Skip to comments.Q & A from the OPC: Denominations and Christian Truth
Posted on 12/10/2010 4:38:56 PM PST by Gamecock
I have a question about Christianity. I once heard that there are thousands of different Christian denominations. The exact number is not important. Each denomination has its own, unique interpretation of the Bible, and each denomination asserts that its interpretation is the correct one. Not every denomination can be right; someone has to be wrong. With respect to the OPC and John Calvin, how do you know that the OPC's interpretation is the correct one?
It was Solomon who wrote "this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions" (Eccles. 7:29, King James Version). This being true it is hardly surprising that there are so many variations, and deviations, in man's understanding of the Bible.
It is also true, however, that Jesus Christ the Son of God promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide his church into "all the truth" :
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-14, English Standard Version)
(1) This process began when the Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to remember everything that Christ had taught them:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26, ESV)
(2) It continued as the same Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to write down everything that the Christian Church needed to know:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31, ESV)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3, ESV)
(3) It has continued further through the history of the Church as the Holy Spirit has enabled the Church—as "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 TImothy 3:14-15, New King James Version) or, in other words, the institution appointed by God to uphold the truth of the Bible—to understand the Bible:
These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
(4) And the proof and evidence of this is to be found in the great Creeds and Confessions of the historic Church.
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church stands in the line of what are commonly called the Ecumenical Creeds: the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Creed formulated at the Council of Chalcedon. The Reformation was not a departure from these Creeds so much as a return to them. For example, the Heidelberg Catechism (which has always been honored by Presbyterian and Reformed believers) is in large part a restatement of the Apostles' Creed according to its original meaning. And other Reformed Creeds, Catechisms, and Confessions do much the same thing. They restate the faith enshrined in the Ecumenical Creeds in such a way as to exclude error and misunderstanding.
It is not quite correct, therefore, to say that each denomination has its own unique interpretation of the Bible. The OPC does not claim any "unique"' understanding of either the Ecumenical or Reformation Creeds. It only claims to be sincerely striving to remain faithful to them.
You are right, of course, when you say "not every denomination can be right" if you mean "right in everything." But the OPC does not claim that either. No church on earth has ever been perfect (even the church that Jesus pastored had at least one hypocrite in it). At best we can only claim that we are sincerely striving to be faithful to the Word of God, and that we find the clearest expression of what the Word of God teaches in the Westminster Standards.
The writer of this note has been a pastor for 53 years and has diligently studied the Bible for 60 years. The result has been an increasingly strong conviction that the great Creeds and Confessions—Ecumenical and Reformed—are, indeed, the most faithful to the Bible. But the only way that you will be sure about that is to study them along with your own study of the Bible.
Thank you for a thought-provoking question!
Just goes to show you how the slanderous accusations made by some does nothing but confuse those outside the church.
I was a Bible School student for two years. I do not call myself Preacher as I was never ordained by man. I believe neither Calvin -nor the OPC can be 100%right.The standard must not be what man speculates but if that speculation is backed reasonably by Scripture.what ought be the bedrock for all Christians. The quote Ecc. is good but like any verse removed form its immediate context can be supposed to mean anything.I like the passage that says let God be true and every man a liar; as it is written, That thou might be justified in thy sayings,and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” And that bit about “seeing through the glass darkly.” Even th emost righteous of men are still men and even those with ears to hear and eyes to see don’t always understand—eh?
I’m reminded of the Bereans in Acts 16, who “searched the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (The “things” which Paul was preaching.) Those folks were called “noble-minded” for checking Paul’s words against the Scriptures.
Perhaps we could call people “noble-minded” today for doing the same thing - searching the Scriptures to see whether this or that preaching was true or false? If we all looked to the Scriptures, and discussed our differences with the goal of aligning our views with the Bible, we might get closer to that “unity” for which Jesus prayed in the Garden. I can’t think of any other way to achieve His desire for us.
This gives you a good jumping off point to explain that Sola Scriptura is not the same as Solo Scriptura in that you do follow the Creeds as much as they are subservient to and interpreted in line with Scripture. At least that is the understanding I have from other Reformed Christians. If I am mistaken I do apologize.
And one of the OPC's primary confessions, THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSIONS OF FAITH agrees with you.
Chapter 1 is "Of the Scripture" and Chapter 25 is "Of the Church" which should give us a hint as to what takes precedence in the OPC...
V. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will.
(Scriptural proofs at the site.)
I think you are correct.
It gets back to Scripture being absolute truth and the standard to which we compare everything.
What I see is that a lot of the different denominations differ in what is more often what Paul considers *disputable matters*. The essentials of the faith are usually the same, salvation through faith in the Christ of the Bible alone.
Differences in baptism of infants, whether women should have long hair and wear only skirts, etc, fall into the disputable matters area.
I don’t agree with everything our church teaches as it tends towards the pentecostal side, but they are my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Amen. Scripture, our only rule of faith and practice, by the grace of God, for His glory and our welfare.
The dispute isn’t between those who look to the Scripture for their absolute authority so much as between those who look to Scripture for their absolute authority and those who look to tradition and historical writings for absolute authority.
A perfect example is the free will vs predestination debate.
I can see that either side has what I consider adequate Scriptural support for their point of view so I just figure that since they both believe that they are saved by grace through faith, we’ll find out later who was right about the predestination/free will issue.
