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How To Tell The Difference Between The PCA And PCUSA
The Gospel Coalition ^ | 06/24/2014 | Joe Carter

Posted on 06/24/2014 12:29:32 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

Last week NBC news reported that the “top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church in America” voted to recognize same-sex marriage as Christian in their church constitution. The news report, which was quickly corrected, was confusing the Presbyterian Church of the USA—whose general assembly was meeting in Detroit, Michigan—for the Presbyterian Church in America—whose general assembly was meeting in Houston, Texas.

With two Presbyterian denominations with similar names meeting on the same dates it’s easy to understand how a reporter could get them mixed up. So what exactly are the differences between the two? Here are several key differences between these two distinctive Presbyterian denominations.

History

Throughout the twentieth century, various Presbyterian denominations arose, merged, and split into various break-away groups.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (often abbreviated as PCUSA) was established by the 1983 merger of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, whose churches were located mainly in the South and in border states, with the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, whose congregations could be found in every state.

In 1973, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) separated from the Presbyterian Church in the United States in "opposition to the long-developing theological liberalism which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture." In 1982, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, joined the Presbyterian Church in America.

Size

The PCUSA is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. PCUSA has approximately 10,038 congregations, 1,760,200 members, and 20,562 ministers. The denomination has been steadily losing members and churches since 1983, and has lost 37 percent of its membership since 1992.

The PCA is the second largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. The PCA has approximately 1,808 congregations, 367,033 members, and 4,416 ministers. The denomination has been one of the faster growing denominations in the United States, growing tenfold since 1983.
 

Doctrinal Standards

PCUSA: The Bible and the Book of Confessions, which includes the Nicene Creed, the Apostles' Creed, the Scots Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Shorter Catechism, the Larger Catechism, the Theological Declaration of Barmen, the Confession of 1967, and the Brief Statement of Faith.

PCA: The Bible, the Westminster Confession of Faith, together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and the Book of Church Order.
 

Seminaries

The PCUSA maintains affiliations with ten seminaries in the United States: Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, McCormick Theological Seminary. Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, San Francisco Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina, and University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.

The PCA maintains affiliations with one seminary in the United States: Covenant Theological Seminary.
 

Ordination

PCUSA: Allows for the ordination of both men and women, including non-celibate homosexuals.

PCA: Only ordains men in "obedience to the New Testament standard for those who rule the church and teach doctrine."

 

Inerrancy

PCUSA: Does not teach that Scripture is inerrant.

PCA: Teaches that Scripture is inerrant.
 

Church Property

PCUSA: Church property belongs to the denomination.

PCA: Church property belongs to the local congregation without any right of reversion whatsoever to any Presbytery or General Assembly.
 

Social Issues

Abortion

PCUSA: Teaches that abortion can be “morally acceptable” though it “ought to be an option of last resort.”

PCA: Teaches that all abortions are wrong. (e.g., “Abortion would terminate the life of an individual, a bearer of God's image, who is being divinely formed and prepared for a God-given role in the world.”)

Divorce

PCUSA: In 1952 the PCUSA General Assembly moved to amend sections of the Westminster Confession, eliminating "innocent parties" language, broadening the grounds to include no-fault divorce.

PCA: Teaches that divorce is a sin except in cases of adultery or desertion.

Homosexuality

PCUSA: In 2010, the General Assembly expressed that “The PCUSA has no consensus in the interpretation of Scripture on issues of same-sex practice.” Currently, homosexuals (both celibate and non-celibate) can serve as ministers and the churches endorses same-sex “blessing” ceremonies. Recently, the General Assembly amended the Book of Order to redefine marriage as between “two people” rather than between a man and a woman and allows ministers to perform any legal marriage between two people. That amendment will require the approval of a majority of the presbyteries before it will take effect.

PCA: Teaches that homosexual practice is sin.

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator.


TOPICS: Mainline Protestant; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS: pca; pcusa; presbyterian

1 posted on 06/24/2014 12:29:32 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Thanks for posting this.


2 posted on 06/24/2014 12:36:00 PM PDT by goodnesswins (R.I.P. Doherty, Smith, Stevens, Woods)
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To: SeekAndFind

In other words, John Knox would probably recognize the PCA. For the PCUSA, all bets are off...


3 posted on 06/24/2014 12:36:16 PM PDT by Oberon (John 12:5-6)
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To: SeekAndFind

An outsider’s suggestion: The PCA should simply change its name to the APC, the Actual Presbyterian Church.


4 posted on 06/24/2014 12:40:35 PM PDT by chajin ("There is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12)
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To: SeekAndFind

This is a very helpful piece. Nice to know there is a Presbyterian denomination that isn’t apostate.


