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I've appended a letter from a friend of mine, Jim Dodson. It is his testimony against the backsliding of the RPCNA (and other "Presbyterian" denominations that continue to decline from covenanted Reformation attainments). To understand the covenanted Reformation it is most helpful to read over the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant (found in the back of the Free Presbyterian edition of the Westminster Confession of Faith) as all the Westminster Divines, the national Parliaments and many of the people of the three covenanted nations (Scotland, England, and Ireland in the mid 17th century) swore a solemn oath to these morally binding documents. These perpetually binding covenants, along with the Auchensaugh Renovation (1712), are an integral part of point four in the six points of the "Terms of Ministerial and Christian Communion in the Reformed Presbyterian Church," and are defended in the "Explanation and Defense of the Terms of Communion..." (by the Reformed Presbytery, $3.98). All six points are also listed at the back of the "Act, Declaration, and Testimony for the Whole of Our Covenanted Reformation..." (by the Reformed Presbytery, $5.99). The elders of the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton have now (March/96) adopted (as a session) all six points of this bedrock foundation of Reformation; and believe they (the truths contained in these points) will lead the way (by God's grace) to the coming world reformation prophesied in Scripture (Isa. 2:2-4, Ezek. 47:1-12, etc.). Reg Barrow President Still Waters Revival Books

by Jim Dodson

Dear :

        I am sorry you are not helped by "quotings of men of a past era" which
have mere "historical and theoretical value" to you.  I guess if something
hasn't been written within your lifetime, or perhaps within the last presidency,
it possesses little value to your current ministerial concerns.  You say you
think it a great shame that I am not laboring within a presbytery to solve the
problems that churches are facing in 1994.  I think it is wickedness that you
are laboring under the auspices of that false synod called the RPCNA.  I think
it is a travesty that there is no presbytery that I can find that adheres to the
truth without equivocation.  I think it is indicative of the apostasy of the
Church at large that you, and others, are so blind as to be unable (or, should I
say unwilling?)especially as professed ministers of the Gospelto apply the
timeless truths of the Reformed religion.  I am tired of false teachers
apologizing for holy-days, hymn-singing, Baptists, instrumental music, and every
other species of corrupt, perverse Scripture twisting in the churches.
Churches used to seek the causes of the Lords wrath, when they were facing problems. The idea that the problems can be solved, without reference to the great apostasy they are engaged in, is a vain attempt to erect the Covenant of Works over the ruins of the Reformation (which was a glorious display of the Covenant of Grace). The great apostasy cannot be discerned apart from mere "history." What you, and others, perceive as mere "history" or "theory" is nothing less than foundational doctrine. I suppose that justification by faith alone is too "theoretical" and any explanation which utilizes quotes from Luther, Calvin and other Reformers, will be greeted by the same cries"It is simply not contemporary;""It all sounds so theoretical," &c. The insinuation that the "old paths" are barely, if at all, applicable today, demonstrates a lack of appreciation for the historical continuity of truth. What a terrible thing it must be to having itching ears, or to be like those on Mars hill which spent their time trying to hear something NEW! The churches are under God's severe chastening and, in many cases, on the verge of being cut off entirely.
In a previous letter you asked me if I would consider attending RPTS. I believe in an earlier conversation I explained that I could see no value in attending. What would they teach me? how to apostatize? why the Covenanters were fanatics and ought to be forgotten? It would seem that you see little, if any, value in what the Covenanters taught and how they lived. You, and most of the rest of the RPCNA, do not seem to think that they have anything to say to our present situation.
I wonder how you can justify applying anything historical in the Bible; after all, it is merely a mass of information about what a bunch of Jews did in the desert. How stupid! how wicked! How much more sound the sentiments of Paul, "Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned [i.e., would not the apostatizing RPCNA fall into this category?]; and avoid them." Hence, I will continue to avoid them and thus obey the words of the apostle.
You say that at my "age and stage of development" I "should place" myself "under the care of elders and bring" my "concerns to the floor of presbytery in order to be building faithful churches." I see no place in the Bible where I am commanded to submit to a group of men who usurp the office of elder while not possessed of the qualifications. I would rather follow the Lords admonition to Jeremiah to, "Let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them." I promise submission to the first elders which show themselves to be faithful Covenanters--that is not the RPCNA. Your call for submission to elders apart from these "elders" possessing biblical qualifications smacks of popery.
You ask for reasons to renew your subscription, I think the biggest reason is that you would write such a letter. It betrays your very lack of understanding. "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God."
