OPC vs. PCA

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InevitablyReformed

Puritan Board Freshman
What are the main differences between the OPC and the PCA? What keeps two presbyterian denominations who hold to the WCF from joining?

Thanks,
Daniel:think:
 

Glenn Ferrell

Puritan Board Junior
There are certainly many congregations and officers within the PCA which could comfortably fit into the narrower doctrinal and worship boundaries of the OPC. There are some OP congregations and officers which would find themselves more comfortable within the broader boundaries of the PCA.

As an OP minister, if reunion were to be proposed today, I’d vote against it unless,

1) The understanding of subscription to the confessional standards were more clearly defined and enforced than is currently done within some presbyteries of the PCA.

2) There was common agreement on the degree of uniformity required by the Directory of Worship and application of the Regulative Principle of Worship.

3) The form of government called for a delegated general assembly with adequate time for discussion of issues and supervision of he denominational bureaucracy.

Both denominations are too broad in their understanding of subscription, and worship practices. One can not unreservedly recommend a congregation of either denomination to a moving family without checking it out first. Neither denomination could currently establish a denominational seminary or college because we are both too broad to agree on common goals for such an institution.

American Presbyterianism has been in constant churn and realignment since the first presbytery was formed in 1706. I expect this churn and realignment to continue. I rejoice in what I share in common with my PCA brothers and those of other confessional Presbyterian affiliations, and strive to keep lines of communication open across denominational lines.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
What about RPCUS? Are they too theonomic to join with PCA/OPC?
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
*Watches from the sidelines in the ARP*

Honestly, I'd prefer the orthodox Presbyterian denominations stay split.

If the denominations were joined, then heresey would be able to traverse across congregations more rapidly. With things as they are now, only the PCA is suffering from the FV, while the ARP and, seemingly the OPC, seems to suffer no problems. If we were joined, I think there would be a greater propensity for widespread heresey. As it stands, heresey must traverse several barriers and is unlike the infiltrate ALL of the orthodox Presbyterian denominations. At least this way, while we might be seperate in name, at any one time one of us will at least, probably, uphold orthodoxy if the others should fall victim to heresey.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
*Watches from the sidelines in the ARP*

Honestly, I'd prefer the orthodox Presbyterian denominations stay split.

If the denominations were joined, then heresey would be able to traverse across congregations more rapidly. With things as they are now, only the PCA is suffering from the FV, while the ARP and, seemingly the OPC, seems to suffer no problems. If we were joined, I think there would be a greater propensity for widespread heresey. As it stands, heresey must traverse several barriers and is unlike the infiltrate ALL of the orthodox Presbyterian denominations. At least this way, while we might be seperate in name, at any one time one of us will at least, probably, uphold orthodoxy if the others should fall victim to heresey.
This is untrue. All one has to do to spread bad theology into their denomination is to pick up a book and start reading without discernment.

The OPC has not been exempt from the influence of FV, and possibly even more problematic for some of their congregations are Norman Shepherd's NPP influenced views of covenant theology. These men may not be loud, but they are there, and I have spoken with some of them in the past, much to my dismay.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I'm not saying bad theology is unable to take root, I'm saying if there is one denomination, then heresey has to take root in only one place. Presently, it must take root in many places in order to affect the entirety of orthodox Presbyterianism.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
I would agree with Glenn's post. Especially on government. How the OPC and PCA GA's are handled are completely opposite. I would say that the PCA GA is more like a convention. Also, all you have to do is look at the PCA BCO and the OPC BCO. Its like night and day.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Mr. Ferrell states the differences very well. I've been a member of excellent churches in both denominations and can offer one additional insight, if I may. It seems to me that some (certainly not all) of the weaker churches in the PCA were ones that pulled out of the old PCUS. In many cases, it appears that congregations were moving away from specific problems with the mainline churches, but they weren't moving toward a solidly reformed theological position.
 

Glenn Ferrell

Puritan Board Junior
I agree, FV has had its influence within the OPC. I hope our presbyteries are more vigilant now.

I favor Reformed and Presbyterian unity in God’s timing, but not for the sake of a larger and more diverse ecclesiastical organization. Something must be gained in the bargain, greater fidelity to the confessions, greater adherence to the Regulative Principle in practice- worship and polity, greater faithfulness in proclaiming the gospel.

The time is not right for PCA and OPC unification. That said, there are PCA congregations I could serve. Being a Southerner, culturally I probably fit there (especially in the mid-South) better than in the OPC in Idaho. However, in the PCA, I’d be more frustrated with GA level activities. The two OP assemblies I’ve attended, I’ve left with great satisfaction and thanksgiving for the diligence and wisdom with which the work of Christ’s Church has been done. I don’t see how the PCA can supervise their bureaucracies with their large assembly meeting for so short a time and so little of that for real debate. The OPC demonstrates a delegated assembly does not necessarily lead to denominational apostasy as many PCA folk experienced in the former PCUS and UPCUSA.
 

