Anthony W. Brooks
I try to keep things interesting. I really do. I don’t like throwing out a whole bunch of theology because it can get dry. I, instead, want to speak consistently and let my speech and presuppositions do the convincing. So if you don’t like my style, tough. In a nice way of course.
Presuppositions From The Start
I’ve been to dozens of churches. You have your small and quiet old time churches with like five people and half of them are the choir, your mega churches with lasers and guys sitting on stools talking like you are their buddies from college, and your charismatic churches where everyone does the Jesus hokey pokey while doing their best impressions of a chimpanzee. I’ve seen them all and am usually not impressed. I have expectations in a church.
One of the problems that all of these churches have in common is the ecclesiology involved. What does the church government look like? For all of the examples above it was congregational. The church as a whole voted and got what they wanted. So the pastors are hired and are expected to do as the people say. So if the people want Father Abraham sung on Sunday morning than the pastor better deliver.
My Own Experience
Every church I’ve been a member of since I was 12 was a congregational church up until 2017. In 2017 I was formally removed from the rolls of FBC Judson and subsequently I carried my family across the Jordan into the promised land that was the OPC.
The reasons for this are numerous, but I’ll hit the highlights. I had a previous blog where I mostly focused on theology. I would write my heart out about all of the fancy theological positions a was being convinced of. This, as I stated above is not my approach now, but back then it was the natural out flowing of my studies. A few of the members of my then church were readers of my blog and they saw that I was teaching particularly the doctrine of unconditional election and to a lesser extent paedobaptism.
I was gone for a couple of weeks visiting some friends at another church and while I was gone they carried these concerns to the pastor, Tim Smith. Tim was gracious to me and tried to plead my case but the end result of this conflict soon became clear. I was to be taken before the church, and if he didn’t like it he was going to be as well. So to keep the peace of the church Tim himself decided it was best to present the case himself. I was told when it was to be discussed and decided not to attend to keep the peace myself.
All Up In My Feels
My heart broke. How could this happen? A decade is a long time to be a member of a church. I loved the church and served it. Tim was a friend and mentor. I had nothing else, just the church. Yes I had sinned but repented, yes I had been a minister but I resigned. My new wife and child looked to me for guidance and I had none. The Lord is good and his perfect will was what was best for me, but why did thirteen years of friendship have to end this way? It was a failure of their form of church government.
The church where I landed after all of this decay was a small Presbyterian church in North Longview called Christ the King OPC. The church, by virtue of the name, was elder led not congregational. There are three elders in this church who carry on and vote the business of the church. Where the money goes, any repairs, and the most important thing, teaching. At Christ the King the teaching of the church is guarded and if there is problematic teaching they address it immediately. But this decision is made by the elders, not the people. This was important to me for obvious reasons. Another thing I liked was that if a charge was brought against someone in the church and they didn’t agree they could appeal it to the Presbytery, the regional body of teaching elders, and then up to the general assembly of the whole church. It was a system of checks and balances that resembles that of our federal government here in the US. (Though our swollen federal government is now garbage).
So when we joined we had to take a form of catechism. It was a class that we took over a period of a month and a half. We met with Rev. Phil Hodson and he taught us the five vows of church membership in the OPC. After the class was finished we met with all of the elders and gave our testimony. They questioned us and accepted our plea to join the OPC. Two weeks later we took our vows before the people and baptized our son. None of this is new, I’ve talked about it before. How do we move forward? By prayer.
Conclusion And Resources
I didn’t give an apologetic for why Presbyterian Government is biblical and superior so at the end of this post I will give a link to that resource to read. We have been blessed beyond measure in our little OPC (which is now growing at a great rate). What happened to me at Judson is not held against them. I have no animosity for them and plan to visit them soon. I hope and pray that I can talk with Tim and that our friendship may be restored. But that all being said.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Resource: OPC Form of Government
Picture: The second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America (Now Orthodox Presbyterian Church) Nov 12, 1936