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Ecclesiology discuss "Covenanted Reformation Defended" Debunked in the Theological Forum forums; Because the views of the Steelites are so damaging, a Minister friend of mine in Australia has been working as time affords on a critical ...

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    "Covenanted Reformation Defended" Debunked

    Because the views of the Steelites are so damaging, a Minister friend of mine in Australia has been working as time affords on a critical review of Greg Barrow's book, The Covenanted Reformation Defended. I think it is obvious to many that Barrows work is scholastically incompetent. However, it is hard not to conclude the author is so self-deluded that he cannot handle sources accurately and can only see support for his views where they are not, or worse, he is being deliberately deceptive. I submit the following by the Rev. Matthew Winzer with his permission. This is part one of a projected multiple part review of CRD. In my opinion, in a short space, in addition to calling into question the credibility of the author, Mr. Winzer seriously undermines the entire thesis of that book.

    I. True and false churches.

    Much of the weight of the authors argument rests upon what he regards as an important distinction between the being and the well-being of the church. He writes "There is an important distinction to be made between the being (esse) of a church and its well*being (bene esse)."1

    With respect to the distinction between being and well-being, its importance should not be under-estimated. There are certain notes or marks by which a true church may be recognised and distinguished from a false church. The absence of these marks indicates that the professing body is not worthy of the name of the "church." Where these marks are present, the professing body may safely be called a true church, i.e., that it has the being of a true church. Other marks might be absent, but these only serve to affect the way the true church functions, or, in other words, they have respect to her well-being. Hence there is no disagreement with CRD over the fact that great care should be taken to maintain the distinction between the being and well-being of the church.

    Where this review finds fault with CRD is with the fact that the author has not provided any evidence to the effect that a church can be considered false with regard to its well-being. In fact, the very idea that a church could be false with regard to its well-being undermines the reason why the being/well-being distinction exists.

    The purpose of distinguishing between the being and well-being of the church by older divines was to ascertain what marks were essential to a church in order that it might be regarded as true in its claim to be a Christian church, and subsequently entitled to the authority to preach the Word and administer discipline according to Christs appointment. To speak of false churches with respect to well-being is to undermine the very purpose for which the distinction exists. Those marks which belong to the well-being of the church were provided by older theologians in order to show the types of things which a church might fail to possess without losing its entitlement to be regarded as a true church.

    In Book four, chapter one of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin teaches the reformed position as to what constitutes the church, and why unity must be maintained with it. "If it has the ministry of the Word and honors it, if it has the administration of the sacraments, it deserves without doubt to be held and considered a church. For it is certain that such things are not without fruit. In this way we preserve for the universal church its unity, which devilish spirits have always tried to sunder; and we do not defraud of their authority those lawful assemblies which have been set up in accordance with local needs."2

    Here it is as plain as day that the reformer teaches certain fundamental marks of the church in order that the true church might be recognised, her unity preserved, and her authority submitted to. The emphasis on the true ministry of the Word and sacraments is iterated time and again: "For the Lord esteems the communion of his church so highly that he counts as a traitor and apostate from Christianity anyone who arrogantly leaves any Christian society, provided it cherishes the true ministry of Word and sacraments. He so esteems the authority of the church that when it is violated he believes his own diminished."3 "The pure ministry of the Word and pure mode of celebrating the sacraments are, as we say, sufficient pledge and guarantee that we may safely embrace as church any society in which both these marks exist. The principle extends to the point that we must not reject it so long as it retains them, even if it otherwise swarms with many faults."4 "But I say we must not thoughtlessly forsake the church because of any petty dissensions. For in it alone is kept safe and uncorrupted that doctrine in which piety stands sound and the use of the sacraments ordained by the Lord is guarded."5 Speaking of the many faults of the Corinthian church, Dr. Calvin writes, "Yet the church abides among them because the ministry of Word and sacraments remains unrepudiated there. Who, then, would dare snatch the title "church from these who cannot be charged with even a tenth part of such misdeeds?"6

    When Dr. Calvin comes to summarise the main points he has been contending for, this is how he concludes:

    "Let the following two points, then, stand firm. First, he who voluntarily deserts the outward communion of the church (where the Word of God is preached and the sacraments are administered) is without excuse. Secondly, neither the vices of the few nor the vices of the many in any way prevent us from duly professing our faith there in ceremonies ordained by God."7

    CRDs use of the being/well-being distinction is far from the spiritual understanding of the reformer. Whereas the reformer uses it to distinguish the true church so as to recognise its lawful ministry and authority, CRD is only concerned to discover false churches as to well-being, so as to deny them the ministry and authority committed to them by the Lord.

    CRD also misrepresents Samuel Rutherfords teaching on this important subject. It is undisputed that he taught the important distinction between the being and well-being of the church, as is asserted on p. 59. The two quotations provided on that page are to the point. However, on p. 60, CRD unwarrantably represents Rutherford as teaching "that one may lawfully separate from a church that is essentially true (as to being) when it is deformed as to its well-being." Nothing could be farther from the truth; and such a statement must be regarded as guilty of deception when it is considered that Prof. Rutherford teaches the exact opposite of this within the context of the passages which CRD has quoted.

