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WHY THE PCA IS NOT A DULY CONSTITUTED CHURCH

and Why Faithful Christians Should Separate From This Corrupt "Communion"


Two letters from Larry Birger, Jr. to the session of his former congregation in the PCA, with-19

Summary of Our Refusal To Return and Stand Trial----39


Preface To The Second Edition

It appears already (only six months after the first edition) that our gracious God has been pleased to use this little work to stir up his faithful ones, including some in the Presbyterian Church in America. I praise him for the high honor of being used in some small way to help his people rediscover the "old paths" wherein is rest for our souls (Jer. 6:16)! It is becoming sadly evident that the slanders and perversions of Scripture and history that I received from my former elders are similar to what others are facing as they throw off the yokes of incompetent and even tyrannical ecclesiastical "oversight". As a result of this and because of feedback from readers, I have modified this edition in hopes of making it more useful.

To allow for quick reference and overview I have inserted an index before the historical introduction. In this index (and at the appropriate points in the letters themselves) I have summarized my former elders' charges against me in their correspondence of January 20, 1996; these are numbered here as they were in their original letter. Also indexed are important topics covered, which likewise may be found in the body of this work. In the first of my two letters below (that dated Feb. 1, 1996) I am responding point by point to the charges in their January 20 correspondence. (I have included the summary of their letter in its entirety right before the index, deeming it helpful for the reader to see the charges all together, and not broken up as they are in the index.)

I hope these changes will help the reader understand better himself, and assist those who genuinely wish to understand true historic reformed theology and practice. I also wish to provide him with a concise reference to deal effectively with the misinterpretations and slanders of those who oppose the truth. I have been greatly helped by friends (and writers of the past) as they have taught me the truth and how to contend earnestly for it, and my desire and prayer is to pass these valuable lessons on to others.

Finally, I must comment briefly on the vocabulary employed in this work, and on the tone used in my longer letter (Feb. 1, 1996). I have received some complaint that the level of writing in these letters is above the average reader, and this concern had much to do with producing the current edition. I also want to ensure (though I have not received any complaint about my tone) that I not be misunderstood or misleading by the sharp tone I used at times in my longer letter. For both of these matters I ask the reader to keep in mind the original context in which I was writing.

I had spent a considerable effort (in writing) prior to the letter of February 1, 1996, attempting to explain and defend my newly discovered "old paths" of the Covenanter truths. I had gone out of my way to be gracious and respectful in tone and hoped in citing various reformed writers to convince my former elders to consider carefully the Covenanter position which I was still mastering myself. The pastor of my former church is an intelligent, articulate and quick-witted man; he was the spokesman for the elders. His responses were generally arrogant, at times caustic, and were filled with logical fallacies, historical distortions, and gross misrepresentations of our position. In the several months I corresponded and plead with them, he frequently maligned my character and sholastic abilities (and outrightly lied about me, in writing, to a third party), but never once substantially addressed the historical and scriptural arguments and citations I raised. Thus, my writing was directed primarily at his responses, and my aim (especially in the letter of Feb. 1, 1996) was to refute him thoroughly.

With this in mind, it is appropriate to comment on the approach the Scriptures would have us take in communicating the truths of the Covenanter position to others. Our tone and demeanor must always be appropriate to the situation and the hearer (Eph. 4:29; 2 Tim. 2:24-25), and we must do all we can to guarantee that if someone is offended at our position it is actually the truth they find obnoxious, and not our own pride, unnecessary harshness, etc. Having said this, we must also realize that it is necessary at times to rebuke forcefully and sharply those who are opposing the truth ("For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped," Tit. 1:10-11), even those we account to be dear brethren ("Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith," Tit. 1:13; cf. Gal. 2:11). Our society has adopted an ungodly politeness that trains us to avoid offense at any cost, rather than speaking the truth plainly out of love for our neighbors, which will many times bring us into very uncomfortable situations. The apostle Paul, and men like Luther, Knox, and Calvin did not shy away from this biblical love, following the example of their Lord in speaking "the gospel of God with much contention" (1 Thes. 2:2; cf. chapter 5, "The Use of Plain Speech", in Kevin Reed's forthcoming work, John Knox: The Forgotten Reformer.).

Clearly, then, we must strive for a godly balance. We must take great pains to win men over by telling them with kind and gracious speech the pointed and unpopular truths which grate against our fallen natures, remembering always that apart from God's mercy we ourselves would rage (and perhaps once did rage) against these truths. If they dig in their heels, and persistently and obstinately oppose the truth, then we must love them, the truth of God, and others observing enough to rebuke and refute them. If they refuse to be won over, they must be knocked over, in the hopes that by humiliation they will be reclaimed; and, if not, that their wicked speech will be silenced and the faithful encouraged at the triumph of the truth over error. May God grant us growth in wisdom, that we may "learn the old paths, wherein is rest for our souls" (Jer. 6:16) and may "speak the truth in love, growing up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:15).

For Christ's Crown and Covenant,

Larry Birger, Jr.

May 4, 1997


Summary of Elders' Letter of January 20, 1996


1. Contrary to the reformers, your separation was based on unclear and minor points, "which depend upon presupposition and several degrees of deduction for their validity." Your separation, unlike the reformers, was not done under ordained leadership. Although you found some ministers and elders who gave qualified support to your actions, their support was obtained only after we the elders challenged you to find someone ordained who agreed with you. Thus, you have not been under ordained oversight in this decision, but have acted on your own.

2. We the elders have shown our willingness to study your concerns on worship issues, and to accommodate you in the meantime. You, however, refuse to work with us to resolve the situation. You also are not following Matthew 18:15ff, which is God's prescribed means of dealing with perceived sin. This shows that you refuse to work for the peace and purity of Christ's church.

3. You appear to be acting on the implicit faith condemned by the Westminster Confession (20:2). We assert this because Larry did not demonstrate the biblical support for your charge that the PCA is not duly constituted, and your intention to break your membership vow. About the best you could do was to demand that we phone certain men who we believe have misled you. If you were really obeying the Scripture, you could defend your position from your own appeal to it.

4. You state you have historical precedent for your separation, which we deny. Even if this is true, however, you cannot cite any biblical precedent. If you read Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, you will see that although God's people were sometimes overrun with idolatry God never commands the faithful to separate from them. Likewise, in the New Testament the churches at Corinth, Galatia, and some of those addressed in Revelation 2-3 evidence serious sin and error. Again, though, God does not command separation from them and does not unchurch them as you have done with our congregation and with the PCA. It seems very inconsistent that you who will not sing uninspired hymns will yet base your current radical course on the actions of uninspired men, and not worship according to the clear dictates of the inspired Word of God. You should remember that the regulative principle of worship applies "not only to elements of worship, but to worship as a whole, to ecclesiology, and to the whole of life (Rom 12:1,2; Col 3:17)."

5. We call you to consider your conscience. Are you as exceedingly sensitive about the heart attitudes of worship and about keeping the moral law as you claim you are about mere externals in worship? We cannot read your hearts, but it seems to us that you focus intensely upon externals and care very little for the weightier matters of the law.

Closing paragraph) We your elders direct you to return immediately to worship with our congregation. In giving this command we are not asking you to go against your conscience, because we already told you we will accommodate your concerns about psalms and instrumental accompaniment while we study this issue with you. Moreover, liberty of conscience can be a front for disobedience to legitimate ecclesiastical authority (Westminster Confession 20:4). The Bible says that those who separate seek their own desire (Prov. 18:1).


Index

Note: Numbered items below are from my former elders' letter of January 20, 1996, which I answer point by point in my long letter of Feb. 1, 1996. (The page numbers are for the printed version, and most likely will not correspond to the version on the web.)

Majoring on minors, uncharitable fault-finding. Dabney on the universal position of the church concerning musical accompaniment. Calvin -- musical accompaniment equals burying the light of the gospel. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----------------------13

Biblically required functions of the church in her organizational capacity. Living up to prior sanctification of the church. Unity in the Truth, not in organization.---------------------------------15

Constitutional issues reasons for separating. Separation necessary in order truly to uphold our membership vows.----------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------17

PCA are the true separatists and schismatics. They must return to us: we cannot return to them (Jer. 15:19).--------------------------------------------------------------------- -----------------------------19

We cannot return until they return to the Covenanted Reformation. List of some changes required in keeping with the Covenanted Reformation.-----------------------------------------------------------19

1. Contrary to the reformers, your separation was based on unclear and minor points, "which depend upon presupposition and several degrees of deduction for their validity."------------------22

1. (cont.) Your separation, unlike the reformers, was not done under ordained leadership. Although you found some ministers and elders who gave qualified support to your actions, their support was obtained only after we the elders challenged you to find someone ordained who agreed with you. Thus, you have not been under ordained oversight in this decision, but have acted on your own.------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------23

2. We the elders have shown our willingness to study your concerns on worship issues, and to accommodate you in the meantime. You, however, refuse to work with us to resolve the situation.------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------23

2. (cont.) You also are not following Matthew 18:15ff, which is God's prescribed means of dealing with perceived sin. This shows that you refuse to work for the peace and purity of Christ's church.--------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------24

The elders' hypocrisy in their commanding us to address our grievances in their church courts, while themselves failing to proceed judicially against the numerous sins tolerated and practiced in the PCA.------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------24

3. You appear to be acting on the implicit faith condemned by the Westminster Confession (20:2). We assert this because Larry did not demonstrate the biblical support for your charge that the PCA is not duly constituted, and your intention to break your membership vow. About the best you could do was to demand that we phone certain men who we believe have misled you. If you were really obeying the Scripture, you could defend your position from your own appeal to it.---------24

4. You state you have historical precedent for your separation, which we deny. Even if this is true, however, you cannot cite any biblical precedent. If you read Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, you will see that although God's people were sometimes overrun with idolatry God never commands the faithful to separate from them.-----------------------------------------------------------------26

Hypocrisy of the elders' charges of separatism and schism, since they themselves are members of a church that, given their principles, should not have separated from the PCUS. Protestants have all separated from Rome, so there must exist valid reasons for separation.----------------------26,33

4. (cont.) Likewise, in the New Testament the churches at Corinth, Galatia, and some of those addressed in Revelation 2-3 evidence serious sin and error. Again, though, God does not command separation from them and does not unchurch them as you have done with our congregation and with the PCA. It seems very inconsistent that you who will not sing uninspired hymns will yet base your current radical course on the actions of uninspired men, and not worship according to the clear dictates of the inspired Word of God.-------------------------------------------------------27

Biblical commands to separate from corrupt churches.-------------------------------------------------27

PCA are actually the schismatics and separatists. PCA "unchurched" because they fail to work for the truth, not against it.------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------28

4. (cont.) You should remember that the regulative principle of worship applies "not only to elements of worship, but to worship as a whole, to ecclesiology, and to the whole of life (Rom 12:1,2; Col 3:17)."--------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------28

5. We call you to consider your conscience. Are you as exceedingly sensitive about the heart attitudes of worship and about keeping the moral law as you claim you are about mere externals in worship? We cannot read your hearts, but it seems to us that you focus intensely upon externals and care very little for the weightier matters of the law.-------------------------------------------------29

Charges that the position is that of the Donatists and Anabaptists.------------------------------------30

Distinction between the church's essence and her lawful form is a false pretext for separation.---30

Hypocrisy of their charge of neglecting the weightier matters of the law shown by their own scandalous practices.------------------------------------------------------------------ ----------------------31

Calvin on worshiping at home, rather than in unlawfully constituted churches.---------------------32

Closing paragraph) We your elders direct you to return immediately to worship with our congregation . In giving this command we are not asking you to go against your conscience, because we already told you we will accommodate your concerns about psalms and instrumental accompaniment while we study this issue with you. Moreover, liberty of conscience can be a front for disobedience to legitimate ecclesiastical authority (Westminster Confession 20:4).-------------33

Closing paragraph, cont.) The Bible says that those who separate seek their own desire (Prov. 18:1).---------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------33

Citations from the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant proving that if the PCA's teachers did not cease publicly teaching their errors and violating the regulative principle, they would have been excommunicated and subject to civil punishment.----------------------------------34

National Covenant quotes regarding the "unchurching" of the PCA.---------------------------------35

Overview of lawful authority, and the believer's duty to submit to it for conscience sake.---------39

Unlawful authority is not the ordinance of God, and therefore cannot be submitted to for conscience sake without disobeying God.----------------------------------------------------------------39

Not all authority requiring our subjection is actually lawful. Marks of the church are the tests by which we are to determine whether authority in the church is lawful.---------------------------------40

Ordination of unduly constituted denominations cannot confer lawful authority to those she ordains (James 3:11).---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------40

PCA has remnants of the reformed faith taught and practiced in her, but she is nonetheless unduly constituted because she is flagrantly and habitually working to undermine the truth. Therefore, we cannot submit to the commands of her officers without disobeying God.----------------------------40

Distinction between the church's essence and her lawful form or constitution. As to essence, the PCA contains a true church; but as to lawful form, she is not a true church. Discussion of "lawful" versus "valid". PCA is not lawful, but she is in some sense valid in her ministrations.-----------41

Rejection of Anabaptistic perfectionism. Church must be faithful, not perfect, in order to commune with her.------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------42

Can meet with the elders as men, though can't meet with them as elders (i.e. in any way requiring me to recognize their alleged lawful authority).----------------------------------------------------------42


Historical Introduction


I and my family were formerly members of a small, conservative congregation in the denomination known as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The following letters, sent in February and September of 1996, were part of my explanation and justification of our separation from them and from the PCA. The earlier letter (about two-thirds of which is reproduced here) marked the climax of my attempts to convince the session [1] of that church of their departure, both congregationally and denominationally, from the biblical presbyterianism of the Protestant reformation, especially that most consistently practiced and creedally expressed by the Church of Scotland (in her purest times) and by the Westminster Standards [2], respectively. The later letter was a concise recapitulation of our position and a final testimony against the session's wicked, (then) impending excommunication of us for refusing to return and submit to their alleged ecclesiastical authority [3].

We became members of this local body (and of the PCA-- we formerly had been members of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) in September, 1994. Although we did reap some benefit during our time there, it became apparent fairly early on that whatever salutary things might be said, we were not of the same mind and the same judgment (I Cor. 1:10). In the ensuing months I was increasingly aggravated by this disjunction, and in the Fall of 1995 I began to have grave concerns about our participation in her corrupted worship (as well about the spiritual safety of submitting my household to the leadership of this congregation, and of the denomination). Accordingly, we abstained from attending worship services there due to their acts of public idolatry-- viz., the use of uninspired hymns (though they also sang Psalms and Psalm paraphrases) and the employment of instrumental accompaniment [4]. This separation was spurred in part by an awakening to the issue of "Nicodemism" (dissembling), as addressed by John Calvin in his tract, On Shunning the Unlawful Rites of the Ungodly, and discussed in Carlos Eire's, War Against the Idols.

Majoring on minors, uncharitable fault-finding. Dabney on the universal position of the church concerning musical accompaniment. Calvin -- musical accompaniment equals burying the light of the gospel.

