer from another church of like faith and practice approved by the session, that reception is effective at the time of his public profession of faith." The body has a right and privilege to know its members. Here is what the would-be communicant is asked to declare, to admit, to affirm, to avow:

    (1) Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?

    (2) Do you believe in one living and true God, in whom eternally there are three distinct persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—who are the same in being and equal in power and glory, and that Jesus Christ is God the Son, come in the flesh?

    (3) Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, that you repent of your sin, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?

    (4) Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord, and do you promise that, in reliance on the grace of God, you will serve him with all that is in you, forsake the world, resist the devil, put to death your sinful deeds and desires, and lead a godly life?

    (5) Do you promise to participate faithfully in this church's worship and service, to submit in the Lord to its government, and to heed its discipline, even in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life?​

    Is this the sort of objectionable declaration you have in view? Is it just the last two promises (4 & 5) or just (5) that you could not say in good conscience? Or do you have any objection? Are these more or less the baptismal/faith essentials you have no problem reaffirming in their entirety (but no more)?

    Should I say this (or similar) to the members: "As [name] is received into full communion in the church, the whole congregation is obligated to receive (him/her), for in Christ we are members of one another. Christ claims this (brother/sister) as his own and calls you to serve (him/her) in love. Therefore, you ought to commit yourself before God to assist [name] in (his/her) Christian nurture by godly example, prayer, and encouragement in our most precious faith and in the fellowship of believers," if I have afterward attached this addendum: "...though he does not commit himself to us in explicit promises"?

    On what basis should a new congregation acknowledge any obligation to someone (particularly by serving them the Supper or sitting with them), if he denies any public confirmation of understanding his obligation to them? Or is it "uncharitable" to doubt that you (or anyone, basically) would be less than fully committed?

    Please think of this less as a "challenge" to your tender convictions, reconstituted after smartly being worked (possibly unjustly); than an invitation to think of the whole matter from the standpoint of the congregation and its government and its connections.
  4. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Isn't this satisfied simply by an announcement, e.g., that "So and So" has been examined by the Session and admitted to communicant membership/to the Table?
  5. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Are you going to renounce the vows that you took at your PCA church?
  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The gentleman was asking about making vows in order to become a member of a particular congregation.
  7. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Rev. Winzer,
    I see what you mean in regards to the implicit needs to become explicit, especially in regards to the Jerusalem Council. For this reason, I am not ready to condemn anyone who makes use of local church covenants/vows. However, after my own experience and seeing other terrible results of these means, I am simply uncomfortable making any further vows to a particular church and I do not necessarily see the benefit of it except perhaps under very extreme circumstances.

    no I of course am not ready to renounce any vows that I have taken already. Although, I would like to go back and see specifically what vows we made because, according to chapter 57-5 and 57-6 of the PCA BCO, admission to the Table seems to require a profession that includes vows to the Church not just to that specific local body. Likewise, 57-6 actually says that persons being brought in from other churches by letter or for reaffirmation of their faith are to give their testimony, be examined, and be presented to the congregation by the session. So I am actually going to go back and see what vows/profession we made and talk with my pastor about that. If we did make vows to our specific church than of course I would uphold them. I obviously have no problems submitting to the government of my church and supporting its worship. I am merely talking about future vows.
  8. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your wise input, Rev. Buchanan.

    I agree, Rutherford should be understood in his context of State-church relations. However, his reasoning still stands outside of that context, especially point three.

    I whole heartedly agree with all of this! There, of course, must be some means by which we know those whom we eat and drink with. I think it all good, necessary, and biblical for the elders to examine such a person, their profession, etc., to present them to the church, and to even have them make a profession before the congregation. My question, however, boils down to why there is a need for extra vows to one church.

    You helpfully said "To whom shall the Table of communion fellowship be administered and shared? The answer in part is: we sit beside those with whom we have made our public and common covenant." However, at least according to the PCA BCO, we enter into covenant with God and his Church (the local church being a part of that Church) by means of baptism and profession. Baptism is our membership 'vow' and baptism brings us into this common covenant. Why then require an extra local covenant in order to admit baptized and professing members to Table fellowship?