Lastly, you ask me to pray that you will find two faithful families so that you can begin services. I am sorry that I cannot pray that prayer. Two "faithful" families will not be long in the RPCNA. I shall continue to pray for your repentance from dead works. But, I must continue to pray for the pulling down of the kingdom of Satan, and that includes all courses of defection and apostasy. It is with a sad and heavy heart that I will remove you from the mailing list. Please remove me from your mailing list until such time as you give evidence of repentance.
My intent was to end this letter here, but I will respond to your impudent, wicked remarks etched in the margins of the magazine which you returned. You want me to examine the RPCNA according to its "present confession and testimony and church order." So be it. Let me survey its present confession, testimony and church order. I have no quarrel with the Confession of Faith; my quarrel is with the various reservations and accretions supplied by the 1980 "Testimony."
Under chapter 4, section 14, it states, "We reject that form of socialism...." What does this mean? Is there an acceptable form of socialism? Is it acceptable for any state to seize lawfully acquired assets and re-distribute them? How can such "theory" be reconciled to the Word of God (e.g., the eighth commandment)?
In chapter 10, section 6, the "Testimony" makes the work of evangelism to be the work of the whole Churchin this sense,"The task is not restricted to ordained officers." Then they reference a series of verses which prove that it is restricted to ordained officers! Matthew 28:18-20, the so-called "Great Commission," is to those who able to teach and baptize. Any reputable Reformed commentator will confirm that this means teaching elders (I know this is only "theoretical" and I guess "historical" commentary will mean little to you). Likewise, John 20:21 and Eph. 4:7-16 pertain to ordained officers. The citation of 1 Cor. 12:4-11 is not to the point; if this means that anyone can evangelize, it can also mean that "gifted" women can teach men (say hello to Faith[less] Martin and her Jezebel hoards), contrary to Scripture (cf. 1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:11,12 The idea of "lay" evangelism (e.g., Evangelism Explosion) is the product of 19th century revivalism, not biblical Christianity. This nonsense is teaching designed to make some members of the body feel guilty they are not other members.
Section 7, of this chapter, tells us that "Those evangelizing should use all available means consistent with the Bible (emphasis added)." I suggest that such language strikes at the authoritative preaching ministry which the Church ought to display. It is "the foolishness of preaching" which God has ordained for the saving of souls. Yet, the language of the "Testimony" encourages the searching out of other means, as long as "consistent with the Bible," to evangelize. I do not object to the distribution of Bibles and tracts, etc., but they are not ordinarily used apart from the teaching of men (cf. Acts 8:30,31)and that is the job of officebearers. The Lord did not use an angel to preach to God-fearing Cornelius. When God was pleased to answer his prayer and convert him, the angel of the Lord instructed to send for Peter to teach him (Acts 10:3-7). Incidentally, notice that God did not command him (by means of the angel) to send for an unordained man. God has appointed "the foolishness of preaching," whether by one ordinarily or extraordinarily chosen, to effect the saving of men's souls.
In section 10, of this chapter, the "Testimony" states that, "Wherever consistent with faithfulness to God's truth, different branches of the visible church should cooperate in evangelism to strengthen their witness by demonstrating their unity in Christ." I suppose this is a "bone" for those that love Billy Graham crusades, Campus Crusade for Christ, and all of the other perverted "evangelical" efforts to distort the message of Christianity. How can a faithful church cooperate with an unfaithful church in such efforts? Remember the words of Hosea, (cf. Hos. 4:15-17), that faithful Judah is not to engage with faithless Israel, even in the commanded duty of swearing that the Lord lives (cf. Jer. 4:2). Unity in Christ is unity in the truth (cf. Eph. 4:13). To "demonstrate" visible unity, without the reality, is to present a lie to the world. "A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies." And then, if the RPCNA cooperates with the OPC, where do you send the evangelized? To the OPC, where they will be taught to sing hymns of human composition to musical accompaniment (i.e., commit idolatry)? Or shall they go to the RPCNA, where they will learn the benefits of crosses (for identification purposes only, of course) and the glory of ordaining women to the diaconate (i.e., idolatry and heresy)? So they shall be made twice the sons of hell: once by nature and again by corrupt teaching. This emphasis on cooperation with other (presumably less pure) churches is an assault on faithful testimony-bearing (cf. Jer. 15:9; Prov. 19:27; Rom. 16:17).
