--- In firstname.lastname@example.org
, "Edgar A. Ibarra
Jr." <puritanpresbyterian@y...> wrote:
> --- In email@example.com, "Sean McDonald"
> > What are those differences? I have heard headcoverings, movies,
> > birth control put forth so far. Is there nothing more
> > than these? I know that the RPNA lists "Reformation Principles
> > Exhibited" as being among its subordinate standards, whereas
> > Steele himself later repudiated this document. It also seems
> > to me that when earlier authors spoke of "terms of communion,"
> > were not speaking merely of terms of "table fellowship" (which
> > to be all this phrase means for the RPNA), but of terms of
> > membership. Are these some of the issues between the RPNA and
> > original group? Are there any other issues?
> I personally am ignorant about how David Steele viewed that
document, so I cannot comment on that. As for the "Terms of
Communion", those are the terms for a brother/sister to come to the
Lord's Table and partake of Communion. To be a member of the RPNA,
one needs to profess Christ and etc. To be able to come to the
Lord's Supper it entails more than a profession of faith, but
agreement with the Biblical doctrines that Presbyterians have
faithfully held to since the Second Reformation, as it would be
sinful for one to come to the Table in ignorance of the Lord's body
and/or scandal. We do not hold to open communion as many
denominations do in America.
> Here is how it is stated officially:
> Church Membership
> Description: Church membership entitles you and your children to
the privileges of: baptism, the administration of God's Word, the
love, fellowship, oversight, and discipline of the church, family
visits, and the use of your gifts and talents.
> Admission to the Lord's Supper
> Description: Knowledge and acceptance of these terms will entitle
you to partake in the Lord's Supper with us. Male heads of
households are also permitted to vote in congregational meetings.
> Interview Questions Before Each Lord's Supper
> Description: A short interview to determine that no public
scandals have arisen involving the member, and that they are
remaining faithful in their Christian duties.
> see http://www.reformedpresbytery.org/member.html for the actual
William Wilson's "Defence of the Reformation Principles of the
Church of Scotland" (quoted at
"I ask our Author, Whether or not a particular visible Church, who
have embraced one Confession of Faith, one Form of Church-
government, one Directory for Worship, may require it of **all her
Members, in order to full Communion in all sealing Ordinances,**
that they confess, acknowledge, and swear to abide in the Profession
and Obedience of the same Doctrine, Worship, Government and
Discipline? ... Is not this **necessary to the Unity of the
particular Organick Body?** ... Is it not a very proper Mean to
excite **all the Members of a Church** to search into the
Scriptures, that they may know and be established in the Principles
which they profess?"
Reformed Presbytery's "Explanation and Defence of the Terms of
"Our Lord's doctrine in his Epistles to the Churches of Asia,
evidently favours **distinct and explicit terms of admission into
the fellowship of the Christian Church,** in all succeeding ages."
"On the memorable day of Pentecost, when their hearers `were pricked
in their heart, and said unto them, What shall we do?' the **term of
admission to the privilege of baptism** was, `Repent, and be
baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, and ye
shall receive the Holy Ghost.' As much as to say, in faith's
dependence upon Him who is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to
give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins, and, with holy
contrition of soul, renounce your former errors, and abominable
practices. Change your former sentiments and conduct. Receive
Christ, as made of God unto you wisdom, righteousness,
sanctification, and redemption. **Embrace the Christian religion in
all its peculiar doctrines. On this footing you shall receive the
privileges of the church.** Accordingly, it is added, `They that
gladly received His word were baptized.'"
Concerning the baptisms of the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius, it is
stated, "Still, we see, the greatest care is taken to have the
subjects of the ordinance **properly instructed in the mysteries of
the Christian religion; and to obtain from them an open profession
of their faith in Christ, and of their ready subjection to the laws
of his kingdom.**"
"Fully consistent with this is the Apostle's holy zeal, that **none
should be introduced into the church, nor suffered to embody with
her, who are erroneous in their opinions, and wish to mix their own
inventions with the institutions of Christ**... It cannot,
therefore, we presume, be refused that soundness in the faith, then
delivered to the saints; professed submission to the divinely
appointed ordinances of the Gospel; approbation of that church-order
which Christ himself instituted, and authorized his ministers to
observe; together with holiness of conversation, were positive terms
of communion in the primitive Christian church."
