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What does it mean to be "covenanted" in modern day America?

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  • Jim Polk
    Hello to all, I am a former PCA ruling elder who has become convinced that most modern Presbyterian bodies are horribly out of accord with the Westminster
    Message 1 of 10 , May 19 4:15 AM
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      Hello to all,

      I am a former PCA ruling elder who has become convinced that most
      modern Presbyterian bodies are horribly out of accord with the
      Westminster Standards -- which btw, is why I am a "former" ruling
      elder. I haven't come to this decision lightly or quickly, but there
      are things I still need to learn. Here are my questions:

      1. What does it mean to be "covenanted" in modern day America? (I
      have read the "Solemn League and Covenant" which is why I
      say "modern day America.")

      2. What is the "establishment" principle.

      3. Is there anything wrong with the RPCNA? There are two RPCNA
      congregations within 20 minutes of my home, (Philadelphia).

      Thanks in advance for any help you all can give me on these
      questions.
    • Jerry
      Hello Mr. Polk, My name is Jerry, and I started this forum years ago when there were many more of us who were seeking to uphold the principles of the
      Message 2 of 10 , May 19 5:33 AM
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        Hello Mr. Polk,

        My name is Jerry, and I started this forum years ago when there were many more of us who were seeking to uphold the principles of the Covenanted Reformation.  Through various scandals, sins, splits, and changes of heart, those of us who still hold to those principles are few.  In fact, I'm wondering if anyone else at this point is going to answer your questions from the perspective you're looking for.

        I've learned over the years that perhaps I am not the best equipped to answer questions like this, but I will give it a shot.

        1.  What does it mean to be "covenanted" in modern day America?  Well, I believe that being covenanted means more than just decorating the tombs of the Covenanters and calling them heroes, defenders of freedom, and great martyrs.  It his owning the cause for which they fought and died -- the Covenants, the Confession, the Catechisms, the principle that not every tyrant that providentially sets up shop is the "ordinance of God" to be obeyed for conscience' sake under the threat of damnation, that Christ alone is the Head of the Church, etc.  We can agree that the United States as a unified nation never swore the SL&C in the same manner that it was sworn in a national capacity in England, Ireland, and Scotland.  However, hopefully we can also agree that many of us are of English, Irish, and Scottish descent and thus have forefathers that swore a covenant which they intended to bind their posterity, and that England's colonies would have had an obligation to the same Covenant sworn in the Mother Land, and that those of us who seek to be Presbyterian in any Westminster Standards sense of the word are in some way or another descendants of the Scottish Kirk which was unabashedly covenanted to God.  To be covenanted today, means that those things are acknowledged and owned, and that the principles that were established by covenant with God are not negotiable because they are founded upon the Word of God, and because our forefathers bound us to them by solemn oath.  For some, who were part of a more organized church body, it may actually have involved swearing the Covenant themselves.  For others, we look forward to the time when we can participate in covenant renewal.

        2.  The Establishment Principle is a big topic to cover in such a forum.  In short, it is the doctrine that the nations must submit to Messiah the Prince, and are to establish by law the True Reformed Religion, and are to defend and nourish the Church of Jesus Christ.

        WCF 23:3 -- "The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he has authority, and it is his duty, to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administrated, and observed.  For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God."

        That's probably the shortest answer I can give you.  There are books on the subject, like Syminton's Messiah the Prince.

        3.  Is there anything wrong with the RPCNA?  Is this a trick question?  lol.  Well, I am not in the RPCNA myself, and I have my own reasons for that which can be boiled down to this -- I believe the RPCNA's positions were more biblical when they first came to America, and the changes that took place over the course of their American presence are things I can't go along with.  I have friends in the RPCNA, and I find them certainly to be a better alternative than many churches.  Here are some articles that may wish to peruse.  I have not written any of them, and so cannot defend every sentence:

        http://www.crownofchrist.net/rpcna.html

        http://truecovenanter.com/reformedpresbyterian/steps_of_defection_1913.html

        http://truecovenanter.com/reformedpresbyterian/reasons_for_maintaining_separate_standing.html

        I hope this is helpful, and nice to hear from you.

        gmw.

        Jim Polk wrote:

        Hello to all,

        I am a former PCA ruling elder who has become convinced that most
        modern Presbyterian bodies are horribly out of accord with the
        Westminster Standards -- which btw, is why I am a "former" ruling
        elder. I haven't come to this decision lightly or quickly, but there
        are things I still need to learn. Here are my questions:

        1. What does it mean to be "covenanted" in modern day America? (I
        have read the "Solemn League and Covenant" which is why I
        say "modern day America.")