In chapter 16, section 4, the "Testimony" states that, "The Christian may work with unbelievers in seeking the good of society, but his chief motive should be the glory of God." Furthermore, "Christians should avoid any voluntary association in which they cannot maintain a consistent testimony for Christ." In other words, according to the "Testimony," Christians may yoke themselves with unbelievers to accomplish the "good" of society. Now, we know that the "natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." How can Christians, who ought to strive for the glory of God, be yoked with unbelievers for the "good" of the society? What is the definition of "good?" Certainly, it can mean nothing spiritual, because that cannot be accomplished yoked to unbelievers. Yet, the Bible teaches that, "righteousness exalteth a nation." Do you make righteousness something which can be attained apart from belief in expiation through the blood of Christ? Psalm 2 makes clear the obligation of magistrates to acknowledge the Lord and his Anointed (or, Christ). This is the righteousness which Scripture teaches exalts a nation. But how can this spiritual state obtain by confederating with the enemies of God? Thus, no cooperation can have a common spiritual goal, for the unbeliever is spiritually dead. If nothing spiritual, then carnal; ends which both can agree upon. Thus, the Christian sacrifices the truths of the Gospel on the altar of expediency. This is how the church becomes worldly; contrary to that word, "be not conformed to this world." Voluntary associations are predicated upon the compromise of truth for the purpose of accomplishing something which both parties believe to be more important. Could you tell me what this would be? Herein we see the joining of hands with people of all religions and no religion--an attempt to resurrect a broken Covenant of Works--to build again the tower of Babel, and trample under foot the great truths of the Covenant of Grace. It is the cry of today's perverted society, "Morality without religion, culture without Christ!" "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!"
In chapter 20, section 4, a false view of liberty of conscience is displayed. The "Testimony" states that, "Although conscience is not infallible, a person should not do what he believes to be wrong." What kind of Libertine notion is this? Should not a person do what he believes to be wrong, if, in fact, the Scripture teaches it is right? Furthermore, should not the magistrate enforce the law of God upon society? Certainly he did under the Old Testament; even to the extent of executing idolaters, blasphemers, and Sabbath-breakers. What right did he have to do so? It is commanded in the law of God! Imagine, a magistrate who suppresses the liberty of conscience of the idolater, blasphemer and Sabbath-breaker! Likewise, the elders of the Church are to suppress, under threat of excommunication, that kind of pretended liberty of conscience. It is true that a person ought not do what he believes to be wrong, unless it is indeed wrong, or if the thing under consideration is, in reality, merely adiaphora. Only an enlightened conscience can exercise true liberty of conscience.
In chapter 21, section 3, the "Testimony" states, "The use of pictures or images of Jesus in worship, or as aids to devotion, is unscriptural. The Scriptures do not provide a sufficient description of His physical appearance to picture Him. The work of artists should not be received as accurate representations of His Person." I suppose this wording is to allow the use of flannel board images and books with pictures which purport to represent the Saviour for instruction. But, as the Larger catechism teaches, question 109, "the making any representation of God, of all, or any of the three Persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever," is forbidden in the second commandment. Hence, it is idolatry. Use of pictures or images of Jesus at all is idolatry! Furthermore, the last comment, concerning the work of artists, is indicative of the refusal of the RPCNA to hate that which is evil. They bear no relation to the glorious person of our Lord, and the very attempt (or acknowledging of such a link) creates an idol of the mind. For this reason, such works should be destroyed, not tolerated.
In chapter 21, section 5, the "Testimony" comments, in defense of exclusive Psalmody, "The Greek words in the New Testament which are translated "psalm," "hymn" and "song" all appear in the Septuagint (Greek) version of the Book of Psalms." So what? are they asserting that the Septuagint is part of our alone infallible rule of faith and practice? That it is a subordinate and ancillary source of proof, I do not deny. But, to make such a disconnected assertion makes one wonder what their basis is for retaining the practice.
The "Testimony," chapter 23, section 18, rejects part of the Westminster Confession?! While they can give no scriptural support for their rejection, the Confession provides ample citations from the Word of God for the inclusion of the matter therein contained. The rejection of the magistrates right (or, should I say obligation?) "to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented and reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered and observed," is indicative of the pluralistic heresy which has gained ascendancy in the RPCNA. They long ago left the Reformed position that the state has an obligation to establish the true Reformed religion (cf. Isa. 60:12; in loco Calvin's comments). Additionally, their rejection of the right of magistrates "to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide, that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God," displays a total disregard for the Old Testament as providing normative teaching respecting magistracy. This was adopted by the Church, in 1647, with the understanding that such power was reserved to magistrates in times when the Church is in an unsettled state. Ah, for such a magistrate today!
