Why a New Presbyterian Denomination?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by jwithnell, Aug 30, 2011.

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  1. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    If the PCUSA splits over homosexuality -- article -- why is a new denomination the most likely pursuit? Would you say that enough of the remaining perspectives would be to the left of the current reformed denominations? I know we've had some brethren on PB trying to maintain the historic faith. Would this be so rare in the group likely to split, should that occur?
  2. ericfromcowtown

    ericfromcowtown Puritan Board Sophomore

    My first thought was why don't they join the EPC if they oppose homosexual clergy but want to retain female clergy. Is that not the EPC's position?
  3. GulfCoast Presbyterian

    GulfCoast Presbyterian Puritan Board Junior

    Actually, one of the primary options is the EPC. Althought they are not allowing churches into the "transitional presbytery" any longer, they are still willing to accept churches. However, should the EPC wish to not suddenly go from 200 churches to 600 or whatever by an influx of departing PCUSA churches, then a new reformed denomination becomes a potential necessity. Due to the unfortunate enforced mandate by PCUSA of the ordination of women as RE/Deacons for so long, many PCUSA churches feel they cannot simply depart for the PCA.

    Frankly, given the comments about the PCUSA one frequently hears on reformed boards, even were the women's (already) ordination issue not there, I wonder how willing the other "reformed bodies" would be to accept PCUSA churches. There are 2 churches in our Presbytery that I don't consider viable churches and that fit the common stereotype, but only two. Other places may be much different. A lot of straw gets burned at the expense of folks who are by and large, pretty conservative on almost all other issues and have fought "Louisville" for years.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    If too many left leaning evangelicals join the EPC I don't think it's unreasonable to expect an exodus of more conservative and Reformed churches from there, particularly those committed to complementarianism. But the rub is that some of those are varying shades of charismatic. Others may be off the reservation on other issues.

    As I understand it, while it has always been permitted, the issue of women in office wasn't really a divisive issue in the EPC, but it might become one if a lot of churches who are strongly in favor of it come in. I know a "Reformed-Charismatic" minister for whom this is a concern.
  5. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    There is already a range of Presbyterian denominations.

    From the mostly fallen away mainline denomination PCUSA to the self consciously "middle of the spectrum" EPC to the historic biblical reformed denominations, ARP, PCA, OPC, and RPC.

    There is no need for further division, only for identification.
  6. sdesocio

    sdesocio Puritan Board Freshman

    I've heard the same concerns about the EPC but Ive never heard it from them. The only thing I read was that the exodus into the EPC was much smaller than expected. The PCUSA is making it really hard in some places to leave. I'd hope that if there was a new denomination that it would be a temporary solutions which would join with other bodies in the Lord.
  7. N. Eshelman

    N. Eshelman Puritan Board Senior

    Seeking affiliation with another reformed/presbyterian denomination should ALWAYS be the first goal. We do not need more denominations- in the words of the late Rev. Dr. Charles Krahe, "We need another Presbyterian Church like we need a hole in the head." Pious words, I know.

    I would hope that these congregations would seek affiliation with another church, but often we are all too self-important to believe that we have a place in the existing churches- we all think of ourselves as reformers and really we just need to find our place in Christ's body.
  8. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    In my discussions with PC(USA)ers (and former PC(USA)ers), many if not most (but not all) of the conservatives have already left. The remaining conservatives (once again, not all) are more socially conservative than theological conservative, so they often hold to beliefs that might make it difficult to be a part of an existing conservative Presbyterian body, and for more than just the female-elder thing. Some are not Calvinistic, some hold to a neo-Barthian view of the Scriptures, etc.
  9. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    There were four men stranded on a deserted island.

    One was German, one was French, and two were Scottish Presbyterians.

    The German built an observatory from which to behold and calculate the firmament.

    The Frenchman planted a vineyard, and after a season, began making wine.

    The two Scottish Presbyterians....

    They opened FIRST, and SECOND Presbyterian Church on the island.
  10. GulfCoast Presbyterian

    GulfCoast Presbyterian Puritan Board Junior

    I am confident my Church will change its "self identification" pretty quickly now. My vote would be go to the EPC tomorrow, and be finally done with it all. We all need to fry bigger fish.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2011
  11. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    99.9% of my friends in the PC(USA) who are Ministers and Elders do not believe in Inerrency, Double Predestination, Limited Atonement, and other things we take almost for granted in the ARP, RPCNA, OPC, and PCA. The issue of women-playing-minister is hardly even the real issue. They have a Modernist view of the Scriptures when it comes to authorship of certain parts of the Bible (Pauline authorship of the Pastorals, Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, Ezekiel, and Daniel). Are to the left of Biologos on Genesis 1-11. Are Annihilationists on Hell.

