By Parnell McCarter



One function of this website is to inform people about the different church denominations and to show why we advise the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland denomination. It is quite appropriate that we be straight-forward about the differences that exist and explain the scriptural rationale for agreements and disagreements, as a first step to healing breaches. It is with this in mind that this article examines the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland (RPCI).


We commend the RPCI to the extent it embraces the scriptural doctrines outlined in the Westminster Standards. But in a number of notable respects it seems to deviate from those standards and its implications:


  • It refuses to uphold the provisions concerning forbidden marriages, particularly concerning relations of affinity. As noted at http://www.rpc.org/beliefs/testimony/statement.htm , the RPCI takes this exception to the Westminster Standards: in the matter of marriage with a deceased wife's sister and deceased husband's brother - in view of the uncertainty amongst students of Scripture as to the true interpretation of the injunctions laid down, no disciplinary action is taken by the Church against those who contract such marriages or ministers who perform them. In truth, there should be no uncertainty on this point, as explained in our article at http://www.puritans.net/news/affinity092606.htm .
  • The RPCI has sister relations with the RPCNA, which itself has multiple exceptions to the Westminster Standards. This means the RPCI advises people in North America to join with a church which is significantly variant with the Westminster Standards (see articles on the RPCNA at http://www.puritans.net/news/rpcna043007.htm and http://www.puritans.net/news/family022307.htm). This constitutes a significant lapse on the part of the RPCI in upholding the Westminster Standards.
  • The RPCI allows use in its congregations of versions of scripture which implicitly reject the Received Text and undermines the principle found in the Westminster Standards of the preservation of the infallible text in the original languages of Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) from generation to generation. See articles at http://www.puritans.net/news/bibletext070805.htm and http://www.puritans.net/news/bibletext082604.htm on this topic.
  • The RPCI formerly held to the Cameronian error (see articles at http://www.puritans.net/news/magistrate072804.htm and http://www.puritans.net/news/slc061405.htm concerning this error), causing schism as a result from the Church of Scotland and its mission churches. The RPCI has not taken sufficient steps to amend for this past error, in remaining separate from the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which is the true successor of the historic Church of Scotland. Thus, the RPCI is guilty of being schismatic.



Note: the RPCI subtly mischaracterizes at http://www.rpc.org/beliefs/testimony/statement.htm what the Church of Scotland did in 1647 in its clarification of Chapter 23 when adopting the Westminster Confession (WCF). The Church of Scotland in 1647 merely clarified how Chapter 23 of the WCF should be understood, but did not alter it. In contrast, the RPCI effectively alters Chapter 24 by its position of not enforcing forbidden marriages, particularly concerning relations of affinity.