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Re: Covenanter Groups

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  • Sean McDonald
    ... and ... substantial ... David ... obvious ... they ... seems ... church ... the ... document, so I cannot comment on that. As for the Terms of
    Message 1 of 33 , Jan 16, 2006
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      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Edgar A. Ibarra
      Jr." <puritanpresbyterian@y...> wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Sean McDonald"
      <kaalvenist@y...> wrote:
      > >
      > > 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 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
      > Questions
      > 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
      > Questions
      > 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
      > Questions
      > 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
      questions.
      >
      >


      Edgar,

      William Wilson's "Defence of the Reformation Principles of the
      Church of Scotland" (quoted at
      www.covenanter.org/Communion/termsofcommunionhome.htm):

      "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
      Communion" (www.covenanter.org/RefPres/explanationanddefence.htm):

      "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
      (www.truecovenanter.com/reformedpresbyterian/rpe.html):

      "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"
      (www.covenanter.org/JBlack/ChurchFellowship/sermon.htm):

      "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
      Christian Church.**"


      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").

      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
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        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 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.

        Chris
        Edmonton, AB
        RPNA

        --- 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
        quite
        > understand their position on the two-tiered membership (I've been
        > pointed towards materials to read, which I'll get to when I have
        time).
        > I do know that in the past, RP's have given out tokens to those who
        have
        > 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
        serving
        > > it to those who are found to be ignorant, scandalous,
        impenitentand/or
        > > 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
        and
        > > 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
        RPNA
        > > 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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