Why attend a deformed church?

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Neogillist

Puritan Board Freshman
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"?
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.

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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?
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.
I would also add on top of this that a church denomination without a clear and exhaustive confession is a church that has no means of ensuring unity in its teachings, whether this be within the same local church or within a denomination. The SBC may be deemed "conservative" in many respects, but since their confession does not clearly cover all aspects of soteriology, unlike the WCF and the TFUs, pastors can rightfully hold either to Arminianism or Calvinism as if the two were some minor points of doctrine, and then we have contradictory winds of doctrine within the same denomination, or they decide to avoid discussing the doctrines of grace, which is the same as to avoid preaching certain aspects of the gospel, and must ultimately entail avoiding to preach on certain parts of the Scriptures, ie. Rom. 9, or Eph. 1, etc. Either way, we are back to square one.
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
Spurgeons attitude in the Downgrade controvery is interesting here where he pressed for an exodus from the offending denominations.

I especially like J Gresham Machen's attitude where he refused to compromise to the extent that he was expelled by his denomination for refusing to collude with the Liberal establishment by setting up parallell confessional structures.
 

Pilgrim's Progeny

Puritan Board Sophomore
My family, recently quit attending a FV PCA chuch(yes, they exist), even though they were more loving and kind than any other church we have attended(the enemy's cleverness I suppose). We will not continue there because they are deformed(sadly). I cannot allow my children to sit under heretical teaching. So I will not attend a deformed church, I would rather preach from a puplpit in my home(hyperbole) than subject my family to deformity. So, we attend a church of a broad minded preacher, yet, reformed, yet, not deformed, I think, not sure, though. Why are men so afraid to preach the word, it baffles me, indeed?
 

SemperEruditio

Puritan Board Junior
Why are men so afraid to preach the word, it baffles me, indeed?
Job security. When the goats outnumber the sheep, the goats want to hear a pleasant gospel. Many a pastor gets his walking papers when he upsets the status quo. I know of three congregations, one in Maryland, one in DC, and the other in Tennessee who have asked for their pastors resignation. The problem? Unapologetically preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. After a few of these moves I'm sure a pastor begins to question just how important is it really to preach the gospel or whether he should even continue in ministry.
 

Classical Presbyterian

Puritan Board Junior
It seems like we are seeing various responses to why some people (and pastors) stay in "deformed" churches, some for potentially faithful reasons:

1. To affect change if it is possible, at least locally and in our sphere of influence.

2. Because there are no other viable options in our circumstance and we make the best of what God has given us in His providence.

And there are some unfaithful reasons:

1. Cowardice.

2. It's just easier to stay where you are.

3. A nice pension and job security (for us pastors).

For those of us who minister along the lines of the first set of answers, can we all agree not to judge the decisions of others in these matters, as long as we all agree to hold to the teachings of the Biblical, Reformed faith? I'm curious what the brethren in more faithful contexts will say of us who are not where they are.
 

ReformedChapin

Puritan Board Freshman
I've been reformed for about a year. But I have stayed in my unreformed CC South Bay Church for the entire time because I at least want to attend a Church that I know everyone while I find a reformed church to be my home church. It really is hard though to leave all your friends behind when you have been with them for so long. Not to mention I had a lot of positive impact on them influencing them with reformed theology.
 

Rocketeer

Puritan Board Freshman
All of these things are things that a family has to consider. And as the leader of my home, I'm responsible for us. Financially, how we live out our marriage, and Spiritually. And like I said, I live in a liberal wasteland, so I have to deal with the best I can find.
I'm with you, and with Martin as well. You guys try and be the salting salt. You only need a little salt to make a huge difference, don't you? Correct me if I'm wrong, chef.

I was in agony for years at the church I attended because as a deacon, I could only fight just so much before I was soiling the nest in a very non-Christian way. You can look back at certain posts of mine over the last two years and see the schitzophrenia (sp?) over staying or running. None of my children are baptized because I would not have them dunked by an elder board who were in serious error. The ONLY reason I stayed is because there was not another supervised congregation within 100 miles. There were house churches, sure, but that's it. No pastoral care, no direction given by elders, nothing. It was a Hal Camping field day.
You did not even baptize your children? But, but... Not trying to be accusative or offensive, in fact, trying not to, but how bad was that church?

