Who would be authorized to preach?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Grillsy, Jul 4, 2009.

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  1. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    Would it be wise for a Presbyterian church to allow someone in the pulpit who did not believe in the WCF and openly wrote and taught against the confession's teaching on the Sacraments?
    Specifically. Should a Baptist be allowed in Presbyterian pulpit? Or be given a teaching position?
    I know the obvious answer. But I want to hear some discussion. Particularly in regard to the WCF XX.
  2. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    No, it would not be wise, given the specifics that you've detailed.

    Or, with tongue in cheek, it didn't work out well the last time they let that happen:
    Harry Emerson Fosdick - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    By contrast, any good Calvinistic Baptist might be invited into a Presbyterian pulpit and you could expect that he would bring a good and appropriate message, one that would avoid contention.

    It's late. I pray you all have a very blessed time of worship in the Lord's presence tomorrow.
  3. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you for your reply.
    My question was actually referring to a Calvinistic Baptist.
    My worry would be that the Baptist would be contending against
    and preaching against (not nesecerrily from the Presbyterian pulpit but
    elsewhere) paedobaptism.
    Also the second problem of putting a Baptist in an teaching position in a
    Presbyterian pulpit...could that not result in some friction?
  4. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Welcome to the PB -

    I think your question is in some sense two-fold, since the issue of a one-time invitation to a sound Calvinistic Baptist to fill the pulpit is a different question than a permanent position (in the pulpit or in a teaching position in the church). The answers may be the same, but the questions are somewhat different.

    If you're talking about a one-time pulpit filling, answers probably vary a great deal. However, if you're talking about either of the other two, I dont' see how it could be done while maintaining the integrity of the church in terms of its professed adherence to the Westminster standards. I'm not sure how much there is to discuss, really, with chapter 20. When one is talking about the teaching and preaching ministry of a Presbyterian church, Christian liberty really doesn't have a role to play with regard to the view of baptism held by those in such positions.
  5. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    A permanent teaching position would, I'm quite sure, be rather problematic. However if it is just a one-time sermon and he and the elders have agreed that he will preach on an issue where they find common ground then I don't see an issue with it at all. That's not to say that there shouldn't be dialogue concerning disagreements in a manner edifying to the church but a sermon in the circumstances you've presented is not an appropriate place to call into question a hosting church's policies or beliefs, in my opinion. If the Calvinistic baptist understands that and agrees, I'd say let him bring the Word of God to God's flock.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
  6. APuritansMind

    APuritansMind Puritan Board Junior


    I agree - a permanent position would be a problem, but short-term would be ok. Presbyterian men have filled our pulpit for two sermon series (4 sermons each), and I heard nothing preached that highlighted any of the differences between Presbyterians and Baptists. God's Word was faithfully proclaimed and our congregation was edified. I am sure a Reformed Baptist pastor would be able to do the same.
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Puritan Board Freshman

    If we're talking about a Calvinistic Baptist becoming a permanent TE then obviously the answer is no. If we're talking about occasional pulpit supply, then yes. The LBCF and the WCF are close enough in agreement that it shouldn't be a problem as long as the Baptist doesn't take the opportunity to betray trust on the obvious doctrinal distinctions.
  8. Rogerant

    Rogerant Puritan Board Freshman

    Well this is just bizarre! An OPC member asks a question about Presbyterian Church Order regarding GIVING the pulpit to a Baptist, and nearly all the the responses so far have come from Baptists and congregationalists! Would that not be like asking an anarchist whether you should be crowning a king in a representative republic!

    From my knowledge of Reformed Church Polity, the elders are to "give" the pulpit to the preacher. In the congregational form of church order, the pastor "takes" the pulpit. The Belgic Confession speaks about one who feels the call to preach is not "to intrude" or "push forward" to the pulpit. Those who "called" are recognized as being so by their elders around them.

    "Article XXXI - The Ministers, Elders and Deacons

    We believe that the ministers of God's Word, the elders, and the deacons ought to be chosen to their respective offices by a lawful election by the Church, with calling upon the name of the Lord, and in that order which the Word of God teaches. Therefore every one must take heed not to intrude himself by improper means, but is bound to wait till it shall please God to call him; that he may have testimony of his calling, and be certain and assured that it is of the Lord."

    Now I don't know whether the Westminster Standards have the same requirements. Maybe someone from the OPC could confirm.

    Now, do the elders think that this Baptist has been called to preach this message? Is there not available pulpit supply? Are you not concerned of the implications of the welfare of your flock if this Baptist sweeps them off of their feet with cunning emotional preaching that is not recognized by the church body? If there is no one else that can supply the pulpit, his sermon at the very least should be reviewed by an ordained minister from your denomination first. I believe that the OPC would require this.

    This Baptist who openly writes against the WCF relating to the sacraments should be given a teaching on Exodus 4:24 where Moses God was setting out to "kill" Moses for not giving his son the sign of the covenant. If he does not adhere to the WCF, how can you "give" him the pulpit. The elders have a responsibility to protect the sheep. They should expect chastisement to come to themselves and to everyone else in the camp, if they do as much.

