1647 WCF XXIII & XXXI Magistrate Calling Synods: Not Settled Kirk Only?

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by Afterthought, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    As is well known, the original wording of the WCF includes the lawfulness of the magistrate calling a synod to be advised by them, but the 1647 Adopting Act says that this authority is only lawful at times when the Kirk is not settled or constituted in point of government. When the Kirk is settled this is no longer lawful. However, the Adopting Act goes on to state that the the Magistrate is free to advise with synods ordinarily or in occasional cases by being indicted by his authority. I am understanding "indicted" to carry the archaic meaning of "summoning." If this is the case, then it appears that the Adopting Act would in fact view it as lawful for the magistrate to occasionally call a synod even in the situation of a Kirk settled in point of government.

    Am reading this correctly? How does this fit in with the earlier part of the Adopting Act that calling synods is only lawful in times when the Kirk is not settled in point of government? David Dickson's Truth's Victory Over Error seems to allow for the calling of synods as part of the authority of the magistrate even in Kirks settled: Would he be understanding the WCF contrary to the Adopting Act?

    One possible understanding of the Act is that the magistrate is allowed to call synods occasionally in settled Kirks, but they need to be 1) synods of ministers and ruling elders (i.e., not some other "fit persons") and 2) they need to be delegated by the Church (i.e., the magistrate cannot choose the ministers and ruling elders that assemble synodically). Perhaps (?) one other difference: the magistrate can call the synod but the Church retains the right to refuse the summons? (The Magistrate in unsettled Kirks is said to call the synod authoritatively without any other call, suggesting that in such unsettled Kirks he can call the synod all of his own judgment and the ministers and other fit persons must comply.)

    Adopting Act
    "It is further declared, That the Assembly understandeth some parts of the second article of the thirty-one chapter only of kirks not settled, or constituted in point of government: And that although, in such kirks, a synod of Ministers, and other fit persons, may be called by the Magistrate's authority and nomination, without any other call, to consult and advise with about matters of religion; and although, likewise, the Ministers of Christ, without delegation from their churches, may of themselves, and by virtue of their office, meet together synodically in such kirks not yet constituted, yet neither of these ought to be done in kirks constituted and settled; it being always free to the Magistrate to advise with synods of Ministers and Ruling Elders, meeting upon delegation from their churches, either ordinarily, or, being indicted by his authority, occasionally, and pro re nata; it being also free to assemble together synodically, as well pro re nata as at the ordinary times, upon delegation from the churches, by the intrinsic power received from Christ, as often as it is necessary for the good of the Church so to assemble, in case the Magistrate, to the detriment of the Church, withhold or deny his consent; the necessity of occasional assemblies being first remonstrate unto him by humble supplication."

    "III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven:a yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed.b For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God."

    "II. As magistrates may lawfully call a synod of ministers and other fit persons to consult and advise with about matters of religion;a so, if magistrates be open enemies to the Church, the ministers of Christ, of themselves, by virtue of their office, or they, with other fit persons, upon delegation from their churches, may meet together in such assemblies."
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  2. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

  3. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    This Seceeder magazine article shares my interpretation that the statement was guarding against who was being chosen for the Synod rather than being against calling a Synod at all: https://books.google.com/books?id=A...te calling synod&pg=PA143#v=onepage&q&f=false

    From what I can tell, there is a common "misunderstanding" that the clarification from the Church of Scotland intended for Synods to be unlawful to be called where churches are settled.

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