What We Believe
i

The following are reflections by some of the people connected with Ordained Servant (OS) over the years of my editorship. Not only would the publication of OS have been impossible without them, but I count it a great privilege and blessing to work with such talented and delightful people.

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Ann Henderson Hart, copy editor for the print edition (2008–present)

I began copyediting Ordained Servant in the spring of 2008, the season that my father, a faithful minister, died. Carefully reading through the editorials, articles, and reviews in the journal had a special resonance for me that year. A sustained meditation on Christ, his church, and eternal things meant a great deal to me. In the years since, I have continued to appreciate the range of offerings each year in the journal, from deep theological reflections, to practical pieces on the life of the church, to reviews of quality Christian and secular books.

Edifying is the word that most often comes to mind after proofing the annual volume from cover to cover. One is reminded that you are engaging with thoughtful authors nationwide, who share a love for Christ and his church—whether they are pastors, elders, or deacons.

The breadth of subjects addressed and range of authors from across the country is heartening. Having worshipped in Orthodox Presbyterian churches in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and California, I am thankful to see how God is building his church.

The print version of Ordained Servant, in particular, invites readers to move away from their computer screens, slow down and focus on carefully curated submissions. It also provides a permanent record that can be put on the bookshelf and consulted later.

I appreciate the energy that editor Greg Reynolds brings to his post. Often the handsome cover of OS journal is a photograph that he has taken of a church steeple in his beloved New England. The layout is appealing, and the contents are easy to follow with titles, including: “Servant Tribute,” “Servant Worship,” “Servant Word,” “Servant Training,” and “Servant Living,” and more. The editor encourages church officers to be stewards of the Word, as well as attentive readers of the words of hymns, poetry, and serious literature.

Writer Marilyn Chandler McEntryre, in her memorable book, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, challenges readers to care deeply about words both spoken and written. She writes,

To be good stewards of words—we have at least to do three things (1) to deepen and sharpen our reading skills, (2) to cultivate habits of speaking and listening that foster precision and clarity, and (3) to practice poesis—to be makers and doers of the word.[1]

Pastors, elders, and deacons are stewards of the Word, whether from the pulpit, engaged in mercy ministries, or by example. Ordained Servant has been a complement to those endeavors for thirty years. While the printed journal is for church officers, the monthly editions of Ordained Servant are available for the edification of all readers at the denomination’s website, OPC.org

After all, at the end of life’s journey, all true followers of Christ long to hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

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Darryl Hart, chairman of the Subcommittee on Serial Publications of the Committee on Christian Education (2002–present)

“Ruling Elders Rule”

One of the striking features of Ordained Servant has been the attention its contributors and editors have giving to the office of ruling elder. In the first two years of the magazine’s publication, it featured four articles on eldership. Over the last three decades, it has accumulated eighteen articles on the topic. This reflects the original editor’s vision in some ways. In his first editorial, G. I. Williamson asserted that OS’s purpose was “to provide materials to help in the training and effective functioning of the elders (both teaching and ruling) and the deacons of our church.” He argued this was a need, since in the United States at the time (January 1992, just after the Cold War) an “exaggerated individualism” raised serious problems for the work of church officers and for appreciating the seriousness of church membership. “Can we honestly say, without hesitation,” he added, “that the elders of Orthodox Presbyterian congregations are faithfully exercising oversight of the flock according to biblical standards?”[2] To address that question, Williamson then and Greg Reynolds more recently have addressed the nature and function of ruling elders in Presbyterianism. For the sake of comparison, only “deacons” have received more attention—twenty-one articles. Church discipline, for instance, has attracted eight articles over thirty years.

This emphasis on office, and especially the office of ruling elder, is something of an anomaly in the history of Presbyterianism as a theory of church government. The Church of Scotland’s “First Book of Discipline” (1560), for instance, devoted a chapter to the election of elders and some criteria for those elected to office but did not spend much time on theological grounds for ruling elders as an office distinct from pastors.[3] The “Second Book of Discipline” (1578) added a chapter, “Of Elders and Their Office.” It described their work as watching “diligently upon the flock committed to their charge, both publicly and privately, that no corruption of religion or manners enter therein.”[4] But the major debate in Scotland and England after 1560 was whether to govern the church through bishops (usually appointed by the Crown) or by assemblies (independent of the civil authorities).

Even in the OPC, when in the 1950s the church revised its form of government, it had debates about the eldership that may have struck the original readers of OS as odd. One matter that received considerable debate was whether an elder was an office limited to active service or one that remained as long as the officer lived. Revisions allowed elders to leave office for non-judicial reasons, which some who resisted the revisions saw as a deficient understanding of the office.[5]

The current Form of Government, approved by the OPC’s General Assembly in 1979, has a lengthier description of the work of elders than many iterations of church polity from other and older Presbyterian communions. It reads in part:

[Ruling elders] are to watch diligently over the people committed to their charge to prevent corruption of doctrine or morals…. They should visit the people, especially the sick, instruct the ignorant, comfort the mourning, and nourish and guard the children of the covenant. They should pray with and for the people. They should have particular concern for the doctrine and conduct of the minister of the Word and help him in his labors.[6]

Whether that description was on the mind of Mr. Williamson when he took up the reins of editing OS, under Greg Reynolds’s watch, it has clearly carried over to the pages of the magazine, as the current commentary by Alan D. Strange on the Form of Government indicates.[7] That sort of attention to the work of all officers, pastors, elders, and deacons has been one of the hallmarks and positive contributions of OS.

