Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Implication of FP Churches in Other Nations

A little while back, a commenter on another post called my attention to a brief statement in the FP Religion and Morals Committee report from 2011.  The statement occurs in an introductory paragraph to the second part of the report (found on p. 11) explaining why the Religion and Morals Committee decided to focus in its report on the state of morals and religion in Scotland rather than reporting conditions in other countries as well:

This part of the report is generally confined to a consideration of the state of religion and morals in Scotland. It is in Scotland that the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland lays express claim in her constitution to the rights and privileges of the historic established relation with the State. Scotland is also the country in which our Presbyterial structures have a complete and biblical form with a supreme court of review. The Committee believes that this Presbyterial structure is the model for Church government in every nation and that our presence as a Church in other nations implies that we aim at fully established Presbyterian structures within these nations. The Committee would welcome separate reports on religion and morals to be sent to the Synod from Overseas Presbyteries.

The FPCS has churches (and even sometimes entire presbyteries) in nations other than Scotland.  I mentioned in an earlier post that if the FPCS formally recognized the jurisdiction of other denominations in other nations, this would be at worst a blatantly schismatic act and at best a highly irregular situation, because if there are de jure churches in these other nations, what business does the FP church have in coming over and setting up rival congregations?

This statement from the report clarifies that the existence of FP churches in other nations is not an anomaly, but that it "implies that we aim at fully established Presbyterian structures within these nations."  That is, there is a larger goal of establishing more congregations, presbyteries, and eventually national synods in these countries.  Of course, there are already plenty of Presbyterian and Reformed churches, presbyteries, and general assemblies in some of these nations (such as the United States), but these churches have sufficient problems in terms of doctrine and practice (though many of them are quite faithful in most areas) that the FPCS cannot at this time embrace them in full communion, and so there is the goal of establishing other national Presbyterian churches with which the FPCS could be in full communion.  Since the unity of the one visible church of Christ is an absolute duty, the ultimate goal is to see the world full of orthodox national churches in different nations who are all in full formal communion with and committed to mutual presbyterial submission to each other.

For more, see here.

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