A Question for Matt on Ordination

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Puritan Board Senior
I just had to ask a question regarding the practical application of what you have stated in the thread on true and false churches, especially as it relates to your own ordination.

You have prayed (and we have prayed with you) for the opportunity to possibly plant a new OPC church that is true to the confession, the RP, etc. We do need more solid reformed churches!!

In this pursuit, you have talked with the OPC. The OPC recognizes your ordination, even though you were ordained in a non-reformed Baptist church (just as I was).

Since, in your view, you do not see your own ordination as lawful, but the OPC does, what will you do if this becomes the avenue that God is leading you down?

Can you insist on being ordained in the OPC even though they already recognise you as ordained? Or will this become an issue of conscience wherein you will not be able to serve in a denomination that accepts what is, in your opinion, an invalid ordination?

Just thinking through how your view will affect your own future ministry......and thinking about what you would say to all of the pastors/elders who have jumped from credo to paedo having already been ordained in a non-Presbyterian church. Are all of these men running around unlawfully ordained? Is is such a problem that the eldership has become corrupt, with us not knowing who is and is not [i:4eb15a6eca]really[/i:4eb15a6eca] ordained?


C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher

The is an important question, one which I have been thinking about.

Let me say this first - everything we have talked about thus far about ordination is "boiler room." I have been thinking about this for the past three weeks, maybe a little longer.

Let me simmer over it all for a little while. I have to write some papers, and think through some exegetical ideas on some texts.

I do agree with where you are going.

Just to touch on them -

Sometimes denominations see exceptions where there may not necessarily be exceptions, and others do not. for instance, one pastor friend in one presbytery took an exception to the confession on singing psalms. That presbytery did not see it as an exception. In another presbytery they did. In both cases the friend took his exception and it was recorded as such, though in different circumstances.

I must be honest, I am not sure how the OPC or PCA would deal with this question. Its too early to tell. I am not sure how I will deal with this in terms of dealing with them, just yet.

Again, give me a little time to think it all through, I don't want to jump the gun, and at the same time, I like using the Puritanboard as a boiler room to test ideas out and where they go.

Everyone has been very helpful.

We also want to take into account historical events - (i.e. the Reformers were lawfully ordained though in a Catholic church that "went" apostate, technically speaking. Dealing with this issue may be surrounding some of the same thoughts.

[Edited on 6-9-2004 by webmaster]


Puritan Board Doctor
would this be sorta paralell to being baptized in a non reformed baptist church and then becoming a covenant member in a say opc church and questioning whether your baptism was valid?

so than maybe would reordination be similar to rebaptism?


[Edited on 6-9-2004 by Bladestunner316]

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Blade, the baptism question is simply a natural consequence of the larger question of whether the church is a true church or not. And the determining factor in that question isn't whether the church has Reformed doctrine, but whether it was started independently, in which case it does not fulfill the requirements of a minister being "lawfully called" by prayer and the laying on of hands by present elders (1 Timothy 4:14).

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Is it possible for someone to lose thier ordination? Yes.

Let's say Montanist is part of the Church on the Hill. This is an orthodox church, and in line with the teachings of the apostles.

He is a ministerial candidate, and after two year or so, they ordain him to a lawful calling and ministry to plant a church 50 miles north of Whereever.

Then, Montantist comes up with some whackey doctrine after about a year. Let's just say he is in error. Not heresy, but error, something that may be schismatic.

Now he breaks away from the church on the Hill, to found his own church, the church of Montanism. He beleives a few crazy ideas, nothing damning, but is confused, by everyone's standards, on some important doctrines.

Can this man lose his ordination based on his departure? Yes.

If he does not lose his ordination, that would mean anyone he ordained would be ordained, even if they beleived whacky doctrine. (Not damning again, just whacky - you choose the degree of whackiness).

The OPC BOC says this:
1. An officer may be divested of his office, or deposed, by judicial discipline for an offense in doctrine or life. Such divestiture, or deposition, shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Book of Discipline.

