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Ecclesiology discuss Congregational vs. Presbyterian in the Theological Forum forums; In the eighteenth century these two denominations seemed somewhat similar. Of course, I realize that there are some differences between both denominations presently, but were ...

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    edwardian289 is offline. Inactive User
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    Congregational vs. Presbyterian

    In the eighteenth century these two denominations seemed somewhat similar. Of course, I realize that there are some differences between both denominations presently, but were there any major doctrinal differences then or was it simply a matter of church structure/government?


    By His Grace,
    William
    William Smith
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    University of Oklahoma, Major: Letters
    1 Cor. 10:31


    "What cause have they who have an interest in Christ, to glory in their Redeemer! They are often beset with many evils, and many mighty enemies surround them on every side, with open mouths ready to devour them. But they need not fear any of them. They may glory in Christ, the rock of their salvation, who appears so gloriously above them all. They may triumph over Satan, over this evil world, over guilt, and over death. For as their Redeemer is mighty, and is so exalted above all evil, so shall they also be exalted in him, They are now, in a sense, so exalted. For nothing can hurt them. Christ carries them, as on eagle's wings, high out of the reach of all evils, so that they cannot come near them, to do them any real harm." - Jonathan Edwards

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    This article by Matt shows the depth of the debate between Congregationalism and Presbyterianism. The implications of Congregationalism are devestating.

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    PuritanCovenanter's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
    This article by Matt shows the depth of the debate between Congregationalism and Presbyterianism. The implications of Congregationalism are devestating.
    I disagree with the last statement. There are troubles on both sides. Not all Presbyteries have had a good long life. Liberalism attacks both. Some congregational churches have had a good witness longer than some Presbyterian denominations.

    Here is a link to a thread which recommends some reading on Church Polity. I like John Owen.

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    Martin,

    Did you read the article? That is precisely what I meant by the statement....nothing more.

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    PuritanCovenanter's Avatar
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    In my understanding of Historical Christianity. The Counsel of Jerusalem didn't continue. There was no General Assembly. The Church had it's foundational truth on how to operate as congregations from the Apostles. If there was a succesive General Assembly, where did it move to after Jerusalem?

    As Turretin and Matt tried to defend the reformers, I still see their original ordination was Papal in authority which would make there ordinations in an apostate understanding. The Church was apostate before it ordained them. It was after. They had to emerge in the Spirit of Christ and under Christ's authority. The Civil authorities and laymen are not given enough credit for there help in bringing the Church safely out of an Apostate orginazation.

    I personally see some of Matthews points but am not as dogmatic about Presbyterianism as he is. I am not sure God is either.

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    VanVos is offline. Puritanboard Sophomore
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    Would the plurality elders be an allowable third view.?
    Rev Jonathan James Goundry
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    PuritanCovenanter's Avatar
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    Here is an article a friend of mine has on his site. I am not fully persuaded but can see this as being true. I still need to look more fully into it.

    What Council of Jerusalem? (Acts 15)

    The purpose of the two articles on this page is to illustrate why Reformed Baptists are not Presbyterian in their church government. It is often necessary to explain how we can be both "œReformed" and "œBaptist". The best response is that we see ourselves as more fully reformed than our Presbyterian brethren when it comes to matters of church organisation and government. Establishing Presbyterianism from scripture is most often attempted by citing Acts 15. I hope to indicate with the following articles how weak this argument is.

    Article #1

    What Council of Jerusalem?

    Suppose the visit of Paul, Barnabas and the others from the church at Antioch to the church at Jerusalem was not a Council. Suppose rather it was a representation and complaint from one local church to another whose members were behaving erroneously and opposing Christian doctrine through mistaken zeal (for superseded Jewish tradition). The account in Acts 15 can be read perfectly logically with no inference of authority, delegation or council. To read in the idea of appeal to the "œauthority" of the Jerusalem church is bad exegesis.

    First we have the cause for complaint from Antioch.

    Acts 15.1,2 "œAnd certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
    Then the appropriate** response from the Antioch church to the Jerusalem church.
    15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question."
    Suppose the Apostle Paul made the journey to Jerusalem to inform James (the Pastor of the Jerusalem Church "“ not James the Apostle) and have the problem dealt with at source. The Apostle Paul (and witnesses) took the problem to the responsible Pastor. **This, of course, is precisely how the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to deal with brethren (fellow believers) when we have issues with them (in Matthew 18: 15-17.)

    18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.


    The meeting of the church at Jerusalem.

    There were still Apostles in the Jerusalem church (including Peter) -Acts 8:14; 15:4 et sec.

    And there were erring members -with the same Judaising attitudes as caused the problem in Antioch. -Acts 15:5 "œBut there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses" "“and there was the Pastor, James.

    Now read the account of the elders´ meeting (one church, remember) in which the elders and Paul´s came together to consider this matter and to reason. The verb translated "œdisputation" is suzhthsis, from suzhtev; mutual questioning, i.e. discussion: disputation, reasoning.



