Why attend a deformed church?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Neogillist, Jan 17, 2009.

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  1. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    What guidelines does the Bible give for leaving one church that's "less reformed" (or "not reformed") to join a church that's "more reformed"?
     
  2. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    It is opening a whole different can of worms to say that if a church is not reformed it is liberal. That simply is not the case. I have found that older people, 70 and up, who are not reformed are more "conservative" and more apt to get the gospel right than young people who claim to be reformed.
     
  3. kalawine

    kalawine Puritan Board Junior

    Jean,
    When I was a Charismatic I attended a couple of different "deformed" churches. :lol:
    Just funnin' ya,
    Kevin
     
  4. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    As you can read above, our duty as believers is to unite with a true church, even if faced with death or corporal punishment. True churches purely preach the gospel, rightly administer the sacraments, and exercise church discipline. A church either bears all these marks or ceases to be a true congregation of Christ, for the true and false church "are easily known and distinguished from each other."

    This essay by PB's own Dr. McMahon explains the matter in greater detail.
     
  5. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    This leads me to think it isn't clearly an either-or situation, but a scale from less to more.
     
  6. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    There is a difference between your test that a church purely preaches the gospel and the confessional test that the pure doctrine of the Gospel is preached. A church can exhibit all sorts of errors (it can sing praise choruses, have bishops and female deacons) yet preach the pure gospel, even though it is not purely preaching the Gospel.

    One test is content, the other is context.
     
  7. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Forgive me if I don't seem overly cheerful in this thread. I'm speaking as a moderator right now. To whom it applies: be careful of the aspersions you cast about churches or denominations you disagree with. Be careful about telling people they should quit their jobs, stop being selfish and move to an area where this is a true church. Have some charity towards your lesser informed and more ignorant brethren. Not all of us are as blessed as you are.
     
  8. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    I was actually thinking more along lines of content when I wrote that true churches "purely preach the Gospel." However, I don't think you can legitimately ascribe such a strong separation between context and content from the standpoint of the Reformed confessions. The Second Helvetic Confession speaks of the "the lawful and sincere preaching of the Word of God" as one of the marks of a true church. Context does seem to be included under the language of "lawful and sincere."
     
  9. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    Zilch, Zero, Nada...a little El Rusbo lingo there
     
  10. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    The Second Helvetic Confessions does seek balance where it states in the "Of The Catholic and Holy Church of God,
    and of The One Only Head of The Church" chapter XVII:

     
  11. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    From what I know, many theologians from both Continental Reformed and English/Scottish Presbyterian backgrounds have also debated this particular matter. I'm still not quite sure if this language in the Westminster Confession is completely compatible with the doctrine of the church taught in the Belgic Confession or not. Regardless, I adhere to the Belgic Confession's presentation of the biblical doctrine of the church. Certainly there will be problems in any true church in this present age. However, I will confess that the Gospel, sacraments, and discipline are the essence of the church. Compromise on these marks is not an option.
     
  12. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

    The reformers wrote about it alot though. They were dealing with this kind of stuff during the reformation. I was quite surprised by what they wrote. I thought they would be all for leaving church's that were apostate, but I was wrong. They taught about the true marks and even said that statement I wrote earlier about leaving one church for one that is less sin-full. That with the reformation, people were church hopping. They even said the Catholic Church was a church, just not a healthy church that would feed your soul. That was surpising to me. I thought they would all be condemming of it.

    Even my PCUSA church is still a church according to the true marks of a church.
     
  13. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know if the Belgic and the WCF are in conflict here. But I think the point being made in the WCF is that there is no church which is 100% pure in its marks. And if the Belgic and WCF are at odds, I'll go with the WCF.
     
  14. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    Certainly we should be charitable to someone who is unwillingly forced to abstain from or is deprived of the sacraments. Likewise, a believer may momentarily suffer doubt or weakness. Church discipline should be thus be conducted with great pastoral sensitivity and certainly not rashly, as the confession states.

    -----Added 1/18/2009 at 04:53:56 EST-----

    Calvin writes this in regard to the papists,
    Here's a recent blog series I've been reading concerning how John Calvin urged believers to leave the Roman Church (parts 2, 3, & 4).
     
  15. kalawine

    kalawine Puritan Board Junior

    I agree. Had I been living in Corinth in Paul's day I would have been looking for a new church. But Paul "spanked" the Corinthian church (for some terribly gross sins) only AFTER he had said things to them like:

    2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

    3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

    1 Corinthians (ESV)
     
  16. Grymir

    Grymir Puritan Board Graduate

    Oh yeah, I'm not saying they didn't say leave, but I thought the tone would be much worse than it was, considering I've read him condemming alot of things much worse.
     
