Congregational vs. Presbyterian

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by edwardian289, Aug 12, 2005.

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  1. edwardian289

    edwardian289 Inactive User

    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,
  2. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

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

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    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.
  4. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate


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

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    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.
  6. VanVos

    VanVos Puritan Board Sophomore

    Would the plurality elders be an allowable third view.?
  7. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    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.

    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]
  8. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Did Owen revert back to Presbyterianism or not? I've heard somewhere that he did. *shrug*
  9. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    Looks like he did. See this book (free online PDF) by Nigel Lee. It's entitled Rev. Dr. John Owen Re-Presbyteri-anized. :up:
  10. Puritanhead

    Puritanhead Puritan Board Professor

    Denominational feuds should be settled by arm-wrestling matches...
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    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 Presbyterian'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.
  12. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I would win. I am a pretty good arm wrestler.
  13. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    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]
  14. CapnJ

    CapnJ Inactive User

    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? :D
  15. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    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:

    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.
  16. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

  17. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    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.

    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 Presbyterian'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]
  18. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    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]
  19. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    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]
  20. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    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 Presbyterian's do some eisegesis here. The fact is there can be community here and Presbyterian'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 Presbyterian'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]
  21. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    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]
  22. cupotea

    cupotea Puritan Board Junior

    "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]
  23. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    And hence, it begins.............Tolerance above all else. This is what the PCUSA is doing.

    Is this what Westminster believed?

    [Edited on 8-14-2005 by Scott Bushey]
  24. cupotea

    cupotea Puritan Board Junior

    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!
  25. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    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]
  26. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

  27. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    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.
  28. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    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.
  29. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    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.
  30. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    I think we can be a little more charitable than this.
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