    15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter


    Note the Apostle Peter´s contribution vv 7-11.

    15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

    Next read Barnabas and the Apostle Paul´s contribution.

    Acts 15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
    Finally the Pastor´s resolution.

    When all had said there piece (note the absence of debate or "œdispute" in the negative sense), the Pastor makes his response TO HIS OWN CHURCH, where he is the governmental authority under Christ, even though Apostles are present. His ruling on this issue is:

    15:19-21 "œWherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day."

    The Apostles endorse the decision of the church leadership and send men and encouraging letters to Antioch. The tone is apologetic and the Jerusalem church acts on the resolution to put right the wrong done in Antioch.

    15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
    Here is the site it came from. There is another article following this one but I have my problems with the book it came from. I still like the second article though.


    [Edited on 8-12-2005 by puritancovenanter]

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    WrittenFromUtopia is offline. Inactive User
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    Did Owen revert back to Presbyterianism or not? I've heard somewhere that he did. *shrug*

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    Jeff_Bartel's Avatar
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    Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
    Did Owen revert back to Presbyterianism or not? I've heard somewhere that he did. *shrug*
    Looks like he did. See this book (free online PDF) by Nigel Lee. It's entitled Rev. Dr. John Owen Re-Presbyteri-anized.

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    Puritanhead is offline. Puritanboard Professor
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    Denominational feuds should be settled by arm-wrestling matches...
    Ryan
    1689 London Baptist Confession

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    PuritanCovenanter's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
    Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
    Did Owen revert back to Presbyterianism or not? I've heard somewhere that he did. *shrug*
    Looks like he did. See this book (free online PDF) by Nigel Lee. It's entitled Rev. Dr. John Owen Re-Presbyteri-anized.
    I haven't read this yet. I am going to read it with suspicion though. I have recently read two bios on Owen by Toon and Thomson and I haven't seen any reference to this. I am hoping it isn't one of those Trial of Blood things. (Trail of Blood is a supposed timeline showing the Baptist church from the early church till now). I mean I hope it isn't wishful thinking based upon his defence of Presby's and his adhering to some of the tenets of their Church Government. I admit I am speaking before I have read the article. But I am going to read it very suspiciously.

    Anyways, no one has commented on the Acts 15 article I posted. I am kinda surprised.

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    PuritanCovenanter's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Puritanhead
    Denominational feuds should be settled by arm-wrestling matches...
    I would win. I am a pretty good arm wrestler.

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    Randy Martin Snyder
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    Originally posted by puritancovenanter
    Here is an article a friend of mine has on his site. I am not fully persuaded but can see this as being true. I still need to look more fully into it.

    What Council of Jerusalem? (Acts 15)

    The purpose of the two articles on this page is to illustrate why Reformed Baptists are not Presbyterian in their church government. It is often necessary to explain how we can be both "œReformed" and "œBaptist". The best response is that we see ourselves as more fully reformed than our Presbyterian brethren when it comes to matters of church organisation and government. Establishing Presbyterianism from scripture is most often attempted by citing Acts 15. I hope to indicate with the following articles how weak this argument is.

    Article #1

    What Council of Jerusalem?

    Suppose the visit of Paul, Barnabas and the others from the church at Antioch to the church at Jerusalem was not a Council. Suppose rather it was a representation and complaint from one local church to another whose members were behaving erroneously and opposing Christian doctrine through mistaken zeal (for superseded Jewish tradition). The account in Acts 15 can be read perfectly logically with no inference of authority, delegation or council. To read in the idea of appeal to the "œauthority" of the Jerusalem church is bad exegesis.

    First we have the cause for complaint from Antioch.

    Acts 15.1,2 "œAnd certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
    Then the appropriate** response from the Antioch church to the Jerusalem church.
    15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question."
    Suppose the Apostle Paul made the journey to Jerusalem to inform James (the Pastor of the Jerusalem Church "“ not James the Apostle) and have the problem dealt with at source. The Apostle Paul (and witnesses) took the problem to the responsible Pastor. **This, of course, is precisely how the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to deal with brethren (fellow believers) when we have issues with them (in Matthew 18: 15-17.)

    18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.


    The meeting of the church at Jerusalem.

    There were still Apostles in the Jerusalem church (including Peter) -Acts 8:14; 15:4 et sec.

    And there were erring members -with the same Judaising attitudes as caused the problem in Antioch. -Acts 15:5 "œBut there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses" "“and there was the Pastor, James.

    Now read the account of the elders´ meeting (one church, remember) in which the elders and Paul´s came together to consider this matter and to reason. The verb translated "œdisputation" is suzhthsis, from suzhtev; mutual questioning, i.e. discussion: disputation, reasoning.



    15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter


    Note the Apostle Peter´s contribution vv 7-11.

    15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

    Next read Barnabas and the Apostle Paul´s contribution.