    I could go on here but let us not kid ourselves into believing the "evangelicals" in the PC(USA) are Confessionally Reformed.
  12. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Well I did preface my comments by saying "my friends who are Ministers/Elders"...
  13. jennywigg

    jennywigg Puritan Board Freshman

    I love - LOVE - the spirit of brotherly/sisterly love on this forum. So refreshing after reading other Reformed forums that are...a little snippy. :banana:
  14. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    That was my thought too, though I can see how the sheer numbers of people coming out of the PCUSA could overwhelm a smaller denomination.

    Re: doctrinally and socially reformed: it could be argued that was a systemic weakness for the PCA too. I encountered older PCA churches in the deep south, about a decade after the PCA formed, that seemed to have moved out of the PCUS rather than toward a reformed denomination.
  15. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Don't forget the general pattern of denomination decline- first doctrine, then discipline, then central denomination bureaucratic abuse.

    In the case of the mainline denomination, the first began a couple generations ago, the second more recently and now has come to head with the near complete elimination of ministerial standards enforcement. And, for the past few years, central bureaucracy of the denomination has dedicated much money and effort at suing individual churches, preventing them from leaving the denomination with their property, or under pain of significant payment.

    This is being taken on the basis of state law, whether the church is indeed "hierarchical" and whether a church owns its property, or the presbytery (and thus the denomination).

    If it were not for the heavy hand of litigation, and the high financial cost of separation, the exodus right now would likely be extreme.

    The evangelical churches in the PCUSA find themselves "broadly evangelical" having long ago ceased contending for historic biblical reformed Presbyterianism.

    We need pray that they will eventually find their way back home, to biblical reformed Presbyterianism.
  16. N. Eshelman

    N. Eshelman Puritan Board Senior

  17. Reformed Padawan

    Reformed Padawan Puritan Board Freshman

    From my impression with serving and talking to people within the EPC, some of the PC(USA) churches do not agree to the essentials of the EPC. Though many of them may be on the more "conservative" side of the PC(USA) they are still a little liberal for the EPC. As part of the transition process, leaders of these PC(USA) churches have to read through the EPC Leadership Manual and Horton's Putting The Amazing Back into Grace prior to coming over and afterwards some of the churches then choose not to move forward and this may explain why there is not just a mass movement in that direction.
  18. Scottish Lass

    Scottish Lass Puritan Board Doctor

    A former PC(USA) church joined the ARP/our presbytery a few years ago, with its property intact--a rarity by itself.
  19. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Scott, you've got nothing on the Dutch.

    A Dutchman was stranded on a deserted island for a long time. When finally rescued by a passing steamer, they inquired as to the three buildings on the island. The first was his home, he told them. The second was his church, which, he mentioned, he loved and was an enthusiastic member thereof. When they asked about the third building on the island, he said with a grimace "oh, that's the church I used to go to."

    If the atom were a church, the Dutch would have split it first, and been the only ones in wooden shoes to possess nuclear arms (which would have posed no threat to the world in general, since we would only use it on fellow Dutchmen in other denominations than ours, the heathens!)
  20. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    They still had to pay a parting fee to the presbytery.
  21. Scottish Lass

    Scottish Lass Puritan Board Doctor

    True, but they avoided the lawsuits or huge settlements other churches have faced.
  22. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Ben, it sounds as if your experience in Pittsburgh mirrored much of mine decades ago in Pasadena.

    While my alma mater advertises itself as a multi-denominational evangelical school, it was/is a de facto PC(USA) institution. It has been a VERY long time since students there were taught inerrancy, Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, meaningful respect for the WC, any view other than egalitarianism (complementarianism is simply another name for sexist bigotry on a level with KKK racism isn't it?). The only view advocated in my biblical and theological classes in the mid 70s was Barthian or neo-Barthian. My CRC homiletics prof was even quoted in the L.A. Times during the "Battle for the Bible" days opining that the errors in the Bible prove it's divinity. Like the incarnation, a perfect book would be proof of docetism, not orthodoxy. One of my profs there in the 70s (who also taught the Presbyterian polity classes for PCUSA students) went on to author a book defending homosexual ordination. Even years ago during one of my earlier pastorates, my Pasadena interns could not even turn in a paper unless it was scrupulously scrubbed of sexist God language. And, as one of my interns heard from his NT prof, Jesus didn't know he was God until after the resurrection, don't you know? As for eternal destiny, my Sys Theo III prof was a committed annihilationist and made the case for it in class.

    So, I don't know how many of your "evangelical" PCUSA congregations might want to join the EPC. But, given the small number of "around 300" churches in the EPC, the influx of these hordes of Pasadena-trained "evangelicals" might overwhelm the ethos of the EPC. Remember that Rob Bell is a grad of this school and that they recently hosted Brian McLaren on campus with great excitement, if not outright endorsement.

    All you water-challenged baptizers probably know the territory of the PCUSA MUCH better than a mere baptist. However, I would think that any pastor who could "fit" in the PCUSA would be as welcome as a skunk at a high tea in the OPC, PCA, or ARP.
  23. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    This is, unfortunately, my perception as well. It's an unstable reason to start a Church.
  24. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    I think the point has been made on this thread that there already exists a continuum within Presbyterianism to which these churches could depart in their present form.

