The beginning of what became the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church is a wonderful story. Like all churches in the Presbyterian family, the ARP traces its roots back to the Church of Scotland.
Presbyterian Churches have held to the Reformed faith, also known as “Calvinism.” As you may know, the Reformed faith emphasizes the sovereignty of God. The Reformed faith also emphasizes that the grace of God is to be offered freely to everyone without distinction or exception.
Sadly, by about the year 1720, the Church of Scotland had overemphasized the sovereignty of God to the point of fatalism. At that time, the Church of Scotland taught that someone would have to show signs of being one of God’s chosen people before he or she should could be offered salvation. They pressed the doctrine of predestination so far that they could no longer say to anyone, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
The men who really were the beginnings of what became the ARP opposed this teaching. While they believed firmly in the sovereignty of God and predestination, they also believed that salvation should be offered to everyone, and that anyone who would believe would be saved.
This ignited a controversy, called the Marrow Controversy, which led to the formation of the “Associate Presbytery.” This became the start of the ARP.
We are glad to have come from this heritage. We believe in the free offer of God’s grace to everyone, and we extend that offer to everyone.
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson has done an excellent overview of the Marrow Controversy. You may listen to it free of charge HERE –
Transcripts from Dr. Ferguson's teaching on the Marrow Controversy are also available: