Church Offices

The Puritans were united in rejecting the office of bishop, the hallmark of episcopacy, but they disagreed on what was happening in ordination.

God gifts His church with these offices and abilities (1 Cor. 12:4-6; Eph. 4:11).

In the past there were extraordinary ministries, which had infallible direction and usually a supernatural call.  (Moses and other prophets).  Now there are ordinary ministers whose rule is Scripture.

Most puritans saw three offices: minister/pastor/teacher, elder and deacon.
All pastors are also elders.  There is a distinction between teaching and ruling, but not as big a one as between elders and deacons.  Taking the office requires an orderly call by a church.  Most Puritans believed the whole congregation had authority to call (vote on) a minister, not just the elders.  The main polity disagreement: "for the Presbyterians, ordination meant something more than simply election to serve a particular church" (647).

Similar to pastors in working with doctrine, the teacher aims more to inform the judgement than to apply truth to the conscience.

Ruling Elders
A key role not given place in the church of England, the elders have rule of the church.
Puritans usually made a very strong distinction between teaching and ruling elders, based on 1 Timothy 5:17.
"Some men are fitted by gifts for the dispensation of the word and doctrine in a way of pastoral feeding who have no useful ability for the work of rule, and some are fitted for rule who have no gifts for the discharge of the pastoral work in preaching" (649).
This office focuses on the poor and needy, following Acts 6.  It isn't a step on the way to elder, but a different kind of office.  Doing deacon work well keeps you from being a pastor or elder.

No comments:

Post a Comment