        2. What is the "establishment" principle.

        3. Is there anything wrong with the RPCNA? There are two RPCNA
        congregations within 20 minutes of my home, (Philadelphia) .

        Thanks in advance for any help you all can give me on these
        questions.


      • Larry Bump
        ... Yes, it is in our standards that women deacons may be ordained. However, this abberance requires no sin on the part of members or officers (since I *won t*
        Message 3 of 10 , May 19 8:51 AM
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          > 3. Is there anything wrong with the RPCNA? There are two RPCNA
          > congregations within 20 minutes of my home, (Philadelphia).
          >

          Yes, it is in our standards that women deacons may be ordained.
          However, this abberance requires no sin on the part of members or
          officers (since I *won't* do it), so it shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

          Larry Bump
          Elder, RPCNA
        • Jim Polk
          Jerry, Thanks for your response. Your answers are very helpful. As for my question regarding the RPCNA . . . I ask only because most of my time as a
          Message 4 of 10 , May 19 11:58 AM
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            Jerry,

            Thanks for your response. Your answers are very helpful.

            As for my question regarding the RPCNA . . . I ask only because most of
            my time as a Presbyterian has been focused on the PCA, so I'm at a loss
            on what's good and what's not so good in the RP camp. I also read a
            scathing "letter" (similar to the one that was here this morning)
            addressed to a RPCNA elder on the net that made me think that it would
            be good for me to ask questions.

            I hope you don't mind if I pick your brain again. The Broomall RPC
            (Pennsylvania)has a website that presents a history of the RPCNA, which
            I read all the way through. How does the modern covenanter conduct
            himself under the US government? I'm thinking of the issue of jury duty
            and the like. I ask because I know from my reading that the so-
            called "old lights" and "new lights" split the congregation of the
            First RPC here in Philly over this issue.
          • Jim Polk
            Larry, Thanks for your response. It s funny that you should mention this particualr topic. Back in February when I was still an actice RE, I attended a called
            Message 5 of 10 , May 19 12:13 PM
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              Larry,

              Thanks for your response. It's funny that you should mention this
              particualr topic. Back in February when I was still an actice RE, I
              attended a called presbytery meeting in which we were to vote on
              whether or not to send an overture to the GA requesting a study
              committee on female deacons. The vote went in favor of the overture.

              In any case, if that's the RPCNA's biggest problem, I could probably
              live with it.
            • gmw
              Hi Jim, You do well to ask questions! No point in leaving one mess to get yourself into another, if you can avoid that by asking questions first. So, you re
              Message 6 of 10 , May 19 2:46 PM
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                Hi Jim,

                You do well to ask questions! No point in leaving one mess to get
                yourself into another, if you can avoid that by asking questions first.

                So, you're in Philly, PA? Maybe we could talk about some of this over
                coffee someday? Or even better, over a "cheese, wit."

                > How does the modern covenanter conduct
                > himself under the US government? I'm thinking of the issue of jury
                > duty and the like. I ask because I know from my reading that the so-
                > called "old lights" and "new lights" split the congregation of the
                > First RPC here in Philly over this issue.

                The answer to this question will depend on what flavor of Covenanter
                you're talking to. In this case, you're talking the the kind that
                thought the RP's had it right early on -- our duty to the U.S.
                Government and the Constitution is to testify against them:

                Samuel Wylie's explanation -- http://tinyurl.com/gge7k

                The RPCNA's former (?) position on the US Constitution --
                http://tinyurl.com/4oxcyv

                The main thrust being that the U.S. Government fails to acknowledge
                Jesus Christ (the King of kings) when they ought to know better
                (having descended from a Protestant and Covenanted nation), and indeed
                the fruit of such is that this government defends all sorts of
                wickedness and punishes those who do well.

                As far as jury duty -- you will be asked to swear to uphold the laws
                of this land, which laws defend all manner of false religion as being
                at least equal to that of the True Religion of Jesus Christ, all
                manner of perversion, the sparing of those who ought to die the death,
                and the murder of the unborn. I fail to see how someone can be loyal
                to King Jesus and swear to this government as a lawful authority.

                http://tinyurl.com/64rez3

                The old position of the RPCNA was also to forbid her members from
                voting or joining the military, for very related reasons.

