Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Presbyterianism Pt.3/ Catechism Q7

The powers therefore, exercised by our ruling elders are powers which belong to the lay members of the Church. What, then, are the powers of our ruling elders?

1. As to matters of doctrine and the great office of teaching, they have an equal voice with the clergy in the formation and adoption of all symbols of faith. According to Presbyterianism, it is not competent for the clergy to frame and authoritatively set forth a creed to be embraced by the Church, and to be made a condition of either ministerial or Christian communion, without the consent of the people. Such creeds profess to express the mind of the Church. But the ministry are not the Church, and therefore cannot declare the faith of the Church without the cooperation of the Church itself. Such Confessions, at the time of the Reformation, proceeded from the whole Church; and all the Confessions now in authority, in the different branches of the great Presbyterian family, were adopted by the people, through their representatives, as the expression of their faith So, too, in the selection of preachers of the Word—in judging of their fitness for the sacred office, in deciding whether they shall be ordained, in judging them when arraigned for heresy, the people have, in fact, an equal voice with the clergy. 38

2. The same thing is true as to the jus liturgicum, as it is called, of the Church. The ministry cannot frame a ritual, or liturgy, or directory for public worship, enjoin its use on the people to whom they preach. All such regulations are of force only so far as the people themselves, in conjunction with their ministers, see fit to sanction and adopt them.

3. So, too, in forming a constitution, or in enacting rules of procedure, or making canons, the people do not merely passively assent, but actively cooperate. They have in all these matters, the same authority as the clergy.

4. And, finally, in the exercise of the power of the keys, in opening and shutting the door of communion with the Church, the people have a decisive voice. In all cases of discipline they are called upon to judge and to decide.

A.A. Hodge, Charles Hodge and A.A. Hodge, The Confession of Faith : With Questions for Theological Students and Bible Classes, With an appendix on Presbyterianism by Charles Hodge. Index created by Christian Classics Foundation., electronic ed. based on the 1992 Banner of Truth reprint., 403 (Simpsonville SC: Christian Classics Foundation, 1996).

Q:What are the decrees of God?
A:The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. (Eph. 1:4,11, Rom. 9:22–23)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism : With Scripture Proofs., 3rd edition., Question 7 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. 

New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Eph 1:4 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Eph 1:11 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Ro 9:22-23 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

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