Chapter XXI
Licensing Candidates to Preach the Gospel

1. The Holy Scriptures require that some trial be previously made of those who are to be ordained to the ministry of the gospel, in order that this sacred office may not be degraded by being committed to weak or unworthy men and that the churches may have an opportunity to form a better judgment respecting the gifts of those by whom they are to be instructed and governed. For this purpose candidates for ordination shall first be licensed by presbyteries to preach the gospel as probationers. After a period of probation sufficient to make trial of their qualifications and service, and having received reports that their services are edifying to the church, the presbyteries may in due time proceed to ordain such probationers, or licentiates, to the sacred office.

Comment: Since God’s Word (1 Tim. 3:1–7) requires that a man seeking or being considered for church office must not be a novice, the church has rightly inferred that some trial must be made of prospects for the ministry. The church, in other words, must ascertain the fitness of any candidate for the ministry, and there is no reasonable way to do this other than to assign closely monitored duties and proper training/education to those reckoned as potentially gifted and called to office. Those duties, as they are performed, must be properly assessed by session and presbytery: does the man who is licensed, during this probationary period, manifest the necessary gifts and graces to be a minister of the gospel? Men who are weak (not strong in the faith, both in doctrine and in life) and unworthy (not possessing the requisite gifts and graces) should be kept from degrading (bringing it down in the common estimate of the church and the world) the sacred office of the minister.

1 Timothy 3:1–7, and allied passages, sets forth the qualifications for an episkopos (ἐπίσκοπος, bishop, overseer, pastor) in terms of graces more than gifts. This has, especially in historic American Presbyterianism, been a source of controversy, being no small part of the Old Side/New Side controversy that led to the first split in the Presbyterian Church (1741–1758). The New Side wanted to make sure that ministers not only enjoyed proper gifting but also possessed the requisite spiritual graces and religious affections. The Old Side wanted to make sure that men were orthodox, properly trained, and confessional. The reunion of the two sides witnessed a Presbyterian church that emphasized both proper graces and religious experience as well as the need for confessional fidelity and proper theological training.[1] It is too easy for a presbytery simply to focus on a candidate’s gifts and training and minimize the necessary graces that should mark all would-be ministers.

Prior to ordination to the ministry, any candidate for it must first be licensed to preach by his presbytery. As a part of the process of licensure, the candidate must undergo testing (trials) to ascertain whether the presbytery will be willing to declare such a man fit for ordination. This period of testing is referred to as “probation,” in which the presbytery monitors the ecclesiastical service, especially the preaching, of the candidate to determine whether he ought to be licensed with a view to later ordination.  There is no set period for the probation: it must be a sufficient amount of time for the presbytery to judge the “qualifications and service” of candidates, customarily through testimonials of those who are recipients of the candidate’s ministrations, both as office-bearers and as ordinary members of local churches. The prospective licentiate’s services among the churches must be deemed edifying and contributing to the building up of the church before he is licensed and ordained. Such licensure, and later ordination, is never a “right” merely because a man has received training or deeply desires to be a minister: it is always a privilege to be called to the ministry, and the ultimate discretion in such cases lies with the presbytery, not with the candidate, and not with any particular local session.

2. Prior to licensure candidates shall be taken under care of a presbytery. A candidate must be a communicant member of a local congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; ordinarily it should be of the same presbytery in which he is applying to be taken under care. The presbytery shall receive a written recommendation from the session of the local congregation of which the candidate is a member, certifying that in its judgment his Christian faith and potential gifts qualify him to be taken under the care of the presbytery with a view to ordination to the gospel ministry. It is of particular importance, at this time, that the presbytery inquire as to the grace of God in him and whether he be of such holiness of life as is requisite in a minister of the gospel. It is therefore the duty of a presbytery, in taking a candidate under its care, to examine him respecting his Christian faith, life, service, and the motives influencing him to desire the sacred office. The presbytery must show its continuing concern for the progress of all the candidates under its care, and shall continually guide, counsel, and help them as they further prepare themselves for the work of the ministry.

If a candidate desires to place himself under the care of a presbytery other than his own, he shall request his presbytery to forward the written recommendation of his session to the presbytery under whose care he desires to place himself. That presbytery shall examine the candidate as required above of all candidates and, if it receives him as a candidate shall give him all that continuing care above required.

