By Parnell McCarter


On the r-f-w list of yahoogroups.com there has recently been discussion about an article that appeared in the magazine of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland concerning the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  Below are sample discussion posts, some of which have been excerpted:



Sample Post #1


--- In r-f-w@yahoogroups.com, "Brian M. Hanley" <brianmhanley@...> wrote:


> I read the FPC's magazine online and the August issue was just posted on their website.   The magazine has an article entitled; 'Doctrinal Crisis in the OPC' - Here's a quote if you interested. 


>   "The report strongly affirms the orthodox position and opposes the

> New Perspective, but the upholders of orthodoxy are not hopeful that it will

> do any good. They point to the following defects: (1) The report does not

> condemn the New Perspective as heresy. It is not enough merely to declare

> that it is “error” when it is a false gospel destroying men’s souls. (2) The

> report turns a blind eye to the existence of this heresy in the OPC. All its

> criticisms are directed at those outwith the OPC. (3) It is not enough to

> denounce error, even in strong terms, if one will not proceed eventually to

> the discipline of those who are guilty. Heretics are generally not nervous

> types, to be silenced with expressions of disapproval, and they do not usually

> leave of their own accord. The Assembly has made it plain that those who

> preach the New Perspective have nothing to fear."

>   -------------------------------------

> The Free Presbyterian Magazine

> Vol 111 August 2006 No 8 , Page 253

Ø    http://www.fpchurch.org.uk/Magazines/fpm/2006/August.pdf 



Sample Post #2


--- In r-f-w@yahoogroups.com, "Don Campbell" <presbyreformed@...> wrote:



> Rubbish like this FPC article just goes to show you that a made-up

> mind is harder to change than a flat tire on interstate 95 in morning

> rush hour.  Like I've said here and other places before, it wouldn't

> matter one iota if the OPC GA quoted the Westminster Standards on

> justification verbatim and promised to crucify all heretics on

> justification, the OPC would still be excoriated in forums like this.



> What I don't understand is how you can use so much energy to attack

> the OPC and yet you don't lift a finger to attack the liberal church

> of the PCUSA, or any other liberal denomination that is genuinely

> harming the name of Christ.  Shame on all of you who engage in this

> fratricide.  Wake up and engage the enemy.  Don't you see him laughing

> at you?  Stop sniping at the OPC and take up the right hand of

> fellowship with us.  We're not the enemy.  The enemy is all around us.

>  Look elsewhere.





Sample Post #3


--- In r-f-w@yahoogroups.com, "puritanone" <joseph.mccarter@...> wrote:


> Trivial issues?  Quoting the FPC article: "Apart from the necessity

> of discipline, the crisis also illustrates the

> scriptural truth that there are ultimately only two ways of

> salvation: faith and

> works. The New Perspective begins as a re-juggling of the Protestant

> doctrine

> of justification by faith but it soon resembles the Roman doctrine

> of a just-ification

> essentially by works. Already some of its proponents are teaching

> a form of baptismal regeneration. The real choice is between

> Protestantism

> and Romanism, and every variant turns out to be Romanism in disguise.

> There is only one gospel and one way to heaven, and that is the way

> which

> was revealed so plainly to Luther: to trust solely in the

> righteousness of

> Christ."



Sample Post #4


--- In r-f-w@yahoogroups.com, "Glenn Ferrell" <jglennferrell@...> wrote:

> Unless they involve one's own session or presbytery, one often becomes aware of disciplinary cases only when they reach the General Assembly on appeal or appear in the media, after someone is suspended from office or excommunicated.  Even at the General Assembly level, it is difficult to judge what is happening in the entire denomination.  When it sits as a court to hear complaints or appeals, the GA must also make decisions regarding procedure and due process, which may not be tied to the merits of the original charges.  The GA may overturn a conviction, not because the original charges were not valid, but because due process was not protected or the charges insufficiently proven.


