Presbyterianism, whose bodies are also called Reformed Churches, share a common origin in the 16th-century Swiss Reformation and the teachings of John Calvin, and today is one of the largest Christian denominations in Protestantism.

PCA vs. PCUSA

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  • PCA vs. PCUSA

    I found this comparison someone had made about the Presbyterian Church in America vs. PCUSA:

    1) The PCA does not ordain women to either of the offices in the church (Teaching/Ruling Elder, Deacon). The PCUSA by contrast ordains women to both offices.

    2) The PCA affirms that the bible is inerrant and infallible in all that it teaches. The PCUSA does not.

    3) The PCA repudiates abortion and considers it a violation of the sixth commandment. The PCUSA believes, there should be no limits on access to abortions, there should be public funding of abortions, and that there should be limits placed on people who demonstrate against abortion.

    4) The PCA is against homosexual behavior and same sex marriage and believes both are sins. The PCUSA does not consider homosexuality to be a sin, ordains practicing homosexuals and came within 30 votes of giving the go ahead to same sex marriage ceremonies in the church. Their next General Assemby (GA) will probably do so.

    5) The PCA is against divorce except in cases of adultery or desertion. The PCUSA by contrast allows for no-fault divorce and remarriage.

    6) The PCA has a constitution consisting of the Westminster Standards and Book of Church Order. All church officers must subscribe to these documents as their Confession of Faith. Teaching against the doctrines contained in these documents or violating them could result in trial and deposition from office.

    By contrast, the PCUSA has a “Book of Confessions” containing all of the major Reformed Confessions, and some modern confessions of faith which change or even deny things contained in these confessions. They are viewed more as a series of general guidelines or suggestions that do not bind the conscience of officers in any way. PCUSA church officers routinely teach contrary to the doctrines contained in these documents.

    7) The PCA is explicitly Reformed in its theology. Someone denying Calvinism would have an extremely hard time being ordained in the PCA. By contrast, the theology of PCUSA congregations varies widely from church to church and can cover a spectrum from defacto Unitarian Universalism to Neo-Orthodoxy to soft Arminianism. Very few PCUSA congregations are explicitly Calvinistic in their teaching and preaching.

    more

  • #2
    I think the above points understate the differences. Consider the first point, the PCUSA doesn't just allow women elders in contradiction of biblical teaching, it requires churches to have them (quotas) and prohibits its preachers from objecting (censorship).
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    • #3
      Hello Cornelius,

      What is the PCA's position on Theonomy?

      God bless,
      William
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      • #4
        I don't believe the PCA has taken a stand on Theonomy. Although, searching the Internet, I found that one of the founding congregations of the PCA left the PCA, for the relatively liberal EPC, in '97 for the denomination's "toleration of Theonomy".
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        • #5
          Someone should start a thread on Theonomy and how those who believe it apply it. Could be interesting.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by RevT View Post
            Someone should start a thread on Theonomy and how those who believe it apply it. Could be interesting.
            Hi RevT,

            Great seeing you again. On the topic of Theonomy a thread has been started: What Is "Theonomy"?

            The Morality and Law thread should be the place to start such threads....

            God bless,
            William
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            • #7
              Originally posted by William View Post

              Hi RevT,

              Great seeing you again. On the topic of Theonomy a thread has been started: What Is "Theonomy"?

              The Morality and Law thread should be the place to start such threads....

              God bless,
              William
              Link not working or is it just me.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Origen View Post
                Link not working or is it just me.
                Fixed.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by William View Post
                  Fixed.
                  There you go.

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                  • #10
                    That is a pretty good summation of the differences between the two denominations. The PCUSA is a very liberal denomination and generally involves itself in false doctrines, while the PCA is much more conservative. The OPC, of which I am a member, is a much more conservative denomination than even the PCA. One difference to highlight is that the PCA will allow children who are not necessarily professed members of the church to participate in communion, while the OPC will not.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Knotical View Post
                      That is a pretty good summation of the differences between the two denominations. The PCUSA is a very liberal denomination and generally involves itself in false doctrines, while the PCA is much more conservative. The OPC, of which I am a member, is a much more conservative denomination than even the PCA. One difference to highlight is that the PCA will allow children who are not necessarily professed members of the church to participate in communion, while the OPC will not.
                      Not to mention, I have even heard that some PCA churches have not only Arminian elders but also dispensationalist. I find the PCA "more" liberal than the OPC in worship, and I am still wondering why it produces what appears as to be "liberals" in politics. I can't wrap my mind around this observation, having no clue as to why?

