Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. -- 2 Timothy 1:13
And he gave . . . pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. -- Ephesians 4:11-14
Also [they] caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. -- Nehemiah 8:7-8
To see the unavoidable necessity of uninspired creeds, consider the following conversation between Hans (a paleopresbyterian) and Franz (a neopresbyterian):
HANS: We're studying the Westminster Confession of Faith. Want to join us?
FRANZ: No; I don't give heed to the words of men like you do.
H: What do you mean?
F: I go by the Bible. I can't rely on the words of mere uninspired men.
H: Me, too. That's why we're studying the Confession. You should join us; it'd be very edifying.
F: Wait a minute. I just told you that I only go by the Bible, and yet you have just equated the study of this Westminster Confession with a study of the Scriptures!
H: And as I just said, I only go by the Bible, too. So, I'm not going to pay any attention to what you've just said. You're not inspired, after all.
F: Of course I'm not inspired; but what I said was right because it was BIBLICAL.
H: How could it be biblical if it was merely what you -- an uninspired man -- told me? I only listen to the inspired words of the Bible. Isn't it lording it over my conscience to tell me to accept your uninspired words as though they were the very inspired words of God?
F: Oh, come on. I may not have quoted chapter and verse, but I was telling you what the Bible MEANS. That's why you have you have to pay attention to it.
H: Are you saying the meaning of the Bible, even if explained in the uninspired words of uninspired men, is still binding -- in fact, as binding as the very words written in the Bible?
F: Well, yes, that is what I'm saying. The meaning of the Bible, though stated in different words, has the same authority as the exact words found there. And since I'm telling you that the meaning of the Bible is not to give heed to the uninspired words of men, you still have to receive it as though those exact words I've spoken were written in the pages of Scripture.
H: Wait a minute. How is what you've just said any different from the Westminster Confession? After all, the writers of the Confession were only putting forth what they thought was the meaning of the Bible.
F: Well, er. . . umm. . . .
H: I know of one difference: they were all preeminently qualified to expound the Word of God. They were recognized as having these gifts by the various churches that delegated them to sit at the Westminster Assembly. Any scholar who knows anything about Protestant history knows that these men were the "cream of the crop", and that almost certainly there has never been since that time (and maybe even up to that time, except for the apostles themselves) one body containing so many godly and learned men. I don't think you possess the same qualifications, at least not yet.
F: Hmmm, good point.
H: Furthermore, the Holy Spirit says in Ephesians 4 that Christ has given to the church teachers as a powerful and necessary means to building up the body of Christ into "a perfect or complete man". Obviously, these teachers do not have the gift of inspiration, and yet the Spirit didn't view this as a challenge to the sufficiency of Scripture, but rather as a necessary outgrowth of it. This is because he desires that we know the meaning of the Bible, not just the bare words. As R.L. Dabney said, "He who would consistently banish creeds must silence all preaching and reduce the teaching of the church to the recital of the exact words of Holy Scripture without note or comment."
And, just because these men lived in the past doesn't mean that they're not a gift from God to us today. The Bible everywhere speaks of the church as one body throughout all history (Gal. 3:23-24; 4:1-3; Ps. 66:6; Hos. 12:4; Deut. 5:2-3). Therefore, the astute teachers of the past are our teachers as well, thanks to God's gracious preservation of their writings. Actually, because these men were on the crest of the waves of reformation, and not in the trough of apostasy as we are today, we ought to pay more attention to them than to contemporary teachers. This is because all of us -- including our teachers -- have been blinded by our culture's wretched and extreme departure from the Lord Jesus Christ.
F: What time did you say you were meeting? I believe the meaning of Scripture requires that I attend!
The primary object of terms of communion in the Church is to exhibit the law and covenant of God, and then agreement of persons in their apprehension of these, together with their joint and declared resolution to walk accordingly. -- David Steele, The Two Witnesses (published with his Notes on the Apocalypse), p. 388.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. -- Acts 2:42.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. -- 1 Corinthians 1:10
Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock. -- Song 1:8
Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. -- Jer. 6:16
There is not a doctrine of grace which is not opposed, which is not supplanted by the false prophet. To state these doctrines, to place them before the eye in logical connections, to apply them to saints and sinners; to defend them and their just application when denied in theory and disregarded in practice: to exemplify their sanctifying power in the hand of the Spirit of Christ: this, this is the work of the witnesses. -- David Steele, The Two Witnesses (published with his Notes on the Apocalypse), p. 382.
Note: After the six terms of ministerial and Christian communion (from the Reformed Presbytery's, Act, Declaration, and Testimony, pp. 216), there follows a dialogue to help explain them. This conversation is again between Hans and Franz, the characters in "The Biblical and Logical Necessity of Uninspired Creeds." Franz has been studying diligently, and is now virtually a paleopresbyterian. A brief index of topics discussed, and of some objections against our terms of communion is included before the dialogue for quick reference (page numbers not included in the html format).
1. An acknowledgement of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God, and the alone infallible rule of faith and practice.
2. That the whole doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Catechisms, Larger and Shorter, are agreeable unto, and founded upon, the Scriptures.
3. That Presbyterial Church Government and manner of worship are alone of divine right and unalterable; and that the most perfect model of these as yet attained, is exhibited in the Form of Government and Directory for Worship [both of these were productions of the Westminster Assembly], adopted by the Church of Scotland in the Second Reformation [1638-1649].
4. That public, social covenanting, is an ordinance of God, obligatory on churches and nations under the New Testament; that the National Covenant and the Solemn League are an exemplification of this divine institution; and that these Deeds are of continued obligation upon the moral person [that is, the church in subsequent ages]; and in consistency with this -- that the Renovation of these Covenants at Auchensaugh [Scotland], 1712, was agreeable to the word of God.
5. An approbation of the faithful contendings of the martyrs of Jesus, especially in Scotland, against Paganism, Popery, Prelacy, Malignancy and Sectarianism; immoral civil governments; Erastian tolerations and persecutions which flow from them; and of the Judicial Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery in North Britain, 1761 and adopted by this church, with supplements; as containing a noble example to be followed, in contending for all divine truth, and in testifying against all corruptions embodied in the constitutions of either churches or states.
6. Practically adorning the doctrine of God our Savior by walking in all his commandments and ordinances blamelessly.
Definition of 'Terms of Communion'
Definition of Christ's witnesses
David Steele and "schism"
Uninspired creeds necessary as term of communion
United States bound by Solemn League and Covenant
Nations as moral persons
Church and nations, as moral persons, have offspring
Descendants of covenanting churches bound by Solemn League and Covenant
Different ways in which descendants can be bound by Solemn League and Covenant
National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant are themselves attainments of reformation
Previous lawful covenants upheld in newer covenants
Claiming to uphold the Covenants not enough: must demonstrate that original intent is being upheld
Uninspired history absolutely necessary to obey God's commandments; e.g. 5th com.