    In Samuel Rutherfords Due Right of Presbyteries much attention is given to the point of what constitutes a true church, and why separation from a true church is unlawful. Those of the congregational (Independent) persuasion had argued in much the same way as the author of CRD. They had maintained justifiable separation from the Church of England on the basis that she did not manifest certain marks of the true church. Prof. Rutherford bore the burden of showing them that there is only one fundamental mark of the church, and this is profession of the true faith. Where this is evident, the body making the profession is a truly constituted church, and separation from her is schism. It is independency to separate from a church which is countenanced by Christ, the head thereof. Hence the congregationalists were called Independents by Presbyterian polemicists.

    Now CRD quotes Due Right of Presbyteries twice on p. 59, to prove that he taught the being/well-being distinction. The first quotation is from p. 251, which says, "A visible profession of the Truth and Doctrine of godliness, is that which essentially constitutes a visible church, and every member of the visible church." Having made this distinction, however, Prof. Rutherford goes on to teach, "Now to refuse communion to these who are knowen to be members of Christs body, and to separate from them is all one, and therefore in this you separate your selves from Christs Body."*8 Again, CRD quotes from p. 285, " Truth of Doctrine concurs to give being to the Church and to the constitution of it." Following on from this important point is this equally important statement: "The power and right to discipline is a propriety essentiall to the Church, and is not removed from it, till God remove the Candlesticke, and the Church cease to be a visible Church; but the exercise may be wanting and the Church a true visible Church, from which we are not to separate."*9 Therefore, in both cases, where Prof. Rutherford is brought in as a witness to the being/well-being distinction, he also maintains that separation is unlawful from the being of the true church. CRD, then, has falsified the views of the author it quotes from, because it concludes that he teaches one may lawfully separate from a church that is essentially true as to being.

    In order to convey the mind of Samuel Rutherford more forcefully to the reader, the following statements are worthy to be recorded:

    "There be great oddes betwixt a froward generation professedly denying Christ to bee come in the flesh, as the Jewes, Act. 2. (and from such a Church wee are to separate totally; ) and betwixt a Church where there bee many wicked persons, who in their life and conversation deny Christ, and yet doe beleeve soundly or orthodoxly the fundamentall points of salvation, and hold in profession the orthodox faith: for though wee are to separate from the bad conversation of such a generation, yet are we not to separate from the Church-worship, and Church-societie of such a generation."*10

    "If a Church be incorrigible in a wicked conversation, and yet retaine the true faith of Christ, it is presumed God hath there some to be saved, and that where Christs ordinances be, there also where Christs ordinances be, there also Christs Church presence is; And therefore I doubt much if the Church should be separated from, for the case is not here as with one simple person, for it is cleare, all are not involved in that incorrigible obstinacy, & that is yet a true visible communion, in which we are to remaine, for there is some union with the head Christ, where the faith is kept sound, and that visibly; though a private brother remaining sound in the faith, yet being scandalous and obstinately flagitious be to be cast off, as an Heathen, yet are we not to deale so with an orthodox Church, where most part are scandalous."*11

    "There is no just cause to leave a lesse cleane Church (if it be a true Church) and to goe to a purer and cleaner, though one who is a Member of no Church, have liberty of election, to joyne to that Church, which he conceiveth to be purest and cleanest."*12

    It is quite clear from these statements that the being of a true church depends upon the true profession of the faith, and that where this is evident there should be no separation from the church. As James Walker comments, after evaluating the Scottish doctrine of the visible church, "In the case of a true Church, no separation in point of actual Church fellowship can be lawful, although you must certainly separate yourself from its errors in doctrine and worship."13

    CRD also unjustly introduces into evidence a statement from the adept ecclesiologist, Dr. James Bannerman of the Free Church of Scotland. The reviewer wonders why an earlier part of Dr. Bannermans discussion was not quoted, where he explicitly teaches the being and well-being distinction. There it is stated in no uncertain terms, "there are departures from Scripture authority or example in respect to outward order and administration in a Church of Christ, in respect to its government and discipline and worship, which, although wrong in themselves, and injurious in their operations and tendency, yet do not suffice to unchurch the Christian society, or to deprive it of its claim to be regarded as a branch of the visible Church of Christ. There is much, in short, that may be necessary to the perfection of a Church, measured and judged of by the Word of God, that is not necessary to the existence of a Church in such a sense that the want of it would exclude it from the title or privileges of a Church at all."14

    Here the true spirit of the distinction is given, where it is seen that a church might fail to possess the marks necessary to its perfection and yet be considered as deserving of the title and the privileges of a true church. Instead of quoting this pertinent passage, CRD chooses a statement under a second heading, which shows that the church exists for the sake of the truth, whereas other things exist for the sake of the church, to aid her in bearing witness to the truth. Yet even here, there is no justification for CRDs ultimate conclusion that a church might be considered as false with regard to its well-being. The whole point of Dr. Bannermans distinction is to show what the essence of a church is, that one might be able to identify a true church. In fact, at the foot of the quoted page, the following instructive note will be discovered from Dr. Calvins Institutes: "where he maintains that, so long as we have the Word purely preached and the Sacraments rightly administered in any Church, we have no right to separate from it simply on the ground that it is at the same time chargeable with many faults and defects both in doctrine and practice."15

    In conclusion, it is clear that the being/well-being distinction of the church is both important and useful. However, the author of CRD is to be blamed for misusing this distinction, contrary to the purpose for which it exists. It is quite clearly an abuse of language to speak of a church being false with respect to the well-being of a church. The Westminster Confession of Faith adopts an appropriate form of speech, when it teaches that "particular churches, which are members thereof [i.e., of the catholic visible church], are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them."

