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Discussion in 'Church Order' started by larryjf, May 20, 2008.
I wondered when you would comment on this thread. I figured you might because of all of our discussions relevant to this topic. Why do you think we ought to "merge"?
I live in a small town (100,000), we have a PCA and an OPC, we enjoy frequent joint services, Prayer meetings, and Bible Study. I guess from what I have seen where there is this loving fellowship it lifts my heart. I find it a joyful thing, perhaps I dare dream too much (having seen OPC and PCA in Christian fellowship) that with work such a thing could happen.
100,000, small town?
Seeing as the PCA is so much larger than the OPC, would it be a true merger (meaning that some characteristics of the OPC would survive) or would it be a case of the PCA just swallowing the OPC whole to the point that, in time, it would be hard to tell that there had ever been an OPC?
I dont think it would be a true merger. My hope is that like our church during the early years (30's and 40's) that she will take a strong stand for the Calvinism of the WFC and that those who are not satisfied with that stand would decide to move on to perhaps the EPC (or elsewhere). This would make a union more likely.
Am I right?
I think your fears are well-founded. Just from a cultural wisdom standpoint, the PCA would simply engulf the OPC. Interestingly enough, we will probably watch this happen before our eyes with the New Wineskins phenomenon in the EPC.
Human sin and pride enter into the mix, too. I wonder if the URC, with its strong ethnic contingent and corresponding pride (and, beloved, before I am accused of anything, let me note than I am Dutch, so I know of whence I speak), would ever join. I am sure their better angels (Godfrey, Clark, Horton, etc) would be much in favor of a supra-Reformed synod working towards full union. But, there will be cultural forces that hold them back.
In the meanwhile, I think the real life and vitality of the Reformed movement right now is found in across-denominational-line fraternal relationships of likeminded folk: Banner of Truth conferences, T4G etc. I don't think denominational union between Reformed Baptists, Presmatics (CJ Mahaney), and us stodgy Presbyterian types would work, functionally. For one thing, the Baptists are all congregational! But, real Christian brotherhood among these men will be used of God, I believe, to further his kingdom and encourage his weary people who minister in the midst of denominations which hold to a form of godliness, but sometimes appear absent of his power.
I agree and Ken. I think groups like ACE and T4G, etc... will help us work together in some-type of combined missions, grouping the resources of the smaller denominations and congregations into an organized outreach of the gospel, not just to far flung places but to our neighbors across the street and next-door. I think if taken deliberately and slowly we can function in a stronger and more connected NAPARC-type organization.
Well, I do only live about an hour and a half away from the DFW area, so to me those are BIG Cities!
I had a good friend of mine in the Marines who was from Lubbock and he always spoke about his "small town had nothing to do".
In regard to "cultures" in my experience the confessional folks in the PCA tend to be New Side/Old School while the OPC is more Old Side/Old School. Looking in from the outside that might not seem meaningful, but at the practical level it's a significant difference.
As an Reformed Baptist on the ARBCA side, we often tell Presbyterians that ARBCA is similar to the OPC as the Founders SBC is to the PCA. So you have piqued my curiosity in wanting to know what "problems" you're referencing about the OPC.
For one the OPC is in the process of re-working our DoW in response to a number of churches who are starting to do their own thing claiming that the DoW is not all that clear. The new revised DoW is suppose to make it crystal clear. The OPC also has issues with FV/NPP, theonomy, Sheperdism, etc, etc, though not on the scale of the PCA (mostlikely because the OPC is smaller).
How much is "theonomy" a "problem" in the OPC?
In my state with 5 OPC's 4 of them have pastors who are theonomic leaning. 1 pastor is very anti-theonomic, which happens to be my pastor (even though I'm a big time theonomist).
One of our members use to live in SoCal and said that if you weren't a Theonomist then you were on the outside looking in.
That is bizzare. In the 2 or 3 years since I became a member of my OPC I have never met another OP/theonomist with the exception of on the PB. Most people (I know of) out here are either not comfortable with it, or opposed to it.
What about the FV/NPP? I have not heard of any TE's holding office and preaching it from the pulpit. Are there ministers in our church who are teaching these things?
That sounds like something a theonomist would have said back in the 1980s or early 1990s when theonomy was the "next big thing." I think most people in the OPC have made up their minds about theonomy by now. There are some theonomic churches in the OPC, but they were theonomic during the height of the movement and have remained so. Unlike what some people were probably predicting at the time, theonomy has not, and will not, take over the OPC (or the PCA, for that matter). They have their enclave, if you will, but that's about it.
Nowadays, we're in the midst of pondering (sigh...) the next "next big thing" - the FV/NPP crowd.
Ten or fifteen years from now, I'll be wondering what the next next "next big thing" is...
Is theonomy even really an "issue"?
