OPC and PCA polity?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by jwright82, Jul 27, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Is there any sunsbtantial difference in the polity, orginization, and discipline of these two different denominations, OPC and PCA?
  2. Willem van Oranje

    Willem van Oranje Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, in the OPC it's possible to have real debate on the floor of the GA. And no one ever cuts off debate.
  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Not sure that I know what you mean.
  4. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    The OPC has a delegated Assembly of no more than 151 commissioners meeting for a full week. Debate is rarely cut off as long as anyone has something to say. This enables the Assembly to maintain effective control over their Foreign Missions, Home Missions, Christian Education and other agencies.
  5. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    So I take it that what your saying is that the PCA does not do these things?
  6. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    Comparing the Books of Church Order for the OPC and PCA, there are differences, as well as close similarities and even identical wording in a few cases.
    See Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order : Project Home Page and explore some of the chapter and paragraph links to see some comparisons.

    One comparison:
    PCA BCO 27-1.
    Discipline is the exercise of authority given the Church by the Lord Jesus Christ to instruct and guide its members and to promote its purity and welfare.
    The term has two senses:
    a. the one referring to the whole government, inspection, training, guardianship and control which the church maintains over its members, its officers and its courts;
    b. the other a restricted and technical sense, signifying judicial process.

    OPC 2005, Book of Discipline, I-1
    Ecclesiastical discipline is the exercise of that authority which the Lord Jesus Christ has committed to the visible church for the preservation of its purity, peace, and good order.

    One common myth: That the OPC BoCO is far shorter than the PCA BCO. This misunderstanding is based on the PCA having its BCO in a loose-leaf edition, usually with other documents added into the notebook.
    But if you are comparing just the Form of Government, Rules of Discipline and Directory for Worship sections, they are roughly of the same length.

    The OPC used the 1934 edition of the PCUSA (Northern) Constitution in preparing its own documents. The text of the PCUSA Constitution in 1934 was more or less still the same as their 1885 revision.
    The PCA used the 1933 edition of the PCUS (Southern) BCO to prepare its first Constitution in 1973. The text of the 1933 PCUS BCO was in many places still the same as the 1879 1st edition, but there had been major revisions in 1925 (FoG & RoD) and 1929 (DfW).
    Both the OPC and the PCA have continued to make changes and revisions since starting, and so each document over time looks somewhat less like the starting document. Both have a common wellspring, but over time look less and less similar.

    I don't remember the text off-hand, but there was a paragraph of the PCA's BCO which picked up OPC wording. I think the adoption of that paragraph occurred around the time of a pending possible merger of the two denominations (1982 or 1986).
  7. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Well I for one am very happy with my local church and my denomenation but I realized how much I didn't know about the goverment and procedures of the PCA, or other reformed denomenations, and I needed to play catch up.
  8. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    I grew up in the Southern Presbyterian Church (PCUS) and have a cultural affinity with the PCA. But, if I were a member of the PCA, I’d advocate for a delegated assembly, which met longer and provided a greater forum for debate.

    On the other hand, I’d suggest the OPC should consider moving toward a Standing Judicial Commission in some form, which could more effectively deal with judicial issues.

    I’ve attended five OPC Assemblies as a commissioner. I’ve always left highly gratified at the way the work of Christ’s Church was done and that all were heard.
  9. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    The PCA began kicking around the idea of a delegated assembly just three years after formation. The last overture to appear on the topic was in 2006.

    A documentary (i.e., very boring) history of that debate is here.

    Much of the debate in the PCA occurs in the Overtures Committee (previously Bills and Overtures).
  10. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    There have been several good threads on this topic. You may find helpful doing a search (upper right) and see some detail regarding these similar biblical, reformed denominations. E.g.
    http://www.puritanboard.com/f117/opc-vs-pca-32631/ (additional links to threads at frame 2)
  11. chbrooking

    chbrooking Puritan Board Junior

    Would it be unfair to say that, practically speaking, the PCA is more fond of commissions than the OPC, or that the OPC prefers committees to commissions?
  12. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    3 office (OPC) vs. 2.5 office (PCA).
  13. KensingtonerRebbe

    KensingtonerRebbe Puritan Board Freshman

    Could you explain further? Thanks.
  14. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Senior

    The three offices would be minister, elder, and deacon. The two and half offices would be elder and deacon with two species of elder, teaching elder and ruling elder. The two and a half office view sees more parity in the two species of elder, but I'm not sure how the differences play out in practice. Neither elders in the three office view nor ruling elders in the 2.5 office view can administer the sacraments. In the three office view, only ministers can preach; elders exhort. I'm not sure what that distinction actually means.
  15. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    What he said. :D
  16. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    It might be helpful to understand that at the highest court level, General Assembly, the PCA has chosen a "grass roots" approach, allowing every single church, whether large or small to send voting delegates to General Assembly.

    When one has the larger number of delegates that brings to General Assembly (as opposed to a delegated assembly, where each presbytery chooses, say two elders to attend), debate has to be reasonably limited.

    The PCA has in recent years developed a system for Overtures which allows quite a bit of debate, something in the form of delegated assembly to debate the Overtures right before they go to the General Assembly floor. Also, the rules at General Assembly have been adjusted to make "minority reports" and presentation of their opinion much easier, and of equal substantial length at General Assembly.

    While this doesn't allow endless debate, it does a good job of encouraging debate, and allowing different sides to be heard, substantially, even among a General Assembly that can quite large.

    To learn more about your polity, here is one good commentary:http://www.cepbookstore.com/p-1269-commentary-on-the-boco-revised.aspx

    And you can read and study the Book of Church Order on-line:
    http://www.pcaac.org/2009 Reprint for web rev 8-24-09.pdf

    The Book of Church Order does reflect some important doctrine we confess, e.g. governance of the particular church by deacons and elders, qualified by I Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and a "connectional" (not hierarchical) polity.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page