    ----------------------------
    1 Greg Barrow, The Covenanted Reformation Defended, etc. (hereafter CRD), p. 55. This review quotes from the online pdf version at http://www.reformedpresbytery.org/bo...f/covrefdf.pdf.

    2 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 4.1.9, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, ed. John T. McNeill (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), 2:1023-24.

    3 4.1.10 (2:1024).

    4 4.1.12 (2.1025).

    5 4.1.12 (2.1026).

    6 4.1.14 (2.1029).

    7 4.1.19 (2.1033).

    8 Due Right, 257.

    9 Ibid., 287, 288.

    10 Ibid., 246, 2nd pagination.

    11 Ibid., 254, 2nd pagination.

    12 Ibid., 255.

    13 James Walker, The Theology and Theologians of Scotland 1560-1750, 1888 edition (Edinburgh, 1982), 108-9.

    14 James Bannerman, The Church of Christ, 1:54*55.

    15 Ibid., p. 57.
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    Sounds like a good project for CPJ!!
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    Can anyone give a synopsis of what the whole "Covenant/PRC" controversy is all about? What is it and why is it going on? The Steelites? Without reading the 10,000,0000 pages at swrb.com can someone give a brother a clue?

    I mean, do the Steelites claim unless one ascribes to the Solemn League and Covenant they can't be considered a "true church"? Is this the gist of it? isn't the SLaC an English Scottish deal?

    Thanks.
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    It might be Fred if Greg Barrow's work rated any kind of critical dealing in a journal. Maybe the subject in a broader sense could be dealt with where it impacted more widely with most conservative Presbyterians rather than addressing the errors of a back eddy of confused separatists.
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    Sorry, I just saw this. For a fairly brief overview and refutation see Dr. Bacon's article at the link below. This was written before the "definitive" reply by Barrow.
    http://www.fpcr.org/fpcrprc/defence.htm
    Originally posted by mangum
    Can anyone give a synopsis of what the whole "Covenant/PRC" controversy is all about? What is it and why is it going on? The Steelites? Without reading the 10,000,0000 pages at swrb.com can someone give a brother a clue?

    I mean, do the Steelites claim unless one ascribes to the Solemn League and Covenant they can't be considered a "true church"? Is this the gist of it? isn't the SLaC an English Scottish deal?

    Thanks.
    Chris Coldwell, Lakewood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Dallas, Texas.
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    The short answer according to Dr. Bacon is: They maintain that we can treat churches that lack the full well-being of the church just as we would treat a false church. Then they define full well-being as including the SL&C and several other documents that they refer to as "terms of communion."
    Originally posted by mangum
    Can anyone give a synopsis of what the whole "Covenant/PRC" controversy is all about? What is it and why is it going on? The Steelites? Without reading the 10,000,0000 pages at swrb.com can someone give a brother a clue?

    I mean, do the Steelites claim unless one ascribes to the Solemn League and Covenant they can't be considered a "true church"? Is this the gist of it? isn't the SLaC an English Scottish deal?

    Thanks.
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    Winzer's book or essay on the subject promises to be excellent if this sample is any indication. It appears that the Steelite movement is beginning to unravel. But what can you expect from a personality cult?

    JL
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    One can hope. But I agree and hope Mr. Winzer completes his work, it does look promising.
    Originally posted by JOwen
    Winzer's book or essay on the subject promises to be excellent if this sample is any indication. It appears that the Steelite movement is beginning to unravel. But what can you expect from a personality cult?

    JL
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    Originally posted by NaphtaliPress
    One can hope. But I agree and hope Mr. Winzer completes his work, it does look promising.
    Originally posted by JOwen
    Winzer's book or essay on the subject promises to be excellent if this sample is any indication. It appears that the Steelite movement is beginning to unravel. But what can you expect from a personality cult?

    JL
    Any word on when it's supposed to be completed?
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    All I know is that Mr. Winzer is bogged down in other things and there is a lot of detailed work needed for the last section, which if I understoond correctly is all that needs completing.
    Originally posted by Kaalvenist
    Originally posted by NaphtaliPress
    One can hope. But I agree and hope Mr. Winzer completes his work, it does look promising.
    Originally posted by JOwen
    Winzer's book or essay on the subject promises to be excellent if this sample is any indication. It appears that the Steelite movement is beginning to unravel. But what can you expect from a personality cult?

    JL
    Any word on when it's supposed to be completed?
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    Do we know how long it will be? What was posted was just a small part of the response right?

