Question regarding PCA ordination

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reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
Hi, I'm new here, and I think that this is the appropriate place to post this note. If not, please have patience with me!

I'm ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention though I am a convinced Calvinist (associated with Founders). I am studying (slowly) the nature of the covenant and am beginning to see more that we simply disregard a great deal of this in SBC life. I'm not ready to baptize infants. But I'm trying to find out what to do if I wind up ready.

I hold an M.A. in theology from SBTS. I'm working on an M.Div. through their online program (only Hebrew & a few electives left). I've been an SBC minister since 1998. The only thing I lack for PCA ordination qualifications (on paper) is Hebrew. I have a family and if I leave the SBC I lose my license, ordination, insurance, everything...and then we are faced with an internship of a year or more. Do PCA churches ever call a pastor in my situation and allow him to finish the remaining few classes?

Or should I just begin a doctorate if I get to the point of adhering to paedobaptism? I've been accepted to a few doctoral programs in historical theology. It seems that if you are working on/have a doctorate you seem to have a little more leeway...???

I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense. We're really seeking where the Lord wants us to be and the SBC churches I'm contacting are increasingly hostile to Calvinists, particularly from SBTS. I was pastoring in NC until recently when my church fired me (they rejected the inspiration and authority of Scripture, a long story).

I really appreciate your time and any information you can provide.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
No, you can be a member, but not an officer. In the PCA there are two officers, deacon and elder, and neither has a knowledge of Hebrew as a requirement, but both have to hold to infant baptism. I would recommend holding off joining a Presbyterian denomination until you have become convinced of Presbyterianism.

The only two confessional/semi confessional Presbyterian denominations I can think of (I'm sure there are a couple more micro denominations) that allow baptist elders are Doug Wilson's denomination and the one started by Ian Paisley. In the first case the idea was to get as many misfits as possible to be willing to join and the second has as it's main emphasis the version of the Bible used and whom is invited to church conferences.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Hi, Reagan. I'm not PCA (I'm ARP), but I can tell you that you cannot be ordained in any of the Presbyterian churches (PCA, ARP, OPC, RPCNA, etc.) if you do not hold to infant baptism. Holding to the Westminster Standards is a requirement for ordination.

One more thing: click on the link below and see the signature requirements of the PB. We like to know more info about you, and the signature allows us to see that. Welcome to the PB!
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
It is interesting how God is leading in your life.

I can't speak to PCA ordination requirements more than the Book of Church Order pattern and qualifications and am not sure with the information you provide exactly where you are in the process.

I take it you understand that it takes more than being a "convinced Calvinist" to be a teaching elder in a biblical reformed denomination such as the PCA.

One needs to comprehensively understand the Westminster Standards and agree with every statement of doctrine or proposition of doctrine in them, and be willing to solemnly vow receiving them in that way, unless granted a peer-reviewed exception. To make sure that is not overstated, exceptions are few and far between because most points of doctrine are related to the reformed system of doctrine, not isolated propositions.

It would seem you would have a lot to be convinced of, and practice here in relation to baptism, church government, covenant theology, theology of the sacraments, etc. but there is no real way to advise without a lot more information.

Glad you're moving toward reformed theology!
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
Hi, I'm new here, and I think that this is the appropriate place to post this note. If not, please have patience with me!

I'm ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention though I am a convinced Calvinist (associated with Founders). I am studying (slowly) the nature of the covenant and am beginning to see more that we simply disregard a great deal of this in SBC life. I'm not ready to baptize infants. But I'm trying to find out what to do if I wind up ready.

I hold an M.A. in theology from SBTS. I'm working on an M.Div. through their online program (only Hebrew & a few electives left). I've been an SBC minister since 1998. The only thing I lack for PCA ordination qualifications (on paper) is Hebrew. I have a family and if I leave the SBC I lose my license, ordination, insurance, everything...and then we are faced with an internship of a year or more. Do PCA churches ever call a pastor in my situation and allow him to finish the remaining few classes?

Or should I just begin a doctorate if I get to the point of adhering to paedobaptism? I've been accepted to a few doctoral programs in historical theology. It seems that if you are working on/have a doctorate you seem to have a little more leeway...???

