HRC & OPC...

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ChananBachiyr

Puritan Board Freshman
I was hoping y'all could help me identify the differences between the Heritage Reformed Church (HRC) and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC).

I've done a small amount of study on the HRC, so I have at least some idea of what they're about, and I've been attending an OPC church for a year, so I know a good bit about them, but I'd definitely appreciate more information on the HRC.

Thank you!
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
OPC - Presbyterian - Westminster Standards. Small, but full sized denomination denomination (over 30,000 members and about 275 congregations). Member of NAPARC.

HRC - Continental, but blends the Three Forms of Unity and Westminster Standards. A micro denomination (they claim about 2000 members and show 10 congregations on their website.)
 
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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
One difference (or set of differences) is that the HRC is what I call classically Reformed. They do not allow exceptions to their doctrinal standards, and their doctrine and practice is uniform throughout the denomination. The OPC, on the other hand, is more decentralized. They allow exceptions to their doctrinal standards, and various officers and congregations have their own doctrinal views and practices.

To clear something up: the HRC is a member of NAPARC.
 

MChase

Puritan Board Freshman
The HRC has a big emphasis on biblical experiential preaching in addition to all of the things Tyler said. The HRC is very similar to the FRCNA as well, and I believe they have been having joint synods recently. The HRC also only sings psalms (saving the doxology maybe).
 

Jake

Puritan Board Junior
Both are generally confessional, Reformed denominations and members of NAPARC. I'm a former member of the OPC, and speak of the HRC not from personal experience.

The OPC separated from the northern Presbyterian church over the fundamentalist/modernist controversy. Influential people in the denomination's founding include J.G. Machen, Cornelius Van Til, and John Murray. Geerhardus Vos is another, though I'm not sure if he was a member. Vos and Van Til showed there was Dutch Reformed influence in the denomination from early on. John Murray gave Scottish Reformed influence, though it perhaps lives on more in the fellow NAPARC denomination, the Presbyterian Reformed Church, which he was influential in forming, though not a member. It has been closely connected with Westminster Theological Seminary. The OPC is fairly well spread out across the country (though centered to the north), and with active missions interest.

The HRC separated from the Netherlands Reformed Congregations. The why is a bit more complicated, so I'll quote the HRC website: "The most substantive underlying issue to future HRC members and congregations was Christ-centered preaching, combined with the preaching of an unconditional offer of grace." Joel Beeke is the most well known minister. They are one of the governing bodies of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, together with the similar Free Reformed Churches. It's a Dutch Reformed denomination, with a strong emphasis on experimental preaching. It is unique in the American context in that it holds to the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity together as its confessional standards. It's a smaller body than the OPC, newer, and concentrated in areas with a lot of ethnic Dutch. It has several larger congregations (several hundred members) though.
 

ChananBachiyr

Puritan Board Freshman
Eh! I was pretty sure I saw on a website that the HRC is a member of NAPARC!
Something rather distinctive about the OPC is that they're big on having nothing in the sanctuary. No distractions, such as pictures or decorations of any sort.
One of our elders always tells me 'we concentrate on the word being preached (points to the pulpit) and the sacraments (points to the table that we partake of the Lord's supper on).'
Would you say that the HRC views the place of worship the same way?

Also, Tyler, when you say that the HRC doesn't allow exceptions to their doctrinal standards, do you mean that a prospective member had to agree with their standards 100% or do you mean that the worship, from one congregation to the next, would be the same?
 

ChananBachiyr

Puritan Board Freshman
Yeah, Jake, Dr. Joel Beeke is by far my favorite pastor to listen to. He's the reason I'm inquiring about the denomination.
I didn't know Van Til helped found the OPC! I thought he only helped found the ARP. That's cool!
Neither did I know John Murray had a hand in it!

Thanks a lot guys!
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Eh! I was pretty sure I saw on a website that the HRC is a member of NAPARC!
Something rather distinctive about the OPC is that they're big on having nothing in the sanctuary. No distractions, such as pictures or decorations of any sort.
One of our elders always tells me 'we concentrate on the word being preached (points to the pulpit) and the sacraments (points to the table that we partake of the Lord's supper on).'
Would you say that the HRC views the place of worship the same way?

Also, Tyler, when you say that the HRC doesn't allow exceptions to their doctrinal standards, do you mean that a prospective member had to agree with their standards 100% or do you mean that the worship, from one congregation to the next, would be the same?
As far as I know, the only potential distractions in HRC chapels are the organ pipes!

No, they do not require their members to agree with 100% of their doctrinal standards; what I mean is that their officers are not allowed to take exceptions to them.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Dr. Vos almost certainly had a front row seat to the Princeton/Westminster divide and the northern church/OPC split. I've long wondered what he was thinking when he stayed at Princeton.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Jean, the evidence suggests that because Vos was getting near the end of his career, he basically thought it too hard a move at that time. His sympathies were clearly with Machen, but he didn't have the energy to move.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
To clear something up: the HRC is a member of NAPARC.
I see it on there now, but I didn't spot it when I checked this morning. I'll correct my post. I do note the web site loaded quickly this morning, and it seems to be taking about 5 minutes to load this afternoon. So there appears to be some problem with the NAPARC website today. (Google says the site may have been hacked.)
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Well, that was scary!