    JL
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    Jerrold,
    I told Matthew this posting had sparked interest in his completing the review and so perhaps now it will be finished sooner rather than later.
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    Well I have at least 4 ex-steelite affiliates or member families in my congregation. As soon as it is done, we will be sure to pass out a few copies.
    If you have not already read "Our Covenant Heritage" by Edwin Nisbet Moore (available at Christian Focus Publications), it is a must read. It traces the life of a Protester and Covenanter, who went back to the Revolution Church along with so many others. It's a very moving read. His criticism of the Cameronians who refused to join once again with the true Church is devastating. If my copy was not lent out I'd post his concluding words in this regard.
    Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis. (Dipl. IT; Assc. A; B.Th; M.Th Candidate, PRTS)
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    Jerrold,
    Not asking you to speak of anything that ought not be made public but in general, what do you see as the ill effects on those who fall under the sway of these folks? Realizing that they are far from unified themselves and have their separate factions.
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    Well because they have come out of this group, they have become softer in their ecclesiastical vibrato. They are now recognizing that the Reformed "catholic church" is larger than they once believed. There is a dogmatic elasticity for others in doctrine and piety that was not there before in light of their ridged superstructure. Being ex-steelites lends to a deep conviction on doctrinal and spiritual ideas, now augmented by a recognition that we are all sanctified at different rates. There remains in these saints a healthy striving to "all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions" (1 Cor 1:10) now held in tension with bearing "one another's burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2).

    While the Steelite "church" has left some obvious scars, it has also given them a greater capacity to grow in grace, and to consider the weaker brother. I praise God for their exodus.
    Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis. (Dipl. IT; Assc. A; B.Th; M.Th Candidate, PRTS)
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    Originally posted by JOwen
    Well because they have come out of this group, they have become softer in their ecclesiastical vibrato. They are now recognizing that the Reformed "catholic church" is larger than they once believed. There is a dogmatic elasticity for others in doctrine and piety that was not there before in light of their ridged superstructure. Being ex-steelites lends to a deep conviction on doctrinal and spiritual ideas, now augmented by a recognition that we are all sanctified at different rates. There remains in these saints a healthy striving to "all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions" (1 Cor 1:10) now held in tension with bearing "one another's burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2).

    While the Steelite "church" has left some obvious scars, it has also given them a greater capacity to grow in grace, and to consider the weaker brother. I praise God for their exodus.
    Chris Coldwell, Lakewood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Dallas, Texas.
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    Originally posted by NaphtaliPress
    Jerrold,
    I told Matthew this posting had sparked interest in his completing the review and so perhaps now it will be finished sooner rather than later.
    Hello Chris and Jerrold,

    Well you have drawn me out of my hiding place.

    As time allows I will make the Review a priority.
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."

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    Not that we'd try to set your priorities or anything.
    Originally posted by armourbearer
    Originally posted by NaphtaliPress
    Jerrold,
    I told Matthew this posting had sparked interest in his completing the review and so perhaps now it will be finished sooner rather than later.
    Hello Chris and Jerrold,

    Well you have drawn me out of my hiding place.

    As time allows I will make the Review a priority.
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    This post is quite a witness against the Edmonton "church" and the extent and effects of their occasional hearing doctrine.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/r-f-w/message/9138?l=1
    Originally posted by JOwen
    Well because they have come out of this group, they have become softer in their ecclesiastical vibrato. They are now recognizing that the Reformed "catholic church" is larger than they once believed. There is a dogmatic elasticity for others in doctrine and piety that was not there before in light of their ridged superstructure. Being ex-steelites lends to a deep conviction on doctrinal and spiritual ideas, now augmented by a recognition that we are all sanctified at different rates. There remains in these saints a healthy striving to "all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions" (1 Cor 1:10) now held in tension with bearing "one another's burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2).

    While the Steelite "church" has left some obvious scars, it has also given them a greater capacity to grow in grace, and to consider the weaker brother. I praise God for their exodus.
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    How much do the views of the Edmonton/Albany axis of evil represent traditional Covenanter (Cameronian presbyterian dissenters) views?
    *Peter Gray* Elkins Park RPCNA

    "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. " Mk 9:24
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    Peter,
    Pastors Lewis and/or Winzer may best be able to do a compare and contrast for you but I would only say in general, that the Steelites represent a separatistic stance that is missing from the theology of even the generation of Covenanters during the Killing Times. The works of James Walker and John MacPherson make this pretty clear I think. Matthew? Jerrold? You thoughts are welcome.
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    In my own research, I have found that there is a trichotomized ethos represented in Covenanter history.
    For instance, the Protesters of 1651, while holding on dearly to the SL&C, were not by and large of the same edge as the Cameronians. I'm thinking specifically of Protesters who fought against the tyranny of the ecclesiastical oppressor during the killing times, yet rejoined the Revolution Church in 1690. In fact the vast majority of the Protesters rejoined. After reading extensively on the biographical side of Samuel Rutherford, I have come to the conclusion that he too would have rejoined the Revolution Church. So tat is one strain.

    The Second is the Cameronian strain that remained outside of the Revolution Church in 1690. This would be the same group that plagued the ministry of Thomas Boston during his parish work. This group, was obstinate in the face of the Church of Scotland, would not vote because of the belief that the crown was unduly constituted, and considered the Presbyterian Church to be the same. I would like to say that they were void of the vitriolic sentiments of the Steelites, but this was not the case. They were not as aggressive as the steelites, but they were vocal. What was still evident in this group was the experiential nature of their Calvinistic faith, that often poured out in works of piety and community love. While they refused to "join" with the Rev. Settlement, there was still a recognition of the communion of saints. Boston talks about this a bit in his work on Schism (a must read I'd say.) I believe that Chris has this sermon on his site.

