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All Articles For Decency and Order

Results 161 to 170 of 296

The origin of ecclesiastical assemblies as we know them today must seemingly be traced to the period of the Reformation. The Presbyterial system is one of the fruits of the 16th century Reformation. In Scripture itself we do not read of Classes and Synods. The meeting convoked in Acts 15, at which the question of Gentile circumcision and subjection to the law of Moses was decided for the churches, cannot properly be called a Synod.

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“In all churches there shall be a consistory composed of the ministers of the Word and the elders, who at least in larger congregations, shall, as a rule, meet once a week. The minister of the Word (or the ministers, if there be more than. one), in turn shall preside and regulate the proceedings. Whenever the number of elders is small, the deacons may be added to the consistory by local regulations; this shall invariably be the rule where the number is less than three.”—Art. 37. 

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It has been frequently alleged that in 1953 the Classis East of our Protestant Reformed Churches was guilty of the same violation of classical jurisdiction as the Christian Reformed Classis when in 1924, she deposed the Consistory of the Eastern Avenue Church. Charges of “Classical Hierarchy” and“Popery” have been voiced so vigorously by the leaders of the schism that many of the people have believed it.

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Not infrequently matters are presented to ecclesiastical assemblies which do not properly belong there or concerning which a question may be asked as to whether or not the material can be properly, treated. This question may arise with reference to the “legality” of the material presented as, for example, a case where a consistory is asked by a member of the church to treat a certain brother for the committal of a personal sin against him.

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“The deacons shall be, chosen, approved and installed in the same manner as was stated concerning the elders.” In Articles 24 to 26 of the Church Order the office and function of the deacons is described. Mention is also made of the deacons in Article 37 where it is stated that they may be added to the consistory by local regulation where the number is small. Article 40 stipulates the time, purpose and manner in which the periodic Deacon’s Meetings shall be held.

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We made a statement last time to the effect that the Classis in 1924 assumed jurisdiction over the Synod by going beyond the decision of the Synod in attempting to bind upon the consistory and its pastor what Synod had not intended and had even refused to do.  If this is true, it is evident that Classis violated the rule of Article 36 of the Church Order, dealing with the matter of proper jurisdiction of ecclesiastical bodies.  This, therefore, we must now further determine. 

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(De Vaste Aftreding van Ouderlingen en Diakenen)  “The elders and deacons shall serve two or more years according to local regulations, and a proportionate number shall retire each year. The retiring officers shall be succeeded by others, unless the circumstances and the profit of any church, in the execution of Articles 22 and 24, render a reelection advisable.”—Art. 27, D.K.O.  To the above article, our churches have added the following decision: (Acts of Synod 1944): 

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“In these assemblies ecclesiastical matters only shall be treated.” Such is the wording of Article 30. It would seem that further comment on the above statement is altogether unnecessary since the fact stated follows from the very nature of things. It is obvious that a farmer shall concern himself with things pertaining to agriculture, a doctor with medicine, a teacher with pedagogy, etc. Isn’t it then rather redundant to say that the church shall treat only those matters that pertain to and concern the church? 

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The question of the nature and extent of the jurisdiction of a Classis over a Consistory is of fundamental importance!  The exercise of this jurisdiction, either properly or improperly, has an important effect upon the ecclesiastical life of the churches and certainly has affected the history of our Protestant Reformed Churches from the very time of their origin until, the present day. 

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