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Re: Covenanter Groups

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  • Sean McDonald
    It is interesting for me to note how many non-responses may be furnished as responses to a few simple questions. 1. How many different Covenanter groups are
    Message 1 of 33 , Jan 11 12:05 AM
      It is interesting for me to note how many non-responses may be
      furnished as responses to a few simple questions.

      "1. How many different 'Covenanter' groups are there (i.e. groups
      which hold to the binding obligation of the Solemn League and

      I know of at least two. Is that correct? or are there more than the
      RPNA societies on the one hand, and the society (or societies)
      associated with the "original Steelite" group? What is that group's
      name (is it, as stated on the TrueCovenanter.com site, "The
      Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church")?

      How do Jim Dodson, Derek Edwards, and Frank DiLella figure into all
      of this? Are they associated with any of the groups now in
      existence, or do any of them today form their own
      independent "Covenanter" societies?

      I was rather surprised to see Ps. 36:1-4 quoted against Mr. Dodson.
      Would it not have been sufficient to say that you disagree with him,
      or with certain actions of his (I do not know the situation), rather
      than vilifying him on a public forum, without giving him opportunity
      to defend himself?

      "2. What are the reasons for these 'Covenanter' groups maintaining a
      distinct and separate existence from each other?"

      I know that they arose separately from each other, in two different
      countries. But I know also that the elders of the PRCE were in
      contact with Jim Dodson prior to their dissociation from Dr. Bacon's
      presbytery in 1996. If the two were in contact with each other prior
      to the formation of the RPNA (2000), it seems that the two must have
      had differences which prevented the RPNA from uniting with the
      original group.

      What are those differences? I have heard headcoverings, movies, and
      birth control put forth so far. Is there nothing more substantial
      than these? I know that the RPNA lists "Reformation Principles
      Exhibited" as being among its subordinate standards, whereas David
      Steele himself later repudiated this document. It also seems obvious
      to me that when earlier authors spoke of "terms of communion," they
      were not speaking merely of terms of "table fellowship" (which seems
      to be all this phrase means for the RPNA), but of terms of church
      membership. Are these some of the issues between the RPNA and the
      original group? Are there any other issues?

      I am not trying to "stir up debate" on these points. I really do not
      want to discuss any of these issues, or care to have anyone else on
      this forum debate headcoverings, birth control, differences in
      understanding "terms of communion," etc. Neither do I ask these to
      be a "mocker" or a "jeerer." I am simply asking what are the
      differences between the two main "Covenanter" groups that exist
      today -- or, if there are more than just two, what all of their
      differences are. I understand the desire to work toward unity with
      separated brethren; but such unity is rarely, if ever, obtained by
      simply ignoring differences, or trying to put on a "united front"
      for outsiders.

      "3. How do these distinct communions give support to the claims
      of 'Covenanters,' when groups agreeing with each other on the
      binding obligation of the Solemn League and Covenant (a document
      claimed to be the most perfect vehicle of visible church unity)
      cannot maintain visible church unity with each other on that basis?"

      > Who specifically made that claim, btw?

      I understand the phrase "covenanted unity and uniformity" to refer
      to maintaining church unity on the basis of the Solemn League and
      Covenant; and the emphasis placed upon the Solemn League and
      Covenant, in any "Covenanter" discussion of church unity, to refer
      to the excellency of that document toward furthering the goal of
      church unity (if not outright necessitating that document for any
      true church unity). See Greg Barrow's "Covenanted Reformation
      Defended," pp. 30-33 as an example of this. Note especially the

      "[T]he Westminster divines taught and practiced (in agreement with
      Scripture) that each nation was to have one National church
      covenanted together in unity of doctrine and uniformity of
      practice... This idea of covenanted unity and uniformity is the only
      possible way for the independent Presbyterians of recent years to
      extract themselves from a palpable dilemma" (p. 30).

      "The PRCE is committed to promoting Covenanted National Presbyterian
      Churches which will rule the Church of Christ in covenanted unity
      and uniformity. Perhaps some may scoff and think that the PRCE is
      just dreaming about a pie in the sky ideal, but if we stop and
      consider what the millennial church will be like, we will recognize
      that covenanted unity in doctrine and uniformity in practice are its
      essential components" (p. 31).

      "We cannot walk together with Mr. B---- in his schismatic practice
      and agree to this endless multiplying of rival church courts. We
      believe that it is sin to associate or comply with such schismatic
      societies. We call upon all those who see the Scriptural principles
      being violated to separate from such schisms and work together with
      us toward one national covenanted unity and uniformity" (p. 33).

      I would also note that Greg Price's (still) forthcoming work "A
      Peaceable Plea for Worldwide Protestant Unity" was quoted at length
      in Mr. Barrow's "Covenanted Reformation Defended," pp. 59-68, as
      concerning the question of the obligation of the Solemn League and
      Covenant falling to Canada and the United States. I cannot but think
      that a work with that title, which is so much occupied with the
      binding obligation of the Solemn League and Covenant, would contend
      for church unity principally or primarily on the basis of the Solemn
      League and Covenant. (But, again, the work is STILL listed at Still
      Waters Revival Books as "forthcoming," although published in 2000,
      so I can only cite Mr. Price in an inferential way.)

