A PRIMARY OBJECTION TO NAPARC by J. Parnell McCarter
NAPARC is the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (http://www.naparc.org/). Its member churches are listed at http://www.naparc.org/member-churches/ and it includes such denominations as the PCA, OPC, URC, and ARP. It describes itself in this way:
“Confessing Jesus Christ as only Savior and Sovereign Lord over all of life, we affirm the basis of the fellowship of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches to be full commitment to the Bible in its entirety as the Word of God written, without error in all its parts and to its teaching as set forth in the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. That the adopted basis of fellowship be regarded as warrant for the establishment of a formal relationship of the nature of the council, that is, a fellowship that enables the constituent churches to advise, council, and cooperate in various matters with one another and hold out before each other the desirability and need for organic union of churches that are of like faith and practice.”
Since I personally subscribe to the doctrines set forth in the confessions listed, it would seem I should applaud this organization and want churches to join it. So why do I not?
One of my primary objections to NAPARC is that it is predicated on falsehood. It indicates the denominations involved agree with the doctrines set forth in the Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity. But that is a falsehood in at least four respects:
1. Most of the denominations involved in NAPARC have amended the Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity for purposes of their own confessional standards. Many of these amendments are not simply clarifications and fine tuning of the originals, but actually contradict the originals. Such amended versions are no more the Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity than the 1689 Baptist Confession or Savoy Declaration is. This is a form of verbal legerdemain.
2. The denominations involved have often amended (or not amended) the Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity in different ways. So it is disingenuous to assert they are agreed in confessional standards when they really are not.
3. Many of the denominations involved in NAPARC do not require their officers fully to subscribe to their own church’s confessional standards, or really any reformed confessional standards. It is disingenuous to say there is agreement when so many officers even within a number of the member denominations are disagreed, and that in some cases in quite significant ways. The largest denomination in NAPARC has open Federal Vision advocates among its officers, after all.
4. The amended confessional standards of many of the NAPARC denominations are false and erroneous.
The Church is supposed to be the “pillar of truth” in the world. Given the above listed concerns, I am afraid that joining NAPARC undermines that mission.