Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ruling Elders and Church Courts

Pastor Brian Carpenter, at The Happy T.R. has correctly pointed out that, in the PCA, the court of original jurisdiction for Ruling Elders is the session. He points this out to call to action Ruling Elders in that denomination who are otherwise ambivalent to ongoing theological controversies in the PCA. His admonition can be summarized as, "Hey Ruling Elders, charges can't be brought against you at Presbytery, which means you can act without fear of reprisal from opponents in other congregations." This is a very important point. It is also a wise way to distinguish between Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders in the PCA. It frees the REs from frivolous charges (not that TE Carpenter would know anything about that), thus enabling them to RULE. Interesting idea, isn't it.

I checked, and in my own denomination (the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church), the "original jurisdiction vested in the session of the congregation to which they belong." (Book of Disciple, 3.1, see PDF here). This is very important for REs in the ARP. When theological controversy arises, REs have a level of immunity, if you will, that TEs do not possess. This should embolden REs to defense of orthodoxy!

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