(BTW, its called schizophrenia.)


Drive to Friesland, you'll find plenty of them. Even Groningen has some good ones. I'd venture to say that Germany has more than a few, and they're closest of all (though many Frisians say that they understand Danish OK because the languages are so close. Give it a try - it's only a few hour commute!)
:eek:

You recommend him to go from Denmark via Germany to the Netherlands? And no, there are not that many good reformed Churches in Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe with pastors, so he'd probably need to get to Flevoland or Overijssel, where I live. Forgive me for saying so, but that is a terribly American suggestion to make...

Languages which seem close usually are not all that close. I'd have a hard time following a good sermon in German or Frisian.

Also, people, another answer to your troubles, now that we are speaking of moving anyways, is to emigrate to a more densely populated country. There are a handful of churches of my own denomination within half an hour by car, and about two dozen ones that hold to the Reformed doctrines in that same reach. That's what you get when almost 17 million people are locked into a country which takes only 2 hours to cross from East to West (by car).

(And no, emigration was not my serious suggestion.)
 

TheFleshProfitethNothing

Puritan Board Freshman
As much as I like confessions, I do like Scripture more, and the Bible does teach to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and to try the spirits (or words/doctine), and not to even have certain people who preach a gospel that is in error be considered a believer (but anathema).

Some say there is no "perfect church"...I say it doesn't have to be "perfect"...just keep the from having things in it that are a stumbling block to believers, i.e. idols, lascivous apparel of congregants...you know, all the things that Paul taught in his epistles.

I for one won't attend "Arminian" church's. Why not just attend AA meetings instead...just make up a Higher Power in your own imagination and worship it. It's all self in most of them these days...self-help, steps to a better self, how to be self-centered is the gospel in a nutshell for most "churches" out there, period.

Gospel centered preaching, gospel centered teaching...#1 Baptism and Lord's Supper are second, and all the rest is, to me, easy to deal with. As other's stated, I can't deal with errors in most preaching/ teaching...the fewer the better, and I have sat and listened to quite a few sermons that I could find NOTHING to pick at.

As important as fellowship is, I won't compromise any of the beliefs I hold to just to "feel like" I went to church on Sunday. I'd rather stand alone, and struggle a bit more in this world that compromise the Faith that was delivered unto me by the free grace of God in Christ...no sir!
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
You did not even baptize your children? But, but... Not trying to be accusative or offensive, in fact, trying not to, but how bad was that church?
Bad. Arminian/Pente/Seeker and then some, with a head elder/pastor who felt that ministering/witnessing to Mormons was pointless because "they're so well organized, it's almost impossible to convince them". If you look in the Tool Shed, you'll see plenty on it.

You recommend him to go from Denmark via Germany to the Netherlands? And no, there are not that many good reformed Churches in Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe with pastors, so he'd probably need to get to Flevoland or Overijssel, where I live. Forgive me for saying so, but that is a terribly American suggestion to make...

Languages which seem close usually are not all that close. I'd have a hard time following a good sermon in German or Frisian.
That was mostly tongue in cheek (besides, who wouldn't want to go to Friesland, the other Holy Land. And I'm not American! That can bring men to blows here, brother! ;) )

I just know friends of mine who vacation in Denmark and say it is easier and more enjoyable than Germany because Danish and Fries are close enough to understand.
 
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dalecosby

Puritan Board Freshman
This has been an interesting thread.
I oddly attend an unreformed church that is 45 minutes away when there is an excellent reformed church 7 miles away.
I am a baptist but I find when I attend the OPC close by I am in more agreement there than in my baptist church.

Because of all of that this thread is very timely for me.

I certainly do not understand a baptist who would rather go to an arminian baptist church than a solid reformed paedobaptist church.
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
There have been several suggestions with varying degrees of conviction that if you could not find a Reformed Church it would be better not to attend Church on the Lords Day.

