Plain Vanilla Presbyterian Church

vanilla ice cream cone

The 10 marks of a “plain vanilla” Presbyterian church. Some are tongue-in-cheek–kinda!

  1. Lectio continua preaching. If you want topical preaching, then preach through the catechism in the evening.
  2. Is it a sanctuary or an auditorium?
  3. Evangelism is inherent in #1, while personal witnessing is commended and encouraged.
  4. Psalms and hymns sung from the Trinity Hymnal (1960, or 1990 edition) to piano accompaniment, at least.
  5. Resist the trend toward weekly communion, paedocommunion and intinction.
  6. Deaconess is not an ordained church office; pastors are men, too.
  7. If the Bible doesn’t say you can do it in the worship service, then you can’t!
  8. Congregational participation in worship: a) pray along with the elder during his public prayers, b) sing, recite the creed or Lord’s Prayer and responsively read like you mean it, c) actually hear and heed the Word preached.
  9. No hand raising until the benediction (but only if you know what it means).
  10. If you call people “Brother” and “Sister,” everyone will know you used to be a Baptist.

What other marks can you think of?

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4 responses

  1. In many other congregations the members call themselves ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ without ever having been a Baptist. There even exist Christian groups who have the name Brother in their denomination, like my faith-group the Brethren of Christ or Christadelphians.

    1. Oh, I know Baptists aren’t the only ones who make a regular habit of calling each other “Brother.” But here in “Baptist country,” the great state of Texas, such is generally the case. For that matter, it seems to me that the practice of calling each other “Brother” may stem ultimately from Catholic monasticism. I think monasticism began early enough in ancient church history to account for the practice being emulated by heterodox groups who left Catholicism and began their own orders and communes in a misguided attempt to recover whatever were their respective concepts of the apostolic form of Christian “Brotherhood,” belief and practice. The same goes for modern orthodox groups like the Baptists, and heterodox Restorationist groups such as the Christadelphians. It is an admirable instinct to affirm fellow believers as brothers in Christ, for that is exactly what believers in Christ are via the adoption of the Father, and union with Christ by the Holy Spirit.

  2. I have been both Catholic and non-trinitarian Baptist, now a Christadelphian, agree the brother business lies difficult, because in Catholicism there are many groups calling themselves ‘Brothers’. In opposition to our Dutch brethren (from the Netherlands) who prefer using the name ‘Broeders in Christus’ (Brothers in Christ) the Dutch speaking brethren in Belgium do not like so much using that name because in Belgium there may be confusing with the trinitarian Brothers in Christ of the Catholic faith.
    Naturally we consider all those who are willing to accept the Divine Creator as their heavenly Father, being children of God, as brothers and sisters of each other. Those who accept Jesus as the Messiah and their master teacher should come in union in the Body of Christ and as such also be brothers and sisters in Christ.

  3. I don’t have as much trouble with calling fellow Christians brother, keep in mind the disclaimer at the beginning of the post: this point was one of the points which were “tongue-in-cheek.” It’s intended to be a humorous allusion to the fact that Presbyterians do not subscribe to the Baptist doctrine of a thoroughly “regenerate church membership.” The fact that we baptize the infant children of believers and include them as members of the church before they profess faith in Christ means that as Presbyterians we can’t always really know which are our brothers and which aren’t. But it kills the humor when one has to explain it. But it’s nice to have some comments for a change! But, as a confessor of catholic orthodoxy, you may be well aware that I don’t extend the presumption of brotherhood in Christ to deniers of Christ’s coequal eternality, power and glory with the Father and the Spirit.

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