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How do I choose a Reformed Church?

Discussion in 'Confessional, Covenantal, Creedal - Presbyterian' started by ChicanaRose, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. Phoebe Ann

    Phoebe Ann From Mormonism to Christ Supporter

    +9,308
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    If you recommend Orthodoxy why do you list yourself as non-denominational? That doesn't make sense. And not everyone is drawn to Eastern Orthodoxy.

    John's Story: Why I Left Eastern Orthodoxy for Evangelicalism
     
  2. Phoebe Ann

    Phoebe Ann From Mormonism to Christ Supporter

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    Reformed Baptist churches are very, very different from other reformed churches.
     
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  3. hopperace

    hopperace long forgotten host

    +108
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    I don't know that this helps or hurts:
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. BNR32FAN

    BNR32FAN He’s a Way of life Supporter

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    Because the church that I found Christ in is nondenominational. Later after much study I began to lean more towards the Orthodox teachings, although there are some teachings I prefer to remain neutral on like Mary’s perpetual virginity and some teachings regarding the Eucharist. So I see no need to leave my church because I know the Holy Spirit is at work in my church family and I love them very much. So since I don’t embrace all of the Orthodox teachings I prefer to refer to myself as a nondenominational who has a tendency to lean towards the Orthodox teachings.
     
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  5. 98cwitr

    98cwitr Lord forgive me Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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  6. philadelphos

    philadelphos Sydney

    162
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    What is do you mean by the 'Reformed faith' ? i.e. Why Reformed theology and how did you arrive at this point, some context and background please.

    Otherwise, a terrific response from @pilgrim1999, his overview is very true, and I would not take his advice and warning about pros and cons lightly.

    I've been a Reformed Presbyterian, a Calvinistic Baptist, and have studied / audited most factions in between, been there and know them. I was happy for a while but ultimately disappointed, many Presbyterians feel the same, since true Calvinism is very dogmatic.

    "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col. 2:8)

    @pilgrim1999's quote about 'split Ps' is very true and sad, something explicitly condemned in Scripture. A believer is instructed to be non-deceitful and an honest Calvinist will admit the faults of Calvinism, however most are frankly conceited, arrogant, deluded, and unloving. It goes back to Calvin's character himself and his belligerent style of his writing IMO. This is something I wasn't prepared for, but I believe it happens in all groups, perhaps more self-reinforcing in Calvinism since systematic theology and church structure has such a rational appeal. Carnal appeal IMO. Lot's of ah-ha moments, that may or may not be valid if compared to Scripture extra carefully, which most Calvinists do and don't at the same time when it suits them. - Beware of double standards.

    It's better for believers to be very picky, perceptive, wise, prudent, etc, and being extremely judgemental to one another, in a silent way, and simultaneously being merciful and tolerant in an expressed way, publicly. - Harsh judges of others and harsher judges of self, like the Weeping Woman outside the Pharisees' House. Her character was highly praised by the Lord. She was what we would call self-deprecating

    The part about same-sex marriage however may be a discriminatory and condemning statement, depending. Denigrating certain sins and sinners over others is not a good habit.

    Of course sexual-orientation is rubbish to begin with and I understand where you're coming from and I myself believe that God expressly ordained man and woman to unite, with numerous obvious Scriptural supports etc, how it's wrong for churches to set such policies, and it rings alarm bells about the wisdom and righteousness of the church / synagogue... You must remember that the Lord himself was "numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:12) Commenting that, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7)

    This is the spectrum of error I've noticed,

    Publicly righteous <------------------------------> Publicly un-righteous

    Publicly righteous (minimalist, puritan)
    & privately un-loving

    Publicly un-righteous (humbly, not blatantly)
    & privately loving

    Knowledgeable <------------------------------> Un-knowledgable

    Knowledgeable,
    organised,
    puffed up,
    & heartless

    Un-knowledgable,
    disorganised,
    meek and humble,
    & sweet, kind, thoughtful, hospitable, etc

    I know which one I would choose. There's a reason why Calvinists are called the frozen chosen... so I would caveat your decision based on my scribblings. - This is a very basic outline though, and there's much more in the teaching department, about textual criticism (academic reasons for the right text) and the various doctrines etc, but loving behaviour trumps teaching IMO.

