The betrayal of Jesus by the Jewish religious and political leaders is a tale of hate and malice. The extent of their perfidy is evidenced by their uncharacteristic setting aside of their cherished traditions of justice and mercy. Demonically driven, they abandoned justice and mercy and embraced treachery and hell. In madness, they howled, “Let his blood be on us and our children.” And ignoring the law of consequences, they cursed themselves and future generations of their children and drank down shame and judgment like wine.
For many, Judas stands as the most craven character in the drama of the Cross. Whatever his reasons, he betrayed his friend and teacher and rejected his Savior and Lord for 30 pieces of silver (the price of a common slave). Indeed, at this point, if there were no other reason for hell than the just disposition of Judas, God would have had to commission an angel to construct the contours of hell and set them ablaze as a fiery maelstrom.Continue reading
Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father.
Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children.
By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage.
The future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage.Continue reading
They hear that their cause is lost, that demographics and the march of history have doomed their campaign to keep marriage only between a man and a woman. But the young conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage - unlike most of their generation - remain undaunted.
They identify themselves as part of the "pro-marriage movement" and see themselves at the beginning of a long political struggle, much like the battle over abortion. If they can begin shifting the terms of the debate away from gay rights and toward the meaning of marriage, they say, they have a chance to survive short-term defeats.
"The primary challenge that our side faces right now is the intense social pressure," said Joseph Backholm, 34, the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. "To the extent that the other side is able to frame this as a vote for gay people to be happy, it will be challenging for us."
To put it another way, opponents of same-sex marriage say they must argue in favor of traditional marriage, not against gay people or gay rights. "It's really a broader defense of marriage and a stronger marriage culture," said Will Haun, 26, a lawyer and member of the Federalist Society. Continue reading
Chinese physicians claim to have murdered over 330,000,000 million babies since the government implemented a controversial family planning policy 40 years ago, according to official data from the health ministry.
The Communist government proudly publishes these numbers, yet reporters outside the country believe the numbers to much, much higher.
China’s one-child policy has been the subject of a heated debate. Sadly, world news media are not debating the immorality of these murders, but rather the economic consequences that will arise from an ageing Chinese population. With 34,000,000 million more men than woman, the gender disparity is also a rising concern. Continue reading
Outreach North America Director Alan Avera has accepted a job as senior executive for Christianity Explored USA's ministry in North America. He will begin his new job on July 1.
Christianity Explored is a ministry that began 10 years ago at All Souls Church in London, England. The ministry produces tools to help churches in evangelism and discipleship, the primary one being the 7-week Christianity Explored evangelistic Bible study based on the Gospel of Mark.
As the North America executive, Dr. Avera will help increase awareness of the resources available through Christianity Explored, and will help support churches that use Christianity Explored resources. Continue reading
Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he had signed SB 1172 which prohibits sexual orientation change efforts for anyone under 18.
Conservative religious groups and some Republicans have argued that banning conversion therapy would hinder parents' right to provide psychological care for children experiencing gender confusion.
The Encino, Calif.-based National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality said in August that the bill was a case of "legislative overreach," and Lieu's claims of harm to children were based on politics, not research.
The effect of the law, in brief, makes it illegal to try and convert any gay person under the age of 18 if your goal is to free them from the sin of homosexuality. Continue reading
Can the ARP Church get stronger in our old age?
Hello, my name is Charles Eugster. When I turned 75 my friends began to pass away. People were getting older around me, but I was just getting ready to retire.
Then at 85 I had a crisis. I looked at myself in the mirror one day, and saw an old man. I was overweight, my posture was terrible and there was skin hanging off me where muscle used to be. I looked like a wreck. I started to consider the fact that I was probably going to die soon.
So in my late-80s I joined a bodybuilding club.
There's no research into bodybuilding for the over-80s, so it's been an experiment. With weight-lifting and protein shakes, my body began to change. It became broader, more v-shaped, and my shoulders and biceps became more defined.
I'm not chasing youthfulness. I'm chasing health. People have been brainwashed to think that after you're 65, you're finished. We're told that old age is a continuous state of decline, and that we should stop working, slow down and prepare to die. I disagree. To me, a 65-year-old is young. I turn 92 this year. It is a frightening prospect – the law of averages is against me, and, yes, one day something will happen and that will be it. But until that day comes, I'm going to carry on working on my abs. Continue reading
Over the recent years I have observed a culture shift in many Western churches.
Many church members today view the church like a cruise ship when it is actually a rowboat! That is, as long as my personal/family needs are met, and as long as programs are in place for when I want to attend, and as long as I feel satisfied when I leave the services which I choose to attend - then all is well.
But don’t ask me to come too often, or to help plan the programs, or to staff the needs or, to put it another way, to help row the boat! Continue reading
The late Robert Bowers, Jr. directed an astonishing cash distribution from his estate in August of 2012 totaling $1 million. The bequest further directs distributions to the ARP Foundation, World Witness, Christian Education, Outreach North America, Erskine Seminary and the Bonclarken Endowment.