Doctrine and Practice (not just doctrine) required as terms of communion
Faith without works is dead applies to church as moral person, not simply individuals
True unity found in Scriptural doctrine and practice; no unity without both of these
Differing level of authority for Bible vs. the other standards
Derived, subordinate authority is still real authority
Subordinate standards are only received after careful Scriptural examination of them
Confession's distinction between unlawful authority, and the unlawful exercise of lawful authority
Submission for conscience sake to unlawful authority forbidden by God
Marks of the church: tests to distinguish lawful and unlawful ecclesiastical authorities
Marks of the church must be applied in history, not in a vacuum
Historical testimony necessary to determine lawful authority in the church
Historical testimony absolutely vital in evaluating our own individual sanctification
Expect faithfulness, not perfection
Growth beyond current understanding and application of the truth expected
David Steele and "schism"
Erastianism and the Westminster Confession
Obsession with Church of Scotland during time of Reformation
Arbitrariness in upholding only the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant, and not all the other covenants of the Reformation
RP's Terms of Communion actually Popish, require implicit faith, place the writings of men on a par with the Scripture
Requiring subscription to uninspired history is going beyond the Scripture
Impossible for Bible to require approval of contendings of martyrs, etc., because these contendings took place after the Scripture was written
Allegations of 'perfectionism' and 'Anabaptism'
FRANZ: I sure am glad I saw that the meaning of Scripture compelled me to study the Westminster Confession of Faith with you. These past few months have been amazingly enlightening and edifying!
HANS: I'm very pleased to hear that. Your diligence and eagerness have been an encouragement and motivation to me, and to others.
F: Actually, I've been thinking of joining your church for some time now. I got a copy of your terms of communion, and they looked really good at first.
H: At first?
F: Well. . . yeah. Then I had some discussions with a friend of mine -- a really sharp fellow -- who's a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. They call themselves 'Covenanters', too.
H: And he put some doubts in your mind?
F: Yeah. Actually, when I told him about your church, he said he already knew of you; he called you 'Steelites'. I asked him why, and he said that David Steele and some others caused a schism about 150 years ago when they separated from what is now the RPCNA to form 'The Reformed Presbytery'. He said that the doctrines and terms of communion they -- and you -- adopted will forever perpetuate that schism.
H: Oh? How so?
F: He said you were basically Papists, putting uninspired works on a par with the Bible and then abusing your church authority by requiring faith in the church, rather than in the word of God.
H: That's no new charge. Did he substantiate it? How much of Steele has he read?
F: I don't know; I didn't think to ask, I was so confused at the time. We went through the six terms and I took notes. Can you and I go through them? Maybe you can answer his objections.
H: Sure, I'd be happy to try. Let me grab some books first. . . okay, shoot.
F: All right. Well, neither he nor I had any problems with the first term -- "an acknowledgement of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God, and the alone infallible rule of faith and practice" -- or the sixth term -- "practically adorning the doctrine of God our Savior by walking in all his commandments and ordinances blamelessly." No true Christian can deny those. He said he agreed in general with the second -- "that the whole doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Catechisms, Larger and Shorter, are agreeable unto, and founded upon, the Scriptures" -- but that there were a few things in the Confession he couldn't swallow.
H: Like what?
F: He said they imbibed the Erastianism of their day, showing this by their giving far too much authority to the civil government in matters of religion; especially in Chapter 23, Section 3.
H: The writings of the Westminster divines certainly don't support such an unwarranted conclusion. Fact is, they (except for two or three of them) ardently opposed Erastianism! They didn't believe the civil government had any power in matters of religion, but only about matters of religion. The wording of the very section of the Confession in question makes this clear: "The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven."
F: Yeah, I know. I pulled out my copy of The Divine Right of Church Government -- Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici, and showed him the section against Erastianism, chapter 9. He quieted down and asked if he could borrow it. I also showed him my Harmony of the Protestant Confessions, where it's clear that the Westminster Confession says essentially the same thing as all the other reformed creeds.
Otherwise, he agreed with me that it's not sufficient to have only a profession of the truth of the Bible as a term of communion, but that some creed is necessary. He said if we don't have a creed, virtually all heretics would be able to be members, because they all profess the truth of the Bible. Just like you and I discussed before, that it's not just the bare words of Scripture, but their meaning, that we need to uphold.
H: I'm glad he sees that; a lot of people don't. It's also good that he's willing to do some reading and rethink his assertions. That speaks well of him. What else did he, or do you, have problems with?
F: He didn't say too much about the third term -- "that Presbyterial Church Government and manner of worship are alone of divine right and unalterable; and that the most perfect model of these as yet attained, is exhibited in the Form of Government and Directory for Worship, adopted by the Church of Scotland in the Second Reformation" -- except to criticize how caught up the Steelites are with the church of Scotland at the time of the Second Reformation. I actually read through the Form of Government and the Directory for Worship a couple of times. I have some points I want to clarify, but I thought they were good and I didn't have any real concerns. I find it interesting that the adopting act of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland actually makes a point about sitting at a table for the Lord's Supper, that it's not optional.
H: Yeah, I find it very telling as to how precise they were. You know George Gillespie wrote that adopting act?
H: Not surprising; he argues for the practice in his Miscellany Questions and in English Popish Ceremonies. Anyway, how about the 4th term -- "that public, social covenanting, is an ordinance of God, obligatory on churches and nations under the New Testament; that the National Covenant and the Solemn League are an exemplification of this divine institution; and that these Deeds are of continued obligation upon the moral person; and in consistency with this-- that the Renovation of these Covenants at Auchensaugh, 1712, was agreeable to the word of God"?
F: Here's where he started to get more animated, though the worst was over the 5th term. He asked me how Steelites could say that the United States was still bound by the Solemn League and Covenant, since we declared independence from England in 1776.
H: What did you say?
F: I didn't know what to say. Do you think the United States is still obligated by this covenant?
H: Sure. Did Israel cease to be under her covenant obligations when she split from Judah? Was she no longer bound not to exterminate the Gibeonites, for example?
F: Well, I guess she was still under her covenant obligations. But wasn't that an unlawful split? Ours was lawful -- Britain had flagrantly and habitually violated her agreement with us.
H: At this point, I'm not completely sure, given what God promised to Jeroboam in I Kings 11. But let's assume Israel's split wasn't lawful. If the Jews would have started other nations -- national offspring -- would these new nations be bound to the national covenants of Israel their mother?
F: Perhaps. . . but they'd still be separate nations. Why should one nation be bound to something another nation is bound to?
H: Let's take some other examples and maybe they'll make it more clear. Were the Rechabites (in Jeremiah 35) bound by their father's covenant (dwelling in tents, drinking no wine, etc.)? After all, they were separate individuals.
F: Yes, but that was a family, not a nation.
H: True, but God views the nations as moral persons.
F: What do you mean?
H: I mean that in God's eyes, a nation has an individual character, a moral character, separate from the individuals of which she is composed. Thus, not only are her individual members bound to own God as their God, love righteousness and hate evil, etc., but she as a nation, in her official character, is also to do these things. Furthermore, she can and should, as a nation, enter into covenant with God. And since she continues to exist as a nation even though the individuals comprising her populace die, and new generations spring up, her covenant bonds made by leaders in previous generations are still binding, because she -- as a nation, the party originally covenanting with God -- still lives.
F: Hmmm. . . sounds plausible. Is there any scriptural proof?
H: Oh, yes -- lots. Take just a couple examples. In Genesis 50, Joseph required an oath of the children of Israel, to carry his bones up out of Egypt when God would bring them out. Yet those taking the oath died, too, and it was a long time after that that Moses led them out -- and he brought Joseph's bones because he saw the oath as perpetually binding. In fact, the Holy Spirit deemed it so important that he draws our attention to it in Exodus 13:19, in the midst of all the flurry of activity and wonder in their exodus. Another example is Joshua's covenant with the Gibeonites, his promise not to kill them. Saul broke this promise a few hundred years later, and the punishment came in David's time. No other view can explain this adequately.