    Acts 15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
    Finally the Pastor´s resolution.

    When all had said there piece (note the absence of debate or "œdispute" in the negative sense), the Pastor makes his response TO HIS OWN CHURCH, where he is the governmental authority under Christ, even though Apostles are present. His ruling on this issue is:

    15:19-21 "œWherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day."

    The Apostles endorse the decision of the church leadership and send men and encouraging letters to Antioch. The tone is apologetic and the Jerusalem church acts on the resolution to put right the wrong done in Antioch.

    15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
    Here is the site it came from. There is another article following this one but I have my problems with the book it came from. I still like the second article though.


    [Edited on 8-12-2005 by puritancovenanter]
    I have a few more questions.

    Did all the congregations send someone to the Council or could it be that it wasn't set up As Presbyterians think? I mean could it be as the article states it. Is it just one congregation responding to a false doctrine from another?
    The false teachers came from Judea so the confrontration needed to go back to the root of the problem.
    What districts or areas were they divided up into? Something just seems to be missing to me. Did they have a GA every so once in a while?

    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by puritancovenanter]

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    CapnJ is offline. Inactive User
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    Hi. It seems to me that the scope is larger than one congregation responding to the false teaching of another. In Acts 15:23-29 there is an epistle written that includes the brethren in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia who are gentiles.
    With enough necessary inferences, maybe it isn't too hard to see a little bit of a GA here?
    Jack Elmore
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    Randy,

    It seems to me that the big flaw in the article is in assuming that the "church in Jerusalem" itself is but one congregation. That seems very strained, considering that the apostles were there, and that Acts 6:2-4 says:

    2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
    It would appear a very case to prove that one is too busy with the ministry of the Word in a single congregation with a dozen (or more!) preachers. Even the largest of mega-churches do not have 12+ preachers -- who are concerned that preaching takes up too much of their time! So it appears that at a bare minimum, Acts 15 applies to several churches in the area of Jerusalem, making it more than a simple dispute in a single church.
    Fred Greco
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    nonconformist is offline. Inactive User
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    Originally posted by puritancovenanter
    Originally posted by Puritanhead
    Denominational feuds should be settled by arm-wrestling matches...
    I would win. I am a pretty good arm wrestler.

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    PuritanCovenanter's Avatar
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    Originally posted by CapnJ
    Hi. It seems to me that the scope is larger than one congregation responding to the false teaching of another. In Acts 15:23-29 there is an epistle written that includes the brethren in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia who are gentiles.
    With enough necessary inferences, maybe it isn't too hard to see a little bit of a GA here?
    I would not assume that the problem was smaller than one small congregation in Judea. It arose from Jews who were teaching requirements of Moses that applied to salvation. Thus making a salvation that arose from following a covenant of 'if you do this act you will enter into salvation'. Kind of like some of the NPP. Thus the teaching that Regeneration plus ceremonial works makes one saved.

    The problem arose in Judea. It must have been accepted doctrine because when Paul and Barnabas went to the root of the problem (Judea) there was much contention and discussion even among the Apostles and elders.

    (Act 15:6-9) And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
    It wasn't a regular calling together of the Presbyters because they were the seat of authority. It was a calling together for accountability for the false doctrine that arose from their part of the Church.

    There was not a delegation sent up from other churches. It was a commission from Antioch to make truth known as it is in Christ Jesus and not Moses. Justification by Faith alone was the issue then as it has been today. The false doctrine arose from Judea in General. So it must needs be quelled at the root. This was not a general gathering of authority as the Presby's presume. It was precise and confrontational. It appears that the Presbyters didn't have a general gathering scheduled to set the affairs of the Church in order.

    The letter was sent from Jerusalem, with the testimony of the Elders and backed by all there, to quell the false doctrine that was confronted by those at Antioch. It was authoritatively published from Judea and sent to others so that the false doctrine which started in Judea would not spread as though it came in the authority of the Apostles. It wasn't a normal GA in my understanding. So to put it in this light I can not perceive that it was anything more than Paul and the church at Antioch defending Justification by Faith alone. It isn't a statement of Presbyterian Church Government. It is the Church in Antioch calling the church in Judea to deal with false doctrine amongst itself, so that it wouldn't be propagated anywhere else.

    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by puritancovenanter]

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    PuritanCovenanter's Avatar
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    I also want to make mention that my rebuttal does not refute the Presbyterian form of Church Government. I believe it is a goodly system of checks and balances, so that issues in a Church body can be addressed in an orderly manner. I am only coming to a conclusion that Presbyterianism can not be defended by Presbyterian Denominations as strongly as it is from Acts 15. Nor can it be used against Congregationalism which believes in multiple Presbyters in their congregations.

    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by puritancovenanter]

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    Randy,
    Cut to the chase; why waste time on opinions. This subject is all clearly dilineated in the book Jus Divinum; The Divine Right of Church Government. The divines of Westminster saw congregationalism as well as independancy as a crime.

