Differences between the PCA and the OPC

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by EKSB SDG, Jul 11, 2009.

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    EKSB SDG Puritan Board Freshman

    I’m looking for information about the key differences between the PCA and the OPC, particularly with regards to doctrine and practice. I was going to do some internet searches, but then remembered that there is a wealth of knowledge (from like-minded believers) on this board.
  2. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    The following link could be helpful: Q and A
  3. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    One recent thread dealt with differences over allowing ruling elders to preach sermons; another dealt with preaching by seminary students.


  4. Reformed Thomist

    Reformed Thomist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Offhand, the OPC seems to run a tighter ship doctrinally and liturgically than does the PCA. There's a certain strictness, if not rigidity in some respects (culturally, for instance).

    The PCA definitely seems to be more 'open' to the secular culture, reaching out to the urban culture, young professionals, university students, etc., from all walks of life -- and who may or may not be, as of yet, orthodox or even close to it. (There's a Tim Keller-esque, liturgically 'free-form' PCA church a few blocks away from my campus which is growing in popularity among the evangelical students, including Arminians.)
  5. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    It depends on the pastor. Some in the OPC came from the PCA and some OPC men allow elders to preach when ever it is convenient for the pastor, they just call it technically a word of exhortation.

    Also the OPC offerings collected from the regular congregational collection can only be used for denominational missionaries and works, so the people are protected from having their consciences bound to give to works they would not want to. I appreciated that.
    A separate collection must be taken for works outside the denomination, it can't be a line item in the budget to come from normal offerings.

    They are supposed to hold more strictly to the Confession, not allowing exceptions as the PCA does.
    But in practice to get around this, esp. due to lax men like Hodge many now hold to only requiring strict adherence to the " Form of Doctrine" contained in the Confession.

    Which is actually an abandonment of subscription to the confession, at least full subscription.

    Now we have confusing terms like, strict, full, total subscription all which are unnecessary.
    You either subscribe or you don't. It only causes schism and division to allow men in who won't subscribe fully. There is no need not to. The doctrine of the unity of the church is as important as any other doctrine a man might think he knows better on.

    And they can always amend the Confession if they don't agree with it.

    There are others as well, but there is such great dissension in the OPC now that one would be hard to say what they believe.
    To maintain purity and unity they may soon have to split.

    So in actuality there is not much difference than the PCA.

    It smaller so every minister or elder has a chance to raise an issue at GA. Which some like. It may resolve matters sooner.

    The OPC has their own mission board and a man must be ordained to be a missionary. And he must be approved by the church to go on a mission and then he is supported by the churches, he is not allowed to raise his own support outside, as a para church ministry.
    Though the PCA work closely with MTW they do allow people to raise their own support.
  6. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    The PCA was primarily based in the South in its origins and the OPC in the North. The PCA is broader in its Worship variations from one congregation to the next than the OPC.

    The PCA has 2 less members as of a month ago than the OPC who has just gained 2, my wife and I. :lol:
  7. ChristianHedonist

    ChristianHedonist Puritan Board Freshman

    Really? Dissension over what?
  8. ww

    ww Puritan Board Senior

    :ditto: Having spoken with numerous TE's, Elders, and others in the OPC I'm not aware of this "great" dissension either. Having just received feedback from the OPC GA I also didn't hear much about "dissension". Personally I think saying the OPC may soon have to split is one of the most melodramatic statements I've heard in quite along time.
  9. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    Check with your elder if he attends GA. I don't want to get into those things here.

    Leave it to say there is greater diversity than in the early years of the OPC and some of it stems from allowing ministers to study at private seminaries instead of seminaries governed by the church.
    One would only have to do a short perusal of the OPC posting board on yahoo to see the discussions.

    An independent organization for its own benefit can say we seek advice or to work with ministers, but this is not the same as originating from the church or actually being under subjection to the courts. They are still outside and will do what they wants, esp. to make money and draw a crowd.

    I find Greenville Pres Theological Seminary to be an exception to most of the ills common in these private seminaries.
  10. Josiah

    Josiah Puritan Board Senior

    My Pastor is on our Presbyterys visitation committee in NW Presbytery and I have not heard from him any such news of dissension or talks of a split.
    In fact, with the exception of '03 '04 and maybe '07 the GA and the Presbyterys (from what I have noticed) seem to have been quietly going about their work (Particularly on the Final Proposed version of the DPW and Psalter hymnal).