I do find this position to be hetrodox, perhaps you would not become a member but every possible Church would have to be fully pelagian to make non attendance remotely acceptable.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I confess I fellowship with a "liberal" ABC church with an agenda..... to infect it with the truth. I am the only adult SS teacher. Some may see me as an agitator, some a missionary. I will do like Paul did when he was under house arrest in Rome.... tell them who will listen the truth. My pastor is what I would call 80% conservative with reformed tendencies, so we get along well, but don't ditto each other on all topics. I know of a few R churches within 35 miles, but there is a small likelihood that I will develop meaningful personal relationships with people that require an hour commute, each way, to meet with. This would be a hindrance both in time and finance for me. Serving also becomes hindered when 2 hours is wasted in travel for each event. One thing I like to do is hand out John Piper CD's (I burn them quite often).
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
There have been several suggestions with varying degrees of conviction that if you could not find a Reformed Church it would be better not to attend Church on the Lords Day.

I do find this position to be hetrodox, perhaps you would not become a member but every possible Church would have to be fully pelagian to make non attendance remotely acceptable.
Is Semi-Pelagianism now an acceptable heresy? :confused:
 

Neogillist

Puritan Board Freshman
You did not even baptize your children? But, but... Not trying to be accusative or offensive, in fact, trying not to, but how bad was that church?
Bad. Arminian/Pente/Seeker and then some, with a head elder/pastor who felt that ministering/witnessing to Mormons was pointless because "they're so well organized, it's almost impossible to convince them". If you look in the Tool Shed, you'll see plenty on it.

John Calvin would disagree with you on that one. If you read the Institutes, he clearly states that the worthiness of one's baptism is not cancelled by the unworthiness of the pastor performing the sacrament. This is because it is God who really baptizes us in the end, and our baptism points to God's promises concerning the gospel. It has nothing to do with the sincerity or holiness of the minister performing it, although it should indeed be performed by an ordained minister. So long as the baptism is trinitarian and is thus performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is valid (Mat. 28:19-29) and will be recognized in almost all reformed churches. At worst, a person baptized in the Church of Rome is still legally baptized.

My recommendation would be that you move to a Reformed church and have your children get baptized there, else have them baptized in your deformed church.
 

kalawine

Puritan Board Junior
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:
John, I don't claim to be an expert. I do believe that I made a good point with my Corinthian Church example. But at the same time, people who brought up the contrary also made good points. I believe that choosing a church is such a personal thing that sometimes there is no clear cut answer for every case.

I left my Seeker Sensitive SBC to become a part of a very small PCA congregation. It was only after two years of coming and going at this church that I finally decided to take the plunge. Now that I have I am very content and confident that I did the right thing.

Think about these things:

(1) My best friend says (not a direct quote), "Pray about it. If there is nothing in the Bible to forbid your decision and your conscience isn't bothering you, do it.

(2) There are not many things that are done that can't be undone. So what if you make the wrong decision after prayer and study? If you make a bad choice you can always make a different choice later. (I did this when I joined the SBC church and later had my letter transfered to the PCA church I go to now)

(3) You can hardly go wrong with a Reformed Church that actually behaves like a Reformed Church. I believe that you (like I did) will be better off if you change from a non-Reformed church to a Reformed one. But Reformed Churches are not without their many problems. Once you get inside one of them (many of them that is) you see how many people there are today who barely know what "Reformed" means. I'm talking about "unreformed" "Reformed" people.
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
There have been several suggestions with varying degrees of conviction that if you could not find a Reformed Church it would be better not to attend Church on the Lords Day.

I do find this position to be hetrodox, perhaps you would not become a member but every possible Church would have to be fully pelagian to make non attendance remotely acceptable.
Is Semi-Pelagianism now an acceptable heresy? :confused:
Is everyone who is not a solid five pointer an unacceptable heretic? :confused:
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
John Calvin would disagree with you on that one. If you read the Institutes, he clearly states that the worthiness of one's baptism is not cancelled by the unworthiness of the pastor performing the sacrament. This is because it is God who really baptizes us in the end, and our baptism points to God's promises concerning the gospel. It has nothing to do with the sincerity or holiness of the minister performing it, although it should indeed be performed by an ordained minister. So long as the baptism is trinitarian and is thus performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is valid (Mat. 28:19-29) and will be recognized in almost all reformed churches. At worst, a person baptized in the Church of Rome is still legally baptized.
Agreed. However, this church would not even consider paedobaptism, so there was no way to baptise them anyway. They considered it 'beyond the pale' and some sort of heresy. It was not a baptist church per se, it was just off.
 