    Think about this for the monent, independancy is like an unbridled stallion that has run amuck. Where does it end? Seriously, when will the independant say to the hyperly independant, "What you are doing is wrong"? Independancy fosters more independancy. Is all independancy ok?

    Gump said it best, "independancy is as independancy does."





    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by Scott Bushey]
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    PuritanCovenanter's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Scott Bushey
    Randy,
    Cut to the chase; why waste time on opinions. This subject is all clearly dilineated in the book Jus Divinum; The Divine Right of Church Government. The divines of Westminster saw congregationalism as well as independancy as a crime.
    So throw John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, and many others into Christ's prison. Throw away the key. I thought exegesis was to pull meaning out and not put meaning into the text. It looks like Presby's do some eisegesis here. The fact is there can be community here and Presby's are being schismatic as they were in John Owen's time. It is either the way we see it and no other way at all. I just don't buy it. It matters not that a group of Presby's throw in there vote to condemn something against what they believe based upon presuppositions put on a passage of Scripture.

    Please don't be so hard. Many have been hard to the hurt of the body of Christ. Hurting the conscious and forcing upon it things that are not seen is a crime. That is why freedom in Christ is so important. Freedom to obey what is understood. In reading Acts 15 without the presuppositions of Presbyterianism I would have never come away with what some are saying about it. I don't believe others would either. Not even the Author of the text. It is a passage about false doctrine infiltrating the church and being dealt with. From one area of infiltration to the place it started.

    As I said above I am not refuting Presbyterianism. I am just saying I don't think it can be defended as strongly as it is from Acts 15. I believe I did cut to the chase. Are you willing to call me a heretic and criminal? I hope you aren't.

    Gotta go now. Off to worship at my Presbyterian Church.

    [Edited on 8-15-2005 by puritancovenanter]

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  21. #21
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    Originally posted by puritancovenanter
    Originally posted by Scott Bushey
    Randy,
    Cut to the chase; why waste time on opinions. This subject is all clearly dilineated in the book Jus Divinum; The Divine Right of Church Government. The divines of Westminster saw congregationalism as well as independancy as a crime.
    So throw John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, and many others into Christ's prison. Throw away the key. I thought exegesis was to pull meaning out and not put meaning into the text. It looks like Presby's do some isogesis here. The fact is there can be community here and Presby's are being schismatic as they were in John Owen's time. It is either the way we see it and no other way at all. I just don't buy it. It matters not that a group of Presby's throw in there vote to condemn something against what they believe based upon presuppositions put on a passage of Scripture.

    Please don't be so hard. Many have been hard to the hurt of the body of Christ. Hurting the conscious and forcing upon it things that are not seen is a crime. That is why freedom in Christ is so important. Freedom to obey what is understood. In reading Acts 15 without the presuppositions of Presbyterianism I would have never come away with what some are saying about it. I don't believe others would either. Not even the Author of the text. It is a passage about false doctrine infiltrating the church and being dealt with. From one area of infiltration to the place it started.

    As I said above I am not refuting Presbyterianism. I am just saying I don't think it can be defended as strongly as it is from Acts 15. I believe I did cut to the chase. Are you willing to call me a heretic and criminal? I hope you aren't.

    Gotta go now. Off to worship at my Presbyterian Church.

    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by puritancovenanter]
    Randy,
    First of all, I am not pronouncing the independants as anathema. I am saying that as I have studied it, it is clearly biblical error. Owen was wrong! And much like Owen, as myself began in such a vein. I was converted under Arminian preaching, found the doctrines of grace, attached myself to a beautiful reformed baptist congregation, which ultimatly led me to Presbyterianism. Owen as well became Presbyterian. One of the major death null to the independant idea is church history. Independancy is and was not the biblical norm. It rose out of the reformation.

    Possibly, you see my heart as one of division in regards to this subject; I see my idea foundated in unifiying Christ people. You possibly see this as agressive, when at the base of it is compassion and grief. The church is splintered; could it be that this is the culprit?

    You make the charge of Eisogesis in regards to Presbyterianism. Look unto the history of the church. What you are essentially saying is that the majority of Christs people have over the centuries blown it. They were all guilty of eisogetic interpretation. If you will endeavor, you weill see that this is not true. You say, binding one's conscience is criminal. I say disregarding that which the church has historically held to, to be far worse. When MacArthur bound my conscience in regards to the doctrine of election, was this as well criminal?

    You statement about freedom, is irrelevent to the conversation. How about I just bail completely and go back to my non denominational church that has no membership and practices no church discipline? I have the freddom right? Freedom to obey does not mean scripture is interpreted privately.

    Presbyterianism is not based upon presuppositions; I did not come to my position based upon presuppositions. I had no idea what Presbyterianism was until I applied biblical preceots to the discipline. Disregard Acts 15 for the moment; do you believe that is the anchor? Presbyterianism is not born out of that passage........Presbyterianism is hermeneutically sound; it is born out of the bible, not just Acts 15.




