Why so many Reformed-Presbyterian denominations?

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Calvinbeza

Puritan Board Freshman
Friends
I tought why so many Reformed and Presbyterian denomination exist. I understand that the PC(USA) and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church could not unite because differences exist in ordination, confessions, different interpretation of marriage etc. But the PCA and OPC are quiet similar, they had been almost united in the end of 1980s.OK OPC northern ,PCA southern, but in the PCA there are many former United Presbyterian Churches, and Ref, Presbyterian Churches as well.
Similar denominations are Christian Reformed Church and Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
United Reformed Church - Reformed Church in the United States-(formerly Eureka Classis of the old German Reformed Church which now part of the United Church of Christ)
United Reformed Church-Canadian Reformed Churches
PC(USA)-United Church of Christ

Just mentioned a few
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Sin generally. Defection from Presbyterian doctrine and laxity in adherence to shared doctrinal standards are specific issues that not only divide but will cause more division in the future.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
Chris is right that sin as at the heart of it. Christ prayed "that they all may be one" (John 17:21). Paul says: "For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" (I Cor 3:4).

I will note too specifically on some of your examples, there is often a very different history even if there is not much to separate them now. The EPC and CRC are now similar, yes, but have quite different histories from one another that would make a merger less obvious.
 

Calvinbeza

Puritan Board Freshman
And Associate Reformed Pres Church and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America same culture, similar history?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
Christ or the Lodge

I think there were disagreements on Masonic orders between OPC and PCA?

The Bottom Line: If you are not interested in the details below I think that this is the situation:

OPC - Members should not also be Freemasons, but it is up to the elders of each church to make the final determination whether or not to allow members to be Freemasons.

PCA - Does not allow Freemasons to join or remain members of the church. (Edit - I now believe that this statement is inaccurate.)

—————

OPC:
An OPC page asks the Question:
Does your denomination permit its members to join the Masons and other similar fraternities? What in general is the OPC's position regarding Freemasonry?

The second paragraph of the Answer states,
“It can be said that the OPC stands firmly against membership in the Masonic Lodge, but doesn't have a constitutional bar against Freemasons being members of the church. It is safe to say that there are no ministers in our church who are members of the Lodge. And, to the best of my knowledge, there are presently no ruling elders who are Masons.”

Basically I think that their position is that it is up to the elders of a particular church:
“There may be unordained members who are Masons. The reason for allowing them to be members of the church is that Christians may be Masons (on their assumption that there is nothing religious in Masonry). However, should the elders of any given church refuse to admit those who are Masons, they would be within their rights to reject them because the preponderant position of the church is that Masonry is religious in nature.”

Here’s another OPC document that ends with the words, “membership in the Masonic fraternity is inconsistent with Christianity.


PCA:
On the page entitled:
Position Papers & Studies of the Presbyterian Church in America, 1973 - 1998

Go down to: The Report of the Ad-Interim Committee to Study Freemasonry (1987) and Report of the Ad-Interim Committee to Study Freemasonry (1988)

A site I visited claims that the PCA GA April 15-16, 1988 forbids members from being members of a Masonic organization
Freemasonry
: What Christian Churches Really Think!

Presbyterian Church of America:
“No one shall be received into membership into a PCA church who is a member of a Masonic organization. Present members of a church in the PCA who are members of a Masonic organization will be given a period of one year to read the report of the Committee to Study Freemasonry, pray and consider their membership in the Order in light of the clear statement of incompatibility of Freemasonry with Biblical Christianity. After said year, they will be allowed to resign membership or become the subject of formal church discipline.”
(Adopted by the General Assembly of PCA, April 15-16, 1988)

EDIT - After reading the "REPORT OF THE AD-INTERIM COMMITTEE TO STUDY FREEMASONRY" to the PCA General Assembly, as found on the site that I mention above, I now see that the paragraph, that I changed to a quotation, above from the http://jubileeresources.org/?page_id=584 site is in error. This same error was found on a Wikipedia page on the subject. I ask for pardon for not checking the facts more thoroughly
 
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Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Presbyterian Church of America:
“No one shall be received into membership into a PCA church who is a member of a Masonic organization. Present members of a church in the PCA who are members of a Masonic organization will be given a period of one year to read the report of the Committee to Study Freemasonry, pray and consider their membership in the Order in light of the clear statement of incompatibility of Freemasonry with Biblical Christianity. After said year, they will be allowed to resign membership or become the subject of formal church discipline.”
(Adopted by the General Assembly of PCA, April 15-16, 1988)

I don't believe that to be an accurate rendition of the actions taken. The approved report is online so folks can draw their own conclusions. In fact, let's start with the easy stuff. The PCA GA didn't meet in April that year. It met in June, 1988. So the cited report is untrustworthy.

