WHY NOT THE FCS CONTINUING OR THE PRESBYTERIAN REFORMED CHURCH?
We should always be able to explain our choice of churches, to those who may ask. For those of us who adhere to the doctrines of the **original** Westminster Standards, possible candidate churches certainly include the Free Church of Scotland Continuing (FCS Continuing) and the Presbyterian Reformed Church (PRC), as well as the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (FPCS). There are many aspects of all of these denominations which are laudatory. In principle, all hold to the doctrines of the original Westminster Standards. And we can be thankful for some of the work being done by all of them. So why have I chosen to pursue joining the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and not the Free Church of Scotland Continuing or the Presbyterian Reformed Church?
In short, the answer is this: on all the main issues where the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland differs from the Free Church of Scotland Continuing and the Presbyterian Reformed Church, I agree with the position of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and not the Free Church of Scotland Continuing or the Presbyterian Reformed Church. Here are some of those points of difference:
1. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland upholds and
defends provisions of scripture (addressed in the Westminster Standards) which
are unpopular today (for example, historicism, prohibitions on the wearing of jewelry
[though the FPCS is not as strict as it should be or as much as the reformed
churches used to be], prohibition on the watching of drama, Sabbath observance,
Mass attendance, etc.). There appears to be less willingness on the part of FCS
Continuing and the PRC to do so.
2. The FCS Continuing and the PRC use the Puritan Reformed Seminary in Grand Rapids to train its ministers, but the seminary allows Baptist ministers to teach some courses, and the seminary is run be churches which have Romish Holy Days, deny the Establishment Principle, deny historicism, etc.
3. I see no sound reason the ministers who separated and formed the FCS Continuing and the PRC should not have joined FPCS. We do not need to multiply denominations. When asked their reasons for not joining the FPCS, I have found the reasons to be routinely poor. In contrast, the FPCS was eminently justified in its separation from the old Free Church (after the Free Church passed the Declaratory Act) and its creation of the FPCS.
With specific respect to the FCS Continuing, this statement I received from a friend within the FCS Continuing is a source of central concern: “The FCC is really no more conservative than the Free Church ever was. The issue that created a division in Jan 2000 for the FCC was a particular one distinct from the course of apostasy being followed by the Free Church “.
So while I am thankful for many aspects of the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland Continuing and the Presbyterian Reformed Church, as a matter of conscience I must pursue membership in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.