    I would have to say (as one who follows that Yahoo group) that I have not seen those discussions on Presbyterians-OPC. Would you be able to point me to the most recent conversation on that list concerning Parachurch schools?
  11. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    No I doubt there is little debate on private seminaries, that would be my issue. I feel it is a weakness in the church and breeds dissension.

    Different teachers teaching very different things from Kline's stuff to Covenant Seminary's, to RTS to MARS to Greenville and the rest, there are strong differences.
    I would say GPTS, MARS and Puritan Reformed may have the most similarity and congruity with each other.

    If you wish to flesh this out in a healthy positive way, perhaps raise the question or look at back questions on, Which seminary should I go to. OR What are the distinctive differences at these seminaries.

    Suffice it to say, I used to attend most presbytery meetings and some GA.
    And there is a significant difference, even a polarizing of designer presbyteries occurring.

    This of course is quite hush hush and people are not going to openly speak about it. That would be schismatic if it was intentional.

    But anytime a man is rejected from entrance into one presbytery and allowed into another based on doctrinal belief, well this shouldn't exist in a confessional church.
    And men of certain persuasions, know which presbyteries will be favorable.
  12. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    I would agree with Don here. I spent several internships in the OPC, and saw the tensions first hand. They are in every denomination, but the OPC tends to hide it and deal with a lot of things in a back room manner. In the Southern California presbytery it was difficult for many WSC students to succeed in their endeavors because there was such a dislike toward anything coming out of Westminster West. The men there, speaking in the main, did not like Kline, did not understand analogical theology (even though it is a medieval and Reformation era theological distinction), and many were suspicious and skeptical toward anyone with that background. I know of a couple of very good men, better than I by far in their demeanor, who although they were humble, knowledgeable, and just desired to serve Christ in the pastorate without any agenda were denied ordination because of that presbytery's pet issues.

    There are other presbyters, and I ran into this as well on a first hand basis, who will go out of their way to tell you that if you are not Klinean enough they will do their best to keep you from getting ordained in their presbytery.

    Again, there are squabbles in every denomination over such issues, I just found that many of the less admirable presbyters in the OPC would prefer to put a mask on it to the outside, instead of dealing with the problems up front and in a clear manner, and would rather make back room maneuvers in place of that. There are a lot of long term friendships at stake in some of these presbyteries, and that is always a dynamic to be factored in as well.
  13. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    I think more important issues were those of Kline's students who went off the deep end with such extreme BT views they basically become practical antinomians and refuse correction and instruction from GA as Lee who was defrocked.

    The So Cal pres has men who have seen other extremes. They are also concerned about literal 6 day creation.

    So to say it is only the analogical theology is an oversimplification in my mind.
    And it is not just So. Cal that has these issues.

    It is also how close the votes are when the good does win. Many issues are decided by the barest majority, meaning there are many men on opposite sides.

    There was even a very close vote on correcting or reproving a minister for allowing tongues as a private non-interpreted language to be used in the worship service. He left the OPC rather than submit to their correction. But that a vote was so closely split on such an issue is not showing unity in my mind.
    Had there been two or three different delegates at that GA the OPC could be allowing tongues in church today.
    And it shows what kind of men they have let in and how a church can stray that far unchecked, that they would leave the denomination over such an issue.
    They make tongues a reason to divide. That is what is more important to them than unity and the other doctrines of scripture. Sad.
  14. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    As one on the theological fringes of the OPC, I’d like greater attention given to confessional subscription issues and more uniformity in worship. However, the OPC is a lot further from splitting or splintering than the PCA. There exists in presbyteries and at GA a core of men with family and historic roots going back to the beginning of the denomination. These tend to dominate the apparatus of the courts and make it difficult for new comers to be considered for committee assignments. However, these men for the most part do a good job. There is no effort to stifle expression of opinion, divergent views do not stigmatize fellow presbyters after the debate, and even a confessionally conservative new comer like me (four years OPC) finds himself sent as a commissioner to GA for the last four years. The OPC has always had individual congregations leaving from both ends of the theological and praxis spectrum. It continues to evolve as a denominational culture. However, the denomination has a much keener sense of its identity than the PCA; and the latter will split or splinter before the former.
  15. Josiah

    Josiah Puritan Board Senior

    This was a sad episode (New life leaving). How many New Life churches are even left in the OPC?

