The Blue Banner, a newsletter published by First Presbyterian Church, Rowlett, Texas (FPCR; Richard Bacon, pastor), has
announced a new $18-per-year journal entitled The Confessional Presbyterian. According to The Blue Banner, this journal has come
into existence because "Presbyterians are drifting further and further from the doctrines of the Westminster Confession and
Catechisms," and they hope that "this journal will provide a forum for inter-denominational discussion among conservative
Presbyterians, wishing to defend closer adherence to these old standards of biblical Christianity." How do they propose to do this?
"To facilitate such an environment we have assembled a fine board of contributing editors from several denominations."
Some comments on this:
(1) Obviously, FPCR (and specifically, its pastor, Richard Bacon) believes that there are other true Christian denominations that contain true churches and true Christians, since they want "inter-denominational discussion" with those who agree. The question then immediately arises: why is FPCR not a part of one of these other denominations? Why is it a part of the American Reformation Presbyterian Church instead of another denomination that was formed before it? To form another denomination while there is another true denomination out there is the epitome of schism. FPCR, in believing that there are other true Christian denominations that contain true churches and true Christians, while at the same time being part of a separate denomination, is schismatic.
(2) FPCR believes that Presbyterians should conform to the Westminster Confession and Catechisms and wishes to join with others to defend closer adherence to these standards. FPCR believes that these are the standards of biblical Christianity, and that drifting from these standards is drifting from the Christian faith. But I would submit that full subscription to the WCF includes subscription to heresy. FPCR and those who wish to defend closer adherence to the WCF believe that God is passive/permissive in some of his decrees ["to pass by" (III.7); "to permit" (VI.1)]; that Adam and Eve had the power to fulfill the Law of God ["and power to fulfil it" (IV.2)]; that a regenerate person's heart is deceitful ["deceitfulness of their hearts" (V.5)]; that God made a covenant of works with Adam ["The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience." (VII.2); "God gave Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it." (XIX.1) ]; that the unregenerate have operations of the Spirit ["common operations of the Spirit" (X.4)]; that a regenerate person has a regenerate part and an unregenerate part ["the regenerate part" (XIII.3)]; that not all believers have full assurance ["growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance" (XIV.3); "This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be a partaker of it" (XVIII.3); "True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted ... this assurance may, in due time, be revived" (XVIII.4)]; that God allows His people to walk in darkness and have no light ["and suffering such as fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light" (XVIII.4)]; that Old Testament believers did not have as much boldness to access the throne of grace and as much communications of the Spirit of God as believers do now ["and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of" (XX.1)]; and that remarriage after divorce is not always adultery ["In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce: and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead." (XXIV.5)].
Far from becoming closer to the Christian faith, a full adherence to the WCF puts one FURTHER from the Christian Faith. FPCR and all who agree with The Confessional Presbyterian are NOT defending biblical Christianity.
(3) An example of the ecumenicity of The Confessional Presbyterian (and of The Blue Banner) is its endorsement of W. Gary Crampton, who writes regularly for The Blue Banner and has an article in the inaugural issue of The Confessional Presbyterian. Here is what Crampton said about Arminians and Roman Catholics: "As to the issue of Arminians and Arminianism, I remain convinced that there are many who call themselves Arminians who are converted souls. Likewise, I believe that there are those who call themselves Roman Catholics who are saved; not because they endorse what Romanism teaches, but because they believe in the same Christ as Calvinists believe in. They are just very confused on some issues. They are saved, in the words of Machen, in their blessed inconsistency. ... I firmly believe that Arminianism, as a system, is not Christianity; but this most assuredly does not mean that all persons calling themselves Arminians are lost. Many so called Arminians, in their confusion, hold to some of the same beliefs as do Calvinists, e.g., the Trinity, the inerrancy of Scripture, etc."
So this is what FPCR, The Blue Banner, The Confessional Presbyterian, and Richard Bacon are endorsing. It's the old damnable "blessed inconsistency" argument that has been used not only by J. Gresham Machen but by Gordon Clark and John Robbins (who are also endorsed by FPCR and The Blue Banner). And speaking of Machen, the picture on the front of the inaugural issue of The Confessional Presbyterian is of Samuel Miller of Princeton Seminary, where Machen invited the God-hater Billy Sunday to preach. Machen said of Sunday that "His methods are as different as could possibly be imagined from ours, but we support him to a man simply because, in an age of general defection, he is preaching the gospel." (from Calhoun's Princeton Seminary: The Majestic Testimony, p. 299) This should not be surprising, since Machen said in his book Christianity and Liberalism, "Another difference of opinion is that between the Calvinistic or Reformed Theology and the Arminianism which appears in the Methodist church. ... A Calvinist is constrained to regard the Arminian theology as a serious impoverishment of the Scripture doctrine of divine grace; and equally serious is the view which the Arminian must hold as to the doctrine of the Reformed Churches. Yet here again, true evangelical fellowship is possible between those who hold, with regard to some exceedingly important matters, sharply opposing views." This is from the father of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, one of those denominations to which The Confessional Presbyterian has ties. This continues to be the position of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church has no idea what the true gospel is. This is what FPCR, The Blue Banner, The Confessional Presbyterian, and Richard Bacon are endorsing.
Finally, in the latest edition of The Blue Banner, there is an advertisement for Richard Bacon's book The Visible Church & The Outer Darkness. It includes the following statement: "Pastor Bacon demonstrates that the idea of home churching has no basis in Presbyterian polity." Oh, really, Mr. Bacon? You must then believe that the church of New Testament times had no basis in Presbyterian polity. Or do you think that the churches established by the apostles actually built buildings and called them "churches"? We know what Bacon thinks by the picture on the cover of his book. It is a picture of an ornate cathedral complete with a steeple. (By the way, the word "steeple" comes from the word for "high place," which reminds us of Ezekiel 16:23-25: "And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;) [That] thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street. Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms." The origin of the steeple is the pagan obelisk that was incorporated into Roman Catholic "church" buildings.) Perhaps Bacon has in mind the multi-million dollar churches of the Protestant Reformed Churches (or any number of the other denominations) with their stained glass and their idolatrous crosses. Would those be those non-home churches that have their basis in Presbyterian polity, Mr. Bacon? Well, Mr. Bacon, all you have to do is look up "house" in your concordance to see where the churches of the New Testament met. In fact, the only time any buildings built for worship are mentioned regarding the church of New Testament times is when they went into the idolatrous buildings of the Jews and pagans to witness to them!
So, with this new journal that defends closer adherence to the false "standards," with this ecumenicity with God-hating members of synagogues of Satan, and with Bacon's view that home-churching is unbiblical, I ask the question: who is it that is REALLY part of the true church, and who is REALLY in the outer darkness?
To God alone be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter
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