Comment: Candidates for the gospel ministry in the OPC must first be communicant members of local OPC congregations, usually of the same presbytery by which he wishes to be “taken under care.” Common practice is that candidates are members of such congregations minimally from six months to a year, so that the sessions of the local congregations can make proper assessment of the gifts of would-be ministerial candidates. The session of the congregation in which a prospective candidate is a member, upon assessment of the candidate’s Christian life and character and of observed gifts (even in early stages), communicates in a letter to presbytery its evaluation. Such candidates are usually at least in the latter part of college or beginning seminary and have a clear desire to serve the church as a minister.

If the desire for ministry manifests itself early in a young man’s life, a session may seek to ascertain whether he has due gifts for such by giving him opportunity for service in his high school years or later: perhaps assisting in Sunday School or VBS, working as “helping hands” with the deacons (mowing lawns, shoveling walks, raking leaves, etc.), perhaps being discipled by the pastor, an elder, deacon, or other member. The Committee on Christian Education (OPC) has developed the Timothy Conference, an annual conference held near one of the seminaries commonly attended by OPC candidates, hosted by a local OPC, in which speakers can help young men (either in late high school or early college) think about whether they might be fit for ministry, discussing matters like gifting, calling, education, service, etc.[2]

Additionally, the CCE offers the Orthodox Presbyterian Shiloh Institute (OPSI) for men in their last year of college or first two years of seminary. The OPSI gives further instruction, as the Timothy Conference furnishes introductory guidance, to those interested in pursuing ministry in the OPC.[3]

Caution is due here for very young candidates (especially before puberty) who say that they want to be a minister: a pastor or elder should pray for, say, an eight-year-old boy who professes this desire, talk with him about the joy of kingdom service, and even perhaps give some encouragement or guidance to the parents. Time will tell whether a young man genuinely has the gifts and calling for ministry. The potential for this may always rightly be encouraged, but not unduly so when a boy is young: we do not wish to set such youth up for a sense of disappointment to others and failure to themselves. Many young boys in church, in going through the possibilities of what they want to be “when the grow up,” may say, “pastor,” though later years demonstrate otherwise. Therefore it is best to wait for more mature development of such desires and to be sober about such youthful declarations.

A candidate recommended by the session to be taken under the care of the presbytery is to be examined in “faith and life” by that presbytery. This means that the presbytery, while delaying more thorough theological examinations to the process of licensure, should, firstly, inquire into and satisfy itself to the young man’s Christian life: usually the presbytery, in doing so, asks a young man to recount his spiritual journey and his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for his salvation. The presbytery inquires about the grace of God in the prospective candidate and the consequent holiness of life that should accompany such grace, particularly his use of the means of grace, publicly and privately, asking about both his attendance upon the means of grace and the personal and familial use that he makes of the Word and prayer.

The presbytery also wants to know what service the candidate has rendered in the church, whether he senses a call to the sacred office of minister of the Word and Sacrament, and the motives that move him to such. That last issue is an important one. A wise elder minister asked me when I was coming into the OPC from another denomination and was laboring in an OPC and as a student at Westminster Theological Seminary: “do you seek ministry in the OPC out of convenience or conviction?”[4] The candidate’s motives are important. Some have sought the gospel ministry because they looked at it from the outside and saw a certain “Christian glamour” to it; ministers are seen as exemplary Christians, and they receive a degree of respect and acclaim in the Christian church as those who lead the church publicly. These folks have looked at pastors externally and have envied and wanted what they perceived as its glory, missing its heart of service and sacrifice. More simply, other people are good speakers or leaders and figure that, as a Christian, that can best be used in the ministry.

The motive for ministry needs to be a true servant’s desire to wash the feet of the saints (John 13:1–20), to serve God’s people as a preacher, shepherd, counselor, encourager, etc. As one of my mentors put it in an evaluation of a sermon that needed reproach—“edify, not impress”—he captured the heart of the ministerial call, as did one of my seminary professors who said, “kingdom greatness is a four-letter word spelled L-A-S-T.”[5] These are the proper motives for seeking the ministerial office: you want to edify the saints so that they can live the Christian lives now that God has for them.

The presbytery has many responsibilities here as well with respect to a candidate taken under its care. When a presbytery takes a candidate under its care it should not neglect its duties to follow his progress in seminary, to monitor his work in the churches, to seek both to encourage and challenge him as he prepares for gospel ministry. There are many ways to do this, and it will vary as presbyteries exercise their loving creativity in best shepherding and guiding those under their care. It is also noted in the last part of this section of the FG that a candidate under care of a particular presbytery may wish to place himself under the care of a different presbytery; perhaps he is at seminary, doing a year-long internship, or otherwise engaged in a different presbytery and desires such. If he does, the presbytery under whose care he seeks to come shall examine him as they would any candidate coming under care in that presbytery. There is no formal “transference of care” as such but a re-examination of the sort described here simply occurs in the new presbytery.

