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Re: [Covenanted Reformation] Digest Number 910

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  • crownrights
    Hi Susan, I ve had to face this while visiting the USA recently, and previously when I was living in England & Scotland, plus time spent afloat on Naval
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 25, 2004
      Hi Susan,

      I've had to face this while visiting the USA recently, and previously
      when I was living in England & Scotland, plus time spent afloat on
      Naval service. There will be different views and my own views have
      changed over time and with my circumstances. I'm a slow typist and I
      don't have a lot of spare time, so I'll outine my views, but won't
      take the time to defend or justify them in any detail here.

      15 years ago, I spent 9 months at sea. It was quite an experience and
      there was little if any christian fellowship, though most seaports in
      Europe and North America have a port missionary of some sort. We also
      had a fleet chaplain whom I didn't rate highly, though he was a nice
      man. We had compulsory "church services" every Sunday morning
      organized by the "Church Officer" - a young midshipman who happened to
      be a Christian and officiated by the Captain who wasn't. Sometimes I
      attended and sometimes I found an excuse to be absent. I didn't sing,
      which they probably thought strange, but no-one asked the reason.

      Getting into harbour, I could go nowhere, attend the usual tourist
      churches, find a christian bookshop & ask about churches, look in the
      telephone directory or use my own resources to find somewhere better.
      Coming back from sea, I was desperate for fellowship with like-minded
      people, I'd had no teaching for the best part of a year and I didn't
      feel able to take on major arguments and disagreements. I settled in
      the north of Scotland for 5 years. My first criterion was
      unaccompanied Psalmody, which narrowed the choice to 5 congregations
      belonging to three denominations, all within reasonable travelling
      distance (3 miles). Several of the congregations had recently been
      involved in various disruptions and I wanted to steer clear of that
      (although I normallly enjoy a bit of controversy. The fourth
      congregation was cold, and somewhat unfriendly and there were some
      other issues, so I settled in the 5th. This was a young growing church
      extension work where the people were friendly and took their faith
      seriously. People were being saved regularly through the preaching
      which was simple, but pointed. There was little strong meat for older
      christians because the focus was on teaching new converts. However,
      the fellowship was warm and there was a clear love for the Lord and
      those of us who needed more read and debated together. I even accepted
      that they used the "Nearly Inspired Version" because they provided
      everything else I needed at the time, but always brought my own AV to
      the kirk.

      After I moved along, there was a disruption in that denomination &
      that congregation unfortunately took the wrong side in the split. I
      probably wouldn't attend there now, but I do maintain friends there.

      When we lived in Lancashire (northern England), the nearest
      psalm-singing church was 45 miles away. We tried every alternative
      before going there because of the excessive travelling. But there
      were other problems with that congregation and we found it harder to
      motivate ouselves to attend. There was little preaching, only some
      lectures and read sermons that were poorly presented. There was little
      fellowship on the Lord's Day and none at all during the week.
      Throughout that time we existed on taped sermons from our church at
      home in Ulster.

      I have grossly oversimlified the above situations, but this lets you
      see that the SITUATIONS are not always as clear cut as the books would
      imply. On the other hand, the ISSUES are very clear. I am no advocate
      of relativism, but we must recognize differences in situations and not
      condemn those who perhaps are struggling with issues that we cannot
      even conceive of. Why have I said all this?

      I currently live in Northern Ireland. There are half a dozen meeting
      houses within walking distance. I can choose whatever flavour I like,
      but I also remember the time that I didn't have a choice. There were
      NO Reformed Presbyterians within 2000 miles - in any direction. I
      could have fellowship with a small group of sincere believers who did
      not agree with me on many issues, or I could separate myself from
      them. But no man is an island. God made us to be social creatures and
      if we don't have dealings with the godly, we will have dealings with
      the ungodly. At home now, I rarely darken the door of another
      denomination, indeed there are some of our own denomination that I
      would not rush to attend.