                      I know that the OPC was formed after a split with the PCUSA. Basically the men that vowed the WCF were brought up on charges in various Presbys after having attempted to realign "her" with orthodoxy. I think it is a good time to abandon ship when the church attempts to discipline Reformers for orthodoxy. Surprisingly, Orthodox in the OPC merely means true and correct doctrine in contrast to liberalism. I do not know how the PCA was started, its roots, but I think that it isn't far fetched to speculate that those that were not so extremely orthodox felt uncomfortable with the Regulative Principal. I don't know, as to my last points, I am only speculating, but I wouldn't mind a brief history lesson on the PCA.

                      God bless,
                      William
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        Originally posted by William View Post

                        Not to mention, I have even heard that some PCA churches have not only Arminian elders but also dispensationalist. I find the PCA "more" liberal than the OPC in worship, and I am still wondering why it produces what appears as to be "liberals" in politics. I can't wrap my mind around this observation, having no clue as to why?

                        I know that the OPC was formed after a split with the PCUSA. Basically the men that vowed the WCF were brought up on charges in various Presbys after having attempted to realign "her" with orthodoxy. I think it is a good time to abandon ship when the church attempts to discipline Reformers for orthodoxy. Surprisingly, Orthodox in the OPC merely means true and correct doctrine in contrast to liberalism. I do not know how the PCA was started, its roots, but I think that it isn't far fetched to speculate that those that were not so extremely orthodox felt uncomfortable with the Regulative Principal. I don't know, as to my last points, I am only speculating, but I wouldn't mind a brief history lesson on the PCA.

                        God bless,
                        William
                        I don't know when it happened, specifically, but occurred as the PCUSA became increasingly liberal to a point where there were those within it that decided they needed to draw a line. So, it was another split that occurred to the PCUSA because of liberalism going unchecked. I have attended a PCA church in San Diego, and they seemed pretty conservative.

                        Incidentally, this is where I learned the difference between Presbyterian (Scottish in origin, though with Christian Reformed influence) and Christian Reformed (Dutch/German in origin). It literally has to do with what side of the English Channel it started.

                        There are multiple denominations that identify as Christian Reformed, which also have their conservative and liberal flavors.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Knotical View Post
                          Incidentally, this is where I learned the difference between Presbyterian (Scottish in origin, though with Christian Reformed influence) and Christian Reformed (Dutch/German in origin). It literally has to do with what side of the English Channel it started.
                          I wouldn't mind reading up on this. If it isn't an inconvenience, when you have time, perhaps a link or two for sources, or even your synopsis on the subject would be appreciated.

                          God bless,
                          William
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by William View Post

                            I wouldn't mind reading up on this. If it isn't an inconvenience, when you have time, perhaps a link or two for sources, or even your synopsis on the subject would be appreciated.

                            God bless,
                            William
                            Off the top of my head I know you can check out their main denominational websites, which will of course have links to their statements of faith and supporting documents (i.e., confessions, catechisms, etc...).

                            Orthodox Presbyterian Church
                            Christian Reformed Church
                            United Reformed Churches in North America

                            One thing I do know is that the Christian Reformed denomination was an offshoot of the original Lutheran church, which of course has its influence from Martin Luther and John Calvin. Their main catechism was written in Heidelberg, Germany (this is what the Westminster Catechisms are based on); their other supporting documents are the Canons of Dordt, and the Belgic Confession.

                            The most recent big thing that has happened within the CRC is that in the mid to late 90's they went through a split (because of liberalism), where a large portion of it formed the URC (United Reformed Church, this is the more conservative of the two).

                            There are other loosely affiliated denominations to these two, but they are the main ones.
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                            • #15
                              The Presbyterian Church in America is quite diverse. My hometown, Somerset, in PA has a Presbyterian church that transitioned to the EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) over some of the issues in the PCUSA church. With PCUSA allowing for the ordination of homosexuals and securing the blessings of the church over such unions. My congregation lucked out; it was an old church predating the Civil War and the members built the church, so when we left, we were able to keep the building. A lot of churches that left the PCUSA denomination weren't so lucky; they were kicked out.

                              A couple years later, I found that the PCUSA also kicked "In Christ Alone" out of the hymnals because they were offended about the statement of Christ's blood satisfying God's wrath....

                              I'm glad we left.
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