3. It is highly reproachful to religion and dangerous to the church to entrust the preaching of the gospel to weak and ignorant men. The presbytery shall therefore license a candidate only if he has received a bachelor of arts degree, or its academic equivalent, from a college or university of reputable academic standing, and has completed an adequate course of study lasting at least one year and a half in a theological seminary.

Comment: Historic Presbyterianism has always been committed to a trained ministry (as has historic Christianity, at least in theory). Because other Protestant denominations have had either large numbers of lay preachers (like the Methodists) or large numbers of untrained preachers (like the Baptists), the Presbyterians have sometimes been perceived, or perceived themselves, as “falling behind” in gathering and perfecting Presbyterian churches. This has sometimes prompted Presbyterians to compromise on what some on the outside, certainly, as well as the inside perceive as “high educational requirements” for ministry in the Presbyterian church. These requirements for education—ordinarily an undergraduate degree, classically a BA from a liberal arts college, and an MDiv from seminary—seem unjustifiable to some. The historic requirement, however, has been in place not for the sake of those degrees as such but for what such are understood to yield, the knowledge that is needed for ministry and the understanding that one ordinarily obtains through a college or university degree followed by a seminary degree.[6]

The presbytery, in the process of guiding a candidate under care for gospel ministry, might recommend a seminary, if the candidate is not already in one, or other preparatory measures, including encouraging study in accordance with the recommended denominational curriculum.[7] The one who has been taken under care as a candidate for gospel ministry by a presbytery, in the ordinary course of things, as a student in seminary, pursues licensure. Such a man may become licensed at the half-way mark through the course of his seminary studies, though, in practice, at least in more recent years, many candidates tend to pursue licensure more at the end point than the half-way point of seminary.

4. The candidate for licensure shall be examined by the presbytery, or by a committee appointed for that purpose, in the English Bible, ecclesiastical history, theology, and the original languages of the Scriptures. The presbytery shall also satisfy itself, by receiving testimonials or by other means, of the candidate's piety and exemplary life and his personal zeal for and experience in presenting the gospel to others. If the examination of candidates is referred to a committee, an examination at least in theology shall also be held before the presbytery; and if one-fourth of the presbyters present at the meeting are dissatisfied with the examination in theology, the candidate shall be required to continue the examination at a future meeting of the presbytery.

Comment: Licensure is the process among Presbyterians whereby the presbytery examines a candidate in theological disciplines, including the Bible and its original languages, theology, church history, and further in life (piety, zeal, etc.), all with a view to declaring that such a man has the gifts requisite for being a preacher. When a man is licensed, then and only then, may he be said, when giving a sermon, to be “preaching;” before this his sermonizing is regarded as “exhorting.”

Specifically, the presbytery, usually through the agency of a committee (on Candidates and Credentials, or the like), conducts exams off the floor in general Bible content (“English Bible”), in church history (including the history of Presbyterianism and the OPC), in Greek and Hebrew (“the original languages of the Scripture,” a few rare bodies may also examine in Aramaic, since a fragment of the Old Testament is in that language), and in the full scope of theology (from prolegomena to eschatology). The presbytery, or its committee, also invites testimonials from those that the candidate submits as references or others as to the personal piety and exemplary life of the candidate as well as those that can testify to his zeal and experience in evangelism and discipleship.

While the presbytery may give all the aforementioned parts of the examination to its committee to be performed off the floor and reported back by the committee to the presbytery, it must conduct a theological examination of the candidate on the floor of presbytery. This exam customarily covers all the loci of systematic theology. It should be noted in all exams, both on and off the floor, the presbytery must take account of the candidate’s seminary study if he pursues licensure before graduation from seminary. The presbytery is not thereby restricted, e.g., in asking a third-year seminarian who has not had eschatology in his course of study questions in that locus. His not having studied something in the classroom, or in other formal ways, should be taken account of, however, in evaluating his examination.