    I had no idea that the vote was so closely divided at GA. Are there really that many REs and TEs in the OPC to make such a vote so close? :eek:
  16. Reforming

    Reforming Puritan Board Freshman

    This is exactly what happened to me since going to college. I was raised an Arminian and came into contact with a PCA in Knoxville and since then I've become Reformed. Quite a switch, if I do say so myself.
  17. Contra Marcion

    Contra Marcion Puritan Board Freshman

    Plus, lets no forget, our BCO is actually small enough to carry!:D
  18. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    So is splitting a bad thing or a good thing?

    Does it purify the church and keep it intact or are we not maintaining enough unity even if we must sacrifice some purity.

    How does one determine which is best; a PCA model or an OPC model?
  19. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    There should be one Christian Church in each nation in covenant with true churches of other nations. They should find their unity around a common confession of faith, form of government and discipline, and directory of worship.

    Both OPC and PCA are lacking in common confession and worship, at least in their understanding, application and enforcement of such. Both have books of order that are too long. A Presbyterian form of government and directory of worship should be proof texted the same as the confession, not saying or requiring more than can be warranted from scripture. The Regulative Principle applies to all.

    The OPC and PCA could learn from each other. The PCA needs a delegated assembly, the OPC needs something like a SJC, both could improve their ordination vows. The two should not merge before each has a more consistent understanding, application and enforcement of their constitutional standards.
  20. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    If the OPC was as "with it" as the PCA, then you guys would have that BCO in searchable PDF on your laptop :lol:
  21. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    Aren't the two previous statements in contradiction?

    One or not merge.

    And isn't there allowance for preferential style of worship, culture, language, etc. even within one country like America.

    Or should they worship separately in their own churches but be part of the same denomination?
    Like Chinese and Korean presbyterians in the US
  22. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    Unity is the goal. Organizational union does not necessarily get one there. The latter is of little value without unity in confession, worship and discipline. Bringing divergent groups together around some lowest common denominator or middle ground confession lays the ground for future division when specific issues began to matter again. This delays actual biblical unity.

    Efforts at unity should focus on agreement in documents like those produced by Westminster (Confession, Catechisms, Directory for the Public Worship of God, and Form of Presbyterian Church Government).

    Within the boundaries of enforced confessional standards and directory of worship, there will be limited room for cultural expression. However, the church and her worship is no cultural festival for man’s inventions or man pleasing.
  23. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    Doesn't the OPC sing more songs per service generally?
    That would be a difference that would matter to me... But...they're not that different from each other...
  24. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    Really? Why is that? That's interesting because it would make a difference to me too.
  25. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Yes charlie

    You are correct- they are very similar in many ways.i have worshipped with the PCA also.

  26. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    This is so completely dependent on the congregation that it is not worth generalizing over.
  27. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Both the PCA and OPC are biblical, reformed denominations, generally growing.

    I worshiped at a PCA church this past Lord's Day that sang psalms from the Psalter, which is published by a joint PCA/OPC publishing company. They read from the Heidelberg Catechism responsively.

    We are perhaps too critical- both of these are excellent denominations, very similar in doctrine and slightly different emphases.
  28. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Do you mean something you could download to your laptop, like this:
    for instance?
  29. Contra Marcion

    Contra Marcion Puritan Board Freshman

    There's just something cool about the little cloth-bound book. It just looks authoritative. Some elder opening up his MacBook at a meeting just doesn't have to same feel to it..........
  30. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Having the BCO online doesn't help if it's considered good advice rather than a rule :lol: In the NorCal Presbytery of the PCA the BCO is like El Dorado, Atlantis or the Gospel according to Thomas. Something cool to bring up during late nights after a few beers, but more to chuckle over than to really believe exists :lol: "Hey, I heard our denomination's Book of Church Order actually talks about who's qualified to be officers!". "Really, cool! Did you hear that Elvis was sighted late last night at the drive in?"

    Still, after the last PCA GA, some of the liberals are stocking up on Depends, so at least they don't think they've won the Final Battle against the forces of the West.
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