                Again, I hope this is helpful information.

                gmw.
              • Jim Polk
                Jerry, Thanks. Your answers have been very helpful. The whole covenanter idea is coming together for me now. You said that there is another brand of
                Message 7 of 10 , May 20 3:50 AM
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                  Jerry,

                  Thanks. Your answers have been very helpful. The whole "covenanter"
                  idea is coming together for me now. You said that there is another
                  brand of covenanter. What does this other type of covenanter look like
                  (what do they stand for as "covenanters") -- and if my reading serves
                  me well, it appears that "dissenters" (hope I'm using that word
                  correctly) probably wouldn't consider them covenanters at all.

                  Thanks for your patience Jerry . . . it's greatly appreciated.
                • Jerry
                  Covenanter today is used by various groups from time to time -- from Theonomists, the South Shall Rise Again type Presbyterians, to those convinced the
                  Message 8 of 10 , May 20 5:51 AM
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                    "Covenanter" today is used by various groups from time to time -- from Theonomists, "the South Shall Rise Again" type Presbyterians, to those convinced the British nations and her descendants ~should~ covenant with God and yet ~are not~ under covenant obligation currently, to those in bodies which formerly held to Covenanter distinctives (such as political dissent from tyrannical usurpers, the continuing obligation of the Covenants, etc) but no longer consistently do as a body, to those who fully hold to the Six Terms of Communion of the old Reformed Presbytery (often mocked as Steelites).  I'm sure I'm missing some.

                    I'm glad I can be of some help.  Do keep in touch, ask anything you need to, here or privately.  And like I said before, maybe we can talk about this stuff over a philly cheese or a cup of coffee.

                    gmw.

                    Jim Polk wrote:

                    Jerry,

                    Thanks. Your answers have been very helpful. The whole "covenanter"
                    idea is coming together for me now. You said that there is another
                    brand of covenanter. What does this other type of covenanter look like
                    (what do they stand for as "covenanters" ) -- and if my reading serves
                    me well, it appears that "dissenters" (hope I'm using that word
                    correctly) probably wouldn't consider them covenanters at all.

                    Thanks for your patience Jerry . . . it's greatly appreciated.


                  • nocost2great
                    ... Larry, I am struggling with this logic. If there are women who are being recognized as deacons by the authority to which you willing choose to submit to,
                    Message 9 of 10 , May 20 8:33 PM
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                      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Larry Bump
                      <lbump@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > > 3. Is there anything wrong with the RPCNA? There are two RPCNA
                      > > congregations within 20 minutes of my home, (Philadelphia).
                      > >
                      >
                      > Yes, it is in our standards that women deacons may be ordained.
                      > However, this abberance requires no sin on the part of members or
                      > officers (since I *won't* do it), so it shouldn't be a deal-breaker.
                      >
                      > Larry Bump
                      > Elder, RPCNA
                      >
                      Larry,
                      I am struggling with this logic. If there are women who are being
                      recognized as deacons by the authority to which you willing choose to
                      submit to, is that not the same as acknowledging them as being
                      lawful? Even as a member, I would consider it participating by
                      acknowledging them as officers of the church, and I would consider it
                      devisive to be a member and refuse to acknowledge them.
                      Not trying to be contentious, just trying to sort it out in my head...

                      Dee Dee
                    • Larry Bump
                      ... My congregation does not have them, so it s a non-problem. Even in one that does, the Deacons are not thought to have *authority* so one cannot fail to
                      Message 10 of 10 , May 20 9:15 PM
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                        nocost2great wrote:
                        > Larry,
                        > I am struggling with this logic. If there are women who are being
                        > recognized as deacons by the authority to which you willing choose to
                        > submit to, is that not the same as acknowledging them as being
                        > lawful? Even as a member, I would consider it participating by
                        > acknowledging them as officers of the church, and I would consider it
                        > devisive to be a member and refuse to acknowledge them.
                        > Not trying to be contentious, just trying to sort it out in my head...
                        >

                        My congregation does not have them, so it's a non-problem.
                        Even in one that does, the Deacons are not thought to have *authority*
                        so one cannot fail to acknowledge any authority.
                        Deacons are pretty much "trustees" in the RPCNA. That's part of the
                        problem with women deacons, it caused the office to be weakened to the
                        point of uselessness.

                        The fact the a congregation in Kansas has women deacons means absolutely
                        nothing to me, and need not mean anything to anyone in any congregation.

                        As far as being divisive, it is only actions that are divisive. I don't
                        tear "Deacon" name-tags off of them, so it really never comes up.
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