A Question for Presbyterians and Dutch Reformed

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yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
The Presbyterians [even the liberal Presbyterian Church I grew up in] seem to hold that the Bible teaches two offices; Deacon and Elder. They further subdivide elder into Ruling Elder and Teaching Elder.. But they hold that the term Presbyter/Elder and Bishop are equivalent.
The Dutch Reformed Church Order, at least as it was held in the Protestant Reformed Churches, does not use the distinction of Ruling and Teaching Elder. They call Teaching Elders,Ministers of the Word and Sacrament; while simply calling Ruling Elders "Elder". They do not ordain with the laying on of hands Elders they only install them. Ulinke ministers they are only Elders for their term of service. From this I deduce that the Dutch Reformed believe that their are Three Offices; Deacon, Elder/Presbyter, and Minister/Bishop.
Am I correct?
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
There is the 3 office view and the 2 office view. You are correct in your divisions, although the Westminster Assembly, forllowing the Reformation, also held out for the "Teacher/Doctor" (Eph 4:11) and classified them as those who keep the church from heresy and are useful in the schools and universites as well as the church.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Actually the Dutch have a 4 office view. Minister, elder, deacon, and professor/teacher of theology. See the Dort liturgy in the back of [i:96b615cee1]The Psalter[/i:96b615cee1].
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Patrick is right to a great extent.

It really depends on where you put the "doctor" - if he is a pastor with "certain abilities" then they classify him under that section of pastor/teacher.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
I raise this question because I think the Dutch Reformed understanding three office [or as Patrick has pointed out three and a half or four office] view means they believe in apostolic succession. They just do not have the historic apostolic succession that the Anglicans have.

The same could be said for the Coventers. They would not constitute a Presbytery and ordain new men until at least two ordained clerics had come over to them from other Presbyterian bodies.

Other Presbyterian bodies seem to not have that view and really understand the office of Presbyter/Elder to be one office.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I think there is a difference between what they say and what they do. My old church held to the very same distinctions mentioned above, but you would never suggest that we hold a three-office view, unless we accepted the evangelist as a separate office. But even then, he had to be an ordained minister to do that work. And he was under the authority of a Consistory of the calling church. But still, even elders usually submitted to the minister. After all, he was the Dominee.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
In the providence of God this question has recently been up on the OPC website, dealing with apostolic succession, and our beliefs on it. http://www.opc.org/cce/QandA/ (by the time you read this, you may have to go back in "previous questions" to #83)

You might say we believe in "church succession," but I'm not sure that term is a good one either...

The OPC is a "three-office" church. Our elders are also ordained, but the form of ordination is different. Whereas the form for 'minister', 'evangelist', and 'teacher' are identical.

A thorough study of the different views of church government--how they correspond, how they differ, the historical trends that affected their present disposition--this is a very profound area of inquiry.
 
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