2. An officer may also be divested of his office without censure, for reasons other than delinquency in faith or life.

3. a. A presbytery shall consider divesting a minister of his office without censure if:he fails to seek a ministerial charge actively unless temporarily for reasons of health; or it appears to the presbytery, over a period of time normally not to exceed two years, that he is not called to ministerial service because he does not possess the gifts requisite for the gospel ministry; or he fails to perform adequately the work of the ministry through lack of the requisite gifts; or
permanent physical or mental disability prevents him from exercising the office.

b. If a presbytery contemplates divesting a minister without censure the minister in question shall be duly informed and given the opportunity at a meeting of the presbytery to defend his continuance in office or to demit the ministry.

c. A motion to divest shall require a two-thirds majority of those voting.

d. When a minister is divested of his office or demits the ministry, the presbytery shall remove his name from its roll and dismiss him to a local church. Until his reception he shall continue a member of the regional church without membership in a local congregation.

e. If a minister desires to resign from or refuses to serve in his office, the presbytery ordinarily shall require him to wait six months and in the meantime ascertain whether the reason for his actions are of sufficient weight. If at the end of this time his desire is unchanged and the presbytery is satisfied of his reasons, he shall be allowed to demit the ministry and the presbytery shall record the fact in its minutes and remove his name from the roll.

4. a. A ruling elder or deacon may be divested of his office if his services do not appear to be edifying to the congregation. In such a case the following procedure shall be followed:

The process of divestiture may be originated by the session or by a petition to the session signed by one-fourth of the communicant members in good and regular standing. The officer in question shall be given the opportunity at a meeting of the session to defend his continuance in office or to demit the office.

If the question is to be presented to the congregation it shall be at a regularly called meeting. The call for the meeting shall stipulate that this matter is to be considered at the meeting, and the officer shall be notified at the same time.

The congregation, by a two-thirds majority of those voting, may request the presbytery for permission to remove him from office.

If the presbytery gives its permission the session shall divest him of his office.
b. A ruling elder or deacon who desires to resign from or refuses to serve in the office shall be counselled by the session concerning his decision. If, after such counselling, he persists in his decision, he shall be allowed to demit his office, and the session shall record the fact in its minutes.

5. A man who has been divested of office and who is subsequently elected to that office shall be viewed as receiving initial election to that office.

6. Nothing in this chapter shall be held to imply that when a minister retires, or is retired, because of advanced age or disability, from his official position, he shall be divested of his office or prevented from performing any of the functions of that office.

7. Nothing in this chapter shall be held to imply that when a ruling elder or deacon retires, or is retired, because of advanced age or disability, from his official position, he shall be divested of his office or prevented from performing, on occasion, the functions of that office.

The PCA BOC says this:

34-4. a. When a minister accused of an offense is found contumacious (cf. 32-6), he shall be immediately suspended from the sacraments and his office for his contumacy. Record shall be made of the fact and of the charges under which he was arraigned, and the censure shall be made public. The censure shall in no case be removed until the offender has not only repented of his contumacy, but has also given satisfaction in relation to the charges against him.

b. If after further endeavor by the court to bring the accused to a sense of his guilt, he persists in his contumacy, he shall be deposed and excommunicated from the Church.

34-5. Heresy and schism may be of such a nature as to warrant deposition; but errors ought to be carefully considered, whether they strike at the vitals of religion and are industriously spread, or whether they arise from the weakness of the human understanding and are not likely to do much injury.

34-8. A minister under indefinite suspension from his office or deposed for scandalous conduct shall not be restored, even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until he shall exhibit for a considerable time such an eminently exemplary, humble and edifying life and testimony as shall heals the wound made by his scandal. A deposed minister shall in no case be restored until it shall appear that the general sentiment of the Church is strongly in his favor, and demands his restoration; and then only by the court inflicting the censure, or with that court's consent.

34-9. When a minister is deposed, his pastoral relation shall be dissolved; but when he is suspended from office it shall be left to the discretion of the Presbytery whether the censure shall include the dissolution of the pastoral relation.

According to the BOC they are deposed and lose thier ordination.