InevitablyReformed

Puritan Board Freshman
I would agree with Glenn's post. Especially on government. How the OPC and PCA GA's are handled are completely opposite. I would say that the PCA GA is more like a convention. Also, all you have to do is look at the PCA BCO and the OPC BCO. Its like night and day.
For instance...?
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
I would agree with Glenn's post. Especially on government. How the OPC and PCA GA's are handled are completely opposite. I would say that the PCA GA is more like a convention. Also, all you have to do is look at the PCA BCO and the OPC BCO. Its like night and day.
For instance...?
1. For instance the OPC DoW is Constitutional while only 2 sections of the PCA DoW are.
2. The OPC does not feel that they need to add or delete parts of their BCO virtually every GA.
3. You need a loose leaf binder for the PCA BCO (see 2 above).
 

Glenn Ferrell

Puritan Board Junior
The original Westminster Form of Presbyterian Church Government sought to say only what could be supported by Scripture. Note the proof texts in the original, compared to the relatively minimal text of the Form of Government itself. The Regulative Principle applied to polity as much as doctrine and worship.

In this, both the OPC and PCA say more than they need to in their Form of Government.

Certainly, procedures will need to be codified to achieve uniformity in the application of Biblical norms over time. But, a distinction needs to be made between what is derived implicitly and by good and necessary consequence from Scripture and what is circumstantial for good order. It is interesting how the Scottish Free Churches do this. I have here a copy of The Practice of the Free Church of Scotland in her Several Courts (1995 edition).

A friend of mine commented several years ago, “The decline of a denomination begins with a loose leaf Book of Order.” I do appreciate the cloth bound BOCO of he OPC.

If our polity is derived from Scripture, we should have most things about right by now, and rarely need to change it.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
American Presbyterianism has been in constant churn and realignment since the first presbytery was formed in 1706.
I don't want to hear another criticism of independency! :lol:
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Here you go:


The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we know it today comes to us across a lengthy history of service in two lands, the British Isles and North America. It had its beginnings in the preaching of John Knox in Scotland when the Scottish Church became the official church of Scotland in 1560 A.D. As always the case when the church and state become too closely allied, controversy and bitter strife over control became a way of life for church and state alike.

Things improved somewhat under King William III in 1688 A.D. as he reorganized the Church of Scotland into the Established Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In spite of the improvement, however, a great number of problems still existed, and in 1733 a pastor by the name of Ebenezer Erskine led a group of Christians in forming a separate Associate Presbytery (from thence comes the first part of our name). Ten years later, another group of Christians who for years had suffered problems with the established church organized themselves into the Reformed Presbytery.

Both churches spread to Northern Ireland as the Scots were forced to emigrate and both came to America with those "Scots-Irish" folks. The immigrants came to the Pennsylvania area at first, and it was there that both the Associate and the Reformed Presbyteries of Pennsylvania were organized in the 1750-1770 time period.

It was a heady time in the new world, and all the "old alliances" were being called into question. The new America was emerging and at the same time our forefathers were seeking to create a new church as well. Formal union talks between the "Associates" and the "Reformed" began in 1777 and by 1782 the Associate Reformed Synod came to be in Philadelphia. This Synod, even though all "Associates" and "Reformeds" did not join, included churches in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, North and South Carolina and Georgia.

ARP History


Eight years later, the Associate Reformed Presbytery of the Carolinas and Georgia was formed in Abbeville County, S.C., followed some twenty years later (1803) by the division of the entire church into four Synods and one General Synod. The Synods were those of the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, New York and Scioto with the headquarters of the church in Philadelphia. In 1822 the Synod of the Carolinas was granted separate status, and by the end of the century was the sole remaining body of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as several mergers over the years had absorbed the rest of the denomination into the old United Presbyterian Church. The remaining "A.R.P.s" in the Southeast continued on as the denomination we have today.

There are now ten Presbyteries in North America: Canada Presbytery, the Presbytery of the Northeast (Northeastern United States), Virginia Presbytery (Virginia and West Virginia), First Presbytery (North Carolina), Catawba Presbytery (Eastern South Carolina), Second Presbytery (Western South Carolina and Georgia), Florida Presbytery, Tennessee-Alabama Presbytery (Eastern Tennessee and Alabama), Mississippi Valley Presbytery (Arkansas, Missouri, Western Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi), and Pacific Presbytery (Washington, Oregon, and California).
 

