This is the fourth part of an essay I drafted a few years ago, intending to publish it in the now-defunct Reformed Presbyterian officers’ newsletter, Semper Reformanda.
An additional reason for church unity and union presents itself for members and officers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America: our historical testimony to the mediatorial kingship of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is king, it is his kingdom (which is not from this world) and no earthly empire (Roman or American) that unifies the world. Every worldly institution that does not acknowledge him is a challenger and a cheap imitation. This kingdom is a kingdom whose power is humility and love, which in the resurrection of Jesus led not to defeat but utter triumph over death and every other power. Apostles and martyrs died for the sake of their loyalty to “another king, Jesus”. If we hold Jesus to truly be king, then the Church is a mighty empire with marvelous diversity, bound together by a common Gospel and a common Spirit to worship one God. It is no accident that at the very point in history when Jesus was recognized in a public way to be the true king, the ecumenical councils of the Church began to meet. I would argue that it is also no accident that in the 20th century, as the splintering tendencies of the Reformation have metastasized in the Western world, the Christian faith has been marginalized and its influence on wider culture and public life shriveled. Do you want to see Christ glorified in public? Pursue church unity. It should have higher priority for us than working for a Christian amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
It is important to note that in this matter we are as a denomination ignoring the obligations we brought out ourselves 136 years ago. The Covenant of 1871 reads in part:
… Believing the church to be one, and that all the saints have communion with God and with one another in the same Covenant; believing, moreover, that schism and sectarianism are sinful in themselves; and inimical to the true religion, and trusting that divisions shall cease, and the people of God become one Catholic church over all the earth, we will pray and labor for the visible oneness of the Church of God in our own land and throughout the world, on the basis of truth and of Scriptural order. Considering it a principal duty of our profession to cultivate a holy brotherhood, we will strive to maintain Christian friendship with pious men of every name, and to feel and act as one with all in every land who pursue this grand end. And, as a means of securing this great result, we will by dissemination and application of the principles of truth herein professed, and by cultivating and exercising Christian charity, labor to remove stumbling-blocks, and to gather into one the scattered and divided friends of truth and righteousness.
So why aren’t we making this a high priority? Why doesn’t it occupy the minds and conversations of Reformed Presbyterians at least as much as do more trivial matters like head coverings and home schooling? Are we afraid of losing “our place” as others have been before us? Is there a certain appeal to remaining small?—after all, in a small denomination it is easier to maintain uniformity and control, and easier for good men to attain prominence. It is time for self-examination by the RPCNA and her members as to what our priorities as a denomination are and how the glory of Christ can best be served.