It's going to take some space, but I'll cut and paste the recommendations which were adopted. If someone wants to read the full report (and the 1987 predecessor) on Freemasonary, here's the link for the PDF (also available in .doc) http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/2-300.pdf

"We therefore recommend the following:

1. That the 16th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America call on
all of its members and courts to study this and the former report, in the light of
God's Word and the other standards of the church. Adopted

2. That the individuals, churches and courts of the denomination institute programs
of education and instruction regarding Freemasonry and what we consider to be
its perils for Christians who belong to it. Adopted

3. That any action of any court of the church that might proceed from this matter
be taken only after thorough study and continued exhortation and instruction in
the local churches. Let the session or Presbytery be, as it is authorized to be, the
court of original jurisdiction. Let it proceed with gentleness and compassion, recognizing the gravity of the matter and the counsel of Scripture in dealing
with problems in the church – it is better to teach, instruct, exhort and plead
than to threaten –: "The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to
all, able to teach, patient when wronged. With gentleness correcting those who
are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the
knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 2:24-25). Adopted

4. That all the papers and reports of this committee together with its original
sources be deposited with the Committee for Christian Education and
Publications of the PCA and copies of these materials be made available to any
who desire them, at a cost to be determined by the CE/P Committee. That the Committee prepare a summary of its paper from the position paper and that the
General Assembly instruct the PCA Messenger to publish this summary,
together with the recommendations of the Committee and the resolution of the Committee of Commissioners on Bills and Overtures (16-103, III, 4, p. 226)
approved by the Sixteenth General Assembly. Adopted

5. That this report be adopted by the General Assembly and distributed, together
with the former report, as a pastoral letter to all sessions and presbyteries of the
PCA and made available for any others who may desire it. Adopted

6. That after the summary referred to in recommendation #4 is completed, this ad
interim study committee be dismissed with thanks. Adopted

The report as a whole was then adopted."
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I don't believe that to be an accurate rendition of the actions taken. The approved report is online so folks can draw their own conclusions. In fact, let's start with the easy stuff. The PCA GA didn't meet in April that year. It met in June, 1988. So the cited report is untrustworthy.

Thank-you Edward for the detailed and kind response you gave about my post. I will now take off my teacher's hat and put on mt learners cap. Hebrews 5:12

Please, if you would be so kind, tell me exactly what the PCA policy is towards Freemasonry. I guess I still missed it. Sorry.

Thanks again.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Please, if you would be so kind, tell me exactly what the PCA policy is towards Freemasonry. I guess I still missed it. Sorry.

I was going to PM you the text, but I'd have to split it into 6 messages, so I'll refer you to the source. If you don't want the PDF, got to the PCAAC, select historical center (toward bottom left), select Positions Papers (toward top right) scroll down to Freemasonry.

If you want my summary, Freemasonry is inconsistent with Christianity, individuals who are members should study the two papers and act appropriately; church courts should study the papers but act pastorally, not punitively, and should move deliberately rather than with haste. But I'd refer you to my betters and their report, rather than my interpretations thereof.

My personal view is that it is a dying problem as Freemasonry ages and shrinks. They are shrinking about as fast as the PCUSA, but for other reasons. http://www.msana.com/msastats.asp
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
I can speak somewhat to the RP/ARP distinctions. As you may know, this was a historic year where our two denominations were able to have concurrent Synods at the ARP campus at Bonclarken. We do share a lot of history, but we also have significant differences that at this time would prevent us from getting any closer outside of working together. The big ones are the following:

1. Exclusive Psalmody. The RP church is an acappella Exclusive Psalmody church. While this is the historic practice of the ARP church, they are now a hymn singing church. Our understanding of the application of the RPW is therefore different. This would keep us from worshipping together long-term. The ARP were very kind and gracious in that during our joint worship services, they said they would only sing the psalms and unaccompanied by musical instruments, accompanied only with the singing and melody of our hearts.

