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Please take the time to review this page. This page governs initial registration requirements, rules for continued membership, board etiquette, and rules for general usage.
1. Church Membership Required. IF YOU ARE NOT A MEMBER OF A LOCAL CHURCH, PLEASE REFRAIN FROM APPLYING FOR MEMBERSHIP AS IT WILL BE REJECTED ON THESE GROUNDS.
Application for membership “Do’s”. Provide the information requested.
Example. Provide your church or give enough information why you do not have a church that the admins can weigh a rare exception in your case.
Application “Don'ts.” Do not provide information not asked for. The longer and more convoluted your application the chances of approval go down. The staff volunteer time for sorting applicants for membership.
Example. Confessionalism: The board admins understand the role of the Reformed confessions, so if you feel like you need to lecture us on this, it will only raise the specter in our minds that you do not, and you may not be approved, particularly if information asked is not provided, such as any exceptions to said confessions.
2. Confessional Requirements:
a. The Puritan Board is subject to Christ's Church. The Puritan Board is owned by a Presbyterian subject to a local session. However, because the Puritan Board is moderated by both Presbyterians and Baptists, we endeavor to live in some level of harmony in edification and fellowship.
b. Confessional Subscription: Officially, the Puritan Board is governed by the Westminster Standards and will acquiesce to them in ultimate matters of any controversies on the Puritan Board. Some of our moderators are Baptist and hold to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (LBCF). Others hold to the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt).
c. Historic Creeds: All members of this board hold to the basic creeds of the church: The Apostles' Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Athanasian Creed, and the Definitions of Chalcedon.
d. Confessional Requirements: One must hold to either the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity, the Second Helvetic Confession, or the LBCF to be approved for membership without a waiver. This does not mean that these confessions are viewed as the "Word of God." Rather, these confessions and creeds are taken to accurately summarize the key doctrines of the Bible and allow mutual, like-minded fellowship (Amos 3:3, "Can two walk together unless they be agreed?"). The adherence to any orthodox historical documents assure that the board will be kept "like-minded" in most of the basic points of salvation history and that the fellowship "exhortive and encouraging." Those who seek to modify, depart from, change or disprove the doctrines found in the Confessions will bear the burden of proof to support their claim.
e. Under some circumstances, the Admins may approve an applicant who does not fully confess one of these historic Reformed confessions but whose soteriological and ecclesiological journey is taking them down that path. This has included some Lutherans, Episcopalians, and some independents in the process of Reforming.
f. New applicants must select the Reformed Confession to which they subscribe to and identify their adherence to the selected Confession. An applicant is expected to note that they either fully subscribe (agree with) their selected Confession or to state their theological differences with the same.
g. If an applicant selects Other for their Confession during application, they must provide sufficient information in the space given in Degree of confessional adherence to explain why they believe they are Reformed if they do not subscribe to one of the historical Confessions. Simply stating: "I am a 5-point Calvinist" does not qualify. If your choose other and list a different, recent, or less known reformed confession (e.g., the New Hampshire Confession of 1833 or revision of 1853), you must explain in confessional adherence your understanding, acceptance, or rejection of WCF 21.1 and 21.7-8 with respect to the regulative principle of worship and of Sabbatarianism. See 3 Unconfessional Views, c. AntiSabbatarianism and Normative Principle of Worship.
h. Applicants with stated exceptions to a Confession or those with Other as their selected Confession must agree that they will not undermine the Confessional standards or advocate for their um-Confessional views. This is not a purity test. We are a Reformed board and so we ask that you respect that fact in your interactions.
3. Unconfessional Views
a. Federal Vision. The Puritan Board forbids the membership of "Federal Vision" proponents on this board. Every major NAPARC body has ruled the Federal Vision to be an un-Scriptural and unconfessional doctrinal error that fundamentally re-casts doctrines that are core to the Christian religion. Those who are proponents of this doctrine should refrain from registering and any members who embrace this doctrine should have the integrity to forfeit their membership privileges. Members who violate this rule will be suspended or banned.
b. NCT and non-Reformed views of the Law. The Puritan Board forbids the membership of proponents of New Covenant Theology (NCT) and unconfessional views of the Law of God. The Reformed Confessions governing the board affirm a functional distinction between moral, civil, and ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law and deny any view that would claim 'Christians are only under the law of Jesus Christ.' Those who are proponents of this doctrine should refrain from registering and any members who embrace this doctrine should have the integrity to forfeit their membership privileges. Members who violate this rule will be suspended or banned.
c. AntiSabbatarianism and Normative Principle of Worship. A rejection of the doctrine of the Lord’s Day or Christian Sabbath and / or what is known as the Regulative Principle of Worship, are serious exceptions to the Reformed faith, and applicants who are decided and firm in rejecting these doctrines, are not eligible for membership. Applicants with open questions or still studying may apply, but need to state these in the application, and if at some future point determine they reject these doctrines to a degree it undermines them significantly, by applying, agree to surrender their membership in that eventuality.