Ordinarily, a prospective licentiate examined in theology on the floor of the presbytery would have a “lead” or primary examiner, ordinarily from the Committee on Candidates and Credentials. When that primary examiner concludes his part of the exam, the floor is opened for examination to any ministers or commissioned/seated ruling elders in the presbyteries (some presbyteries seat all ruling elders present who are not commissioned; local practice prevails in this situation). When there are either no more questions from the floor or the body otherwise arrests the examination, debate ensues: the question is “shall the presbytery approve the theological exam?” If three-quarters plus one of the presbyters present vote in the affirmative, then the presbytery may proceed in the licensure process. If one fourth of the presbyters vote “no,” the theological exam is to be continued at the next meeting of the presbytery.

5. In order to make trial of his gifts to explain and vindicate and practically to enforce the doctrines of the gospel, the presbytery shall further require that the candidate prepare (1) a sermon, which the presbytery may ask to be delivered in its presence, (2) an essay on a theological theme, and (3) an exegesis of the Hebrew or Greek text of a passage of Scripture.

Comment: In addition to all the above cited trials, additional trials of gifts are made by the presbytery with the express purpose of ascertaining further his ability to explain, defend, and implement the doctrines of the gospel. To that end the candidate must prepare a sermon, and in most presbyteries deliver it in their presence. The presbytery also requires a paper on a theological theme, either assigned by the presbytery or written for a theological course in seminary, as well as an exegesis of either a Greek or Hebrew text of a passage of Scripture. This latter exercise may be the text upon which the candidate will preach before the presbytery. By these instruments, together with the examinations and further inquiry into the candidate’s life, presbytery may responsibly assess whether this man may be deemed a preacher of the gospel, one qualified, upon completion of all educational and other requirements, to receive a call to gospel ministry.

6. That the most effectual measures may be taken to guard against the admission of unqualified men into the sacred office, no exception shall be made of any of the educational or other requirements for licensure outlined above unless the presbytery, after reporting the whole matter to the general assembly and weighing such advice as it may offer, shall judge, by a three-fourths vote of the members present, that the exception is warranted by the manifest qualifications of the candidate for the holy office of the gospel ministry.

Comment: There is a long history in Presbyterianism of seeking some exception to the educational requirements, in particular from the New Side proponents who wanted such education closer at hand to a Gordon Clark who claimed that his other qualifications met and exceeded these requirements.[8] There have always been those, in frontier conditions, or even today for other reasons (some having to do with the cost of such educational requirements), who have contended that time and circumstances demand no further delay, that ministry beckons and must be attended to now, though all requirements are not met.

Any such exceptions to the requirements mandate that a presbytery contemplating granting such must seek the advice of the general assembly. The presbytery shall lay the whole case before the assembly, presenting the reasons that this candidate ought to be granted an exception. The general assembly considers the particular case and gives its advice to the presbytery, which might range from “the candidate needs to meet all requirements” to “we are convinced by his ‘manifest qualifications’ that you may proceed with this candidate though he lacks the necessary requirements.”

Upon the reception of the assembly’s advice, the presbytery should carefully weigh it, all such advice is quite a serious matter (FG 15.8), and act accordingly. If the presbytery believes that it should proceed with the candidate, even if the assembly’s advice is to do otherwise, it takes a seventy-five percent supermajority to determine that such an exception is warranted in the case of this candidate. The presbytery may then proceed to licensure.

7. If the presbytery is satisfied with the trials of a candidate for licensure, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner. The moderator shall propose to him the following questions:

(1)  Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?

(2)  Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?

(3)  Do you promise to seek the purity, the peace, and the unity of the church?

(4)  Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this presbytery, or any other presbytery under the jurisdiction of which you may come?

Comment: When a candidate for licensure has satisfied the presbytery with all that he is required to do to be licensed, the presbytery then proceeds to license him by observing the requirements of this and the following section (7 and 8). First, he must answer in the affirmative four questions. Question 1 pertains to the candidate’s most fundamental belief: that the Bible is the Word of God and is the only rule of faith and practice that is not capable of error, which is the meaning of “infallible.” This is the primary standard, and note the verb here is that you “believe” this, without any qualifications whatsoever. One may take no “exceptions” or express “scruples,” obviously, with respect to the inspired, authoritative, infallible Word of God.

