MISCELLANIES AND CONCLUSIONS
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter! Fear God, and keep His Commandments! For this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment!" – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.
In this last chapter of this book, we deal with just a few miscellanies, and then draw our conclusions on Biblical Church Government. Having thus far analyzed Church Office as such; having overtured the Fifth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America about this; having investigated the Triune God and Triune Office; having grounded special Church Office in the General Office of all Christians; having then looked successively at the Ministry of the Word, the Office of Deacon, and the Ruling Eldership – we now deal with a few miscellaneous matters, and then draw some conclusions.
We discuss the following. (1) Should the Preacher be the only Elder to rule each church? (2) Ordination of Officers by the laying on of hands. (3) Should Elders (and Preachers) ever be Rotated? (4) Should Elders (and Preachers) ever be Terminated? (5) Sessions, Presbyteries, Synods and General Assemblies. (6) Characteristic Principles of Presbyterian Church Government. (7) The Congregationalistic Rev. Dr. John Owen Re-Presbyterianized. (8) Some advice from the Hodges on Church Government. (9) Overview. (10) Conclusions.
SHOULD THE PREACHER BE THE ONLY ELDER TO RULE EACH CHURCH?
During 1977, I was a bit disturbed to read two publications by a highly esteemed acquaintance of mine, a leading Preacher of American Baptists. Sadly, I was by a fe things in those publications reminded of the great Protestant Reformer John Calvin's statements: "We are assailed by two sects which seem to differ most widely from each other. For what similitude is there in appearance between the Pope, and the Anabaptists? And yet…, when they boast extravagantly of the Spirit — the tendency certainly is to sink and bury the Word of God!"1
Thereupon, on November 21st 1977, I decided to write the following open letter to this much revered Baptist Pastor. Although he kindly acknowledged yet sadly never refuted my open letter, I thought it best to preserve it for the benefit of others. Here it is, with just a few minimal changes.
Dear brother! Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied — from one who is "also an Elder." And indeed from one who, much more importantly, is also elect according the foreknowledge of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ — and who has been baptized in the glorious name of our Triune God! First Peter 1:2 and 5:1.
By the mercies of our Sovereign Lord, you are the much esteemed Preacher of a Baptist Church…. Moreover, you are also a nationally acknowledged authority on true or historic Baptist Theology — as is evident in your September 1977 publication Extra-Biblical Ecclesiastical Systems. And your most thought-provoking July 1977 publication (titled Elders
in a New Testament Church) is undoubtedly the clearest exposition of Baptist Church Government we have yet seen.
Brother, we believe your valuable publications have been of great service to the Christian World! For in them you have we feel correctly pointed out: (a), that all Pastors are Elders and all Elders are Pastors; (b), that the Pastors must have leadership in the Church; (c) that "laymen's" committees-as-such are often incapable of giving efficient church leadership; (d), that church committees of laymen indeed often tend to be dominated by one of their members who acts like a Diotrophes in order to try to get things done (III John 9); (e) that Preachers should be 'honourably' paid for their services to the Church; and (g), that only Preachers should "preach" in the Congregation.