    Perhaps that continuum is reflective of the "seven churches" in Revelation chapter 3- everything from dead institutional to being given over to wholly false teaching, to lacking love, to caring about the souls of Christ's Body to loving sound doctrine to loving one another within.

    By and large, the remaining "evangelical" churches in the mainline denomination are probably best described as contending for a minimalist confession, such as the EPC's "essentials of our faith" (which is taken from the overturn of the Auburn affirmation of 1923) theologically, and have a remnant conservative culture. But even that latter attribute has been diluted, farther than might be realized, by the pervasive abandonment of male leadership, and introduction of extra biblical revelation as an ordinary means of grace through the "charismatic movement," and drift toward man-centered, rather than God centered worship.

    For all of us, one drifting at dark at sea does not realize how far they have drifted until they (finally) see the lighthouse.

    Let's pray that happens for all the men and women in the mainline whom our God would call, and that they find their way back home- to biblical, reformed Presbyterianism.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011
  25. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    I really don't understand why you continually return to this. The EPC does have a document, "Essentials of Our Faith," that is broadly evangelical; however, even a cursory reading the EPC website reveals this clarifying point:
    Explanatory Statement to "Essentials of Our Faith"*
    "The Westminster Confession of Faith is a confessional statement of orthodox Presbyterianism. The Westminster Confession of Faith is our standard of doctrine as found in Scripture. It is a positive statement of the Reformed Faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith constitutes a system of biblical truth that an officer of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church is required to believe, acknowledging that each individual court has the freedom to allow exceptions which do not infringe upon the system of doctrine in the Westminster Confession of Faith."
    How is this different from the PCA? I know of a number of PCA pastors who have taken exceptions which, apparently, have been ruled not to "infringe upon the system of doctrine" in the WCF. I have even posted a link on another thread to a PCA church that has a woman "pastor"; sadly, it seems that there are serious errors in both of our denominations. It seems disingenuous, however, to continue to suggest that the errors in the EPC are due to a denominational abandonment of the WCF. That is simply not the case. Whatever rejection of the Confession that can be found in the EPC is to be reckoned to individuals; the same is true of the PCA.
  26. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    This talk may come to naught, or at least nearly so. From reading some of the accounts, it is clear that what at least some involved in this meeting are after is some kind of network in which they cooperate with each other in a more effective way than they are currently while also maintaining affiliation with the PCUSA.

    That's not to say that yet another Pres. denomination may spring up. But many of these folks are not Presbyterian in any sense instead of historic identity.
  27. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    The point was that many of the remaining congregations in the mainline denomination find themselves now contending for minimalist doctrine, like the doctrine contained in the EPC's statement "essentials of our faith," (Which is an expanded version of the "five fundamentals" that overturned the 1923 Auburn Affirmation), not a comment on the EPC itself.

    The EPC has intentionally placed itself in the middle of a continuum of Presbyterian denominations.
    The only way to understand this is that the EPC is positioning itself "in the middle area" between the mainline on one side, and the biblical, reformed on the other, ARP, PCA, OPC, RPC.

    For this thread, the only point was there is a continuum of Presbyterian places for PCUSA departing churches to go.:)

    They don't need to form a new denomination.
  28. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    This article was posted this morning at The Aquila Report (written by a PC(USA) minister):

  29. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Excellent evaluation of options as reported in the article.

    Staying and reforming or at least staying and trying to insulate has been the idea for the evangelical communion of churches for almost 30 years now. A first wave left for the EPC beginning in the early 1980's.

    The rest have gradually been coming out, usually from the heavy burden of property litigation since then or affiliating with the "New Wineskins" coalition. Looking at the New Wineskins association web page, it appears to have been reset- I'm not sure what the situation is with that.

    But looking at the practical reality, the reformation hoped for has not happened in this generation; rather, the decline has increased to the point of almost unbelievable hypocrisy.

    Local congregations are now being required to promote sexual immorality in their leadership or, in theory, the courts that now are will remove them. The discipline they would not exercise for biblical admonition, they will exercise for the opposite.

    Not sure what that does to the property issues, but probably doesn't eliminate the expenses.

    ---------- Post added at 08:23 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:12 AM ----------

    Based on the last information presented about the "New Wineskins" coalition, the web site is now down, http://www.newwineskinsassociation.com/ perhaps temporarily, is that they were contending for minimalist "fundamentals," while having a culture "conservative" relative to the denomination as a whole. Yet, heavily influenced by abandonment of male leadership, extra biblical revelation as an ordinary means of grace, loss of the historic concept of the regulative principle, etc.
  30. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Where in the world did this guy go to Seminary?

    How about pick one? The last thing the PC(USA) needs is another confession to stuff in the BOC.
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