    "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Rom. 13:10)

    That is, I think you're on the right track in thinking about these issues, theology, correct church practice, etc, but as cliche as it sounds, and whichever way you decide, I encourage you to think about treating others as the Lord would treat you, and how you would want to be treated. - Knowing ALL our sins, from the moment we were born, with a record of it all, yet God is good and merciful, patient, kind, tolerant, long-suffering, etc, which are qualities and behaviours we should all aspire to in loving our neighbour as ourself, at home, and publicly, whether at church, local community, national interests, etc. 'Being gracious' like our Father in heaven.

    "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Mt. 5:45)

    Hope that helps, and blessings :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
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  7. philadelphos

    philadelphos Sydney

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    That chart is a tragic picture of division. Same for British and Australian Presbyterianism, minus the circling. - A little leaven.

    The foundation and premise of Protestantism is flawed IMO, since Acts / Omer, Jewish & Gentile split, and Christendom where the problems and divisions both amplified and exacerbated I find. A turbulent and fractured landscape exists for us now compared to being one people cradled inside God's Holy Mountain.



    Maranatha... Our Lord is coming...
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
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  8. philadelphos

    philadelphos Sydney

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    Early on for me, 'Lemke's 9 Marks' was a useful document in differentiating 'Presbyterian' to 'Reformed Baptists', especially being a Presbyterian with very argumentative and opinionated Baptist friends, obsessed with TULIP 5-point Calvinism etc (which is wrong IMO, extremely dogmatic, and historically wrong). Westminster Creedalism is the same.

    See, Dr. Steve W. Lemke Provost & Professor of Philosophy New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, What is a Baptist? Nine Marks that separate Baptists from Presbyterians

    And, Steve W. Lemke, Mark Rathel, R. L. Hatchet, and Ken Gore, The Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry 5, no. 2 (2008)

    Some quotes:
    • "Baptists and Presbyterians are both products of the Protestant Reformation." (p10)
    • "Baptists arose from the Radical Reformation" (p10)
    • "Presbyterians arose from the Magisterial Reformation" (p10)
    • "Calvinism could be the most explosive and divisive issue facing us in the near future." (p13)
    • "First of all, Calvinism is a valid expression of the Christian faith and of the Baptist tradition." (p13)
    • "there is not just one Calvinism, but many Calvinisms" (p13)
    • Calvinism is a counterbalance to Arminianist tendencies: "It has offered a healthy counterbalance and a useful corrective to the somewhat Arminian tendencies in the revivalism and the church growth movement within the SBC." (p13)
    • "Calvinism has also reminded us that evangelism is not accomplished as the result of a magic formula from some church growth guru. No revival takes place by human means alone; it is God that gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6)." (p13)
    While I agree with Limited Atonement about God's election, predestination, etc, it's a "contradistinction to the theory of universal atonement" (https://www.theopedia.com/limited-atonement)... i.e. reactionary theology... tit for tat...

    I find that human labels and frameworks are not necessarily helpful in the long run. In a sentence of 10 words spoken by a Protestant, 5 words will be true and 5 will be false, and 10 will be missing. Worse for Catholics. But Scripture is pure, unbroken, unfailing, and endures forever.

    Baptists are like rebels sects -- One of things I miss about being a Baptist is the close knit community, without hierarchy, obsession with elders, formal courts, liturgy, creeds and doctrines, committees, rule books, etc. Everyone exudes a sense of innocence and open-mindedness, which is really endearing. But there's also lots of gaps in their theology and behaviour which can become very problematic, personally and socially. However, Baptists tend to be stunted in their growth, stuck at the conversion / baptism years, and most I' know are quite agnostic / atheistic in their thoughts about God.