      To wrap up,
      - Scripture warns us against listening to teaching that will turn us
      aside from the truth
      - Scripture forbids us to neglect the assembly of God's people
      - Those who are misled, having never been taught should not be placed
      in the same category as those who refuse to repent after appropriate
      - The aim is holiness, without which no man shall see God. Are the
      people godly or worldly? Do they try to obey the Word of God, even if
      their interpretation of it is different from ours?

      How did we apply these principles recently while in southern

      1st Sabbath, we elected to simply have extended family worship. We had
      no transport and weren't prepared to use taxis or public transport on
      the Lord's Day. Had we been better organized, we might have booked a
      vehicle on the Saturday or made prior arrangements with the nearest
      acceptable church (20 miles across town) to pick us up.

      2nd Sabbath, we were in another location and had a vehicle. We checked
      local & internet listings and drove around on Saturday. On Sabbath we
      went to an ostensibly Bible Baptist church - one of their slogans was
      "we won't tolerate anything that opposes the Scriptures". Alas, we
      were treated to lots of singing with accompaniment and a rousing sales
      talk on fund raising finished off by a schoolboy sermon on prayer and
      a personal testimony of an apparently miraculous healing from the

      Where would we absolutely refuse to go?
      A masshouse (RC).
      A madhouse (charismatic)
      A mushhouse (warm fuzzy relativism)
      Places that are clearly liberal or following a false ecumenism (sorry,
      couldn't think of another 'm')

      The teaching on occasional hearing was fine, but we're now in an era
      where almost no-one has the slightest respect for the Scriptures. We
      can't cut ourselves of from the remnant of other struggling believers.
      If we understand things they don't, we have a duty to build them up in
      our most holy faith and to admonish one another from the scriptural
      hymn book. We also need to be meek. We haven't "arrived" and others
      can teach us about our blind spots. Regrettably some of our people
      think they can imitate the pope. When they speak from their armchairs
      or keyboards to bind our consciences, they are infallible. May we
      remain free from such tyrrany.

      In Christ,

      Trevor Maze

      cyc> Message: 6
      cyc> Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 16:37:59 EST
      cyc> From: ukpuritan40@...
      cyc> Subject: Re: Digest Number 909

      cyc> Dear Fellow list members,
      cyc> I'm sorry if this topic has been dealt with on this list before or if
      cyc> it is a divisive one, but I would just like to hear from others on this matter.
      cyc> My personal alliance doctrinally is with the Free Church of Scotland
      cyc> Continuing and also much of what is taught by the RPCI and the FPCOS though in
      cyc> the USA I worship where my husband preaches for the most part, so the preaching
      cyc> is good. (-:
      cyc> I would like to know what others do, and how others deal with the
      cyc> experience of being in a situation where one has no "decent" church to attend on the
      cyc> Lord's day.
      cyc> 1. What is your criteria for deciding if a church is better attended on
      cyc> an individual Lord's day (say when in travel etc or when circumstances prevent
      cyc> one from being in one's own local fellowship)than the alternative of having a
      cyc> family worship at home/abroad.
      cyc> 2. Have you had the experience of attending a church and finding
      cyc> yourself heartbroken, in distress, in tears etc over the blatant will worship, or
      cyc> lack of comprehension of true worship vs false etc. If so how have you dealt with
      cyc> this distress?
      cyc> 3. Have you a church, which if it were your only choice, (apart from say
      cyc> Roman Catholic or a cult church/false religion) you would not attend, in any
      cyc> circumstances?
      cyc> 4. Is one allowed as a matter of conscience to absent oneself from such
      cyc> assemblies and if so on what basis?
      cyc> I am aware of SWRB teaching on the sin of occasionaly hearing.
      cyc> Basically, is this a topic which has been addressed over the history of the orthodox
      cyc> reformed presbyterian church writings/fathers etc? and if so under what topic
      cyc> or title.
      cyc> Thankfully, where to worship is often settled for us by as I said, dh's
      cyc> preaching, but it is not always so. This is a topic close to my heart and one
      cyc> which I am trying to come to some understanding on. My dear husband is a great
      cyc> help to me in these matters but I just wanted to ask you all what your
      cyc> experiences have been.
      cyc> In Christ, Susan Nye Ferrell
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