    In my experience, I was threatened with church discipline because I had "broken my local church covenant" not because I had been unfaithful to my baptism and thus the Church and covenant of grace. That is a topic for longer discussion, but should not individuals come under discipline because they have despised their baptism, not because they have despised their local church covenant? Baptism, then, seems to become a mere religious ritual, not the means by which we enter into tangible solemn covenant with God and his Church.

    I have no problems with questions 4 and 5 per se. My question, again, is simply why there is a need for vows to a particular congregation and how they do not collapse our understanding of baptism and the Church. In my baptism and profession of faith I do not take on obligations merely to one local church but to God and His Church which includes local congregations. So I would have no problem reaffirming my commitment to God and his Church, I just don't see how making vows to a particular congregation does not collapse our understanding of the Church into our one local congregation and make baptism secondary to an extra covenant.

    For example, in the military we take an oath that brings with it certain obligations to the military as a whole. When I showed up at my first command, however, I did not have to make oaths to that particular unit. When I leave that command and go to another I, again, do not take an oath to that particular unit. Why? Because I have already taken an oath to the military and my leaders and colleagues do not need to hear me say an oath to them particularly because they know that I am already under an obligation to them. Of course, this example breaks down at some points.

    Thanks for your patience with me.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
  9. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    Are there not occasions when as individuals we make vows or covenants? Going further than a good intention. Brethren like Edwards, Bonar etc would write out their covenants concerning particular objectives and days, and renew them yearly. Similarly could not not a personal vow be made to the local expression of the body of Christ, to ratify ones consecration, commitment and dedication, which is a more concrete avowal than an association? A vow, which annually the whole church would renew together. I was thinking of 2Cor 8:5, a verse that in past ages was used in this context respecting the principle,"And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God." Someone wrote,the giving was by heart and property. That kind of self giving reveals a consecration that I feel exceeds the general disposition of contemporary Christianity. Now I may be reading too much into the text, but the giving mentioned seems to have a covenanting commitment, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. Covenant love proved by a covenant sacrifice , body and soul. They gave themselves to the Lord first, and then to the Apostle and his helpers. Bound themselves to God, and then to the Apostolic authority and doctrine, so being built upon that foundation, which the local church is built upon.
  10. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I like analogies, and make use of them. I think military service often supplies useful ones, because both the military and the church are "societies," for instance. But you have to limit the analogy to the points of comparison, and not push the analogy.

    So, you are right to say that there is an "entrance" oath in both places. But you can't keep mapping your service oath practice onto another society's practice, and saying: "See, it should be like this over here." Someone could just as easily say, "No, it should be in the military the way it is in many churches."

    Let's think about some of the differences. I don't know how long you've been in, but most enlistments are 3-5yrs. And then... you reenlist, and you swear the oath again, wherever you are stationed, to maintain continuity of service. Here's an obvious disanalogy between church and military oath, because no one should ever be baptized a second time. And yet, perhaps also an analogy (not clean) between that repeat and a membership-transfer recommitment.

    Another difference, the amount depending on the church, is in the structures of the societies. Various military units sustain relationships to one another in a particular and hierarchical way. The organizational chart of any smaller portion, or the whole entire thing, may be intricate as "wow," but there is an identifiable chain of authority that goes top to bottom. If you should have that in the church, welcome to Rome.

    Church society organization makes the smallest representation identifiable as "the church," or the largest. No matter how much is there, THAT's the church. I would say the military is not quite the same; there, the more you have present, the more identifiable as THE military is that collection of bodies, skills, and equipment. We say a church-session acts and the CHURCH acts. If a squad acts, or a company, or a whole division, the military (as such) has not acted.

    That's just a few exhibits to show that the nature of the societies being compared make the oath-demands within each society unique to that society. There are other ways your new military unit has of making use of your current oath-status to confirm to the body that you belong. Not to mention, there are sometimes "informal" bonding rituals within the subunits that amount to admission tokens. If you resist (even by invoking your "right" to be accepted on other terms) you may not end up accepted. That may be "wrong" at some level; but it also might be the price paid for stubbornness. Some other table of values will be needed to decide if it is worth it.
  11. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    I talked to a professor once at Westminster TS, who I think was OPC but maybe PCA, and he came right out and said that the whole concept of church membership as it exists today is a modern extra biblical practice that has become common to accommodate the problems in society we have today ( ie discipline a person for adultery and you can get sued- my example, not his). But I think your understanding of baptism of the sign of visible church membership is biblical. Anything else minimizes the act of baptism.

