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Question and Answer

Presbyterian Church USA


Can you give me a brief overview of the major differences between the PCUSA and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church? Thank you.


The OPC was formed during the fundamentalist-modernist controversy early in the twentieth century, when J. Gresham Machen was defrocked by the PCUSA for his involvement in the Independent Presbyterian Board for Foreign Missions. This involvement came about due to Machen's refusal to send the tithes of God's people to liberal missionaries like novelist Pearl S. Buck who denied the virgin birth and deity of Jesus Christ and did not believe in the necessity of preaching the gospel of Christ for the salvation of lost and sinful men. For the PCUSA, loyalty to denominational committees was more important than doctrinal purity.

The OPC holds to the historic Westminster Westminster Standards—the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism, and Shorter Catechism—which have formed the doctrinal basis for Presbyterian churches since 1647. The OPC did not adopt revisions to the Confession made by the PCUSA in 1903 (the addition of the chapters "Of the Holy Spirit" and "Of the Gospel of the Love of God and Missions," and a "Declaratory Statement" reinterpreting God's eternal decree in an Arminian manner and declaring that all who die in infancy are saved). Likewise the OPC did not adopt the PCUSA Confession of 1967, which fails even to mention the deity of Christ, opens the door to universalism (the false doctrine that everyone is going to be saved in the end), and degrades the uniqueness of Christianity in the statement, "The Christian finds parallels between other religions and his own and must approach all religions with openness and respect."

The PCUSA supported political radicals such as Angela Davis and radical events such as the 1994 World Council of Churches' Re-imagining Conference (in which 400 PCUSA women participated along with several self-proclaimed witches in a communion meal worshipping the goddess Sophia; later, the 1994 General Assembly voted 516-4 not to bring formal charges against the participants for their idolatry).

The PCUSA ordains women to church office, contrary to the word of God; the OPC does not. The PCUSA ordains pastors who deny the deity of Christ; the OPC does not. The PCUSA supports abortion on demand; the OPC does not (but, rather, is pro-life). The PCUSA is theologically and politically liberal, while the OPC endeavors to be a faithful biblical church, Reformed and always reforming, calling men and women to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, apart from whom there is no salvation. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

© 2020 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church



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