Shall We Trust Church Courts Implicitly?

 By Pastor Dewey Roberts - Posted at Vanguard Presbyterian Church:

In his excellent commentary, The Confession of Faith, Archibald Alexander Hodge wrote the following concerning Chapter XXXI, Of Synods and Councils:

As we have seen in the last chapter, all Church power is vested by Christ in the Church as a whole—not as a mob, but as an organized body. As organized, the Church consists of presbyters or bishops and the people, and the people are represented by lay or ruling elders. This necessarily gives origin to the session or parochial presbytery, consisting of bishop or pastor, and the ruling elders or representatives of the people. In this body the entire ecclesiastical power of the whole congregation is vested. It admits candidates to the sealing ordinances, exercises pastoral care and discipline over the members, and regulates public worship. (A. A. Hodge, The Confession of Faith, London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1961, p. 373).

The power of the church is vested in the whole body. Thus, those who govern receive their authority to do so from those who are governed. It is not the other way around (though that is too often the way that Presbyterians think). Those who rule in the church, whether teaching elders or ruling elders, are both alike chosen by the people. Their authority to govern was conferred on them by their election. This point is frequently not considered enough. The US Constitution is almost identical to the principles of Presbyterian church government. Our mayors, governors, state and federal rulers are elected by the people and they are accountable to the people. The government of the people is by the consent of the governed. For that reason, the Preamble to the Constitution begins with these words: ...


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