By Parnell McCarter



An article at http://reformedcovenanter.wordpress.com/2007/10/01/tyranny-of-conscience-the-denial-of-christian-liberty-by-brian-schwertley/ seems to be written by a WPCUS minister and posted by a member in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland.  For those who agree with it, as well as for those who wrote and posted it, I would have the following questions:


1.  Many different positions are lumped together for criticism as a form of legalism in the article.  They include: a ban on alcohol consumption, a ban on movies/stage-plays, a ban on earrings, a ban on jewelry in general, etc.  Is it fair and correct to lump such disparate positions together for criticism, instead of looking at each issue on its own terms?


2.  All of these positions are dismissed as “man-made rules”, yet without addressing the arguments made from the Bible for certain of the positions, such as that found at http://www.puritans.net/news/attire040604.htm .  Instead of just dismissing all of these positions as “man-made rules”, would it not be more appropriate to address the arguments that have been advanced for a position, showing where it is believed they are faulty in Biblical reasoning?


3.  Even if one believes the logic advanced for certain of the positions is faulty  (such as that found at http://www.puritans.net/news/attire040604.htm), is not there an important distinction between someone who tries to derive all of his positions from the Bible but has areas of faulty reasoning versus someone who simply holds a position because it is in accordance with a certain human tradition?  Or does faulty logic on some points consign someone or some church to the same category as the Pharisees?


4.  If faulty logic on any point of any application serves as a justifiable basis for ecclesiastical separation, then ultimately what visible church on earth can be joined?


5.  A number of the positions listed were held by the historic Church of Scotland and the historic Church of Geneva, as well as by men such as John Knox and John Calvin.  Why does this article fail to acknowledge this, but only mention more modern examples?


6.  Strong language is used in the article to characterize those who hold to some or all of the positions criticized, including “legalistic sourpusses”, “tyranny”, and “Pharisaical”.   Given this strong language, would it be safe to assume that those modern day Presbyterians who agree with the article would have ecclesiastically separated from the historic Church of Scotland if they had lived centuries ago?  Are such prepared to assert that their own modern church is not therefore to be considered as a modern manifestation and continuation of the historic Church of Scotland?