Discussion in 'Church Order' started by InevitablyReformed, May 9, 2008.

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  1. InevitablyReformed

    InevitablyReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    What are the main differences between the OPC and the PCA? What keeps two presbyterian denominations who hold to the WCF from joining?

  2. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

  3. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    There are certainly many congregations and officers within the PCA which could comfortably fit into the narrower doctrinal and worship boundaries of the OPC. There are some OP congregations and officers which would find themselves more comfortable within the broader boundaries of the PCA.

    As an OP minister, if reunion were to be proposed today, I’d vote against it unless,

    1) The understanding of subscription to the confessional standards were more clearly defined and enforced than is currently done within some presbyteries of the PCA.

    2) There was common agreement on the degree of uniformity required by the Directory of Worship and application of the Regulative Principle of Worship.

    3) The form of government called for a delegated general assembly with adequate time for discussion of issues and supervision of he denominational bureaucracy.

    Both denominations are too broad in their understanding of subscription, and worship practices. One can not unreservedly recommend a congregation of either denomination to a moving family without checking it out first. Neither denomination could currently establish a denominational seminary or college because we are both too broad to agree on common goals for such an institution.

    American Presbyterianism has been in constant churn and realignment since the first presbytery was formed in 1706. I expect this churn and realignment to continue. I rejoice in what I share in common with my PCA brothers and those of other confessional Presbyterian affiliations, and strive to keep lines of communication open across denominational lines.
  4. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    What about RPCUS? Are they too theonomic to join with PCA/OPC?
  5. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    *Watches from the sidelines in the ARP*

    Honestly, I'd prefer the orthodox Presbyterian denominations stay split.

    If the denominations were joined, then heresey would be able to traverse across congregations more rapidly. With things as they are now, only the PCA is suffering from the FV, while the ARP and, seemingly the OPC, seems to suffer no problems. If we were joined, I think there would be a greater propensity for widespread heresey. As it stands, heresey must traverse several barriers and is unlike the infiltrate ALL of the orthodox Presbyterian denominations. At least this way, while we might be seperate in name, at any one time one of us will at least, probably, uphold orthodoxy if the others should fall victim to heresey.
  6. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    This is untrue. All one has to do to spread bad theology into their denomination is to pick up a book and start reading without discernment.

    The OPC has not been exempt from the influence of FV, and possibly even more problematic for some of their congregations are Norman Shepherd's NPP influenced views of covenant theology. These men may not be loud, but they are there, and I have spoken with some of them in the past, much to my dismay.
  7. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    I'm not saying bad theology is unable to take root, I'm saying if there is one denomination, then heresey has to take root in only one place. Presently, it must take root in many places in order to affect the entirety of orthodox Presbyterianism.
  8. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    I would agree with Glenn's post. Especially on government. How the OPC and PCA GA's are handled are completely opposite. I would say that the PCA GA is more like a convention. Also, all you have to do is look at the PCA BCO and the OPC BCO. Its like night and day.
  9. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Mr. Ferrell states the differences very well. I've been a member of excellent churches in both denominations and can offer one additional insight, if I may. It seems to me that some (certainly not all) of the weaker churches in the PCA were ones that pulled out of the old PCUS. In many cases, it appears that congregations were moving away from specific problems with the mainline churches, but they weren't moving toward a solidly reformed theological position.
  10. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    I agree, FV has had its influence within the OPC. I hope our presbyteries are more vigilant now.

    I favor Reformed and Presbyterian unity in God’s timing, but not for the sake of a larger and more diverse ecclesiastical organization. Something must be gained in the bargain, greater fidelity to the confessions, greater adherence to the Regulative Principle in practice- worship and polity, greater faithfulness in proclaiming the gospel.

    The time is not right for PCA and OPC unification. That said, there are PCA congregations I could serve. Being a Southerner, culturally I probably fit there (especially in the mid-South) better than in the OPC in Idaho. However, in the PCA, I’d be more frustrated with GA level activities. The two OP assemblies I’ve attended, I’ve left with great satisfaction and thanksgiving for the diligence and wisdom with which the work of Christ’s Church has been done. I don’t see how the PCA can supervise their bureaucracies with their large assembly meeting for so short a time and so little of that for real debate. The OPC demonstrates a delegated assembly does not necessarily lead to denominational apostasy as many PCA folk experienced in the former PCUS and UPCUSA.
  11. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    And about three pounds heavier.
  12. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The OPC BCO is also in a very nice clothbound book. Quite convenient and well-conceived.
  13. InevitablyReformed

    InevitablyReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    For instance...?
  14. jfschultz

    jfschultz Puritan Board Junior

    An the PCA would go broke as frequently the BCO is modified and a new clothbound book would be needed.
  15. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    1. For instance the OPC DoW is Constitutional while only 2 sections of the PCA DoW are.
    2. The OPC does not feel that they need to add or delete parts of their BCO virtually every GA.
    3. You need a loose leaf binder for the PCA BCO (see 2 above).
  16. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    The original Westminster Form of Presbyterian Church Government sought to say only what could be supported by Scripture. Note the proof texts in the original, compared to the relatively minimal text of the Form of Government itself. The Regulative Principle applied to polity as much as doctrine and worship.