4. Age Requirement. One must be 16 years of age to participate as some of the topics are of an adult nature. This is not to say we look down on youth; we do not! As Paul exhorted Timothy, "Let no man despise your youth; but be an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim 4:12) Our rationale would be that of erring on the side of caution in this regard; see it as protection in this instance.
5. User Profile Requirements. On the registration page, you will find several sections that MUST be filled out accurately. We understand the desire to preserve your privacy Online. User profiles are not visible to the public nor are they visible to regular members. We do require some accountability for your Online activity and do not permit anonymity from the moderators and admits.
a. Accurate profile information is required: include your first and last name, location, church name, denominational affiliation, and any church office held. Inaccurate information in this area may cause your application to be rejected or account suspended.
b. Confessional Subscription. You must select one of the three historic Reformed confessions or select Other if you do not subscribe to any of the principal Confessional Standards. To be Reformed is to be part of a confessing Church and not to be idiosyncratic or schismatic. If you select Other then this will require some explanation in the next field. If you attend a Church that does not align with your Subscription this will likewise require explanation.
c. Degree of confessional adherence: In this section you MUST provide a short statement that you are a Christian and the degree to which you adhere to a historic Reformed confession. You must explain where you differ with your selected confession. Failure to provide this information will delay your application and may disqualify you from membership. Aim to be concise and to the point. The system cuts off long entries.
d. Failure to provide this information will automatically disqualify you for membership. No Exceptions.
e. Signature Requirements Upon completion of registration and approval you must fill out your signature field in your user profile. The signature is designed to preserve some anonymity while generally identifying you to others. You may provide more information in your signature but this is the minimal requirement.
Signatures must include:
- first name or nickname
- denominational affiliation
- state of residence
- office held (if you are an elder, pastor, or deacon)
f. Requests to Delete User Profile or Threads: Your participation on the Puritan Board is a tacit agreement that your posts will become public. You are not required to post on the Puritan Board but, if you do, your thoughts and opinions (and some identifying information) may become public. Signatures are designed to preserve some public anonymity but some users decide to provide First and Last name. You need to remember this when deciding to make your name public to the Internet (along with your opinions). The Puritan Board will not delete your posts or threads you start. You need to remember this. It is part of prudence. Your posts become part of a larger conversation where people may quote you and interact with your thoughts and we cannot be responsible for cleaning up your Online activity on our forum. Furthermore, it is not your right to simply remove whole threads where others participated because you either regret writing something or because your thoughts are now showing up on search engines because someone searched for your name. In some cases we will "anonymize" your user profile for you to remove all identifying information but, if you decided to create a user-name that identified you or created a Signature that made you public we are not responsible for what shows up in search engines nor will we delete all threads that you are later embarrassed or concerned about.
Since Christ is the Supreme Authority over His church (Eph. 5:23), He has commanded the brethren to act in accordance with one another in love and discernment (Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 2:42, 46; Isa. 2:3; I Cor. 11:20). All Christians still have remnants of remaining sin that need to be mortified (Romans 8:13), and the following rules will serve as a hedge against problems in this fellowship.
1. Post Your Subject in the Proper Forum
One of the main reasons that the Board was revised was to make it easier for everyone to see and find threads that they want to participate in. So think first before you start a new thread (cf. #3 below). Make sure that you have the best forum you can think of for your thread. For example, if you are asking a question about the qualifications of elders, even though it technically could be posted in the Theology Forum, it belongs in the Ecclesiology Forum.
2. Post Your Subject with a Descriptive Title
Same reason as #1 above. We now have over 5000 members, with over 1,000,000 posts in many thousands of topics. If someone has a question about a topic, it makes it much easier to use the Board as research if it is properly titled. Avoid titles like "Did you see this?," "what do you think of that?," "Baptism," "God," "the PCA" etc. It is much better to say "News of car bomb in Iraq," "The 2004 Auburn Avenue Conference," "Baptism and the Covenant of Grace in Witsius" or "The Marriage Overture passed at the 2004 PCA General Assembly"
Also note that the Prayer Forum is not visible to non-members (or search engines), but the names of the various threads are. With that in mind, please think very carefully before naming your prayer request threads. If you don't want someone to know that you are having marital problems, don't post "Pray for my Marriage." Post "Please pray" or something like that. Because of the fact that prayer requests are generally read regardless of title, and rarely searched, the Prayer forum is exempt from this rule.
3. Pause Before You Post
This is something that everyone can benefit from. Before you send the latest jab, punch, tweak, etc into cyberspace, take a minute (or two, or five) to make sure that you are doing so in a spirit of Christian maturity (cf. #4 below). Study first, pray, post after.