    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by Scott Bushey]
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    "1: We think it very Expedient or Necessary yt an Address should be sent by ye Ministers to his Majesty on behalf of our Churches--
    2: That We are presented as Congregational, & Presbyterians, or United Bren."

    -the decision of a council of the churches in the Boston area, c. 1715

    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by Cottonball]
    "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Eccl 9:10

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    Originally posted by Cottonball
    "1: We think it very Expedient or Necessary yt an Address should be sent by ye Ministers to his Majesty on behalf of our Churches--
    2: That We are presented as Congregational, & Presbyterians, or United Bren."

    -the decision of a council of the churches in the Boston area, c. 1715

    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by Cottonball]
    And hence, it begins.............Tolerance above all else. This is what the PCUSA is doing.

    GS,
    Is this what Westminster believed?

    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by Scott Bushey]
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    I'm just pointing out that you guys seem to being putting more thought into it than they did. The churches in this council were all the big Puritan ones--the Old North, the Old South, etc. I think it was smart of them to band together against George I!
    "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Eccl 9:10

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  25. #25
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    Originally posted by Cottonball
    I'm just pointing out that you guys seem to being putting more thought into it than they did. The churches in this council were all the big Puritan ones--the Old North, the Old South, etc. I think it was smart of them to band together against George I!
    Let me ask it another way, Is the church more splintered now than ever before?

    As far as putting more thought into it, this is incorrect. In fact, that is exactly why Westminster came together, to get on the same page and refute those errors that were popping up.

    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by Scott Bushey]
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  26. #26
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    John Owen turned Presbyterian. See Rev. Dr. John Owen Re-Presbyteri-anized.

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    Originally posted by puritancovenanter
    Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
    Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
    Did Owen revert back to Presbyterianism or not? I've heard somewhere that he did. *shrug*
    Looks like he did. See this book (free online PDF) by Nigel Lee. It's entitled Rev. Dr. John Owen Re-Presbyteri-anized.
    I haven't read this yet. I am going to read it with suspicion though. I have recently read two bios on Owen by Toon and Thomson and I haven't seen any reference to this. I am hoping it isn't one of those Trial of Blood things. (Trail of Blood is a supposed timeline showing the Baptist church from the early church till now). I mean I hope it isn't wishful thinking based upon his defence of Presby's and his adhering to some of the tenets of their Church Government. I admit I am speaking before I have read the article. But I am going to read it very suspiciously.

    Anyways, no one has commented on the Acts 15 article I posted. I am kinda surprised.
    I saw it the first time Jeff. Still need to find time to look into it. I haven't got time to read it today either. Will do it within the next few days. I am currently reading two other books now also. I will have some time during football practice Tuesday night.

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    McKay on Gillespie\'s Ecclesiology

    Here is McKay's conclusion on Gillespie's defense of Presbyterianism. Just a caution that we should be careful to not take every single argument of men of Gillespie's days uncritically. Even if you disagree with Mckay, his book is a most have if one is interested in studying the writings of Gillespie.
    [quote][b]An Ecclesiastical Republic: Church Government in the Writings of George Gillespie, by W. D. J. McKay (Edinburgh: Rutherford House, 1997). 269-275.

    [quote]CONCLUSION
    Having reviewed the whole sweep of Gillespie´s teaching on church government, we may draw together by way of review some of the leading issues and questions which have emerged.

    We note first what may be regarded as a tension within Gillespie´s defence of his Presbyterian ecclesiology, a tension between the establishment of the broad outlines of Presbyterian polity and a justification of the details of the Scottish version of this form of government.

    On the one hand he seems to be content to prove, at least to his own satisfaction, that the basic biblical pattern of church government was rule by ministers and ruling elders in a series of graded courts with increasing authority. This we would consider the minimum requirement for a system to be termed "˜Presbyterian´. He is willing to admit that in some settings a Congregational polity could be made to work, but in his view the New Testament Church was Presbyterian.

    There is, however, a willingness to be flexible on a number of issues. One striking example in his discussion of ruling elders in An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland is his readiness to accept either term eldership or ordination for life, together with a refusal either to accept or reject remuneration for ruling elders.1 Following his method with regard to other issues, he might well have argued that no biblical example of elders being given a period of intermission in their service can be found. This kind of argument from silence is one which he clearly is not afraid of using elsewhere, and by this means he comes to the conclusion that term eldership is indefensible. Arguments both exegetical and historical are entirely absent. What was the Jewish practice with regard to elders? (Gillespie mentions only Levites). What of elders in the New Testament Church? It would seem that Gillespie does not consider the issue to be of sufficient importance to discuss it in detail.

