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Old 3rd June 2004, 09:31 AM
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Reformed Baptist Vs Presbyterian

I am a Reformed Baptist, can someone explain how the PCA Differs from Reformed Baptists. I know infant baptism is one, and Church Government is another, anything else?

Could someone explain that Presbyterian form of Church Government, and explain how it differs from the Reformed Baptist model?

Can someone also explain the Presbyterian understanding of baptism as it compares to the Reformed Baptist understanding.
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Old 3rd June 2004, 10:46 AM
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i am interested in a particular piece of church government so i will say something about that.

3 major forms of church government.
hierarchical-RCC and the pope for example
congregational-most baptists
presbyterian-most presbyterians, *grin*

start with the local church body-the congregation, enough people to fill up a small auditorium. and someone to preach to them-the pastor. It is functionally at this level that congregationalism operates. each church sets its own budget, buys its own building, and hires and fires its own pastor. There are no higher judical courts, no levels of authority etc.

hierarchical hook together a say-city wide group into a bishop's diocese. Then a group of dioceses into an archbishopric etc. until you hit the top man-the pope. The operative level is that a lone person governs each subsequent group, and there are groups of groups that is levels of authority. think of it as the military chain of command model. you have 1-platoon leader, 1-company commander 1-battalion etc etc.

presbyterian is harder to explain. There are levels. session/classis, presbytery, general assembly.
but multiple people operate in each level. ruling and teaching elders at session level, usually 1 teaching elder from each congregation at presbytery, usually 1 ruling and 1 teaching from each congregation at GA.
what makes presbyterian such an interesting and effective governmental model is this multiplicity. authority is vested in a group. versus the hierarchical model of a single person. the group must reach a consensus to do anything, at each level. The biggest drawback in congregational forms of govt. is that the pastor has no peer, he doesnt have anyone to talk to and to be accountable to. lone stars dont make good pastors any more than isolated individuals are good conversationalists, no opportunity.
it is this multiplicity and mutual accountability that interests me. for it does justice to several important theological topics: sin, mutual submission and accountability, many counselors, gifts etc

one of the interesting side effects of presbyterian organization is that presbytery is a church, that is a congregation. and our pastors have their membership there, not in the local church. a pastors family are members of the local church, but his fellowship is his peers, those who get paid for, and work full time in the ministry. therefore he is accountable to his peers, those with similiar interests and most of all, similiar experiences.....

Last edited by rmwilliamsll; 3rd June 2004 at 02:09 PM. Reason: added last paragraph
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Old 6th June 2004, 06:43 PM
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Cal gal has a very good grasp of the Presbyterian form of church government .As a fairly new Presbyterian with a Baptist heart I am still working on it
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Old 6th June 2004, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by rnmomof7
Cal gal has a very good grasp of the Presbyterian form of church government .As a fairly new Presbyterian with a Baptist heart I am still working on it
Allrighty I will try. The local church is governed by the Session which is comprised of the Ruling and Teaching Elders. Teaching Elders are pastors ordained through Presbytery. In larger congregations there are Deacons to assist the Ruling Elders and there are also trustees to oversee financial stuff. Session is accountable to the Presytery of the area the church is located in. Presbytery regions depend on the denomination but these folks are the ones who call a pastor to a congregation. The Teaching Elder(s) are hired through Presbytery (not sure about Intern or Assistant Pastors but the Head Pastor IS a member of Presbytery although his family does join the local body). The reason for the pastor not being a member is to protect him and the congregation from abuse. In the PCA and OPC, the Synods are not used but the Presbyteries in the OPC are nominally divided into Synods (regional orgs: Don who is PCUSA could explain this level better than almost anyone else here). The General Assembly aka GA is an "all church" meeting described in the following link: http://opc.org/GA/standingrules.html (these are the criteria the OPC uses).

Incidentally, Classis is the Continental Reformed (CRC, URC & RCA) equivalent to Presbytery. The local Session would be called a Consistory. If you do have more questions, do surf the pages of the OPC, PCA or any Reformed denomination and look at the Q&A page. Presbyterians LOVE to discuss this stuff!

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Old 6th June 2004, 09:53 PM
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It seems Calgal is discussing the OPC... I don't know how that varies from the PCA, do let's look there...

PCA- we have three main types of officers

Teaching Elders- Senior, Associate, and Assistant Pastor
Ruling Elder- Elected by the congregation, examined by the existing Session.
Deacons- Same method of selection as RE's

Originally Posted by BCO 7-2
The ordinary and perpetual classes of office in the Church are elders and deacons. Within the class of elder are the two orders of teaching elders and ruling elders. The elders jointly have the government and spiritual oversight of the Church, including teaching. Only those elders who are specially gifted, called and trained by God to preach may serve as teaching elders. The office of deacon is not one of rule, but rather of service both to the physical and spiritual needs of the people. In accord with Scripture, these offices are open to men only.
It is also interesting to note, that above the local church, there is no allowed distinction between RE and TE

Originally Posted by BCO 8-9
Elders being of one class of office, ruling elders possess the same authority and eligibility to office in the courts of the Church as teaching elders. They should, moreover, cultivate zealously their own aptness to teach the Bible and should improve every opportunity of doing so.
A Brief distinction- Associate Pastors are members of the Session (As TE's). Assistant Pastors are NOT members of the session. (BCO 12-1)

Now, how are the Elders and Deacons selected?