My initial notification of the pastor regarding our abstention and its justification met with incredulous disdain. Our decision (according to him [5]) entailed "a course of action so patently in violation of the clear and extensive teaching of Scripture with respect to the nature of the church," and was "based upon an obsessive determination to dogmatize and elevate to an echelon of supreme importance certain unclear minutiae of Scripture." This notwithstanding the following quotes from R. L. Dabney and John Calvin concerning the Scripture's clarity on the issue of instrumental accompaniment, and the supremely important biblical principles and ramifications entailed:

The author [John L. Girardeau, in his work, Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church] in his eloquent conclusion anticipates that some will meet his arguments with sneers rather than serious discussion, which he proposes to endure with Christian composure. It is a reproach to our church, which fills us with grief, to find this prediction fulfilled in some quarters. Surely persons calling themselves Presbyterians should remember that the truths they profess to hold sacred have usually been in small minorities sneered at by the arrogant majorities. So it was in the days of the Reformers, of Athanasius, of the Apostles, and of Jesus Himself.

The resort to this species of reply appears the more ill-considered, when we remember that Dr. Girardeau is supporting the identical position held by all the early reformers, by a Chalmers, a Mason, a Breckenridge, a Thornwell, and by a Spurgeon. Why is not the position as respectable in our author as in all this galaxy of true Presbyterians? Will the innovators claim that all these great men are so inferior to themselves? The idea seems to be that the opposition of all these great men to organs as simply out of their ignorant old-fogyism and lack of culture; while our advocacy of the change is the result of our superior intelligence, learning and refinement. The ignorance of this overweening conceit makes it simply vulgar. These great men surpassed all who have succeeded them in elegant classical scholarship, in logical ability, and in theological learning. Their depreciators should know that they surpassed them just as far in all elegant culture. The era of the Reformation was the Augustan age of church art in architecture, painting and music. These reformed divines were graduates of the first Universities, most of them gentlemen by birth, many of them noblemen, denizens of courts, of elegant accomplishments and manners, not a few of them exquisite poets and musicians. But they unanimously rejected the Popish Church music; not because they were fusty old pedants without taste, but because a refined taste concurred with their learning and logic to condemn it. . . . Every act of public cultus not positively enjoined by [God] is thereby forbidden. Christ and His apostles ordained the musical worship of the New Dispensation without any sort of musical instrument, enjoining only the singing with the voice of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Hence such instruments are excluded from Christian worship. Such has been the creed of all churches, and in all ages, except for the Popish communion after it had reached the nadir of its corruption at the end of the thirteenth century, and of its prelatic imitators [6].

We are to remember that the worship of God was never understood to consist in such outward services, which were only necessary to help forward a people as yet weak and rude in knowledge in the spiritual worship of God. A difference is to be observed in this respect between his people under the Old and under the New Testament; for now that Christ has appeared, and the church has reached full age, it were only to bury the light of the gospel should we introduce the shadows of a departed dispensation. From this it appears that the Papists, as I shall have occasion to show elsewhere, in employing instrumental music cannot be said so much to imitate the practice of God's ancient people as to ape it in a senseless and absurd manner, exhibiting a silly delight in that worship of the Old Testament which was figurative and terminated with the gospel [7].
Biblically required functions of the church in her organizational capacity. Living up to prior sanctification of the church. Unity in the Truth, not in organization. As important as these issues are, however, my initial sense-- confirmed and cemented by further study-- was that membership in this congregation, and in the PCA at all, was spiritually dangerous and sinful. Notable scriptural teachings which led to this conclusion are: the nature and function of the church (John 4:23-24; 21:15-17; Matt. 5:13-16; 18-15-20; 28:19; Acts 1:8, 2:32; I Cor. 11:23-34; Is. 44:6-8); the need for the church (like individual believers [8]) to live up to that light which God has graciously granted her thus far in her corporate sanctification (Eph. 4:13-15; Phil. 3:16; Rev. 2:25); the paramount importance of unity in the truth (and not simply in name or organizational ties; Amos 3:3; Eph. 4:3-5) [9]; and the jealous indignation of God promised upon those who "again break [His] commandments, and join in affinity with the people of the these abominations [from which God had granted marvelous deliverance]" (Ezra 9:13-14; that is, those who join in unlawful confederations). Additionally, there is the requirement of Christ's sheep to hear His voice, and follow Him only, walking in the footsteps of the flock (Song of Solomon 1:7-8; John 10:3-5). These are each worthy of extended treatment, and have been considered and expounded ably elsewhere [10]. Correspondingly, my communications with our former session moved beyond the two worship issues, as will be evident below. Sadly, none of these issues was addressed materially, but aspersions were cast upon our characters, the quality of my scholarship, and our motivations and sincerity, and many misconstruals of our position and past actions were presented to our former congregation [11]. Finally, as indicated, on September 14 we were "deliver[ed]. . . over to Satan", in hopes that the "use [of] this most severe form of discipline [would] teach them [i.e. us], and [would] teach us all, not to sin (I Cor. 5:5)."

This brief history, then, explains the stiff tone in the first correspondence below. It had not always been so: my earlier communications were quite mild in tone (as is, I believe, my final letter to them, included below), but the arguments and scriptural and historical evidences presented therein were ignored (and the responses given were quite uncharitable), calling for a more stern address. My aims in presenting these extracts and biographical information are to introduce the reader to classic Protestant (biblical) teachings, to steer him away from sinful and spiritually dangerous associations with denominations like the PCA, and to provoke him to further, fruitful study. I would also forewarn him of what may lie ahead (though I hope not) should he begin to challenge his leadership with their ignorance and violations of these biblical principles [12].

Constitutional issues reasons for separating. Separation necessary in order truly to uphold our membership vows.

Finally, although clear in the following letters, it deserves emphasizing here that our reasons for leaving this congregation and the PCA were constitutional issues (cf. Calvin's Institutes, 4:2.12), not matters of the sins of individuals. We denounce (with Calvin, Knox, and the other reformers) mad Anabaptistic notions regarding the "perfection" required of the church, and deny these abominable ideas as any biblical basis for separation. We believe wholeheartedly in the unity of Christ's church, the vital importance of a sound ministry for her edification, and the unique blessing of fellowship with God and His people in corporate worship. Because we do believe these things, and because we have vowed to the Lord our God to promote the purity and peace of His church, we found it necessary to rebuke and plead with (and separate from, Rom. 16:17; II Thess. 3:6,14-15) those who made the same vows, but who, according to the light of Scripture and our reformed fathers, were working against them, and who were allied with a whole denomination bent on the destruction of biblical presbyterianism. For,

we therefore conclude that among the godly the communion of the church ought not to extend so far that, if it degenerates into profane and corrupted rites, they have to follow it headlong [13].
And,
As long as church officers can neglect their duties with impunity; as long as men can violate their ordination vows without fear of rebuke or discipline; as long as elders and deacons are permitted to become outspoken critics of orthodoxy; then it would sin for us to submit to their leadership, or any government in the P.C.A. Instead, it is the obligation of the true sheep of Christ to follow the voice of the Chief Shepherd; for 'a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him.' . . . As long as the P.C.A. courts openly shelter such heresies; and as long as they fail to conduct the judicial business which is appropriate to ecclesiastical courts; we have a clear demonstration that the P.C.A. is Presbyterian neither in form, nor in substance; and we have no obligation to recognize the P.C.A. judicatories as legitimate courts of the Church of the Lord Jesus [14].
This work is emitted by way of testimony against the defections from the reformation of the true religion granted by God in ages past, in hopes of playing some small part in the edification of God's people currently languishing under such defected and defecting denominations. Therefore, I have not received, nor will I receive, any royalties from it. All revenue obtained will go to the publishers, Still Waters Revival Books, as just recompense for their work (Deut. 25:4; I Cor. 9:7). All emphases were in the original letters. Personal references in the originals have been replaced by generic language. Editorial comments are enclosed in brackets.

For Christ's Crown and Covenant,

Larry Birger, Jr. November 4 , 1996


Footnotes for introduction

[1] For those not familiar with Presbyterian terminology, a "session" consists of the ruling elders and teaching elder (pastor) in an individual congregation.

[2] These standards were the fruit of the "covenanted uniformity in religion betwixt the churches of Christ in the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland." Those kingdoms, at the levels of church, state, and individual, had sworn the Solemn League and Covenant, which Covenant called for, among other things, "endeavour[ing] to bring the Churches of God in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, confession of faith, form of church-government, directory for worship and catechising; that we, and our posterity after us, may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us." These creedal productions were all completed, by God's marvelous grace: the Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, the Directory for the Public Worship of God, and the Form of Presbyterial Church-Government and of Ordination of Ministers. They may be found in one volume (along with other materials, such as the Solemn League and Covenant), which is published by Free Presbyterian Publications, and is available from Still Waters Revival Books (along with the other titles referenced in this introduction).

[3] We were officially excommunicated for contumacy on September 14, 1996. We were judged contumacious "1) by the Birgers' refusal to join their brethren in corporate worship. . . despite the appeals and admonitions of the Session and their own church membership vows, which oblige them so to gather in worship, 2) by the contemptuous wording and tone employed in the Birgers' correspondence with the Session, 3) by the reckless, serious, and groundless accusations which the Birgers have brought against the Session, not in due order of formal complaint, supported by specified charges in the open courts of the Church, but in informal correspondence, and 4) by the Birgers' refusal to submit to lawful trial on warranted charges against them when twice summoned by the Session to appear for such trial in an open judicatory of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ." Though they enumerated these 4 points, the main evidence of our contumacy, repeated again and again, was "the refusal of Larry and Jennifer Birger to submit to lawful ecclesiastical trial on the charge of schism."

Respecting this enumeration, the reader may judge for himself the truth of point 2, and he that is familiar with the teachings of the reformers (or he who simply gives a fair consideration of the evidence I've adduced) may quickly determine whether our allegations ("reckless, serious, and groundless accusations") of what the reformers' opinions of the PCA would be ring true. The other accusations clearly beg the question, which question is: Is the PCA a lawfully constituted church? If not, then we could not return for worship without partaking in the sins of the PCA, and putting ourselves in the way of her plagues (Rev. 18:4), and we could not operate through their "courts", for to do so would be to forfeit our position-- that there do not exist lawful church courts in an unlawfully constituted denomination.

[4] It may seem harsh and unreasonable to refer to these types of infractions as "public idolatry", but I am only employing the same reasoning the Lord Jesus used when he condemned sinful anger as murder and lustful thoughts as adultery (Matt. 5). The second commandment has been expounded in what is commonly referred to as the "regulative principle", and it teaches that "the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture" (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 21:1). In other words, the light of nature shows us that there is a God and thatHe is to be worshipped; God shows in the Bible how He is to be worshipped. Assuming the correctness of this exposition of the second commandment, it follows that any violation of the regulative principle is a type or species of idolatry. Certainly, all instances of idolatry are not equally crass or extreme, but neither are all instances of adultery or murder (or any other violation of God's law). And, I believe it can be noted with sobering accuracy that of all God's commandments, He has exhibited a singular zeal and jealousy for the purity of His worship.

[5] In his written response. All our communications were in writing, with the exception of one meeting between the session and me in January, 1996.

[6] From Dabney's review of Girardeau's book. This quote (except for a small portion here added) was included in my initial notification of the pastor. Note especially what Dabney says about the exclusion of instruments being "the creed of all churches, and in all ages," and compare it with the retort I received (from one professing to be a great admirer of Dabney), that such a position is one of ". . . certain unclear minutiae of Scripture."

[7] Girardeau, ibid., p. 64, (emphases mine) citing Calvin's comments on Psalm 92:1. I included this quote in my reply to our former pastor's incredulous response to our initial notification; many more like it could be adduced. Notice that Calvin considers the issue as nothing less than a burying of the light of the Gospel. This is because any resurrection of any portion of the typical worship of the Levitical priesthood is a denial that Christ came in the flesh (compare Heb. 7:12--10:39 with I John 4:2-3), for it is a return to rites of anticipation, to the shadows rather than to the substance. With His coming in the flesh, all such shadows were fulfilled and their use in worship was thereby abrogated.

[8] The Bible teaches that the church is one moral person, organically united across temporal and national boundaries; e.g., Ps. 66:6; Hos. 12:4; Gal. 3:23-25; 4:3. This was recognized by our reformed forefathers as well. For instance, the Westminster Confession of Faith (Ch. 25, "Of the Church") teaches, "the catholick or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. The visible church, which is also catholick or universal under the gospel. . . consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children. . . ."

[9] "Let us therefore remember that whenever church unity is commended to us, this is required: that while our minds agree in Christ, our wills should also be joined with mutual benevolence in Christ. Paul, therefore, while urging us to it, takes it as his foundation that 'there is . . . one God, one faith, and one baptism' [Eph. 4:5]. Indeed, wherever Paul teaches us to feel the same and will the same, he immediately adds, 'in Christ' [Phil. 2:1,5] or 'according to Christ' [Rom. 15:5]. He means that apart from the Lord's Word there is not an agreement of believers but a faction of wicked men" (Calvin, Institutes, Book 4, Chapter 2, section 5; emphases added).

[10] On the nature and function of the church, see Calvin's, Institutes, Book 4, chapters 1 and 2; The Divine Right of Church Government (Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici), by sundry ministers of Christ within the city of London (1646). On the responsibility of the church to live up to the light God has given her, see John Brown of Wamphrey's, An Apologetical Relation, Section 15; esp. pp. 145-146 (Brown of Wamphrey was a disciple of Samuel Rutherfurd). Regarding unity in the truth, see again the Institutes, 4:1-2; also, Terms of Church Union and Communion (Strictures on Dr. John M. Mason's Plea for Sacramental Communion on Catholic Principles), by James Chrystie. Concerning unlawful confederations, see George Gillespie's, A Treatise of Miscellany Questions, Ch. XIV, ". . . Concerning Associations and Confederacies with Idolaters, Infidels, Heretics, or Any Other Known Enemies of Truth and Godliness"; The Solemn League and Covenant, Article II; Apologetical Relation, Section 15, p. 151, under point 5; "A Testimony Against Prominent Errors of Our Times," esp. pp. 18-21 and 27-32. On the duty of the sheep to hear and to follow their Shepherd's voice, see appendix A, "The Reformers' Use of John 10," in Kevin Reed's Presbyterian Government in Extraordinary Times; Strictures On Occasional Hearing, by James Douglas; "A Testimony Against Prominent Errors of Our Times". All of these (except the hardcopy format of "A Testimony Against Prominent Errors of Our Times"--see note 12) are available from Still Waters Revival Books: (780) 450-3730; email: swrb@swrb.com ; mailing address: 4710 37A Ave., Edmonton, AB T6L-3T5 Canada.

[11] The "Report of Church Censure" (declaring us "suspended from the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, until [we] give satisfactory evidence of repentance," for our alleged contumacy) of Saturday, 4-20-96, read to the congregation, contained numerous falsehoods, misquotations, or uncharitable constructions of our words, motives, and actions. One example of these is their "quotation" from our letter of Feb 1 (the long letter below): "The tone of their communication may be gathered by their [my emphasis] referring to the Session as being, '...repugnant and obstinate maintainers of Popish idolatry and heresy....' The actual quote reads, "Gentlemen, are you aware, and does it not discomfit you, that Rutherfurd, Gillespie, the Westminster Assembly, and the entire Scottish Church at that time would all consider you (if unrepentant) to be repugnant and obstinate maintainers of Popish idolatry and heresy, and would condemn you and seek civil punishment for your errors?" Thus, the situation was portrayed as though we ourselves (and not our Presbyterian forefathers) had baldly (and not with nearly 1 1/2 pages of citations) asserted this against them, and contemptuously at that (when actually we were fairly well pleading with them); not to mention that this assertion about the elders was based upon a condition -- "if unrepentant"-- grievously true to date.