    My brother lives in a foreign country and married a foreign girl. His wife got saved, went to church, got rid of the "god shelf" of little idols, and so forth. But nothing happened with her relatives until she got baptized and then all hell broke loose. It is baptism that sets us apart visibly and the dark side recognizes that- so should we.

    The WTS guy was not against local church vows, and I have always made them myself, but I don't think in the future I would do it again for the simple realistic reason that churches can go off, denominations can go off, and I have seen it. Even having a confession is no ultimate protection against the pastor and elders going off, and the presbytery doing nothing to stop it. While God willing your PCA will stay faithful to sound doctrine, in twenty years ( or ten or two) they might be a subject here on the PB for their new heretical leanings. You don't know. Look at the recent fights about the trinity itself and who God is and the nature of Jesus Christ, and how closed certain influential people have been to correction of even their terminology if not their actual thinking.

    If for any reason you have to make the vow, I would add a clause to the effect that if you ever choose to go to another church for reasons of Reformed doctrine, you are free to do so without question. If they won't accept that and insist that they are faithful to the confession, don't be deterred. Maybe I am really cynical these days, but it is what I would do. You could word it that they can discipline for any matters of morality or character sins, but not if you choose to change churches. I wouldn't budge an inch on this one. If they don't understand your reasons then they are blind to the slides in the PCA which is a problem right there.

    On a side note, we went to a SGM church in the 90s and left for the PCA when our church moved 50 minutes away. Almost all of the pastors were great about it, we "left well", but one of them was upset and said we were married to SGM ( PDI at the time) and breaking covenant. So yeah, some guys do look at it like breaking a marriage vow- which it isn't. It really minimizes the marriage covenant when you look at church covenant on the same level.

    Anyway, don't be pressured to go against your conscience. Your views of baptism are excellent in my opinion.
  12. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree that the analogy, like most, breaks down at various points. My point was to simply show that local units don't need you to make an oath to that specific unit in order to confirm your obligation to one another because it was already made at your enlistment oath and your main obligation is to the force as a whole not just to your local unit. Now, there are ways in which trust and bonding grows through time in that unit, but that is besides the point and is also analogous to the way that time in a specific congregation develops trust and faith in one another.

    As for other initiating rites in specific units, this is actually something that the military has cracked down on in recent years, especially as regards hazing. The explicit argument given against these initiating acts is the fact that members need not prove anything to local units because they have already proven their worthiness of acceptance by their oath and graduation from certain schools/bootcamp. Again this analogy too breaks down at some point. Yet, I think it can be shown that because everyone recognizes the fact that I wear this uniform and took that oath, they don't require anything else from me in order to belong. I merely have to show up and prove that I am already a member of the military.

    As regards your analogy to reenlistment, this is precisely one of my points and I believe one of Rutherford's as well. Although, if we were to be accurate with the analogy a reenlistment would be akin to losing one's salvation and having to be rebaptized - if such a thing were possible - because before your reenlistment you are separated (cut off). However, in the Lords Supper we have the covenant oaths remembered and reestablished. When we take the Supper we proclaim the Lord's death and we proclaim our being one Body. It is, in and of itself, a means by which we remind ourselves of our covenant obligations to God and to one another. And yet even here we are not renewing our covenant oaths to those we are currently sitting next to only, but the Church as a whole which includes those next to us. It seems to me, then, that this would be the correct means of initiating a transferring member into the local body once they have given their testimony and have been examined by the session.
  13. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    This is the same exact response we got when we tried to leave the Baptist church for the PCA church. Our pastor told us that we were "married" to the local church. Biblically, this sounds ridiculous and that is what made me rethink local church covenants. We are not married to any one local church. Rather, the Church is married to Christ. We are in covenant with Christ and his Church - which includes our local churches but is not limited to that. Now, of course, because I signed that church covenant I was indeed in covenant with that church particularly, but that is the point in question.

