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Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Backwoods Presbyterian, May 20, 2008.
Very well said. And very true.
Thank you Margaret. The Lord has since given me another godly wife, who is a great blessing and encouragement in ministry.
My current wife was for three years a member of a Free Church of Scotland Continuing congregation in Glasgow (Crow Road, Partick). She’s an American who resided in Scotland primarily for the opportunity of being part of Free Church worship. When I traveled to Scotland to see her, I had opportunity to worship at Crow Road and with the RPCI congregation in Loughbrickland, Ulster. I also spent time with Ian Smith, then pastor at Crow Road, and David Silversides, RPCI pastor in Loughbrickland. My last week in Glasgow, I was invited to preach. When Susan and I were married at the Crow Road Church, the service was done by John J. Murray and David Silversides. Susan and I know many of the FCC ministers in Scotland and in North America (McCurley, Isbell, Gardner, and Humby). I’ve preached for the former FCC work in Dayton; and Sean Humby (whom I believe is now there in Michigan) was at our wedding. I visited with him last August in Dayton. If you were to worship with SRPC in Boise, you would find our service similar to the FCC.
I love my church, the OPC. It has been my church for by far the majority of my life, except for about 4-5 years of it--when I was infant-to-toddler, and when I was first taken into the ministry.
The PCA first took me up as an assistant pastor, and allowed me the opportunity to grow some in a church that was very close to all my OPC background. Thank you so much Faith PCA! Now, I'm back in my old church.
But I think it needs saying, that there is no perfect church. I'm not going to "sell" anyone on the OPC. It's not my job to sell it, market it, whatever. I want it to grow, I want it to improve. But not at any price, and not at the expense of what truth is in her.
I'm afraid that a lot of our efforts right here fall into a trap, a worldly trap. We need to fall in love with a church the way we fall in love. It really isn't an analytical thing. We need to grow into love and work at love the way we are born into a good family, and work on our marriages.
Now I know one guy who studied his own faith, and studied denominations, and then chose the OPC. OK, that's fine and the study he did was good. But today I'm positive he doesn't love his church because it is properly indexed. He loves it because it is home. And because it is home, and because he knows the pains and joys of the denomination from its roots and loves those roots, and its fruits, and cares about her health and purity, he is a great minister. I don't even agree with him on everything, but I still admire him. And no, I'm not thinking about my father. (With him, I'm just a chip off the block.) So, here I am, a child of the denomination, and the manse, and I share a love of this church with an "outsider" cum "insider".
Get the OPC history video from the denominational office. Watch it. Learn the history of the church. Or learn the ARP history, or the PCA history, and the history going back to Scotland and the Reformers. Just know what you are joining, and make that history you own tale. That is what covenant theology is all about, right? Making the history of redemption MY history. Making Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul, all of these people MY fathers, and Eve and Sarah and Ruth--my mothers.
And then, whichever church you join--love her. Love her. Love her. Thick and thin, love her. I cry at the end of that video, every time. I don't watch it often, I'm too guarded of my sensitivities.
I guess, this is a plea to forget about picking a church for everything that's right about it. Because there's always something wrong about it too. Pick a church for what is right AND wrong about it. Pick a church for the sake of love to Christ, and labor to reform her.
Excellent post, Bruce. Any number of men could wax eloquent (myself included) about what is good and what is bad about their own (and other) denominations.
I would only add that it is more important, ultimately to fall in love with your congregation, first and foremost. Those are the dear souls that need the food you bring them, the protection you afford them, and the love you shed on them. I dearly love the PCA. I desire her reform and beauty. But would I die for her over against the OPC? Probably not. But I would take a bullet for dozens of families in my congregation.
Bruce, what a magnificent statement!
Excellent words Bruce. I hope you did not think my purpose with this thread was to be "marketed" to but to learn more about a denomination I know next to nothing about (except its formation). Maybe I chose a poor way to phrase the question.
I appreciated much in your post, Bruce. This statement above particularly stood out. I would add my hearty agreement with it. We need to identify with what is good in our respective traditions. We do not want those disctinctives to become mere platitudes or symbols of heritage or identity. But the good things our fathers believed, defined, lived for and died for ought to be precious enough for us to do the same too. When I study church history, I find it is a helpful tool for me to use it as a measuring rod for how well I (and the church) are doing. What doctrines were vital to my forefathers? Do I just give them my cursory agreement or do they hold a central vital place in my theology. This is not done for the sake of merely copying the past formally but because the church should be growing and building organically. So, how vital is Nicene Trinitarianism to me and to the church? Can I go for weeks without ever thinking of it? If so, something is terribly wrong. Likewise Chalcedonian Christology, the substitutionary view of the atonement, justification by faith, the mediatorial kingship of Christ etc. etc. Thanks for your great post. It breathed a true pastor's and churchman's heart.
For Christ's Crown and Covenant
Also like I said previously my express purpose was to know more about each denomination because there are not a plethora of openings currently (7 or 8) in the ARP.
Visit presbytery meetings of the various denominations; general assemblies if possible. This will tell you a lot about the flavor of the different groups. However, remember that in some denominations, presbyteries also differ greatly. And, within a denomination or presbytery, congregations may also differ. There is little uniformity in most current American reformed denominations. But, if God is calling one to the ministry, he also has a place for him to serve. Five years ago, I had no idea I would be serving in the OPC in Idaho.