Question 2 involves the candidate affirming that he sincerely (from the heart) receives and adopts the doctrinal standards of the OPC: The Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, as adopted by the OPC. He also affirms that the Bible contains a system of doctrine (its many parts form a unified whole), which system is given expression in the doctrinal standards. Notice here the verbs differ from Question 1: the candidate affirms that he does “receive and adopt” these standards, which he regards as a true summary of the Bible which he has already affirmed that he “believes.” Question 3 allows the candidate to affirm his quest for the purity, peace, and unity of the church. The historic Christian church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church thrives or languishes based on its commitment to the purity, peace, and unity of the church. Purity of doctrine and life is first and most foundational and produces peace and unity. Liberalism seeks to purchase the peace and unity of the church at the expense of its purity.[9] A misguided conservativism treats the peace and unity as dispensable. All three are essential and always properly go together: we may never properly pursue one of these at the cost of the others.

Question 4 has in view a promise from the candidate to submit himself properly to the government of the presbytery licensing him, or any subsequent presbytery under whose jurisdiction he might come. It should be noted that this vow of submission is taken, as are all the vows in the OPC Book of Church Order, not as an oath of absolute obedience but as a promise to submit to oversight and governance that is “in the Lord.” One does not agree, in other words, to submit to a tyranny but rather to submit to government that is manifestly biblical and in keeping with the constitution of the church. Mechanisms exist (recording of negative votes, protests, complaints and the like) for occasions upon which those subject to such government might wish to call into question the constitutionality of a decision. Submission to due church government is always submission in the Lord and never tyrannical unquestioning submission to the rule of mere men.

8. After the candidate has answered these questions in the affirmative the moderator shall offer prayer suitable to the occasion and shall address the candidate in the following or similar words: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the authority that he has given to the church for its edification, we license you to preach the gospel, wherever God in his providence may call you; and for this purpose, may the blessing of God rest upon you, and the spirit of Christ fill your heart. Amen.”

The presbytery shall record the licensure in its minutes and provide the licentiate with a certificate in the following form:

At _________________ on the ______ day of __________ the Presbytery of __________________ having received testimonials in favor of ___________________, of his being in the communion of the church, of his piety and exemplary life, of his proficiency in the liberal arts, divinity, and other studies, and of his personal zeal for the gospel and his ability to present it to others, approved all these parts of trial; and he having adopted the Confession of Faith of this Church, and satisfactorily answered the questions to be put to candidates to be licensed, the presbytery did license to preach the gospel of Christ as a probationer for the holy ministry within the bounds of this presbytery, or wherever else he shall be orderly called.

Comment: This section details what the moderator does upon the candidate’s affirmative answer to the four questions of the previous section and what the clerk of the presbytery both records in the minutes and provides to the newly licensed candidate as a certificate of his licensure. The moderator offers prayer, or appoints another whom he finds fitting to do so, and then makes the declaration of licensure. All seems rather patent in this section, just this final comment: the licentiate is referred to as a “probationer,” as noted above, which indicates that he is someone “under trial” during his licensure. Like all proper probations, it is not open ended and is meant to eventuate in a call to gospel ministry in some capacity, most commonly, a pastorate of some sort.

9. When any candidate for licensure shall have occasion, while his trials are going on, to remove from the bounds of his own presbytery into those of another, the latter presbytery, on his producing proper testimonial from the former, may take up his trials at the point at which they were interrupted, and conduct them to a conclusion.

Comment: It happens, for a variety of reasons, that a candidate for licensure, while amid trials for licensure, particularly his examinations in the subjects in which he is tested, finds it necessary to move from the presbytery in which these trials are ongoing to another. Perhaps he has been appointed to a year-long internship after graduating from seminary: he has completed some examinations in presbytery x and wishes now to finish them and be licensed in presbytery y, in which the church at which he will intern is located. His “new” presbytery, on due attestation from the presbytery in which he has been being examined, may take up his trials at the point at which they were interrupted and conduct those trials to a conclusion. If the candidate, for instance, started his language exams in one presbytery, passing Greek but not yet taking Hebrew, the new presbytery may accept the Greek exam from the previous presbytery and proceed to administer the Hebrew exam. This section simply makes clear that the candidate need not “start over” in the process of licensure when he moves from the bounds of one presbytery to another but can pick up in the new presbytery where he left off in the old.

10. A licentiate shall move outside the limits of his regional church for an extended period of time only by permission of his presbytery; in such a case an extract of the record of his licensure and a statement of his service as a licentiate, signed by the clerk, shall be his testimonials to the presbytery under whose jurisdiction he shall come. When a licentiate shall undertake regular duties within the bounds of a regional church he shall place himself under the jurisdiction of its presbytery.