  17. Jon 316

    Jon 316 Puritan Board Sophomore

    hmmm, I feel like I am in the church at corinth at times. I have been struggling with the question. 'How pure does a church need to be?' And is it right to leave and find a church in which you think 1) the leadership structure is more biblical 2) the doctrine more scriptural 3) the church more christlike

    and then I wonder

    Perhaps God has called to build with the local church which is struggling in all three of these areas. hmmm :think:
     
  18. A.J.

    A.J. Puritan Board Junior

    When I discovered Reformed Theology, I did not immediately leave my Holiness-Pentecostal church primarily out of respect for my parents. They had the impression that if I left, the people in that church would think that my parents could not exercise authority over me or could not discipline me. I also used to be one of the musicians for the worship services of that church. But gradually realizing that I am really convinced of what I believe, my parents allowed me to leave. At present, however, they are still Arminian Pentecostals with dispensational leanings.

    The situation of already Reformed or reforming pastors is a bit more difficult. I know of a Reformed Baptist pastor who is ordained in our local (Filipino) SBC. He got ordained before he discovered and accepted the Calvinistic convictions of the early Southern Baptists and their theologians (e.g. John Dagg). He has started affiliating himself with like-minded churches, but has not left the SBC. His plan is to continually reform the church he is handling. He has also thought of having dual affiliation (with the SBC and a local Reformed Baptist assoctiaion), something which is also practiced by some ARBCA churches in North America.

    Another example would be the case of the Reformed Paedo-Baptist pastor of the group I attend (see my signature). He was born and raised a Presbyterian here in the Philippines. His father was a minister in a local Presbyterian denom. This would-be pastor later went to the US and worked there. He became a member of the PCUSA, but has left it. He became a member of the URCNA, studied in Westminer (Escondido, CA), and is now an ordained minister. But instead of serving in churches in the US, he decided to come back to our country and serve as a missionary and church planter (representing the URCNA). He did not join the Presbyterian denom of his childhood since it is actually Presbyerian in name only today. Arminianism and Pentecostalism are now the norm in this group of churches carrying the name Presbyterian. But he still chose to teach in its denominational seminary and instruct the students in the Reformed faith their denom has unfortunately left.
     
  19. PastorTim

    PastorTim Puritan Board Freshman

    I recently moved and have found myself in an independent church that for the most part is Reformed (some 4 pters abound). The problem I have is their MacArthurism; that is their premillennial views. The expectation of a future kingdom constantly presents holes in their studies, their sermons and lie wise. The decision for Christ theology can be promininent. My dilemma is that the only other reformed church is a PCUSA. Many from whence I came said I should begin one and meet in my home. Well, there just isnt any others that I have found so not a good option at this point in time. I find myself having to correct teachings with my children which degrades their view of the church. What is a body to do?
     
  20. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    Wait, I'm a little confused. Your signature says Rev. Tim .. and you are a senior pastor .. and you are looking for a church home?
     
  21. Classical Presbyterian

    Classical Presbyterian Puritan Board Junior

    Sometimes the Lord calls the faithful to minister in contexts that are messed up. I think this can include churches as well as nations.

    After all, if called people like Grymir were not in the fallen denominations like the PC(USA) with me, then who could I share the burden with? Who would be left to share the Reformed faith with those who are trapped in mainline fallenness? Staying in an unsound church is not a calling for everyone, but for those who are called to this path, may our brothers and sisters in more sound churches not make our burdens all the heavier by judgments and rock throwing.

    This is my prayer. Don't forget that there are plenty of Christ's precious chosen ones in fallen denominations and fallen churches. Until Jesus returns, this will no doubt continue to be the case. Pray for the faithful, no matter where they are or where they worship!

    Being in a doctrinally unsound church is a burden, yes, but if you are called to minister, you are called to minister no matter where that might be.
     
  22. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    You are preachin' to the choir here, brother. :D
     
  23. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    How very true. I served for five years in an Assembly of God church as a Reformed Baptist. God was very gracious in that time to do some amazing work in the lives of several people in that church. Some of the old time members on the PB may recall this. I have no doubt that God called me to that church. At times the service was joyous, at times it was brutal. Just like any other church.
     
  24. Jon 316

    Jon 316 Puritan Board Sophomore


    This is a really good point...

    I guess there are also several trappings in ministering in a 'doctrinally sound church'. For example 'sound theology' can be a mask for hidden sin. Or perhaps 'sound theology' is not being outworked in our lives. i.e do any of us live up to the light that we have? Perhaps even mored decieving is a church which seems to believe right and live right but who are doing so for the wrong motives. 1 Cor 13 says this can be the case. Yet the outward profession and actions would seem to give indication that all is well.