SemperEruditio

Puritan Board Junior
But Reformed Churches are not without their many problems. Once you get inside one of them (many of them that is) you see how many people there are today who barely know what "Reformed" means. I'm talking about "unreformed" "Reformed" people.
Exactly. The church in Maryland I stated before went from Reformed Presbyterian to PCA and was PCA for decades. The last pastor resigned because of the environment of the church. They called a guy who was not PCA but was willing to join the PCA. Long story but the church now is no longer part of the PCA. I attended the church's 101st anniversary and the doctrine in 100% Semi-Pelagian. Cannot understand how a church which was reformed for easily 75 years is not reformed now except that they were never reformed.
 

Glenn Ferrell

Puritan Board Junior
Cannot understand how a church which was reformed for easily 75 years is not reformed now except that they were never reformed.
Obviously, they had elders (ruling and teaching) who did not intelligently and honestly affirm, keep or enforce their ordination vows; and courts (session and presbytery) which did not exercise appropriate oversight and discipline. There are too many of these unreformed “Reformed” pastors, elders, members, sessions and congregations. The non-confessional, independent, congregational Arminians may be more honest. If we’re going to call ourselves “Presbyterian,” let’s be Presbyterian or stop pretending.
 

Scynne

Puritan Board Freshman
As a person who was saved, then baptized into a Mennonite Brethren church, then became reformed, then, shortly after began work for a Mennonite Brethren missions agency, then, after spending all my spare time reading all the reformed theology I could find to counter the open theism and mysticism I was meeting with was having 'serious doubts' about the Mennonite Brethren church, this is a question that is near and dear to me.

In my situation, it's a matter of, well lack of good timing. Being in the field right now, I think it would be best not to denounce this denomination, but do what I can to spread the gospel and speak out when I can about the accepted wickedness around me (though, admitedly, I still seem to care too much for the opinions of men to speak as I know I ought). If the Lord wills, I will find a reformed church when I return. Although I will feel bad leaving the church that gave me 1/10 of my funding, baptized me, and I have worshiped with, I feel it is more important to take a stand for truth than give assent to false doctrine by inclusion.:2cents:
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
There have been several suggestions with varying degrees of conviction that if you could not find a Reformed Church it would be better not to attend Church on the Lords Day.

I do find this position to be hetrodox, perhaps you would not become a member but every possible Church would have to be fully pelagian to make non attendance remotely acceptable.
Is Semi-Pelagianism now an acceptable heresy? :confused:
Is everyone who is not a solid five pointer an unacceptable heretic? :confused:
That would be why the Synod of Dordt resulted in the deposition of more than two hundred Remonstrant ministers. It is better there be an empty pulpit than the proclamation of synergism.
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
That would be why the Synod of Dordt resulted in the deposition of more than two hundred Remonstrant ministers. It is better there be an empty pulpit than the proclamation of synergism.
But that is not the proposition that is under debate.

Prefering isolation to putting up with impurity in the visible Church is Donatism.
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
If we are to be willing to leave father and mother etc to follow him, how much more friends or community. :2cents:
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
That would be why the Synod of Dordt resulted in the deposition of more than two hundred Remonstrant ministers. It is better there be an empty pulpit than the proclamation of synergism.
But that is not the proposition that is under debate.

Prefering isolation to putting up with impurity in the visible Church is Donatism.
Donatism is the error that the efficacy of the sacraments depends upon the holiness of the administering clergy. It is related to the moral purity of individuals, not the content of the church's confession or minister's preaching.

I would sooner worship with my family on the Lord's Day than attend to the proclamation of synergism. Apostasy is a more accurate term in such a situation than "impurity."
 