[12] Sadly, that the leadership in the church is found to be ignorant of basic biblical principles is no new phenomenon (e.g. Is. 9:16; Jer. 23: 15ff.; 50:6; Zeph. 3:4; Hos. 4:6; Mal. 2:7-8; Matt. 15:14; John 3:10).

[13] Calvin, Institutes, 4:2.9

[14] "A Testimony Against Prominent Errors of Our Times," pp. 23, 25; emphasis original. This work is available (electronically) free on Still Waters Revival Books' web page: http://www.connect.ab.ca/~swrb/ and in print from Kevin Reed, P.O. Box 180922, Dallas, Texas 75218. I strongly encourage all readers to examine carefully this succinct but devastating work. Its method of critique applies well (obviously, with certain modifications) to other so-called Reformed denominations, like the O.P.C. and the R.P.C.N.A., enabling one to conclude that these, as well, are constitutionally unsound and have abandoned (and are even fighting against) many important truths once held valiantly by our forefathers in the faith (and thus should themselves, as denominations, be abandoned: Rom. 16:17; Matt. 16:12; I Cor. 5:11; II Thess. 2:15; 3:6,14; I Tim. 6:3-5; I Cor. 15:33; 2 John 10-11; II Chr. 19:2; Hos. 4:15-17; Pr. 19:27; Jer. 15:19; Rev. 18:4-5). Particularly sad is the case of the R.P.C.N.A., who claim the title 'Covenanter', but who seem to have little or no idea of what that title originally entailed practically and doctrinally.


Reply to Elders' Letter of January 20, 1996


February 1, 1996

Gentlemen of the session:

We have received your letter of January 20, and offer the following in reply. We regret that things have fallen out as they have, and we are grieved that it is now necessary to address a number of logical fallacies, historical distortions, both about ourselves and about the Reformers, and slanderous, uncharitable, and erroneous assessments of us and of those from whom we have received counsel. (Repentance for these, and a number of changes, enumerated on page 2 of this letter, will have to occur before we can give serious consideration of a return to your congregation.) Finally, we will provide historical evidence that your congregation and the PCA have so declined from the teachings and practices of the Second Reformation, that in fact, the Scottish Church of that time would scarcely recognize them as Reformed communions. We submit they would have regarded your session as having forfeited legitimate ministerial authority (assuming that you continued to hold to your current teachings and practices), and they would have excommunicated you as those who opposed the Reformation of the true religion. Furthermore, they would have considered persistence in your (and the PCA's) teachings and practices to be divisive, and as causing civil/societal disruption -- that is, inasmuch as many of these would have been considered thinly veiled vestiges of Popish error and idolatry -- and they would have enjoined the civil magistrate to contain the outworking of such errors, and to punish their proponents accordingly. We proffer this evidence in hopes that you will see the enormity and gravity of the situation and will, by God's grace, with us and others, repent from our departure from the truth and begin bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. We should add that in order to establish these admittedly bald assertions, one does not have to consult the writings of the Reformers at all, but only has to read the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant, as contained in the back of Free Presbyterian Publication's printing of the Westminster Standards, to see very clearly that the Scottish church and magistracy would indeed have proceeded as we've indicated: they were covenantally bound to do so.

PCA are the true separatists and schismatics. They must return to us: we cannot return to them (Jer. 15:19).

The apostle Paul commands in Rom. 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." We will touch on other similar commands below, but suffice here to bring forth the indictment against you and the PCA for your departure from the apostolic faith and practice, charges substantiated by both the Scriptures and the writings of our Reformed fathers. This has occurred in doctrine, such that there cannot and does not exist in the PCA the pure preaching of the Word and feeding of God's flock; in the administration of the Sacraments, such that thousands are no doubt eating and drinking judgment upon themselves; and in discipline, such that the whole body has become completely gangrenous and leavened: idolatry, false doctrine, false principles and methodologies, and false teachers are all tolerated to the great peril of all within the pale. It is you and the PCA (and we, though we are repenting of this great and grievous sin) who have caused the "divisions and offences", for you have gone "contrary to the doctrine which [we] have learned", as taught and practiced by the apostles, and recovered in great measure by the Reformers. As such, it is our duty in love and concern for your souls and the souls of those sitting under you to warn you that judgment is upon us and we all need to repent for our great evils. Since we all have departed, and it is you and the PCA who stubbornly continue in this departure, we must, according to God's command to Jeremiah with respect to Israel, remain firm in our position, insisting that you return unto us and to our fathers in the faith, and we must forbear returning unto you (Jer. 15:19). This departure from the truth may stem from much ignorance; however, this ignorance is the result of decades and even centuries of a wicked disregard for God's truth and a refusal to receive the love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:10).

We cannot return until they return to the Covenanted Reformation. List of some changes required in keeping with the Covenanted Reformation.

Therefore, we submit that we cannot return to your congregation and to the PCA until, in a word, she has returned to the covenanted work of reformation begun by our Scottish forefathers in the mid-1600's, the fruits of which are to be found in the (original) Westminster Confession, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directory for Public Worship, Form of Presbyterial Church Government, and Directory for Family Worship; all of which were ratified by the Scottish Church. As noted, we are ourselves currently making such a return, carefully studying these materials in light of the Scriptures, that we may return to the old paths and walk therein, finding rest for our souls (Jer. 6:16). . . . [W]e offer the following as those things which would have to take place. . . before any serious consideration can be given by us to the prospect of returning:

1) The use of ecclesiastically approved translations of both the Psalter and the Scriptures. This means the Scottish Psalter of 1650, and the Authorized Version of 1611.

2) A repudiation of uninspired hymnody, and the singing only of Psalms from the aforesaid Psalter, aforesaid Psalter, and that being done by lining them out, as detailed in the Directory for Public Worship (that all in the assembly may be edified, not simply the most part).

3) The singing of these Psalms without the Judaizing trappings of instrumental accompaniment (and the discontinuation of piano music in the service altogether), which were done away with in the abolition of the Old Covenant Temple service.

4) The rejecting of the celebration or recognition of any so-called holy-days, and the instruction and subsequent discipline of any members who refuse to cease recognizing them. This means, among other things, that your congregation's Christ-mass evening candlelight communion service would be abolished.

5) Diligent instruction and careful follow up of the respective families in the congregation with respect to family worship, as outlined in the adopting act of the Kirk of Scotland, prefixed to the Directory for Family Worship.

6) A public testimony against the education of the covenant children by any besides those professing and faithfully upholding the principles and particulars of Reformed Presbyterianism, and the admonition and (if necessary) discipline of those sending their children to such as teach contrariwise. This means first and foremost, a deep and heartfelt repentance on the part of those elders on your session currently sending their covenant children to be indoctrinated by the followers of Baal, and a similar repentance on the part of the other elders of that session who have not brought judicial action against the former for their repudiation of the covenant (Deut. 6:1-7; Matt. 18:5ff.).

7) A diligent and careful study of the principles and practices of the Scottish Church during the period of the Second Reformation, whose venerable delegates had such a preponderant influence at the Westminster Assembly.

8) An overture to those ministers and elders who are currently undertaking said study, that we might all work together to achieve unity and purity in the faith, with a view toward joining them, should God see fit not to grant repentance to the PCA in response to public witness against her (see #9). . . .

9) A public acknowledgment of the congregation's failure to uphold these and other requirements of God's Word, and a testimony against all who likewise have failed. This testimony would be published and distributed at least to all congregations and presbyteries within the PCA, and to friends of your congregation, and would include a detailed call for our brethren to repent for these grievous and many sins, and return to the work of Reformation carried on by the Scottish Church of the time of Rutherford, Gillespie, et al.

10) Judicial proceedings against all such ministers, congregations, and presbyteries in the PCA who failed to heed this call to repent and return to the truth, who continued to walk in their ways of abominable error and toleration of error. Or, alternatively, should it be deemed futile and a sinful waste of the time God has given us to do the work of Reformation (inasmuch as these sins are constitutional sins, part of the very fabric of the PCA),

11) A separation from that wholly leavened body of the PCA, and a wholehearted attempt to join with faithful, covenant-keeping ministers and elders, in the unity and purity of the truth, as they seek to recover and build upon the covenanted work of Reformation.

12) A humble acknowledgement of and repentance for the numerous slanders of and uncharitable surmisings about us and those from whom we have received counsel and instruction, and for the failure on the part of those session members not actually making these, but tacitly agreeing with them, to challenge them and so to defend our good names; some of which are touched upon below.

1. Contrary to the reformers, your separation was based on unclear and minor points, "which depend upon presupposition and several degrees of deduction for their validity."

Regarding your letter of January 20th, we note several things. First, it is incredible to us, and to those from whom we have been receiving counsel, that you have regarded and continue to regard the matters concerning congregational singing to be "relatively minor matters which are not explicit in God's Word, but which depend upon presupposition and several degrees of deduction for their validity." Suffice it to say that centuries of church teaching and practice condemn this erroneous assertion (as Larry cited earlier; see, for example, the quote by Dabney in his first letter to the pastor), and certainly the Westminster Assembly does so as well. Again, we would remind you . . . that it is simply a matter of historical fact that the Westminster divines were indeed exclusive Psalmists, and that their use of the word "psalms" (21:5) was not a "judicious" (as the pastor claimed) equivocation which would allow for either exclusive psalmody or an admixture of uninspired hymnody, but a clear setting forth of the singing of only the Psalms. For further affirmation of this assertion, see Naphtali Anthology, Vol. IV, for the article by David Hay Fleming [the eminent Scottish church historian] on the hymnody of the Scottish Reformation. Certainly these matters "depend upon presupposition"; such as the legitimacy and binding nature of Scriptural inference and deduction, the sovereign prerogative of God to dictate all matter and manner in his worship, and the depravity of man which should make us very wary of outstepping the clear boundaries he's circumscribed for us. With such presuppositions and deductions we are very content, being convinced that we must continue to hold fast and to practice them, and being convinced that they were at the heart of the apostolic teaching, the second Reformation, and the Westminster Standards.

1. (cont.) Your separation, unlike the reformers, was not done under ordained leadership. Although you found some ministers and elders who gave qualified support to your actions, their support was obtained only after we the elders challenged you to find someone ordained who agreed with you. Thus, you have not been under ordained oversight in this decision, but have acted on your own.

As far as not following any ordained leadership in our separation from your congregation, and only obtaining the "qualified endorsement" of a few ministers "as a result of [your] challenge", this is simply not true, and we challenge you to substantiate this assertion (cf. Deut. 13:14;17:4;19:18, re: diligent and careful enquiry, as well as the ninth commandment). [I here noted the various men, three of whom were ordained ministers, and another, a ruling elder, from whom we'd received ongoing counsel, which counsel we received well before the elders ever challenged us to find support from an ordained minister.]

Further, even if we wouldn't have had the counsel and approbation of [the aforementioned men], this is ultimately immaterial and an avoidance of the real issue, which is the necessity for us to flee from companions and hirelings and unto the Good Shepherd (Song of Solomon 1:7; John 10:5), for the safety of our souls and the avoidance God's judgment upon the PCA (1 Cor. 10:14; 1 John 5:21; Rev. 18:4). If what we're alleging is true, then our actions are following the ordained leadership par excellence, even the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God, speaking in His Word (Rev. 2:7, etc.). Finally, we would point out that, to our knowledge, John Calvin was never ordained. Would you have condemned following after him in similar situations? And do you condemn following after him now, for it is his teaching and the teaching of his descendants unto which we are fleeing? [cf. Come Out From Among Them: The 'Anti-Nicodemite' Writings of John Calvin, forthcoming from Protestant Heritage Press (Kevin Reed).]

2. We the elders have shown our willingness to study your concerns on worship issues, and to accommodate you in the meantime. You, however, refuse to work with us to resolve the situation.

In terms of the elders of your congregation being willing to study our grievances and to accommodate us, we refer you to the foregoing list of requirements for us to consider returning. Indeed, we have not "refuse[d] to consider working with [you] toward a solution in this matter"; nay, we have offered many heartfelt prayers to God for reconciliation between us, and have spent much time in soul searching, prayerful study of the Scriptures and the writings of the Reformers, and in counsel with the men indicated [not listed here] as to how we should proceed toward you. We continue to extend our offer to work with you in whatever way will be helpful, provided we do not sell the truth in the process (Pr. 23:23), and disobey the Lord by returning to you, when it is you who must return to us and to our Reformed fathers (Jer. 15:19).

2. (cont.) You also are not following Matthew 18:15ff, which is God's prescribed means of dealing with perceived sin. This shows that you refuse to work for the peace and purity of Christ's church.

As for your allegation that we evidence "a refusal truly to work for the peace and purity of the Church", by not following Matt. 18:15ff., you are only begging the question again; viz. does the PCA possess lawful ministerial authority? If she did, that is, if she were a lawfully constituted body, then we would be obligated to do so [i.e., obligated to handle these matters in the PCA's ecclesiastical courts; if she is a lawfully constituted church, then (and only then) does she possess church courts truly bearing Christ's authority]. As it stands, we deny, based upon the injunctions of Scripture (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:8,10; John 21:15-17; Acts 20:26-32; 1 Cor. 11:2; 1 Thess. 5:21-22; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6,14; 2 Tim. 1:13; Gal. 5:1; 1 Cor. 10:14; 1 John 5:21; 2 John 6-11; Jude 3; Rev. 2:2,5,14-16,20-23,25; 3:2-3; Ps. 139:21; Pr. 8:13; Acts 2:42; Ezra 9:13-14; Phil. 3:16), and based upon the testimony of our Reformed fathers (some of which has been adduced in prior correspondences, and some of which will be set forth below), that she possesses any such authority, and thus deny that she has any lawful courts in which to pursue these matters. So, we continue to appeal to you, as in this letter, to repent and to give careful consideration to what we've asserted, and we have provided you with individuals who can and are willing to help you in your studies. If we were not working for the peace and purity of the church we would not have responded to you and corresponded with you to the degree we have done. As it stands, we do care deeply for the church and her purity and unity, and for your souls and the souls of those under your leadership, and this has motivated our continued and fervent appeals, God bearing witness with our consciences.

The elders' hypocrisy in their commanding us to address our grievances in their church courts, while themselves failing to proceed judicially against the numerous sins tolerated and practiced in the PCA.

In your mention of "the course of dealing with perceived sin which is Scripturally prescribed (Matt. 18:15ff)," we submit that you stand self-condemned, inasmuch as if true and lawful courts do exist in the PCA, you are not fulfilling your duties and vows to uphold the Church's purity by bringing charges against the men and presbyteries who are engaged in numerous practices which you yourselves know to be wrong. Certainly, you have decried some of these [the pastor had written and distributed a tract on the subject of worship], which is commendable, but in failing to pursue the multitudes of charges you would have to carry out in redressing the plethora of evils tolerated and practiced in the PCA you make yourselves guilty of complicity, and of that arch-sin of toleration, under whose protective umbrella all other sins are nurtured and allowed to take root. Thus, while you appear zealous to enjoin us to employ the courts of the PCA to remedy "perceived sin", you yourselves demonstrate your lack of conviction that there is any efficacy in this course (Matt. 7:1ff). Further, if you are not dealing with the "perceived" sin according to Matt. 18:15ff. because it is not apparent to you, then you stand condemned on this count for your blindness in failing to recognize clear, multitudinous, and egregious abominations currently practiced in the PCA. Either way, we stand justified in our actions, for on the first count, you show yourselves to be guilty of tolerating the grossest of sins and thus require us to flee for our lives from your destructive "oversight" (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:8,10) and from the judgment of God (Rev. 18:4); on the second count, you show yourselves to be exceedingly blind and thus require us to flee from you, for "if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matt. 15:14).