Comment: When a presbytery licenses a candidate to preach the gospel, the presumption is that, while the candidate will likely preach from time to time out of his presbytery, particularly when pursuing a ministerial call, and may even live outside his regional church for a shorter period of time, his residence will remain within said presbytery as a sort of base of operations. He will ordinarily report, usually through the Committee on Candidates and Credentials, his activities as a licentiate to the presbytery. This section notes that if the licentiate wishes to move out of his regional church for an extended period of time, perhaps to serve as regular supply at a church without a pastor in another presbytery, he should notify his presbytery of such and obtain its permission.

If he does obtain permission to move outside the boundaries of his regional church by the presbytery that governs it, the licentiate should present his credentials to the presbytery under whose jurisdiction he comes, namely, an extract of the record of his licensure, i.e., the fact that said presbytery licensed him, together with a statement of his service as a licentiate, detailing such for the new presbytery and signed by the clerk. This shall all serve as “testimonials” to the new presbytery, and he would ordinarily be enrolled, with or without further examination, which would reside in the discretion of the new presbytery, as a licentiate there. The bottom line here is that when a licentiate takes up labors in a regional church other than his own, he should regularize his service by placing himself under the jurisdiction of the new presbytery.

11. When, over a considerable period of time, either a licentiate's services do not appear to be edifying to the church, or he is not actively seeking a call to ministerial service except for reasons of furthering his preparation for the ministry, the presbytery may, if it think proper, recall his license. The period of time ordinarily should not exceed two years.

Comment: A license to preach, which includes eligibility to receive a call, is not open-ended. This is because the period of licensure, as noted above, is referred to as a “probation,” a time in which a trial is made of the putative gifts and calling of the licentiate. Periods of testing are never open-ended (as in the covenant of works or licensure) as that would not be equitable or practicable. If during the time of probation the licentiate’s services—in an internship, pulpit supply, and/or in other avenues of ecclesiastical service—do not appear to be edifying to the church, meaning that those to whom he ministers do not profitably receive such ministrations, the presbytery may recall his licensure.

The period for such probation while licensed is, and should ordinarily not exceed, two years, though the presbytery may determine for good and sufficient reasons to extend that time if they think it expedient. If the licentiate is engaged in further ministerial preparation, perhaps pursuing advanced degrees, the presbytery may take this into account and extend the time beyond the ordinary two years. All of this remains in the discretion of the presbytery, though at some point the presbytery must determine, if no call continues to come to the licentiate, that the probation has gone on long enough unsuccessfully and it is time to recall the candidate’s licensure.


[1] Charles Hodge, The Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Part II (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1851), 209–81. See also for a multi-perspectival discussion of this Old Side/New Side split, and later developments, the Symposium on “Revisiting the Division of 1937: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Its American Ecclesiastical Context,” Mid-America Journal of Theology, 18 (2007): 137–97.

[2] For more information on the Timothy Conference(s), see https://www.opc.org/timothyconference.html.

[3] For more information on the Shiloh Institute, see https://opc.org/cce/Shiloh_Institute.html.

[4] Asked by LeRoy Oliver in the Presbytery of New Jersey (OPC) for this writer’s candidacy exam in September 1988.

[5] These latter unforgettable words were spoken to this writer at his ordination in January 1990 by Richard B. Gaffin, who was giving a charge to the minister from Philippians 2:17.

[6] Alan D. Strange, “Seminary Education: Its Necessity and Importance,” https://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=359.

[7] https://www.opc.org/BCO/Curriculum.html.

[8] For the former, see the sources in footnote 1 (above), and the discussion of this in my thesis on Samuel Davies, in which I show that the New Side were not as unlettered as some have assumed (having rigorous educational requirements): https://scholarworks.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4920&context=etd, see pp. 45–47, especially. For the latter (on Clark), see D. G. Hart and John Muether, Fighting the Good Fight: A Brief History of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia: The Committee on Christian Education and the Committee for the Historian of the OPC, 1995), 106–15.

[9] While confessionalists lament such compromise, liberals, like Lefferts A. Loetscher, celebrate it: The Broadening Church: A Study of Theological Issues in the Presbyterian Church since 1869 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1957), especially 90–156.

Alan D. Strange is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and serves as professor of church history and theological librarian at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana, and is associate pastor of New Covenant Community Church (OPC) in Joliet, Illinois. Ordained Servant Online, August–September 2021. A list of available installments in this series appears here.

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Ordained Servant: August–September 2021

Our Adult Children

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