    I guess it is possible for such a church/ or christian to fall into the trap of one of the churches in revelation i.e they think they are rich and in need of nothing.

    just a thought...
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2009
  25. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    Which points out a difference- Many confessional Presbyterian churches will admit Baptists to communicant membership without requiring them to violate their conscience on this matter. The options are greater for Baptists to be part of a faithful church (excluding credo-baptism) than for paedo-baptists. Baptists have less reason to continue in Arminian Baptist churches.

    -----Added 1/19/2009 at 03:16:24 EST-----

    Without judging a particular congregation or member of a particular denomination, let me note when one of the essentials (doctrine, sacraments and discipline) is missing, you no longer have a church. There may be genuine, regenerate believers in apostate churches. A particular congregation may possess the essential elements of the church, even as part of an apostate denomination. However, when one of the essential marks of the church is absent, you no longer have a church, but a synagogue of Satan.

    Consider discipline: The question in mainline denominations should not be whether unrepentant, practicing sodomites should be ordained, but whether they should be communicant members. Could or would your local congregation exclude them from communion or membership? Is anyone ever disciplined or denied communion for unrepentant sin? If your leadership did, would such decision be overturned by the ascending courts of the denomination? Are the membership and ordination vows of the church believed, truthfully affirmed, understood, and enforced by biblical discipline?

    If the gospel and true biblical doctrine cannot be preached, or the sacraments biblically administered, including the fencing of the table, or discipline administered and upheld, you are no longer in a church. There may be true believers there. Tell them to leave and do likewise.

    The reason there are so few faithful Reformed churches is because too many true believers are spending their time and resources in less faithful churches. If obstacles to moving or distance providentially prevent you from being part of a biblical church, pray God will establish one within a reasonable distance; then, begin to actively look for an answer to your prayer, willing to support the work.
     
  26. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    A sincere question: if you stay in a denomination that you don't agree with doctrinally aren't you there under false pretenses? Wouldn't this be a 9th commandment violation unless you were open and honest about your beliefs? Would they let you stay if they knew what you really believed?

    For those who are Pastors can't you let your leadership know your change in beliefs and can't you and your congregation leave that denom for another? Congregations have been leaving the PCUSA in droves why can't SBC Pastors do the same or join the Founders movement I have heard about? Is the Founder movement within the SBC?
     
  27. Neogillist

    Neogillist Puritan Board Freshman

    There exists no such guidlines, but you don't have to torture yourself over a local church thinking that God is calling you to attend it, when this would cause you to disobey his revealed will. Besides, our view of God's Church must extend beyond a local congregation or denomination so that we never end up leaving the "Church," although we may leave a "church" for personal convictions.

    -----Added 1/19/2009 at 06:39:38 EST-----

    I totally agree. All pastors are bound to preach according to the confession of their church, or else they are failing to measure up to their ministerial duties. This is always what happens when a local church begins to drift away from its confession, and is not rebuked by a synod or classis, but is rather tolerated for various reasons. Secondly, there is the problem of having ecumenical relations with other churches within the same denomination where the teachings will differ. John Wesley sinned in preaching Arminianism within the Church of England, since his church had a clear and sound confession that taught unconditional election. Now, he was never rebuked by his church, and indeed some denomination (e.i. SBC) will not rebuke pastors who preach Arminianism, but the fact that there are contradictory teachings within the denomination is problematic.

    For instance, say that two SBC pastors have a pulpit exchange, one is a Calvinist and the other is Arminian, either they will both have to water down their doctrine on the pulpit so that it be compatible and both churches end up happy, or else their home church will receive some contradictory teachings which will require some correction at some later time. History has shown (both among the Dutch Reformed and the Presbyterians) that when liberals point their head within a denomination, they ought to get kicked out as quickly as possible, or they will contaminate the whole denomination, and then the conservatives will have to leave themselves. This also applies to Calvinists and Arminians too, I believe, since the two are drastically different ways of viewing God and the Scriptures.
     
  28. PastorTim

    PastorTim Puritan Board Freshman

    It should be clarified that I have moved and left a congregation behind thus the need to find a place to worship. A ministry where I also serve a Board of Elders remains in several states united thus far via long distance in a web-based ministry.
     
  29. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    :amen:
     
  30. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    After moving away from home, I spent another year and a half continuing to attend the worthless UMC church I grew up in, out of a sense of "loyalty", frank cowardice to actually do something about my doctrinal convictions, and a completely ridiculous notion I could be a change agent, being a lone young member in a 13,500 member church.

    It's one thing to minister in a lousy denomination as a minister or officer where you CAN effect change at least on the local level, but quite another just to be a doctrinally bizarre pew-sitter where arguing that you can change the denomination or church is more indicative of your delusions of grandeur than any ability.

    I understand specific difficult circumstances in many parts of the country, but if you can get out of bad churches, GET OUT.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
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