These gift bequests are expected to have a profound impact on furthering virtually every aspect of the mission and message of the ARP Church – strategically strengthening the local church; new church plants and revitalization; and evangelism and discipleship at home and overseas.
“We are grateful for Mr. Bowers’ leadership and generosity that so concretely reflect the Lordship of Jesus Christ in his life, family and work. As a steward, his legacy will be eternal and measured by impact on the Kingdom of God by the changed lives of people,” Nichols said. Continue reading
From grade school to college, we are taught that rocks and fossils take a very long time to form and that they are proof that the earth in hundreds of millions of years old. Part of the process of creating fossils is for the soil, dirt or sand surrounding the object to harden into rock.
According to evolutionists, it takes a very very long time, thousands to millions of years for the rocks and fossils to form, or does it?
How long does it take? Can they form quickly? Are there any examples of rocks and fossils forming quickly?
Let’s take a look and see: Continue reading
by Rev. Ebenezer Erskine
Preached March 15, 1715
Sermon Text: Ezekiel 37:9 Come from the four winds, O breath; and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
The Doctrine of the Sermon: That as the generality of a church and people in covenant with God, may be in a very dead and languishing condition as to their souls; so the breathings and influences of the Holy Spirit of God are absolutely necessary for their revival.
This sermon is reprinted with the hope that God would invigorate the ARP Church with a new Spirit of revival. Continue reading
Something began changing in the 1960s. Liberal churches decided that traditional notions of worship were out of date, even embarrassing. They preferred to emphasize intellect, rationality and understanding.
As the United Church found common cause with auto workers, it became widely known as the NDP at prayer. Social justice was its gospel. Spiritual fulfilment would be achieved through boycotts and recycling. Instead of Youth for Christ, it has a group called Youth for Eco-Justice.
Mardi Tindal, the current moderator, recently undertook a spiritual outreach tour across Canada to urge “the healing of soul, community and creation” by reducing our carbon footprint. Which raises the obvious question: If you really, really care about the environment, why not just join Greenpeace?
According to opinion polls, people’s overall belief in God hasn’t declined. What’s declined is people’s participation in religion. With so little spiritual nourishment to offer, it’s no wonder the liberal churches have collapsed. Continue reading
There is a difference between being famous and being significant. If Jesus was famous, it’s because he was doing something significant. The problem with many pastors is they make decisions, develop personas and define success from the lens of what will make them a celebrity/famous (even if they don’t know it or see that they are doing this). So in American church culture, it’s pretty easy to become a celebrity: Grow a HUGE church. Now all in all, it’s not terribly difficult to grow to be a giant church if you have the right tools at your disposal…but that doesn’t mean the ends justify the means of getting there.
For instance, though Jesus was a celebrity in his day, he was willing to say things that ran people off in droves. In fact, the book of Mark chronicles the way (from about the mid-point of the book on) how people left Jesus to where, at the end, virtually no one was left. No one wants to be associated with him for fear of the consequences. That’s not something you see too often in American churches.
I suspect it’s because riven deeply into the American psyche is the desire to be a celebrity. And American pastors are very susceptible to this. Many subtle things happen in people who desire to this kind of celebrity status . . . Continue reading
There are five major–and painful–confessions that I am ready to own up to: Prayerlessness, Lack of Personal Focus, Lack of Gospel Centeredness, Lack of Honest Critique, Lack of Partnership.
Looking back, any one of these errors was enough to sink the ship. There are dozens of other failures that I could note. These seem to be the most egregious; the ones that had they been dealt with at the time would likely have made the difference between failure and viability.
It’s my hope and prayer that these confessions will help those who are in the throes of leading a plant or those who will lead a plant in the future, not to make the same mistakes I made along the way. It is also my hope that the Lord will continue to raise up an army of men who will, in spite of the odds, take up the banner of church planting for the glory of God! Continue reading
Jesus writes in Revelation 2:1-7 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. . . . This thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Paul also warned the same Ephesian elders to beware of, to be discerning of, and to protect the church from the false teachers he described as “wolves.” This they did to the point that Jesus commended them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which He also hated.
“Hate” is a powerful word. Many of us today recoil from and are offended by it. Some even say “hate” is a sub-Christian response. Nevertheless, it is the word Jesus used and a response He approved of and commended in the Ephesian elders as they contended for the purity of the Christian community in Ephesus. Why? What is it about “false teachers” that brings out of Jesus and Paul the appellation of “wolf” and the visceral emotion of “hate”?
In the hands of Jesus and Paul, “wolf” is a literary device for identifying false teachers and the destructive heresies which are their trade. As the wolf in the forest stalks and kills and devours her prey, false teachers as they come stalking with their God-perverting and idolatrous doctrines kill and devour the souls and lives of men and women.