Neogillist

Puritan Board Freshman
Cannot understand how a church which was reformed for easily 75 years is not reformed now except that they were never reformed.
Obviously, they had elders (ruling and teaching) who did not intelligently and honestly affirm, keep or enforce their ordination vows; and courts (session and presbytery) which did not exercise appropriate oversight and discipline. There are too many of these unreformed “Reformed” pastors, elders, members, sessions and congregations. The non-confessional, independent, congregational Arminians may be more honest. If we’re going to call ourselves “Presbyterian,” let’s be Presbyterian or stop pretending.
This is an interesting story. I had been told by someone from my church that the soundness of a local PCA church could vary a lot from place to place, depending on the pastor and the elders. One guy said previously on this thread that he had to leave a PCA church that had embraced FV, and here we have another case of a PCA going completely unconfessional.

What I like about my church is that people from a non-reformed background interested in becoming members must attend a pre-profession class where the central doctrines of the Reformed Faith are presented over a course of 6 months. Then there is an interview with two elders where they quiz the profession candidates on their doctrinal stances. For example, I myself was asked to explain the doctrine of total depravity and unconditional election. It is also expected that the candidate has read the TFUs and points out the sections that they disagree with (if any). Finally, the elders meet and decide if they admit the people into membership. The result is that my church is soundly reformed, and we are all of pretty much the same mind when it comes to doctrinal issues. One thing that I like about the TFUs, is that unlike the WCF, it does not adresss to many fine points of doctrine with very articulated theological language, but summarizes the mainlines very concisely. The result is that individual members of the congregation can be expected to agree with them, (although they are not expected to formally subscribe to them like the elders).

In Presbyterian churches, however, I don't know how the profession of faith goes and what is required or expected from the people, but I heard that in some of them, members who are deviant in their doctrine (such as Arminians) are occasionally accepted, so long as they profess faith in Christ as their personal savior. In the end, only the elders are expected to fully subscribe to the WCF. At least this is what I've read in Loraine Boetner's book on "The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination."
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
But Reformed Churches are not without their many problems. Once you get inside one of them (many of them that is) you see how many people there are today who barely know what "Reformed" means. I'm talking about "unreformed" "Reformed" people.
Exactly. The church in Maryland I stated before went from Reformed Presbyterian to PCA and was PCA for decades. The last pastor resigned because of the environment of the church. They called a guy who was not PCA but was willing to join the PCA. Long story but the church now is no longer part of the PCA. I attended the church's 101st anniversary and the doctrine in 100% Semi-Pelagian. Cannot understand how a church which was reformed for easily 75 years is not reformed now except that they were never reformed.
Acts 20 states how.
 

kalawine

Puritan Board Junior
But Reformed Churches are not without their many problems. Once you get inside one of them (many of them that is) you see how many people there are today who barely know what "Reformed" means. I'm talking about "unreformed" "Reformed" people.
Exactly. The church in Maryland I stated before went from Reformed Presbyterian to PCA and was PCA for decades. The last pastor resigned because of the environment of the church. They called a guy who was not PCA but was willing to join the PCA. Long story but the church now is no longer part of the PCA. I attended the church's 101st anniversary and the doctrine in 100% Semi-Pelagian. Cannot understand how a church which was reformed for easily 75 years is not reformed now except that they were never reformed.
:(
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
If we are to be willing to leave father and mother etc to follow him, how much more friends or community. :2cents:
The question, unfortunately, never presents itself on such simple terms. Scripture does not give us an explicit list of which doctrines we should separate over, so we must derive our criteria by reasoning from the Scriptures by good and necessary deductions therefrom. Given Scripture's command to make every effort to preserve unity in peace, the necessary thinking must be very carefully thought through. In theory, every Christian will be willing to separate from an apostate church at need; but the question we face in practice is different: do we need to leave this church (or denomination) right now? Particular congregations rise and fall in both the intellectual understanding and formal agreement with doctrine and how and in what ways that doctrine is lived out in the lives of members. Denominations can apostasize and where along the process must one abandon the fight and look for a new church home?

I know the difficulties first hand: at one point, I had to leave a fairly sound evangelical Anglican congregation not due to anything going on in the congregation, but due to an apostasizing province of the denomination that could not be corrected under the Anglican structures.
 
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