F: Okay, I agree; but we're still talking about the same nations, not new nations.
H: True, but we need to consider that the original nations taking the Solemn League and Covenant viewed not only England, Scotland and Ireland to be bound, but "all his Majesty's Dominions" to be bound as well -- see The Acts Of The Generall Assemblies Of The Church Of Scotland: From the Year 1638 to the Year 1649 Inclusive, 4 June 1644, Session 7, "The Letter from the Synod of Divines in the Kirk of England, to the General Assembly", pp. 231, 232. Now, at that time "all his Majesty's Dominions" included the American colonies. In fact, the founding fathers explicitly referred to themselves as such -- as one of his Majesty's dominions.
But even more to the point, can't nations, as moral persons, have offspring? After all, the church, as a moral person, has offspring (Rev. 12:1-2,17). So does the whore church of Babylon (Rev. 17:5).
F: I suppose so. But are the offspring of the church bound by their predecessors' covenants?
H: Are my children bound by the covenant obligations I made on their behalf, as their representative head, in baptism? Were the Rechabites bound by their father's covenant?
F: Oh, yeah. And I just remembered Deuteronomy 5:3: "The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day." Yet it's clear from other passages, like Exodus 6, that he did make a covenant with that earlier generation.
H: Right. Also, the Solemn League and Covenant itself says "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. . . . we shall each one of us, according to our place and interest, endeavour that [the three kingdoms] may remain conjoined in a firm peace and union to all posterity." As we've already noted from the Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at that time, their "posterity" was not restricted to those living in the British Isles. Consider also another quote from those Acts:
Albeit the League and Covenant be despised by that prevailing party in England, and the Work of Uniformity, thorow [through] the retardements and obstructions that have come in the way, be almost forgotten by these Kingdoms, yet the obligation of that Covenant is perpetual, and all the duties contained therein are constantly to be minded, and prosecute by every one of us and our posterity, according to their place and stations. . . . The Acts Of The Generall Assemblies Of The Church Of Scotland: From the Year 1638 to the Year 1649 Inclusive, 27 July 1649, Session 27, "A seasonable and necessary Warning and Declaration, concerning Present and Imminent dangers, and concerning duties relating thereto; from the Generall Assembly of this Kirk, unto all the Members thereof", p. 460.
It deserves emphasizing that if we reject this principle of covenantal headship, or representation, we make much of the Bible unintelligible, and we overthrow biblical presbyterianism, as I noted in the example of baptism.
F: All right. So, I believe that "public, social covenanting, is an ordinance of God, obligatory on churches and nations under the New Testament." Why are only the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant here mentioned? There were a lot of other covenants during the reformation. My friend brought up the Steelite 'obsession' with the Church of Scotland again here.
H: Is your friend aware of his own church's history? Perhaps he'd be interested to know that these 'Steelite' Terms of Communion are essentially the same as what his own denomination used to maintain. Steele wasn't innovating; he was simply calling on that body to repent of their departures from their prior, sound standards. They didn't separate right away, but tried time and again at the level of the Synod to get that body to repent of her backsliding. When, after seven years it was clear that the church obstinately refused (the church courts refused even to adjudicate Steele's and the other men's complaints), he and a few others obeyed the apostle's command to separate from those who persist stubbornly in their error and thereby cause divisions (II Thess. 3:6,14-15; Rom. 16:17). Anyway, to answer your question, at least in part. It's a very good question, and I'm glad you asked it. First, as indicated, we're descendants of those who first took these particular covenants. Nationally, we are the offspring of England (the Solemn League and Covenant was not only an ecclesiastical, but a national covenant). Ecclesiastically, we are the offspring of the Church of Scotland.
F: How so?
H: All Presbyterian bodies in America and Canada -- indeed, I think most in the world -- trace their lineage back to the Revolution church of 1689, which in turn is the heritage of the Resolutioners -- those who broke covenant in 1651. An exception is your friend's denomination, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, who although greatly apostatized, are the direct heirs of the original covenanters.
Also, some of us even trace our familial lineage to England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Second, we know of no covenants that rival, let alone excel, these covenants for their faithfulness to the Scriptures. They are, in themselves, one of the attainments of the second reformation which God requires us to live up to (Prov. 22:28; Phil. 3:16). Hence, the fourth term of communion designates them, "an exemplification" of the ordinance of covenanting.
F: But why don't you also include other covenants, say from the days of Knox, or Calvin at Geneva, in your terms of communion?
H: Actually, we own all scriptural covenants of which we are the obliged posterity. We simply believe that successive covenants, if they are faithful to the word of God in their content, include in them the earlier covenants (assuming the newer covenants include within them the duties sworn in the previous covenants). Thus, in upholding the more recent, Scripturally faithful covenants we are upholding the other, earlier covenants as well. And, I should add, we look for a day when the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant themselves will be likewise upheld in newer covenants (for example, Isaiah 44:5 and Jeremiah 50:5).
F: Do you have any scriptural proof for this idea of upholding earlier covenants in newer ones, without needing to own the older ones explicitly?
H: Yes. We see this pattern throughout the entire Bible. For instance, the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is subsumed or included within the covenant made with Moses (Deut. 4:23,31; 5:3). That covenant, in turn, is included within the covenant Joshua made with the people (Josh. 24:22-25). Likewise, these earlier covenants are included under or within the covenants of Jehoida (2 Kings 11:17-18), Asa (2 Chron. 15:8-19), Josiah (2 Chron. 34:31-33), and within the New Covenant (Gal. 3:13-18).
F: Okay. Now, why the 1712 Renovation at Auchensaugh?
H: We believe the Scriptures teach that covenants should be renewed under various dispensations of God's providence. In fact, the National Covenant was itself a renovation of the earlier 'King's Covenant', with expansion or explanation of this earlier covenant, and with added legal proofs from the Acts of Scotland's Parliament. There have been other 'renovations', for example, by the Seceders, but not necessarily faithful renovations.
F: What was wrong with the Seceders' renovations?
H: See chapter 3 of the Act, Declaration, and Testimony. Basically, they deny the scriptural doctrine of the civil government as upheld in the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant. Though some Seceders have valiantly and skillfully championed reformational truths, they have not fully upheld the attainments of our covenanted forefathers. They are, sadly, covenant breakers, though they claim to be the heirs of the covenanters.
F: Wait -- so this is just like the creeds issue. People are claiming that they uphold the covenants of our forefathers, but merely claiming this doesn't make it so. Just like those claiming to believe the Bible have to be tested by a standard -- the creeds -- so, too, do those claiming to uphold the covenants need to be tested by some standard to see if they really uphold them in their originally intended sense.
H: Exactly. That's why M'Millan and the others renewing the covenants at Auchensaugh added the marginal notes, so that it was unmistakably clear what the original covenants truly meant.
F: And what they didn't mean.
H: Right. And this leads quite naturally into the fifth term, "An approbation of the faithful contendings of the martyrs of Jesus, especially in Scotland, against Paganism, Popery, Prelacy, Malignancy and Sectarianism; immoral civil governments; Erastian tolerations and persecutions which flow from them; and of the Judicial Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery in North Britain, 1761 and adopted by this church, with supplements; as containing a noble example to be followed, in contending for all divine truth, and in testifying against all corruptions embodied in the constitutions of either churches or states."