Senior Pastors MUST be elected by the congregation They are ordained by the presbytery, but must be first hired by a vote of the congregation. This prevents the congregation from having a SP that they do not want there- which can happen in the RCC or UMC models.

Now on to Associate and Assistant Pastors- and why we use both terms...

Originally Posted by BCO 22-2
The pastor and associate pastor are elected by the congregation using the form of call in BCO 20-6. Being elected by the congregation, they become members of the Session.
Originally Posted by BCO 22-3
An assistant pastor is called by the Session, by the permission and approval of Presbytery, under the provisions of BCO 20-1 and 13-2, with Presbytery membership being governed by the same provisions that apply to pastors. He is not a member of the Session, but may be appointed on special occasions to moderate the Session under the provisions of BCO 12-4.
Originally Posted by BCO 22-4
The relationship of the associate pastor to the church is determined by the congregation. The relationship of the assistant pastor to the church is determined by the Session. The dissolution of the relationship of both is governed by the provision of BCO 23.
That pretty much speaks for itself. Now, BCO 23-1 requires that for a Pastor, whatever the classification, to be removed from duty- he must be released by what body called him- SP's and Associates by the congregation, and Assistant's by the Session.

Enough about Pastors- let's take a brief look at RE's and Deacons. BCO 24 is very long- but the basic idea is that both must be elected by a vote of the congregation.

ABove this level- There is the Presbytery and General Assembly- but I don't have the experience there to discuss them. I'll leave them for someone else.
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Old 6th June 2004, 10:29 PM
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since the conversation seems mostly about the officers of the church i would like to point out that there are actually 5 potential ways to divide things in reformed churches.

the oddest one is to have bishops see hungarian reformed church.
it stretches presbyterians a little but the bishops are elective not appointed positions, however the crucial element of plurality at each level is missing/modified
calvin had a 4 fold office structure: teacher, pastor, elder, deacon
most presbyterians taught a 3 fold office of pastor-teacher, ruling elder, deacon.
currently both PCA and OPC are 2 fold.

trustees, board members are compromises with our legal system and property holding issues.
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Old 6th June 2004, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Bradford
It seems Calgal is discussing the OPC... I don't know how that varies from the PCA, do let's look there...

PCA- we have three main types of officers

Teaching Elders- Senior, Associate, and Assistant Pastor
Ruling Elder- Elected by the congregation, examined by the existing Session.
Deacons- Same method of selection as RE's


It is also interesting to note, that above the local church, there is no allowed distinction between RE and TE


A Brief distinction- Associate Pastors are members of the Session (As TE's). Assistant Pastors are NOT members of the session. (BCO 12-1)

Now, how are the Elders and Deacons selected?

Senior Pastors MUST be elected by the congregation They are ordained by the presbytery, but must be first hired by a vote of the congregation. This prevents the congregation from having a SP that they do not want there- which can happen in the RCC or UMC models.

Now on to Associate and Assistant Pastors- and why we use both terms...




That pretty much speaks for itself. Now, BCO 23-1 requires that for a Pastor, whatever the classification, to be removed from duty- he must be released by what body called him- SP's and Associates by the congregation, and Assistant's by the Session.

Enough about Pastors- let's take a brief look at RE's and Deacons. BCO 24 is very long- but the basic idea is that both must be elected by a vote of the congregation.

ABove this level- There is the Presbytery and General Assembly- but I don't have the experience there to discuss them. I'll leave them for someone else.
Pretty similar AFAIK. And points for using the BCO. And as a female, the workings of Session, Presbytery and GA are interesting but the true power is the WOC.
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Old 8th June 2004, 04:55 AM
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Thanks All,

What exactly is the Presbyterian teaching on infant baptism.

Other than Church Government and Infant Baptism what other doctrinal differences are their between the Reformed Baptist Churches and the Presbyterian Churches?
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Old 8th June 2004, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by dittomonkey911
Other than Church Government and Infant Baptism what other doctrinal differences are their between the Reformed Baptist Churches and the Presbyterian Churches?
I'm not certain as I'm not a member of either denomination but I think that's about it.....
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Old 8th June 2004, 08:38 PM
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What exactly is the Presbyterian teaching on infant baptism.
Presb's baptise infants, but not because it regeneratesm but because it is the seal of the new coveneant. (like circumcision was in the Old covenant)
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