Interview With Joel Beeke About Reformed Churches And Seminaries -- By: Joel Beeke
PRJ 1:2 (July 2009) p. 249
Interview With Joel Beeke About Reformed Churches And Seminaries
The following interview by Lou Veigao with Joel Beeke was printed as an e-newsletter article by Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and is printed here with permission.
1. From Your Vantage Point, How Would You Assess The Health And Vigor Of The Reformed Churches In North America At This Time? On What Basis Do You Form Your Opinion?
Let me begin with your second question. First, we should assess these churches in terms of the marks of a true church: namely, faithful preaching of the Word, right administration of the sacraments, and the due exercise of church discipline. Are these bodies true churches? Second, we must also assess them in terms of their well-being or degree of purity. What I mean by this is how truly the doctrine of the gospel is taught by the ministers and embraced by the members, and how faithful the public worship is according to the Word of God. Every church falls short of perfection, but how pure are these churches? How far do they go toward being what a local church ought to be?
We must never forget that it is possible to be a good, faithful member of a solid, Reformed, confessional church without personally and experientially knowing biblical, sovereign-grace truth. Healthy churches have many members who can explain how they have personally come to know the Lord Jesus and how they continue to live out of Him in daily, practical Christian living. By the blessing of the Holy Spirit, healthy churches foster large dosages of head-heart-hand theology.
I fear that in the larger Reformed and Presbyterian churches of North America—what some would call the mainline churches that come from a Reformed background—the “unchurching” by modernism and liberalism begun in the twentieth century is continuing today. Pastors who do not believe what is taught in Scripture and
PRJ 1:2 (July 2009) p. 250
who have not experienced its truths personally and savingly cannot preach the Word faithfully. In the absence of faithful preaching, the sacraments have no definite content or purpose, and church discipline seems to be used only against those who rebuke the leaders of these bodies and call them to repentance. It must be noted, however, that even in these larger, older bodies there are still individuals and local churches that are holding fast to the essentials of the faith, fighting against the running tide of unbelief.
The situation is much better in some of the smaller, older bodies such as the Associate Reformed, Reformed Presbyterian, and Free Reformed Churches, and newer ones such as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in America, ...
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