F: Good, because my friend really became, shall I say, 'lively', on this one. This is where the charges of Popery, implicit faith, undermining the sufficiency and authority of the Bible, etc., were flying the fastest and heaviest. And, frankly, I don't know how to answer these charges, and I wonder if they aren't at least somewhat accurate. I certainly respect the faithful saints of days past, but how can you justify a mandatory subscription to uninspired history?!
H: Maybe at this point it'd be helpful to review the phrase, 'terms of communion'. What do you understand it to mean?
F: Something required in order for you to come to the Lord's Table.
H: Right. I like Steele's definition, from The Two Witnesses (page 388 of his Notes On the Apocalypse) -- "the primary object of terms of communion in the Church is to exhibit the law and covenant of God, and then agreement of persons in their apprehension of these, together with their joint and declared resolution to walk accordingly." Now, in a nutshell, we believe that divine truth is the only, and completely sufficient basis for our terms of communion.
F: Okay -- but where does the Bible ever require "An approbation of the faithful contendings of the martyrs of Jesus, especially in Scotland, etc." or even, "that the National Covenant and the Solemn League are an exemplification of" covenanting, in order for someone to come to the Lord's Table? It's impossible in the nature of the case, since these occurred 1500 years after the canon was closed!
H: I understand your concern; it took me awhile to get past this hurdle, too. Am I correct in saying that you don't think uninspired history should be required to come to the Lord's Table?
F: Yes, that's right. That's why my friend said that 'Steelites' put the writings of uninspired men on a par with the Scriptures.
H: Which clearly implies that the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone should be the term of communion. Do you agree with this? Do you think that adherence to only inspired -- that is, infallible, incapable of error -- writings should be what is required to come to the Lord's Table?
F: Yes. That's all the apostles required.
H: Well, then, we should cut out not only the uninspired history as a term of communion, but the creeds, and really, any statement not found directly in the Scriptures, since these are all uninspired and therefore fallible (capable of error) writings of uninspired men.
F: Hmmm. . . I think I see where you're going. This is sounding a lot like the creeds discussion we had before. But I'm still not completely clear.
H: Let's consider an example. Do you believe that honor to parents should be a term of communion?
F: Sure; it's a direct command.
H: Fine. Where does the Bible say who one's parents are?
H: How do we come to know who, specifically, to honor?
F: The Bible, of course. It's a direct command.
H: Yes, but it's a general command. It doesn't tell us specifically who our parents are, that we may honor them.
F: You're right!
H: So how do you know who your parents are, in order to obey this direct command? Isn't determining or recognizing one's parents a matter of historical record?
F: Yes, I guess so.
H: So, is this a matter of inspired historical record, or uninspired?
F: Uninspired. . . I can't verify that my parents are really my parents apart from them and others telling me so -- and all these people are uninspired. I was there at my birth, but I don't have a memory of it!
H: And yet, honoring one's parents is a term of communion. So, uninspired historical testimony is required as a term of communion. It can't be any other way.
F: Interesting. But is it the same for the historical data and documents you require?
H: Well, does the Bible command us to covenant, and when we, or our covenantal representatives do so, are we required to keep our covenants?
F: Yes; it's just like with the command to honor one's parents. There is a general command: to covenant, and to keep and renew prior righteous covenants that originally included posterity. But the specific application of this command can only be made by looking to uninspired historical testimony.
H: So, you're okay with having the two covenants and the endorsement of the renovation of these at Auchensaugh as terms of communion? These being specific instances of general scriptural commands, binding us to our duty specifically?
F: Yes. But is there a command requiring the approbation of the martyrs' contendings, and especially a command about the Act, Declaration, and Testimony?
H: Good question. Let's look at some biblical warrant for such approbation:
Phil. 1:27: "Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."
1 Cor. 1:10: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
Heb. 12:1: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses."
Heb. 10:33: "Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used (or treated)."
Heb. 13:7-8,13: "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation (or walk). Jesus Christ is the sane yesterday, and to day, and for ever. . . . Let us go forth therefore unto him without (or outside) the camp, bearing his reproach."
1 Cor. 11:1: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."
Phil. 3:17: "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example."
Phil. 4:9: "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do."
Song 1:8: "Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock."
Jer. 6:16: "Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."
And note the wording in term five, that these contendings are "a noble example to be followed." Also, if we grant the descending obligation of the Solemn League and Covenant, that very covenant requires what this term requires. Head 6 says, "We shall also, according to our places and callings, in this common cause of religion, liberty, and peace of the kingdoms, assist and defend all those [whether those swearing the covenant, or their posterity] that enter into this League and Covenant, in the maintaining and pursuing thereof, etc."
F: Hold on -- something just occurred to me. Are you saying that not only doctrine is a term of communion, but also practice?
H: Exactly! You've caught on! As you know, we require adherence to uninspired creeds because we must have not simply a bare profession of the authority and truth of the Bible (which most heretics would make), but adherence to the meaning of the Scriptures. This is the setting forth of the truth abstractly, or principially. However, "faith without works is dead" -- in a person, or in the moral person of the church -- and so we also set forth the truth concretely, or practically. We can see this twofold necessity -- principle and practice -- in II Timothy 3:16-17, where the Scriptures are given to teach, and so forth, that "the man of God may be throughly furnished unto all good works." So, the statement or profession of the truth cannot be separated from the application or practice of the truth. James 1:22: "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." Otherwise, we'd be no different than the devils: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
Since the bond of fellowship in the church is the truth, the bond of fellowship is the truth stated and the truth applied; the truth professed and the truth lived; the truth doctrinally and the truth practically. These two facets of the truth are wedded; let not man put asunder what God has joined together. To hold to one without the other -- both common errors in our time -- is not the Christian charity which promotes unity: it is the lie of the evil one, dressed in the seductive clothing of "Christian love and unity," which destroys true love and unity.
F: So let me get this straight. You believe that the fourth and fifth terms are, in the practical realm, what the second and third are in the doctrinal realm?
H: Yes. The second and third say, "this is what the truth means;" the fourth and fifth say, "this is what the truth looks like when lived out." The Bible is the alone supreme and infallible standard, as term one says. It alone is incapable of error (infallible) and therefore has ultimate, unquestionable authority. The other terms are subordinate standards, founded upon and agreeable to the Bible. These other standards have authority, but not an ultimate authority. Their authority is like that of a parent or lawful magistrate: not absolute, but derived from God. Nevertheless, just because authority is derived does not mean that it's not real authority, any more than a parent's authority isn't real just because it's not absolute, but is derived.
Consider the following quote from the Reformed Presbytery's Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion (pp. 188-189):
Let it also be carefully observed here, that, with regard to the Deeds of which we speak [in the fifth term of communion], we wish to be understood in the same sense as before, concerning the Confession of Faith and the Covenants. It is only after diligently perusing, pondering, and comparing these testimonies with the Word of God, and after finding them to be founded upon, and agreeable unto it, that we mean to rank them among the subordinate standards of our church. But, as two, or more, cannot consistently walk together in church-fellowship, unless they be agreed in sentiment concerning the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the church, and concerning the proper way of glorifying God upon earth, we reckon it exceedingly requisite that this agreement should be properly ascertained. For that important purpose, amongst others, these testimonies seem to be very much calculated. And it is only to such of them as truly deserve the characteristic epithets of SCRIPTURAL AND FAITHFUL, that we require the assent of our church members.