    The problem we had was that because we were visiting other churches to move to and missing our current congregations services, we were thus "forsaking to gather together." But this is ridiculous! Unless the Baptist church identifies the PCA as an apostate denomination than we were not "forsaking to gather together" we were simply gathering with the Church elsewhere. But, of course, our local church covenant said precisely that we should not forsake to gather with our specific local church. So we were indeed "breaking covenant" by meeting with other Christians rather than those we had covenanted with.
  14. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    This would make sense.
  15. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    In the church we don't wear uniforms, and carry ID cards and dog tags. The public profession questions are the exact same as those affirmed at the adult baptism. There are important aspects that do not align (so I said I didn't think it was a clean analogy), but in certain respects the reenlistment--being the very same words over again--is a verification ritual.

    I agree that "hazing" is often a form of unrighteous imposition. But there are other things that are demanded by the same authorities that punish hazing. And my table of evaluation is pretty much irrelevant to those guys. We officers were expected to join the O-clubs on every post, belong to the local chapter of the DC-lobbying association, drink heartily, and perform other acts of loyalty. The higher-ups are looking to maximize their own metrics used for self-comparison with their peers. The point is that "ordinances" are imposed, and those who wish to engage in the life of the society can either conform or be viewed as (at best) eccentric.

    I don't think your issue is with the public profession specifically. But, as you experienced it, that word was used like a club against you upon the sad occasion. And so you are blaming the instrument (which wasn't formed to BE a club) for the bruises.
  16. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Right, and that is why I have no problem with making a profession of faith, even in question-answer form as you quoted from the OPC BCO "Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?" My question/problem comes with, as you showed, question five in that set of questions. The PCA BCO, at least at face value, seems to direct the question as regards the Church, not the particular congregation in question though, of course, the congregation would be included:

    This seems to be more in keeping with the biblical understanding of the visible Church and, correct me if I am wrong, Presbyterianism. The Christian's uniform, ID, and dog tags are his profession, baptism, and good works. These things prove him to be a member of the visible Church and thus a rightful recipient of a local church's government and sacraments. This is Rutherford's argument. "But that such a covenant is required by divine institution, as the essential forme of a Church and Church-membership, as though without this none were entered members of the visible Churches of the Apostles, nor can now be entered in Church-state, nor can have right unto the seales of the covenant, we utterly deny." And so with Rutherford I do not deny that men can in good conscience enter into such covenants as may help their growth. My question is whether or not this should required of Christians in order to participate in the Lord's Supper and life of the local church. Or should a profession of faith and examination of that profession be the only requirement? Are we required to make vows to specific congregations and their government in order to become communicant members?

    The examples that you give of the military prove my point.

    I am not calling pastors and elders control freaks and power-mongers. But in the case of the military, some men become control freaks and create types of cliques within the broader body by subjecting those who are already members to rites performed in order to be "included" in the unit- although you are already included by your initial oath! Rites that were never meant to be instituted and that actually undermine the individual and the larger institution as a whole.

    I agree, I could just be overreacting to the misuse of an instrument. Misuse does not necessitate that use itself is forbidden. Which is why I am having this conversation, asking these questions, and am willing to be corrected.
  17. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    My examples are only making the singular point you aim at, if it is the case that no distinctions can be drawn between 1) legitimate even formal witnessing, 2) informal yet legitimate witness, and 3) illegitimate demand for witness. Seems, you may be angling to make every case of calling for (to use Rev.Winzer's expression) the implicit to become explicit a case of #3.

    You providentially live in an era and location of no established church and no broad-based perception of Christian communal identity (just a lot of lone-rangers), and thus no reasonable expectation that the people who might visit or even think of themselves as belonging do in fact belong. Ours is an age of deception (sorry to say) and individual rule-making. The public-reaffirmation of faith is an effort by the church to deal with the facts on the ground. Go back to NT days, and travelers carried letters from their home churches for believers in another to read and recognize them. Conceptually, what's the difference?