5 posted on 06/24/2014 12:44:38 PM PDT by Dr. Thorne ("Don't be afraid. Just believe." - Mark 5:36)
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To: SeekAndFind

Bookmark


6 posted on 06/24/2014 12:48:24 PM PDT by moovova
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To: SeekAndFind

Although I attend a PCUSA most of my life, I have never joined. I like the church that I was baptized in which is a Brethren Church (once it was called German Baptists and Duncards). I become disappointed with a church that fights over dogma. What they believe is simple and directly from the Bible.
http://brethrenchurch.org/upload/documents/Brethren_Documents_and_Resources/Brethren_Positions_on_Social_Issues_.pdf


7 posted on 06/24/2014 12:50:19 PM PDT by Vinylly (?%)
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To: SeekAndFind
HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PCA AND PCUSA

PCUSA: of the world
PCA: of God

8 posted on 06/24/2014 1:04:46 PM PDT by ConservingFreedom (A goverrnment strong enough to impose your standards is strong enough to ban them.)
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To: SeekAndFind

PCUSA board politics sound like those espoused by CPUSA, coincidence?


9 posted on 06/24/2014 1:05:38 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The new witchhunt: "Do you NOW, . . . or have you EVER , . . supported traditional marriage?")
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To: SeekAndFind

PCA: Christians, Patriots
PCUSA: Bolshevists, Secularists, Traitors, Hedonists


10 posted on 06/24/2014 1:17:52 PM PDT by Objective Scrutator (All liberals are criminals, and all criminals are liberals)
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To: SeekAndFind
The PCUSA is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. PCUSA has approximately 10,038 congregations, 1,760,200 members, and 20,562 ministers. The denomination has been steadily losing members and churches since 1983, and has lost 37 percent of its membership since 1992.

They've been loosing members pretty much continually since the 1960s.

11 posted on 06/24/2014 1:19:15 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: SeekAndFind

Bttt.


12 posted on 06/24/2014 1:25:55 PM PDT by Inyo-Mono (NRA)
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To: SeekAndFind
“The PCUSA has no consensus in the interpretation of Scripture on issues of same-sex practice.”

To continue with the PCUSA/PCA comparison:

Literacy

PCUSA: Membership and clergy alike are unable to read and understand plain writings translated into their own language (e.g. Scripture)

PCA: Literate; able to read scripture for meaning

13 posted on 06/24/2014 1:40:17 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Throughout the twentieth century, various Presbyterian denominations arose, merged, and split into various break-away groups. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (often abbreviated as PCUSA) was established by the 1983 merger of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, whose churches were located mainly in the South and in border states, with the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, whose congregations could be found in every state. In 1973, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) separated from the Presbyterian Church in the United States in "opposition to the long-developing theological liberalism which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture." In 1982, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, joined the Presbyterian Church in America.

Do any of you who are still protestants understand how absurd this sounds?

14 posted on 06/24/2014 3:53:31 PM PDT by Jim Noble (When strong, avoid them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.)
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To: a fool in paradise

Yep.

PCUSA = CPUSA

For all intents and purposes.


15 posted on 06/24/2014 4:09:20 PM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
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To: Jim Noble

RE: Do any of you who are still protestants understand how absurd this sounds?

I wouldn’t use the word “absurd”. I would use the word “sad”.

it simply shows how sinful human beings are and how throughout history, people forget and neglect God’s word by putting primacy on their “feelings” and personal wisdom.

I don’t think this problem exists only in “protestant” churches.


16 posted on 06/24/2014 4:10:07 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: Jim Noble

As someone who grew up in the RCC, trying to find a decent RCC church was oftentimes a chore, and sometimes impossible.

I was in the SSPX, then I got saved (Ephesians ch. 2),

... then I left both the Novus Ordo AND the SSPX in my rearview mirror.

(I do like Lubbock, TX, though.)

/sarc

haha


17 posted on 06/24/2014 4:12:33 PM PDT by fishtank (The denial of original sin is the root of liberalism.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Thank you for posting this. I have asked several times over the years and have never gotten this clear an explanation.


18 posted on 06/24/2014 5:36:21 PM PDT by verga (Conservative, leaning libertarian)
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To: SeekAndFind

Bookmark


19 posted on 06/24/2014 5:38:53 PM PDT by Gamecock (#BringTheAdultsBackToDC)
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To: SeekAndFind; goodnesswins; Oberon; Dr. Thorne; moovova; Lee N. Field; Nervous Tick; verga; ...
Just as Paul warned in 2 Timothy 4:3-4: j"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."

We are witnessing a "falling away" of monumental proportions, with many churches reduced to hollow shells "having the appearance of godliness but denying its power" and "always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth" (both quotes from 2 Timothy 3, ESV). This is a dangerous time for our rudderless society, signaling that even more perilous times lie ahead for the shrinking remnant of believers whose biblical views will becoming increasingly repugnant in an unbelieving world.

20 posted on 06/25/2014 6:02:58 AM PDT by Always A Marine
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To: SeekAndFind

bttt


21 posted on 06/25/2014 7:29:54 AM PDT by TEXOKIE (We must surrender only to our Holy God and never to the evil that has befallen us.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The article is now outdated as the PCUSA now says that babies who survive abortion should be killed or allowed to die too. That is murder.


22 posted on 06/25/2014 11:30:06 AM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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