I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense. We're really seeking where the Lord wants us to be and the SBC churches I'm contacting are increasingly hostile to Calvinists, particularly from SBTS. I was pastoring in NC until recently when my church fired me (they rejected the inspiration and authority of Scripture, a long story).

I really appreciate your time and any information you can provide.

What Pastor Tim said is true. There isn't a lot in that direction, but what I also know is that we have as one of the elders in our church a man who had been a baptist pastor, and eventually was convinced that both reformed faith and the presbyterian view of nearly everything was as the Bible contained. When he left, he still had family, health problems, lots of challenges ... as he does today. Yet God has been faithful to him in everything.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Failure to believe in infant baptism should be an absolute bar to ordination in the PCA. While exceptions are allowed by some presbyteries in some areas (some, for example, will allow for family recreation on the Lord's Day), none should be willing to flex on this.

As for Hebrew, it's ordinarily required for ordination. Presbyteries, however, may ordain men under the extraordinary provisions without it.

I do know of a former Baptist minister, with only a bachelor's degree, who was ordained in the PCA, but only after years of being mentored by one of the denomination's founding fathers.

Start with reviewing the Book of Church Order and the PCA paper on theological education: PCA Position Papers: Uniform Curriculum for Theological Education - M6GA (1978) Appendix G, IV, pages 214-217.

Generally, a year of internship is required, but your prior pastoral experience might satisfy that.

Understand that 1. in the PCA, you are ordained to a call, and 2. Ordination is done by the Presbytery.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
Hi, I'm new here, and I think that this is the appropriate place to post this note. If not, please have patience with me!

I'm ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention though I am a convinced Calvinist (associated with Founders). I am studying (slowly) the nature of the covenant and am beginning to see more that we simply disregard a great deal of this in SBC life. I'm not ready to baptize infants. But I'm trying to find out what to do if I wind up ready.

I hold an M.A. in theology from SBTS. I'm working on an M.Div. through their online program (only Hebrew & a few electives left). I've been an SBC minister since 1998. The only thing I lack for PCA ordination qualifications (on paper) is Hebrew. I have a family and if I leave the SBC I lose my license, ordination, insurance, everything...and then we are faced with an internship of a year or more. Do PCA churches ever call a pastor in my situation and allow him to finish the remaining few classes?

Or should I just begin a doctorate if I get to the point of adhering to paedobaptism? I've been accepted to a few doctoral programs in historical theology. It seems that if you are working on/have a doctorate you seem to have a little more leeway...???

I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense. We're really seeking where the Lord wants us to be and the SBC churches I'm contacting are increasingly hostile to Calvinists, particularly from SBTS. I was pastoring in NC until recently when my church fired me (they rejected the inspiration and authority of Scripture, a long story).

I really appreciate your time and any information you can provide.

While you don't seem convinced at this moment of paedobaptism, all indications are that you're heading in that direction. As a Baptist I would caution you against any rash decision with regard to baptism. I am a convinced Baptist, and that after objectively reading with an open mind everything that Calvin, Turretin, Charles & A.A. Hodge, Berkhof, and others had to say on the Covenants as well as the subjects of baptism. I've also read The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, which I esteem as one of the best works on the subject. I took the time to do this because I share so very much in common with my Presbyterian brethren (probibly 90% if I had to put a number on it). One of my best friends and mentors is a presbyterian minister. Unfortunately, when discussing this topic sometimes, an attitude will emerge that "If you'll read this or that then you'd come over to our side." The assumption is (by some, not all) that if you're a RB and not a Presbyterian, it is because you haven't studied enough. But this kind of mentality should be avoided (on either side).

I was invited to minister alongside a man I dearly love in a wonderful Presbyterian church. The only thing standing in the way were my Baptist convictions. On many occasions I thought "O that I could just change my mind or pretend that this is a small matter" but I could not. So, from someone who has been where you are, I would caution you against letting a favorable view of Presbyterianism (and there is indeed much to like) prejudice your thinking in advance of a thoughtful, biblical decision.

I remain a Baptist because I am convinced that Baptists were and are the only thorough reformers. Now that might sound offensive to some, but it isn't meant to be. I would hope that all could say the same of their respective denominations, or else there membership in these bodies would be at best dishonest. However, I would not be faithful in letting this potential move on your part go without comment and even challenge from a fellow Baptist and concerned brother.