    Just my opinion on Reformed Church Polity.

    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
  9. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    The answer's even easier than that. It is against the BCO in both the PCA and OPC to let a baptist preach. Wisdom doesn't come into it, as far as I can tell.
  10. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Where would that be, Tim? Obviously one would not let a baptist preach on baptism, but what about another subject that would be in conformity with the Confession?

    I can say that there are reformed Baptists who are far more welcome in my pulpit than certain PCA ministers currently "in good standing."
  11. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I am 90 percent sure I saw it as a GA ruling from some years ago while reading through some position papers, that only elders in PCA churches could preach in PCA churches. I also thought we had a thread on that here somewhere about a year and a half ago, but I could be mistaken.

    -----Added 7/5/2009 at 12:55:42 EST-----

    I thought it was in relation to the Wood case in Tenn.

    where the guy used this sort of reasoning to allow a woman to "do" the service. In this ruling

    PCA Position Papers: Report of the Ad-Interim Committee on Number of Offices (1979)

    I might have just read it wrong. I guess it opens up pulpit filling to any man with any license, so I'm now not so certain!

    Anyone remember if there was such a ruling restricting pulpit fillers to ordained Presbyterians?
  12. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    I think you are on to something that is regularly wise; that is, keeping tight control over the puplit. The Wood issue was about women preaching, as you point out.

    It was only about 3-4 years ago when John Piper preached at GA.
  13. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Thanks, I stand corrected!
  14. ChristianHedonist

    ChristianHedonist Puritan Board Freshman

    I've been at an OPC church where a reformed baptist was a guest preacher for the morning and evening services one Sunday. While a reformed baptist minister shouldn't be ordained in the OPC, I don't think it is a problem for one to fill the pulpit as a guest preacher, as long as everything he preached on was in compliance with the OPC BCO and the Westminster Standards. There are many things that the OPC and reformed baptists agree on, so I don't see how it would be a problem for a reformed baptist to preach on these areas of agreement.
  15. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    With regards this particular situation there could be another problem.
    The Baptist preacher is a communicant member in this particular OPC congregation.
    Which is a mission work. Then what would the answer be?
    Sorry to be so specific.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
  16. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    I think the statements against regular preaching by this man is inappropriate, but an occasional message from him would be fine, with the caveats that we've previously talked about.

    As for having him in a regular teaching position, I still don't think I'd have him do it (assuming you mean adult Sunday School classes). Are the elders unable to teach?
  17. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    The elders should meet with him, and give him written guidelines as to what he can and cannot teach on. (Our session requires all who would teach to sign teaching covenants.). If he isn't willing to abide by the restrictions, he either shouldn't teach, or should find a different congregation.

    As for the pulpit, if there is any sort of regularity, the presbytery ought to get involved.

    On a one shot deal, or in connection with a conference, we've had folks who wouldn't be appropriate on all subjects (Piper, for example).
  18. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    I have never read the OPC book of order so I can not comment on your case exactly.

    However the ARP FoG says that pulpit supply may be an elder, a missionary, a student of theology, a retired minister or a minister of some other denomination.

    The PCA BCO (53-6?) is more general and only says that supply is under the oversight of the session.

    In practice this means that in ARP & PCA congregations having a Ref. Baptist as pulpit supply is commonplace.
  19. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    This seems to be the relevant portion of the OPC BCO:


    1. A congregation without a pastor shall continue to meet on the Lord's Day for the purpose of prayer, the singing of praises, and the hearing of the Word of God. When a minister or licentiate is not available the session shall be responsible for the conducting of services. A sermon or exhortation in accord with the standards of the Church shall be presented by reading, recording, or oral delivery to the congregation.

    2. The presbytery may supervise a church that is without a pastor through a ministerial advisor (cf. Chapter XIII, Section 6) or a committee. Such supervision includes cooperation with the session, or with any authorized committee of the particular church, in the supply of the pulpit and in the seeking and securing of a pastor.

    3. Under ordinary circumstances only ministers and licentiates of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church shall be employed as regular supplies in congregations without pastors. However, other ministers or licentiates may be employed as regular supplies upon approval of the presbytery.

    Book of Church Order
  20. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    The portion you quote is indeed relevant.
    I guess the question would then be. What is meant
    by other ministers or licentiates. Would that limit
    it to only denominations with somewhat fraternal
    relations or would that potentially open it up
    to anyone?
    The answer seems clear, but with the wording of section
    three I suppose there would be room for leeway.
  21. reformedminister

    reformedminister Puritan Board Sophomore

  22. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    Thanks, Edward.

    I was having lunch with a good friend that is an OPC pastor in Ont. He told me that according to the "letter of the law" in the OPC students of theology could not preach until they were licensed. I see what he meant.

    However it does seem clear that "non-OPC" lic & min may preach.
  23. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior

    Also, remember in the OPC the distinction is made between "preaching" and "exhorting". Although they are closely related.
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