    Lastly we have the Steelites who claim to be the successors of both the Protesters of 1651 as well as the Camaronians. There is nothing of value in this group, and is void of the Christ centered tenderness that was evident in the Protesters. This group's greatest weakness is they teach WHILE they are learning, as if they have something to contribute that just can't wait. "Theology on the fly" is the best way to describe this group, skimming off the top of many valuable works and skewing the teachings for their own purposes. Did I just say that they were guilty of manipulation and malfeasance? Yes!This leads to a great amount of pastoral inconsistency within the leadership as we have been witness to in the past, and as many in my own congregation can attest to.
    I'm sure that Rev. Winzer's essay on the subject will flesh the obvious errors in their theological scheme. And I look forward to this. But what is of equal or greater concern to me is the pastoral and intangible damage that this group has done in the lives of so many saints. It is much harder to write on that subject because it is so subjective. But it IS recorded in heaven.

    1Ti 1:7 "Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."
    Jam 3:1 "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
    Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis. (Dipl. IT; Assc. A; B.Th; M.Th Candidate, PRTS)
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  23. #23
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    Thanks Jerrold and Chris. I hope to hear more on this subject (Edmontonites v. traditional dissenters). I realize you (a former Seceder Minister) would be hard on the Society People or Reformed Presbyterians to begin with, but I hope the rancor against the Edmontonites is against something other than Reformed Presbyterian distinctives.

    [Edited on 6-23-2006 by Peter]
    *Peter Gray* Elkins Park RPCNA

    "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. " Mk 9:24
    "The greatest thing we can desire, next to the glory of God, is our own salvation; and the sweetest thing we can desire is the assurance of our salvation. In this life we cannot get higher than to be assured of that which in the next life is to be enjoyed. All saints shall enjoy a heaven when they leave this earth; some saints enjoy a heaven while they are here on earth." Joseph Caryl

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    As an EP, strict subscriptionist to the WCF, I can't speak highly enough of Reformed distinctive. And as far as bitterness goes, I don't know what you are talking about. I'm not bitter. Perhaps a little jealous for the truth.
    Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis. (Dipl. IT; Assc. A; B.Th; M.Th Candidate, PRTS)
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    I agree. "Rancor" hardly reflects the truth of the matter.
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    Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis. (Dipl. IT; Assc. A; B.Th; M.Th Candidate, PRTS)
    Pompton Plains NJ, Free Reformed Church
    "A hot iron, though blunt, will pierce sooner than a cold one, though sharper."

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    I don't know what personal offenses you guys have suffered from the Edmontonites but I don't know what they publicly teach that could merit being called a cult. If it's the old Reformed Presbyterian dissenters you think are a cult, which is what I've been afraid of, or if its something unique to the Edmontonites I'd like to know.

    [Edited on 6-23-2006 by Peter]
    *Peter Gray* Elkins Park RPCNA

    "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. " Mk 9:24
    "The greatest thing we can desire, next to the glory of God, is our own salvation; and the sweetest thing we can desire is the assurance of our salvation. In this life we cannot get higher than to be assured of that which in the next life is to be enjoyed. All saints shall enjoy a heaven when they leave this earth; some saints enjoy a heaven while they are here on earth." Joseph Caryl

  28. #28
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    Originally posted by Peter
    I don't know what personal offenses you guys have suffered from the Edmontonites but I don't know what they publicly teach that could merit being called a cult. If it's the old Reformed Presbyterian dissenters you think are a cult, which is what I've been afraid of, or if its something unique to the Edmontonites I'd like to know.

    [Edited on 6-23-2006 by Peter]
    Chris Mangum
    Mount Croghan, SC
    Christ Bible Church
    Pageland, SC

  29. #29
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    Originally posted by Peter
    I don't know what personal offenses you guys have suffered from the Edmontonites but I don't know what they publicly teach that could merit being called a cult.
    [Edited on 6-23-2006 by Peter]
    My words were a "personallity cult".

    Go here and do some reading.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/r-f-w/
    Also here:
    http://taron.net/letters/
    And here:
    http://www.datarat.net/DR/Lex-S.html - under "Steelite"
    And here:
    http://www.fpcr.org/fpcrprc/Steelite.htm
    Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis. (Dipl. IT; Assc. A; B.Th; M.Th Candidate, PRTS)
    Pompton Plains NJ, Free Reformed Church
    "A hot iron, though blunt, will pierce sooner than a cold one, though sharper."

    JOHN FLAVEL

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    As someone who worshipped with the Albany Steelites for nearly a year I'd thought I should say a few things.
    When I started out with them I really didn't know what I had got myself into. Right after I attended my first worship service with them, I immediatley had someone sit down with me and explain EP, why it was wrong to celebrate Christmas and other matters. At first I was impressed with them, here were people who knew about Gillespie, Rutherford, and all the old Puritan and Covenanter divines, but after a while I began to see things differently.

    I had a Steelite tell me it would be a "sin" for me to attend a PCA or OPC church. Excuse me, but some of the godliest people I know are in those denominations. When I was about to graduate from SUNY Albany, a Steelite asked me what I was going to do about church. I said I was seriously considering the RPCNA, a denomination that is probably the closest in most respects to them, and the woman was horrified. She said "But they don't worship right!" They told me that the only acceptable alternative to worshipping with them in Albany was to worship at home by myself. I was dismayed to say the least, and at that point I decided I had had enough.

    They believe that because of their stance on the SL&C, they are THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH and it is wrong to worship with anyone else.