What is the nature of these “false teachers” the Ephesian elders hated – a hatred Jesus commended? Continue reading
by Steve Suits
Fathers and brothers, last year Moderator Andy Putnam laid before us a statistical picture of the health of our denomination. His presentation made it quite clear that the trajectory of the ARPC in terms of numbers is not positive. Now, the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) identifies in its report to us this year what is eating at the fabric of the ARPC, echoing to a large degree what was said by the Vision Committee over five years ago.
Not only are we experiencing declining membership, diminishing giving, and dying congregations, but, according to what these two committees have reported, apathy and mediocrity characterize much of the attitude of our work, at least in the sphere of denominational affairs. Coming out of this is what the SPC called, “blame-shifting and conflict for control.”
Such negative attributes are probably not as apparent to those among us who do not spend much time in denominational activities, but rather are working hard to serve their local congregations. Nevertheless, this is what has been said by the members of these two committees, who have thought long and hard about our condition. What underlying problems are responsible for this state of affairs?
Why a Synod in the first place?
When I looked to our Confession of Faith for guidance, I found that a Synod is for the better government and further edification of the Church. How does a synod provide for better government and further edification of the Church? Continue reading
by Reverend Andrew Putnam Acts 20:28-32 English Standard Version
There are WOLVES in this very room that pollute the gospel for their own purposes, that will allow the devil to use them for his purposes and will subvert the Gospel for their own power and interests.
How do we deal with the wolves knocking on the ARP’s door? Putnam offered three solutions:
1. Preach the Gospel – hold fast to the Gospel message – love one another.
2. “Shoot them” – don’t let them run free (Joel 3:10); starve them; ignore them; give them nothing.
3. Pray – for the wolves among God’s sheep; for peace and prosperity. “If we don’t do this, we will be standing in the ruins of the ARP Church saying, ‘Oh, what used to be…’” Continue reading
Can your church organize a fundraising team to raise $1,000 between now and next year? Contact me to inquire how to help.
Click to read the Synod Packet located at Google Docs.
June 07, 2012 at 7:24 pm – Due to a lack of delegates (lacking 6 elders and 15 ministers), Synod was suspended and all business was shelved.
June 07, 2012 at 4:48 pm – Synod affirms that Marriage is only defined as between a Man and a Woman.
June 07, 2012 at 4:27 pm – Synod funding for Erskine will continue, with love and patience, as the College Board of Trustees works through the new information that was brought to light within the Minority Report.
June 07, 2012 at 2:47 pm – That a season of prayer and fasting for Erskine College and Seminary be held in the churches of the presbyteries in the ARP Synod.
June 07, 2012 at 12:10 pm – Pacific (Korean) Presbytery was not dissolved, but their inclusion within the ARP was referred back to the Executive Board
June 07, 2012 at 11:03 am – Voted to Affirm the Historicity of Adam & Eve
June 07, 2012 at 9:45 am – New Moderator Elect for 2013-2014
June 06, 2012 at 10:45 am – Moderator's Address by Dr. Steve Suits entitled "What’s Eating at the Fabric of the ARP Church? — by Dr. Steve Suits"Continue reading
In his Moderator's Challenge to Synod delegates, guests, and members of the press this morning, incoming Moderator, Dr. Steve Suits, began by painting a bleak picture of a denomination with declining membership and giving – with stagnant or dying congregations.
The picture did not improve as he mentioned reports by the Strategic Planning Committee and 2007 Vision Committee. Both reports alluded to apathy and mediocrity characterizing much of the attitude of the work of the Church in the “sphere of denominational affairs.” This, in turn, has led to “blame-shifting and conflict for control.”
Later, Moderator Suits appealed to members of Synod to consider that in all this, God may be working in the ARP Church. “Often, when the church seems buried and things seem most discouraging, God is working profoundly beneath the surface.”
“Fathers and brothers, what is God doing to further his grace among us so that He can work his grace through us? Let us not look at the externals – the statistics, the reports, the so-called struggles for control and blame-shifting. Rather, let us call upon our Sovereign God under whose lordship we stand and serve. Continue reading
The struggle over the governance of Erskine College and Seminary continues
The ongoing battle between the board of trustees of Erskine College and Erskine Seminary and their founding denomination, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, over the governance of the schools remains unresolved following the ARPC’s annual denominational meeting that ended Thursday.
ARPC pastors and ruling elders, who make up the delegates to the denomination’s highest court, the General Synod, voted to appoint committees to continue to study the issue and report back at next year’s annual meeting.
Posted by jodiegaston
Someone I follow on Twitter recently shared this video of a man’s marriage proposal to his girlfriend. For obvious reasons the video quickly went viral. With more than a million downloads in just a few days, the video even landed the couple an interview on the Today Show.
Church planting movements are what happens when the gospel goes viral. As men and women come to know Christ the gospel spreads through networks and communities and nations. Obviously, this is a work of the Holy Spirit, but we can help facilitate the spread of the gospel by teaching and discipling others in a way that communicates the importance of sharing the gospel with others. As we disciple others, we are investing in the lives of others to teach them to be obedient to God and to share Christ with others. When Jesus called his disciples he told them, “Follow me [obedience] and I will make you fishers of men [evangelism].”