HaigLaw

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have been a member of both PCA and OPC for years, and there are clear differences.

The OPC was formed in the late 30's when Old Princeton went liberal and Machen was defrocked by the northern church for remaining loyal to the mission board the northern church did not control.

The PCA was formed in 1973 when the southern church was becoming increasingly more theologically liberal.

So you have 35 years difference between them, with the OPC having more tradition. Certain views of confessional principles are that way, because they've always been that way, whereas ministers still living can remember why things are viewed a certain way, and how they might be viewed differently in the PCA.

As has been alluded to above, the OPC does more theological debating in their presbyteries and especially their GA, whereas the PCA is too big to have much of that.

The PCA has a bigger institutional bureaucracy. The PCA is more tolerant of the charismata.

There is more of a parity between ruling and teaching elders in the PCA.

The OPC is more supportive of teaching elders who are orthodox and without immorality, when challenged for lacking pastoral gifts, than the PCA is.

These are just a few of the differences I've observed over the past 30 plus years.

:detective:
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I had the opportunity to hear a few gentlemen from the ARP preach a few years ago and was pleased to have had the opportunity. Good solid preachers.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Just :2cents:to add my ....

The ARP is an indegiones expression of the Presbyterian faith, in a North American context.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
What are the main differences between the OPC and the PCA? What keeps two presbyterian denominations who hold to the WCF from joining?

Thanks,
Daniel:think:
One big difference in terms of practice is that the OPC is far less hesitant to appoint commissions when choosing between those and committees.

DTK
 

KenPierce

Puritan Board Freshman
*Watches from the sidelines in the ARP*

Honestly, I'd prefer the orthodox Presbyterian denominations stay split.

If the denominations were joined, then heresey would be able to traverse across congregations more rapidly. With things as they are now, only the PCA is suffering from the FV, while the ARP and, seemingly the OPC, seems to suffer no problems. If we were joined, I think there would be a greater propensity for widespread heresey. As it stands, heresey must traverse several barriers and is unlike the infiltrate ALL of the orthodox Presbyterian denominations. At least this way, while we might be seperate in name, at any one time one of us will at least, probably, uphold orthodoxy if the others should fall victim to heresey.
Andrew, brother, I write as a great admirer of the ARP. My chief mentor was one of its most visible ministers. But, you are naive if you think the ARP is unaffected by the current controversy. Witness one of your primary seminary prof's unreserved testimonial to Norman Shepherd on the back cover of the Call of Grace, and then look at some of his other writings.

To say the OPC is similiarly immune is also false.

We all have this problem, and we all have to deal with it.
 

Virginia Marine

Puritan Board Freshman
I've been a member of both an OPC and a PCA churches in the past 8 years (3 - OPC, past 5 - PCA). My wife and I were thoroughly blessed by and enjoyed both... Here are a few of the things I noted:
1) The OPC tends to debate things to death :think:. Just a couple of items we got caught up in included: whether we could have a choir (and if so where would it be positioned in the church); Psalter or Hymnal; wine or grape juice (or both) for communion (note - this topic almost caused a couple of people to leave our church)...
2) Our OPC congregation was much closer as a whole. Part of this was due to it's smaller size, but I also think there was more of an importance placed on the church being a "family".
3) Our current PCA church has a much stronger emphasis on missions and outreach.
There are several other items I could comment on, but I think these were the big "3" we noted...
Blessings,
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
*Watches from the sidelines in the ARP*

Honestly, I'd prefer the orthodox Presbyterian denominations stay split.

If the denominations were joined, then heresey would be able to traverse across congregations more rapidly. With things as they are now, only the PCA is suffering from the FV, while the ARP and, seemingly the OPC, seems to suffer no problems. If we were joined, I think there would be a greater propensity for widespread heresey. As it stands, heresey must traverse several barriers and is unlike the infiltrate ALL of the orthodox Presbyterian denominations. At least this way, while we might be seperate in name, at any one time one of us will at least, probably, uphold orthodoxy if the others should fall victim to heresey.
Andrew, brother, I write as a great admirer of the ARP. My chief mentor was one of its most visible ministers. But, you are naive if you think the ARP is unaffected by the current controversy. Witness one of your primary seminary prof's unreserved testimonial to Norman Shepherd on the back cover of the Call of Grace, and then look at some of his other writings.

To say the OPC is similiarly immune is also false.

We all have this problem, and we all have to deal with it.
Indeed. Perhaps one of our chief weaknesses is the inability to come together with one voice.

Unity is almost always to be preferred to separation, viz John 17.
 
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