> One may be charged only for acts committed or statements made.  A person may hold certain views; but if they do not publicly teach or publish them, there is little basis for a trial.  Even after questionable statements are made, the proper course would be to ask the person to clarify what he meant.  If these still appear out of accord with the Standards, it would be proper to ask him to recant those statements.  If one is repentant and corrected, there is little reason to proceed.  In some instances, a court of jurisdiction may instruct the person not to make those statement or teach them again.  Only if they repeat the offense is there a basis for charges.  If charges are made, they must be in the proper court of jurisdiction, in proper form, with provable specifications.  Then, due process must be allowed, a trial held and opportunities for appeal exhausted.


> None of the elders on my session are advocating Federal Vision views.  If there are any in my presbytery, their view, statements and teachings have not become sufficiently public to me to bring charges.  If and when I find someone publicly denying central doctrines of the Standards, I will act accordingly. 


> It is not for the FPC to disparage the OPC for their following historic Presbyterian procedures and their own constitution in the disciplinary process. If they know of officers in the OPC teaching error on these issues, they should respectfully communicate their concerns to the appropriate courts of the church.




Sample Post #5


--- In r-f-w@yahoogroups.com, "puritanone" <joseph.mccarter@...> wrote:


> Mr. Schwertley at 

> http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/The%20Current%

> 20Crisis%20in%20the%20OPC%20and%20PCA.htm rightly points out:


> "The OPC has not dealt with James B. Jordan (a church member), Prof.

> Richard Gaffin, Thomas Tyson, Tom Trouwborst and the many others who

> are poisoning the sheep with their teaching...When dealing with

> false teaching—especially damnable heresy—it is not enough to make

> positive statements in favor of true doctrine and then set out

> general warnings against the false. There must be sanctions that

> back up such statements. The unwillingness thus far, over a period

> of almost four years, to discipline teachers in their own ranks who

> publicly advocate gross heresy is unconscionable. At the very

> beginning of the controversy, when people were struggling to figure

> out what exactly these men were saying, one could make an argument

> that some time (a month or two) is needed to properly assess the

> situation. But, this heresy has been analyzed and exposed for over

> three and a half years. What are the OPC and PCA waiting for? When

> will they repent of their sinful, blatant negligence?"



> For years now some prominent men in the OPC have gone undisciplined

> though participating in the promulgation of various heresies

> associated with the Federal Vision, etc- and that publicly.  It is

> very much the place of the FPCS magazine (and ministers, where

> appropriate) to warn their sheep of what is going on in other

> Presbyterian denominations where this sort of thing is occurring. 

> And it is appropriate that the world know why it is necessary that

> the FPCS not unite with the OPC.


> Sound the alarm in Zion.



Sample Post #6


--- In r-f-w@yahoogroups.com, "peterreynoldsbookseller" <peter@...> wrote:


> I would point out that this article was written by a particular

> minister, Douglas Somerset, one of the assistant editors of the

> magazine, and I rather doubt if many in the FPC would know what the

> OPC's current situation is. I am not saying that nobody but Dr Somerset

> would have such awareness, or that they would not agree with Dr

> Somerset if they did look at the situation.  Just that it probably

> can't be taken as an official church pronouncement! 


> And the point about procedure in a previous post is something FPs

> would, I'm sure, recognise if pointed out to them, as cases can get

> thrown about from Church court to Church court and back again over a

> period of years within the FPC because of incorrect procedure, and the

> incorrect procedure may be that of the court rather than of the person

Ø    initiating the case.



Sample Post #7


--- In r-f-w@yahoogroups.com, "matthewwinzer" <mwinzer@...> wrote:



> On the controversy itself, I believe it would be difficult for

> churches with a Scottish visible church understanding to properly

> appreciate the dynamics of the North American situation.  Discretion

> might suggest that churches of the Free Church tradition should act in

> the capacity of a wiser older brother offering advice where pertinent

> rather than a nosy bystander ready to criticise the least failing.




Sample Post #8


--- In r-f-w@yahoogroups.com, "puritanone" <joseph.mccarter@...> wrote:

> The sheep need constantly to be informed and warned, lest they

> forget.


