Is "laity" a Shibboleth?

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Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
I was noting the irony of a Presbyterian decrying the "lone wolf ministry" and talking about group ministry (pack ministry). As a Presbyterian he meant support from other ordained ministers or apprenticeship. As a Baptist it struck me that a Baptist would characterise Presbyterians (generally) as one man ministries. Baptists are much more comfortable with the church members helping out. Then I realised the ordained/laity distinction which is so strong in Presbyterian churches is mostly absent in Baptist fellowships. Then I pondered does the word laity mark out non-Baptists? Maybe not 100% of the time but certainly over 90%.

If church members, after say 5 years are not able to roll up their sleeves and help out in visitation, evangelism and counselling is the church really doing it's job?
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
Hebrews 5:12, NASB: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the actual words of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food."

I very much doubt that Paul was thinking 5 years, probably much less!
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
This is taking the doctrine of the priesthood of all believer to an extreme. Scripture delineates a clear distinction between pastors/elders/shepherds and church members. This isn't something Presbyterians made up.

Also, one does not need to be ordained to "help out" in many ways in the church. But even then, there are some tasks that, biblically speaking, only pastors and elders may perform. "Visitations" (in Presbyterian circles, at least) is not just going to someone's house; it is an exercise of pastoral oversight and discipline. I, as a lay-person, cannot do that. I haven't been called to it. Sure, I can visit folks and encourage them all I want, and I do. But I don't do it because I have charge over these people's souls. My pastor does.

Finally, in terms of verbiage, I have heard the term "lay-person" and "laity" in Baptist circles just as frequently as in Presbyterian ones.
 
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