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Question and Answer

Parachurch Ministries

Question:

What is the biblical view of Christian ministries such as the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Focus on the Family, the Navigators, and others that apparrently are not under the authority of the church (i.e. ruling elders, general assembly)? How should we deal with them? Is it biblical to use their good ministering? Is it biblical to support them?

P.S. I have been helped by the ministries of organizations like these and continue to use them mainly because I am unable to find a replacement that comes from the denomination. Should I continue to rely on their teaching? Should I continue to support them?

Answer:

Your question reveals a truly biblical concern, namely, that churches themselves should be doing the work of the Church. But the sad reality is that especially throughout the twentieth century (and now the twenty-first) the churches in large measure have failed to do so. In a brief response such as this we cannot give a satisfactory review of this sad story. But let me urge you to read the New Horizons article entitled The OPC's Heritage after Seventy Years. It will give you at least a glimpse.

And so, what do bible believing people do when the majority is willing to go along with a watered-down or even false gospel? The answer is that they seek to find a way, outside of their church, to hold on to that gospel. For example, this was the reason for the launching of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1929. From that day to this it has been a parachurch and independent institution. And some of the organizations you mentioned probably could point to similar reasons for their existence.

It is my opinion that the situation in which we find ourselves today is such that in spite of our regret that it is so, yet we must give thanks to God for such institutions. At the same time it is my conviction that we should not just accept this as normal and good. In the early history of our church we relied on what was then called "the Independent Board of Presbyterian Missions." But as soon as it was feasible we launched our own church-controlled home and foreign mission work, and the reason was the conviction that it is plainly revealed in the bible that this is the task that the church must take responsibility for.

At the same time let me add that we are also willing to jointly do foreign mission work with other denominations of like precious faith. One of the promising elements in our membership in NAPARC and the ICRC is that it provides us with the kind of North American and World fellowship that enables this kind of cooperation.

In the final analysis I think you will simply have to use your best (biblically informed) judgment as to use of independent organizations such as those you've named. But let us all pray for an increasing awakening in faithful churches that will lead to a greater measure of the proper oversight of the God-ordained eldership needed to keep them accountable.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

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.

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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.

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