3. You appear to be acting on the implicit faith condemned by the Westminster Confession (20:2). We assert this because Larry did not demonstrate the biblical support for your charge that the PCA is not duly constituted, and your intention to break your membership vow. About the best you could do was to demand that we phone certain men who we believe have misled you. If you were really obeying the Scripture, you could defend your position from your own appeal to it.

Regarding our alleged "implicit faith", we again point out a convenient double standard, for we are convinced that we have a better Scriptural grasp of why we are doing what we are doing than most if not all of the members of your congregation do for various doctrines and practices to which they hold. Further, if these members were to be addressed four-on-one and required to debate their orthodox tenets with those who were clearly strongly opposed to them [as I was in the session meeting of January 9, 1996], we submit that they, too, would be guilty of this charge of implicit faith. Furthermore, none of the men with whom we have counseled have asked or required us to believe anything implicitly, but have rather provided abundant Scriptural reasons and citations from the Reformers in support of their assertions. It was because Larry knew he would be unable to reproduce these "under fire" at the Session meeting, but knew that these Scriptural and historical warrants were cogent and abundant, that he appealed fervently to you to confer with those who could provide them. Larry's failure to meet your criteria of a sound defense does not disprove this position, nor does it make us guilty of implicit faith.

4. You state you have historical precedent for your separation, which we deny. Even if this is true, however, you cannot cite any biblical precedent. If you read Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, you will see that although God's people were sometimes overrun with idolatry God never commands the faithful to separate from them.

In point four of your letter, you claim that there is no biblical precedent for our separation. In support of this, you again reason fallaciously, and, drawing a false analogy, you overlook or ignore abundant Scriptural testimony to the contrary. You've begun by begging the very matter at issue between us: the question is, is the PCA a lawfully constituted church? There is no question that the Temple was divinely instituted and so was lawfully constituted. In addition, there was no other church in that time (the Temple was typological, which typology the New Testament church-- and certainly the PCA-- do not share), such that those who worshiped at Jeroboam's Bethel (or anywhere else) were condemned for their actions. In order to apply this parallel you must prove that the PCA possesses the only foundation of true ministerial authority, and is not rather an analogue of Bethel. She must have the pure preaching of the Word, proper administration of the Sacraments, and right and faithful ecclesiastical discipline. Yet it is abundantly clear that she fails in all of these points (see "A Testimony Against Prominent Errors of Our Times", issued by Adullam Presbyterian Church, for a more complete documentation of this; we can provide copies upon request [we later did provide them with copies of this work]); indeed, that she has been founded upon corruption and error (a corrupted distortion of the Westminster Confession of Faith and a Book of Order that sanctions idolatry). Moreover, if one assumes your principles of ecclesiastical unity, she [the PCA] is guilty of the sin separation from a church of Christ [the PCUS, now the PCUSA], regardless of the fact that she did so under leadership, for having people to lead you in sin does not justify that sin (nor does joining in their sinful separation years after the fact)-- which is exactly why we must flee, as the people needed to flee from Jeroboam's corruptions. Thus, the PCA cannot claim the original purity of divine institution as could the Temple, in which case the analogy fails.

Hypocrisy of the elders' charges of separatism and schism, since they themselves are members of a church that, given their principles, should not have separated from the PCUS. Protestants have all separated from Rome, so there must exist valid reasons for separation.

Moreover, if one assumes your principles of ecclesiastical unity, she [the PCA] is guilty of the sin separation from a church of Christ [the PCUS, now the PCUSA], regardless of the fact that she did so under leadership, for having people to lead you in sin does not justify that sin (nor does joining in their sinful separation years after the fact)-- which is exactly why we must flee, as the people needed to flee from Jeroboam's corruptions. Thus, the PCA cannot claim the original purity of divine institution as could the Temple, in which case the analogy fails.

4. (cont.) Likewise, in the New Testament the churches at Corinth, Galatia, and some of those addressed in Revelation 2-3 evidence serious sin and error. Again, though, God does not command separation from them and does not unchurch them as you have done with our congregation and with the PCA. It seems very inconsistent that you who will not sing uninspired hymns will yet base your current radical course on the actions of uninspired men, and not worship according to the clear dictates of the inspired Word of God.

This also applies to the churches in Corinth, Galatia, and those addressed in Revelation. They were all lawfully constituted bodies, having been founded by and upon the apostolic teaching. The Corinthian body evidently repented zealously after receiving Paul's various rebukes in I Corinthians; so ardently, in fact, that he had to caution them to temper their zeal. Such is not the case with the PCA. The churches in Revelation were commanded to hold fast that which they had, which the PCA has not done with the apostolic, Reformed faith, and several of them were charged by Christ and warned by Him of impending judgment for their sin of tolerating false teachers who led His servants into violations of the second commandment (eating things sacrificed to idols) and other immoralities. It is ludicrous to think that from these examples we can find any command by Christ to countenance, or to remain in, a denomination whose very constitution affirms erroneous and defective doctrines and practices, and in whom toleration of false doctrine, false teachers, and false worship are pandemic.

Biblical commands to separate from corrupt churches.

Rather, we hear his express commands to separate from such a body that is unrepentant, that has separated from the truth and sinned against the unity of the Church, which unity is based upon truth (Rom.16:17; Eph.4:5,13-14); verses that you have overlooked or ignored [N.B. The bracketed comments in the following Scripture quotations were in the original letter]: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. . . . Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. . . . But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother [how much more if any body that is called a church be unrepentant in these] be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. . . . Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. . . . Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother [much more every church that refuses to repent] that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. . . . And if any man [let alone any unrepentant church] obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. . . . If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself. . . . If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. . . . Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. . . . Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. . . . Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, The LORD liveth. For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place. Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone. . . . Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. . . . let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. . . . And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities" (Rom. 16:17; Matt. 16:12; I Cor. 5:11; II Thess. 2:15;3:6,14; I Tim. 6:3-5; I Cor. 15:33; 2 John 10-11; II Chr. 19:2; Hos. 4:15-17; Pr. 19:27; Jer. 15:19; Rev. 18:4-5).

PCA are actually the schismatics and separatists. PCA "unchurched" because they fail to work for the truth, not against it.

Thus, it is you and the PCA that are guilty of schism and separationism, inasmuch as you have departed from the truth and the advances in Reformation made by the historical, witnessing Church. It is the truth, and the historical testimony of Christ's church, which "unchurch" you of your ministerial authority, not our declaration, and to these we all shall answer if we do not repent, for we are required to hold fast the truth, and to live up to those historical attainments achieved corporately by Christ's Church.

4. (cont.) You should remember that the regulative principle of worship applies "not only to elements of worship, but to worship as a whole, to ecclesiology, and to the whole of life (Rom 12:1,2; Col 3:17)."

One other statement in point four deserves comment, the exhortation to consider the scope of the regulative principle. We certainly agree "that the regulative principle rightly applies not only to elements of worship, but to worship as a whole, [and] to ecclesiology." This is well spoken, and by God's grace, well taken. However, to assert that the regulative principle applies "to the whole of life" is to undermine this principle, and represents another instance of gross ignorance of the Scriptures and of the regulative principle as applied and defended by our Reformed fathers, and which some of them sealed with their blood. It is undeniably true that our whole lives ought to be a thank offering to God, a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2), and that whatsoever we do, we should do all unto the glory of God in Christ (Col. 3:17; I Cor. 10:31). But note that it is "whatsoever we do" that is to be done unto the glory of God; whereas, the second commandment clearly forbids us to do "whatsoever", but prescribes only what has positive Scriptural sanction be done in the worship of God. For a Presbyterian minister to make such a careless assertion, and for Presbyterian elders to endorse it, is inexcusable, and is to cut out the heart of Presbyterianism itself, substituting in its place a Popish and Arminian heart of stone.

5. We call you to consider your conscience. Are you as exceedingly sensitive about the heart attitudes of worship and about keeping the moral law as you claim you are about mere externals in worship? We cannot read your hearts, but it seems to us that you focus intensely upon externals and care very little for the weightier matters of the law.

Concerning our alleged preoccupation with externals, to the neglect of the weightier matters of the law, we make the following remarks. First, we are aware of and do diligently repent of our sin in this area. We believe firmly, as we have been taught by Greg Price, you, and the other men mentioned, that to go through the motions in worship, and not to participate with grace in the heart, is also a violation of the second commandment and a heinous sin. Thus, we lament our own abominable failings in this area, and we pray God's grace to continue to grow in His enabling power.

Our sin notwithstanding, however, these assertions we find slanderous and offensive, and anyone who knows us well, or anyone sitting in on our family worship, can attest that such vital truths are repeatedly emphasized. This kind of uncharitable misconstruction of our intentions, words, and actions (WLC, Q.145) has characterized your pastor's response to us thus far. For example, in an earlier letter he said, "Your approach and tone show marks of your being driven by self-inflated conceit rather than humble love for the truth," even as in the letter in discussion [their letter of January 20, near the beginning] we have been calumnied as proceeding from "misguided ignorance and from sinful pride. . . and not principled adherence to God's Word". Yet it has been your pastor who has time and again shown himself to be the one in ignorance, while speaking too highly of himself and speaking too meanly of us and those who have given us counsel (again, WLC, Q. 145). He has completely misunderstood and misrepresented the Reformers as to Psalmody [as noted earlier, he claimed in our January 9 meeting that the Westminster divines were "judicious" in their choice of the word "psalm" in 21:5, indicating that they allowed for both psalms and uninspired hymns in corporate worship] instrumental accompaniment (numerous examples of Reformers could be cited, and some have already been given, who affirmed that the Scriptures are very clear on this issue), their reasons for contending against the Anabaptists, [and] their position on separating from corrupt churches.... We will touch briefly on some more of these....

Charges that the position is that of the Donatists and Anabaptists.

In an earlier letter your pastor made reference to [the following] statement in Larry's December 9 correspondence to your pastoral intern: "a notable scholar of Scottish church history insists this view is not novel, but rather a cogent, consistent classical Scottish Presbyterian position; and I think I have demonstrated that it is the position of Calvin and the Westminster Confession as well." Your pastor's commentary on this was: "You are right to say that the view you have espoused is not novel. It was the view of the Donatists and of the Anabaptist radicals of the 16th century. I pity you and grieve for you and your family, whom you are misleading. You have imbibed an ancient and accursed error.". . . When Larry asked this scholar whether the position described in the December 9 letter could be called Anabaptistic, he replied that this was "ridiculous", and that anyone familiar with that period of church history would not make such an evaluation. (Another minister affirmed this when Larry spoke with him several weeks ago.) In order for your pastor's denunciations to stand, it must be demonstrated that he possesses knowledge of Scottish church history and theology equivalent to or exceeding this scholar (as well as the other men from whom we've received counsel and instruction). This demonstration is wanting, and we submit that it is your pastor, and not Larry, who is "motivated by a self-inflated conceit, " and whose "culling of the writings of these great men may have, to the unlearned, an appearance of erudition, but, in fact, . . . demonstrates an ignorance of the whole body of their writings" (your pastor's wording, from the same letter).

Distinction between the church's essence and her lawful form is a false pretext for separation.

Also in that same letter, your pastor said of Larry's discussion of Calvin's, and the Westminster Confession's, view of the visible church and its relation to the government of the church: "your arguments are specious in maintaining that because two things can be distinguished (i.e., church and ordinances) they can be legitimately separated." Yet, there is no question that this is exactly what Calvin was doing in the passage considered, and this is fully substantiated by Hodge in his discussion from which an excerpt was given to the elders at the January 9 session meeting. In that excerpt Hodge refers to "what Calvin thus calls one of the cardinal doctrines of Protestants, that the Church may be perpetuated in scattered believers; or in other words, that the apostasy of every visible organized society from the true faith is consistent with the perpetuity of the Church." [Hodge is here speaking of Calvin's "Prefatory Address to King Francis" in his Institutes, pp. 24-25 in the Battles edition; cf. my newsletter, "The Visible Church: Essence Versus Lawful Form", Turretin's Elenctic Theology, Vol. 3, Q. 9 under "The Church", pp. 47ff., and especially Greg Barrow‚s discussion of the distinction between the "being" and the "well-being" of the church in his masterful, Covenanted Reformation Defended (FREE at http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/CovRefGB.htm).] Note that Hodge considers this idea to be one of the cardinal doctrines of Protestantism, whereas your pastor considers Larry's similar assertion to be "specious". Note, too, that the scholar of Scottish church history [previously mentioned] appraises the Covenanter position as "...the classical Reformed Presbyterian position, and a respectable one," whereas your pastor refers to it in a subsequent letter as "arcane and gnosticesque", and says that in holding to such classical Reformed Presbyterian doctrines, doctrines which are cardinal tenets of Protestantism, Larry is "deluded" and guilty of "implicit faith". He has indicated that these "arcane and gnosticesque teachings" [yes, these are actual quotes!] are most definitely not "the perspicuous and liberating truths of God's Word", and in so doing he condemns centuries of the most faithful, godly, and pure Christians the world has yet known, including the entire Presbyterian church of Scotland at the time of the Westminster Assembly, that Assembly itself, John Calvin, John Knox: indeed, the entire Protestant Reformation. This is unbecoming one who bears the title of a minister of Christ, and who glories in the titles Reformed and Presbyterian. . . . For this monstrous historical misrepresentation; for this horrendous slander of the Reformers, and all who currently adopt these tenets; and for presenting himself as one who possesses greater knowledge and denouncing those who actually know volumes more than he does, we call your pastor to humble himself and to receive a love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:10). And again, we sound the warning to the session that follows him not to exercise any kind of implicit faith in his assertions or in the quality of his scholarship with regards to the Reformers.

Hypocrisy of their charge of neglecting the weightier matters of the law shown by their own scandalous practices.

Further, with regard to the necessary and salutary emphasis on the weightier matters of the law, we simply ask if the fruits of your congregation arise from such "principled adherence to God's Word"; to wit: the practice of three of the four elders schooling or having schooled their covenant children (for the minds and hearts of whom our God is most jealous) in pagan public schools; the light regard and contemptuous reproach of those whose consciences are offended by practices that the purest churches throughout history have condemned as Popish and Judaizing; the dismissal of substantial historical evidence, and testimony of those fluent in the writings and teachings of the Reformers, when the Scriptures tell us to be careful to hear our fathers' warnings, and to seek out the old paths (Prov. 13:1; Jer. 6:16); the failure to use Christ's ordained means to bring charges against all those holding to, promoting, or tolerating error and heresy in the PCA; and, on the part of the session, complicity for not protesting your pastor's numerous and vehement calumnies of us and others (contra WLC, Q. 145, wherein we are forbidden from "receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ear against just defence. . . ."), and even endorsing these, in signing the letter of January 20? You have also dubbed the men from whom we've received counsel as misguiding and misguided teachers, whose fruits evidence, you say, that their teaching is not of Christ. Yet you make this broad charge based on virtually no knowledge of their lives and ministries, but apparently simply or mainly . . . on the fact that they commend worshiping at home in their families on the Lord's Day where no lawfully constituted congregations exist locally.

