Ruling Elders and the Sacraments

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by Grant Jones, Jul 18, 2018.

  1. Yes

    8 vote(s)
    42.1%
  2. No

    11 vote(s)
    57.9%
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  1. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Good Day All,

    Being new to being a Presbyterian and specifically the PCA Churh Order. I still am working through undestanding the PCA practices.

    Now to the matter.

    In my opinion, since a ruling elder must be able to teach the word and can Preach the Word in a sermon (occasionally), then i see no problem with a Ruling Elder leading or preforming the sacraments. After all if the sacraments are always accompanied by the Word and if the PCA allows a ruling Elder to preach and minister the Word to the Peolple (occasionally) on the Lord’s Day... I see no reason why Ruling Elder cannot perform a baptism or lead the congregation through the Lord’s supper. Let me know your thoughts (especially if you are Presbyterian). I think my current view is still within the Westminster Standards but is outside the BCO. I am still new to this.

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  2. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    I assume you mean by perform (lead) you are implying administer, which I take to include—in addition to presiding overconducting worship of God via the means of the sacrament.

    Under that specific assumption I fail to see how the PCA RE can do so as the minister of the Word and sacrament is the responsibility of the one ordained to that office.

    Can they assist the TE in distribution of the elements? Sure.

    See also:
    http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/clerk/taylor_REs_administering_sacraments.pdf
    http://pcahistory.org/pca/2-455.html

    Bookmark this as you continue your PCA journey:
    http://pcahistory.org/index.html ;)
    Also @Wayne may be contacted when dealing with PCA historical matters.

    Now all that said, I seem to recall someone posting somewhere that exceptions were allowed in the PCA in one of the California presbyteries. @fredtgreco could probably shed some light on this.
     
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  3. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Just curious.. what would you say that the ruling elder cannot do that the teaching elder can?
     
  4. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    The PCA says a RE cannot administer baptism (cannot literally apply baptism to a Christian or child of a Christian).

    Also the PCA says a RE cannot LEAD (instruct th congregation through partaking in Lord’s Supper).

    Of which in the PCA only the TE can do. At least that is my understanding. Currently I think I disagree. I think if you are a qualified Elder (TE or RE) who is allowed to preach the word, then you should be allowed to perform all the roles in administering and leading the congregation in either sacrament.

    Otherwise it seems normally you have to have higher education ( most TEs have seminary) to perform the sacraments. Which, I cannot find in the scripture or the standards.
     
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  5. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Your assumptions are correct. I am okay with Having 2 classes of elder (R&T) and i can even see that in the Bible. But what I cannot see is that if RE are allowed to administer the word (I beleiv he is too)..... a RE could even be licensed, but they still could not administer the sacraments in the PCA. I do not see that in scripture or the standards.
     
  6. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I think Grant has a good point. Our pulpit is elevated higher over the sacraments to display the supremacy of preaching. Our ruling elder is able to preach from the pulpit but not administer the sacraments? That sounds funny but maybe I'm missing something. It sounds like a pilot being able to fly a giant passenger jet but denied being able to fly a private cruiser plane.
     
  7. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    A ruling elder is not permitted to preach regularly without being licensed (BCO 19).
     
  8. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Yes I am familiar with that. But a ruling elder is allowed to preach from the pulpit irregular nonetheless… Correct?

    Also a licensed ruling elder is still not allowed to administer The sacraments in the same way a teaching elder is allowed to in the PCA correct?
     
  9. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Ryan,
    I am not familiar with PCA polity, but 3 office Presbyterians, like the OPC, would not consider a ruling elder or a licentiate to be "preaching". The statement you made above (that an elder may preach, but not administer the sacraments) would not be true in 3 office polity. I'm interested to know how the PCA deals with this as well...
     
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  10. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    I think that the Bible only advocates for two separate offices within the church. Is that not upheld in the OPC.

    Would you mind elaborating, on the OPC‘s three offices and what the limitation of each office is
    ? I assume you see a RE as a separate office making 3 Deacon, RE, and TE?
     
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  11. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    That's interesting. So what would our ruling elder be doing from the pulpit if it's not called preaching?
     
  12. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    I believe the term is exhorting.
     
  13. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    A man who is not a ruling elder may preach (but not regularly). The administration of the sacraments is tied to the exposition of the Word, and that is a part of the teaching elder's office, not the ruling elder's. The sacraments have no power apart from the Word.
     
  14. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    I believe I read elsewhere in one of your posts, you are new to PCA and studying for the PCA Diaconate. Is this correct? If your session is considering you to be a Deacon, what is the local session/presbytery doing to aid you in your studies? I only ask because I see several comments hinting you are heading towards taking exceptions to various PCA positions that you feel are not supported by Scripture or the Standards.
     
  15. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Fred,

    That is interesting. So when a ruling Elder preaches from the pulpit ocassionally, is he not expositing the word?

    Would a man be allowed to preach from the pulpit and not attempt to faithfully exsposit the word?
     
  16. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Various???What other exceptions? I have no exceptions with our standards, but only 1 with the section of the BCO that says only a teaching elder (excluding the RE) can administer the sacraments.

    I am reading the BCO, the standards, and a Book by a reformed author on the office of a deacon. Also we are meeting weekly (Sunday nights) to discuss readings.

    Obviously the most important part is that the sacraments are preformed rightly. I would likely not even take exception and am fully willing to submit to the practice and not and not teach contrary.
     
  17. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Minister (word/sacrament), elder (rule), deacon (mercy).
     
  18. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks brother.

    So your Elders are not allowed to preach from the pulpit at all?
     
  19. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    I see. By taking exception(s) to various PCA positions I meant the singular exception in question, to which there are plural PCA position materials. You can call that bad grammar on my part.

    On the matter at hand, you might consider 1 Sam 13. Saul was wrong to offer sacrifice when Samuel was not readily available. ;)
     
  20. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    You had me worried I was headed for liberalism..:flamingscot:

    I will check that chapter out.
     
  21. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    They would be allowed to exhort. The difference in the language (preach-vs-exhort) may seem trivial but, as Fred indicated, is tied to the office. @Alan D. Strange would be a wealth of insight into this and the difference between the OPC, for example, and the PCA......
     
  22. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    I have also read Guy Waters “How Jesus runs his Church” ... very helpful, but still questions and doubts on this particular subject.
     
  23. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    True but as I understand, The PCA only recognizes 2 offices. And the Elder office is seen as having 2 classes, but not so far as to see 2 sperAte Elder offices.
     
  24. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Each office has its boundaries, however....no?
     
  25. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    In the PCA BCO, yes there are distinctive boundaries.
     
  26. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Does the OPC call their ministers TEs? Or just ministers?
     
  27. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Ministers. TE/RE is PCA only. I believe most Presbyterian churches are 3 office.
     
  28. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Hmmmm...very interesting.
     
  29. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    I can’t remember off the top of my head, but do the Westminster standards (including the confession and the catechisms) stipulate the number of ordained
    offices that should exist in a church?
     
  30. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Seems OPC uses TE/RE as well for Minister & Ruling Elder. But to your other point they do see 3 different ordained offices for governing the church.

    https://www.opc.org/BCO/FG.html#Chapter_VIII
     
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