The Power of Christ in the Church

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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
PCA BCO 3-1. The power which Christ has committed to His Church vests in the whole body, the rulers and those ruled, constituting it a spiritual commonwealth. This power, as exercised by the people, extends to the choice of those officers whom He has appointed in His Church.

What are your thoughts? Do the people choose and install the officers, or does the Presbytery "really" do that?

For example - church chooses Harry to be an elder. ("Nominates" Harry). No one would say that the people have "chosen him", at least, for all intents and purposes not really. They simply pointed to Harry and thought he'd make a good elder. The Presbytery, really, examines, ordains and installs him.

If that is true, then what "power" does the congregation have? They certainyl have the right to bring up a disciplinary issue before the session. But again, that is not really "power." They are not telling the session what to do or how to do it. They are simply bringin up an offense that needs to be taken care of by them.

I'm reading "Jus Divinum" again and it really talks about a night and day kind of giovernmentalstructure in terms of "power" and the "power of the keys" (all the various keys in terms of how authority works).

Thoughts?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Presbyteries do not (and to my knowledge never have) examine, ordain, or install ruling elders.
 

Robin

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Presbyteries do not (and to my knowledge never have) examine, ordain, or install ruling elders.

Our congregation does vote for the elders. They are nominated (by the consistory & congregants) and then we vote. The checks & balances really work both ways...(the URC strives for this, but I've heard that this is unique among presbyterian denoms.)

http://www.christreformed.org/resources/newsletters/200402/index.shtml?main

http://www.covenant-urc.org/urcna/co.html#Ecclesiastical

Thoughts?

Robin

[Edited on 5-11-2005 by Robin]
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Matt: Even for teaching elders in the days of Jus Divinum, didn't local congregations select teaching elders who were later confirmed by the presbytery (a two step process). It was a considered a mark of popery to have officers imposed on a congregation without the congregation's consent.

The presbytery had the discretion to not ordain a person selected by a congregation. But election by the people was considered an important part of presbyterianism and an important guard against abuse of power.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
This is a related point. I am rereading a section on the validity of Reformed ordinations in James L. Ainslie's The Doctrines of Ministerial Order in the Reformed Churches of the 16th and 17th Centuries. He makes the interesting point that the Reformed viewed the power to ordain as a power of the whole Church (the universal Church) and not just a power of a single congregation, which obviously contrasted with independents. Ordination by a presbytery in an expression of this principle, as the presbytery is broader than a single congregation and is seen as a better representative of the universal visible Church.

Anyway, I found this very interesting.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Presbyteries do not (and to my knowledge never have) examine, ordain, or install ruling elders.

I don't fellow you Fred.
Maybe I said this the wrong way or assumed too much.

Does the local congregation install, ordain or examine a candidate? Or is that done by the elders? (i.e. those who would be part of the session, and ultimately the Presbytery.)

Real briefly:

"Jesus Christ our Mediator has not committed the proper formal power or spiritual authority for government of his Church unto the fraternity, community of the faithful, whole Church, or body of the people..." (JD p. 97)

"Presbytered as furnished with an eldership...unpresbytered as without an eldership." (ibid)

"The object, for whose good and benefit all this power is given, is primarily the general visible church." p. 99.

"The designation of particular persons to which Ecclesiastical Offices as are vested with this power." (Ibid)

Thus

"The community of the faithful, or the body of the people, have no authentic Commission or Grant of proper spiritual power for Church-government; and therefore they cannot possibly be the first Subject or the proper immediate Receptacle of such power from Christ." (p. 100)

They ask,

"What power is it that is committed to the body of the Church or multitude of the faithful? Either it must be the Power of Order or the Power of Jurisdiction. But neither of these are allowed to the multitude of the faithful by the Scriptures (but appointed and appropriated to select persons). Not the power of order for the whole multitude and every one therein, neither can, nor ought to intermeddle with any branches of that power." (p. 103)

"They have the power to elect." (page 113)
This seems to mean nominate.

Sop the congregation, as far as I can tell, has the "power" to elect and that's it. The elders (or what they called "presbyteries") examine, install and ordain them. Greater Presbyteries, they say, are also of benefit. So I think Fred is using up to date language here where I was using their language in my first post.

Thoughts?



[Edited on 5-11-2005 by webmaster]
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Originally posted by Scott
Matt: Even for teaching elders in the days of Jus Divinum, didn't local congregations select teaching elders who were later confirmed by the presbytery (a two step process). It was a considered a mark of popery to have officers imposed on a congregation without the congregation's consent.

The presbytery had the discretion to not ordain a person selected by a congregation. But election by the people was considered an important part of presbyterianism and an important guard against abuse of power.

Yes, that's what I'm thinking about. The congregation "chooses or nominates someone". But is that really a "power" is my question?
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Well, I suppose it depends on what you mean by "power." I don't see it as a power of the keys or anything like that. But it is a power in the sense that it is a valuable right (as I know you agree).

As you know the Reformers made a big deal about its importance and how the Romanists ignored the right of congregations. Foisting officers not approved by the congregation led to great tyranny and still does. I doubt that few of the serial pedophiles so common in the Roman church today would have been selected by congregations. Instead, the bishops (who were basically criminal) learned of the horrors of the priests and just moved them around to unsuspecting parishes. A check like election (which would typially involve lay investigations into the background of the priests) would go a long way to solving this problem.

I know you agree with this, so I am not sure what you mean by power. I do not think that the congregation installs, examines, or ordains, if that is what you mean. But I don't think that is what the PCA BCO means either (the BCO assigns those duties to officers).

Scott
 
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