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October 21

Arnold Kress

On October 21, 1978, the Presbytery of Ohio removed from its roll the Rev. Arnold S. Kress, a minister who had served in the Japan mission, beginning in 1966. The action by the presbytery was the last step in a long judicial process, centering on Kress’s views on the charismatic gifts. Having been brought home by the Committee on Foreign Missions and granted a special furlough, Kress had produced several papers on the subject. In a trial conducted by the Presbytery of Ohio, Kress asserted that “the gifts of prophecy and tongues may continue in the church today.” (Kress held mildly charismatic views, and he denied that any contemporary manifestation of tongues or prophecy was accompanied by new revelation.)

The Presbytery found him guilty of doctrinal error that was “contrary to the Word of God.” He then appealed his conviction to the 45th General Assembly that met in Grand Rapids in May, 1976. This was the first time in the forty-year history of the OPC that a judicial case had ever come before a General Assembly. (Previously, doctrinal matters were dealt with by complaints against lower courts or referring matters to a study committee.) The Assembly voted to deny Kress’s appeal and to uphold the judgment of the Presbytery. It also passed a resolution “urging Mr. Kress to accept the decisions of his brethren and further expressing its judgment that his ministerial gifts were of value to the church despite the adverse judicial decisions.”

Kress eventually joined the Christian Reformed Church, and he served for seven years in its mission to Japan. The Ohio Presbytery’s action brought closure to the matter in the OPC.

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