A great resource on this topic: Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ by Schreiner & Wright (Editors).
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
I remain a Baptist because I am convinced that Baptists were and are the only thorough reformers.

You could even hold this view and still be a member of the biggest confessional Reformed churches. You just would be expected not to teach it, or try to convince others of this view.
 

baron

Puritan Board Graduate
Welcome to the PB.

Please, stay in the SBC they need pastors like you. Espically since you are not ready to baptize infants.

Founders is a good organization. In most Baptist Churches not only in the SBC their is hostility to the Doctrines of Grace.

Are you in contact with individual churches or are you contacting state conventions also. There might be individual churches in diffrent conventions that are Founder freindly.

Are you planning on relocating?

God Bless.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
It might be wise for the majority of the board to hold off on the more strident sounding answers and flag waving, and to wait for an actual PCA minister (Fred, Ben, Lane, etc) to assist this brother.

Starting off with a poke in the eye regarding baptism/confessional distinctives really is not that helpful.

And welcome, Reagan.
 

Wanderer

Puritan Board Freshman
Talking about Exceptions

Hey, is there a place out there that have a listing of what exceptions different presbyteries have allowed?

I know about the recreation exceptions, I'm also familiar with the the exceptions that says you can believe in the long days theory of genesis.

But what other exceptions are there that have been approved by different presbyteries?

Also, my understanding is that just because a TE has an exception to a point of doctrine in our confession, that doesn't mean that he can teach contrary to our confession. Am I wrong or right here?

Anyhow, I think it would be helpful if TEs exceptions were documented properly so that everyone would know how much of our confession is actually believed in by our elders and how much they have dismissed.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
Hi, I'm new here, and I think that this is the appropriate place to post this note. If not, please have patience with me!

I'm ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention though I am a convinced Calvinist (associated with Founders). I am studying (slowly) the nature of the covenant and am beginning to see more that we simply disregard a great deal of this in SBC life. I'm not ready to baptize infants. But I'm trying to find out what to do if I wind up ready.

I hold an M.A. in theology from SBTS. I'm working on an M.Div. through their online program (only Hebrew & a few electives left). I've been an SBC minister since 1998. The only thing I lack for PCA ordination qualifications (on paper) is Hebrew. I have a family and if I leave the SBC I lose my license, ordination, insurance, everything...and then we are faced with an internship of a year or more. Do PCA churches ever call a pastor in my situation and allow him to finish the remaining few classes?

Or should I just begin a doctorate if I get to the point of adhering to paedobaptism? I've been accepted to a few doctoral programs in historical theology. It seems that if you are working on/have a doctorate you seem to have a little more leeway...???

I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense. We're really seeking where the Lord wants us to be and the SBC churches I'm contacting are increasingly hostile to Calvinists, particularly from SBTS. I was pastoring in NC until recently when my church fired me (they rejected the inspiration and authority of Scripture, a long story).

I really appreciate your time and any information you can provide.

If you are a credo baptist calvinist you may be a great asset to your denomination soteriologically, if you are placed in the right spot. Have you attempted to contact any of the more influential calvinists in your denomination? Al Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky. I imagine he would be happy to speak to you. Also Paul Washer is a Southern Baptist Calvinist as well. He lives in Alabama. Perhaps you could seek their council?
 
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westminken

Puritan Board Freshman
I can only speak for what I have seen in my presbytery when candidates are being examined or other pastors are transferring in. The exceptions that these men have are given in the presbytery agenda packet. I would think that since presbytery meetings are public meetings that this information would also be public. Also, on the floor of presbytery the men are asked their exceptions if any they may have. These exceptions should be recorded into the presbytery meeting minutes.

I suppose if one had a burning desire to know the exceptions pastors have, you could just ask them. Most pastors I have asked this question to have been upfront and honest about their exceptions.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Hey, is there a place out there that have a listing of what exceptions different presbyteries have allowed?

I know about the recreation exceptions, I'm also familiar with the the exceptions that says you can believe in the long days theory of genesis.

But what other exceptions are there that have been approved by different presbyteries?

Also, my understanding is that just because a TE has an exception to a point of doctrine in our confession, that doesn't mean that he can teach contrary to our confession. Am I wrong or right here?