> And though some may wish that the FPCS were merely a Scottish

> church, the reality is that it is not.  It has congregations in

> every continent of the world, save Antarctica and South America.

> That includes people in North America.  And part of being in North

> America involves a responsibility to address the North American

> Christian scene.  Mr. Schwertley appropriately has spoken up, and it

> is important that men like Mr. Somerset and the FP Magazine do as

> well.  They have a duty to inform people like me why I should not

> join with the OPC.


> Furthermore, as this email list itself witnesses, we live in a very

> inter-connected world.  Heresies and issues travel across the world

> very fast now. 


> Mr. Trouwborst is an OPC minister, pastor of Calvary Orthodox

> Presbyterian Church, Schenectady, New York.   Here is some info on

> him at

> http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?601 :


> "The talks given at the 2002 Auburn Avenue Pastors' Conference

> (AAPC) at the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe,

> Louisiana, raising questions about the orthodox Reformed doctrines

> of justification by faith alone, the covenants, election,

> perseverance, and the sacraments, have become well known

> subsequently throughout the Reformed community. The book we are

> reviewing here consists of the papers given on these and other

> related subjects, delivered at a specially called colloquium (hosted

> by the editor, Dr. F. Calvin Beisner) in Southern Florida during

> August 2003. The papers were exchanged and discussed, by seven of

> the Auburn Avenue Theology/Federal Vision proponents and by seven of

> its critics. The former are John Barach, Peter J. Leithart, Rick

> Lusk, Steve M. Schlissel, Tom Trouwborst, Steve Wilkins, and Douglas

> Wilson. The critics of the Federal Vision are Christopher A.

> Hutchinson, George W. Knight, III, Richard D. Phillips, Joseph A.

> Pipa, Jr., Carl D. Robbins, Morton H. Smith; and R. Fowler White."


> Mr. Trouwborst is a noted *proponent* of the Federal Vision, having

> publicly written in its defense.


> Some other defenders of Norman Shepherdism (including Dr. Richard

> Gaffin), Federal Vision, etc. have been more "careful" in the way

> they go about it.  These speak with more forked lips, even as many

> did in the old Free Church before the Declaratory Act.  One day they

> subscribe to this, while the next day they are subtly tearing down

> the very thing they subscribed to on another day. 


> I think Mr. Schwertley was justified in what he wrote at

> http://www.reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/The%20Current%

> 20Crisis%20in%20the%20OPC%20and%20PCA.htm , based upon what I have

> read in various sources.





Sample Post #9


--- In r-f-w@yahoogroups.com, Matthew Vogan <mavogan@...> wrote:


> Dear Friends


> I've no desire to prolong this discussion as such. I thought, however, I would make a few brief remarks for what they are worth. It seems to me that there is not a lot of difference between the comments made in Dr Somerset's brief article and the review of Schwertley's book by Gavin Beers in the FCC magazine for December 2006 as below. Neither represents a Church court pronouncment on the matter.  Both simply highlight the debate, highlight a particular perspective that particular commentators have adopted in relation to it and comment on it. I'm sure that if anyone has been able to identify factual inaccuracies in his brief article, Dr Somerset would be glad to hear from them. His contact details will be found in the details of the Aberdeen congregation section on www.fpchurch.org.uk .


> In Scottish Churches we have a process for discipline which goes back at least 300 yrs and we refer to when a fama clamosa (widespread rumour) or open scandal surrounds certain men involcing serious scandal or manifest heresy,  in this case there is no need of a specific accuser and the presbyteries which have the oversight of such men are under an obligation to take action for their own vindication so that the fama is quietened and at least to establish the innocence of the innocent or otherwise.  I don't think that this provision is in the OPC Book of Discipline but I may be wrong.


> I hope that folk understand that "nosy bystanders" or not, some of us are genuinely concerned at the rise of this doctrinal error and that despite our differences with the OPC we are alarmed if it will not address whether this error is being held and propagated within its bounds. Would it be better if we didn't care less and just turned a blind eye?