    In this, both the OPC and PCA say more than they need to in their Form of Government.

    Certainly, procedures will need to be codified to achieve uniformity in the application of Biblical norms over time. But, a distinction needs to be made between what is derived implicitly and by good and necessary consequence from Scripture and what is circumstantial for good order. It is interesting how the Scottish Free Churches do this. I have here a copy of The Practice of the Free Church of Scotland in her Several Courts (1995 edition).

    A friend of mine commented several years ago, “The decline of a denomination begins with a loose leaf Book of Order.” I do appreciate the cloth bound BOCO of he OPC.

    If our polity is derived from Scripture, we should have most things about right by now, and rarely need to change it.
  17. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I don't want to hear another criticism of independency! :lol:
  18. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    In your dreams!!! :D
  19. wallingj

    wallingj Puritan Board Freshman

    I am now experiencing BCO envy :(
  20. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    My ARP BCO is loose-leaf as well. Though I think they just do that to keep up with the Jones's.
  21. InevitablyReformed

    InevitablyReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    Since this thread isn't too heavy--what's the deal with the ARP? Anything in particular that sets them apart from OPC or PCA?


  22. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Here you go:

  23. HaigLaw

    HaigLaw Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have been a member of both PCA and OPC for years, and there are clear differences.

    The OPC was formed in the late 30's when Old Princeton went liberal and Machen was defrocked by the northern church for remaining loyal to the mission board the northern church did not control.

    The PCA was formed in 1973 when the southern church was becoming increasingly more theologically liberal.

    So you have 35 years difference between them, with the OPC having more tradition. Certain views of confessional principles are that way, because they've always been that way, whereas ministers still living can remember why things are viewed a certain way, and how they might be viewed differently in the PCA.

    As has been alluded to above, the OPC does more theological debating in their presbyteries and especially their GA, whereas the PCA is too big to have much of that.

    The PCA has a bigger institutional bureaucracy. The PCA is more tolerant of the charismata.

    There is more of a parity between ruling and teaching elders in the PCA.

    The OPC is more supportive of teaching elders who are orthodox and without immorality, when challenged for lacking pastoral gifts, than the PCA is.

    These are just a few of the differences I've observed over the past 30 plus years.

  24. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I had the opportunity to hear a few gentlemen from the ARP preach a few years ago and was pleased to have had the opportunity. Good solid preachers.
  25. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    Just :2cents:to add my ....

    The ARP is an indegiones expression of the Presbyterian faith, in a North American context.
  26. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    :popcorn: The PCA Newbie listens with interest.:detective:
  27. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    One big difference in terms of practice is that the OPC is far less hesitant to appoint commissions when choosing between those and committees.

  28. KenPierce

    KenPierce Puritan Board Freshman

    Andrew, brother, I write as a great admirer of the ARP. My chief mentor was one of its most visible ministers. But, you are naive if you think the ARP is unaffected by the current controversy. Witness one of your primary seminary prof's unreserved testimonial to Norman Shepherd on the back cover of the Call of Grace, and then look at some of his other writings.

    To say the OPC is similiarly immune is also false.

    We all have this problem, and we all have to deal with it.
  29. Virginia Marine

    Virginia Marine Puritan Board Freshman

    I've been a member of both an OPC and a PCA churches in the past 8 years (3 - OPC, past 5 - PCA). My wife and I were thoroughly blessed by and enjoyed both... Here are a few of the things I noted:
    1) The OPC tends to debate things to death :think:. Just a couple of items we got caught up in included: whether we could have a choir (and if so where would it be positioned in the church); Psalter or Hymnal; wine or grape juice (or both) for communion (note - this topic almost caused a couple of people to leave our church)...
    2) Our OPC congregation was much closer as a whole. Part of this was due to it's smaller size, but I also think there was more of an importance placed on the church being a "family".
    3) Our current PCA church has a much stronger emphasis on missions and outreach.
    There are several other items I could comment on, but I think these were the big "3" we noted...
  30. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Indeed. Perhaps one of our chief weaknesses is the inability to come together with one voice.

    Unity is almost always to be preferred to separation, viz John 17.
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