As I’ve been preparing for missions work in Wales, I’ve been learning to be more intentional in my own teaching. I’ve come across a method of reading and studying the Bible that naturally cultivates the spread of the gospel. I call it the SOS method of Scripture reading. SOS stands for Say, Obey, Share. After reading a passage of Scripture I ask myself three questions.
- Say: What does this passage say?
- Obey: What does this passage require me to do or believe?
- Share: Who needs to hear this?
I have some bad news to report. Just yesterday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston declared that part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The federal definition of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman has applied to all federal laws, regulations and benefits since 1996. This lawsuit involves claims from same-sex couples demanding federal benefits that are reserved for heterosexual couples.
Essentially, the appellate court said the federal government—and by extension, the taxpayers in all 50 states—must subsidize whatever types of arrangements a state may choose to call "marriage."
Think about that for minute. In the 1800s, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of Congress to forbid polygamy in any territory wishing to apply for statehood. But the federal appeals court in Boston today ignored that history and declared Congress has no interest in keeping the definition of marriage the same as it has been for thousands of years.
Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers for Christ Community Church. Your prayers continue to bless us.
Greetings from Christ Community!
I want to thank you for your continuing prayers for our Mission.
First, thank you for your prayers about our Easter services. Our sunrise service was larger again this year and our regular service was well attended too, giving us the opportunity to share the gospel with about 300 people in our area. A few who attended the sunrise service have visited the church as well and we hope to continue to share God’s love with them in the future.
Our men’s study is still meeting faithfully on Monday Continue reading
Even in the days when people commonly stayed married "til death do us part," there has never been a generation whose view of marriage was high enough, says Pastor John Piper. That is all the more true in our casual times. Continue reading
The following report is presented to the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (the Synod) in response to the action taken by the Erskine Board of Trustees (the Board) at its February 17, 2012 meeting.
A majority of the Board refused to thoroughly address a motion made at Synod’s 208th meeting stating in summary that they did not concur with changing the charter to recognize Synod’s authority to remove trustees, and that they did not seek further dialogue on this issue.
We recognize that the issues discussed below have a lengthy history, and that the current Board’s action (as well as actions of the Boards of the past quarter century), which necessitates this report is yet another episode in the story of ongoing tension between these two bodies.
We also recognize that these issues are complex, and we urge that delegates to the General Synod read this response with care. The stakes are high, for the historic relationship between the General Synod and its educational institutions now hangs in the balance. In addition, it is time for the Synod to move its focus to preaching the Word, discipling believers, and reaching the lost for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The list of Minority Report signers is varied—those who voted against the Board’s action and who voted for it (on the basis of information provided by the Board’s ad hoc Committee that has now been demonstrated to be factually incorrect), but now realize that their vote was mistaken. All are united, however, in the conviction that the Board’s action was not in the best interests of Erskine and that it was less than faithful to the Church of Jesus Christ. Continue reading
Our church planters depend on the prayers and encouragement of God's people.
Thank you for your prayers and the interest you show by your phone and e-mail responses. Your prayers truly encourage your church planters.
- Pray for 4 couples being assesses at the Church Planting Assessment Center (CPAC) May 1-4.
- Pray for preparations for General Synod meeting.
Dear Ministers and Elders,
Prior to the June 2012 meeting of the General Synod, I wanted to follow up regarding my previous note. Earlier I had communicated the Erskine Board of Trustees' response to the 2011 Synod motions regarding the removal of trustees from the Erskine Board.
David Conner has given a presentation on these motions to the Board of Trustees (at its February 2012 meeting) and to various other groups since that time, including the Executive Board of General Synod. The presentation contains some of the numerous materials that are cited in the Board's response to General Synod. The requirements of the accrediting agencies were more stringent than many of us anticipated and the materials demonstrate the constraints which shaped the Board's decision.
In the interest of transparency, I have included materials in the presentation that explain the Board's position. Continue reading
Miss Sarah May McFerrin, 85, of Due West, SC, died peacefully this morning after a short battle with cancer.
Miss McFerrin was the only child of Rev. and Mrs. J. B. McFerrin, who served pastorates in Virginia, Arkansas, and South Carolina. Miss McFerrin was a member of Due West ARP Church, Due West, SC, where she was serving a second term as president of the Due West Foreign Missionary Society.
She had a great love for foreign mission work and corresponded frequently with numerous World Witness missionaries, praying for them and supporting them financially.
She was a retired guidance counselor with the Abbeville County (SC) Public School District, where she influenced generations of young people with her keen insights, her compassion, and her love for Christ.
Funeral services will be conducted Sunday April 29, 2012 at 3:00 PM in the Due West ARP Church with the Rev. Calvin Draffin officiating. The burial will follow in the church cemetery. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Session at the Due West ARP Church. Continue reading
The man who believes he can help gay people turn straight
Dr Mike Davidson, a Christian campaigner with a homosexual past, says others, too, can reject what he calls a sin.
