By Parnell McCarter


I have benefited in various ways from publications, etc. associated with the RPNA, and I agree with much of what it stands for, but I also have some areas of question and concern.  Here is an outline of some areas of agreement and concern.


Some areas of agreement


·        Full subscription to the original Westminster Standards

·        Descending obligation of the Solemn League and Covenant

·        Their doctrine regarding ‘occasional communion’, which frowns upon joining in communion with schismatic church bodies

·        The historic Christian position regarding artificial birth control


Some areas of question and concern


·        Was the RPNA really justified in forming a new denomination when there already was a church, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (FPCS), fully subscribed to the original Westminster Standards, upholding the Solemn League and Covenant, and reasonably upholding these standards?  Is this multiplying denominations?  And is it good to forfeit a body with developed presbyterian church courts for one without such, when what is gained from it is questionable?  (see http://www.puritans.net/news/historicaloriginsfpcs011008.pdf for rough sketch of the historical origins of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland)

·        While it is certainly correct that the current civil governments of Canada, the United Kingdom, the USA, etc., are morally corrupt, is it really correct to assert they are not legitimate civil governments which should be obeyed as a matter of conscience (at least insofar as they do not command that which is immoral)?  Does not this RPNA position contradict the Biblical stance affirmed in the Westminster Confession, and supported in Romans 13, that “it is the duty of the people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience' sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from their obedience to him: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted…“?

·        Given such passages as I Corinthians 11 and Isaiah 47:2-3, is it really justified in opposing female headcovering in the public worship?

·        Given such passages as I Timothy 2:8-10 and Exodus 33:5-6, is it really justified in permitting tattoos, make-up, ornamental jewelry, etc.? Does this not contradict the plainness and modesty of attire we are to strive for?

·        Is it right to permit movie and stage-play entertainment, when stage-acting is uniformly treated in a pejorative manner in scripture (generally translated ‘hypocrite’, but more literally translated ‘stage-actor’)?  Does not this form of entertainment erode the moral fiber of a people, which is why it was historically banned in reformed nations like Scotland?

·        Is it right to separate from a church body on the grounds that it does not explicitly refer to a covenant with descending obligation, even though the church body is upholding the moral substance of the covenant?  Is it necessary, for example, for a church explicitly to mention the Nehemiahic covenant in its terms of communion?

·        Is its opposition to the FPCS’s stance on distinction of attire (by requiring women normally to wear dresses) justified?

·        Does its position regarding ‘occasional hearing’ really make sense?  Is it right to promote the books and tapes of various theologians and ministers, but in a blanket policy forbid hearing them teach in person?  Does merely hearing someone teach and preach in person really imply one is prepared to unify with them in ecclesiastical communion?