I wish people like your friend would not make such outrageous and uncharitable accusations, especially before considering the biblical warrant just mentioned, and the clear explanations given by those holding these positions. We would all do well to be more swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19).
F: So why --
H: I'm sorry, may I interject? I just remembered one more thing about uninspired history as a term of communion.
F: Sure, go ahead.
H: Thanks. We mentioned that honoring our parents is a term of communion. How about honoring and submitting to other lawful authorities, in church and state?
F: Sure, of course. Again, these are explicit commands. . . . And again, the Bible doesn't tell us explicitly who, specifically, these lawful authorities are. . .
H: Right! Now, does God command submission to all authorities in church and state?
H: All authorities? Anyone and everyone who simply wears the title, gives commands, and wields some sort of power?
F: Oh, no, of course not. I wasn't thinking there. We can only submit for conscience sake to authority which bears his seal of approval: that is, to lawful authority. God forbids submission out of conscience to unlawful authority, though you might submit for other reasons, as you would to a highway robber who will beat you up or kill you if you don't do what he says.
H: So God clearly distinguishes not only between lawful and unlawful commands, but between lawful and unlawful authorities?
F: Sure; that's why the Confession says "any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it" in Chapter 20, Section 4. They clearly distinguished between the two. If not, the conjunction "or" makes no sense at all here.
H: That's very perceptive. Recognizing this, how do we distinguish between lawful and unlawful authority, say, in the church? After all, on the one hand God says we're opposing him and courting his wrath if we deny lawful authority, and on the other he says that we're putting ourselves in great danger and making a mockery of his holy ordinance of authority if we own and submit (for conscience sake) to unlawful authority.
F: By the test of Scripture, I guess.
H: What are the Scripture tests?
F: Umm. . . they have to use their authority for edification and not for destruction; they have to be the pillar and support of the truth. . .
H: The marks of the church, right?
F: Oh yeah, right. The pure preaching of the word, the right administration of the sacraments, and biblical church discipline.
H: Can these things be ascertained of a church apart from the light of uninspired history?
F: What do you mean?
H: We said that the church is a moral person, one person throughout all the ages. As such, she was a child during the Old Testament times, came of age at the coming of Christ (Galatians 3:23-25; 4:3), and continues to grow and mature -- Eph. 4:11-16. In that corporate sanctification, she must, like individual believers, live up to the level of growth God has granted her thus far -- Philippians 3:16. As you mentioned, lawful authority is only for edification, not destruction (2 Corinthians 10:8; 13:8,10). If the 'leaders' in the church are promoting -- even unwittingly and from good intentions -- corporate backsliding from previous attainments in her sanctification, are they using their alleged authority for edification, or for destruction? For the truth, or against it?
F: Against it; for the destruction of Jerusalem, not her building up. . .
H: So, in other words, authority can only be lawful if it is holding and seeking to build upon the highest level of corporate sanctification granted to her. The marks of the church must be applied -- not in a vacuum -- but in history. And how do we know what these attainments in sanctification are?
F: By uninspired historical record or testimony.
H: Exactly. If you think about it, it can't be any other way. Can you or I know whether we're obeying God's commandment to live up to the level of sanctification he's given us as individuals apart from self-evaluation?
F: Well, no. We are commanded to examine ourselves.
H: Is this examination historical?
F: It would have to be, because in the nature of the case sanctification is measuring where we were at some point and comparing it with where we are today. In other words, we are charting our historical progress, our growth in grace.
H: So as individuals we must rely on uninspired historical testimony, even if only our own, in order to obey the explicit command in Philippians 3:16.
F: Yes, I agree. So, as far as terms of communion: if obeying our leaders in the Lord is a term of communion, and refusing to obey unlawful leaders is, too; and if this can only be done by consulting uninspired history; then uninspired history has to be a term of communion.
H: You've got it.
F: A couple of other questions -- Do you believe these terms of communion will ever be improved upon? My friend also said 'Steelites' are Anabaptistic perfectionists, and 'reformed Finneyites'.
H: The terms themselves answer this question. Term 3 says the form of government and directory for worship adopted by the Church of Scotland in the second reformation are "the most perfect model as yet attained." Also, listen to Mr. Steele himself (from his printed communications with James M. Willson, editor of the Covenanter magazine, published with his Notes On the Apocalypse; p. 412):
But that their [the witnesses'] testimony may have due efficacy, the witnesses must be united in visible fellowship, and also in the matter of their testimony. They must all speak that they do know, and testify that they have seen -- "all speak the same thing, that there be no divisions (schisms) among them; but that they be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment," 1 Cor. 1:10. Not that they "must agree in every object of thought," -- no, that is impossible; but, as already said, in the matter of their testimony. After agreement in this, there will still be ample scope for diversity of opinion, and for legitimate exercise of charity in mutual forbearance.
Note that last sentence in particular. Does that sound like perfectionism? How about his statement that it is impossible to agree in every object of thought?
Notice term 4, likewise. It says that the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant are "an exemplification" of the ordinance of covenanting, not "the exemplification". We don't think we've "arrived", but we do seek to be faithful to Christ's commands, such as Proverbs 22:28 -- "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set." -- and Revelation 2:25 -- "But that which ye have already hold fast till I come."
What was your other question?
F: Why do you have the 6th term -- "practically adorning the doctrine of God our Savior by walking in all his commandments and ordinances blamelessly" -- if terms 4 and 5 deal already with the practical part of the truth?
H: Because terms 4 and 5 have to do with the practical part of the truth respecting the church as a moral person -- ecclesiastical piety, if you will. Term 6 stresses the need for personal or individual piety.
Before you go, I thought you'd be edified by one last quote from Steele's, The Two Witnesses (pages 372 and 382 in Notes On the Apocalypse), which I think sums up well what we stand for and what all churches should stand for, since Christ calls his church to bear faithful witness:
Their work consisting, as we have seen, in contending for all divine truth, in its practical bearing upon individual and social man; and in opposing whatsoever is contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness. . . .There is not a doctrine of grace which is not opposed, which is not supplanted by the false prophet. To state these doctrines, to place them before the eye in logical connections, to apply them to saints and sinners; to defend them and their just application when denied in theory and disregarded in practice: to exemplify their sanctifying power in the hand of the Spirit of Christ: this, this is the work of the witnesses.
Most of the books listed below are also available in printed format or on CD at http://www.swrb.com.
