The second part of the Form for the Ordination of Elders and Deacons deals with the office of the deacon. This Form is rather brief, dealing with just two matters. First of all the origin and institution of the office is recorded, and this is followed by a brief description of the office itself. To these matters we will return presently, but let us first make some general observations.
“The missionary work of the churches is regulated by the General Synod in a mission order” —Article 51, D.K.O.
Frequency of Meeting If the rule of Article 50 of the Church Order were observed, our Synod would meet every other year instead of every year as it does now. Joh. Jansen tells us that the Reformed Churches had originally desired an annual synod but due to disturbed civil conditions and intervention by the government this ideal could not be realized. This explains the provision of the Church Order stipulating that “the general synod shall ordinarily meet once every two years unless there be urgent need to shorten the time.”
In our previous writing we began to discuss the 49th article of our Church Order; an article that treats the subject of the appointment of synodical committees. Today the provisions of this article apply to all of the committees which are appointed by the Synod whereas originally it applied specifically to one central committee. Various committees are given different mandates and, functioning during the interim between Synods, they are to “execute everything ordained by Synod . .
The branch of study that is denoted by the above caption is one that is extremely wide in scope. The average reader undoubtedly thinks of Church Polity in terms of the eighty-six articles of our own accepted Church Order. The scope, however, of this subject is far broader than this. Properly speaking it would comprehend a study of all the various Ecclesiastical Polities that have been and are now found in the church world.
Method In proceeding to discuss the content of our Church Order, the selection of a proper method becomes a matter of great importance. Several methods, good and bad, effective and deficient, are possible. There is, for example, the legalistic method according to which the Church Order is regarded and treated as a book of common laws in the civil sense.
“To him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God”. Psalm 50:23
In our last installment we introduced the first article of our Church Order. At that time we wrote on the subject of Good Order in general and pointed out that the Word of God repeatedly calls us to live orderly lives. Such a life is one that is in all things in harmony with the revealed will and word of the God of all order.
Among other things the first article of our Church Order speaks of the necessity of assemblies in the church for the maintenance of good order. By these assemblies is not meant the gathering of the congregation in divine worship but rather the meetings of such ecclesiastical assemblies as the Consistory, Classis and Synod. Concerning these assemblies we will write, D.V., in connection with later articles.