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  #1  
Old 13th July 2010, 11:38 AM
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Thinking of converting, PCA vs PCUSA?

I am Lutheran but thinking of converting to a Presbyterian church. We have attended a PCA church since last year until March when my DH said it was not for him. The children and I agreed that we did like a lot of what we learned about Presbyterian church and loved how educated and knowledgable the pastor was. I loved the structure of ruling pastors and teaching ones. It was just my dh who did not like it. I am considering switching to PCUSA. I have one I am trying out. But right now, I cannot switch as my baby is being Baptised in two weeks so this is probably not a good time to switch(meaning, canceling the Baptism).

We did membership classes at the PCA church. Will the PCUSA be similar? I know that some of the beliefs are different and the PCUSA is more liberal. But I need the compromise church that my dh will be happy with too. We are coming from a Lutheran ELCA church. I was not happy at the ELCA church in those final years. I know that no place will be a perfect fit, but am hoping for a better fit than the ELCA church. I liked the PCA church.

Any suggestions?
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Old 13th July 2010, 12:19 PM
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Welcome to the forum and thank you for your questions!

What was it about the PCA church that your "dh" (I'm assuming husband?) didn't like? Does he want a more liberal church?
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Old 13th July 2010, 12:29 PM
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My dh was Catholic. He has no interest in being Catholic. But, his parents and family HATE protestants and repeatedly tell me they do. The PCA church was very nice and people talked to us a lot and it was involved. I felt like DH needed to be there with me as it was very family oriented with lots of families and I did not want to go alone. But then they talked about church discipline and lots of the kids who were very disciplined and the adults were very nice and I just think it was too foreign to him. I really really liked the PCA church, but was thinking that because he was more comfortable in the ELCA church and the ELCA and PCUSA church are in communion with each other, maybe the PCUSA church would go over better.

But if I go alone, without my dh, I just felt like the PCA church was not comfortable with me. With my dh, they were all inviting and great. Without my dh, I was just sort of on the wayside and if people spoke to me much, they would often ask where my dh was.
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Old 14th July 2010, 03:35 PM
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The PCUSA does have some biblically "orthodox" churches while the overall denomination is very liberal. You have to see which type of PCUSA church is near you.

The PCA is a solid denomination.

Have you looked into the LCMS?
Missouri Synod Lutherans are also a solid denomination, they are also likely to be more liturgical than many PCA churches and therefore a more familiar form of worship for "DH."

The Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) is also solid and liturgical, but they are pretty small and there may not be one in your area.

Hope that helps,
Kenith

Hope that helps,
Kenith
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Old 15th July 2010, 07:23 PM
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I'd suggest looking around at PCUSA and EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a bit more conservative than the PCUSA) churches to see if you can find one you like and are comfortable with. Other than governing structure and liturgy, the PCUSA is likely to be much closer to the ELCA than to the PCA (not sure where the EPC would fall in that spectrum).
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Old 17th July 2010, 04:35 PM
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REC is small, but good. Another small, but good denomination is the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) going back to J. Gresham Machen and the liberal/modernist controversy of the early 20th century. And again, there may not be one in your area--but it is something to look up on their website.
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Old 18th July 2010, 06:29 PM
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Another vote for the EPC. EPC churches are more varied than PCA churches (which btw, are themselves varied). I'd say, don't shrink from trying out another PCA church if it's in the area. Many are good churches, and in the same area two PCA churches often engage in different models of teaching and authority, while still being on good terms with one another.

Presbyterian Church in America

EPC churches are only more so. They're more varied than PCA churches, and further "left" of the PCA doctrinally.

Evangelical Presbyterian Church

The OPC is smaller, but more specific and conservative doctrinally. Many conservative PCA churches are like OPC churches, and there are reasonably good relations and interchange of members among them. However, if your DH is deterred by doctrinal structure, authority and organization, the OPC isn't likely to appeal to him.