More FREE books: http://www.reformedpresbytery.org/books/index.html
The Covenanted Reformation Defended Against Contemporary Schismatics: 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 by Greg Barrow (Greg Price, Reg Barrow, Larry Birger, et al.) (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. "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 the previous Spirit led Reformations [of the 16th and 17th centuries]. 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 [presented in this book] 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," writes Reg Barrow in the "Publisher's Preface." This book, of over 300 [8.5" X 11"] pages, is also offered as a cerlox bound photocopy [$14.98 US funds] or a Hardcover photocopy [$25.00 US funds]. It is also free on most of the CDs in both the REFORMATION BOOKSHELF CD set [30 CDs, http://www.swrb.com/Puritan/reformation-bookshelf-CDs.htm ] and the PURITAN BOOKSHELF CD set [32 CDs, http://www.swrb.com/Puritan/puritan-bookshelf-CDs.htm ])
Free on the web at: http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/CovRefGB.htm
Saul in the Cave of Adullam: A Testimony Against
the Fashionable Sub-Calvinism of Doug Wilson (Editor of Credenda/Agenda Magazine); and, for Classical Protestantism and
the Attainments of the Second Reformation by Reg Barrow
Doug Wilson and others at Credenda/Agenda used their magazine to publicly attack and slander Reg Barrow (President of Still Waters Revival Books) in a column that they call the "Cave of Adullam." This invective was Credenda's response to Barrow's comments on Knox Ring (where Barrow noted that John Calvin would have excommunicated Jo hn Frame for the apostasy that he manifests in his new book on worship). Numerous private attempts were unsuccessfully made (by Barrow and others) to call Wilson to repentance for this slander. Ultimately, charges for violation of the ninth commandment were brought (in accord with Matt. 18:15-17) against Wilson by Barrow. This book recounts the sa lient points of the controversy (and the Matthew 18 proceedings) between Wilson and Barrow -- in their actual email debates! Also included is Barrow's demonstration of why Calvin would have excommunicated Frame and Greg Price's Testimony Against The Unfounded Charges of Anabaptism. These debates are a classic example of the differences t hat exist today between paleopresbyterians (Barrow) and neopresbyterians (Wilson). Wilson's charges against Barrow, of Anabaptism, separatism, etc. are all refuted under a mountain of quotations from Reformation source documents. Barrow's refutations of Wilson's spurious charges bring to light many aspects of Reformation thought that have been lost or forgotten in our day. Besides the initial controversy (over Frame and worship) and the restoration process (set forth in Matthew 18:15-17), this book should be of special interest to all of those who love the "old paths" of truth -- trod by our forefathers in the Reformed faith -- for some of the most pressing issues of our day (regarding the individual, church and state) are addressed herein. Classic statements, cited by Barrow, not only exhibit the wisdom which God granted the best Reformers of both the first and second Reformations, but also specifically demonstrate how Wilson and many other modern Protestants actually reject the Reformation at many points (all their protests n ot withstanding). "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in" (Isa. 58:12). This item is also available as a bound photocopy for $3.98 (US funds) and a Hardcover photocopy for $14.98 (US funds).
Free on the web at: http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/Saul.htm
Paleopresbyterianism Versus Neopresbyterianism by Michael Wagner
Defines the major differences between "paleo" or old Presbyterianism (the position held at the Westminster Assembly, 1648) and "neo" or new (modern) Presbyterianism. Maintains and proves that the two major differences are found in the form of subscription (whether complete, as with the "paleo's," or loose [i.e. allowing for scruples], as with the "neo's") to the Westminster standards and in whether or not the Solemn League and Covenant is thought to be binding today (in its moral equity). Wagner also demonstrates how the neopresbyterians have turned away from the original Presbyterian position. The implications of this introductory booklet are far reaching and revolutionary and could easil y shake the prevalent neopresbyterian establishment (PCA, OPC, etc.) to its very core. This item is also available as a bound photocopy for $2.39 (US funds)
Free on the web at: http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/Paleo.htm
Terms of Communion: The Word of God
($3.96, 2 cassettes)
Explains and defends the first term of communion, which is "An acknowledgement of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God, and the alone infallible rule of faith and practice." Covers the attributes of Scripture, including the necessity, inspiration, authority, sufficiency, perspicuity, perpetuity, etc. of the Word of God. Also deals with principles of interpretation (hermeneutics) and how we know that God's Word is His Word, and thus can be trusted as the absolute, inerrant, infallible and inspired truth. Touches on higher criticism and the debate over bible version, upholding the Textus Receptus (i.e. the ecclesiastical or received text) and the King James Version. A fine defense of Sola Scriptura which also touches on how "extra-biblical" terms of communion are not only required by Scripture itself, but are an inescapable necessity. Price is careful to point out the difference between the primary, infallible standard of Scripture and those uninspired subordinate standards, which nevertheless bind the conscience whenever they say the same thing as Scripture. A great introduction to God's Word that comes with our highest recommendation. "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name" (Ps. 138:2).
Terms of Communion: The Westminster Standards ($9.90, 5 cassettes)
Explains and defends the second term of communion, which is "That the whole doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Catechisms, Larger and Shorter, are agreeable unto, and founded upon the Scriptures." Price not only explains why we need creeds and confession (answering the question: Isn't the Scripture sufficient?), but he shows how everyone has a creed and how such statements of faith are actually inescapable -- for as soon as one says what he believes the Bible means, has has (be definition) put forth his creed ("credo" in Latin means "to believe"). There is no neutrality! He also gives a summary of the Westminster standards and the history of this august assembly, demonstrating why these standards are agreeable to the word of God. After showing how faithful creeds and confessions (i.e. human testimony) have brought untold blessings to the church he gives a history of the Westminster Assembly (setting the context for the study of the Standards themselves). The doctrines contained in the confessional standards are then summarized. Price also exposes and rebukes much false teaching and false practice (contrary to the standards) using the specific names associated with each heresy refuted. The following doctrines are covered: sola Scripture (refuting popery, neo-orthodoxy, liberalism and the charismatics), the doctrine of God (refuting Unitarianism, Oneness theology [Modalism, Sabellianism], and tritheism), God's decrees and predestination (refuting Arminianism, fatalism [Islam]), creation (refuting Evolutionism, Pantheism and New Age and Eastern mysticism), the covenant of works, Providence (against "luck" and "accidents"), the fall of man (refuting Arminianism and Pelagianism), the covenant of grace (refuting dispensationalism), Christ our mediator (refuting Arianism [JW's], Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism [which led to the transubstantiation and consubstantiation heresies], the free offer of the gospel, effectual calling (contra Arminianism), justification by faith alone through Christ alone (contra Rome and the Arminians), sanctification and good works (condemning antinomianism and legalism), assurance of faith, perseverance of the saints, the law of God, Christian liberty (against pretended liberty of conscience and the imposition of legalistic standards outside of the law of God), worship (against the anti-regulativists and promoters of will-worship), the regulative principle (condemning Arminianism in worship), the Sabbath (taking the high Scottish view), lawful oaths and vows (condemning covenant breaking [churches and nations included], perjury, etc.), the civil magistrate (against pluralism, false toleration, Erastianism, and for biblical establishments), marriage, the church (contra popery, prelacy and independency [all of which are forms of sectarianism]), and the resurrection and general judgement.
Terms of Communion: Presbyterian Worship and Government ($3.96, 2 cassettes)
Explains and defends the third term of communion, which is "That Presbyterial Church Government and manner of worship are alone of divine right and unalterable; and that the most perfect model of these as yet attained, is exhibited in the Form of Government and Directory for Worship, adopted by the Church of Scotland in the Second Reformation." "To many readers, the subject of church government will not seem terribly exciting. Judging from the lack of contemporary literature on the topic, one might conclude that church polity is not very important. Yet, if the truth were known, many of the practical problems facing the church are the result of an abandonment of scriptural church polity. The church is not a mere social club. The church is the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13), subject to his rule. In the Bible, the Lord has established an ecclesiastical government by which his people are to be ruled. Just as Christ has instituted civil government to ensure civil order, so he has established ecclesiastical government to preserve order in the church (1 Cor. 14:33). A man is not free to dispense with the church's government anymore than he is at liberty to disregard the (lawful--RB) civil authorities. We do not contend that the divine order for church government extends to every detail. Obviously, the Lord did not mandate how many times the elders of the church must meet each month; nor did he prescribe any particular attire for them to wear while performing their official duties. Such incidentals are adapted to the needs and exigencies of the time and place; according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed. Nevertheless, the scriptures do provide an overall plan of government which the church must follow if she is to remain faithful to her Lord. Therefore, it is important to examine biblical principles of church polity," writes Kevin Reed in his Biblical Church Government. Much the same could be said regarding worship. These tapes are an excellent introductory explanation of the fundamentals of Divine Right Presbyterian church government and Divine Right Presbyterian worship. They are jam-packed with Scripture, history and sound reasoning and should be very helpful to all those seeking the Lord's will concerning these two important subjects. Price distinguishes between the elements and circumstances of worship (contra John Frame's heretical innovations, wherein he rejects these distinctions), while the vital issues of unity and uniformity, separation from false worship and false man-made church governments are not forgotten. All this is set in the context of faithfully approaching the Lord's table. "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2).