"Considering, then, their consistency with the great and general
principle, on which all societies in the world find it necessary to
act; the express injunctions of the Holy Spirit, concerning unity of
sentiment and profession; the doctrine of our Saviour, in his
Epistles to the Asiatic churches; and the divinely authorized
practice of the Apostolic church; we cannot well refuse the
propriety of **having explicit terms of admission to the privileges
of the Gospel-church,** in the times wherein we live."
Reformation Principles Exhibited
"Chapter XXI. **Of Church-Fellowship.**
"1. It is the duty of all who hear the gospel to **enter into the
communion of the Christian Church**..."
"2. The qualifications for Church membership necessary in adults,
are, that they **knowingly profess a belief of the doctrine of
Christ, promise submission to all the institutions of Christ,**
evidence repentance, and manifest no prevailing inclination to any
kind of wickedness."
"3. The end of Church-fellowship is to **exhibit a system of sound
principles, to maintain the ordinances of Gospel-worship in their
purity,** to promote holiness, and to prepare the saints for heaven."
"4. **The Christian Church as a society of rational beings, must
have explicit terms of communion, to which every member gives his
assent:** It is not to be expected that all men shall think alike
about every object of thought; but **Christians cannot co-operate,
unless they are of one mind about the general principles of
Christianity:** Terms of Christian communion should embrace nothing
but what is divine truth, and **reject nothing for which the Church
hath faithfully contended.**"
John Black's "Sermon on Church Fellowship"
"I. I am to explain this Communion
"1. It is a communion of Saints... 2. It is a communion of love and
holy affections... 3. The communion of Saints embraces their gifts.
In these they have a joint and mutual interest... 4. The Saints have
communion in each other's graces... 5. This communion involves, a
joint recognition of the same engagements binding to the performance
of such duties, public and private, as conduce to the mutual good of
the members of Christ's body mystical."
"II. How far ought the communion of Saints to be extended.
"1. That communion of charity and sympathy, which consists in
relieving the necessities of those in distress, and supplying the
wants of the poor and needy, ought to be extended to all who profess
to be lovers of Jesus, and who, in their daily conversation evince,
that they are his friends... 2. To all, to whom, in the judgment of
charity, we may apply the name of Christian, we ought to extend our
Christian communion... 3. **But that communion which is strictly
ecclesiastical, is to be extended only to such as agree in the same
terms of church communion.**"
"And shall we suppose, that the Church of Christ, the most precious--
the most excellent--the most orderly, and the best regulated
association upon earth, shall be without her specific articles of
agreement--her **conditions of membership, and terms of communion?
** ... The divine Head of the church has strictly enjoined it upon
**every member of this spiritual association,** [Mr. Black proceeds
to quote Jude 3; 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:3-5; Rev. 11:1; and Phil.
1:27.] It is evident, from the above passages, that **express and
explicit terms of communion are required in the fellowship of the
I might also mention a quote from a non-Covenanter, A.A. Hodge, in
his "Commenatry on the Confession of Faith
(www.rtrc.net/documents/wcf/hodge/wcfaah28.htm), wherein he makes
remarks upon Reformed Presbyterian practice:
"Some Churches, as, for instance, our Covenanting Presbyterian
brethren, demand, as a condition of adult baptism -- or, what is the
same thing, admission to the Church -- in addition to the profession
of faith in the fundamental truths of the Gospel, adherence to
certain 'Testimonies' embodying non-fundamental, denominational
peculiarities. This we believe to be entirely unauthorized. The
Church is Christ's fold, designed for all his sheep. Baptism and the
Lord's Supper are the common rights of all the Lord's people. If any
man holds the fundamentals of the gospel and professes allegiance to
our common Lord, and acts consistently therewith, we have no right
to exclude him from his Father's house. It is just as presumptuous
to make terms of communion which Christ has not made as it would be
to make terms of salvation which he does not require."
It seems manifest to me that the above quotes (and many more could
be multiplied on this head) that the original understanding by
Reformed Presbyterians re: "Terms of Communion" made them terms, not
of "table fellowship," but of church membership (besides being the
most natural exposition of Amos 3:3; 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 1:27, etc.).
This being the case, it appears that the RPNA, which makes so much
of having identical "terms of communion" to the Reformed
Presbyterians of the past, in fact maintain different terms of
communion than any preceding body (since they have reinterpreted the
original meaning of "terms of communion").
Sean P.M. McDonald