    They were kind to me and I did experience some warm fellowship with them but for the above stated reasons I could not stay with them.
    The first time I ever stepped foot in an RPCNA church, after the service the pastor held up a book and asked me if I had read it. It was C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity. In other words, he wanted to know if I was a Christian. I told him I had read the book.

    I am now happily with the RPCNA.

    [Edited on 6-23-2006 by LadyCalvinist]

    [Edited on 6-24-2006 by LadyCalvinist]
    Diane
    Broomall Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA)
    Philadelphia, PA
    1 member(s) found this post helpful.

  31. #31
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    Well Diane, I guess you just have a personal grievance. Glad you found a good church home.
    Originally posted by LadyCalvinist
    As someone who worshipped with the Albany Steelites for nearly a year I'd thought I should say a few things.
    When I started out with them I really didn't know what I had got myself into. Right after I attended my first worship service with them, I immediatley had someone sit down with me and explain EP, why it was wrong to celebrate Christmas and other matters. At first I was impressed with them, here were people who knew about Gillespie, Rutherford, and all the old Puritan and Covenanter divines, but after a while I began to see things differently. They talked more of what some Presbyterian said than what the Bible said. They major in minors and have forgotten that mercy, love, and patience particularly with weaker brothers, matters.

    I had a Steelite tell me it would be a "sin" for me to attend a PCA or OPC church. Excuse me, but some of the godliest people I know are in those denominations. When I was about to graduate from SUNY Albany, a Steelite asked me what I was going to do about church. I said I was seriously considering the RPCNA, a denomination that is probably the closest in most respects to them, and the woman was horrified. She said "But they don't worship right!" They told me that the only acceptable alternative to worshipping with them in Albany was to worship at home by myself. I was dismayed to say the least, and at that point I decided I had had enough.

    They believe that because of their stance on the SL&C, they are THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH and it is wrong to worship with anyone else. They definitely have a form of godliness, but the more I read of them the more perturbed I am. They have a perfectionist view of the church. I was shocked to read that they have excommunicated Nathan Price who is the son of Pastor Greg Price.

    The first time I ever stepped foot in an RPCNA church, after the service the pastor held up a book and asked me if I had read it. It was C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity. In other words, he wanted to know if I was a Christian. I told him I had read the book.

    I am now happily with the RPCNA.
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  32. #32
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    And I don't believe I used the word in any sense. Peter, Im quite frankly disappointed that youd be so bold as to surmise baser motivations here. What is driving this is the seriousness of the errors and desire to recover folks from them.

    Originally posted by JOwen
    Originally posted by Peter
    I don't know what personal offenses you guys have suffered from the Edmontonites but I don't know what they publicly teach that could merit being called a cult.
    [Edited on 6-23-2006 by Peter]
    My words were a "personallity cult".

    Go here and do some reading.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/r-f-w/
    Also here:
    http://taron.net/letters/
    And here:
    http://www.datarat.net/DR/Lex-S.html - under "Steelite"
    And here:
    http://www.fpcr.org/fpcrprc/Steelite.htm
    Chris Coldwell, Lakewood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Dallas, Texas.
    Naphtali Press: Presbyterian & Reformed Books
    Westminster Letter Press
    The Confessional Presbyterian Journal
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    Calvin in the Hands of the Philistines: Did Calvin Bowl on the Sabbath?
    The Regulative Principle: The Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice, no rite or ceremony ought to have a place in the public worship of God, which is not warranted in Scripture, either by direct precept or example, or by good and sufficient inference (Samuel Miller).
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  33. #33
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    Thank you for the resources. My apologies if I have put words into your mouths but it is an epithet that is tossed around quite frequently. For example, the third link you've provided ('data rat') offers no apologies in calling them "a tiny cult." Perhaps my fault in not joining in your attacks is that I don't see the seriousness of the error. The RPNA is just another tiny confessional presbyterian sect. They claim to be the most pure church on earth and that all Christians should join them. At face that may sound extreme but what honest, serious denomination doesn't claim the same? What right does a denomination have to maintain a separate existence if it doesn't? If it is acknowledged by a denomination that another adheres closer to the apostolic rule aren't they schismatic for not joining that denomination? I think they go too far with their doctrine of occasional hearing and that their separatism would impede the edification of the church. My surmisings were not groundless but I'm not insinuating that your motivations are base either. Rev. Lewis frequently relates or implies that he was personally injured by them. If that is the case then certainly all the invectives against the RPNA are justified but in the public documents I have read nothing jumps at me as especially sinister. My sentiments on this issue are with Rev. Guillory on a previous thread where he said that, "The heated responses seen here regarding Greg Price [minister of RPNA] also seems to indicate more passion than reason. " Whereto Chris responded, "As far as more emotion than reason in the posts here, all I can say is, you lose some sheep to these folks or have a church split by them, and you might emote a bit about it as well!" And Mr. Parnell McCarter where he says:

    The RPNA (Reformed Presbytery in North America) has received some strong and unwarranted criticism from various quarters of the Christian community. Some have even made the ridiculous claim that it is a cult. Even if the RPNA may contain some errors in its doctrine and practice, there is still no excuse for false charges such as these. The reality is that these are brethren in the Lord. Furthermore, they have done and are doing a great service in the body of Christ to awaken the community to truths which need to be proclaimed and have been too much hidden from view
    Mr. McCarter gives a strong but charatible criticism of the neo-Steelites from a FPCS perspective that ought to be our model. Here: http://www.puritans.net/rpna.html
    *Peter Gray* Elkins Park RPCNA

