Yesterday, while engaged in a bit of online research, I discovered that the older periodical of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, The Presbyterian Guardian, is now available online (all extant issues, 1935-1979, HERE).
This periodical is an invaluable resource for those who are interested in taking an 'insiders' look at the mindset and 'goings on' of the oldest (and probably the most vocal and intellectually influential), conservative Presbyterian sect in American.
While reading through the archives, the following article caught my eye (I have reproduced the first section, and provided the link to the rest of the article):
The Overly Prickly Church
by John J. Mitchell
It was an Orthodox Presbyterian minister that I first heard refer to his denomination as the "overly prickly church." He was being a bit sarcastic, perhaps. But as in most sarcasm, there was enough of the truth to make the remark—well, prickly.
Certainly there are plenty of people—many outside, some inside the Orthodox Presbyterian Church—who would consider this title as quite appropriate. We just do not seem to get along too well with anyone, even including ourselves.
What other thirty-year-old- church has had the squabbles we've had? We were poured from a crucible of bitterness and vindictiveness. It is certainly true that Machen and his friends were disrupting the peace of the 'old church'—a church that wanted peace with unbelief. Those men refused to cooperate in the coercive efforts made to prevent their speaking God's truth. No wonder they were thrown out!
So a new church was founded, the result of expulsion and antagonism. Did the new denomination live peacefully and happily ever after? Hardly! Scarcely a year had passed before we were separated from that group of sincere and zealous Christians who became the Bible Presbyterian Church. And later on we succeeded in rubbing each other so raw in the "Clark case" that we lost other valuable congregations and ministers. Since then we've stewed and simmered over the "Peniel problem," destroying one congregation in the process, losing a few more ministers, and irritating many of our loyal members elsewhere. (The Presbyterian Guardian, Vol. 35.3 - March, 1966, p. 44— http://opc.org/cfh/guardian/Volume_35/1966-03.pdf .)
I touched on this penchant for schism among conservative North American Presbyterians in THIS THREAD, and the related topic of "Reformed civil war" in THIS THREAD.
Being a former member of the OPC, I can attest to the continued lack of charity among conservative Presbyterians, having experienced the failed attempt/s of the OPC and PCA to merge in the 1980s. The Clark/Van Til battles, the 'curious case' of Norman Shepherd, the issue of theonomy, and the Federal Vision controversy, add 'fuel-to-the-fire'—it is apparent that Mr. Mitchell's concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
This conservative Presbyterian microcosm seems to be indicative of some of the inherent 'difficulties' that exists within the conservative, Protestant, North American Christian paradigm as a whole, and raises some serious questions, which include the following: why such a lack of the "fruit of the spirit" (e.g. love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control) among supposedly 'like-minded', 'regenerate' believers; why the lack of true unity; is there a 'root' cause to the seemingly endless schisms?
Grace and peace,