Eating out on Lord's Days, what is the practice in the OPC and ARP?

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NaphtaliPress

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Staff member
I don't need to ask this about the PCA; but would like to know, without debating the doctrine of the fourth commandment, what the actual practice is in both the ARP and OPC with regard to folks eating out on the Lord's Day (we could extend to other practices but this is the most visible and cuts across the clear grossest violations of the fouth commandment, labor and commerce). The questions preclude acts of necessity; just talking about routine like in the south it is just the custom, etc.
  1. Do members routinely eat out on the Lord's Day and how likely will they be confronted on this practice?
  2. Do ruling elders eat out on the Lord's day and defend the practice? Or is that a barrier to office holding?
  3. Do Teaching elders eat out on the Lord's day and teach that is okay to do so?
  4. If TEs are teaching soundly on this, are they limited to instruction or is actual discipline possible?
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
We don't believe in eating out on the Sabbath. I'm sure there are those in the OPC who don't hold to this conviction. I would like to see pastors teach on the subject of the Sabbath more often.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I've been a member of one congregation of each denomination. I think it varies from congregation to congregation. The OPC I was a part of was stricter on the whole in this regard, though I know at least some members would eat out on the Lord's Day without being addressed. In the ARP Church I would say many ministers and ruling elders eat out on the Lord's Day, at the very least when travelling away from home.

The ARP Church's Sabbath practices waned in strictness through the twentieth century to the point of what I would consider practical antinomianism on the issue now (I mean by this: not necessarily challenging the doctrine, but not following it). There are still some committed Sabbatarians in the denomination, but they are few in number.

Here's an interesting quote, from a book published in 1982 (The Second Century: A History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterians 1882-1982 by Ware And Gettys, p. 348).

C.B. Williams recognized a major change in the attitude of ARP church members from the last generation on the observance of the Sabbath. He felt that the denomination's reputation as strict observers of the Sabbath rested on past practices. "The disillusioning truth is that there is at present little if any difference between us and the general run of church people in this regard. The truth is that we never had a monopoly on Sabbath observance; others were struct as well as our own church fathers." Williams noted that ARP Church members took weekend trips, made purchases of non-essential items, and even did household chores on the Sabbath. he knew of no one who refrained from meal preparation on the Sabbath by 1949. Public amusements were regularly available during the hour of evening worship and "no longer seriously frowned upon." The average churchman followed the practice of the Roman Catholic Church in that he considered morning worship as sufficient and treated the remainder of the day as a holiday."

Compare this to early practice, quote from “The Heritage Our Fathers Left Us”, address by Rev. D.G. Phillips at the Centennial Address of the Associate Reformed Synod of the South (now ARP Church) in 1903

"But our fathers were nearer right than wrong. You can’t well be too strict in Sabbath keeping. When one is hurt by too rigid a Sabbath, a thousand are ruined by a loose one. A man’s attitude toward the Sabbath is a fair test of his spiritual character. If he is loose on the Sabbath, he is lacking in vital godliness, his convictions are shallow, he is not rooted and grounded in love. If he honors the Sabbath he is still anchored to God. Letting down on the sabbath is like the letting out of water. Once you begin there is no stopping place till the sacredness of the day is utterly gone. You hallow it in your heart as God’s own holiday, on which we are not to do our own work nor find our own pleasures nor speak our own words nor think our own thoughts, or you lose reverence for it altogether."
 
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jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
As a general practice I'd say going to businesses on the Lord's Day is discouraged in the OPC. When folks are self-consciously reformed it is rare to break the sabbath.

Sadly we have folks who generally support the WCF that are not as conscientious. To me a measure may be made in what people post on social media. It amazes me to see what people will post without even a flicker of recognition that they are not make the best use of the Lord's day and are pressing "the stranger within their gate" into labor.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
As a general practice I'd say going to businesses on the Lord's Day is discouraged in the OPC. When folks are self-consciously reformed it is rare to break the sabbath.

Sadly we have folks who generally support the WCF that are not as conscientious. To me a measure may be made in what people post on social media. It amazes me to see what people will post without even a flicker of recognition that they are not make the best use of the Lord's day and are pressing "the stranger within their gate" into labor.
I guess it depends who is defining 'reformed' and how self conscience they are. I know folks tire of me saying it but when I asked specifically about the issue of the Lord's Day in the OPC, and the TE answering knowing my background on the issue, said if the Sabbath is an important issue to me I would find the OPC disappointing.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
One prominent minister in the OPC, whom I know personally, told me that his Presbytery had basically taken what they saw as the approach of the Heidelberg Catechism rather than that of the Westminster Larger Catechism to the subject of the Sabbath. Hence, such practices were not discouraged. Obviously, there are good grounds for questioning the dichotomy they have set up between the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity on the issue, but that is what I was told.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
One prominent minister in the OPC, whom I know personally, told me that his Presbytery had basically taken what they saw as the approach of the Heidelberg Catechism rather than that of the Westminster Larger Catechism to the subject of the Sabbath. Hence, such practices were not discouraged. Obviously, there are good grounds for questioning the dichotomy they have set up between the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity on the issue, but that is what I was told.
Dr. Old is not some strict confessionalist puritan and he observed per Terry Johnson: "Years ago Hughes Old said of those who were claiming the ‘continental’ view of the Sabbath over against that of the [Westminster] Confession, that they must mean the ‘continental Catholic’ view, allowing no disjunction between the Reformed in Britain and those in Europe proper."
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I guess it depends who is defining 'reformed' and how self conscience they are. I know folks tire of me saying it but when I asked specifically about the issue of the Lord's Day in the OPC, and the TE answering knowing my background on the issue, said if the Sabbath is an important issue to me I would find the OPC disappointing.
I can only speak from my own experience and acknowledge that I am likely more of a centrist on this board. My involvement with my presbytery's camp over the years has introduced me to rock-solid people from all levels of the denomination who are robust in their observation of the Lord's day.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
One prominent minister in the OPC, whom I know personally, told me that his Presbytery had basically taken what they saw as the approach of the Heidelberg Catechism rather than that of the Westminster Larger Catechism to the subject of the Sabbath. Hence, such practices were not discouraged. Obviously, there are good grounds for questioning the dichotomy they have set up between the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity on the issue, but that is what I was told.
It kind of sounds like an approach of convenience.

Glad to say my pastor observes the Sabbath and preaches it.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
Dr. Old is not some strict confessionalist puritan and he observed per Terry Johnson: "Years ago Hughes Old said of those who were claiming the ‘continental’ view of the Sabbath over against that of the [Westminster] Confession, that they must mean the ‘continental Catholic’ view, allowing no disjunction between the Reformed in Britain and those in Europe proper."
I saw this post on Facebook and wanted to ask there but got distracted so will ask here, could you provide the source of the Terry Johnson quote? Is it from a book or article on keeping the Sabbath?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I saw this post on Facebook and wanted to ask there but got distracted so will ask here, could you provide the source of the Terry Johnson quote? Is it from a book or article on keeping the Sabbath?
I asked Dr. Johnson that about a year ago and he said, "It was verbal. He said it in the course of one of his classes." I know he took a course of study under Dr. Old.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
As far as I know, the Presbytery of the Southeast in the OPC (my presbytery), being under the general influence of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, tends to be sabbatarian. Our congregation certainly is for the most part. Our pastor is a graduate of GPTS and is strongly sabbatarian.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
So an OPC presbytery can at will replace part of their doctrinal statements with another which is not theirs? PCA folks looking for greener grass better look elsewhere then.
One prominent minister in the OPC, whom I know personally, told me that his Presbytery had basically taken what they saw as the approach of the Heidelberg Catechism rather than that of the Westminster Larger Catechism to the subject of the Sabbath. Hence, such practices were not discouraged. Obviously, there are good grounds for questioning the dichotomy they have set up between the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity on the issue, but that is what I was told.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
So an OPC presbytery can at will replace part of their doctrinal statements with another which is not theirs? PCA folks looking for greener grass better look elsewhere then.