Anyhow, I think it would be helpful if TEs exceptions were documented properly so that everyone would know how much of our confession is actually believed in by our elders and how much they have dismissed.

Presbyterian Church in America
Book of Church Order

FORM OF GOVERNMENT 21-4

e. While our Constitution does not require the candidate’s affirmation
of every statement and/or proposition of doctrine in our Confession
of Faith and Catechisms, it is the right and responsibility of the Presbytery
to determine if the candidate is out of accord with any of the fundamentals
of these doctrinal standards and, as a consequence, may not be able
in good faith sincerely to receive and adopt the Confession of Faith
and Catechisms of this Church as containing the system of doctrine
taught in the Holy Scriptures (cf. BCO 21-5, Q.2; 24-6, Q.2).

f. Therefore, in examining a candidate for ordination, the Presbytery
shall inquire not only into the candidate’s knowledge and views in
the areas specified above, but also shall require the candidate to state
the specific instances in which he may differ with the Confession of
Faith and Catechisms in any of their statements and/or propositions.
The court may grant an exception to any difference of doctrine only
if in the court’s judgment the candidate’s declared difference is not
out of accord with any fundamental of our system of doctrine
because the difference is neither hostile to the system nor strikes at
the vitals of religion.

I'm not familiar with the practices of presbyteries individually only to say I am aware in one presbytery "sabbath recreation" is routinely granted, sometimes on a distinction of 'light' v. 'heavy' but for a belief the fourth commandment does not apply to New Testament believers (e.g. "fulfilled in Christ"),a candidate was denied ordination.

The above referenced procedure is still somewhat new in the PCA, so some details are being worked out.

My understanding is, that while it is not explicit in the Book of Church Order, most presbyteries understand they can and do prohibit a candidate from teaching his exceptions. There has been some discussion about requiring a presentation of the confessional view and the exception view in tandem, but that has not become a requirement.

The presbytery looks at the totality of the circumstances and of the stated 'exception' rather than really having a pre-approved list.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I may have mis-read the gentleman's post, but I took the general theme to be that if he ever were convinced of paedobaptism, would lacking Hebrew and the 1 year internship requirement hinder him from seeking ordination in the PCA.

Directing your attention to this particular part of his post:

I'm not ready to baptize infants. But I'm trying to find out what to do if I wind up ready.
 

SemperEruditio

Puritan Board Junior
reagan,
Just to be clear you also lack being a member of a PCA church. :) After 6 months and with session approval you then go "under-care" of the presbytery. During this time are the licensure and ordination exams. So it is not as if you can walk over to the closest PCA church and begin ordination. Now all this, well at least most, is trumped if there is a call from a church.

Depending on the circumstance I in my whole 16 months of PCA membership :) know of two men who had Hebrew excepted. They were previously ordained Baptist guys. I know of another gentleman who after licensure but during ordination exams sought to take an exception from infant-baptism. His exception was not approved or accepted and the church who called him left the PCA with him. 100+ years as a Reformed church and poof! Sad day.

My advice is to finish your M.Div. and do what you're doing in asking for info.
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
I remain a Baptist because I am convinced that Baptists were and are the only thorough reformers. Now that might sound offensive to some, but it isn't meant to be. I would hope that all could say the same of their respective denominations, or else there membership in these bodies would be at best dishonest. However, I would not be faithful in letting this potential move on your part go without comment and even challenge from a fellow Baptist and concerned brother.

Of course those that have looked carefully at the issue will come down on one side or the other. The covenant baptist (baptizing both adults and children) will see the issue as important in the extreme, as do credo baptists, though possibly not quite as important, as a credo baptist can join a covenant baptist church without following this particular doctrine prior to membership.

(It is interesting that "presbyterian" which refers to the form of government more than the mode of baptism "comes along for the ride" in Presbyterian churches, just as congregationalism in baptist churches. But that is somewhat :offtopic:)

Is the doctrine touching on salvation? No. A person believing either position can ordinarily be saved. Just as our baptist brothers hold us to be in error, we hold them to be in error. Yet neither group feels the other is a damnable heresy.

Is it important? Absolutely. So important that I would *never* choose to move to an area in which I would have to either have my children re-baptized or they would not be able to join a local church. It would not be by choice, though God might force such upon me, but then I would strive to establish a church that fit rightly the Word.