    On the other hand. Gillespie often seeks to defend the structure of Presbyterianism in great detail and to provide copious evidence in support of many of its practices. We may note in this regard how Gillespie spends considerable time defending the institution of presbyteries, 2 and then goes on to cover much the same ground in justifying the establishment of synods which exercise authority over presbyteries, taking even more space in so doing. 3 Evidently the precise pattern is of such significance to Gillespie that it must be defended thoroughly. In the example given, this leads him to use texts such as Acts 15 to defend both presbyteries and synods successively. This is a tactic used also by the Westminster divines, and one which may not commend Gillespie´s case to the unconvinced, but it does serve to show how concerned he is at this point to deal with details.

    Other examples of such defence in detail could easily be provided, touching on areas such as the election of ministers, ordination and the nature of the Lord´s Supper. Enough has been said to show, however, that in considering many aspects of church government Gillespie is not satisfied to establish the broad outline, leaving the detail to be filled in according to the requirements of different settings and generations. He plainly believes that much more is needed.

    It does appear that there is a tension in Gillespie´s overall aims in dealing with ecclesiology. No doubt debates with opponents contributed to the particular emphases which are evident in his writings, as in the exchange of pamphlets with Thomas Coleman which necessitated very close exegesis of biblical material on the Kingship of Christ. This however, does not provide a full explanation, and indeed it seems to us that the tension cannot be resolved completely.

    Consideration of Gillespie´s view of church government has involved extensive engagement with the biblical text, both Old Testament and New Testament. In all of his writing he devotes considerable space to exegesis of single verses and extended passages of Scripture. This is of course to be expected since the chief authority to which he appeals in defending his position is the Bible. His aim in writing is always to produce express scriptural warrant for the practice of the Reformed Churches, especially the Church of Scotland, since he is arguing that Presbyterianism has behind it the authority of Divine Right. As has been noted previously, Gillespie and the other Scots Commissioners could not accept the view of those members of the Westminster Assembly who were willing to endorse a Presbyterian system on prudential grounds.

    The way in which Gillespie uses biblical texts, however, does not always convince even those who share his ecclesiology. On numerous occasions we have questioned whether Gillespie exegetes his material accurately, suggesting that sometimes he is guilty of eisegesis. In interpreting Scripture it is essential to let the text speak for itself, without imposing a meaning derived from other considerations. Whilst it is impossible to approach a text without some presuppositions"”the exegete whose mind is a tabula rasa is a mythical figure"”nevertheless one must do everything possible to prevent those presuppositions colouring the exegesis unfairly. It does not seem to us that Gillespie has always avoided this hermeneutical pitfall.

    Much of his exegesis is in our opinion accurate and acceptable, but at many points he draws from a text much more than is really there. To take one example, he finds in Matthew 18:15-20 (including the words "˜where two or three are gathered together in my name...´) proof of ecclesiastical discipline by a body of representative elders, 4 and hence support for Presbyterian polity. In our own exegesis of the passage we indicated that, although the situation may be as Gillespie describes it, this can be established only on the basis of other texts dealing with government by elders. By itself Matthew 18 is not proof of Gillespie´s position.

    It is evident that in some of his exegetical work Gillespie approaches the text presupposing the Presbyterian system of government. He expects to find "˜classical presbyteries´ operating in, for example, the Book of Acts and not surprisingly that is what his exegesis uncovers. Thus the situation obtaining in Jerusalem after the Day of Pentecost, as described by Gillespie, bears an uncanny resemblance to seventeenth-century Presbyterian Edinburgh or Glasgow. At times Gillespie succumbs to the danger of deciding in advance what a text can say regarding church government with the result that differences between the New Testament situation and Gillespie´s own day are smoothed over.

    It is because of this failing that he takes more out of some texts than is warranted and uses proof texts that in and of themselves do not support one particular ecclesiology. As we noted with regard to Matthew 18, Jesus´ words can be cited in support of Presbyterian, Congregational and Anglican polities, depending on one´s presuppositions, leading to the conclusion that the issue must be decided on other grounds. It is one thing to say that the passage is to be understood in terms of the eldership exercising discipline and an entirely different one to claim that it is proof of such a procedure.

    Gillespie is not alone, however, in allowing his ecclesiology to exercise undue influence on his exegesis of Scripture. In the debates which raged over issues of church government in the seventeenth century evidence of eisegesis could be produced from all parties. Thus, for example, the arguments of William Prynne about church discipline, with which Gillespie disagreed so strongly, are no more grounded in the texts than are those of Gillespie. The same may be said of some of the passages in Acts over which Presbyterians and Independents argued. Some texts clearly are being pressed into service for which they were not designed. All sides came to the biblical material with assumptions about what they would find there and at times the text was not allowed to call those assumptions into question. As a result patterns of ecclesiology were brought out of some texts simply because those patterns had already been read into them. Whilst appeal was constantly made to Scripture, all too often the exegete had already decided what Scripture could or would say.

