This is our first Friday of the month look at one of the booklets that are provided by The Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Today’s booklet is the companion booklet to last month’s, What is the Reformed Faith. There are copies of this booklet in the bookcase at the Church building in the foyer if you would like a hard copy, or you can read it online here. http://www.opc.org/books/eBooks/What_Is_OPC.pdf
When we have visitors attend who are interested in becoming members of the Church, before beginning the Confessing Christ membership class I would encourage them to read both of these booklets, as they are a good summary of who we are as a congregation. Last month’s booklet gave an overview of the Reformed Faith. This month’s booklet gives a good overview of our denomination. These resources are not merely for visitors or those new to the Reformed Faith, but we all need reminders of who we are and where we fit into our particular part of Christianity. I encourage each one of you to read this booklet even if you are quite familiar with the OPC as a denomination.
The booklet is divided into three parts:
Part I: Where we Came From
This section gives a very brief overview of history. Not only the history of the Church and the Reformation, but also our particular denomination. While this is no substitute for a longer history, like the book Fighting the Good Fight, it does give some highlights that are important.
Part II: Where We Are Today
This section begins with a discussion of our constitution as a denomination.
“The constitution of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church consists of its standards of doctrine, government, discipline, and worship, namely, its Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Form of Government, Book of Discipline, and Directory for the Public Worship of God.”
These are the materials that help to define our doctrine and to give us the oversight we need in the governing and overseeing of the Church. We call the Westminster Standards our secondary standards, as they are subordinate to the Word of God, our primary standard. We call the Form of Government, Book of Discipline and Directory for the Public Worship of God our tertiary (third in order or level) standards, and they are published in The Book of Church Order.
“All church officers — ministers, ruling elders, and deacons — are required to receive and adopt the Confession and Catechisms as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Bible, and approve of the government, discipline, and worship of the Church. Other church members are only required to acknowledge that the Bible, as the Word of God, contains the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation and to accept instruction in doctrine and life.”
Part 2 continues on with a summary of some of the main doctrines of the Church and how our Church is governed. One helpful section in part two concerns General Assembly decisions. This lists significant decisions that the OPC has addressed in the last 80 years. This includes Liberty of Conscience, Eschatology, Freemasonry, Exclusive Psalmody, Evangelism, Guidance from the Holy Spirit, Diaconal Ministry, Abortion, Race Relations, Sabbath Observance, Tongues-Speaking, Women in Office, Christian Schools, Homosexuality, Admission to the Lord’s Supper, and Human Origins. As you can see, the OPC has addressed some serious issues in its relatively short history.
Part III: Where We Are Going
This section discusses Foreign Missions, Home Missions, Christian Education, Diaconal Ministries, and Ecumenicity. In the part on Ecumenicity there is a list of other Reformed Churches that we are in ecclesiastical fellowship with and have corresponding relationships with. Far from being separatists as a denomination, the OPC seeks relationships with many denominations of “like faith and practice” around the world.
The appendices, while dated somewhat, give you a wealth of resources for additional information regarding the OPC. I encourage you to learn more about our Church. If you ever have any questions please ask myself or the Elders and we will do our best to provide the answers. I pray this resource is a blessing to you and to others who come into our Church.