So do make certain of the doctrine as Mr. Sheffield suggests ... but I would also suggest that there are those of us (me) that have gone from a credo position to a covenant position through careful investigation.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
There is a church to the south of me with several hundred adults that is not in a denomination, but the pastor went to Westminster Theological Seminary and is very much of a Piper-Grudemite type of guy. They tend towards believer baptism but consider this a non essential such that paedos are welcome without rebaptizing. They started a lay level school of the bible with Reformed textbooks, Greek and Hebrew, etc- a couple courses each spring and fall sort of thing. My kid goes there and we have visited several times; met some former PCAers that felt more at home in this church than the local PCA.

I only say this to tell you that there must be other places out there like this where you might be ideal. There must be groups of Calvinists holding devoutly to inerrancy who are credos out there, or what I call paedocredo and you can be either. I don't know how you find them but may God lead you.
 

reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
Wow...thanks.

Brothers and sisters,

Wow! Thanks for your replies. You have been most informative.

I want to clarify that I am presently studying the issues regarding baptism. I am not yet convinced of paedobaptism but I am seeing more of the covenantal aspects of the Scripture. If the Lord is pleased to show me the necessity of p-b, then I will obey and we'll figure it out from there. I can say that I'm no longer anti-paedobaptism; I'm just not to the point of pro-paedobaptism.

I was simply trying to find out more about the process of ordination outside of the SBC in the case that I am convinced of p-b. I would never apply to a PCA/OPC/ARPC (I think those acronyms are correct -- there are so many out there!) church for a job without adhering to their confessional positions, especially on baptism. But thanks to those who have emphasized that point.

Over the last few years, I have found myself very much in sympathy with the WCF in terms of the sacraments as means of grace and not bare symbols. That is a wonderfully edifying aspect that we sadly pass over in baptist life.

I'm sorry again for the confusion. We are in a unique situation right now and it seems that every SBC church that I contact responds with "We don't hire SBTS graduates" or "We don't hire Calvinists." I've contacted over 150 churches in the past 6 months...I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining or having a pity party (it's not my intention to do so!). We're just perplexed as to where exactly we fit right now and what the Lord would have us to do.

Thanks again for your information. I would welcome more info if this post is helpful for you.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
Brothers and sisters,

Wow! Thanks for your replies. You have been most informative.

I want to clarify that I am presently studying the issues regarding baptism. I am not yet convinced of paedobaptism but I am seeing more of the covenantal aspects of the Scripture. If the Lord is pleased to show me the necessity of p-b, then I will obey and we'll figure it out from there. I can say that I'm no longer anti-paedobaptism; I'm just not to the point of pro-paedobaptism.

In regards to your quest, have you ever read this interesting article?

My Retraction: A 15 year Reformed Baptist turns Paedo-Baptist

:pilgrim:
 

Glenn Ferrell

Puritan Board Junior
I don't have time to check the PCA BCO for now: But, does the PCA not have a provision for one ordained in another denomination (even a non-Reformed one) to transfer his ordination without becoming a member, candidate and licensee? Obviously, such a person would need to meet educational requirements and be examined in accordance with the BCO and confessional standards.
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
I don't have time to check the PCA BCO for now: But, does the PCA not have a provision for one ordained in another denomination (even a non-Reformed one) to transfer his ordination without becoming a member, candidate and licensee? Obviously, such a person would need to meet educational requirements and be examined in accordance with the BCO and confessional standards.

A minister from another denomination can’t just “join the PCA” and still be recognized as a minister. One must have received a call to a definite ecclesiastical work within the PCA, and then the provisions in BCO 13-6 apply, “If applicants come from other denominations, the Presbytery shall examine them thoroughly in knowledge and views as required by BCO 21-4 and require them to answer in the affirmative the questions put to candidates at their ordination. with reference to BCO 21-4.“ BCO 21-4 has to do with an intern applying for ordination. There are extraordinary provisions, but very strict,
“No Presbytery shall omit any of these educational requirements except in extraordinary cases, and then only with a three-fourths (3/4) approval of the Presbytery. Whenever a Presbytery shall omit any of these educational requirements, it shall always make a record of the reasons for such omission and the parts omitted. The intern shall also present satisfactory testimonials as to the completion and approval of his internship in the practice of the ministry.”
 
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