NAPARC, ETS, and Rockford

Good fellowship transpired at the NAPARC meetings in Dyer, Indiana on Tuesday and Wednesday. On behalf of the HRC, Rev. Mark Kelderman and I met with NAPARC delegations from the URC, the RPCNA, and the OPC. NAPARC continues to struggle with the idea of organic union, however. Rev. Danny Hyde addressed us on union and called us to repentance and dependency on the Holy Spirit.

My own conviction is that NAPARC churches should continue to fellowship with each other and cooperate on various ventures where they may see eye-to-eye and strengthen each other’s hands, but not press any kind of federational union through the watering down of denominational distinctives. Most of these distinctives are of major importance to the various denominations in NAPARC. Non-essential distinctives, of course, may and should be set aside for purposes of union, but few NAPARC denominations view their distinctives as non-essential, or else they would have dropped them long ago.

We also need to remember that real, vital union lies in the invisible church, not through the forced merging of church denominations. If such mergers happen naturally and are a good fit, such that neither merging denomination suffers loss of membership or convictions, that of course would be ideal. But if merges are forced, often what happens in church history is that the merging of two denominations only produces three denominations: the new denomination, and a remaining denomination from each of the merging groups, consisting of churches that could not in good conscience acquiesce with the merging into a new denomination.

ETS Banquet

The Evangelical Theological Society met from Wednesday through Friday in Milwaukee, with 2,200 professors and ministers in attendance. The major theme of the conference related to Christian views of creation, though many other themes were addressed as well. As usual, ETS papers varied widely in value.

I gave two papers—one on the Puritan view of preparatory grace (Paul Smalley and I hope to publish a book on this important topic next spring—it is presently in its final editing stage), and one on “Laurence Chaderton: An Early Puritan Vision for Church and School.” Chaderton, who lived to be 104 and has been nicknamed as “the Puritan Methuselah,” gave his life to training young men for the ministry. Hundreds of Puritan ministers were trained under him—more than under anyone else in Puritan history. The reason he is not better known today is because he didn’t write any books.

When I wasn’t delivering papers, attending sessions, or meeting with various friends, I was assisting our Reformation Heritage Books manager, Steve Renkema, and my dear wife, Mary, in selling RHB books. In all, we sold nearly $10,000 worth of books.

Today, Mary and I are driving to Rockford, Illinois, where I am speaking on “Knowing and Living the Christian Life” (5 messages in all) this weekend for the Grace Reformed Baptist Church. Please pray for the Spirit’s blessing upon the conference.