3. The Confession of Faith and Catechisms and the forms of subscription required of ministers, licentiates, ruling elders, and deacons, as these forms are found in the Form of Government, may be amended only in the following manner: The general assembly shall determine whether a suggested change is worthy of consideration. If so determined, it shall appoint a committee to consider any suggested change and to report to the next regular assembly with recommendations; that assembly may then propose the amendment to the presbyteries by a two-thirds majority of the members voting; approval by a presbytery shall be by a majority of the members voting, and following the decision the clerk of presbytery shall notify the clerk of the assembly, in writing, of the decision of the presbytery; if two-thirds of the presbyteries approve the amendment it shall be adopted finally only after approval of the next ensuing assembly by a two-thirds vote of the members voting.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I know; I couldn't find an incredulous smilie.
3. The Confession of Faith and Catechisms and the forms of subscription required of ministers, licentiates, ruling elders, and deacons, as these forms are found in the Form of Government, may be amended only in the following manner: The general assembly shall determine whether a suggested change is worthy of consideration. If so determined, it shall appoint a committee to consider any suggested change and to report to the next regular assembly with recommendations; that assembly may then propose the amendment to the presbyteries by a two-thirds majority of the members voting; approval by a presbytery shall be by a majority of the members voting, and following the decision the clerk of presbytery shall notify the clerk of the assembly, in writing, of the decision of the presbytery; if two-thirds of the presbyteries approve the amendment it shall be adopted finally only after approval of the next ensuing assembly by a two-thirds vote of the members voting.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
The OPC I was preciously a member at catered food on the Lord’s day for a fellowship meal, ruling elders would fly on the Lords day, and any sort of strict sabbatarianism was looked down upon. John Murray was praised in many ways but his views on psalmody and the sabbath were ridiculed pretty heavily.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The OPC I was preciously a member at catered food on the Lord’s day for a fellowship meal, ruling elders would fly on the Lords day, and any sort of strict sabbatarianism was looked down upon. John Murray was praised in many ways but his views on psalmody and the sabbath were ridiculed pretty heavily.
What state? No need to be more specific than that.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
So an OPC presbytery can at will replace part of their doctrinal statements with another which is not theirs? PCA folks looking for greener grass better look elsewhere then.

In all seriousness, while I won't comment on individual situations, my advice to conservative people in the PCA is to stay where they are unless they are driven out of the denomination. The grass is always greener on the other side until you get there. Other denominations that may appear more conservative on paper are often not so in reality. In fact, in some cases, the problems are actually far worse.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
In all seriousness, while I won't comment on individual situations, my advice to conservative people in the PCA is to stay where they are unless they are driven out of the denomination. The grass is always greener on the other side until you get there. Other denominations that may appear more conservative on paper are often not so in reality. In fact, in some cases, the problems are actually far worse.
Generally that is good advice, but things are changing rapidly. We'll see what this coming GA brings w.r.t. Revoice, side a, side b, etc.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
In all seriousness, while I won't comment on individual situations, my advice to conservative people in the PCA is to stay where they are unless they are driven out of the denomination. The grass is always greener on the other side until you get there. Other denominations that may appear more conservative on paper are often not so in reality. In fact, in some cases, the problems are actually far worse.

This wasn't the case for me. The PCA church I started out in was no bueno. I'm very glad I made the change.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I will say to the ARP Church case that I think the denomination is moving towards confessionalism rather than away from it, which it certainly was a few decades ago. You can find worse stuff than I know of in PCA history in ARP history with regard to liberalism (including stuff that would make Peter Enns circa the end of his Westminster days blush on inerrancy and the advocacy of women to all offices in the church), but the denomination is returning to its roots and you would be hard pressed to find liberalism countenanced now.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
As far as I know my OPC congregation honors the Lord's Day. I cannot speak for every individual ... but as far as I know.
 

Miller

Puritan Board Freshman
In the OPC the Presbytery of Philadelphia seemed much more sabbatarian than the Presbytery of the Southwest. Ministers here will eat out, shop, watch Sportscenter (while calling it a work of mercy & necessity!), and go to the movies. The ruling elders aren't any different. I've filled a few pulpits where the ruling elder invited me out to eat with him. The people routinely miss worship for work (not of mercy or necessity), plays, concerts, etc... and no one says anything as far as discipline and I've asked about it. This has been my experience here in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. We need reformation.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
In the OPC the Presbytery of Philadelphia seemed much more sabbatarian than the Presbytery of the Southwest. Ministers here will eat out, shop, watch Sportscenter (while calling it a work of mercy & necessity!), and go to the movies. The ruling elders aren't any different. I've filled a few pulpits where the ruling elder invited me out to eat with him. The people routinely miss worship for work (not of mercy or necessity), plays, concerts, etc... and no one says anything as far as discipline and I've asked about it. This has been my experience here in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. We need reformation.
The evidence seems to be that OPC PotSW is antisabbatarian, as bad as any PCA situation. So it explains the TE's comment to me that I'd find it disappointing. Actually, this tells me that was an understatement. Our church is struggling with this issue (never stressed in the teaching till recent years) and if we were to find it time to leave the PCA going from an antisabbatarian presbytery to one just as bad would be not particularly helpful.
 
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