Churches - Introduction and Part 1: ERPC
I've decided to post on a subject that I normally would keep somewhat private. The only reason I'm doing this is because these particular details are common knowledge and having them stated plainly for all who might be interested can't help but increase understanding where desired. There may be some difficulty in making sure I don't run ahead too far into matters which are best discussed with those directly concerned and likewise there are also matters of concern to me that I think have a more general bearing for all of us.
Our local church is going through a period of independence--we have left the Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches for reasons which amount in my estimation to be only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the difficulties that federation faces. Our consistory, along with another former OCRC are in the process of considering other denominational options. After meeting together and initial study, they decided to consider four possibilities (see respective links):
Evangelical Reformed Presbyterian Church
Reformed Church in the United States
United Reformed Church / (alternate link)
Free Reformed Church
I do wish I had started researching these options a lot sooner. As it is, I feel like there's a lot of catch up. First of all, it must be said that this is a pretty broad playing field. I'm going to try to use the blog a platform for bringing the specific church distinctives to light as I research them.
Part 1: Evangelical Reformed Presbyterian Church (ERPC)
The first two options, which are being currently considered together, are both presbyterian in form and therefore might seem more jarring to some members of my church. Personally, I tend to lean that way anyway so that isn't the hangup for me.
My main concern is that the ERPC is a self-proclaimed split-off from the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) AND OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church). They claim that the OPC has become unfaithful to the "authentic" Gospel which is almost too much for me to even consider seriously. I understand why our church wouldn't be willing to join the OPC but it's quite another thing to join a group of ministers (which is what they are still) that makes such a sweeping claim.
I know I'm quite open to accusations of bias in the matter considering I have two close brothers-in-law who are OPC minsters (full disclosure: I write this from one's house and personal computer). But really, how can I not laugh when I have read the OPC Report on Justification. Somehow the ERPC still claims the OPC supports Federal Vision and New Perspective on Paul and men like Norman Shepherd and other innovators of our time.
One of the works listed on the ERPC site is by one of their own, Paul M. Elliott, in a book which supposedly condemns the OPC report on Justification. I haven't had the pleasure of reading this work at this point, nonetheless, I found this post on Beliefnet.com from a supporter of Elliott and he alludes to an OPC "cover-up"! The comments on the post are worth reading because the poster has no reasoned response to them.
I must leave it at that for the moment. I'll either continue with the ERPC or move on as I see fit later. Cheers!