2008-02-10

Our Church has a website

If you want to find out what sort of people would ever want me to go to church with them, click here.

Charlestown Presbyterian is part of the Presbyterian Church of Australia and is one of two regional churches that form the parish of Charlestown Eastlakes in Lake Macquarie (Newcastle, NSW).

The other church is Swansea Presbyterian. We are committed to the Bible as our final authority as we seek to serve and honour Jesus.

The Westminster Confession of Faith sets out how we understand the Bible.
It is our desire to provide a context where you will find warm friendship, clear practical Bible teaching and help with what it means to follow Jesus in our daily lives.
We are keen to have others join us as we grow and serve together as God’s people.

8 comments:

Ron Lankshear said...

My link to my church
http://freepages.religions.rootsweb.com/%7Elankshear/mychurch.htm

and my church
http://www.cornerstoneaog.com.au/

trish said...

Pleased to see that God is at work in Newcastle. I actually grew up in Charlestown & Dudley, and never really noticed a Christian presence, but looks like things have changed.

Laura said...

Neil, what's the deal with Australian pressies? Do you all have the division like we do here between PCA (Reformed, orthodox) and PCUSA (mainline, slightly kooky)?

Oh, and here's mine:

www.sojournchurch.com

trish said...

Really nice looking website, Laura. Sojourn - such a calm, peaceful name for a church.

One Salient Oversight said...

That's an interesting question Laura. I'll try and answer it as briefly as I can.

The Presbyterian Church in Australia (PCA) is probably the best its been in terms of orthodox theology in its entire history. Considering the fact that the denomination itself is quite small nationally, this achievement of orthodoxy is hardly something to crow about.

Basically the Pressies were a reasonably large denomination back in the 19th century as Scottish immigrants came to Australia.

In the 1920s, liberal theology began to dominate the theological colleges, much in the same way as liberalism afflicted Princeton seminary in the US. We didn't have a Gresham Machen to start up an alternative denomination though, which meant that evangelicals tried to work "within" the system.

From the 1920s until the 1970s, liberalism grew and dominated the church. In that period, the church also began to decline numerically.

Inspired by the United Church of Christ in the US, the Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists in Australia began to talk about uniting into one denomination. This they did in 1977 and The Uniting Church was formed.

All of Australia's Methodist churches became Uniting, most of the Congregationalists and most of the Presbyterians went in as well.

The Presbyterian churches who decided against union were a mix of liberal traditionalists and evangelicals who believed that such a union would result in unbiblical practices.

Since 1977, the PCA has slowly changed. There are two theological colleges (Sydney and Melbourne) which are now solidly biblical. Churches that were once liberal have either crumbled into closure or have turned back to the bible.

It's a rather inspiring story. About ten years ago the denomination expelled a minister for saying that he didn't believe the bible was written by God. Those sorts of ministers were common in the Presbyterian church 50 years ago.

But the change from liberalism to evangelical teaching has been slow. Many Presbyterian churches in Australia are dominated by liberal-influenced old people and pastored by an evangelical minister trying to preach the gospel to them. The result is often church conflict.

At the moment, the majority of Australian Presbyterian churches are old and dying. There is, however, a significant minority of churches which teach the bible, have contemporary worship services and are growing - like our church in Charlestown. Statistical analysis has shown that the denomination has continued to shrink in number since 1977, despite the return to evangelical teaching. But this is a "J curve" - eventually the numbers will grow as the old liberals die out and the biblical evangelicals grow more.

The evangelicals in 1977 were absolutely correct in their assessment of the Uniting Church - that church body is now ordaining practising homosexuals and is shrinking at an alarming rate.

So that's where we are now. There are a number of other denominations:

Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia (PCEA) - formed in 19th century. Basically hypercalvinists who only sing psalms without instruments. They are the second largest presbyterian denomination in Australia.

Presbyterian Reformed Church - formed in 1960s by evangelicals who split from the PCA. They are small - 12 congregations - but seem faithful.

Evangelical Presbyterian Church - formed in 1960s spontaneously in Tasmania from a bunch of Arminian Baptists who made the switch to begin their own pedobaptising Presbyterian church. They eventually became hypercalvinist and lost the plot.

Westminster Presbyterian Church - formed by American Presbyterian missionaries to Western Australia in the 1960s. They are growing but are still quite small.

Reformed Presbyterian Church - no, different from the one above. Formed in the 19th century. 3 congregations I think.

Vaughan Smith said...

Thanks for that, Neil.

I wouldn't really call the PCEA hypercalvinists, considering a group split from them because they taught the well-meant offer and common grace. I read their magazine (The Presbyterian Banner), and have found it quite evangelical. All I can see that separates the PCA and the PCEA is the PCA's commitment to the Declaratory Statement of 1901, and the PCEA's exclusive psalmody.

I'm happy to be proved wrong, but I am really not into people bandying the "hypercalvinist" tag around haphazardly!

:)

Vaughan Smith said...

Actually, check out their website if you want some info:

PCEA

Reuben Kincaid said...

Thanks for the Pressie history lesson, OSO. The website looks good too.