    What is the observable distinction between the way you'd like to see things be done, and actual anarchy? Pastor announces from the pulpit that "The So-and-sos are added to our rolls as of now," and the strangers in both the rows to the left and right of you, as well as both in front and behind you, all join in the Supper. Who are these people? Do you have a duty to take their word for it? In another time and place, it might be easier.

    What the church has done in the OPC or PCA (and many others) is to come up with a procedure--one that is explicitly tied to baptism--that introduces those people present for Table-fellowship. You understand, we no longer live and gather in our parish, right? We don't have neighborhood churches in the "Reformed world" anymore. And what we do have on the same street are five different churches, all with different standards of doctrine and practice! Why does a formal introduction seem like an imposition?
  18. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    It sounds like your experience is a manifestation of another problem, and that is the propensity of a separated church to assume to itself the prerogative of catholicity notwithstanding its separated state. In plain words, this means that the church acts as if it is the only true church. It seems to me that your first concern would be to ensure that any prospective church does not act with a similar mindset.

    Personally I do not think vows for membership are necessary or even expedient, but at the same time I would not like to see someone self-excommunicated over them. I would also hope the congregational eldership could recognise the abuse that has been made of vows and accommodate people who have had negative experiences as a result of them. This should not cause any problem where it is recognised that these vows are not essential to the visible form of the church, and where they are used as a matter of expedience.
  19. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Would they have reacted differently if you were looking to move to a different Baptist church? When I first saw your post, I thought of classic Baptist church covenants that call for those departing to join churches of "like faith and order" or some similar language, meaning a Baptist church. Also, was this actually a Baptist church, or was it an independent baptistic church? (There can be significant differences in how the two "do business." What Lynnie describes is more in keeping with the abusive charismatic "Shepherding Movement" which was a significant influence on PDI/SGM. They are not Baptists, properly speaking.) (EDIT: somehow I missed the statement in the OP that this is a SBC church.

    And in fact the strictest Baptist view logically demands that PCA and all other paedobaptist congregations are no churches at all and are at best religious societies or organizations that may have some saved people among them. To boil it down as simply as I can, the idea is no baptism, no church. (This is not to be equated with Landmarkism. All Landmarkers believe that, but many who believe it are not Landmarkers.)

    As for the PCA, with many if not most of them, the error is in the other direction. My guess is that many congregations wouldn't formally discipline members who leave for the Roman Catholic Church, much less some kind of evangelical church.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  20. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    I heard somebody who worked out at Ken Sande's Peacemaker organization say that they had been involved with Presbyterian churches where it took two or three years for the Presbyterian process of working through mediation with people wanting to leave and the elders didn't think they should leave. (Apparently the people called Peacemakers to try and speed things up? Not sure, and not sure of the denomination.) But you might want to find out just how long it takes to actually process a problem at your new church. Ask for specifics of the most recent cases if there were any.

    We had a weird incident at a PCA church with a woman and her kids and one of our kids and my kid was very hurt. The pastor was very caring to us but asked us to go before the elders and see if they could mediate a solution/reconciliation. I know they did their best but it took eight months! Eight months is too long with a kid that is crying every week on the way home from church. After four months my husband told the pastor we were going to visit elsewhere for the sake of our child until it was resolved, so that put a fire under the elders and yet they still took another four months. They were very apologetic that it had been hard to get the other person to talk to them directly and by the time it was over I think they did a good and fair job....but it took so long. They had the right to demand that we stick it out to the end, and they did not, and I did appreciate that grace, but our membership gave them the right- if they wanted- to tell us we could not leave when we did. So be careful what you commit to. Your first duty is to your wife and kids, and you don't know what can happen.

    I admit I have PTSD about this whole subject, so please take my comments as possibly a reflection of what might be entirely different for you.

    Matthew...appreciated your comment. I have to admit I was surprised to read it, I would have thought you would be much more pro membership hard line on the subject :) But I think you are biblical.
  21. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I am a Presbyterian because I believe the Bible teaches Presbyterianism, and I do not think one will find a better explanation and application of the biblical principle of catholicity than what is maintained by Presbyterians.
  22. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Would your new church have recognized your letters/credentials from the SBC if you would have transferred over in good standing? Your Baptism and salvation accepted right in?
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page