      The phrase "covenanted unity and uniformity," of course, is not
      original with Mr. Barrow, appearing in the Auchensaugh Renovation,
      as well as certain writings of David Steele ("Declaration and
      Testimony for the Present Truth," "Short Vindication of Our
      Covenanted Reformation"). I am sure that the phrase could probably
      be found in other documents or authors. The phrase indicates the
      centrality of the Solemn League and Covenant in "Covenanter" thought
      on church unity.

      Which makes separate and distinct "Covenanter" communions all the
      more ironic.

      This discussion does not concern the NAPARC denominations, or any
      other churches, for that matter, since none of these other churches
      hold to the binding obligation of the Solemn League and Covenant.
      But for those bodies which to hold to its abiding obligation, how do
      you meet the charge of schism and separatism, at least as far as
      your relations to each other are concerned? If you hold that there
      can only be one true church in the nation, to which all
      congregations are bound to be united, must you not hold each other
      as being a sinful body, without any authority for its separate

      Respectfully submitted,
      Sean P.M. McDonald
    • forisraelssake
      Guys, I see better now what Christopher s point was all along. It is not that we have (like in Bacon s church) a practice of differing requirements for the
      Message 33 of 33 , Jan 21 11:33 AM

        I see better now what Christopher's point was all along. It is not
        that we have (like in Bacon's church) a practice of differing
        requirements for the Lord's supper depending on whether you are a
        member, elder, or non-member, but that we have a distinction between a
        member of our church and a member who has sustained their examination
        to come to the Lord's supper. Whether we have erred in this respect or
        not, I am not certain.

        But I do know that if you allow children of members to be considered
        members of our church and under the love, fellowship, oversight, and
        discipline of the church, and able to be baptized, and receive family
        visits by the elders, all while being in a state of ignorance and not
        able to sustain their examination to come to the Lord's table...

        then it seems that as long as a person is like a child in the faith,
        even though in secular respects an adult, they can be members of a
        church but not ready to come to the Lord's table and partake on the
        sacrament. An obedient child lives a blameless life, and is working
        towards attaining the knowledge and understanding needing to come
        worthily to the Lord's supper; the seeking of that state is a moral
        duty of all Christians.

        "I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it."
        1 Corinthians 3:2

        "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to
        teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need
        milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in
        the word of righteousness, since he is a child." Hebrews 5:12-13

        Christ's elders have to minister to all sorts of people, the weaker
        and the stronger, and the children on the one hand and the men in the
        faith on the other. Maybe this won't satisfy you, especially if you
        think historical testimony of the Church of Scotland in her faithful
        days is against us. And maybe the RPNA has erred and needs to reform.
        But I don't totally see that.

        Can a recent adult convert out of heathenism be baptized and under the
        authority of the elders without being a member of the church? It
        doesn't make much sense to me. But surely we don't withhold baptism
        or formal elder oversight until the person is brought up to speed on
        the Reformation from Popery, the Westminster Standards, the nature and
        practice of covenanting, and why our church keeps itself separate from
        all the denominations? It seems pretty clear to me that the church
        takes these people in as like unto children and trains them up in the
        way they should go.

        Hope this helps.

        Edmonton, AB

        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, gmw
        <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
        > Christopher,
        > I'm not in the RPNA, and as I mentioned in previous posts, I don't
        > understand their position on the two-tiered membership (I've been
        > pointed towards materials to read, which I'll get to when I have
        > I do know that in the past, RP's have given out tokens to those who
        > been examined and found worthy of partaking. This assumes that some
        > members may not be admitted to the Lord's Table for reasons touched on
        > in the Catechism questions provided. But outside of that, I guess I
        > have the same question that you have. What is this initial membership
        > that is not communicant membership? Is it like being a Catechumen in
        > the early church? I'm still trying to figue this all out myself.
        > gmw.
        > trygvesson@a... wrote:
        > > *In a message dated 1/21/2006 9:12:48 AM Eastern Standard Time,
        > > raging.calvinist@v... writes:*
        > > "This is why some Churches "fence" the Table, and refrain from
        > > it to those who are found to be ignorant, scandalous,
        > > hypocrites. To do so, requires some examination.
        > >
        > > gmw."
        > >
        > >
        > > *Gerry,*
        > >
        > > *Perhaps you will be able to answer this. Now, I agree with fencing
        > > the table and session controlled communion, and in an age when the
        > > standards of the church are more distinct from other denominations
        > > we do not have similar or duplicate denominations as we do now [take
        > > the RPCNA, RPCS, and the RPCI for example] I agree with close
        communion. *
        > > **
        > > *What I do not understand is, if I am reading recent posts rightly,
        > > how can an adult be interviewed and admitted to membership in the
        > > but that same adult membership not also be communicant membership?*
        > > **
        > > *I was under the impression that the standards for adult admission to
        > > the membership of the church were the same as those for communion.*
        > > **
        > > *~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        > > Christopher Coombes
        > > Lynchburg Reformed Presbyterian Fellowship,
        > > Lynchburg, VA
        > > Member, Triangle RPC
        > > RPCNA**
        > >
        > > _
        > > / )
        > > (\__/) ( (
        > > ) ( ) )
        > > ={ }= / /
        > > ) `-------/ /
        > > ( /
        > > \ |
        > > ,'\ , ,'
        > > `-'\ ,---\ | \
        > > _) ) `. \ /
        > > (__/ ) )
        > > (_/*
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > > * Visit your group "covenantedreformationclub
        > > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/covenantedreformationclub>" on
        > > the web.
        > >
        > > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
        > > covenantedreformationclub-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
        > >
        > >
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        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
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