“We don’t consider it a disease,” says Davidson, who works under the banner of the Core Issues Trust. “There are plenty of people who work in a therapeutic context to achieve life goals. There are some people who have tried gay; it doesn’t work for them. It’s not mixing with their life circumstances. They want to move out of it. They deserve to receive professional help that is well trained, well regulated and ethical. That’s what we are trying to achieve.”
The Mayor of London has just banned advertisements that Davidson and his allies planned to put on the sides of buses, declaring: “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” They were meant to mirror a campaign by the gay rights group Stonewall, but Boris Johnson pulled the ads after taking offence at the suggestion he saw within them.
“It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone can recover from,” said Johnson, who feared “a backlash so intense it would not have been in the interests of Christian people in this city”. Continue reading
Freedom of religion is at the heart of the American understanding of liberty. Under our constitutional order, the free exercise of religion is not a mere matter of toleration but an inalienable natural right.
As George Washington explained in his famous letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport: “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.” There are, of course, some limits to the free exercise of religion. Citizens cannot invoke the First Amendment to break general laws (although exemptions may be granted).
But within the confines of the law, all citizens have the same right of conscience. This essay is adapted from The Heritage Guide to the Constitution for a series providing constitutional guidance for lawmakers.
In his recent article in The Atlantic, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?,” Stephen Marche suggests that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media might actually be making us more lonely (and more narcissistic, to boot). Marche argues, “Social Media–from Facebook to Twitter–have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggest that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)–and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.” (p. 60)
Marche begins with the story of the death of a former B-movie star whose dead body was not discovered in her house until a year after her death (even though she had thousands of Facebook “friends”) in order to illustrate the ironic effects of Facebook on our souls and society. For Marche greater social media “connection” actually leads to greater “disconnection.” The public and shared nature of Facebook ironically can turn people more in on themselves.
I think that social media can make us more distracted and less reflective. We find it difficult to read, to reflect, to pray, or to do anything else that requires sustained attention, precisely because we are assaulted by emails, text messages, tweets, and Facebook updates. We have got to find some way to carve out time in our lives for deeply human activities such as reading, contemplation, prayer, and conversation. Continue reading
Raise your hand if you’re offended by politicians and church leaders using the Bible like a wax nose. On the left bank, there is the well-worn battery of references to Jesus and the rich young ruler, the command to “render unto Caesar,” and the last judgment where the sheep and goats are separated.
As the Washington Post poses the question: “Jesus said, ‘Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ In a time of economic turmoil and record poverty levels, are tax cuts for the wealthy moral?” Regular “On Faith” columnist and former seminary president Susan Brooks Thistlewaite is ready with an answer—and verses to back it up. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “‘Sell all that you own and distribute the money.’
But the young man, ‘who was very rich,’ turned away. Jesus’ comment? ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God’ (Luke 18: 21-25).” “All too true,” Ms. Thistlewaite sighs with all the self-satisfaction of someone who thinks she’s not the rich young ruler. “It’s also easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a bill with the rich paying their fair share of taxes to get through Congress. Not gonna happen.”
According to a recent Pew Study, Americans think that there has been too much about religion in the political campaign. And no wonder.
It’s no time for Christians to back away from concern for the common good, bringing their deepest convictions to bear just as others do.
However, the trading of Bible verses ripped from their covenantal context and intention is a sure way to trivialize God’s Word in our society, in our churches, and in our own lives. Continue reading
Liberal professors "candidly testified [before the court] that their errant view of the Bible was in conflict with the inerrant beliefs of the [school] administration."
The professors filed suit in 2005 against the school amid a growing furor over the school's movement away from Baptist doctrine. The professors fueled the controversy with statements they made during class, including voicing skepticism over the bodily resurrection of Jesus and Mary's virginity, school President Joe Aguillard said.
In response to complaints from parents and students about how liberal the small college in Pineville, La., had become, the Louisiana Baptist Convention appointed a new slate of conservative trustees to oversee operations, Aguillard said: "Their goal was to bring the college back to its biblical roots."
They have now won the mandate to finish those goals.
Result? During the last five years enrollment has grown by 89 percent.
What are the lessons for the ARP?
The PCA will probably continue to decline in the decade to come. Some of the reasons are sociological and demographic; others are theological. Some are intrinsic to our PCA identity, and cannot be changed.
Most of our PCA churches are rural and have less than 100 members. As the rural countryside declines, the rural churches will decline, too.
Ten years ago, because of congregations leaving Liberal denominations for the PCA, we foolishly boasted that the PCA was growing at a rate of five percent per year. Membership grew from 2002 to 2006 by 27,056 which is only 1.1% over four years, or .27% per year.
At our General Assembly in Orlando in June of 2009, it was reported that the PCA had experienced NEGATIVE growth (for the first time) in 2008.
Growth by receiving conservative churches came to an end when the Evangelical Presbyterian Church began, because the EPC, while conservative, also admits churches with women elders and deacons.
