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Re: Covenanter Groups

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  • Tom
    Sean, I can t respond to all of your questions, but I did want to note a couple of things. One of the problems that you may be encountering when you ask
    Message 1 of 33 , Jan 11, 2006

      I can't respond to all of your questions, but I did want to note a
      couple of things.

      One of the problems that you may be encountering when you ask
      questions about why there is separation, or why there is reticence
      to unify is that you are mainly dealing with individual ~families~
      other than those in the (former) RPNA. There is the RPNA group and
      then there are families elsewhere, not just here in PA, who are
      bound by brotherhood, friendship and theological affinity, but
      lacking anything official that would constitute them as being
      a "group" per se. So, while there are indeed more of us out here who
      consider ourselves Covenanters than just those in the RPNA and more
      of us who hold to the same core doctrines, the reasons for these
      families and individuals remaining separate from the RPNA could be
      many and varied and not everyone is willing to make public their
      reasons for not joining lest it cause offense, or worse, further
      division in the Body.

      As far as the three men you mentioned. The first as far as I know,
      Jim Dodson, has nothing to do with anything "covenanter" except the
      web site that is still up. From what I know of the other two, Derek
      Edwards and Fred DiLella, they are Covenanters and seem to me to be
      very decent Christian men. Neither of them currently have
      congregations where they each live.

      Regarding the posted Psalm passage and Jim Dodson:

      I know from first hand personal experience that Jim Dodson has
      sinned very grievously and publicly in many and varied ways and
      continues to sin greatly and publicly against a lot of people to
      this day. He has refused to repent of at least many (most? all?) of
      his sins and has cut off anyone who has tried to confront or help
      him. I am not even sure if he calls himself a Christian at this
      point, & yet for years he has enmeshed himself and his name very
      tightly with the words "Covenanter" and "Covenanted Reformation" and
      passively continues the aforementioned website which is hosted by a
      friend of his. He was at one time very closely associated with the
      families here in PA, Jerry's and mine included. Because of his
      continued long-standing impenitence those families would now like to
      be DIS-associated with him though we will by God's grace continue to
      hold what we believe to be the original Covenanter position.

      Because his sins are public and he has refused to repent and yet he
      continues to have his website up, some of us believe it is our duty
      at times, when the subject comes up and questions are asked, to
      clarify that we consider Jim Dodson to be a very dangerous,
      unreasonable and unrepentant man. Please note that Jim CAN defend
      himself publicly if he so chooses--he has an entire website if he
      wants to do that, but sadly thus far, he won't even defend himself
      privately to those he ought to be speaking to. So, it's not that he
      CAN'T defend himself publicly; it's more that he just won't. If you
      want more information about his status or his particular sins then
      you can try emailing him at the website.

      I hope this helps to answer some of your questions.

      Tom Britton

      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Sean McDonald"
      <kaalvenist@y...> wrote:
      > 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
      > Covenant)?"
      > I know of at least two. Is that correct? or are there more than
      > RPNA societies on the one hand, and the society (or societies)
      > associated with the "original Steelite" group? What is that
      > 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
      > 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.
      > Would it not have been sufficient to say that you disagree with
      > or with certain actions of his (I do not know the situation),
      > than vilifying him on a public forum, without giving him
      > to defend himself?
      > "2. What are the reasons for these 'Covenanter' groups maintaining
      > distinct and separate existence from each other?"
      > I know that they arose separately from each other, in two
      > countries. But I know also that the elders of the PRCE were in
      > contact with Jim Dodson prior to their dissociation from Dr.
      > presbytery in 1996. If the two were in contact with each other
      > to the formation of the RPNA (2000), it seems that the two must
      > had differences which prevented the RPNA from uniting with the
      > original group.
      > What are those differences? I have heard headcoverings, movies,
      > 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
      > 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 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
      > want to discuss any of these issues, or care to have anyone else
      > 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
      > > 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
      > following:
      > "[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
      > 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
      > 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
      > that covenanted unity in doctrine and uniformity in practice are
      > 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
      > being violated to separate from such schisms and work together
      > 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
      > 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
      > that a work with that title, which is so much occupied with the
      > binding obligation of the Solemn League and Covenant, would
      > for church unity principally or primarily on the basis of the
      > League and Covenant. (But, again, the work is STILL listed at
      > 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"
      > 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
      > hold to the binding obligation of the Solemn League and Covenant.
      > But for those bodies which to hold to its abiding obligation, how
      > 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
      > existence?
      > 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, 2006

        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**
        > >
        > > _
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        > > (__/ ) )
        > > (_/*
        > >
        > >
        > >
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        > > the web.
        > >
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