Theological Definitions: Ministry, Evangelism, Preacher, Witnessing, etc.

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earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Next section on Preacher/teacher:

3) Preacher, preaching
a) (P)reaching vs (p)reaching-is there such a thing?
b) Is it a problem for the female gender to ever (p)reach?
c) Teacher vs preacher
d) Parents are called to teach their children-is this a different 'teaching'?


The word ‘preach, preacher, preaching, proclaim, herald, publish, must be seen in the same context as the previous distinctions. There is no such thing as (p)reaching, given that it is a characteristic of the office holder alone. The commission command is given to the leaders of the church, the ordained men to pursue the promulgation of the gospel message to all tribes, tongues and nations through the means of preaching; Since preaching is a means of grace, there are never times where preaching is distributed by a lay-person. Preaching is never divorced from the church-it is always an extension of the church and the man called, sent and ordained to the office. Hence, there is no such thing as (p)reaching, unless of course the ordained man who was called and sent is giving testimony in a setting where he cannot comfortably give the whole of the gospel message, secondary to space and time. It could be then said that the message he conveyed was (p)reaching vs (P)reaching.

Woman preachers: Since preaching is a means of grace, the gender associated with the office is always male. Woman are not called to the office; hence, whatever women do as an extension of the local church’s ministry, can never be said that they are preaching.

There are examples in scripture where a lay-person is said to be ‘proclaiming' or 'publishing' information; this proclamation is not official in the sense that the person doing this type of proclamation ordained to the official proclaiming of said information. In many instances, the person proclaiming or publishing may not be ordained. In these cases, it must be seen as an extension of the local church and its officers and can be seen as a witness, testimony, reasons for the hope that resides within themselves. It would be beneficial, when reading things of this nature, to jettison systematically from a biblical church polity to assist in coming to a correct conclusion on the matter.

Teacher: For the sake of this sections, we will use the terms (T)eacher to distinguish between an officer who is called to (T)each and a lay-person who (t)eaches:

Pastors are called to the office; Many (T)eachers are not pastors; however, both pastors and (T)eachers must be able to teach the flock. The (T)eacher, generally is an elder-it could also be a deacon. The pastor is called to preach, the (T)eacher is not. The way the information is given in the preaching, is different in form. (T)eaching is more academic and preaching must be seen in a spiritual realm where God is actually speaking through the pastor as his message is given. Preaching, at its core is to disseminate the gospel message. (T)eaching is more elaborate and meticulous; it also has the gospel message in the details, but it is not being disseminated via the means of grace as when the pastor does it. Preaching targets the heart. (T)eaching, the mind.


It could be said that there are strains of teachers; parents are called to (t)each their children; believers are to (t)each each other; the older woman is called to (t)each the younger.

John Gill helps here on the distinction:

"But I suffer not a woman to teach, They may teach in private, in their own houses and families; they are to be teachers of good things, Titus 2:3. They are to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; nor is the law or doctrine of a mother to be forsaken, any more than the instruction of a father; see Proverbs 1:8. Timothy, no doubt, received much advantage, from the private teachings and instructions of his mother Eunice, and grandmother Lois; but then women are not to teach in the church; for that is an act of power and authority, and supposes the persons that teach to be of a superior degree, and in a superior office, and to have superior abilities to those who are taught by them: nor to usurp authority over the man; as not in civil and political things, or in things relating to civil government; and in things domestic, or the affairs of the family; so not in things ecclesiastical, or what relate to the church and government of it; for one part of rule is to feed the church with knowledge and understanding; and for a woman to take upon her to do this, is to usurp an authority over the man: this therefore she ought not to do, but to be in silence; to sit and hear quietly and silently, and learn, and not teach, as in 1 Timothy 2:11."

TE's are pastors who teach by preaching and teaching and RE are called to rule. In other words, the office of a teacher in the church, other than a Pastor, is sorely lacking in scripture.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
All elders are called to be apt to teach. The distinction between a TE Pastor (one who has the ordination to distribute the means of grace) and Ruling Elder/Teacher is obvious.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
All those described in I Tim. 3:1-7 are called to be "apt to teach." In historic Presbyterianism, that has often been regarded as pertaining exclusively to ministers. This is true of Charles Hodge and many other partisans of a "three-office" (or "four-office") view.

Hodge and others, for instance, find the ruling elder description limited to places like Romans 12:8 ("the one who leads") or I Cor. 12:28 ("helping, administrating"). They do not regard "apt to teach" as applicable to ruling elders.

The OPC Form of Government, for instance, in FG X (on "Ruling Elders") does not list "apt to teach" as a requirement for elders.

These differences in understanding the offices have become matters of significant debate in Presbyterian polity: to assert that the "distinction" between a TE and an RE is "obvious" is either unaware of or not properly reflective of this debate.

Peace,
Alan
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Alan,
I wasn't referring to the 'debate' as much as how the distinction is meted out practically in most churches.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Scott:

You said, "All elders are called to be apt to teach."

I don't agree with this. I think that ruling elders are called to join together with ministers in the joint governance of the church.

Ruling elders do not hold the teaching office and I don't believe that they are required as such to be "apt to teach." They may well be and I've known more than a few that are. But I do not believe that pertains to their particular office and thus I do not believe it to be a biblical requirement for "all elders."

This is a subject about which good men, including on this board, disagree. That is why I mentioned the debate. It is quite relevant, because we have differing views here, and in our denominations, of the precise nature of the offices of minister and ruling elder.

I am quite prepared to defend my view, but I am also quick to acknowledge that good men of the same doctrinal standards differ with me on this. This is why I have responded here as I have.

Peace,
Alan
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Alan,
Thanks for your answer. Have you written on the subject and if so, would love to peruse the paper.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Scott:

It's been cited on here not long ago, so I am loathe to do so again so soon, but here is one thing that I have published (I have other unpublished materials on the matter): http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=393&issue_id=90.

Peace,
Alan

Pastor Strange, you being a historian, when exactly did the idea of RE's teaching within the congregation arise in Presbyterianism? I strongly suspect it creeped in gradually and was not challenged, and if so without success. I find it interesting to find any old theological writings penned by non TE's are few and far between.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Earl:

Short answer: it began in the nineteenth-century in Scotland and America with the development of the two-office theory (Reformed and Presbyterian polity had been decidedly three- or four-office before then; four-office and three-office are variations on a theme whereas two-office takes a different approach).

In addition to the link to my article from Ordained Servant on the office question (in #67, above), this article from Greg Reynolds on "Democracy and the Denigration of Office" might also prove interesting/useful: http://www.amoskeagchurch.org/wp-co...R-Democracy-and-the-Denigration-of-Office.pdf.

Peace,
Alan
 
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