ABSOLUTELY INDEED. WELL PUT:
The standard must not be what man speculates but if that speculation is backed reasonably by Scripture.what ought be the bedrock for all Christians. The quote Ecc. is good but like any verse removed form its immediate context can be supposed to mean anything.I like the passage that says let God be true and every man a liar; as it is written, That thou might be justified in thy sayings,and mightest overcome when thou art judged. And that bit about seeing through the glass darkly. Even th emost righteous of men are still men and even those with ears to hear and eyes to see dont always understandeh?
Im reminded of the Bereans in Acts 16, who searched the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (The things which Paul was preaching.) Those folks were called noble-minded for checking Pauls words against the Scriptures.
Perhaps we could call people noble-minded today for doing the same thing - searching the Scriptures to see whether this or that preaching was true or false? If we all looked to the Scriptures, and discussed our differences with the goal of aligning our views with the Bible, we might get closer to that unity for which Jesus prayed in the Garden. I cant think of any other way to achieve His desire for us.
Except, of course, for the
RC’s . . .
who have to search through
at least 400 years of
convoluted, mish-mashed, contradictory . . . yada yada yada
!!!!TRADITIONS!!!! . . .
and when done with that . . .
have to search through the various patterns of smoke from the smokey back rooms of the bureaucratic political power-mongering Vatican magicsterical convocations . . .
and when done with that . . .
have to search through the various patterns of bead fondling of the sheeple in the pews . . .
and when done with that . . .
have to search through the various patterns of the latest batch of fallen white hankys . . .
and when done with that . . .
have to search through the various patterns of chicken entrails sacrificed on ‘high holy days’ by the syncretistic RC’s in Mexico and other similar regions . . .
and when done with that . . .
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Scripture text: Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition
Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum,
et exsultávit spíritus meus
in Deo salvatóre meo,
quia respéxit humilitátem
Ecce enim ex hoc beátam
me dicent omnes generatiónes,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericórdia eius in progénies
et progénies timéntibus eum.
Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo,
dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui;
depósuit poténtes de sede
et exaltávit húmiles.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis
et dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum,
sicut locútus est ad patres nostros,
Ábraham et sémini eius in sæcula.
Glória Patri et Fílio
et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio,
et nunc et semper,
et in sæcula sæculórum.
Using my gif bandwith and my gif account without my permission is stealing my bandwidth from my gif account.
Please save the gif to your own account and ask the RM to delete the post.
|CHURCH MEMBERSHIP (In Millions)|
|Church||1960 Membership||Rank||2002-4 Membership||Rank||Change||Rank|
|African Methodist Episcopal Church||1,166||16||2,500||10||114.4%||2|
|American Baptist Churches in the USA||1,521||13||1,434||14||-5.7%||9|
|Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)||1,801||12||786||16||-56.4%||16|
|Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)||1,487||14||5,599||4||276.5%||1|
|Churches of Christ||2,163||10||1,500||12||-30.7%||13|
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America||5,300||4||4,985||6||-5.9%||10|
|Greek Orthodox Diocese of North and South America||1,200||15||1,500||12||25.0%||6|
|Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod||2,391||9||2,513||9||5.1%||7|
|National Baptist Convention of America||2,669||8||3,500||7||31.1%||5|
|National Baptist Convention USA||5,256||5||5,000||5||-4.9%||8|
|Presbyterian Church (USA)||4,108||6||3,241||8||-21.1%||11|
|Roman Catholic Church||42,105||1||66,407||1||57.7%||4|
|Southern Baptist Convention||9,732||3||16,248||2||67.0%||3|
|United Church of Christ||2,022||11||1,297||15||-35.9%||15|
|United Methodist Church||10,798||2||8,251||3||-23.6%||12|
|MEMBERS PER 1,000 UNITED STATES POPULATION|
|Church||1960 Members per 1,000 Population||Rank||2002-4 Members per 1,000 Population||Rank||Change||Rank|
|African Methodist Episcopal Church||6.5||16||8.7||10||34.0%||2|
|American Baptist Churches in the USA||8.5||13||5.0||14||-41.1%||9|
|Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)||10.0||12||2.7||16||-72.7%||16|
|Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)||8.3||14||19.4||4||135.4%||1|
|Churches of Christ||12.0||10||5.2||12||-56.7%||13|
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America||29.4||4||17.3||6||-41.2%||10|
|Greek Orthodox Diocese of North and South America||6.7||15||5.2||12||-21.9%||6|
|Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod||13.3||9||8.7||9||-34.3%||7|
|National Baptist Convention of America||14.8||8||12.2||7||-18.0%||5|
|National Baptist Convention USA||29.2||5||17.4||5||-40.5%||8|
|Presbyterian Church (USA)||22.8||6||11.3||8||-50.7%||11|
|Roman Catholic Church||233.9||1||230.6||1||-1.4%||4|
|Southern Baptist Convention||54.1||3||56.4||2||4.4%||3|
|United Church of Christ||11.2||11||4.5||15||-59.9%||15|
|United Methodist Church||60.0||2||28.7||3||-52.2%||12|
|Calculated from data in World Almanac and Yearbook of American Churches|
You are asserting a copyright in those pictures?
Isn’t this the same image?
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