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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. For the PCUSA, loyalty to denominational committees was more important than doctrinal purity.

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.

The OPC holds to the historic 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).

Source: The Q&A page at OPC.ORG