Calvin on worshiping at home, rather than in unlawfully constituted churches.

[Hear Calvin on worshiping at home:

Someone will therefore ask me what counsel I would like to give to a believer who thus dwells in some Egypt or Babylon where he may not worship God purely, but is forced by the common practice to accommodate himself to bad things. The first advice would be to leave (i.e. move somewhere else -- LB) if he could.... If someone has no way to depart, I would counsel him to consider whether it would be possible for him to abstain from all idolatry in order to preserve himself pure and spotless toward God in both body and soul. Then let him worship God in private, praying him to restore his poor church to its right estate.

As for those babblers who ridicule us, wondering if one cannot get to paradise except by way of Geneva, I answer: would to God they had the courage to gather in the name of Jesus Christ wherever they are, and set up some sort of church, either in their houses or in those of their neighbors, to do in their place what we do here in our temples! -- Come Out From Among Them: The 'Anti-Nicodemite' Writings of John Calvin, pp. 94-95; 192; emphases added]

But again, this is simply begging the question, for if their view is true, then such worshiping in families is required until such time as God sees fit to raise up local congregations where one could worship, and then all of them agree and command that such public worship ought to be attended diligently and joyously. From which weightier matter of the law do such fallacious reasoning and irresponsible, ignorant, uncharitable, and unfounded charges proceed? "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him" (Prov. 18:13).

Closing paragraph) We your elders direct you to return immediately to worship with our congregation . In giving this command we are not asking you to go against your conscience, because we already told you we will accommodate your concerns about psalms and instrumental accompaniment while we study this issue with you. Moreover, liberty of conscience can be a front for disobedience to legitimate ecclesiastical authority (Westminster Confession 20:4).

You state in the closing paragraph of your letter that we are to return immediately, and that you are not asking us in so doing to violate our conscience. This, again, is simply false. We have concluded, based upon numerous Scriptures and abundant historical testimony, that you, and the PCA, are ensnared in gross error, and the toleration and practice of wickedness, and as such there is no way before God that we could subject the care of our souls, and the soul of our covenant child, to such "instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge" (Prov. 19:27). To do so would be to sin grievously, tempting the Lord our God and acting contrary to the sixth petition of the Lord's prayer; it would be to sell the truth (Prov. 23:23), to fail to hold fast the doctrine of godliness and of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Tim. 6:3; Rev. 2:25), to fail to live up to that standard of sanctification already attained (Phil. 3:16), and to fail to emulate our Reformed fathers before us even as they imitated Christ (Phil. 3:17; 4:9; Jer. 6:16). The Confession teaches us that an oath "cannot oblige to sin" and that a vow may not be for "any thing forbidden in the word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded," (22:4;7), and so must we regard our oaths to your congregation, as well as the oaths made by the other members there, and you yourselves to the PCA and her corrupted standards which sanction idolatry and sin, all to be null, and no true vows and oaths, any more than Herod could swear to the extent of cutting off the head of John the Baptist (Mark 6:26-27), or the Jews could bind themselves by oath until they had killed Paul (Acts 23:12-14). Thus, we reiterate, that no serious consideration can be given to returning without the prior implementation of the aforelisted conditions.

Closing paragraph, cont.) The Bible says that those who separate seek their own desire (Prov. 18:1).

Again, with respect to those who separate seeking their own desire (Prov. 18:1), we draw your attention to the hypocrisy (assuming the validity of your principles) of holding membership in a body of separatists [i.e. the PCA, which was formed as the result of separation from the PCUS in the early 1970's], those whom the pastor has said from the pulpit that he would have counseled in the early seventies to stay in the PCUS. Further, even that denomination [the PCUS(A)] is a part of a greater body of separatists, that is, the Protestants, for we have all pulled out of the church of Rome. Thus it is that either we are all condemned for our membership in Protestantism, or there exist legitimate reasons for separation. If the former, you have no grounds on which to condemn us and exculpate yourselves; if the latter, then present to us the biblical justifications for separation: if different from our own, then you indict yourselves by contradicting traditional Presbyterian principles, and if the same, then you must follow us out of the PCA.

Citations from the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant proving that if the PCA's teachers did not cease publicly teaching their errors and violating the regulative principle, they would have been excommunicated and subject to civil punishment.

Finally, as indicated at the beginning of the letter, we adduce testimony from the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant, to demonstrate the sobering conclusion that if you and the PCA were transported to Scotland during the time of the Westminster Assembly, you would be excommunicated from the Scottish church, and assuming you continued teaching and practicing what they considered to be divisive and publicly disruptive heresies, you would be faced with civil sanctions. Gentlemen, are you aware, and does it not discomfit you, that Rutherford, Gillespie, the Westminster Assembly, and the entire Scottish Church at that time would all consider you (if unrepentant) to be repugnant and obstinate maintainers of Popish idolatry and heresy, and would condemn you and seek civil punishment for your errors? Does it not mean anything that you have so opposed yourself to those champions, individual and ecclesiastical, of the Reformation of the Christian religion from the chains and filth of the Romish whore? Does not their reprobation, echoing down through the centuries, cause you to tremble and cry out to the Lord for mercy and light? Please examine, then, the evidence we set forth (see pp. 346-360 in the FPP's publishing of the Westminster Standards; emphases are ours).

To begin with, the National Covenant was subscribed, by command of the Church of Scotland, and by the authority of King Charles I, and his parliament, by "all the members of this kirk and kingdom" (346, top) and "all his Majesty's subjects of what rank and quality soever, under all civil pains" (346, bottom), in 1639-40. The nation had a long history of national ["social" would probably be a better word, as social covenants are not necessarily national] covenants, with there being something like 30 different covenants subscribed or renewed in the period from Knox to sometime around or after the Westminster Assembly. It is thus vital to an understanding of Reformational History in Scotland, and of the Westminster Standards, to recognize the preeminent importance and role of the Covenants. Those subscribing this National Covenant swore: "To the which Confession and Form of Religion we willingly agree in our conscience in all points, as unto God's undoubted truth and verity, grounded only upon his written word" (347, bottom). They went on to abjure at length the Pope, his doctrines, practices, and promoters of these practices, which included, "dedicating of . . . days" (348, middle), and "all his vain allegories, rites, signs, and traditions brought in the kirk, without or against the word of God, and doctrine of this true reformed kirk" (348, middle). They further vowed to "condemn the Pope's erroneous doctrine, or any other erroneous doctrine repugnant to any of the articles of the true and Christian religion, publickly preached and by law established in this realm." And, as we've asserted, they would seek punishment of the session of your congregation, if unrepentant: "and ordains the spreaders and makers of books or libels, or letters or writs of that nature, to be punished (349, bottom). . . do condemn all erroneous books and writs containing erroneous doctrine against the religion presently professed, or containing superstitious rites and ceremonies Papistical, whereby the people are greatly abused; and ordains the home-bringers of them to be punished" (350, top). Likewise, they "condemn[ed] the monuments and dregs of bygone idolatry, as going to crosses, observing the festival days of saints and such other superstitious and Papistical rites, to the dishonour of God, contempt of true religion, and fostering of great error among the people," and, again, as indicated, "ordain[ed] the users of them to be punished for the second fault, as idolaters" (350, top).

National Covenant quotes regarding the "unchurching" of the PCA.

With respect to your congregation's session's excommunication from the church, and the "unchurching" of the PCA, consider the subsequent statements, in the next paragraph of the National Covenant: They "declare[d] the ministers of the blessed evangel, whom God of his mercy had raised up, or hereafter should raise, agreeing with them that then lived, in doctrine and administration of the sacraments; and the people that professed Christ, as he was then offered in the evangel, and doth communicate with the holy sacraments (as in the reformed kirks of this realm they were presently administrate) according to the Confession of Faith [i.e. the Scottish Confession of Faith of 1560, co-authored by John Knox], to be the true and holy kirk of Christ Jesus within this realm. And decerns and declares all and sundry, who either gainsay the word of the evangel received and approved as the heads of the Confession of Faith, professed in Parliament in the year of God 1560, specified also in the first Parliament of King James VI., and ratified in this present Parliament, more particularly do express; or that refuse the administration of the holy sacraments, as they were then ministrated; to be no members of the said kirk within this realm, and true religion presently professed, so long as they keep themselves so divided from the society of Christ's body" (350, middle). Again, another declaration of punishment: "And all magistrates, sheriffs, &c. on the one part, are ordained to search, apprehend, and punish all contraveners" (350, bottom), and "that none shall be reputed as loyal and faithful subjects to our sovereign Lord, or his authority, but be punishable as rebellers and gainstanders of the same, who shall not give their confession, and make their profession of the said true religion" (350-351). "That all Kings and Princes at their coronation, and reception of their princely authority, shall make their faithful promise by their solemn oath. . . shall maintain the true religion of Christ Jesus, the preaching of his holy word, the due and right ministration of the sacraments now received and preached within this realm, (according to the Confession of Faith immediately preceding,) and shall abolish and gainstand all false religion contrary to the same; and shall rule the people committed to their charge, according to the will and command of God revealed in his foresaid word, and. . . that they shall be careful to root out of their empire all hereticks and enemies to the true worship of God, who shall be convicted by the true kirk of God of the foresaid crimes" (351-352).

More could be cited; three more references, from the Solemn League and Covenant, shall suffice: "That we shall in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy,. . . superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found to be contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness, lest we partake in other men's sins, and thereby be in danger to receive of their plagues" (359, II); "We shall also, with all faithfulness, endeavour the discovery of all such as have been or shall be incendiaries, malignants, or evil instruments, by hindering the reformation of religion. . . or making any faction or parties amongst the people, contrary to this League and Covenant; that they may be brought to publick trial, and receive condign punishment, as the degree of their offences shall require or deserve, or the supreme judicatories of both kingdoms respectively, or others having power from them for that effect, shall judge convenient" (359, IV); "that justice may be done upon the wilful opposers thereof, in manner expressed in the precedent article [that is, article IV just cited]" (359, V). Understand that the Solemn League and Covenant was "approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and by both Houses of Parliament and Assembly of Divines in England, and taken and subscribed by them, anno 1643; and thereafter, by the said authority, taken and subscribed by all Ranks in Scotland and England the same Year" (358, top). This means that either at the beginning of the Westminster Assembly, or shortly thereafter, all of its members would have been bound under this covenant, and the Scottish delegates (including Gillespie and Rutherford) would have been bound previously by the National Covenant.

Hence, we have a better historical context for the productions of the Westminster Assembly; and please observe that the title pages of the five documents they produced (Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directory for Public Worship, and The Form of Presbyterial Church Government) all read thusly, "as a part of the covenanted uniformity in religion betwixt the churches of Christ in the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland." Thus, they would have abominated the American Confession of 1789, subscribed by most Presbyterian churches since that time [including the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), and PCA, in our day], as well as (at least) the following principles and practices of your congregation:

her Christ-mass communion service; her use of instrumental accompaniment; her use of uninspired hymns; her failure to fence the table properly; her failure to have the communicants sitting around a table, to distribute the elements among themselves, and to use a common cup (as confirmed in the Directory for Public Worship, p. 372, 385, and in the writings of Gillespie); the constitutional departure from the biblical view of the magistrate, given in the Scottish Confession of Faith, chapter 24: "Moreover, to kings, princes, rulers, and magistrates, we affirm that chiefly and most principally the conservation and purgation of the religion appertains; so that not only they are appointed for civil policy, but also for maintenance of the true religion, and for suppressing of idolatry and superstition whatsoever: as in David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and others, highly commended for their zeal in that case, may be espied" (see Ch. 23 of the 1647 Westminster Confession); and for her (constitutional) denial that the Pope is the Antichrist and that man of sin prophecied in 2 Thessalonians (a view which was central to Calvin, Luther, et al.: another cardinal doctrine of Protestantism, which was foundational in their separation from Rome [see Westminster Confession 25:6; Chapter 8 of the Confession of Bohemia; Calvin‚s Institutes, 4:2.12; David Steele‚s Notes on the Apocalypse; etc., etc.]); and no doubt other infractions.
Gentlemen, we urge you to read these documents carefully for yourselves, for what we've asserted is so plain that he who runs may read. We also ask you to consider prayerfully the other points we've raised. We agree with you that these matters are "vital, having to do with the honor of Christ, the welfare of His Church," and the welfare of us all as individuals. Therefore we declare to you that we are guilty of no man's blood, inasmuch as we have made it as clear as possible that you, and the PCA, are currently at odds with the Westminster Assembly, the Church of Scotland of that time, and the entire Second Reformation. If, after this letter, you continue in your current course, you will have no excuse of ignorance, but then must be regarded as obstinate opposers of the Protestant Reformation, and of the Scriptural truths they championed. Thus, "we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20), along with us, who are laboring diligently to know our grave errors and to repent therefrom.

We earnestly desire only the best and richest of God's blessings for you, brethren, and this has undergirded our current appeal. The truths herein stated have humbled and are humbling us, as we grow to realize just how far we've fallen, and how sunken in wickedness we have been and even still are. We desire only that you join us as we seek to return unto the Lord our God, and to follow in the footsteps of the flock (Song of Solomon 1:7-8), with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, for He has promised graciously to receive us if we do (Deut. 30).

Yours in Christ,

Larry and Jennifer


Summary of Our Refusal To Return and Stand Trial


September 6, 1996

Gentlemen:

I have received your recent letter. . . . I perceive your earnestness in granting one last admonition before proceeding with our excommunication. In similar earnestness I now appeal to you, as I summarize briefly our rationale for refusing to stand trial, and offer a suggestion to obviate the impending grave censure. If our position hasn't been clear to you before, I trust it will become so now.

Overview of lawful authority, and the believer's duty to submit to it for conscience sake.

We believe fully and wholeheartedly that God has granted authority in its respective spheres as a blessed and powerful means for man's good, thereby bringing Him much glory. If any wearing the title of authority can be shown to be lawful, we must (excepting the unlawful exercises thereof) submit ourselves to him, not only for wrath's sake, but for conscience' sake, as the ordinance of God. To fail to submit to such authority for conscience' sake is to contradict God, saying that what He has declared to be lawful is in fact unlawful. When such a lawful authority gives a biblical command, we are bound to it not only because it is inherently moral, but additionally because of the power of the authority itself. This is analogous to taking an oath or vow to do something already required of us by God's Word, as in taking an oath before testifying in court. The oath serves as an added means to help us perform our duty, thereby being a great blessing to us; whereas if we break our oath, not only are we guilty of violating the commandment (in this example, the command to tell the truth), but also of perjury (breaking an oath, contra the 3rd commandment). The Confession captures it well (31:3): "which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission, not only for their agreement with the word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, appointed thereunto in his word."

Unlawful authority is not the ordinance of God, and therefore cannot be submitted to for conscience sake without disobeying God.

