Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Terminological Clarifications

Some people have asked me to clarify my views with regard to three terms/phrases used to describe the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  Two of these terms/phrases I have used in my writings.  I am not aware if I have used the third.  But I thought it would be helpful, with regard to all three terms/phrases, to clarify what I mean (or at least would mean if I used them) and what I don't mean by them.

"sinful in its worship" - I don't currently recall ever using this particular phrase in my writings to describe the OPC's worship, but certainly the phrase is true in some sense, while false in others.  If by "sinful in its worship," we simply mean that the OPC sanctions aspects of worship that are contrary to the commands of God, then I do think the OPC is, in part, sinful in its worship.  I hold, for example, that the singing of uninspired hymns in the worship of God is contrary to the regulative principle and thus the commands of God, and yet the OPC sanctions such singing.  However, if by "sinful in its worship" we mean that the OPC is violating the commands of God in all aspects of its worship, or that it is violating the commands of God intentionally, or that it is sinful to worship in OPC congregations, I have made and would make no such claims.

"schismatic" - I have used this term to describe the OPC.  When I say the OPC is "schismatic," I mean simply that it currently maintains certain positions and practices which are inappropriate (such as sanctioning hymn-singing in public worship) and which are creating unnecessary and inappropriate barriers to unity with other denominations.  I don't mean to say that the OPC is intentionally doing this, or that it is not a part of the Body of Christ.

"has no right to separate existence from the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland" - I have used this phrase to describe the OPC, or similar phrases.  What I mean by it is that the OPC ought to be united in formal communion with the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and that it is inappropriate for it to be divided from the FPCS.  I do not mean to say that the OPC has no right to exist in any sense, or that it is always wrong to be joined in formal communion with the OPC, or that the OPC has no authority as a church in any sense.  I do think that the fact that the OPC is inappropriately separated from the FPCS means that, when possible, individuals ought to be united to the FPCS in formal communion and not to the OPC.  However, I recognize that in situations where it is not possible to be joined to the FPCS, it is at least sometimes permissible to be joined in formal communion with the OPC.  That is my current thinking, and my current practice, as I myself am currently a member of the OPC.

More on my views regarding these subjects can be found here and here.

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