4. Use Proper Grammar, Punctuation, and Capitalization
If English is not your second language, then you are expected to show other board members the courtesy of properly punctuating and capitalizing your posts. It is commonplace on the web to disregard these rules but improper grammar does not demonstrate consideration toward others who are trying to understand what you communicate. Mistakes in grammar are understandable but willful sloth may result in posts being deleted if they are consistently sloppy.
5. Posting Information found on other Web Sites
6. BUMPING Old Threads - As a general rule, repeated "bumping" of threads is discouraged. If the poster believes that the reason for the lack of response was due to the timing of a post and interested parties may have missed a post, then they may "bump" the thread once. Repeated bumps will be deleted at the discretion of the Moderators without notice. Another category of a "bumped" thread is the thread that is interesting but may have long since received any attention. Users may reply to those threads to either add information/ask a question or merely to "bump" the thread to the attention of the members (e.g. bumping a thread on the birthday or death-day of a famous reformer). Users are requested to limit this type of "bump" to a maximum of two per day.
7. Make sure of the medium as well as the message
Godliness is founded on truth. A test of truth is its power to promote holiness according to our Savior's rule, "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). No opinion can be more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon the same level. On the contrary, there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty; otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it. While under the conviction of the above principle, it is necessary to make effective provision that all who are admitted as teachers be sound in the faith, there are truths and forms with respect to which men of good character and principles may differ. In all these it is the duty both of private Christians and societies to exercise mutual forbearance toward each other." (PCA BCO, Preface) Above all, operate with Paul's command, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2) well in mind.
8. Be Willing to Consider Other's thoughts, but do not be relative
Continuing with #4 above does not mean the most important thing on the Board is whether we can all get along in a milquetoast tolerance where every opinion is as valid as every other one. We certainly do not espouse Pilate's dictum, "What is truth?" It is well documented that Calvin, Luther and others used harsh language at times. But it is also probably true that your Internet post about the latest book is not of the same significance for the Church as Luther's Bondage of the Will or Calvin's Reply to Sodoleto.
9. Remember that this is a Reformed Discussion Group.
The Puritan Board uses volunteer moderators as leadership to facilitate general order and guide the Reformed discussions that they may be exhortative as well as educational to the Reformed Christian. Many of the moderators and affiliates on Puritan Board are actively involved in Pastoring churches; the others being involved in various ministerial capacities at their respective local churches. The board and owners feel that order originates with God. Moderators follow Reformed principles and convictions, and we have openly allowed using the Reformed Confessions as a starting principle by which any moderator or member must abide by. The order that the moderators help facilitate is to be aligned with their statements of faith (comprised in the Westminster Confession of Faith, The Canons of Dordt, The Belgic Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism, and Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689)
It is not the general practice of the Board Administrators to ask a participant to leave. Generally the Board tries to be tolerant of postings, issuing warnings where appropriate first. Members in the past have been banned only after sufficient warning and repeated violations of Board Rules, behavior unbecoming a Christian and/or espousing heresy (such as the Federal Vision, Roman Catholicism or Modalism). The banning of members is at the discretion of the Administrators. Because the Puritan Board is not a local church there is not a session or forum to address issues as we are not set up in this manner.
11. Forum Specific Rules
Several of the Forums also have rules specific to that Forum (e.g. Baptism Forum). Please make sure that you have read the rules of a Forum BEFORE you post there.
12. Additional Rules in the FAQ & Rules Forum
From time to time, the Admins and Mods will post clarifications of our rules in the FAQ & Rules forum. A number of important threads in that forum include:
1. Profile Privacy: Due to concerns about Online privacy, user profiles are only viewable by registered and logged in users. Furthermore, the only profile fields viewable by regular members are:
a. Age (if user selects to share it)
d. Church Information
Administrators and Moderators have access to First and Last Name and this is used only for accountability as board registration requires sharing this information. We do not permit completely anonymous posting that has no sense of accountability. Restriction of First and Last Name to Admins and Moderators protects privacy while permitting accountability.
2. Private Messaging. Private Messaging is between the parties who contact one another. It is neither monitored nor read under normal circumstances. The Administrators do have the ability to investigate and read Private Messages when they have warrant to believe that the PM system is being used for sinful and/or non-Confessional purposes. The Administrators have no desire to read PM's but protection of our membership and enforcement of the rules, which all agree to upon registration, sometimes forces it upon us. See this thread for more information: U2U & Privacy (PM's).
If you have any questions not addressed in the forum rules or problems with the board, please contact one of the Administrators via Private Messaging or use the Contact Form.
May God bless you during your stay with us.
In the Grace of Christ,