As a corollary, if said authority can be shown to be unlawful, then he is not the ordinance of God; and, therefore, not only do we not have to submit to him for conscience' sake, we are forbidden to do so (submission for wrath's sake being still allowable, as when a thief gives you the choice of parting with your money, or your life, and you choose to obey the command to give up your money). This is because "God alone is lord of the conscience" (Confession, 20:2) and to submit for conscience sake is to acknowledge that God has recognized the authority as His ordinance, that He has delegated His governing authority to him. If He does not recognize this authority as His ordinance, then neither can we. If we do, that is, if we submit for conscience' sake, we become guilty of having another God before Him; for to do so would be simultaneously to give another besides God (through His delegated agent) lordship over our consciences, and to call God a liar (saying that what He has declared to be unlawful is actually lawful). It would also render meaningless the distinctions, 'lawful', and 'unlawful'. [Hear carefully and soberly what David Steele, in his Notes on the Apocalypse, says about worshiping the Beast, and receiving his mark (Rev. 13:16; 14:1;9-11): „But it will be asked, őWhat are we to understand by the „mark?š‚ This question is easily answered from history. The heathen idolater gloried in his devotion to his imaginary god; as the ivy leaf was the token of the worshippers of Bacchus; soldiers bore the initials of the names of their commanders; and slaves, of their masters. These characters were impressed on the foreheads or other part of the persons of individuals. The general idea suggested by the őmark‚ was subjection or property. In short, the mark of the beast signifies open and avowed allegiance to Antichristian or immoral civil power, when in the őforehead;‚ and active co-operation with the same, when in the őhand‚∑. [Whereas] Christ‚s őFather‚s Name in their foreheads‚ indicates that they are the property and voluntary servants of God in Christ∑. Guilt is contracted as here charged, by őworshipping the beast and his image, and receiving his mark.‚ If the beast signify immoral civil power, and his image signify the Papacy, as we have seen they do, then it follows that worshipping both, and receiving the mark of the former, constitute the special guilt here charged by the angel: that is, eulogizing, praising, and actively cooperating with civil and ecclesiastical society, at war with the Bible Ų in organized hostility to the Lord and his Anointed (Ps. 2:2).š See also Greg Price‚s, Biblical Civil vs. The Beast; and the Basis for Civil Resistance.]

Not all authority requiring our subjection is actually lawful. Marks of the church are the tests by which we are to determine whether authority in the church is lawful.

It is evident that not all authority claiming to be lawful is, in fact, lawful. History is replete with tyranny in church, state, and even family, and one of the blessed fruits of the reformation was the doctrine that to resist tyranny is a divine command. We must, then, have some marks by which the lawful may be distinguished from the unlawful. With respect to ecclesiastical authority, these marks have been well enunciated by our reformed forefathers: the pure preaching of God's Word, the right administration of the sacraments, and the proper form and exercise of biblical government and discipline. If a given church possesses these marks, she is to be regarded as lawful and deserving our submission. If not, her communion is to be forsaken.

Ordination of unduly constituted denominations cannot confer lawful authority to those she ordains (James 3:11).

Presbyterian polity teaches that authority is conferred by "the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" (1 Tim. 4:14). If the Presbytery, or rather, the denomination of which it forms a part, is duly constituted-- that is, bears the marks of a true church-- such an act confers lawful authority to the recipient. However, if the denomination of those laying on hands does not meet the foresaid criteria, this becomes a pretended ceremony delegating no lawful authority from Christ. This should be apparent, for if the fountain is polluted, how shall the streams flowing from it be pure? "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" (James 3:11).< P> PCA has remnants of the reformed faith taught and practiced in her, but she is nonetheless unduly constituted because she is flagrantly and habitually working to undermine the truth. Therefore, we cannot submit to the commands of her officers without disobeying God.

Applying these truths to the PCA, we conclude that her conferring of lawful authority is pretended, inasmuch as she does not bear the marks of a true church (see below for further clarification of what is and is not meant by this statement [see also Greg Barrow‚s discussion of the distinction between the "being" and the "well-being" of the church in his masterful, Covenanted Reformation Defended (FREE at http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/CovRefGB.htm)]). God says of lawful authority in the church, ". . . our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction. . . for we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. . . . according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction. . . . the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground [or support] of the truth." (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:8,10; 1 Tim. 3:15). Though the PCA still has vestiges of the true reformed faith (with some congregations, like yours, being more sound than others), as a denomination she has demonstrated in numerous and egregious ways her disposition against the truth, as faithfully hammered out by and sealed with the lives and labors of our reformed forebears. (This is succinctly and powerfully demonstrated in "A Testimony Against Prominent Errors of Our Times," and so I will not consume space expounding it here.) Therefore, if the PCA is not sound [i.e. lawful], her ordination is not sound [i.e. lawful]; and this being the case, the authority of the session at your particular church is unlawful. And, if the authority of the session at your particular church is not lawful, we cannot submit to it for conscience sake unless we wish to call God a liar, to have other gods before Him, and to make a mockery of the marks of a true church (by acknowledging the PCA as a true church). Since you have made a claim upon our conscience in calling us to stand trial, we must refuse such a claim, choosing rather to obey God than men. We cannot and will not interact with you in any way that would force us to recognize your (alleged) lawful ecclesiastical authority.

Distinction between the church's essence and her lawful form or constitution [i.e. this is the distinction between the „beingš and the „well-beingš of the church, as discussed in Greg Barrow‚s work]. As to essence [or „beingš], the PCA contains a true church; but as to lawful form [or „well-beingš], she is not a true church. Discussion of "lawful" versus "valid". PCA is not lawful, but she is in some sense valid in her ministrations.

Before closing, I wish to make clear that although we deem you not to possess lawful authority, we do not deny that in some sense you are still a church. As Calvin said of the Romanists, I say of you (and other corrupted denominations):

However, when we categorically deny to the papists the title of the church, we do not for this reason impugn the existence of churches among them. Rather, we are only contending about the true and lawful constitution of the church, required in the communion not only of the sacraments (which are the signs of profession) but also especially of doctrine. Daniel [Dan. 9:27] and Paul [2 Thess. 2:4] foretold that Antichrist would sit in the Temple of God. With us, it is the Roman pontiff we make the leader and standard bearer of that wicked and abominable kingdom. The fact that his seat is placed in the Temple of God signifies that his reign was not to be such as to wipe out either the name of Christ or of the church. From this it therefore is evident that we by no means deny that the churches under his tyranny remain churches. But these he has profaned by his sacrilegious impiety, afflicted by his inhuman domination, corrupted and well-nigh killed by his evil and deadly doctrines, which are like poisoned drinks. In them Christ lies hidden, half buried, the gospel overthrown, piety scattered, the worship of God nearly wiped out. In them, briefly, everything is so confused that there we see the face of Babylon rather than that of the Holy City of God. To sum up, I call them churches to the extent that the Lord wonderfully preserves in them a remnant of his people, however woefully dispersed and scattered, and to the extent that some marks of the church remain---especially those marks whose effectiveness neither the devil's wiles nor human depravity can destroy. But on the other hand, because in them those marks have been erased to which we should pay particular regard in this discourse {that is, the marks of a true church as to her well-being}, I say that every one of their congregations and their whole body lack the lawful form of the church {emphases added}.
Inasmuch as portions of the truth, both doctrinal and practical, exist among you (and in your midst to a far greater degree than among many churches in the PCA), there is a sense in which your actions are valid. Thus, your baptism of our son, though not lawful, is nevertheless valid, and we deem it unnecessary to have it repeated. Likewise, were you to be excommunicating us for something truly sinful (separation from a constitutionally corrupted communion is not sinful, but rather a duty incumbent upon all Christ's sheep), such as unrepentant sexual immorality or drunkenness, such an act would not be lawful, but it would be valid. Please consider carefully the Calvin reference above (Institutes ,4:2.12), as well as the sections preceding it, for a more full exposition of this distinction.

Rejection of Anabaptistic perfectionism. Church must be faithful, not perfect, in order to commune with her.

Please note also that we do not believe it necessary for a communion to be completely free from spot or error in order to be a lawfully constituted body. This was the Anabaptists' error, not ours. We do not demand a perfect church, but rather a faithful one, one which lives up to the truth and reformation God has granted thus far in redemptive history (Ezra 9:13-14; Phil. 3:16; Rev. 2:25). We also deny that a denomination must become as corrupt as Rome before separating from her [as does the PCA, unless they believe the PCUS was as corrupted and apostatized as the Roman Catholic Church when they separated from her], for we have the apostle's injunction to separate from those we are to regard as brothers, who are nevertheless walking obstinately contrary to the apostolic command given them (2 Thess. 3:14-15).

Can meet with the elders as men, though can't meet with them as elders (i.e. in any way requiring me to recognize their alleged lawful authority).

As indicated earlier, I submit to you a suggestion that could obviate our imminent excommunication. I have asserted that we cannot meet with you in such a way as to recognize you as having any lawful authority as ecclesiastical officers. However, I would not be required to do this if you and I met together merely as brethren, and not with you acting in any official capacity. Therefore, I express to you my willingness to meet once, or multiply, to discuss these and related issues. I would be happy at that time to present you with a bibliography for your further study of these matters.

I trust this brief presentation has been helpful, and that our reasons for refusing to stand trial have been clearly given and perceived. I urge you to consider carefully your dangerous and blinding affiliation with the PCA (2 Thess. 2:10-12), your complicity (if only by failing to bring charges against her officers; 2 John 10-11; Rev. 2:2,14-15,20) in her sins (Hos. 4:15-17), and your sure expectations of receiving of her plagues (2 Chr. 19:2; Rev. 2:16;18:4).

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Larry




For more on the backsliding of another contemporary denomination go to Dodson Versus the RPCNA -- concerning his "Open Letter to an RPCNA Elder"



FOR FURTHER STUDY:


BARROW, GREG

The Covenanted Reformation Defended Against Contemporary Schismatics (1998)

The title continues: "A Response and Antidote Primarily to the Neopresbyterian Malignancy and Misrepresentations, and the Manufactured "Steelite" Controversy, Found in Richard Bacon's A Defense Departed; With a Refutation of Bacon's Independency, Popery, Arminianism, Anabaptism and Various Other Heresies (Including an Exhibition of His Opposition to Scripture and the Covenanted Reformation, in General; and His Opposition to John Calvin, John Knox, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland [Especially 1638-1649], Samuel Rutherford, George Gillespie, the Testimony of the Covenanter Martyrs, the Reformed Presbytery, the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton and a Host of Other Prominent Reformers from Past Generations, in Particular) -- With Copious Notes on Mr. Bacon's Backsliding and His Blackening of the Blue Banner; as Well as Various Replies to Other Modern Malignants."

Though set in the context of a debate with one individual, this book addresses a number of specific problems which plague the Presbyterian and Reformed churches of our day in general. As Reg Barrow notes in the "Publisher's Preface,"

I believe that there is one primary answer to the question of what makes The Covenanted Reformation Defended uniquely useful and it is this: it exposes the many differences between what took place during the two previous great Reformations (of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) -- which were based upon and agreeable to the glorious covenanted Reformations found in the Old Testament -- and what the bulk of the Presbyterian and Reformed churches (corporately), elders (individually), and church members (individually) mistakenly think took place. It conclusively and irrefutably demonstrates that those churches which today call themselves Presbyterian (and even many which claim a more general Reformed heritage) have grievously departed from the Scriptural standards and principles of these previous Spirit led Reformations. This will become progressively (and painfully) clear as the reader witnesses evidence upon evidence of defection from biblically based Reformation attainments (Phil. 3:16) -- and the burying and/or removing of the ancient Reformation landmarks. Ultimately, when the testimony and evidence is weighed in light of Scriptural verities, it is entirely safe to say that the original Reformers would not only have sought negative ecclesiastical sanctions against our modern pseudo-Reformers, but in many cases negative civil sanctions as well.

Larry Birger, in his introduction, also comments,

(Greg) Barrow provides the bridge back to the teachings of our Reformed forefathers, his work serving as a skillful and much needed "Covenanter Primer." His explanations of key (and ill-understood, in our day) doctrines of the Reformation are the clearest I've ever read (this is especially true in regard to his treatment of the visible church and separation, the Lord's Supper and covenanting--RB). His numerous citations of non-Covenanter writers demonstrate that these doctrines are not at all peculiar to Covenanters, and indeed, that they are foundational to Protestantism. That these doctrines are not understood by the pastors and people of our day is a heartbreaking commentary on how far we "Protestants" have fallen from the Protestant Reformation.

In keeping with this theme, and why this book will be of inestimable value to the serious student of Reformation, Reg Barrow writes,

A secondary benefit of this work, which makes it uniquely useful to our generation, is seen in that this book will give the diligent reader the historical context and doctrinal foundation from which to profitably understand and apply the myriad of Covenanter books and other source documents of both Reformations (which are once again available) to our contemporary situation. "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples" (Isa. 8:16). I know of no other book which does this so well -- or even comes close. If you want a key to understanding some of the most perplexing aspects of Reformation thought you will do no better than to carefully study what is contained in The Covenanted Reformation Defended (from the "Publisher's Preface").

Furthermore, Birger again comments on the general usefulness and the broad spectrum of issues (relevant to Reformed Christians) addressed in this title,

The net result of Greg Barrow's obliteration of Richard Bacon's strident slander is the clear exposition of the classical Protestant doctrines and practices of the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton, and modern and historical Covenanters. Dear reader, you hold in your hands a treasure of inestimable value. In the love of Christ I earnestly plead with you to read it: read it carefully; read it diligently; read it prayerfully; read it repeatedly (and buy copies for your friends and enemies, and urge them to read it). For the doctrines and practices it expounds and defends are nothing less than a testimony against malignant error, a lifting up of the true and faithful Blue Banner, and hopefully, by the grace of God, a humble contribution to the coming third Reformation and the worldwide overthrow of Antichrist. Nowhere else will you find such a "Covenanter Primer" to guide you skillfully and safely back to the old paths, wherein is rest for your souls--and for the entire Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many today are proclaiming, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace." Barrow proclaims to you the true peace, the scriptural balm of healing for the festering, debilitating wounds of Christ's beloved Church! (from the "Introduction").

Moreover, if what is set forth in this book is true, the question at once arises concerning the Christian's duty before God in regard to separation from the teaching and practice of those denominations which continue in their public defection from biblically based Reformation standards. Reg Barrow (in the "Publisher's Preface") writes,

(A)s documented and substantiated throughout this book, it is easy to see that barring open public repentance by most (if not all) modern Presbyterian denominations (i.e. the neopresbyterian denominations), no Christian can lawfully attend upon their public ordinances without denying the biblically based testimony and attainments of the Second Reformation. The testimony of the Second Reformation and the testimony of the neopresbyterians are mutually exclusive at too many crucial points -- not the least of which includes the Scriptural doctrine and duty of covenanting. Even Judah was specifically commanded of the Lord not to communicate in the lawful ordinance of covenanting (i.e. swearing "The LORD liveth") with Israel while Israel remained in public rebellion against the Lord. "Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth" (Hosea 4:15, emphases added). Similarly, in this book, Bacon's errors (particularly his opposition to the Solemn League and Covenant) are seen to be symptomatic of the greater defection from covenanted attainments seen on a larger scale in our day.

