Reformed churches endorse Catholic-Lutheran accord on key Reformation dispute

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by kainos01, Jul 10, 2017.

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  1. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    So, the global, liberal body of "Reformed" churches, the WCRC, has declared theological peace with Rome. In sum:
    “We rejoice together that the historical doctrinal differences on the doctrine of justification no longer divide us.”

    I am an EPC elder and I admit, to my shame, that I didn't know the EPC was a member of the WCRC. I am not surprised (saddened, but not surprised) that mainline "Reformed" churches would end up here. However, the EPC is - even if not consistently Reformed - at least conservatively evangelical, and I cannot conceive of how a bone fide evangelical denomination could agree with the quote above vis-a-vis the Roman Catholic understanding of justification!

    Anyone on the PB know anything about this "historic" development beyond what the article states? Or about the EPC position on the matter? Living out of the country, I am often out of the denominational loop...
  2. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

  3. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks. I know that the accord is not new - my concern is specifically with the WCRC reception of it (which is new) - and the (at least moderately Reformed and conservatively evangelical) EPC being a party to that reception.
  4. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    If the EPC is now joined at the hip to Rome in such a way (Rome being no part of the true visible church, having corrupted the Word and the sacraments both beyond recognition), then what does this say about the EPC's doctrine of justification? Rome has not changed its position at all on justification. They hold the same doctrine as the Council of Trent did, even if they might formulate it a bit less caustically. The EPC has therefore abandoned the Reformed doctrine of justification if it decides to keep going along with this decision. Someone in the EPC needs to vote out of the WCRC.
  5. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The Church of Rome still holds to fully the Council of Trent, and based upon that, would still be holding with a false Gospel, so there should be no Reformed/Baptist church or group signing this and declaring that we now agree on Justification.
  6. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    Rome's justification treadmill cannot be reconciled with the Reformers call for it to return to the faith:

    As Rev. Keister observes, the immiscibility between Rome's views on justification and the public statements of the EPC regarding the same, to wit...

    Being estranged from God and condemned by our sinfulness, our salvation is wholly dependent upon the work of God’s free grace. God credits His righteousness to those who put their faith in Christ alone for their salvation, and thereby justifies them in His sight. Only such as are born of the Holy Spirit and receive Jesus Christ become children of God and heirs of eternal life.

    ...necessarily implies that any agreement by the EPC with Rome implies an abandonment of the essentials the EPC has claimed. The EPC's ordination study guide clearly emphasizes Reformed doctrine. I find it incredible that an EPC ordained servant would be able to accept this accord with Rome.
  7. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

    I really know very, very little about the EPC, but I did see that its Fraternal Relations committee recommended leaving the WCRC in 2015.

    That appears not to have happened.
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The Church of Rome at its very core denies how a sinner is made right and reconciled back to God, so no one should be any formal agreement at all with them/
  9. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    I, for one, certainly do not! I am under no illusions about that immiscibility. It has been several years since I served as a commissioner at presbytery or GA, since we have been living abroad. So, this was a surprise to me. I have already begun to initiate inquiries, but I was hoping that someone on the PB might have some additional information (such as Brandon's helpful post about the FR recommendation). I will share here anything that I learn, and I encourage any EPC brethren to ask around, as well. This is a grave error that strikes at the very foundation of our faith.
  10. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    So far, the response I have received from EPC leaders is that the denomination’s membership in the WCRC is the only official tie to the PCUSA and this facilitates the many churches from that denomination coming over to the EPC - as they can be dismissed one presbytery to another because of the connection in the WCRC.

    Further, I have been told that the WCRC has had a number of statements over the years that the EPC has objected to and that the EPC “has never owned what these statements endorse,” but it has rather been a utilitarian relationship.

    Finally, I have learned that the EPC hasn’t sent a representative to a WCRC meeting in years and that discussions about leaving the organization have been ongoing for 20 years. While most EPC leaders (I was told) would agree with my position, they hang on to the WCRC relationship strictly for the purpose of the PCUSA connection.

    Here was my response to one leader:

    I get what you are saying about the otherwise distasteful membership in the WCRC facilitating transfers of PC(USA) churches. In missiology, we face a similar conundrum: do we mitigate the ‎directive to "count the costs" of discipleship by justifying the practice of, say, Muslim-background converts who "pretend" to remain Muslims publicly while believing in Jesus "in their hearts"? Some in the field say "yes"; I do not. It seems to me that such a practice is virtually akin to denying Christ.

    My point is that I get concerned when the church sacrifices her integrity on the altar of pragmatism. Our denominational documents define our faithfulness to the Reformational concept of sola fide - and even refute the RC concepts. How then can we be parties (signatories?) to a document that directly refutes our defining documents? One, it would seem, would have to be jettisoned to maintain our integrity.

    Even if remaining in the WCRC is necessary for the transfer of PC(USA) churches (a point I don't concede - it may remove obstacles, yet they are but man-made obstacles), can we not at least issue a statement denying our agreement with this accord?‎ We allow ministers to take exceptions to the WCF (though not on the issue of justification, ironically) - can we not "take an exception" to this document?

    I await further responses, but wondered what my PB brethren may think or contribute at this point, having the above information.
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    How many PCUSA churches are likely to make the switch to the EPC at this point? Not too many would be my guess. You had the big wave from New Wineskins, etc. But that ended several years ago. At best there may be a trickle of a few congregations per year compared to the flood of 5+ years ago. It seems that most of the congregations that left the PCUSA in recent years opted for the ECO instead.

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  12. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    It was gratifying to see you take a stand here, Steve. Perhaps more REs in the EPC need to do the same. Maybe you can lead an effort to bring this before the GA in the future and settle the matter.
  13. GulfCoast Presbyterian

    GulfCoast Presbyterian Puritan Board Junior

    My understanding was that the EPC HAD left the WCRC a couple of years ago. I was very surprised to hear it has not. I am checking into this, and it will be brought up at Presbytery as a first step to pushing the issue. There is no reason to remain a member to facilitate anything with the PCUSA at this point.
  14. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks, Mark. Please keep me (and the PB) posted as to any developments. I will be in the States in time for GA next year and will certainly press the issue there, too. In the meantime, I am continuing in conversations with EPC leaders and will share here anything new.
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