    With reference to several of the issues which Gillespie discusses we have suggested that some of these exegetical problems arise because of the polemical context of the times. All sides in the ecclesiological debates were striving to see their particular polity either enforced or tolerated, and so the stakes were high. When this factor is allied with the importance already attached to matters of church government by the theologians concerned, we may well understand the passions aroused by these debates. All sides were concerned to show that their ecclesiology was fully consonant with Scripture and to demolish the arguments of opponents.

    As a result little ground could be given or appear to be given to opposing views when a text was being exegeted. In Gillespie´s case all the material examined had to be shown to give explicit support to the Scottish model of Presbyterianism, especially in respect of texts cited by opponents in support of their positions. The tendency was thus to polarize positions and leave little scope for rapprochement or compromise. Rigid stances were adopted in the heat of battle which might have mellowed in less troubled times. In the records of the Westminster Assembly debates there is evidence at times of a willingness to acknowledge value in opponents´ positions but a closer approach proved impossible.

    Along with Scripture as his supreme court of appeal, Gillespie makes use of several other lines of argument which we have sought to assess. He draws, for example, on Natural Law, reason and analogies with the structure of civil government.


    [McKay deals with Gillespie´s use of Natural Law here and analogies to civil government]

    The question marks which have been placed against some of Gillespie´s arguments for Presbyterianism do not mean, however, that his case may be dismissed. It is our view that when strained exegesis and other weaknesses in argumentation are discounted, a sound case remains for the general principles of Presbyterian church government.

    We begin from the presupposition that Scripture is a sufficient guide for the Church in establishing the fundamentals of its polity, with details of implementation left to be determined in varying contexts. We thus take issue with those who hold that no one polity can be deduced from the biblical material and also with those who consider the form of church government a matter of indifference.

    According to the evidence, government in the New Testament Church was in the hands of elders chosen by each congregation. All elders exercised pastoral oversight of the people of God whilst some had particular responsibility for the ministry of the Word in preaching and teaching (see Chapters 4 and 5). Linked with the ministry of the Word was the ministry of the Sacraments (Chapter 4). Discipline in general and in particular in connection with the Lord´s Supper was in the hands of the eldership (Chapter 6). Elders were set apart for their work by ordination. This leadership by elders was not thought to be in conflict with the priesthood of all believers.

    Church government, however, did not end with the local congregation. Assemblies of elders representing more than one congregation came together to exercise authority over a number of congregations, whether within a city or in a larger geographical area. These assemblies were more than deliberative or advisory bodies: their decisions were authoritative (Chapter 3). Whether there was more than one level of higher authority we cannot tell. There may well have been variations in the practice of different parts of the Church.

    Within this broad framework there is scope for considerable diversity in implementing the basic principles, especially with regard to higher assemblies. As we have noted on a number of occasions, the details of the Scottish model of Presbyterianism cannot be supported from the New Testament evidence. Indeed in some respects the New Testament Church appears to have been rather more "˜Congregational´ than Gillespie and his supporters would have been willing to accept. The structure of church government was broadly "˜Presbyterian´, but many details are left to the Church to decide according to circumstances, and no strict uniformity can be expected. In Gillespie´s own phrase, "˜individua sunt infinita´ ,6 Thus there is ample scope for debate within the Presbyterian family and in dialogue with other traditions regarding matters of ecclesiology.

    1. G. Gillespie, An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland, (1641), Part1, cpt 14, p. 38.

    2. See e.g. Assertion 2:3.

    3. Assertion 2:5-10.

    4. G. Gillespie, Aaron´s Rod Blossoming, (1646), Part 3, cpts 3-6.

    6. G. Gillespie, An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland, (1641), p. 53.
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    Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
    John Owen turned Presbyterian. See Rev. Dr. John Owen Re-Presbyteri-anized.
    I have to say, as a lover of Owen, and a Presbyterian, that I found this essay pretty strained. I am also concerned that no other scholar ever has made this claim - Presbyterian or otherwise - for Owen.

    I take this as wishful thinking by Lee.
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    Originally posted by pastorway
    posted by Scott Bushey

    Presbyterianism is not based upon presuppositions
    I think we can be a little more charitable than this.

  31. #31
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    posted by Scott Bushey

    Presbyterianism is not based upon presuppositions
    I thought all propositions were based on presuppositions? such as presbyerianism being based on the presupp the bible is the word of God.
    *Peter Gray* Elkins Park RPCNA

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    Originally posted by Peter
    posted by Scott Bushey

    Presbyterianism is not based upon presuppositions
    I thought all propositions were based on presuppositions? such as presbyerianism being based on the presupp the bible is the word of God.
    I would logically assume that Scott is saying the Presbyterian form of Church government is not based on presuppositions being brought to the text about how Church government should be done, but letting God's Word speak for itself and be the only, final authority.

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    such as presbyterianism being based on the presupposition the bible is the word of God. SP ed.