Adducing a few more specifics, Reg Barrow again comments,

This book... defends the progressive nature of testimony-bearing and the testimony itself (Ps. 78). The commanded duties of pointedly testifying against defection from biblical attainments and refusing ecclesiastical communion with obstinately backsliding churches are true acts of love (Prov. 27:6). And though they are often met with severe denunciations and even martyrdom (note the reception the faithful testimony of the prophets and apostles received throughout Scripture), The Covenanted Reformation Defended will make this job of "sanctifying the Lord God in our hearts" and being "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh" for the "reason of the hope that is in us" (1 Pet. 3:15) much easier. For those who recognize the enormity of the problems among the neopresbyterian churches -- and act in accord with Scripture (and the requirements of a present testimony), separating themselves from these polluted bodies -- the Reformation understanding of the distinctions dealt with in The Covenanted Reformation Defended are indispensable. Whether it be the Reformed distinctions between the being and well being (see Misrepresentation 2, point D) or the broken and settled state of the visible church, covenanting and covenant obligation (see Misrepresentation 3) or the meaning and proper administration of the Lord's Supper (see Misrepresentation 4), this book is a paleopresbyterian weapon with which to be reckoned. Exceptionally telling (in light of corporate backsliding from Reformation attainments) is the segment on the Westminster Assembly's official statements defending their view of close communion, particularly concerning Larger Catechism Q&A #173 on the meaning of "ignorance" and "scandal." The remarkable research found here (see pages 141-152) forms the most extensive commentary on this significant section of the Larger Catechism that I have ever seen. Moreover, if the Westminster Divines were correct in their understanding of Scripture on this point (and I believe they were) then it would seem that almost every Presbyterian minister who has vowed to uphold the Westminster standards (since about 1652) has perjured himself (whether ignorantly or otherwise); for the original intent of the Westminster Divines concerning close communion is well beyond question -- and the historical record gives every indication that the truth found here has been laid aside and/or buried by neopresbyterians for centuries. So, again we find that this book is unearthing another Reformation landmark -- this time defending the classic teaching and practice of the best Reformed churches on the Lord's Supper. And again the ramifications are massive. For those who vow to uphold the Westminster Larger Catechism (a part of the covenanted uniformity envisioned, and sworn to, in the Solemn League and Covenant) paedocommunion is out! All forms of open communion are out! Half-hearted, non-covenanted and non-confessional attempts at close communion are out! Even defective, overly strenuous or overly demanding "hyper-Covenanter" communion is out! The mature biblical mean, concerning admission to the Lord's Supper, set down by the Westminster Divines and the Scottish General Assembly (in her best days) -- as confirmed in these pages -- guards against both the extremes of latitudinarianism and legalism (i.e. Scripturally unauthorized rigor). The biblical beauty and balance of the work of both these Assemblies is a joy to behold... Furthermore, what do you do in regard to whole denominations of ministers who are breaking solemn ordination vows to God (and many do not even know it) on this point? This and many other like questions are answered in the pages you are about to read. With the release of this book (along with the many other classic Covenanter, Presbyterian and Reformed works which we at SWRB [and others] have had the privilege to recently publish), the covenanted remnant now has an arsenal of nuclear tipped ICBM's from which to defend the faith, bear witness against defection, and honor and glorify God. Neopresbyterians who refuse to repent, in the face of such overwhelming biblical and historical evidence of (and godly testimony against) their defection, would be well advised to construct sturdy bomb shelters. Those who read this book, and who seek the truth above all else, are about to confront you with some serious questions. On the other hand, the faithful remnant should be encouraged to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Phil 1:27); remembering, as Calvin has noted, "that some special assistance is promised to godly teachers and ministers of the word; so that the fiercer the attacks of Satan, and the stronger the hostility of the world, so much the more does the Lord defend and guard them by extraordinary protection" (Calvin's Commentary on Isaiah 50:7). This book would seem to be a useful part of the Lord's "extraordinary protection" for the contemporary Covenanter, and has been produced with many singular signs of God's providential care and intervention. The faithful Covenanter is encouraged to use it wisely for personal edification (as well as the edification of one's family and church), to comfort and/or confront others who are seeking the truth, and, above all, to pray that God will add the testimony of His Spirit to the truths it contains (from the "Publisher's Preface").

In short, if you want a book which will help you to understand the Reformation view of numerous important, foundational Scriptural doctrines and their application to the present day; written in an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand format; uncovering many rare Reformation source documents (from the Westminster Assembly's advice to the English Parliament on the Lord's Supper to the official records of Calvin's Covenanting in Geneva), this is an unsurpassed work that should not be missed. 318 pages, 8.5" X 11". (This book is also offered free in etext on SWRB's web page at:

http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/CovRefGB.htm).


(Bound photocopy) $29.95-50%=14.98
(Hardcover photocopy) $25.00 (US funds)


DOUGLAS, JAMES

Strictures on Occasional Hearing
An inquiry into Song 1:7, "Why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?" This book sets out to demonstrates the proposition that one should not hear the public preaching of those he can not take communion with (i.e. it proposes a ban on occasionally hearing those with whom you can not maintain organic fellowship with). The implications contained in this truth are immense; especially when one has adopted the Biblical doctrine of close communion and is set upon upholding the covenanted reformation. The duty to separation and to true visible unity are all encompassed here. A review of this book, written in 1818, notes that the "treatise may be viewed as a complete repository of all that has yet been said on the subject." It is filled with Scriptural, as well as historical testimony, and is a welcome tonic to the weak and compromising books of our day that so often sacrifice the truth of the altar of some other man made expediency (such as unity for political or ecclesiastical advantage). For as the introduction notes, "It is the revealed will of God, and not saintship, which is the only rule of a visible profession." That Christians exist in other denominations is not denied, but that they are faithful to the covenanted reformation (already historically obtained) is. The arguments set forth here are reminiscent of those found in Rutherford's Due Right of Presbyteries. If you are struggling with questions related to separation, the unity of the visible church, close communion, etc. this book may be exactly what you've been looking for. A massive appendix also lays out the historical testimony concerning this matter.
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $39.95-80%=7.99


MCKNIGHT, W.J.

Concerning Close Communion
An strong little book that should be considered by all those seeking the purity and peace of the church. Holds to the strict old covenanted Presbyterian position. Justifies the maintaining of the separate existence of a denomination that will faithfully testify against sin, and the excluding from the Lord's table those that do not so testify. Gives numerous examples of backsliding in regard to specific truths of Scripture. Proclaims that "the Word of God teaches unequivocally that the Commandments are equally binding." This includes the first commandment as it relates to Christ's Kingship over the nations (and dissent from immoral civil governments which will not recognize and obey Christ as King and law giver); and the second commandment concerning purity of worship (as against "all devising, counselling, using, and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God Himself," such as the use of songs other than the Psalms and the Popish use of musical instruments in public worship). Maintains that violation of these commandments are grounds for barring a person from the Lord's table. Shows how close communion is nothing more than the old Presbyterian view, in keeping with the Westminster Confession of Faith and John Calvin when he stated "We are only contending about the true and lawful constitution of the church, required in the communion not only of the sacraments (which are the signs of profession) but also especially of doctrine" (John Calvin, Institutes 2.12). Also includes an excellent discussion of essentials and non-essentials, as they relate to the Lord's supper and salvation. The best short book on the Lord's supper that we have seen. Written by an RPCNA minister in large easy-to-read type.
$9.95-60%=3.99


REFORMED PRESBYTERY

An Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion, Adopted by the Community of Dissenters, etc.
Defends the inescapable necessity of creeds and confessions, while promoting a fully creedal church membership. Shows how the law of God obliges all Christians "to think the same things, and to speak the same things; holding fast the form of sound words, and keeping the ordinances as they have been delivered to us" (Col. 3:13). After laying some basic groundwork, this book proceeds to defend the six points of the "Terms of Ministerial and Christian Communion Agreed Upon by the Reformed Presbytery." These six points are the most conservative and comprehensive short statements of consistent Presbyterianism you will likely ever see. Besides the obvious acknowledgement of the alone infallible Scriptures, the Westminster Standards, and the divine right of Presbyterianism, these points also maintain the perpetual obligation of our Covenants, National and Solemn League, the Renovation of these covenants at Auchensaugh in 1712, and the Judicial Act, Declaration and Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery. In short, this book sets forth adherence to the whole of the covenanted reformation, in both church and state, as it has been attained by our covenanting forefathers.
$9.95-60%=3.98


HOUSTON, THOMAS

(NEW!) Unity and Uniformity in the Church (1881)
This item lays out the case for unity among churches, proving its assertions from: (1.) throughout Scripture; (2.) from our Lord's declaring His will both in precept and prayer; (3.) from apostolic practise; and (4.) from the covenanted Reformation's "Solemn League and Covenant" which lead to the production of the Westminster standards. Houston notes that in the Apostolic church "the government of the church was one and common wherever churches were planted. It was Presbyterian, and neither Prelatic, a system of monarchial despotism, nor Congregational, a system of popular democracy." This biblical and Presbyterian uniformity was considered the apostolic, visible and doctrinal manifestation of the scriptural injunction to "one Lord, one faith, (and) one baptism." Houston also points out that "the only true and safe way of union is based on the platform of Scriptural uniformity; while that which is framed on allowing diversity in doctrine, and differences in government and worship, is a mere human contrivance, and its effect is to sanction and perpetuate divisions (which is to sanction schism under the false pretence of unity--RB), and to mar the prospect of an ultimate happy union in the church of Christ." Biblical union and uniformity is shown to be based on "agreement in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government." Moreover, the author contends that, "this is to be constantly sought after by men united in mind and heart, pledged to God and to one another; it is to be externally manifested, and to be diligently labored for, that it may be generally and universally prevalent. It is never to be viewed as impracticable. This was the main design of the convocation of the Westminster Assembly." The eschatological aspect of visible unity is also noticed, shedding valuable light on such postmillennial strongholds as, "The watchmen on the walls of Zion shall see eye to eye, they shall lift up the voice together, and together shall they sing" (Isa. 52:8) and "The Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord, and His name one" (Zech. 14:9). This book is full of faithful encouragement and is one of the best introductions to this topic we have seen.
(Rare bound photocopy) $9.95-60%=3.98


WILLSON, JAMES M.

(NEW!) The Distinct Denominational Position of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1860)
The Covenanter church and its distinctives explained in an easy to read summary. A great short introduction upholding the "Crown Rights of King Jesus!". Excerpted from the Original Covenanter and Contending Witness magazine (volumes 1:7-16).
(Rare bound photocopy) $14.95-70%=4.48


REED, KEVIN

Presbyterian Government in Extraordinary Times (1991)
This historical survey attempts to apply the lessons of history to contemporary problems by distinguishing between "the polity which exists in a fully-organized church, and those principles which apply to churches in irregular circumstances." A controversial contemporary Presbyterian work, it defends separation from corrupt churches, based on the principle of private judgement, fought and died for at the Reformation. Contains numerous quotations demonstrating the historical validity of its reasoning. It notes that, "[a] faithful shepherd will lead the sheep to safe pasture, giving his life, if necessary, to insure the safety of the sheep (John 10:9,10). When pastor and elders become convinced of the desperate state of the churches in our own day, they should take the lead; their sacred callings demand that they promptly direct their congregations away from corrupt denominational ties, to form biblical connections of church government. In some cases this will mean that entire congregations should secede from their apostate denominations and join with other churches of like faith and practice. To leave the sheep in danger, under the jurisdiction of a corrupt presbytery, is gross negligence on the part of those who watch over souls 'as they must give an account'" (Heb. 13:17). These arguments also apply to individuals who find themselves in obstinately backslidden, deforming, heretical and/or idolatrous congregations. Also contains a useful section explaining "why modern 'Reformed' and 'evangelical' authors have so much trouble with Charismatics," noting that "[t]he fundamental flaws of the Charismatic movement are completely overlooked if the discussion turns merely on the subject of 'spiritual gifts.' The real issues at stake are the nature of the gospel and true worship; and these issues are largely ignored, because modern 'Reformed' and 'evangelical' churches really do not believe that the Pelagianism of the Charismatics is 'another gospel,' or that human devices in worship are idolatry" (pp. 40-41).
$14.95-60%=5.98

REFORMED PRESBYTERY

Act, Declaration, And Testimony, For The Whole Of The Covenanted Reformation, As Attained To, And Established In, Britain and Ireland; Particularly Betwixt The Years 1638 and 1649, Inclusive. As, Also, Against All The Steps Of Defection From Said Reformation, Whether In Former Or Later Times, Since The Overthrow Of That Glorious Work, Down To This Present Day (1876)
Upholds the original work of the Westminster Assembly and testifies to the abiding worth and truth formulated in the Westminster family of documents. Upholds and defends the crown rights of King Jesus in church and state, denouncing those who would remove the crown from Christ's head by denying His right to rule (by His law) in both the civil and ecclesiastical spheres. Testifies to the received doctrine, government, worship, and discipline of the Church of Scotland in her purest (reforming) periods. Applies God's Word to the Church's corporate attainments "with a judicial approbation of the earnest contendings and attainments of the faithful, and a strong and pointed judicial condemnation of error and the promoters thereof" (The Original Covenanter and Contending Witness, Dec. 17/93, p. 558. Write for a sample of this highly recommended publication at: P.O. Box 131, Pottstown, PA, 19464, USA). Shows the church's great historical victories (such as the National and Solemn League and Covenant, leading to the Westminster Assembly) and exposes her enemies actions (e.g. the Prelacy of Laud; the Independency, sectarianism, covenant breaking and ungodly toleration set forth by the likes of Cromwell [and the Independents that conspired with him]; the Erastianism and civil sectarianism of William of Orange, etc.). It is not likely that you will find a more consistent working out of the principles of Calvinism anywhere. Deals with the most important matters relating to the individual, the family, the church and the state. Sets forth a faithful historical testimony of God's dealings with men during some of the most important days of church history. A basic text that should be mastered by all Christians.
$19.95-70%=5.99


REFORMED PRESBYTERY

Auchensaugh Renovation of the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant; with the Acknowledgement of Sins and Engagement to Duties as they were Renewed at Auchensaugh in 1712... Also the Renovation of These Public Federal Deeds Ordained at Philadelphia, Oct. 8, 1880, By the Reformed Presbytery, With Accommodation of the Original Covenants, in Both Transactions, to their Times and Positions Respectively (1880 ed.)
"In 1712, at Auchensaugh, the Covenants, National and Solemn League, were renewed... At the renewal the covenant bonds were recognized as binding the descendants of those who first entered into those bonds. The Covenanters, however, sought to display the true intent of those Covenants with marginal notes. These notes explained that the Church of Jesus Christ, in Scotland (and around the world), must not join hands with any political power in rebellion to the crown rights of King Jesus. The Covenanters pledged the Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church to the support of lawful magistracy (i.e. magistracy which conformed itself to the precepts of God's Word) and declared themselves and their posterity against support of any power, in Church or State, which lacked biblical authority." (From "About the Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church" P.O. Box 131, Pottstown, PA 19464). An excellent introduction (historical and moral) regarding the reasons, motives and manner of fulfilling the duty of covenanting with God. Especially helpful concerning the Biblical view of the blessings (for covenant-keepers) and cursings (for covenant breakers) related to covenanting. As noted on page 37, "the godly usually in times of great defection from the purity and power of religion, and corruption of the ordinances of God's worship, set about renewing their covenant, thereby to prevent covenant curses, and procure covenant blessing; as we find both in scripture record, 2 Chron. 15:12-13; 29:10; 34:30-31; Ezra 10:3, and in our own ecclesiastical history." Times like ours certainly call for a revival of the Scriptural ordinance of covenanting, for "[t]he nations throughout Christendom, continue in league with Antichrist and give their strength to the beast. They still refuse to profess and defend the true religion in doctrine, worship, government and discipline, contrary to the example of the kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland in the seventeenth century" (p. 136 in this book).
$19.95-70%=5.99