In the decades ahead we will probably continue our decline. Continue reading
Two Opinions about implementing Christian Education.
ONE: I can watch on my television as three hundred cyclists climb the Alps and then race through the streets of Paris toward the finish line, not having any idea whatsoever which one is engaged in Christian cycling and which is practicing Jewish cycling perhaps or Hindu cycling. In other words, the activity itself, though practiced by a Christian, has really not changed at all in and of itself. Therefore, there is no such thing as Christian Education either.
TWO: There is no doubt that the Bill of Rights is the Bill of Rights whether one studies it at UC Berkeley or Regent University. One could therefore try to make the case that the adjectives “progressive” and “conservative” are meaningless as applied to constitutional jurisprudence. That would be news to the faculty and students at either institution. Or one might say that because Yale Divinity School and Westminster Theological Seminary use the same Greek New Testament, the adjectives “evangelical” and “non-evangelical” are vacuous in New Testament studies.
Obviously, the term Christian Education has meaning.
by William Barron
Chairman — Committee to Revise the Form of Government
TO: Ministers and Session Clerks
RE: Form of Government Revision
Please see the attached document for an explanation of the work of your Committee to Revise the Form of Government.
This is only the Cover Letter to the FOG which will be included in the Synod packet mailed in May.
The Current FOG — Form of Government in PDF
Our church planters depend on the prayers and encouragement of God's people. OUTREACH NORTH AMERICA provides this monthly prayer letter to inform you of some of their specific needs and praises so you will know better how to pray for them. Thank you for your prayers and the interest you show by your phone and e-mail responses. Your prayers truly encourage your church planters. In general
- Pray for preparations this month for the Church Planting Assessment Center (CPAC) that will be early next month, May 1-4.
- Pray for our mission congregations as they plan summer outreach ministry.
- Christian Education Ministries (CEM) has seen an increase in the number of churches wanting to participate in the Appalachia mission, but due to limited availability and a desire to optimize effectiveness, it may be difficult to find enough ministry sites for all the churches that want to participate. The Appalachia mission has also seen great success and ONA is working with CEM to take veteran churches to help with church plants and renewal endeavors in the ARP.
- It is great that ARP churches are excited about missions and ONA and CEM want to help provide opportunities for mission trips to support our ARP church plants!
- This summer some established ARP churches taking mission trips to church plants to help them with their summer outreach ministries. We hope this great opportunity will flourish and grow over the next few years.
- Please contact the ONA office if your church is interested in participating.
by Cal Thomas
There have been many “gaps” in modern politics. There is the gender gap, the generation gap and now the God gap, which is the gulf between people who take God’s instructions seriously and those who don’t. Which side of the gap you’re on could influence your vote.
The God gap is growing wider.
I asked Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum about this. In a telephone interview with me, Santorum, whose rhetoric is loaded with religious and cultural language, said, “While (such language) may be upsetting to some, there’s a hunger out there for talking about what’s true.”
How, then, would he explain a recent New York Times story that reported for the first time in our history, that “more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.” Santorum acknowledged, “I’m probably talking to Republican audiences, so it’s a little different. I’m not talking to the general audience at this point. Marriage is on the decline. The culture is changing.”
The problem for presidential candidates — and for President Obama, who occasionally appeals to Scripture to justify his policies — is that fewer people are listening to the voice of God, or to voices claiming to speak for Him. Continue reading
The funeral service for Rev. Gilbert Rowell will be held Wednesday, April 4, 2012, at 2 p.m. at Clover ARP Church in Clover, SC.
The Rowells will greet friends after the service. A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. -Ron France, Providence Church
by Bryan D. Estelle
My thesis is simple: by questioning the historicity of Adam, one must revise the doctrine of original sin with serious modifications. Even recent purveyors of theistic evolution, who question the historicity of Adam, recognize this to be the case.(1)
In fact, one Christian scholar goes so far as to say, “Once the doctrine of original sin is reformulated, the doctrine of the atonement may likewise be deepened.”(2)
Such serious modifications will carry entailments for other areas of theology as well. Here I want to take up the question of history and Old Testament exegesis. Continue reading
Spring is breaking out all over Due West with fresh colors and new beginnings. Alumni Weekend with our annual Association meeting will be coming up Saturday, April 28. This event signals new beginnings as well.
To kick off our meeting, Erskine’s 15th president, Dr. David Norman, will be sharing with our Association how he has quickly come to love Erskine. We will also be electing six new Alumni Board Directors and giving consideration to a revision of the Association’s Constitution and Bylaws.
There are many reasons for you to plan now to come to Due West April 27-28 for Alumni Weekend. Come see how beautiful the campus looks, come hear how Dr. Norman has fallen in love with Erskine, come make your mark on our Association’s future, and come spend a day with friends. You’ll be glad you came. You’ll see how a new generation is flourishing and return home with refreshed memories of the academic village we know as Erskine.