In sections 25 through 30, of chapter 23, the "Testimony" effectively overturns the historic position of the Covenanter church, which required total political dissent from immoral constitutions of civil government. These sections do not recognize the corporate character of the civil government, but only focus on individual elements (e.g., oaths, individuals running for office, &c.). This is no surprise given the hand that Wayne Spear had in the formulation of this document. After all, he was one of the key figures in relegating political dissent, as a term of communion, to the ash heap, in the RPCNA (cf. Minutes of Synod, 1967, pp.72-74). Section 29, begins with the presumption ("When participating...") that political dissent is no longer required by the church. How can there be anyone running for office, knowing he must swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution as it presently stands, who is possessed of the scriptural qualifications which the Bible requires Christians to ascertain before suffering the person to rule over them?. The Bible warns Christians not to elevate anyone who is not a brother to rule over us. Rulers must be just, ruling in the fear of God. Where is the justice which Scripture commands in the Constitution? There is no recognition of Christ, the Governor of the nations; nor of his law. If it possesses any religious character, it is that of Unitarianism and universalism. This is no constitution for Christians to homologate or pledge allegiance to. It represents a nation, blessed by the Light of the Gospel, which, nonetheless, rejects the true religion. How can any Christian swear to uphold such a conception? How can any Christian ask some else to take an oath (i.e., vote) which he could not himself take?
In chapter 24, section 18, the "Testimony" wavers, "Deliberately induced abortion, except possibly to save the mother's life, is murder." Either deliberately induced abortion is murder or it is not. How can the endangering of the mother's life cause murder to no longer be murder? "Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friend."
Section 20, of chapter 24, states the rejection of the Confessional prohibition that, "The man may not marry any of his wife's kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own; nor the woman of her husband's kindred nearer in blood than of her own." In section 21, they go on to state that this prohibition against marrying a deceased wife's sister or a deceased husband's brother is not warranted in Scripture! Thus, the "present" RP "Testimony" is in favour of incest! Then they reference Deut. 25:5-10, to make their case. This was a special law (i.e., a type) which had to be revealed to preserve distinct blood lines required to fulfill the promise of a Redeemer from the tribe of Judah. The two examples of this law put in practice in the Bible (cf. Gen. 38 & Ruth) bear out the relationship of this typical law to the coming of the promised Seed. Both Tamar and Ruth are to found in the genealogy of our Lord, in Matt. 1:3,5. If this law represents a binding moral precept, then it proves that it is required for a brother to marry his deceased brothers wife or face public humiliation (cf. Deut. 25:7-10). However, the moral law, as expressed in Leviticus 18 and 20, is clear. Upon the principle that two become "one flesh," I am related to my wife's ("my sister, my spouse" Song 5:1) family by affinity to the same degree that I am related to my own family by consanguinity. Affinity constitutes a real relation! If a person should search the Bible for the words, "Thou shalt not marry the sister of thy deceased wife," we admit, they will not be found. However, the words, "Thou shalt not marry thine own daughter," are not to be found either! Do they believe this to be acceptable? We would prove the contrary from the 7th verse of Leviticus 18, wherein a man is forbidden to marry his mother. If that is a forbidden degree, is not it a forbidden degree between father and daughter, though not expressly mentioned? Does not the same degree of consanguinity exist? Likewise, Lev. 18:16, does expressly forbid marriage with a deceased brothers wife. And by the same rule, as applied before, we say, that by the law of affinity, the same degree exists between brother-in-law and sister-in-law, whether expressly prohibited, as above, or inferentially derived as the case of marrying a deceased wifes sister. As touching the meaning of Lev. 18:18, those who would use it to justify such ungodly marriages will find ample rebuke in Calvins comments in loco. This section of the RP "Testimony" is an attempt to set aside the law of God and condone perversion.
Section 26, of chapter 24, says that, "If the unrepentant guilty party in a divorce marries another, he commits adultery." In fact, if the guilty party ever remarries, whether repentant or not, during the lifetime of the innocent party, the guilty party remains in sin. True repentance brings restitution; and restitution means the offending party recognizes that he is dead in relation to marriage, so long as the innocent party lives. That is why the Westminster Confession makes no provision for remarriage for the guilty party--not even on condition of repentance. (There is a more certain sound given in chapter 6, section 9, of the Directory for the Worship of God.)
Sections 30 and 33, of chapter 24, in the "Testimony," presume that it is acceptable for Christians to send their children to be educated by those outside of the true Reformed religion. The Bible lays the responsibility of education on the family with the help of the church, not the state! The state has nothing to teach. If the state recognizes and establishes the true Reformed religion, then it may help in the support of parish schools (as was done in Scotland, for example), but the state was not ordained by God for the purpose of instructing children.
In chapter 25, section 8, the "Testimony" asserts that "Women as well as men may hold the office of deacon." All I can say at this point is, remember Jezebel. How can they set aside the clear teaching of Scripture that women are to have no authority over men? For further elucidation on this point, I suggest you read John Knox's First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (available from Presbyterian Heritage).
