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Re: Covenanter Groups/Two-Tierd Membership

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  • Sean McDonald
    It seems to me (and anyone from the RPNA can correct me if I m wrong) that, in the RPNA, admission to membership in the church puts you in the same condition
    Message 1 of 33 , Jan 20, 2006
      It seems to me (and anyone from the RPNA can correct me if I'm
      wrong) that, in the RPNA, admission to membership in the church puts
      you in the same condition as children who have been baptized, who
      have made no profession of faith.

      1. All Reformed or Presbyterian churches hold that the children of
      members of the church have a right to baptism.

      2. In order for baptized children of the church to be admitted to
      the Lord's Table, they must make a profession of faith. This same
      profession of faith was required for adult converts to be admitted
      into the membership of the church (and be baptized, if they had
      never been baptized).

      3. In most Reformed or Presbyterian churches, this "profession of
      faith" is a rather low standard (although in some churches, it
      necessitates full agreement with the Heidelberg Catechism or the
      Shorter Catechism).

      4. Historically, the "profession of faith" made in Reformed
      Presbyterian churches were the "terms of communion." This means that
      the Reformed Presbyterians had a similar concept with other Reformed
      or Presbyterian churches (profession of faith to admit baptized
      children to the Lord's Table, or adult converts into membership);
      they simply had a much lengthier profession of faith.

      5. In the RPNA, they distinguish between the "profession of faith"
      and the "terms of communion." The "profession of faith" (which is a
      simple admission of guilt by sin, and salvation by Jesus Christ)
      admits adult converts into the same situation as that of baptized
      children; and neither will be admitted to the Lord's Table without
      agreement with the "terms of communion." (Incidentally, this raises
      the question of whether baptized children have to make a profession
      of faith, or if they can simply skip straight to the terms of
      communion--if anyone from the RPNA could answer that, I would
      consider myself edified.)

      6. In every other Reformed or Presbyterian church (including
      Reformed Presbyterians), the "profession of faith" was also
      the "terms of communion." It is only in the RPNA that this two
      things have been separated, without any historic or biblical
      precedent whatsoever.

      Respectfully submitted,
      Sean P.M. McDonald

      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "gmw"
      <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
      > Please understand that I am not intending to start a controversy or
      > anything of the sort, but I must say that Sean has brought up one
      > the issues that I know myself and others have questioned, and that
      > the RPNA two-tierd membership thing. I would very much appreciate
      > if someone could explain it for us, in light of the facts that Sean
      > presented in his post.
      > It could be that we are misunderstanding something, I confess.
      > explanation or clarification would be helpful.
      > gmw.
      > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Sean McDonald"
      > <kaalvenist@y...> wrote:
      > > It seems manifest to me that the above quotes (and many more
      > > be multiplied on this head) that the original understanding by
      > > Reformed Presbyterians re: "Terms of Communion" made them terms,
      > > of "table fellowship," but of church membership (besides being
      > > most natural exposition of Amos 3:3; 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 1:27,
      > > This being the case, it appears that the RPNA, which makes so
      > > 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
      > > 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

        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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