With confidence in Erskine’s future,
President, Erskine Alumni Association
by Brent McGuire
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. Mark 14:32-33
The conventional account-at least the one this writer encounters most often-is that in Gethsemane Jesus demonstrates his humanity, by shrinking (as any of us would) from the painful death ahead of him. Jesus is deeply distressed by the prospect not only of dying but of being killed in a cruel and violent manner. He knows what is about to… Continue reading
by Thom S. Rainer
One of the most significant trends in American churches the past 25 years has been the migration of people from smaller churches to larger churches. We will be providing more information in the future about this movement. The implications are significant and should not be ignored.
In my own denomination of some 46,000 churches and 16 million members, the concentration of people to larger churches is a clear and present reality. Look at some of these statistics that give evidence to this phenomenon.
Less than one-half of one percent of these churches report an average worship attendance of 2,000 or more, but 12.6% of the total attendance of the denomination is now concentrated in these relatively few churches.
Only 1.5% of all these churches have an attendance of 1,000 or more, but 22.2% of the total denominational attendance is in these congregations.
Only 4.4% of the churches have an attendance of 500 or more, but 35.3% of the attendance of 46,000 churches is concentrated in just those few churches.
We expect to see continued migration of people from smaller to larger churches, and that the concentration of these members in larger churches will be even more pronounced with each progressive year.
The first obvious question is "Why?" Continue reading
The spring meeting was held Feb. 16, 2012
- Received Rev. Tom Irby from the Georgia Foothills Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America and approved his call to the Fuller Memorial Church, Durham.
- Approved Rev. Doug Petersen as the stated supply for the Westminster Church, Albemarle, NC.
- Received a report from the Trustees Committee on various items concerning church properties. The following recommendations were approved:
- Authorized the Presbytery treasurer to pay expenses associated with these properties.
- Approved paying possible expenses for the sale of the Asheville property from the Church Extension Fund.
- Approved paying possible expenses for the… Continue reading
by Tony Gosgnach
TORONTO, Ontario, March 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Ontario Court of Justice judge erupted in a lengthy, angry tirade against pro-life activist Mary Wagner – and ejected a spectator from the public gallery – in a downtown Toronto courtroom Wednesday. The judge then sent Wagner to jail for an additional 92 days, added to 88 days already served prior to trial, after finding her guilty of mischief and two counts of failing to comply with probation orders.
The charges related to Wagner’s November 8 arrest at the site of the Bloor West Village “Women’s Clinic.” Wagner has… Continue reading
by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.
Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development [i.e., that the descent of all human beings from Adam has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians] and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss. If it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam, then the entire history of redemption, as taught in Scripture, unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense, and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense.
The title above, as many readers will recognize, is from answer 16 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (and Larger Catechism 22). It expresses a central truth of Scripture and reflects the universal confession of the church about Adam.
Why then the added question mark? Not because non-Christians widely reject this truth, as they have for a long time, but because more recently it has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians. Moreover, they are persuaded that their doubts about this truth should be accepted as compatible with their Christian commitment.
Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss. Continue reading
By David Briggs
They are called “clergy killers” — congregations where a small group of members are so disruptive that no pastor is able to maintain spiritual leadership for long.
And yet ministers often endure the stresses of these dysfunctional relationships for months, or even years, before eventually being forced out or giving up.
Adding to the strain is the process, which is often shrouded in secrecy. No one – from denominational officials to church members to the clerics themselves – want to acknowledge the failure of a relationship designed to be a sign to the world of mutual love and support.
But new research is providing insights into just how widespread – and damaging – these forced terminations can be to clergy.
An online study published in the March issue of the Review of Religious Research found 28 percent of ministers said they had at one time been forced to leave their jobs due to personal attacks and criticism from a small faction of their congregations. Continue reading
By JONATHAN HAIDT
In the film version of “All the President’s Men,” when Robert Redford, playing the journalist Bob Woodward, is struggling to unravel the Watergate conspiracy, an anonymous source advises him to “follow the money.” It’s a good rule of thumb for understanding the behavior of politicians. But following the money leads you astray if you’re trying to understand voters.
Self-interest, political scientists have found, is a surprisingly weak predictor of people’s views on specific issues. Parents of children in public school are not more supportive of government aid to schools than other citizens. People without health insurance are… Continue reading
Other Articles of Interest
- 5 Things We Do Today Instead of Preach the Word — by James MacDonald
- Limited Time! 56% OFF — Only $8.00 — This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence
- New DVD for Elder and Deacon Training!
- New Children’s Resources ARP Bookstore
- Appalachia Mission Trip for 2012 June 30 July 6
- CEM Horizon Materials
- Basics of the Faith Books on SALE
Written by Marvin Olasky
Parents worked hard to provide for their children. When the parents could no longer work, the children provided for them. That was social security through the centuries. Given the vagaries of life it wasn’t always secure, but in general it worked—and when it did not, extended families, churches, and charitable ministries came alongside widows and orphans.
On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank. The following year a constitutional amendment made possible the graduated income tax, and Congress set a top rate of 7 percent on incomes above $11 million (in 2012 dollars).