On the whole I am concerned for the PCA. As I understand it, Covenant Seminary is producing more and more long-day creationists that fall outside of the Confession and are taking more and more exceptions to it, and it's permissible. As an outsider looking in, there seems to be some sort of status quo of complacency and there just seems to be something altogether fishy about it. I can't put my finger on what exactly what it is, perhaps because it's many things, but it seems like the PCA is becomming more and more infected with a contemporary evangelical taint that I would think was altogether foreign within a confessional, Reformed denomination.
I'm in one of the small Presbyterian denominations. We'll probably be ok as long as we don't bleed members faster than we take them on, and our existence is only so long as God has provided. The PCA need not worry about bleeding members, however, but with every member they take on, it seems as if they are sacrificing a part of their identity. With the PCA being the largest conservative Presbyterian denomination in America, that worries me terribly.
As for talk of the ARP merging with anybody, fat chance. You come argue with the ladies in my church about giving up the denomination that their great-great-great-great uncle's cousin's father was pastor in.
Every denomination has this problem. Every one. If you think the ARP is exempt from this kind of mentality, your sampling for observation is too small.
I'm certainly not an expert on the nuances of the ARP, OPC or even my own PCA.
However, it seems to me the PCA and OPC are very close, slight differences of emphasis, but very close theologically. Being 11x larger and one generation younger, there are bound to be some differences.
I also feel close to the ARP and except for the local option of determining "person" to allow ordaining women as deacons, think it is a sound denomination.
Hopefully, I'm not naive, but I just do not see signs of theological drift in the PCA as a whole. We have managed a whole lot of growth by absorption, evangelism and covenant family fruitfulness. The Federal Vision challenge was big and while there was a lot of harm done by it, we seem to have met it deliberately (albeit slowly) and head on. A 95% vote on a study committee with clear guidelines is remarkable. Think of it, how often do you have 95% agreement and clear guidelines that are neither more nor less restrictive than they need to be.
I am confident we will meet the challenge of women's ordination in the same way, deliberative (albeit more slowly than many would prefer) and head on. Already, there are encouraging signs on this.
While Christianity is never "secure" due to our sin and falleness, I'm really thankful for all the PCA is doing well- and there is much of it. I would be happy to join and receive the OPC- they have a lot to offer us and we have almost as much to offer them. However, I would want them to be fully comfortable with our doctrinal subscription system and other issues and maybe even they can help "keep us straight" in that. I think the system of stating exceptions line by line to the exception, putting them on the record, recording them by presbyteries and then a high level review at the General Assembly has a lot of checks and balances and is actually making both candidates and presbyteries be *more* careful about taking exceptions. This procedure is still relatively new and we are working the bugs out but it is increasing accountability.
Yes, liberalism can and will rear its predictable ugly head as man drifts from focus on God to focus on self and we always need to be on guard. However, there are still an awful lot of good people involved in our Seminary who really care about preserving God's truth. I count Bryan Chappel and Sean Michael Lucas as some of them and am thankful they are there.
Maybe I am too optimistic, but hopefully realistic, that while the PCA is not perfect, it is getting a lot right!
I think every denomination has problems, but not necessarily the same problems.
The ARP seems just as complacent but no one is taking advantage of the complacency as they seem to be in the PCA. This could be an illusion, as changes or disturbances in the PCA will undoubtedly carry more note than the equivalent in the ARP, but I would think I would catch anything crazy comming down the line from my Pastor.
ATV, that sounds encouraging and I hope the PCA stands firm in the face of female ordination. As I said, I am concerned for the PCA and want to see the PCA prosper. I could easily see myself as a member in a PCA church in the near future when I have to move futher in town away from my current church. (Not that I live all that close now.) They are undoubedtly the largest, most visible conservative Presbyterian denomination, and I'd love to see them remain solid. We need no more PCUSA's.
I think by far the biggest problem in the PCA (as well as in some ARP churches) is the swift movement away from Reformed, RPW-worship, to non-denominational happy-clappy praise song/solo's worship.
My pastor, former PCA guy, has been slowly steering our congregation as far away from the latter as he can since he got here. I'm not sure how it was before he came (they were without a pastor for 7 years or some obscene amount of time), as I wasn't converted or attending yet, but some of the traditions and practices that still carry over make my skin crawl.
What kind of stuff exactly?
Was the PCA ever strong on "Reformed, RPW-worship"? I have limited experience, but it seems to me that those churches that have "traditional" worship seem to be more Anglican than Reformed in their worship. You can have contemporary tunes and be in line with the RPW or you can have traditional tunes and be miles from it.
Very true SRoper. The content of the uninspired hymns and songs should be sacrosanct.
Leave them separate. The "steel sharpens steel" theory would apply here. Nothing like a little competitiveness among siblings, eh?
What would be more interesting to me than an OPC and PCA merger would be to see all the Baptists coordinate a massive "Joining and Receiving".
Yes, and it would take years, perhaps decades, to work out all those differences, and those in the OPC with strongly-held beliefs would not agree ahead of time to be outvoted by the PCA's greater numbers. So it's not gonna happen, regardless of 56% of the PB's current voters thinking it should.