    Presbyterians are similar but conformists -- The aforementioned establishment and bureaucracy acts like crutches to assist one's maturity, and this was it's appeal to me. The world of systematic theology and the Westminster Confession is a strong foundation to grow and mature in the faith, intellectually and academically more invigorating. The Presbyterian model is a nicely packaged format, liturgically, order of worship, doctrinally, etc, making visits to other churches instantly feeling like home, an immediate sense of belonging. The disciplinary system prevents and rectifies public sins, scandals, etc. And a strong cultural and religious network offers a sense of purpose and heritage. But this can also be very pretentious and superficial, where congregants can be empty, vain, and legalistic, people who are proud of their system and know how to say all the words, but may not really care about you or anyone but finding their pew every Sunday.

    On a personal note, I notice it's harder talking to my Presbyterian friends about big picture concepts because they're stuck reciting details in the WCF, unable to think beyond that framework. They're also very defensive and hate being challenged or embarrassed. It's a little easier talking to Baptist friends who are more open-minded to suggestions, other interpretations etc, but their knowledge tends to be very far behind (in the Calvinist school), often unable to grasp the most basic doctrines, e.g. sovereignty of God and often have poorer levels of Greek and Hebrew (usually no Hebrew), so conversations about OT is limited, and most discussions are highly subjective and shallow. They are however receptive, which helps. -- I've found these trends occur at all levels, from new converts to the oldest elders.

    The other thing is that Presbyterians welcome anybody and everybody for public worship and you don't have to be a Presbyterian or Calvinist to gain membership. But to become an elder (governing the church) you must be a full WCF subscribing Calvinist, with certain exemptions per church. Baptists however, discriminate and typically won't allow anyone who hasn't been full-immersion baptised into membership or into the pulpit to preach, regardless what you have to say or do for them. This I cannot accept and I also find that Baptists can be very classist and prejudiced in other areas also, social status, wealth, material belongings, and whether you drink or smoke. It's ignorant, bigoted, un-Christ-like, and I don't like that.

    With my Presbyterian friends, a minister will invite me for a coffee in the city at his favourite cafe, or I can invite my brothers for a nice craft beer, and there would be no judgement. A maturer and more 'adult' group. Occasionally, we have large sit down dinners, several courses, etc. I could even smoke a pipe or a cigar if I wanted, though haven't since it's rude (non-smoking laws and culture in Sydney). And the ladies do lady stuff. But with my Baptists friends, I'm hesitant to say or do anything that might cause offence, for fear of rejection, which can happen easily if they don't like you... They're also overly pre-occupied and obsessed with 'evangelising' and 'baptising' new converts, it's what excites and drives them, and validates their own sense of faith. Thus, it's easy to feel neglected or unappreciated in such environments, failing to learn more, grow, be challenged, intellectually, behaviourally, etc, simply because it's a shallower environment where everyone's fixated on the 'new person' or the 'new family', which is super hypocritical and artificial IMO.

    A quote to think about:

    "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good edification... Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another as Christ received us to the glory of God." (Rom. 15:1-3, 5-7)

    Blessings :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  9. hopperace

    hopperace long forgotten host

    +108
    Presbyterian
    It's my view this (division) has always been the case with any gathering of people on Earth.

    I agree that Presbyterian in-fighting, largely with the aim of purity above unity, is rife with sadness or bittersweet.

    God's people are one in Christ, our Redeemer in whom we are reconciled. Yes, it's helpful when we acknowledge this and seek to actively follow through with Yahshua's prayer for us to be one; but it isn't as though despite there being One Truth, our Father doesn't include means for our di-visions (or variety of perspective) to find divine purpose in our pilgrimage here. That is, my opinion and experience has been that God finds purpose for our divisions in this world, while in His Kingdom we are indeed one.
     
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