Terms of Communion: Covenants and Covenanting ($13.86, 7 cassettes)
Explains and defends the fourth term of communion, which is "That public, social covenanting is an ordinance of God, obligatory on churches and nations under the New Testament; that the National Covenant and the Solemn League are an exemplification of this divine institution; and that these Deeds are of continued obligation upon the moral person; and in consistency with this, that the Renovation of these Covenants at Auchensaugh, Scotland, 1712 was agreeable to the word of God." Includes the studies offered separately on the National Covenant (2 tapes), the Solemn League and Covenant (1 tape), the Auchensaugh Renovation (2 tapes), as well as two introductory lectures (only available in this set) on the biblical principles related to the ordinance of covenanting, the descending obligation of lawful covenants, objections against covenanting, etc. Roberts, in his Reformed Presbyterian Catechism ($8.99), catches the spirit of this tape set in the following question and answer: "Q. May we not indulge the hope, that, in the goodness of our covenant God, and by the promised outpouring of his Holy Spirit, 'the kingdoms of the world' at large, and the British empire in particular, will dedicate themselves to God in a covenant not to be forgotten - animated by the example of our covenant fathers exhibited in these memorable deeds? A. Yes. We have the most cheering grounds for this blessed hope; for it is written, that the nations at large in the spirit of devoted loyalty, shall cry -- 'Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten': and it cannot be well doubted, that the death-cry of the martyred Guthrie has been heard on high, and shall be verified -- 'The covenants, the covenants, shall yet be Scotland's (and the world's -- RB) reviving'" (p. 151). A thoroughly amazing set of tapes -- among our best!
Terms of Communion: The Martyrs and Historic Testimony ($3.96, 2 cassettes)
Explains and defends the fifth term of communion, which is "An approbation of the faithful contendings of the martyrs of Jesus, especially in Scotland, against Paganism, Popery, Prelacy, Malignancy and Sectarianism; immoral civil governments; Erastian tolerations and persecutions which flow from them; and of the Judicial Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery in North Britain, 1761 (i.e. The Act, Declaration and Testimony for the Whole of Our Covenanted Reformation--RB) with supplements from the Reformed Presbyterian Church; as containing a noble example to be followed, in contending for all divine truth, and in testifying against all corruptions embodied in the constitutions of either churches or states." Price demonstrates how and why uninspired historical testimony must be a term of communion. A number of the same arguments apply to this question (of fencing the Lord's table based on uninspired historical testimony), as apply to fencing the table based on biblically accurate creeds and confessions -- so those that understand biblical creedalism (and close communion) should have no problem with this aspect of Reformation thought. Reformation views are also differentiated from Romish views of history, church authority, etc., as they come to bear on this point. At one of the most interesting points of this study, Price also proves how one cannot even keep the inspired commandments of God without the use of uninspired history (using the fifth and ninth commandments as examples). History is here set on its biblical foundations. Testimony is also well dealt with. Testimony is defined as "That record which a witness gives (in a court) in defense of the truth and in opposition to error." Faithful biblical testimony is shown, by various examples from inspired and uninspired history, to bring the fury of the enemy. This is where the Reformation theological rubber meets the road of experimental Christianity and disinterested self-sacrifice (often resulting in suffering and persecution as the antichristian beast [ecclesiastical and civil] is stirred from his slumber by the barbs of faithful Christian witnesses as they testify to the truth and against "all corruptions embodied in the constitutions of either churches or states" -- thus the long list of Christian martyrs throughout history).
Terms of Communion: The Practice of Truth ($1.98, cassette)
Explains and defends the sixth term of communion, which is "Practically adorning the doctrine of God our Savior by walking in all His commandments and ordinances blamelessly." Contains an excellent and encouraging overview of the biblical doctrine of sanctification (individual and corporate). Explains the role of the law of God in the life of the believer, refuting legalism, antinomianism and the perfectionism of the Wesleyans, Anabaptists and Roman Catholics. Distinguishes between heresies and damnable heresies, giving examples of each (including Pelagianism, Arminianism, Dispensationalism, etc.). Explains how the "face of God" is seen in His ordinances, how to use these to grow in grace and what is meant by "blameless" in the sixth term of communion above. In short, this one of the best tapes you will find giving an overview of the biblical doctrine of sanctification.
END GREG PRICE CASSETTES
A Free Disputation Against Pretended
Liberty of Conscience (1649 edition.)