CLARKSON, ANDREW

Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting from the Revolution Church of Scotland. Also Their Principles Concerning Civil Government, and the Difference Betwixt the Reformation and Revolution Principles (1731)
An exceedingly rare and important book. The Contending Witness magazine (May, 1841) described Plain Reasons "as the single best volume penned defending the principles of the second Reformation." It sets forth "the grounds why Presbyterian Dissenters refused to hold communion with the revolution church and state," (Reformed Presbytery, Act Declaration and Testimony for the Whole of Our Covenanted Reformation, p. 154n). These principles still apply today and this still remains one of the best books explaining why and when an individual (our church) should separate itself from those (in church or state) who do not hold fast to all the attainments of our covenanted forefathers. The Reformed Presbytery's Act, Declaration and Testimony (p. 47) further explains the context of the so-called "glorious revolution of 1688" and overthrow of the Royalist tyranny with these words, "for in a few months, God in his righteous judgement and adorable providence, overturned that (Royalist--RB) throne of iniquity on which they depended, and expelled that inhuman, cruel monster (the duke of York--RB), from his tyrannical and usurped power, upon the Prince of Orange's (William--RB) coming over into England, in the beginning of November that same year (1688--RB). But although the Lord at this juncture, and by this means, rescued and delivered our natural and civil rights and privileges in a national way, from under the oppression and bondage of anti-christian tyranny, arbitrary and absolute power; yet the revolution, at this time, brought no real deliverance to the church of God; but Christ's rights (by these [rights--RB] are not meant the rights of Christ personal. It is not in the power of mortals, or any creature, to acquire and secure these to him; but the rights of Christ mystical, that is, of the church, or of his truth, true worship, and religion, and professors of it as such.), formerly acquired for him by his faithful servants, lay still buried under the rubbish of that anti-christian building of prelacy, erected on the ruins of his work in this land; and the spiritual liberties and privileges of his house remained, and do still remain under the bondage of Erastianism, supremacy, toleration, etc. For it is well known, that although this man (William of Orange--RB), Jehu-like, 'destroyed Baal out of Israel, yet he departed not from the sins of Jereboam, wherewith he made Israel to sin.'" See pages 55 and following in the Act, Declaration and Testimony for more on "the grounds of the presbytery's testimony against the constitutions, both civil and ecclesiastical, at the late revolution, anno 1689; as also against the gross Erastianism and tyranny that has attended the administration both of church and state, since that memorable period; with various instances thereof, etc." The only drawback that needs to be noted, regarding Clarkson's Plain Reasons, is that a few of the pages (the book being as rare as it is) in the only copy that we have been able to obtain, are a little hard to read. Even so, most of the book is easily legible and contains the highest quality of Reformation thought regarding the subjects of which it deals.
(Rare bound photocopy) $99.95-90%=9.99


REFORMED PRESBYTERY

A Short Directory for Religious Societies (1881)
This work is still a extremely useful system of rules and instructions for religious fellowship -- especially where duly constituted churches are non-existent and/or where a regular faithful pastoral ministry is lacking. It was originally written to protect the "scattered flock" -- whose pastors were persecuted and martyred through prelatic and popish tyranny -- from spies and informers (who would have put them in danger of their lives); and to encourage faithful Christians to maintain regular religious meetings for their mutual edification and the propagation of the Gospel. Initially drawn up by the appointment of the Reformed Presbytery (in Scotland), this edition was published by the Reformed Presbytery in America (Rochester, NY). This Presbytery stated that "[a]part from anything local or temporary, the intelligent and faithful witness will easily discern in this treatise some of the footsteps of the flock of slaughter -- some of the waymarks set up by those heroic patriots who 'loved not their lives unto the death,' while in adhering to their solemn vows, they nobly contented against the dragon and his angels for the covenant rights of God and man... That the Lord God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our covenant fathers, may give their successors the same spirit of faith to contend earnestly and strive lawfully for these precious rights, is the earnest prayer of" this Presbytery's committee. A much needed book in our day of "the continued national overthrow and burial of Christ's covenanted cause and testimony, increasing apostasy, idolatry, blasphemous heresies, errors and delusions, ungodliness, atheism, and all manner of wickedness;" as pockets of the faithful covenanted remnant are once again beginning to appear all across the map. 100 pages.
$19.95-75%=4.99

M'NEILLY, S.R.

How Best to Secure a Return to the Use of the Psalms in the Ordinance of Praise
Superb, strongly worded, Biblical teaching on the proper method of lovingly bringing peace and purity to the body of Christ. The author contends that "hymn-singing in the service of praise is in its ultimate analysis a species of idolatry," and thus must be strenuously opposed. Numerous practical methods (and the rationale) to promote Psalmody and oppose the use of man-made "hymns" in the public worship service are given. From McNaugher's The Psalms in Worship.
$6.95-72%=1.95

WESTMINSTER DIVINES

The Westminster Confession of Faith
":The product of Puritan conflict," stated Shedd, reaching "a perfection of statement never elsewhere achieved.""All that learning the most profound and extensive, intellect the most acute and searching, and piety the most sincere and earnest, could accomplish, was thus concentrated in the Westminster Assembly's Confession of Faith, which may be safely termed the most perfect statement of Systematic Theology ever framed by the Christian Church," writes Hetherington in The History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (p. 345, emphasis added). "These are worth an hundred victories on the battle field. We do not fear to say of them that they are the finest transfusion into uninspired language of the sublime, awful, blessed truths of the Word of God which the Church has as yet been honored to make... Never can the Covenanters be robbed of the immortal honor of having, while at the summit of their power, published this great principle to the world" noted J.A. Wylie, in praise of the Westminster Standards (cited in Johnston's Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, p. 101). Concerning the Shorter Catechism, which is one of the items also included in this book, Mitchell, in his Westminster Assembly: Its History and Standards, notes: "...it is a thoroughly Calvinistic and Puritan catechism, the ripest fruit of the Assembly's thought and experience, maturing and finally fixing the definitions of theological terms to which Puritanism for half a century had been leading up and gradually coming closer and closer to in its legion of catechisms" (p. 431). The WCF is the greatest of all the creeds of the Christian church. The church of Christ cannot be creedless and live. Especially in an age of doubt and confusion, it is her duty to define and proclaim the one true faith. Nowhere has the Reformed church done this so effectively as in the Westminster family of documents. This book represents Reformed thinking at its purest and best. It was intended, as part of the covenanted reformation taking place during its compilation, to be adopted as the binding confessional standard for every individual, family, court, church, and legislature in the British Isles. Study it carefully and we think that you will see why this same goal should be covenanted to by all serious minded followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the definitive edition of the WCF and its many related documents. It contains Manton's "Epistle to the Reader," the Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism, "The Sum of Saving Knowledge," "The National Covenant (1638)," "The Solemn League and Covenant (1643)," "Acknowledgment of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant (1648)," "The Directory for the Publick Worship of God (1645)," The Form of Presbyterial Church Government (1645)," "The Directory for Family Worship (1647)," an extensive index and more! "Every effort has been made, by sparing no expense or labour... to render it the Standard Edition," note the publishers. An essential book for every Christian home, church, and state! Next to the Bible itself, no other book can furnish you with as much necessary spiritual information. Related items: Robert Shaw's Exposition of the WCF ($29.95 - 60% = 11.98/bound photocopy) and William Hetherington's History of the Westminster Assembly ($24.95 - 50% =12.47/softcover). (Hardcover)
$29.95 - 50% = $14.98
(Softcover)
$19.95 - 40% = $11.97
(Pocket edition, just the Confession: without scripture proofs, the Catechisms, etc.)
$4.95-20%= $3.96
(The Confession on cassette)
$7.95 - 80% = $1.59
(Larger Catechism on 2 cassettes)
$15.90 - 80% = $3.18
(Shorter Catechism on cassette)
$7.95 - 80% = $1.59


ROBERTS, WILLIAM L.

The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism (1853)
A manual of instruction, drawing from such notable authors as William Symington and J.R. Willson, presenting "arguments and facts confirming and illustrating the 'Distinctive Principles'" of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Chapters deal with: "Christ's Mediatorial Dominion in general;" Christ's exclusive Headship over the Church;" "The Supreme and Ultimate Authority of the Word of God in the Church;" Civil Government, the Moral Ordinance of God;" Christ's Headship over the Nations;" "The Subjection of the Nations to God and to Christ;" The Word, or Revealed Will of God, the Supreme Law in the State;" "The Duty of Nations, in their National Capacity, to acknowledge and support the True Religion:" "The Spiritual Independence of the Church of Christ:" "The Right and Duty of Dissent from an immoral Constitution of Civil Government;" "The Duty of Covenanting, and the Permanent Obligations of Religious Covenants;" "The Application of these Principles to the Governments, where Reformed Presbyterians reside, in the form of a Practical Testimony;" and finally "Application of the Testimony to the British Empire." A most important book, as we approach (possibly) the end of the great apostasy and will be in need of preparing for the dawning of the glorious millennial blessings to come; the days prophesied in which the church "shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings" (Isa. 60:16).
(Rare bound photocopy) $29.95-70%=8.99


SCOTT, DAVID

Distinctive Principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1841)
This book is not designed to discuss "the (many-RB) doctrines which the Reformed Presbyterian church holds in common will others," but is written to set forth RP distinctives. It tackles its subject from three major heads: "Social Covenanting;" "The Dominion of Christ;" and "The Universal Application of Scripture (civil as well as religious)." It shows that while these doctrines "are held by many, as abstract doctrines of divine truth, they are not embodied in the testimony of any other Christian denomination: nor made necessary to ministerial or Christian fellowship. Although other individuals may hold these doctrine, it is a 'distinctive' feature of the RPC to embody them in her testimony; and to make them terms of communion." It also explains how these are the same distinctives that were maintained "at the era of the reformation, (when) the covenanted church of Scotland bore a distinguished testimony for all the offices of Christ, as prophet, priest and king: and for the pure doctrines, worship, discipline, and government of the house of God." The author states that "the great object aimed at is to help forward the glorious triumph of the Messiah, so beautifully described in the 72nd Psalm. When 'all Kings shall fall down before him; and all nations shall serve him.'"
(Rare bound photocopy) $49.95-80%=9.99


PRICE, GREG

The Duty and Perpetual Obligation of Social Covenanting
The material found in this bound photocopy addresses a forgotten and neglected ordinance of God: social covenanting. God's people in times of repentance and thanksgiving, trial and blessing have been a covenanting people. In the most pure times of ecclesiastical and civil reformation throughout history, both church and state under the mediatorial rule of Christ have by the grace of God bound themselves together by covenant to promote and defend the true Christian religion. The first document adopted by the Westminster Assembly was in fact, the Solemn League and Covenant (1644). It united the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland in a covenanted reformation of both church and state in order to preserve, promote and defend the true Christian religion (as summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directory For Public Worship, and Form of Church Government), and in order to expose and uproot all false teaching contrary to the Scripture and these standards. Furthermore, it was not only the desire of the Westminster Assembly to unite in covenant the three British kingdoms, but rather to include in this covenanted reformation all of the Reformed Churches throughout Europe. Consider the goal of the Assembly as summarized by Hetherington: "There was one great, and even sublime idea, brought somewhat indefinitely before the Westminster Assembly, which has not yet been realized, the idea of a Protestant union throughout Christendom, not merely for the purpose of counterbalancing Popery, but in order to purify, strengthen, and unite all true Christian churches, so that with combined energy and zeal they might go forth, in glad compliance with the Redeemer's commands, teaching all nations, and preaching the everlasting gospel to every creature under heaven. This truly magnificent, and also truly Christian idea, seems to have originated in the mind of that distinguished man, Alexander Henderson. It was suggested by him to the Scottish commissioners, and by them partially brought before the English Parliament, requesting them to direct the Assembly to write letters to the Protestant Churches in France, Holland, Switzerland, and other Reformed Churches. . . . and along with these letters were sent copies of the Solemn League and Covenant, a document which might itself form the basis of such a Protestant union. The deep thinking divines of the Netherlands apprehended the idea, and in their answer, not only expressed their approbation of the Covenant, but also desired to join in it with the British kingdoms. Nor did they content themselves with the mere expression of approval and willingness to join. A letter was soon afterwards sent to the Assembly from the Hague, written by Duraeus (the celebrated John Dury), offering to come to the Assembly, and containing a copy of a vow which he had prepared and tendered to the distinguished Oxenstiern, chancellor of Sweden, wherein he bound himself 'to prosecute a reconciliation between Protestants in point of religion'. . . . [O]n one occasion Henderson procured a passport to go to Holland, most probably for the purpose of prosecuting this grand idea. But the intrigues of politicians, the delays caused by the conduct of the Independents, and the narrow-minded Erastianism of the English Parliament, all conspired to prevent the Assembly from entering farther into that truly glorious Christian enterprise. Days of trouble and darkness came; persecution wore out the great men of that remarkable period; pure and vital Christianity was stricken to the earth and trampled under foot. . ." (William Hetherington, History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines , [Edmonton, Alberta: Still Waters Revival Books], pp. 337-339). The material presented herein is commended to the reader with the sincere prayer and confidence that God will again restore the Church of Jesus Christ to a glorious covenanted reformation--one that will even surpass that one to which she had attained at the time of the Westminster Assembly. However, when the Lord brings that future covenanted reformation it will not be limited to only three kingdoms of the earth, but by the grace and power of Christ our King, it will be a covenanted reformation that will encompass all of the nations of the earth (Ps. 2:6-12; Is. 2:1-4; Mt. 28:1-20) and will bring to the church a visible unity and uniformity that (unlike pleas for unity today) is firmly grounded upon the truth" (Greg Price, Preface). The material contained in this compilation was gathered together by the session of the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton/Prince George. Its 210 pages contain the following items, as listed in this bibliography for social covenanting.
1. Samuel Rutherford, Due Right of Presbyteries , pp. 130-139
2. George Gillespie, The Works of George Gillespie, Vol. 2, pp. 71-88.
3. John Brown of Wamphray, An Apologetic Relation , pp. 167-175, 181-207.
4. David Scott, Distinctive Principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, pp. 14-90.
5. William Roberts, The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism , pp. 134-152.
6. The Reformed Presbytery, An Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion , pp. 181-187.
7. The Reformed Presbytery, Act , Declaration and Testimony , pp. 11-23.
8. The Reformed Presbytery, The Auchensaugh Renovation , pp. 115-140.
9. The Church of Scotland (1639), The National Covenant of Scotland , pp. 345-354 in the Westminster Confession of Faith published by Free Presbyterian Publications.
10. The Westminster Assembly (1644), The Solemn League and Covenant , pp. 355-360 in the Westminster Confession of Faith published by Free Presbyterian Publications.
11. The Church of Scotland (1648), A Solemn Acknowledgement of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant , pp. 361-368 in the Westminster Confession of Faith published by Free Presbyterian Publications.

(Rare bound photocopy) $22.95-70%=6.89




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