    [Edited on 8-15-2005 by Peter]
    *Peter Gray* Elkins Park RPCNA

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    Originally posted by NaphtaliPress
    Here is McKay's conclusion on Gillespie's defense of Presbyterianism. Just a caution that we should be careful to not take every single argument of men of Gillespie's days uncritically. Even if you disagree with Mckay, his book is a most have if one is interested in studying the writings of Gillespie.
    [b]An Ecclesiastical Republic: Church Government in the Writings of George Gillespie, by W. D. J. McKay (Edinburgh: Rutherford House, 1997). 269-275.
    .................................................. ...............

    eliminated article. It is four pages long you can read it in a prior post.
    Thanks Chris,

    The article said what I wanted to say by addressing George Gillespie, one of the four. I hold the four in high esteem. My youngest boys name is Samuel Rutherford.
    The article was also illuminating about the Divines and how they had problems. Some things were ramrodded I think. It's assembly wasn't driven by pure motive as some like to romantically think. God uses Donkeys. The document isn't perfect as God's word is. It is pretty good though. You must admit.
    Thanks, Randy

    Can you cut me a deal on the Jus book. I am a poor man who loves hardbacks. Need a hardback because I am hard on books and I also want my kids to inheret what God wants them to have. Good Books.

    [Edited on 8-15-2005 by puritancovenanter]

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    Originally posted by fredtgreco
    Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
    John Owen turned Presbyterian. See Rev. Dr. John Owen Re-Presbyteri-anized.
    I have to say, as a lover of Owen, and a Presbyterian, that I found this essay pretty strained. I am also concerned that no other scholar ever has made this claim - Presbyterian or otherwise - for Owen.

    I take this as wishful thinking by Lee.
    Thanks Fred.

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    Originally posted by Scott Bushey
    Originally posted by Cottonball
    I'm just pointing out that you guys seem to being putting more thought into it than they did. The churches in this council were all the big Puritan ones--the Old North, the Old South, etc. I think it was smart of them to band together against George I!
    Let me ask it another way, Is the church more splintered now than ever before?
    Good question! You could actually make a new thread of that.

    I'm not sure how I feel about it. By "church", I understand "Christian Church", the body of Christ, across the world in its numerous forms.

    The automatic answer one might have is, Yup, it is more splintered.

    But then again, when you think about the early church, you might change your mind. In my New Testament class we learned about some of the early sects before the Council of Nicaea. The Gnostics alone had various sects.

    Christianity in the past may have always only had one name, but it certain wasn't very united. It was splintered enough for Irenaeus to write "Against Heresies"!

    So, I'm not sure!
    "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Eccl 9:10

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  37. #37
    NaphtaliPress's Avatar
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    Originally posted by puritancovenanter
    Can you cut me a deal on the Jus book. I am a poor man who loves hardbacks. Need a hardback because I am hard on books and I also want my kids to inheret what God wants them to have. Good Books.
    [Edited on 8-15-2005 by puritancovenanter]
    Randy,
    Thanks for the comments. Dropping you a U2U; maybe we can work something out. The HB of Jus Divinum is approaching out of print status.
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  38. #38
    Scott Bushey's Avatar
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    {Moderated}

    Randy previously said:
    It is either the way we see it and no other way at all. I just don't buy it. It matters not that a group of Presby's throw in there vote to condemn something against what they believe based upon presuppositions put on a passage of Scripture.
    My reply was: Presbyterianism is not based upon presuppositions.

    In light of what Randy said, one would assume that I meant:

    I would logically assume that Scott is saying the Presbyterian form of Church government is not based on presuppositions being brought to the text about how Church government should be done, but letting God's Word speak for itself and be the only, final authority.
    I would have to agree with Gabriel; everyone knows what I meant in light of what we are talking about here; this mocking is no more than a Red Herring. Presbyterianism is not based upon previous baggage one drags into the system; if it were true, I would still be credo.

    On one hand, we tell people to be gracious or else, and then on the other, we are guilty of the same judgement we earlier leveled against them.

    Mocking someone, especially in light of a conviction based upon Gods word is sinful. The last thing I want to see is one of my mods or admins doing this.


    ~Back to your scheduled program



    [Edited on 8-15-2005 by Scott Bushey]
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  39. #39
    pastorway is offline. Inactive User
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    I was not mocking anyone.......I would hope you all know me better than that.

    I just struck me as a funny thought that one would claim that a denominations view of church government was not based any presuppositions. Because in fact to say that Presbyterianism is "letting God's Word speak for itself" is in fact a presupposition about what Acts 15 and other texts present to us.

    You are presupposing what the Word of God teaches your view, and I presuppose that it does not!

    No mocking. That is why I only posted laughing smiley faces.

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  40. #40
    Scott Bushey's Avatar
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    Phillip,
    In light of my previous posts to Randy, one might ascertain what Gabriel did. Did you read the thread prior to your response? There is no way one could come away from what I had previously said with the result you responded with. In fact, it would as well make no sense in what Randy had stated...............
    Scott Bushey
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