"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Friday, September 04, 2009

Seeking Ordination: Why Presbyterian?

The second part of the question that might be asked is why, if you are seeking to do ministry, are you doing it in the Presbyterian denomination. The list of reasons could be very long indeed. Just look through my blog, most subjects under "reformed faith" deal with why I am Reformed. The most foundational reason I have written before:

Confessional - I have written elsewhere that it is my conviction that the church is at heart a confessional institution, and that its confession is most important: of Christ and His work faithful to the word of Christ Himself and the apostles.

This conviction means my options are naturally limited. The two traditions that maintain the primary nature of the church as confessional are the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. I find both to be rich traditions, rightly recognized as true faithful churches to the confession of the Gospel.

My conscience, however, is better quieted in a Reformed congregation, as Reformed confessions of faith (like the Westminster Confession or the Belgic Confession) seem closer to Scriptural mandates than the Lutheran confession of faith as laid out in the Book of Concord. If I found myself in a region with only a Lutheran Church and not a Reformed church, my conscience would not be troubled to be a member and worship with the Lutherans. However, if I were to seek ordination, my standards of doctrine are a bit higher.

Other than being confessional, I believe a church should strive to have:

* Proper view of the Church (confessional, means of salvation)
* Word rightly preached (in Law and Gospel)
* Rightly dividing law and gospel
* Rightly pointing to Christ and his means of salvation
* Preaching Christ as accomplishing Salvation
* Defining Faith as apprehending Christ's merits
* Rightly administering the sacraments
* Administering Church discipline.
* Believing in the Authority of God's Word
* Worshiping in accordance with God's Word.
* Not confusing contemporary fads for Biblical norms
* Not individualistic
* Not confusing the two Kingdoms
* Not accepting the traditions of men for God's word.
* Belief in the sufficiency of God's written word in matters of faith and morals
* Catholic
* Evangelistic

In practice, no church body is perfect. Reformed Theology especially acknowledges this by its insistance on teaching that even after the work of regeneration begins, the saint also remains a sinner until he or she is perfected by Christ in the eschaton. Yet, the ideals and confession (Westminster) of the Presbyterian Church best matches what I believe to be Scriptural demands.
I also appreciate the high standards of ordination that one must go through to be recognized as a minister in the PCA. One must be tested in Bible knowledge, Theology, History, be trained in the original Biblical languages, and know the Westminster Standards (the confessional documents of the English Reformed tradition). This assures me that those ministering beside me would at least be professing orthodox theology.

The denomination I find myself in is the PCA. There are other Reformed denominations I find equally inviting such as the OPC or URCNA, or any of the other Reformed denominations in the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council. However, the PCA is as good a ship as any to fish from.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

PCA rocks! As a Free Church man I have to add that I think PCA hits a good balance in their polity. I have heard some Presbyterians say they have actually learned to take some Baptist concerns about church polity seriously. As of now I Think PCA really hits a good balance with local congregational accountability but also with the escape hatch option the ecclesiastical structure etc is also accountable to serve the local congregations. Time will tell but they could be on to something. Anyway agreed on many of your other concerns as well. We will have to party like it is 1999 WHEN you get ordained! (I am confident of your chances of success.)