    "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. " Mk 9:24
    "The greatest thing we can desire, next to the glory of God, is our own salvation; and the sweetest thing we can desire is the assurance of our salvation. In this life we cannot get higher than to be assured of that which in the next life is to be enjoyed. All saints shall enjoy a heaven when they leave this earth; some saints enjoy a heaven while they are here on earth." Joseph Caryl

  34. #34
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    Originally posted by Peter
    Thank you for the resources. My apologies if I have put words into your mouths but it is an epithet that is tossed around quite frequently. For example, the third link you've provided ('data rat') offers no apologies in calling them "a tiny cult." Perhaps my fault in not joining in your attacks is that I don't see the seriousness of the error. The RPNA is just another tiny confessional presbyterian sect. They claim to be the most pure church on earth and that all Christians should join them. At face that may sound extreme but what honest, serious denomination doesn't claim the same? What right does a denomination have to maintain a separate existence if it doesn't? If it is acknowledged by a denomination that another adheres closer to the apostolic rule aren't they schismatic for not joining that denomination? I think they go too far with their doctrine of occasional hearing and that their separatism would impede the edification of the church. My surmisings were not groundless but I'm not insinuating that your motivations are base either. Rev. Lewis frequently relates or implies that he was personally injured by them. If that is the case then certainly all the invectives against the RPNA are justified but in the public documents I have read nothing jumps at me as especially sinister. My sentiments on this issue are with Rev. Guillory on a previous thread where he said that, "The heated responses seen here regarding Greg Price [minister of RPNA] also seems to indicate more passion than reason. " Whereto Chris responded, "As far as more emotion than reason in the posts here, all I can say is, you lose some sheep to these folks or have a church split by them, and you might emote a bit about it as well!" And Mr. Parnell McCarter where he says:

    The RPNA (Reformed Presbytery in North America) has received some strong and unwarranted criticism from various quarters of the Christian community. Some have even made the ridiculous claim that it is a cult. Even if the RPNA may contain some errors in its doctrine and practice, there is still no excuse for false charges such as these. The reality is that these are brethren in the Lord. Furthermore, they have done and are doing a great service in the body of Christ to awaken the community to truths which need to be proclaimed and have been too much hidden from view
    Mr. McCarter gives a strong but charatible criticism of the neo-Steelites from a FPCS perspective that ought to be our model. Here: http://www.puritans.net/rpna.html
    Peter,

    I don't know if you've personally known anyone taken by this position or not, or if you've only read materials about it on the Internet. Many of us have personally dealt with people who are entirely under the sway of the Edmonton Steelites (or were ourselves of that position). It goes beyond claims of purity when it is claimed that you must leave your church and either worship at their church, or worship at home. They define and epitomize "schism." They are schismatics and outside the church, tearing at the body of Christ, and should be warned against as such.

    And I do not believe that my congregation is perfect -- my pastor preaches from the ESV, we don't use the 1650 Psalter, we observe the Lord's Supper with grape juice, etc. But I do not believe that this warrants my separation from this church, and worshipping at home. And this is exactly what they say. I sat five feet away from Greg Barrow one evening, and he told me as much. He actively encouraged me to engage in schism, as does the R"P"NA as a whole. And that is not simply a matter of denominational differences -- that is the difference between a denomination and a schismatical sect.
    Sean P.M. McDonald
    Communicant Member of First Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA), Grand Rapids, MI
    Husband to Laura, father to Olivia, Julia, and Josiah
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain" (Isaiah 45:19).

  35. #35
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    Originally posted by Peter
    Thank you for the resources. My apologies if I have put words into your mouths but it is an epithet that is tossed around quite frequently. For example, the third link you've provided ('data rat') offers no apologies in calling them "a tiny cult." Perhaps my fault in not joining in your attacks is that I don't see the seriousness of the error.
    Apology accepted. Did you happen to read any of the links provided Peter? Would you care to comment on Rev. Winzer's small critique posted by Chris at the beginning of this thread? If you have not seen the seriousness of their error then you probably passed over the extensive reading that needs to be done (and has been done by several of us) and are simply making assumptions on both sides of the fence. Brother go read the available information on this group, their subordinate standards, and terms of communion. If you STILL don't see their error then it looks like they will be getting one more member.:-)

    If it is acknowledged by a denomination that another adheres closer to the apostolic rule aren't they schismatic for not joining that denomination?
    Are you being hypothetical here or do you know of an instance of this? Waht will stop you from joining? Surly you can put up with no occasional hearing for the sake of Christian unity?

    Let me quote Rutherford from Due Right:

    "There is no just cause to leave a lesse cleane Church (if it be a true Church) and to goe to a purer and cleaner, though one who is a Member of no Church, have liberty of election, to joyne to that Church, which he conceiveth to be purest and cleanest."

    I think they go too far with their doctrine of occasional hearing and that their separatism would impede the edification of the church. My surmisings were not groundless but I'm not insinuating that your motivations are base either.
    I'm sorry but I don't knowwhat you are saying here.

    Rev. Lewis frequently relates or implies that he was personally injured by them. If that is the case then certainly all the invectives against the RPNA are justified but in the public documents I have read nothing jumps at me as especially sinister.
    I've never been injured by the Steelites. I left them once I saw the untenable road they were going down. There is a list of several hurt souls, devastated by the RPNA. To God's glory and by His grace I'm not one of them.