At first taxes were… Continue reading
Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers for Christ Community Church. Your prayers continue to bless us.
We felt them during our busy Christmas season. This year Christ Community Church held our first ever Christmas Eve service. The highlight was the Children’s Christmas Pageant which included over 25 kids. God could have touched the heart of any Scrooge with the joy and excitement of each participant. There is nothing sweeter than hearing kids tell the Christmas story and sing carols!
Since early January the messages on Sunday mornings have focused upon helping our congregation develop a deeper and richer understanding of the local church. The sermon series, titled “Jesus is Building His Church”, reminds us that God’s primary means of building His Kingdom are the local church loving one another deeply and sharing this love of Christ with those they meet. Daily I meet people who have a deep need for God in their lives. Continue reading
Catawba Presbytery Highlights
From the meeting of Catawba Presbytery at the Centennial Church, Columbia, SC on March 13, 2012:
- Heard a message from Andrew K. Putnam, Moderator of Synod and member of Catawba Presbytery.
- Approved a new mission work in Rock Hill, SC to begin on April 1, 2012 and to be called Hill City Church, Associate Reformed Presbyterian.
- Approved a call for Andrew R. Stager to be developer for the Hill City Mission to begin April 1, 2012.
- Approved Ruling Elders Alan Broyles from the Tirzah Church and Cole McKinney from First… Continue reading
It’s Official…We’re going to Wales
We are pleased to announce that last week we were offered and accepted an appointment to become missionaries in Wales with Greater Europe Mission. We are extrememly excited about what God is doing in Wales (and in many other parts of Europe as well). We know that a lot of you have questions, so we wanted to share with you some of the details about this new ministry opportunity.
Partner with us!
- That the Lord will… Continue reading
The Progression of the PCA Creation Debate -- Told with 6 Recent News Stories
What Does The Westminster Confession Mean By ‘In The Space of Six Days’by R. C. Sproul
“…In the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.” (WCF IV=1)
In the Genesis account of creation, we read; “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:5). This narrative proceeds from the first day to the sixth, each time referring to “the evening and the morning” and numbering the day. On the seventh day, God rested (Gen. 2:2).
In our time a considerable number of theories have arisen denying that the creation, as we know it, took place in twenty-four hour days. Common to these theories is the acceptance of the dominant scientific view that the earth and life on it are very old. Many consider the biblical account to be primitive, mythological, and untenable in light of modern scientific knowledge. Continue reading
Once again this year Christian Education Ministries will be sponsoring an opportunity for evangelistic outreach in the tri-state area known as Appalachia. This mission trip is one of the highlights of our summer offerings. It gives young people and adults an excellent opportunity to do something more than hear about their faith, they can share it with others. It is a great experience for a youth group to grow spiritually.
ARP groups served 21 local sites last year with over 400 youth and adults from 40 churches. Each night the entire group gathered together to worship study the Word, pray and encourage one another in the Lord’s work.
All the information to register and participate as a group is included in the enclosed packet. Call the office of Christian Education Ministries if you have any questions. Continue reading
Why do we have Women’s Ministries?
This applies at the local church level, Presbyterial, and Women’s Ministries (formerly Synodical).
ARP Women’s Ministries is an organization which encourages and equips the community of ARP women to work together for God’s glory and purpose.
- Encourage every woman to cultivate a personal relationship with Christ
- Affirm the Biblical roles of women
- Foster unity within the body of Christ
- Promote community and Christin sisterhood among our women
- Encourage women to use their gifts for Christian service
- Motivate and equip women to reach people at… Continue reading
The ARP Foundation, an agency of the General Synod, was established in 1982 to help meet the financial challenges which face its members, churches, presbyteries, and other agencies.
The ARP Foundation is uniquely equipped to look across the denomination and has the resources and services to administer gifts in support of the denomination’s needs. The Foundation can administer a wide range of legal vehicles for your assets, including gift annuities, charitable remainder annuity trusts and charitable remainder uni-trusts.The ARP Foundation is the official organization of the ARP denomination for receiving and administering gifts for the… Continue reading
A dozen students, a dozen widows?
12 Erskine students spent the week of Spring Break ministering to about 12 widows in the Honea Path, SC area doing various yard and house cleaning projects. The week of ministry included having conversation and prayer with the widows in their homes and beginning to build relationships with them that can continue to grow over the course of time.
Campus Ministry at Erskine has partnered with Widow's Watchman Ministries (Bill and Janae May) of Honea Path, SC to incorporate college students into ministry-service opportunities that attempt to fulfill the 'true religion' spoken of in James 1:27. For the week, the guys camped outdoors and the girls camped indoors while the days were filled with work projects and the nights were filled with conversations, devotions and fellowship with one another. Each student was asked to raise $150 to cover the expenses of their meals and to raise support for Widow's Watchman Ministries. It was a great week of growing together and serving together as we sought to 'be' the kind of people we have been created, called and redeemed to be!