A friend of mine gave me his copy of the RPCNA Constitution which I read through over the weekend. I was greatly encouraged by what I read and I see that we (as Continental and Presbyterian traditions) have much in common. I especially appreciated many of the applications of the WCF to contemporary issues. I did have a number of questions, however, about the Testimony which I hope my RPCNA brothers would be kind enough to answer for me (please forgive me if I misrepresent the intent of any article or sound naive in my presentation of them. I am just seeking understanding): N.B. When I ask about whether persons or congregations hold to/practice something, I am not looking for names, location of congregations etc. Please just affirm or deny whether what I am asking is true of not. i) First of all is strict subscription to the Testimony required for the officers of the church? and members? Or is it possible to take exceptions? How do the Presbytery's and sessions decide what is required (or not)? ii) In Chapter 2: Of God, and of the Holy Trinity, Testimony 7 (A-14) reads “The Holy Spirit… supplies man’s powers of reason and conscience. I examined the scripture references but I didn't find this statement (implied or otherwise) in the passages cited and I was wondering if anyone had anything to add by way of clarification or comment on the truth of this statement. iii) In Chapter 4: Of Creation. Testimony 15 (A-22) speaks to the issue of tithing. It appears that it does not require a 10% tithe but would encourage it in terms of our understanding of the principle of giving. Is this correct? iv) In Chapter 5: Of Providence. Testimony 4 (A-24) states “Many of the same objections may be brought against sweepstakes, door prizes, drawings and other similar practices.” Is the Testimony condemning these then or discouraging members from participating in these things? How strictly is this enforced? v) Chapter 7: Of God’s Covenant with Man. Testimony 4 (A-29) “We reject the concept that God extends grace to any man apart from the atoning work of Christ” Presumably this does not refer to Testimony 3 which refers to God’s “common grace"? vi) Chapter 11: Of Effectual Calling. Testimony 9 (A-38) “The Bible recognizes the legitimacy of diverse cultures.” Could someone spell out what this means? (especially legitimacy) vii) Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation. Testimony 6 (A-54) “it is not the proper function of the minster or any other person to tell people whether they are saved” I assume that this refers to personal counselling so that "people" is meant to be read in the singular. viii) Chapter 21: Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day. Testimony 1 (A-61) “The tendency to emphasize ritual, liturgy and ceremony is contrary to the Scriptures." I assume thatliturgy itself is not discouraged? (The Directory of Public Worship speaks of the “exercises of worship” being “conducted in dignified and edifying manner" and an “order of service is [then] suggested” (F-2). ix) Chapter 23: Of the Civil Magistrate. Testimony 16 (A-73) “It is sinful for a Christian to take an oath which compromises his supreme allegiance to Jesus Christ. It is also sinful to vote for officials who are required to take an oath which a Christian himself could not take in good conscience. Voting involves the voter in responsibility for any act required of the official as a condition of holding his office.” How far does one go with this? Do RPCNA members vote (ever)? Are they disciplined if they vote 'incorrectly'? See Testimony 25 (A-76) “It is within the corporate power of the Church, acting through its courts, to declare that facts or circumstances which may exist in a specific situation render the taking of a civil oath sinful.” See also Testimony 25-26 (A-76) “Any promise of submission or oath of allegiance beyond this [ed. due submission to the Lord] is sinful.” A-25 “If the oath of allegiance to civil authority explicitly or by clear implication requires support of anti-Christian, atheistic, or secular principles, then the Christian must refuse on these grounds to take the oath of allegiance.” A-26 Is an oath anti-Christian if it is not explicity Christian (such as the oath of allegiance)? x) Chapter 23: Of the Civil Magistrate. Testimony 18 (A-73) Note that the Testimony rejects the portion of paragraph 3 after the colon. I tend to agree with this revision, but does this rule out theonomy as an official position of the RPCNA? I understand that there are theonomists in the RPCNA so are they free to express their opinions about it? The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God. xi) Chapter 24: Of Marriage and Divorce. Testimony 30 (A-84) “the state may prescribe educational standards and should provide educational opportunities, both in harmony with God’s law." "May" is better than "should" but perhaps a little strong for those who advocate that the state has no role in providing educational standards & opportunities. Are there parties in the RPCNA who disagree with this statement? xii) Chapter 26: Of the Communion of the Saints. Testimony 5&6 (A-92) “it is altogether wise and proper that Christians refrain from the use, sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages.” (5) “The use of tobacco is detrimental to health and is to be avoided because of the responsibility to preserve the body which is the temple of God.” (6) I assume that this is not enforced considering the number of RPCNA officebearers and members who drink and smoke. xiii) Chapter 28: Of Baptism. Testimony 2 (A-94) “The church accepts as valid the baptism which has been administered in any true branch of the visible church.” Does this statement exclude Roman Catholic baptism? Are there any RPCNA congregations who reject Roman Catholic baptism? Thank you brothers.