Additionally, in chapter 25, section 17, the "Testimony" subverts the clear testimony of the Westminster Standards against the Papacy. It displays the corrupting influence of amillenial futurism in seeking a future "man of sin." Every Reformed Christian must stand with the Reformers because the Reformation itself hinged on identifying the Pope as "that man of sin."
In chapter 26, sections 4 and 5, the "Testimony" states that it is "wise and proper that Christians refrain from the use, sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages," and "The use of tobacco is detrimental to health and is to be avoided because of the responsibility to preserve the body which is a temple of God." The warning against the use of alcoholic beverages presents an indictment against the wisdom of Christ, who at the wedding feast of Cana turned the water into wine (and that after they had already consumed the available wine!). Such sentiments are blasphemous in ramification and show a desire to be wiser than God. With respect to the use of tobacco, they seek to bind men's consciences beyond the scope of Scripture. There is no absolute cause and effect link between the use of tobacco and poor health. Not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer or other respiratory diseases; nor does the abstinence from its use guarantee that one will not be subject to such maladies. The question in both cases is governed by the word "temperance"TEMPERANCE NOT ABSTINENCE! Anything used beyond moderation is used sinfully but that line is a difficult one to discern and the Church should only inflict discipline in very clear cases of excess (e.g., gluttony, drunkenness, &c.).
Chapter 31, section 2, of the "Testimony" rejects that portion of the Confession respecting the right of magistrate's "to call a synod of ministers...." As this has already been addressed briefly above, I merely note the joining of error to error when the fabric of the system of the Reformed faith is rent.
I now begin a survey of the Directory for Church Government.
In chapter 1, section 4, we are informed that, "No one should be admitted [to the Lord's supper] who is ignorant of the plan of salvation, or who gives no credible evidence of having been born again, or who assumes an attitude antagonistic to the principles set forth in the standards of the church." What constitutes "credible evidence of having been born again?" This sounds like the triumph of Baptist heresy. Who has the gift to discern the spirits? Who can make such a determination? The biblical requirements for being communicants are a familiarity with sound doctrine ("not ignorant") and corresponding practice ("not scandalous"). See Larger catechism Q. #173. The Westminster Standards, following Scripture, teach that, "One who doubteth of his being in Christ,...may and ought to come to the Lords Supper, that he may be further strengthened," L.C. Q.#172. Is that someone who gives "credible evidence of having been born again?"
In section 11, of this chapter, it is contemplated that persons can be dismissed to other "denominations" with the blessing of a session. What?! To issue a "certificate of transfer" to another body (presumably less Reformed, hence the separate standing of the RPCNA) is for the session to condone a course of backsliding! Suppose a person moves where there is no RPCNA congregation. It is a wicked provocation to place temporal concerns before spiritual ones. To dismiss him, therefore, to the PCA, OPC or some other body, from which the RPCNA believes it is compelled to maintain a separate witness due to their sin, displays a concern for a "form of godliness while denying the power thereof." It shows greater concern for visible organization than for the truth around which it should be organized.
In chapter 2, section 4, we read, "In many states or provinces, congregations are required to have a Board of Trustees...." Where is the biblical warrant for boards of trustees? Where does the State derive the authority to prescribe to the Church that it must maintain such creatures? This is Erastianism! This should be resisted at all costs! What kind of Reformed Presbyterians would allow the king to impose officers on the Church which have no warrant from the Word of God? You would do well to peruse J.H. Thornwell on the question of "boards of trustees."
Section 5, of this chapter, mentions the creation of "Sabbath schools." Again, where do they find authority in the Word of God? They are suspiciously selective in their application of the regulative principle. "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." In section 9, they provide for the election of "trustees if required by civil law." Again, I ask, where does civil law derive the authority to overturn jure divino Presbyterianism? Section 16, again presents this Erastian office of "trustee."
In the section on teaching elders, we read of "teaching elders the Armed Forces of Canada or the United States...." How can they engage to uphold systems of government fundamentally hostile to the true Reformed religion? How can it be that the RPCNA does not censure and depose such malignants? Instead, they are numbered and considered missionaries under the auspices of their presbyteries. The synodical report, to which this statement refers, indicates that Synods committee found the matter too complex adequately to address at that time. I suppose this means that there were then too many "members" in the armed services.
Lastly, I shall survey The Directory for the Worship of God.
In chapter 1, section 6, I find this assertion, "A building dedicated to the worship of God should be regarded as sacred...." Really? "Sacred?" The Pope would be proud of such a statement. Why not sacred relics and holy sites for pilgrimage, as well? The whole concept of "dedicating" buildings, or any other thing, is Romanist superstition! It is an attempt to graft the ceremonial provisions of "dedicating" tabernacles, temples, vessels, &c., which dedications were permitted as types of the New Testament economy (cf. Heb. 9), on the Church under the New Testament dispensation.
