Minister of Word and Sacrament

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Unoriginalname, Jul 20, 2013.

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  1. Unoriginalname

    Unoriginalname Puritan Board Junior

    This is sort of a know why you believe what you believe question. Plenty of people point to Philip the deacon's baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch as evidence that the Reformed understanding that the sacraments should only be administered by Ministers as faulty. So what is our justification for this view. I understand that narrative texts are not the best place to derive doctrine.
     
  2. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    I'll let a few good Presbyterians answer:

     
  3. irresistible_grace

    irresistible_grace Puritan Board Junior

    Why do we believe the sacraments can only be administered by a "Minister?"
     
  4. sevenzedek

    sevenzedek Puritan Board Junior

    Being a newly reformed person myself, I have wondered the same thing. Our forefathers in the faith have gotten so many other doctrines right that I have simply trusted the knowledge of men greater than I until it is time for an answer to appear. Perhaps now is the time.
     
  5. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Why do we believe that the Philip who baptized the Ethiopian was the Deacon rather than the Apostle?

    And even if he was the Deacon, have we never heard of a Deacon who went on to become a Minister? He is referred to later as Philip the Evangelist, "one of the seven". Isn't the Office of Evangelist one that infers a ministerial position?
     
  6. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    I would say that the Church, properly speaking, is the custodian of the Sacraments and that they are ordinarily administered by the ministers of the Church in keeping with biblical order. Are there circumstances in which someone other than a regularly ordained minister may administer the sacraments (like a church under intense persecution who has no pastor)? I would say yes, but only if that person is called upon by that church to administer them and only in the most extreme circumstances.

    The example of Phillip is in no way to be taken as a normative pattern for the Church. His was an extraordinary time and circumstance.
     
  7. sevenzedek

    sevenzedek Puritan Board Junior

    Maybe we could argue that Philip's administering the baptism was not normative. My wife was baptized at a young age by someone who may not even be a believer after all, but I know of some reformed elders who would say that her baptism was still valid. These same elders would also make a case for the sacrament of baptism to be ordinarily administered by "elders only" and that baptisms done by those who are not done by an elder are legitimate but not normative.
     
  8. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior


    Our Lord entrusted the administration of the sacraments to men called and ordained to the appropriate office as "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1). I would commend the following answer by George Gillespie to your reading:

    Past PuritanBoard Threads:
     
  9. sevenzedek

    sevenzedek Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks. I guess I know what I might be reading this Lord's day.
     
  10. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Do these same people point to Cain's marrying his sister as evidence that the Reformed understanding of unlawful degrees of consanguinity is faulty? The church in Acts was in its infancy just as the human race was in Gen 4. The church is no longer in infancy and neither is the human race, therefore we look to more prescriptive passages of Scripture to inform our faith and practice.
     
  11. Grimmson

    Grimmson Puritan Board Sophomore

    Personally I think saying that the church was in its infancy state as the excuse is actually a grave mistake, since the church was under the direct teachings of the Apostles (whom we should now we following today by scripture, since they followed and were taught directly by Christ). I think instead the focus should be on the circumstance and the extraordinary need for the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch probably could not stay in Jerusalem and be on the Apostles’ teaching, because he probably had responsibilities in his home country. Instead, I think the focus of this text shows the in extraordinary circumstances, someone like a deacon, can minister word and sacrament to the people of God. And when I say sacrament, I am also including the Lord’s Supper. Now if you agree with the Westminster Confession of Faith 29.1 that people are spiritual nourished by the “sacrament of his body and blood” then would you not want the people of God to receive that in which our Lord has commended his church to partake until his return? Of course you would want the people of God to partake because it is for the good of his church, both his body in urban and rural communities. Now I say urban and rural for a reason. And the reason is this, where I live I have observed that confessional reformed people in urban communities seem to ignore the needs of their brothers’ and sisters’ needs in rural comminutes. I know of several examples from Alaska to Arizona. If you believe that baptism is necessary and that the people need the Supper then you have three options. The first is sending a minister, so that they are not in an extraordinary circumstance. The second is to allow deacons to fulfill the role of the ordained minister, so that the people of God maybe cared for and their needs meet. Or three, you can do nothing and let the people not be cared for and starve. As far as I am concerned the third option is not really an option if you truly are a part of Christ’s Church. If such allowance to allow for a church to starve and not be allowed for new converts to join in by baptism in these areas then as far as I am concerned then that theology, even though confessed to be reformed, is not Christian. And neither is the person promoting the third option to any degree. And this is not a theoretical exercise, but of a practical theology and one that is a reality here in Northern Arizona.
     
  12. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    Sir, please be careful with your statements here. I am alarmed by your readiness to declare the third option as unChristian. The Reformed confessions speak of the sacraments as confirming and sealing the promises of the Gospel (cf. Heidelberg 65 & 66; WLC 162; WCF 27). While there certainly is spiritual nourishment in the Supper, a congregation without the Supper for a time will not "starve." See where the prophet Amos locates the primary source of nourishment:
    Unlike Lutherans, Anglicans, or Romanists, Reformed divines have not seen such a drastic need for the administration of the sacraments that would require the suspension of the biblical requirements for stewards of the mysteries of God. Unbaptized children are not thereby damned and congregations deprived of the supper will not thus "starve." The sacraments are truly of great benefit to Christians, but they derive their sanctifying power from the Word. It is the presence or absence of the Word which is key.
     
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