A Report from General Assembly, Part 3
Last week I shared the 43 different denominations that the OPC has relationships with. I stated that I wanted to go into a little bit more detail on the significance of the event at General Assembly where the OPC entered into Ecclesiastical Fellowship with The Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC) [www.bpc.org].
The OPC was founded in 1936 as conservatives who opposed modernism in the mainline Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), could no longer stay in that denomination (To read more about the founding of our Church, I encourage you to read, Fighting the Good Fight by D. G. Hart & John Meuther.)
By 1937 it was apparent that the conservatives that joined the OPC had different reasons to oppose modernism in the church and a different understanding of what the Church should be. In less than a year there were two distinct camps within the OPC. The three major causes of division were as follows:
First, there was a disagreement of which version of the Westminster Confession to adopt. The mainline church had amended the confession in 1903 by adding two new chapters that a majority thought were arminian in character, but others wanted to keep the changes so that in court battles churches could keep property in dispute by claiming to be a true successor to the mainline Presbyterian Church. The Church decided not to keep the additional chapters.
Second, was the issue of eschatology. The Westminster Standards take no stand on millennial viewpoints (pre-millennial, post-millennial, a-millennial), it does however exclude dispensational theology. “For many in the church believed that dispensational theology was at odds with the Westminster Standards, not with regard to the millennium, but more importantly over the effects of the fall and the unity of God’s gracious ways throughout redemptive history.” (Hart & Meuther) The Church still does not take a stand on millennial views but does regard dispensational theology as not compatible with the Westminster Standards.
Third, was the issue of concerns regarding Christian teachings on morality. The Church was divided over total abstinence from alcoholic beverages. Remember prohibition was not reversed until 1933 so this was a hotly contested issue at the time. The Church allows Christianity liberty in areas such as alcohol and tobacco where Scripture does not mention a total prohibition.
In May of 1937 after the General Assembly, fourteen ministers and three elders, led by J. Oliver Buswell and Carl McIntire, withdrew from the OPC and in 1938 formed the Bible Presbyterian Synod. I do not know a lot about the history of the Bible Presbyterian Church, but I thought it was interesting that it was mentioned at General Assembly the the current Bible Presbyterian Church is not your grandfather’s Bible Presbyterian Church. They have had their own struggles and issues over the years as well. So after 79 years of division there has now been a beginning toward union in a more formal manner.
So that’s the OPC side of things, there is also a connection to the Bible Presbyterians and Faith Bible Church, Independent Presbyterian. The following is from Rev. James A. Smith’s history of Faith Bible Church (If you have not read Jim Smith’s eight page history, let me know and I’ll get you a copy):
“The church came into existence in 1954. The Presbyterian Church of West Mantoloking, in the process of becoming a self-sustaining church in the PCUSA was growing and sought to move to a better location in Brick, Township. Some in the church did not wish to move. This same group, for the most part, was also concerned about “liberal” patterns in the PCUSA as well as expressions of that liberalism in the local body. In the resulting conflicts it became clear that they as a minority could not effect solutions that would satisfy their conscience. This led eventually to their withdrawal from the church.
The first worship held by the group was July 18, 1954. As they explored wider connections, contact was made with the Seaside Bible Church (then a part of the New Jersey Presbytery of the Bible Presbyterian Church…. As a result there issued the eventual decision to join the Bible Presbyterian Denomination.”
The Church was received into the Bible Presbyterian Church in January of 1955 and in May of 1955 was incorporated as Faith Bible Presbyterian Church, Adamston, NJ. In 1956 due to a division in the Bible Presbyterian Church, the congregation voted to leave that denomination and became, Faith Bible Church, Independent Presbyterian.
In early 2013 with the merger of Faith Bible Church and Redeemer, OPC we now have Faith Bible Church, Orthodox Presbyterian (Faith Bible OPC). So in our very name we have quite a history. I hope that is interesting to you as you consider our congregation today and where we have come from.