Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.—Habakkuk 2.4.

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Ideals to Guard and Maintain

in a

Proper Constitution of the

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.

Compiled by Jeremy T. Kerr, 2017.

Dear Reader,

The following are presented as some principles and ideals which ought to be incorporated and guarded in a proper constitution of the Presbyterian Church.  They are informed and shaped chiefly by the mandates and directions of Holy Scripture, but also, in a lesser way, by the circumstances of the times in which we live, and by the historical precedents and obligations of the Presbyterian churches, and especially the Church of Scotland of the Second Reformation, 1638-1649.  To some, this collection may at first appear as the particular desires of a peculiar individual, trying to describe what he imagines would be a “perfect church.”  That is not what this is.  The time was, when such a church existed, and laboured against many oppositions to maintain her integrity.  And the time will be, when the Church of Jesus Christ will again move in this direction, and will adjust her official constitutions to guard and protect these principles and ideals.

Given the diversity of church constitutions of Reformed and Presbyterian churches at the present day, and the manner in which these have variously departed from the principles and doctrines embraced by these same communities in their former integrity, the hope of the writer in this present effort is only to point some in a better direction, suggest reforms, and perhaps give a first sketch of the holy unity which some of us desire to see approved and pursued among Covenanter churches, or other Reformed communions.  It is not the expectation of any such Covenanters to prevent all sin in the Church of Jesus Christ, or to secure her from all possibility of backsliding in the future.  Our desire is to help her discern her backslidings, and to obtain such a constitution of her order and unity as expresses a resolution to change her present course for the better.

It is also worth noting, that the present writer resides in Pennsylvania, where there has never been an established church.  These ideals are, therefore, primarily contemplated as pertaining to North America in the twenty-first century.

These things premitted, we suggest and urge the consideration of the following particulars, as what can give no just offence to any who sincerely profess adherence to the Presbyterian Reformation of the seventeenth century, and who desire that charity should prevail to unite the children of God once more, as the Church of Jesus Christ, in such unity and order as will serve to make her the formidable kingdom and power in this world:

  1. Commitment and Faithfulness to Jesus Christ, the Saviour and King of the Church
  2. Commitment and Faithfulness to Holy Scripture, by which we know the will of our King
  3. Commitment and Faithfulness to the principles of the Reformation, as a work of God and not of man
  4. Commitment and Faithfulness to the Westminster Confession of Faith, as first received
    1. Adherence to and teaching of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone through the Imputed Righteousness of Christ
    2. Adherence to and teaching of the Doctrine that the Papacy is the actual fulfilment of 2 Thessalonians 2
    3. Adherence to and teaching of Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion over the Nations
    4. Adherence to and teaching of the Doctrine of the Magistrate’s Duty Circa Sacra, and Establishmentarianism
    5. Adherence to and teaching of the Biblical account of Creation in six natural days
    6. Opposition to Arminianism as a False Gospel
    7. Opposition to Antichristian constitutions of society as false government — not the ordinance of God.
  5. Commitment and Faithfulness to the Preaching of the Whole Counsel of God, from both Testaments of Holy Scripture
  6. Commitment and Faithfulness to Reformed Worship, including the Singing of Psalms
    1. Consistent Opposition to Hymn-Singing, Holy-Days, and Instrument-Accompanied Singing, as Will-Worship
    2. Consistent Opposition to Ritualism and Innovations, with a careful regard for Plainness and Simplicity
    3. Serious and Careful Observation of the Sabbath Day
    4. Reverent Observation of Ecclesiastical Fasts and Thanksgivings on Providential Occasions, with published Reasons
  7. Commitment and Faithfulness to the Principle of Covenanting, with a sincere intention to Covenant as a Church
  8. An Approval of the Reformation Covenants, and recognition of their obligation per the historic RPCNA Terms of Communion
  9. A Ministry in which all ministers are accountable to other ministers of tried character
  10. Aggressive and Dignified Evangelism
    1. Wisely using, and limited to, those means appointed in the Word of God for turning sinners to the true God
    2. Fully appropriating and applying the Authority given to Jesus Christ, and by him conferred upon his Church for Discipling Nations and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ
    3. Constantly pursuing the Church’s appointed mission, depending on divine aid, until the full end thereof is attained
  11. Biblical Principles and Standards Concerning the Family, its Roles, and Relationships
    1. Family Worship as a required practice
    2. Catechising of Children as a required practice
    3. Explicit Opposition to the various ways in which the World Opposes the Creator’s order of the Family
    4. Parental Regulation and Discipline of Children
    5. Practical regard for the teachings of Nature and of Scripture respecting modest and gender-distinct apparel, including head-coverings
    6. Cooperation to encourage large families, and a defined opposition to contraceptive practices
  12. A Community of Believers dedicated to building one another up with encouragement, good examples, and willingness to reform
    1. Home-Schooling of Covenant Children, or Establishment of a Christian School
    2. Opposition to Theatrical Entertainment as an Institution and Device inconsistent with Christian character and civil virtue
    3. Opposition to Worldly Music and Irresponsibility in Radio-Listening
    4. Christian Alternative to Health Insurance
  13. A Ministry and Membership willing to study such things as historic Testimonies of the Church, and learn from them
  14. A Ministry and Membership who are Testimony-bearers practically, and will adopt a faithful and relevant Testimony
  15. Consistent Church Discipline, and a sincere effort to observe principles of Church Communion and Dissent/Separation
  16. Use of the KJV Translation of the Bible, or its legitimate official replacement
  17. Use of the 1650 Translation of the Psalter, or its legitimate official replacement
  18. Not state-incorporated; specifically not 501c(3) incorporated.

The realities of the sinful life of every Christian, and the state of Christ’s Church, not yet fully washed of her sins, will obviously make a perfect conduct and execution of the above impossible.  The question, however, is this: inasmuch as such principles and ideals are those which ought to be embraced in the constitution of a Reformed or Presbyterian church—and more or less represent that which ought to be embraced in the constitution of any Christian church—can they, or can they not, be fairly and honestly incorporated in and guarded by a new constitution of a restored Presbyterian Church, to take away the reproach she has procured to herself through many generations and many divers paths of backsliding, and to take away the multitude of offences which leave some brethren wandering and straying in the present ecclesiastical wilderness of the 21st century?

The present writer, and editor of this website, will be thankful to hear from anyone who wishes to comment, either by way of criticism, having a desire to give more proper and scriptural instruction, or by way of encouragement, expressing a desire to see steps taken towards the same or similar goals for the Bride of Christ, who, in her low estate, has yet been preserved, with her ordinances, ministers, and mission, through so many ages of opposition and temptation.

—Submitted for consideration by my brethren, by a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, 2017.04.17.