Rutherford's Free Disputation, though scarce, is still one of his most important works -- with maybe only a few copies of the actual book left in existence. Though Rutherford is affectionately remembered in our day for his Letters, or for laying the foundations of constitutional government (against the divine right of kings) in his u nsurpassed Lex Rex, his Free Disputation should not be overlooked -- for it contains the same searing insights as Lex Rex. In fact, this book should probably be known as Rutherford's "politically incorrect" companion volume to Lex Rex. A sort of sequel aimed at driving pluralists and antinomians insane. Written against "the Belgick Arminians, Socinians, and other Authors contending for lawlesse liberty, or licentious Tolerations of Sects and Heresies," Rutherford explains the undiluted Biblical solution to moral relativism, especially as it is expressed in ecclesiastical and civil pluralism! (Corporate pluralism being a violation of the first commandment and an affront to the holy God of Scripture). He also deals with conscience, toleration, penology (punishment), and the judicial laws, as related to both the civil and ecclesiastical realms. Excellent sections are also included which address questions related to determining the fundamentals of religion, how covenants bind us, the perpetual obligation of social covenants (with direct application to the Solemn League and Covenant and the covenant-breaking of Cromwell and his sectarian supporters), whether the punishing of seducing teachers be persecution of conscience, and much more. Walker adds these comments and context regarding Rutherford's Free Disputation, "The principle of toleration was beginning to be broached in England, and in a modified shape to find acceptance there. Samuel Rutherford was alarmed, or rather, I should say, he was horrified, for he neither feared the face of man or argument. He rushed to the rescue of the good old view... It is not so easy to find a theoretical ground for toleration; and Rutherford has ma ny plausible things to say against it. With the most perfect confidence, he argues that it is alike against Scripture and common sense that you should have two religions side by side. It is outrageous ecclesiastically, it is sinful civilly. He does not, however, take what I call the essentially persecuting ground. He does not hold that the magistr ate is to punish religion as religion. Nay, he strongly maintains that the civil magistrate never aims at the conscience. The magistrate, he urges, does not send anyone, whether a heretic (who is a soul murderer--RB) or a murderer, to the scaffold with the idea of producing conversion or other spiritual result, but to strengthen the foundations of civil order. But if he gives so much power to the king, he is no lover of despotism withal: the king himself must be under law. To vindicate this great doctrine is the object of another book, the celebrated Lex Rex; of which it has been said by one competent to judge, that it first clearly developed the constitutionalism which all men now accept" (Theology and Theologians..., pp. 11-12). In our day Francis Schaeffer, and numerous others, have critiqued many of the problems found in modern society, but most have spent little time developing explicitly Biblical solutions -- especially regarding the theoretical foundations that Rutherford addresses here. Rutherford's Free Di sputation provides a detailed blueprint for laying the foundations that must be laid before any lasting, God-honoring solutions will be found. Furthermore, Rutherford and his writings were the enemies of all governments not covenanted with Christ. This book will give you a very clear picture as to why "the beast" (civil and ecclesiastical) has reserved his special hatred for such teaching. As Samuel Wylie noted "[t]he dispute, then, will not turn upon the point whether religion should be civilly established... but it is concerning what religion ought to be civilly established and protected, -- whether the religion of Jesus alone should be countenanced by civil authority, or every blasp hemous, heretical, and idolatrous abomination which the subtle malignity of the old serpent and a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, can frame and devise, should be put on an equal footing therewith" (Two Sons of Oil: or, The Faithful Witness For Magistracy and Ministry Upon a Scriptural Basis, softcover). Can our gene ration swallow Rutherford's hard, anti-pluralistic, Covenanter medicine, poured forth from the bottle of the first commandment, without choking on their carnal dreams of a free and righteous society divorced from God (and His absolute claims upon everyone and everything)? Not without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit -- that is for sure! In su mmary, this book answers all the hardest questions theonomists (and their wisest and best opponents) have been asking for the last 20-30 years (and these answers are much more in depth than any we have seen in the last couple of millennia [less about a century to account for the apostles]). As the reader will discover, Rutherford was a wealthy man when it came to wisdom (and much advanced theologically), and those who take the time to gaze into the King's treasure house, as exhibited in this book, will find that they are greatly rewarded. Furthermore, because of its uncompromising stand upon the Word of God, this book is sure to be unpopular among a wicked and adulterous generation. Howeve r, on the other hand, it is sure to be popular among the covenanted servants of King Jesus! This is one of the best books (in the top five anyway) for advanced study of the Christian faith. We have now obtained an easy-to-read, amazingly clear copy of this very rare, old treasure. Great price too, considering that a copy of the 1649 edition, conta ining this quality of print, would likely cost upwards of $1000 on the rare book market -- though it is unlikely you would ever see a copy for sale!
The Ordinance of Covenanting (1843)
This book is considered by many as the classic work on covenanting. "The theology of Covenanting is here unfolded with a richness of scriptural research and a maturity of intellectual strength which would have made the grey eye of Peden glisten with delight. The treatise is a valuable addition to that solid theological literature of which the Refo rmed Presbyterian Church has produced repeated and enduring specimens, and stamps Mr. Cunningham as a distinguished disciple of the thoughtful and scriptural school of Mason and the Symingtons" (Presby Rev., (1844) as cited in The Treasury of the Scottish Covenant by Johnston). The author himself notes that "Prayer and the offering o f praise are universally admitted to be duties of religion. The Scriptures announce a place among these for the exercise of solemn Covenanting... What the word of God unfolds concerning it, is addressed to the most resolute consideration of all, and is capable of engaging the most extensive and prolonged investigation. And yet, though none have fo und this subject, like all God's judgements, else than a great deep, still in meditating upon it, the ignorant have been brought to true knowledge, and the wise have increased in wisdom. 'The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant' (Ps. 25:14)... Mutual federal engagements, concerning things religious and civil, whether entered into merely by simple promise, or confirmed by the solemn oath, have been made from the highest antiquity to the present. The hostility to some such engagements, and also the proud disregard for their obligation, which have been evinced by some in all ages, demand a most careful examination into their nature and design... F urnished with the key of Scripture, approaching the subject, we are enabled to open the mysteries in which ignorance and prejudice had shut it up; and equipped with the armour of light shooting forth its heavenly radiance, in safety to ourselves we assail the darkness thrown around it, and behold the instant flight of the spirits of error which th at darkness contains. Standing alone in beauteous attractions descended from heaven upon it, this service beckons us to approach it, and engages to connect extensive good with a proper attention to its claims. The observance, under various phases, is described in Scripture as an undisputed and indisputable reality." In this book Cunningham exhaust ively covers the subject of covenanting in over 400 pages. He deals with the manner, duty and nature of covenanting (including personal and social covenanting), the obligation covenanting confers, how covenanting is provided for in the everlasting covenant, how it is adapted to the moral constitution of man and how it is according to the purposes of God. Numerous Divine examples are cited from Scripture and covenanting is shown to be one of the great privileges of the Christian life. An interesting chapter covers "Covenanting Enforced By the Grant of Covenant Signs and Seals;" which touches on circumcision, baptism, the Sabbath, the Priesthood, the new heart and the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this book demonstrates how God's approbation rested upon Covenanters in formers ages, how covenanting is predicted in prophecy, how it is recommended by the practice of the New Testament Church and at what seasons it is appropriate. The appendices touch on the relationship of covenanting to immoral and unscriptural civil governments, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the British constitution and the apostasy of the Revolution settlement. Additionally, Cunningham acknowledges that the true church is "bound by the obligations of the Church of God is past times" and is still obligated to pay what it has vowed to the Lord in those magnificent att ainments of the second Reformation (the epitome of these attainments being embodied in the Solemn League and Covenant and the Westminster Standards). If you are interested in the ordinance of covenanting this is the most extensive treatment you will find in one book. It is a gold mine of Scriptural references and should be read at least once by ev eryone who calls upon the name of Christ.
Unity and Uniformity in the Church
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 no tes 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 manifestatio n 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 s anction 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 con stantly 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 asp ect 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.
The Millennium: Peace, Prosperity and
National Covenanting (1879)
This is the Reformation (especially second Reformation) view of postmillennialism as set forth and explained in terms of the national blessings and gospel purity that will be present when the millennium arrives. Some items discussed include: the visible state of unity in the church during the millennium; national covenanting; how kings will be "nu rsing fathers" (Isa. 49:23) to the church during this blessed period of history; and how "all nations shall serve him" (Ps 72:11) in that day (and there are no nations in heaven -- so this must be speaking of what will take place on earth before Christ returns, contrary to amillennialism)! In short, the millennium will be marked by visible civil a nd ecclesiastical obedience to Christ as King! This is exactly the opposite of the situation that we are presently experiencing -- for we live in the days of the great apostasy (2 Thes. 2:3). The church (visible) is in disarray and has grievously backslidden from her previous Reformation attainments. No nation is covenanted with Christ (as a natio n), but instead, "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us" (Ps. 2:2-3). The nations and many churches despise Christ's royal law and He now "vex(es) them in his sore displeasure" -- but when t he millennial glory arrives the river of His Spirit will fill the earth (Ezek 47:1-12) and His high priestly prayer will be answered (John 17:21: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."). This is a greatly encouraging introduct ion to this topic and the best short treatment of this subject that we offer! Excerpted from the Original Covenanter and Contending Witness magazine (volumes 2:4-6).
The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism
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 a nd 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 Re ligion:" "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 Te stimony;" 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 t he breast of kings" (Isa. 60:16).
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 T his
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) a nd 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 o f 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.