In chapter 2, section 3, provision is made for "choirs." Again, we must protest against this imposition of ceremonial provisions on the New Testament Church. If choirs, then Levites; where do we go to discern the genealogical qualifications? In section 4, of this chapter, we read of a practice akin to "childrens sermons." It is stated that the Explanation of the Psalm, "may on occasion be directed especially to the children." Where is the biblical precedent for this? Why not "children's church," too? Perhaps Karl Hubenthal's booklet on Children and the Church should be more widely circulated.
The inclusion of reading in unison or responsive reading, in section 10, is the introduction of confusion into the worship of God in the reading of his Word. The duty of reading the Scriptures publicly belongs to the pastor (i.e., a teaching elder), as is set forth clearly in the Form of Presbyterial Church Government, (1645), as adopted by the Church of Scotland. They give adequate scripture proof of this position; if you desire more, I would commend the various works of Samuel Rutherfurd on Church government for continued elucidation. I realize that it is not contemporary, but I am unaware of anyone alive with the broad grasp of jure divino Presbyterianism which he possessed.
Section 2, of chapter 3, allows the sacraments to be dispensed "by others [than ordained ministers] authorized by the church to meet extraordinary circumstances." This sounds like the mid-wife "baptism" approved by the Romish church in cases of extremity. How can you have sacraments without the preaching of the Word; and who is authorized to preach except ministers? How can presbyteries or synod circumvent "Christs appointment?" This view is very questionable.
In section 9, of this chapter, we are informed that, "The symbols [of the Lord's supper] are the bread and the cup." No, the symbols are bread and wine. This should be dispensed using a common cup, not thimbles. To cite John Brown, minister of Haddington, the use of the word "cup" denotes the liquor in it, in 1 Cor. 11:27. The vessel itself does not represent the blood--it is the wine within! The use of the word "cup" standing in for "wine" connotes a commonality--a sharing. Likewise the "cup of salvation," is a participation in salvation, and the "cup of wrath" signifies a participation in God's wrath. The use of the word "cup," in this case, was clearly designed to hide the deficiency of the elements employed by the RPCNA. If they had said, "The symbols are bread and grape juice," their deception would have been easily detected. The refusal to use wine, is, in reality, denying the "cup" to the people. It demonstrates the RPCNA does not administer the sacraments of Christ, but vitiated elements devised in their own corrupt minds.
In section 10a, of this chapter, the communion is thrown open to "communicant members in good standing in some true branch of the visible church." Incredible! communicant members of the RPCNA are required to possess some amount of saving knowledge (cf. Directory for Church Government, chapter 1, section 4), but outsiders are only required to be members in good standing of some branch of the "true church." What if they are members in good standing in the PCA (a standing which is not difficult to maintain), can they, without knowledge (i.e., ignorant) or engaged in some practice condemned by the RPCNA but not by the PCA (i.e., scandalous), be admitted, while those born within the pale are subjected to greater scrutiny? Where does the Bible teach two tiered communicant membership?
Chapter 4, section 3, it is stated that, "The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America entered into such a covenant in 1871, which is still binding." While this is not the place to dissect the deficiencies of that corrupt bond, I ask, Why do they not mention their "Covenant of 1954?" You, of all people should be concerned, after all, 1954 is a much more recent than 1871. The covenant of 1871 was born out of the desire to cast off previously recognized covenant obligations. "Without understanding, covenant-breakers...." "Truce breakers...lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
Chapter 5, on Other Spheres of Worship, includes "Sabbath schools," "The Young People's Society," and "The Women's Missionary Society." Where is the biblical justification for adding to the words of the Book? They seek to do God's work in their own wisdom.
In chapter 6, sections 5-7, we are told what elements belong in a funeral service. Was this written by members of the Synod of the RPCNA or members of the Society of Jesus (i.e., Jesuits). Historically, Presbyterians have stood in opposition to "burial services for the dead." They are the composition of the Romish church and are designed to enflame erroneous and superstitious notions of death. "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
This survey is not a complete chronicling of the errors of the "present" RP "Testimony." I have only mentioned some of the more obvious and have passed over discussing topics which would require extended treatment (such as their making only a "functional" difference between ruling and teaching elders, which appears throughout their discussion of elders in their Directory for Church Government, as well as in their "Testimony," chapter 25, section 9). I now wish to consider some of the other remarks etched in the margins of the returned magazine.