    Regarding your above statement, what documents have you read? I'd be interested to know. Armchair theologians do a lot of skimming. Your not a skimmer are you Peter?

    Blessings!

    [Edited on 6-24-2006 by JOwen]
    Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis. (Dipl. IT; Assc. A; B.Th; M.Th Candidate, PRTS)
    Pompton Plains NJ, Free Reformed Church
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  36. #36
    NaphtaliPress's Avatar
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    It was the Westminster Presbyterian postion (the Scots and English Ps) that there was no biblical right to actively gather members out of other established Reformed churches. That is the Independent postion which of course the Presbyterians viewed as schismatic. I don't think that doctrine goes away simply because we are in a disetablished and divided state in this country.
    Originally posted by JOwen
    Let me quote Rutherford from Due Right:

    "There is no just cause to leave a lesse cleane Church (if it be a true Church) and to goe to a purer and cleaner, though one who is a Member of no Church, have liberty of election, to joyne to that Church, which he conceiveth to be purest and cleanest."
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  37. #37
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    Originally posted by JOwen
    Originally posted by Peter
    Thank you for the resources. My apologies if I have put words into your mouths but it is an epithet that is tossed around quite frequently. For example, the third link you've provided ('data rat') offers no apologies in calling them "a tiny cult." Perhaps my fault in not joining in your attacks is that I don't see the seriousness of the error.
    Apology accepted. Did you happen to read any of the links provided Peter? Would you care to comment on Rev. Winzer's small critique posted by Chris at the beginning of this thread? If you have not seen the seriousness of their error then you probably passed over the extensive reading that needs to be done (and has been done by several of us) and are simply making assumptions on both sides of the fence. Brother go read the available information on this group, their subordinate standards, and terms of communion. If you STILL don't see their error then it looks like they will be getting one more member.:-)

    If it is acknowledged by a denomination that another adheres closer to the apostolic rule aren't they schismatic for not joining that denomination?
    Are you being hypothetical here or do you know of an instance of this? Waht will stop you from joining? Surly you can put up with no occasional hearing for the sake of Christian unity?

    Let me quote Rutherford from Due Right:

    "There is no just cause to leave a lesse cleane Church (if it be a true Church) and to goe to a purer and cleaner, though one who is a Member of no Church, have liberty of election, to joyne to that Church, which he conceiveth to be purest and cleanest."

    I think they go too far with their doctrine of occasional hearing and that their separatism would impede the edification of the church. My surmisings were not groundless but I'm not insinuating that your motivations are base either.
    I'm sorry but I don't knowwhat you are saying here.

    Rev. Lewis frequently relates or implies that he was personally injured by them. If that is the case then certainly all the invectives against the RPNA are justified but in the public documents I have read nothing jumps at me as especially sinister.
    I've never been injured by the Steelites. I left them once I saw the untenable road they were going down. There is a list of several hurt souls, devastated by the RPNA. To God's glory and by His grace I'm not one of them.

    Regarding your above statement, what documents have you read? I'd be interested to know. Armchair theologians do a lot of skimming. Your not a skimmer are you Peter?

    Blessings!

    [Edited on 6-24-2006 by JOwen]

    Peter, If you are apologizing I accept. On my words you cited, I was speaking generally to the thread (I don't believe I was emoting ) and also not to any personal grievance that has me angling for a grudge match. Jerrold is captain of his own ship; I would not have cited the dataRat. Jerrold and Matthew can speak to Mr. McCarter's writings as they have done so in the past I believe. As far as the Steelites "right to exist," I believe they exist because heresies must come; and the church must speak against those errors. As to the good they do, it does great harm when errorists do some good but greater evil, just as poison mixed in nutritional food will make you sick or kill you.
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  38. #38
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    Originally posted by JOwen

    Let me quote Rutherford from Due Right:

    "There is no just cause to leave a lesse cleane Church (if it be a true Church) and to goe to a purer and cleaner, though one who is a Member of no Church, have liberty of election, to joyne to that Church, which he conceiveth to be purest and cleanest."
    So if one was a member of a standard reformed baptist church but became convinced of presbyterian distinctive (paedobaptism and church government) one is supposed to stay where they are at?

    I am not attacking such a position, but have just never thought of such, is this what you are trying to say?
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    Are these Steelites where Harold Camping comes from?
    The man who is disposed to think of his sin as a great calamity, rather than as a heinous crime, is not likely either to reverence God or to respect His law. - John Kennedy, 1873
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  40. #40
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    So if one was a member of a standard reformed baptist church but became convinced of presbyterian distinctive (paedobaptism and church government) one is supposed to stay where they are at?

    I am not attacking such a position, but have just never thought of such, is this what you are trying to say?
    In that case you are dealing with a sacrament, which touches the mark of a true Church. I think the difference would be in that discovery.

    Blessings!
    Pastor Jerrold H. Lewis. (Dipl. IT; Assc. A; B.Th; M.Th Candidate, PRTS)
    Pompton Plains NJ, Free Reformed Church
    "A hot iron, though blunt, will pierce sooner than a cold one, though sharper."

    JOHN FLAVEL

    Free Reformed Church of Pompton Plains HERE
    The Puritans on Google+

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