For awhile there, I thought the title of the thread meant Hilary Rodham Clinton and the OPC.

Couldn't figure that one out to save my life....
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Jean, the evidence suggests that because Vos was getting near the end of his career, he basically thought it too hard a move at that time. His sympathies were clearly with Machen, but he didn't have the energy to move.
True. Vos was 67 years old in 1929 and nearing retirement. Although he agreed wholeheartedly with Machen, it was too late in his life and career to make the move.
 

SavedSinner

Puritan Board Freshman
I was hoping y'all could help me identify the differences between the Heritage Reformed Church (HRC) and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC).

I've done a small amount of study on the HRC, so I have at least some idea of what they're about, and I've been attending an OPC church for a year, so I know a good bit about them, but I'd definitely appreciate more information on the HRC.

Thank you!
One important distinctive to add: The Heritage Reformed Churches are not influenced by the teachings of Abraham Kuyper, as most other reformed churches in N. America are. So if you are looking for refreshment in a Kuyper-free-zone, head over to Heritage Reformed (or FRC).
 

Jake

Puritan Board Junior
I've never heard of this Kuyper...
What has the OPC adopted from him, that should be avoided?
This Wikipedia article is a good starting place for a high level overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Calvinism

There are plenty here who have favorable opinions of Kuyper. I'm a bit divided, as I think there's a lot to be admired in his thought, but think some take it too far. He's very influential in the CRC and URC. He also has wide influence in the PCA and OPC (my alma matter, Covenant College, which is a PCA institution, has in its college perhaps the only stain glass window containing the likeness of Abraham Kuyper).

Here is a critical response to Kuyper and neo-Calvinism by a late minister in the Presbyterian Reformed Church: http://www.westminsterconfession.org/the-doctrines-of-grace/historic-calvinism-and-neo-calvinism.php
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
One important distinctive to add: The Heritage Reformed Churches are not influenced by the teachings of Abraham Kuyper, as most other reformed churches in N. America are. So if you are looking for refreshment in a Kuyper-free-zone, head over to Heritage Reformed (or FRC).
The CanRC also tends to be somewhat critical towards Kuyper due to the influence of Klaas Schilder. The trajectories of thought established by Schilder have sometimes had their own drawbacks, but they have prevented Kuyperianism from dominating the denomination they way it did the CRC.
 

Ben Mordecai

Puritan Board Freshman
My only experience is Heritage Reformed Church (where Dr. Joel Beeke ministers). Here are some distinctions I noticed there.
  • Psalm singing, not hymn singing
  • Head coverings for women
  • KJV used in the service
  • Heidelberg worked through each Lord's day
  • Sabbatarian (not shopping or going to restaurants on Sunday, two services, emphasis on fellowship in homes)
  • Children of all ages present in the service
Obviously, there are other fundamentals like exegetical preaching, etc. but these are not distinct among reformed denominations.

My experience visiting was very positive.
 

ChananBachiyr

Puritan Board Freshman
  • Psalm singing, not hymn singing
  • Head coverings for women
  • KJV used in the service
  • Heidelberg worked through each Lord's day
  • Sabbatarian (not shopping or going to restaurants on Sunday, two services, emphasis on fellowship in homes)
  • Children of all ages present in the service.
I like the sounds of it, that's for sure!
I heard Dr. Beeke mention their womens' head coverings in a sermon last week; you don't hear of that these days, and it's a doctrine that I want to study further! There is one lady in our own congregation that does it from time to time, and it's such a blessing to see!
I wish there was an RHC church here in NC! I'd surely enjoy a visit!
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I like the sounds of it, that's for sure!
I heard Dr. Beeke mention their womens' head coverings in a sermon last week; you don't hear of that these days, and it's a doctrine that I want to study further! There is one lady in our own congregation that does it from time to time, and it's such a blessing to see!
I wish there was an RHC church here in NC! I'd surely enjoy a visit!
The closest you'll find to the HRC in the Carolinas are the Free Church (continuing) and the Presbyterian Reformed Church. There are FCC congregations in Greenville, SC and in Mebane, and there's a PRC that meets in King, NC.

In those churches, you'll find all the distinctives Ben mentioned except for the preaching through the Heidelberg Catechism. I highly recommend checking them out.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
My only experience is Heritage Reformed Church (where Dr. Joel Beeke ministers). Here are some distinctions I noticed there.
  • Psalm singing, not hymn singing
  • Head coverings for women
  • KJV used in the service
  • Heidelberg worked through each Lord's day
  • Sabbatarian (not shopping or going to restaurants on Sunday, two services, emphasis on fellowship in homes)
  • Children of all ages present in the service
Obviously, there are other fundamentals like exegetical preaching, etc. but these are not distinct among reformed denominations.

My experience visiting was very positive.
I'd hate to do two consecutive plugs for the Free Church, but if you're in Athens, I heartily invite you to visit with us in Snellville sometime! It looks like we're right at an hour away.
 
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