Counsel of Chalcedon
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2004 Issue 2

The Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS) was born in 1983 out of a continuing struggle to uphold the all-embracing, inerrant authority of the Bible as the Word of God, to maintain the purity of the church and to proclaim the truth of the Reformed faith "in all openness unhindered."

We believe that God has called us into existence to glorify him by being faithful to the Word of God, the historic Reformed faith of the Protestant Reformation, and the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. We agree with the late R.B. Kuiper who wrote, "The truth of the matter is that we believe that the Reformed faith is the Christian faith in its most comprehensive and consistent formulation and...is Christianity in its purest and most precise expression." By this conviction we do not seek to judge all non-Reformed evangelicals as unbelievers. We simply insist that there is ultimately only one true religion taught in the Bible, and we believe that the most consistent and best expression of that religion is the Reformed faith. We are urgent and insistent about calling Christians and the Church back to the Reformed faith because as B.B. Warfield, a Princeton theologian of the last century, expressed it, "It may be contended that the future, as the past, of Christianity itself is bound up with the fortunes of the Reformed faith."

On February 20, 1983 the Chalcedon Presbyterian Church congregation voted to withdraw from the Presbyterian Church in America, the denomination with which the church had been affiliated since its founding. We would like, here, to present the resolution which the congregation passed on that day in 1983.

The governing constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS) is the original Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, the Westminster Form of Presbyterial Church Government (with certain caveats), and the Westminster Directory for the Public Worship of God. Our comprehensive commitment and strict subscription to these Standards (i.e., the Confession and Catechisms) includes our adherence to three distinctive doctrines of those Standards which are frequently discussed today: (I) a presuppositional approach to apologetics; (2) a theonomic approach to ethics, and (3) a postmillennial eschatology.

Teaching Elder Joe Morecraft made a presentation of the establishment of the constitution of Covenant Presbytery, [now the RPCUS]: ...the WCF, Larger and Shorter Catechisms as originally published by the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland must be subscribed to by all ordained members. Passed. - Minutes of Covenant Presbytery August 29, 1983

Why did I make that motion? Let me give you four reasons.

First, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland edition of the Westminster Standards is a sturdy, hardback book with readable print. It contains the Westminster Assembly's Scriptural footnotes completely written out, for the Confession, Catechisms and book of church government. It also includes other historical documents that are important for organizing a church and understanding our heritage as Presbyterians, which documents are not included in other editions of the Standards, such as the original Directory of Publick Worship, the Form of Presbyterial Church-Government, the Solemn League and Covenant, etc.

In 1637 King Charles I attempted to introduce an episcopal "Book of Common Prayer" which was seen as an attempt to anglicize Scotland and the Church. The Scots were outraged, particularly since there had been no prior discussion with the General Assembly, the governing body of the Church of Scotland. In St Giles Cathedral, Jenny Geddes famously hurled her stool at the pulpit screeching "Daur ye say mass in my lug" (Dare you say mass in my ear).

The following year, in February 1638, a new National Covenant was drawn up and thousands crowded into Greyfriar's Kirkyard in Edinburgh to sign it. This document drew on an earlier "King's Confession" from 1581 in which a covenant had been drawn up in which both the king and the people swore to maintain the Presbyterian system of church government. While the new document swore loyalty to the monarch, it nevertheless firmly restated the direct relationship between the people and God, with no interference from the king and "all kinds of Papistry." Within months, over 300,000 people had "covenanted" in what a writer of the day described it as "the glorious marriage day of the Kingdom [of Scotland] with God." The adherents were prepared to fight for their religious freedom - and soon were called upon to do so.

The prophetical discourse of which Matthew 24:6 forms a part has been the subject of conflicting explanation ever since it was originally uttered. The verse reads: "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."

The grand difficulty lies in the appropriateness of its terms to two distinct and distant events: the end of the world and the destruction of Jerusalem. Some interpreters hold that the one catastrophe was meant to typify the other. Others that the discourse may be mechanically divided by assuming a transition, at a certain point, from one of these great subjects to the other. Still others, that it describes a sequence of events to be repeated more than once, a prediction to be verified, not once for all, nor yet by a continuous progressive series of events, but in stages and at intervals, like repeated flashes of lightning.