Orthodox Presbyterian Church

Churches which were once in the PCUSA's Confessing Church movement, you'll probably find are somewhat similar to a moderate PCA church. However, there are some deceptive "social clubs qua churches" in the PCUSA, which simply don't talk about religious doctrine, specifically the gospel. I always hope they're small in number, but they can be found, and you need to listen critically but I expect you can identify them when you run across them.

The Confessing Church Movement

For some of the contemporary issues that conservatives identify as problematic in the PCUSA:

http://www.layman.org
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Old 18th July 2010, 07:03 PM
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Be aware that layman.org is a conservative group that does its best to present the leadership of the PCUSA as unfaithful. The article pointed to here quotes "what's the big deal about Jesus?" as if it was a statement belittling Jesus. In fact it was a rhetorical question, which introduced a discussion of why Jesus matters. Ficca (the person quoted) presents both of the answers commonly given. Now the answer that he prefers would still not satisfy the folks at the Layman, but that doesn't excuse the misleading quotation.

The PCUSA is a "big tent." It includes people with varying views on theology. Most members, and most clergy in the pulpit (as opposed to clergy in "specialized ministries", who tend to be more liberal) take a slightly relaxed but fairly standard view of Christianity. However members (and some clergy) with more liberal views are accepted, although when I've heard confessions of faith from new pastors (which I have done many times in Presbytery meetings), they've been boringly orthodox. If you're not interested in being in a church that has liberal members and some liberal leaders, you should find a more conservative church. If you're more accepting, but still want a congregation whose pastor preaches the Gospel and whose members practice it, you'll find that most PCUSA churches fit that. (There certainly are some that are more liberal, but it's a minority.)

I don't think the PCUSA has any more "social clubs" than any other denomination. They do have churches that emphasize service more than doctrinal conformity, although the balance varies from congregation to congregation.

A question to think about when dealing with conservative Christian churches: Does it bother you if their leadership say dishonest or unfair things about the PCUSA and other more liberal churches? It's a common human thing to "circle the wagons" and try to distance yourself from people you disagree with. But I am not attracted to people and churches who turn the Gospel into ideology. Jesus' rivals, the Pharisees, took precisely this approach within Judaism.

This does not mean that doctrine is irrelevant. But it needs to be seen as a way to avoid getting diverted into blind alleys, not a way to define an in-group and maintain their superiority over the riff-raff outside.
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Old 18th July 2010, 07:15 PM
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The other major accusation from the Layman article is the the 2001 GA could find nothing to say about Jesus other than that he was unique. Here's a longer summary of what the GA said:

"We confess the unique authority of Jesus Christ as Lord. Every other authority is finally subject to Christ. Jesus is also uniquely Savior. It is his life, death, resurrection, ascension and final return that restores creation, providing salvation for all those whom God has chosen to redeem. Although we do not know the limits of God's grace and pray for the salvation of those who may never come to know Christ, for us the assurance of salvation is found only in confessing Christ and trusting Him alone. We are humbled in our witness to Christ by our realization that our understanding of him and his way is limited and distorted by our sin. Still the transforming power of Christ in our lives compels us to make Christ known to others."

The disagreement here is not over whether Christ is Lord and savior. It is whether there is a possibility that people without an explicit faith in Christ could be saved. The problem of people who have not been reached is a difficult one for all Christians. Many in more conservative churches also believe that Christ may be at work in someone even though they are not aware that it is in Christ. That's what the GA allows for. Note that they say that it is Christ's death and resurrection that saves everyone who is saved. What they refuse to say is that only those with an explicit faith in Christ are saved.

I believe many members in churches approved by the Layman also believe this. Again, you need to decide whether you prefer to be part of churches that "circle the wagon" around specific conservative formulations of Christianity. (The real disagreement in the GA, by the way, was whether to use the term "unique" or "singular." I believe "unique" is stronger. I can see no reason other than ideology to call "unique" unacceptable.)

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Old 5th August 2010, 02:45 PM
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This is a generalizaton but as a rule stay away from the PCUSA if you want a biblically faithful church. If you want a good dose of liberalism and humanism go to the PCUSA. If you want a church that generally is trying to stay withing conservative biblical values attend the PCA.
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