In its July 2008 American Presbytery the Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church (CRPC) established some important Introductory Principles which are enumerated immediately below and are self-explanatory.
Brief Introductory Principles of the Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church
In the following statement of introductory principles, 1) the term “Presbytery” is intended to mean that body of church officers gathered in assemblies broader than the local church government, and 2) "Session" is the term used for the local church presbytery.
1. We exist as a Presbytery for the “well-being” of churches and not for the “essence” of the church.
2. We exist to give evidence of the spiritual unity we have in Christ (cf. John 17:20-23). We do not create it, Christ does. Nor do we seek to have a working relationship whereby we “rule over” one another.
3. Each local church is a church in her own “right” and has her headquarters in heaven rather than in Presbytery.
4. We exist to seek and give mutual advice when asked, to be a place of appeals, and to establish courts for trials as these become necessary.
5. We exist to be a help to the local Sessions for the purposes of examination of candidates for the Ministry and, if so requested, also for Elders.
6. Presbytery is a servant to the local Session rather than that Session is a servant to the Presbytery.
7. We hold to the principle that, “No church/Minister/Session may lord it over another church/Minister/Session”. It is not the prerogative of Presbytery to legislate how each particular church/Session ought to do things which go beyond what we have covenanted to do in the Book of Church Government.
8. We have no standing committees and no budgets, other than what a given meeting of Presbytery might deem necessary for a specific period of time and/or purpose.
9. We bring together what we consider to be the best of “Presbyterian Church Polity” and “Reformed Church Polity”. For example:
(a) We have church courts but not standing courts (they exist by creation of Presbytery and for a specific case/trial).
(b) Our Ministers are members of the local church and are under the authority of the local Session in regards to their ethical conduct but their ministerial credentials are held by the Presbytery.
10. When we gather as Presbytery, we do so as delegates of the local sessions and not as church. Therefore, we do not hold worship services at Presbytery.
11. We trust God to grant wisdom to each governing church body as they deal with each situation. This affects our Book of Church Government, in that we do not seek to establish laws for each situation and scenario.
12. We believe that these principles ought to govern the motives for a given church to seek to join our Presbytery and/or to separate from our Presbytery.
13. We seek unity with all true churches which are governed by Christ through men of good faith, who love the biblical truth and desire to defend it and promote it with us. Therefore, we call ourselves Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church because:
(a) Covenant reminds us of God’s unfailing commitment to His people and our bond to one another in Christ so as to capture the heart of both the Scriptures and these covenant documents and not their mere words alone;
(b) Reformed reminds us that our theology is that rooted and grounded in the Scriptures and revived through the Protestant Reformation and that our polity contains the best of that found in churches of Reformed polity;
(c) Presbyterian reminds us that our church government is by Christ ruling through a plurality of elders with equal votes though differing gifts and contains the best of that found in churches of Presbyterian polity;
(d) Church reminds us again of our covenanted and spiritual unity with Christ’s one church. It is not intended to convey the hierarchical concept of one overarching central denominational church government. While we are essentially governed by Christ at the local church level, we do not call ourselves churches because we wish to demonstrate our distinction from those of an essentially historical congregational polity.
The CRPC, in addition to these Introductory Principles, has a number of distinctives that are found throughout its documents. More on DISTINCTIVES here to see an explanation of many of our distinctives and where they may be found in our Constitution and/or By-Laws.
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