If that be the case, would the Presbyterian church uphold the ordination of a pastor in thier denomination that desired to leave that denomination and become an Independent, or would they have to be "reordained" by another Independent?

Let's say the Presbyterian was convicted that he should leave Presbyterianism and become a Methodist. That woudl entail the Methodists to ordain him to thier denomination.

Now if that is true, and I believe it is and that we be the normal proceudre for any denomination, then the thread Phillip started here is really dependent on whatever or not the Presbyterian Form of Government is ture, or not. If it is not, then it does not matter. If it is, then Independency is schism and there is no way to get around that. Proving Presbyterianism would be the crux of the matter then.

In terms of the WCF, that's where they landed based on critiquing the Church of the day in order to rightly align the Church of England to the Bible, and to test their structure.

If that is true, and they were simply grounding themselves again in government to what the Reformation had already begun, and if Presbyterianism is true, then the practical outworking of ordination for any who leave that polity would have to question their ordination. If, say, as in my own case, I as ordained a Baptist became presbyterian, the Presbyterians would have to confirm my ordination anyway, which is part of the BCO in any case, and I would then be ordained by that Presbytery. The idea then, of "transferring" an ordination becomes parallel to "confirming" ordination. Transferring just means the candidate already went through the process, and the Presbytary is confiming it again. In the case mentioned here, though, lawful ordination is called into question to find out who ordained me, and if they were part of a governmental structure that mirrored the biblical church, stemming from the biblical church ultimately.

Understand, the Presbyterians at the time of the Assembly, and after the WCF was set in its drafting, Cromwell, and Independent, overthrew the Presbyterians by force (a very dubious move) and through the Independents, attempted to set up a church government (that never worked) as individual churches. This only lasted a very short time due to Cromwell's civil war and then quick death.

So if Presbyterianism is correct, and that can be proven from the Bible, that is where the question of ordination would be demontrated as lawful or not.

Phillip's question was more practical.

Just thinking through how your view will affect your own future ministry......and thinking about what you would say to all of the pastors/elders who have jumped from credo to paedo having already been ordained in a non-Presbyterian church.

We would have to conclude all around, if Presbyterianism is right, that men have been unlawfully ordained.

That is a tough pill to swallow, but I am not seeing the "loophole" in the argument if eldrship and ordination is of the "laying of hands of the elders."

More thoughts?

PS: Fred - I checked our Morton's Systematic, and he does not give enough there to weigh in on anything. He has also not written anything on this subject in the academic journals.


Puritan Board Graduate

Honest question: How do you justify the founding of the OPC in light of all these ordination issues?


Puritan Board Doctor
good posting matt alot to think about here. Its stuff like this that gets me so angry with the american church and its habit of schismating(sp?) I wish their could be unity with all of us but the only from what ive seen efforts to do this is by sacrificing correct-orthodox-true Holy Christian Doctrine for unity with men. Its a very depressing and disapointing situation here in american and the world for that matter.

But Im glad I have you guys here:)


Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:f87fbff5bb][i:f87fbff5bb]Originally posted by Bladestunner316[/i:f87fbff5bb]
whats the difference between and independtly started church and one reformed from a non reformed denom?

blade [/quote:f87fbff5bb]

A true church made by "reforming a non-Reformed denom" as you say could only be validly made in the denomination from which they came was so corrupt as to warrant it, and if some of the people who formed the new denomination were lawfully ordained elders, ordained by the old church before it had become miserably corrupt. But if these conditions were not met, I would call it an independently started church, schismatic in nature.

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Honest question: How do you justify the founding of the OPC in light of all these ordination issues?

Seth that is the whole thing about all this - sifting through how this would actually work out. I'll post more as I work through things...

Remember though, this controversy spawned over 30,000 tracts, sermons and books during the time of the Westminister Assembly (Just those years!). Imagine that - 30,000. It is a topic worth thinking through and discussing.


Puritan Board Graduate
[quote:bf8e075b9f][i:bf8e075b9f]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:bf8e075b9f]
It is a topic worth thinking through and discussing. [/quote:bf8e075b9f]

I absolutely agree!
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