You say, "No person should choose a church today by what it stood for 100 to 200 years ago, in another part of the world." What? As this remark appears under the quotes from Reformation Principles Exhibited, I suspect there is supposed to be some connection. This so-called "American Testimony" was held until the Synod of 1980. That was certainly not 100 to 200 years ago! And, it was adopted right here in North America. Additionally, you have given the precise reason I refuse to join the RPCNA (falsely called Covenanter). If they were today what they were 200 to 250 years ago, I would join them. They are not and I refuse, unlike you, to fellowship them in their defection.
You continue by saying, "The study of church history is profitable, but is no basis for refusing to be part of the CHURCH OF CHRIST today!" Proving once more the adage, "The blind are often bold enough!" Is the study of church history profitable or not? You first write me a letter chastening me, because you are not helped by "quotings of men of a past era;" they possess only "historical and theoretical value;" they do not help you in your "duties as an evangelist, minister and citizen in today's world." (By the way, when was the extraordinary office of "evangelist" restored to the Church?) Now, you inform me that studying church history is profitable. Which is it, sir?
Furthermore, I am a member of the Church of Christ both visible and invisible! "The visible church...consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children...," (WCF XXV.2). Why don't you simply come out and say that "laymen" must be grafted into the "Church" by means of the "clergy?" That is what you mean. I would submit that I have a more firm grasp of Reformed theology--including ecclesiology--than most of the professing clergy. I certainly profess the "true religion." What I do not do is submit to tyrants masquerading as elders! That is what you keep nagging me to do. Well, I do not subscribe to your popish ideas about what constitutes the Church. "Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah."
The last responses I will make are regarding your notes etched by the "Associate Presbyterian" Testimony, Of Separation from Corrupt Churches.
The Testimony stated, "Observing their dissimulation about an article of the doctrine of Christ, which they would not avow for fear of offending certain Jews, Paul declared that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel: (Gal. 2:14), and if they had persisted in this disorderly walking, the rule before mentioned, which the Spirit directed him to give the church of Christ, would have obliged him to withdraw from them." You respond, "There's no Scriptural precedent for that!" You, sir, are wrong. There is both precedent and command in Scripture.
First, there is the precedent of Elijah (and Elisha), whom, though surrounded by the corrupt church is never engaged in their corruption. In fact, in 1 Kings 19:14, he complains that he is the only one left serving the Lord. But why, if he held communion with the corrupt ecclesiastical practices of the day would he come to such complaint? Then, there is the example of Paul, in Acts 19:9, who departed from the synagogue, evidently composed of believers and unbelievers, because he "separated the disciples." How could this be? These were the churches in his day. "To the Jew first, then to the Greek." Yet, Paul separated from the Church of God when they manifested a hardness of heart. So, prophetic and apostolic example is good enough for me.
Second, we are commanded to "turn away" from "truce (or, covenant) breakers," 1 Tim. 3:3-5. We are commanded to "avoid them" which have caused "divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned," Rom. 16:17. We are commanded to "withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of" the apostles, 2 Thess. 3:6. And, "if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed," 2 Thess. 3:14. (May God grant you to feel the shame you should.) We are commanded to "meddle not with them that are given to change," Prov. 24:21. "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,...from such withdraw thyself," 1 Tim. 6:3-5.
Next, you leave the following stray comment in the margin, "Even the division of Israel (No. & So.) was occasioned by SINFUL SCHISM." True, indeed! But does that make the faithful remnant responsible for the breach effected by the backsliders? Am I the cause of division because I refuse to comply with the backsliding courses of the RPCNA? The Church before Christ separated due to the ungodly policy of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:27; 2 Chron. 11:14, and the Church was never reunited. Surely, it was lawful for Judah to reform herself, when Israel would not join, after the fervent warnings issued were rejected, 2 Chron. 13:11,12. Indeed, it was, as is evident, Hos. 4:14, "Though Israel transgress, yet let not Judah offend." Schism did break forth in division, but the cause of the separation must be laid at the door of those who defected from the truth of God.
You proceed to say, "There's no precedent for schism in the Bible!" True enough; however, you confuse "schism" with "separation." They are not the same thing. John Brown, of Haddington, states, "that schism in scripture, chiefly, if not solely, represents alienation of affection, and disagreement among those who continue the same joint attendance on the ordinances of the gospel," 1 Cor. 12:25; 1:10. Augustine said, "It is not a different faith makes schismatics, but a broken society of communion." In no place, in the Bible, does the word "schism" appear to signify "visible separation." Error in doctrine, corruption in worship and tyranny in discipline, render separation unavoidable, to escape the sin of schism. Your conception of what constitutes "schism" is that of Rome. If "schism" is "separation;" and "There is no precedent for schism [re: separation] in the Bible;" then, on what basis did Protestants leave Rome? Every Reformer owned that Rome is, in some sense, a Church of Christ. After all, that man of sin is seated in the "temple of God," as they taught. If you desire, I will produce ample quotations, but I doubt that such "historical" meanderings will be of value to you.