2. The Mediatorial Kingship of Christ. Our understanding of Christ's Kingship as Mediator over all things differs from theirs.

3. The RP Church is a Covenanter Church. This is also driven by our understanding of #2. We believe in Public Covenants made before God. Sadly we haven't made a new Covenant since the 19th Century, and personally I think the time is ripe for a new one.

4. The RP Testimony. The ARP got rid of their extra chapters to the Confession, which makes them much closer in doctrine now, but the RP Church has a Testimony that clarifies what we believe the Confession of Faith to teach. Now, much of the Testimony does involve items #1, #2, #3 above, but there are other items in the Testimony that would need to be reconciled.

As you can see - even though we are close, we still differ in a number of important areas that would prevent us from working together as a single church court. We pray for the day that there will be unity, and we hope that as brothers in the faith we will continue to sharpen each other to the Glory of Christ. But we have a lot of work to do!

But I am confident in our Lord Jesus Christ's ability to create a single unified bride out of these churches. Where our sin abounds, the grace of God abounds all the more. I am content to know that at this time, our Lord has seen it fit to fragment His bride into these denominations. Due to our sin, yes. But also according to His divine plan.

When the time is right, we will see Him pull His Church together. In the meantime, we do our duty and promote dialogue and greater unity.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Well in the case of the RPCNA and the ARP while we both have them, the reasons and the history behind it are quite different.

The RPCNA has had them since the 1880's and the ARP since the 1960's.

I am not sure of the reason in the RP's but in the ARP it was a pressure release valve to cut off the Pro-Women's Ordination to Elder/Minister, and has slowly been dying off ever since.

The PCA has deaconnesses as well, just not "officially".
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
I learned something new. I did not know that the RPCNA and ARP had deaconesses. I find that rather surprising!

Rom, do you support having deaconesses? Just curious. I don't mean to make a controversy or argument about it, but I figured I'd ask you since the RPCNA is your denomination.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
I learned something new. I did not know that the RPCNA and ARP had deaconesses. I find that rather surprising!

Rom, do you support having deaconesses? Just curious. I don't mean to make a controversy or argument about it, but I figured I'd ask you since the RPCNA is your denomination.

I would prefer not to derail this thread on the deaconess issue (but I guess the Masonry issue had its time, so oh well).

As for me: before my ordination, the only exception I took to the RP Constitution was on the issue of women being ordained to the office of deacon. This is a rather common exception taken by elders, and so is not an unusual thing.

That said, I took vows to uphold the peace and unity of the church. I would argue my understanding of the Scriptures when the matter comes before Church Courts (and I have reason to believe that this will be revisited in the future), but I won't teach doctrine contrary to the doctrines of my church. I've actually never met a deaconess yet, but I'm sure I will at some point. Most churches I know of don't have any.

Now, I do want to say that I respect the RP church's convictions on this matter as I believe they have sought some historical precedent and scriptural basis for their views instead of arguing that "women should be able to do what men do", or something silly like that.

And contrary to what some people will try to make you believe: the introduction of female deacons doesn't automatically lead to female elders. For 135 years now we've had deaconesses without a single female elder.

Hope that's helpful.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I wanted to talk about theological differences between these denominations not about freemasonry

The freemasonry issue IS theological at its base, and an area of commonality and distinction. But that sidebar has about run its course here.
 

Calvinbeza

Puritan Board Freshman
PCUSA / ECUSA would probably make more sense and be easier to pull off. Does UCC have anything like bishops?

I thought the UCC and PC(USA) are similar, more than ECUSA and PC(USA) The UCC is more "Reformed" than ECUSA I think. PC(USA) are insists on the Presbyterian church government, because of historical reasons, NOT Theologically sadly.

The UCC church polity is congregational, so there are no bishops.

I think union of UCC and PCUSA has higher chance, than PCUSA and ECUSA, because of the church government. formally other confessions, (but I think they read them not often, because they want to change the Bible to accommodate our changing world, instead of change the world to accommodate the Bible.)
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
PC(USA) are insists on the Presbyterian church government,

The Executive Presbyters now function in the role of a bishop.

The PCUSA has gone on record in court as having a hierarchical form of government, which is pretty far from congregational, and well removed from presbyterian (small 'p') church government.

But since none of the 3 is reformed, I suppose this is more 'off-topic' than was freemasonry.
 
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