When the "Associate" Testimony quotes, "Come out from among them, and be separate;" you respond, "That's not referring to coming out from a Church of Christ." Correct, it is coming out from under the tyranny of those masquerading as the government of Christ's Church.
At that point, wherein the Testimony asserts that, "had a number of upright zealous Christians separated from the superstition, the corrupt doctrines, and the human inventions, which soon after the death of the apostles, stained the glory of the primitive churches, the testimony of Jesus had never been so much lost and buried as it was under the reign of antichrist;" you rebut (?), "That is pure speculation. 20-20 hindsight." Now, do you really think it is merely speculation that refusing to join in apostasy tends to keep the light of the Gospel burning more clearly? Or, are you admitting that "20-20 hindsight" can be a good thing; i.e., that we can learn from the mistakes which others have made? Well? Which is it? "Why halt ye between two opinions?"
You assert that it is "one mans opinion," when the "Associate" Testimony comments that, "the conduct of Christians in the early ages of Christianity, is so far from being a convincing argument with us, to continue in the communion of churches after they are become very corrupt, and refuse to return from the evil of their ways, that we may justly consider it as furnishing us with an affecting example, of the danger of continuing in the communion of such churches." Wrong! That was from the Testimony of the Associate Presbyterian Church, it was not merely the private musings of one man. Similar sentiment used to be held by the RPCNA, as well. Nonetheless, if it were the writing of one man, it would matter little, because one man agreeing with the Scripture is a majority. When it was asserted that "we have the word of God on our side," you query, "You do?" Yes, sir, WE DO! I think you will find more Scripture referenced in this letter than in all of your vain pleas to submit to doctrinal corruption, ecclesiastical tyranny and the like. Can't you quote the Bible? Perhaps, you might begin with Malachi 2:7,8: "For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts." Or, maybe, Jeremiah 23:31,32: "Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord." Micah 3:8-12 also is to the point, especially verse 10, "They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity." These kind of verses convict me, do they convict you? I am disgusted with "elders" lecturing me about submission, when they refuse to submit to the Word of God! If you had any respect for Gods Word you would be too ashamed to lecture me.
Lastly, you leave off with the following protest: "Are you implying by printing this, that all this is true of the RPCNA in 1994? I protest! the RPCNA is a reforming church as witnessed at Synod, 1993. Reform can happen only from within--protests still are needed--from within this church of Christ. It is not a synagogue of Satan, but a church of Christ, therefore [it] must be defended against aspersions of its real character." I would say that it is true not only of the RPCNA, which has left its first love, but of the other Presbyterian bodies, too. I do not know what you can point to at the 1993 Synod that would evidence that it is a "reforming" body. You obviously do not know the history of that body and therefore are willing to defend it when it does not apostatize all at once. If a thief steals every year for decades and one year he does not steal, has he reformed? The Bible recognizes no reformation without restitution (cf. Acts 3:21). If that thief has not made restitution for what he had already stolen, then he has not reformed. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning the RPCNA and its covenant-breaking. "Vow, and pay," that is the Bible order. As far as your contention that reform can happen only from within--WHAT ABOUT THE REFORMATION? The answer was not to continue trying to reform Rome from within, though there continued to be a church at Rome, as the Reformers said. Your assertion is a bald assertion; there is no substance to it! Nor have I said that the RPCNA is a synagogue of Satan. I do not believe that I have to wait until the Gospel utterly perishes before I am warranted by Scripture to separate. But enough!
In conclusion, I would be remiss not to remind you that you will, very shortly, stand before the Judge of the whole earth; and then you must render an account. You are going on in a course which "strengthens the hands of the ungodly," and "seeks to do evil that good may come." You speak now as one under "strong delusion," you are believing a lie, "because you received not the love of the truth." How you could read the magazine for the last year and remain ignorant is amazing. It makes me tremble at the awesome justice of a sovereign God. Since you joined the RPCNA you have changed, and not for the better. I had hoped better things of you. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." "As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel." Now, sir, I turn you over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh in the hope that your spirit might be saved. Shaking the dust, Jim Dodson
Jim Dodson is the editor of:

The Original Covenanter and Contending Witness [magazine]

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For more go to Dodson Versus the RPCNA -- concerning his "Open Letter to an RPCNA Elder"

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