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Diane Olinger, copy editor for the digital edition (2006–2020)

I was part of the Ordained Servant team when Gregory Reynolds first became editor. This was the beginning of online publication of monthly issues as well as a new style sheet, new formats, and new features. During the next fourteen years, Greg and I corresponded monthly concerning the work that needed to be done in preparing each issue. Our emails were brief and to the point: “articles x, y, and z attached,” followed by “mark up of articles x, y, and z attached.” But in the comments in the margins of the articles, we regularly exchanged views on some of the more esoteric rules of the Chicago Manual on Style—and occasionally on weighty matters of Reformed theology. Some of the most difficult articles for me, but also perhaps the most worthwhile, were those in which authors were vigorously expressing opposing views. This is one area where good editing can foster understanding and appreciation, if not agreement, by stressing the need for clarity of expression and fairness in argument (e.g., representing another’s view accurately). I believe Ordained Servant, at its best, has served the church in this way.

My favorite OS author during my stint with Ordained Servant was, of course, Danny Olinger, whose in-depth writing on a variety of topics (including Roman Catholicism, Updike, Flannery O’Connor, Vos, and Kline) I frequently saw long before it arrived on Greg’s desk. Greg’s love of words and the Word, expressed in his writing on media, ecology, and poetry, introduced me to new ideas and beautiful expression. T. David Gordon and D. G. Hart were pithy—and required only the lightest of edits. Copyediting the profound and precise work of Dr. Gaffin and Dr. Tipton, I considered an honor.

My small contributions to Ordained Servant were often made in between loads of laundry or while the kids were napping. The laundry continues, but the kids are (nearly) all grown now, and I have moved on to other endeavors. Still, I am thankful to have had this opportunity to serve the OPC and its ordained servants.

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Stephen Pribble, webmaster, senior technical associate, and proofreader (2006–present)

It has been my privilege to work with Ordained Servant for the last twenty-four years. In 1998 I was asked, by then-General Secretary of the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension Ross Graham, to take over OPC.org. Initially I did not have a job description; I was simply told to look over the website, make improvements, and be on the lookout for appropriate content. Ross gave me a few weeks to get started; then we had a one-hour phone call to talk things over, and that was that; I had become the OPC website manager! I did not know till months later that a small salary came with the job.

I remember when Ordained Servant first began arriving in my mailbox in early 1992, printed on sheets of office paper, three-hole-punched to facilitate storage in binders. Having been ordained as an independent Baptist (later received into the Presbytery of the Midwest via the PCA), I was amazed at OS’s good content. I was impressed that veteran minister G. I. Williamson was the editor. He was a hero of mine, since his study guides on the Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism, and Heidelberg Catechism had given me great encouragement in my journey from independency to Presbyterianism. I was moved by the realization that the Committee on Christian Education would pour considerable resources into the ongoing training and equipping of ministers, elders, and deacons—something I had never experienced in independent Baptist circles. Only later did I come to understand that this was an intentional effort to fulfill the Great Commission’s “teaching-them-to-observe-all-things” clause.

When I began receiving the four-times-yearly issues of OS, I immediately thought that such good content needed to be permanently archived on OPC.org. I phoned G. I. Williamson and persuaded him to send me the issues in PDF format (the only way we could manage it, since at that time he was using a Mac, and I was using Windows), and I began posting the PDFs on the OPC website. The PDF format, while workable with many kinds of computers, did not, however, lend itself easily to the correction of minor errors.

When Greg Reynolds took over as editor in 2006, OS began monthly publication (except for July and September) in HTML with an annual printed edition. Greg began sending me articles in Word format for posting. I also helped with proofreading, especially with regularizing and standardizing Greek and Hebrew citations and transliterations (something that became easier over time with the development of the Unicode, Times New Roman, and Arial fonts). It was a joy to be able to see OS content in advance of the general public and to have a part in putting it into good form. The Committee on Christian Education entrusted me with the task of preparing Mobi (Kindle) and ePub editions. During fifteen years of service on the Committee on Christian Education, I had the opportunity to work personally with both G. I. Williamson and Greg Reynolds as well as Tom Tyson, Larry Wilson, Danny Olinger, John Galbraith, and others for whom I have the greatest respect.

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James W. Scott, layout-typographer and proofreader for the print edition (2006–2018)

From its beginning thirty years ago, Ordained Servant has worked to bridge the ever-widening gap between New Horizons, aimed at Orthodox Presbyterian Church members in general, and the Westminster Theological Journal, aimed at the Reformed academic world. Into the gap stepped Ordained Servant in 1992, edited by G. I. Williamson for the Committee on Christian Education. Initially it was a modest publication, about the same size as New Horizons and published less often. It mostly addressed the practical concerns of Orthodox Presbyterian ministers, elders, and deacons. Over the years it gradually grew in size.

At the end of 2005, G. I. Williamson retired, and Greg Reynolds became the editor. Under his leadership, Ordained Servant gained a wider theological focus. Starting with volume 15 for 2006, Ordained Servant became a monthly online publication, and at the end of that year (and every year thereafter) the chief contents of those issues were assembled topically in a beautiful, printed volume, utilizing a new format designed by Chris Tobias. Greg brought in a number of people to assist him editorially and graphically with the online and printed editions. As an employee of the Committee on Christian Education, I was assigned the task of putting the annual printed volume together, beginning, if I am not mistaken, with volume 16 in 2007. My work continued through volume 26 in 2017 (produced in 2018). As part of my rolling retirement from working for the OPC, my layout/typesetting work was passed on to Judith Dinsmore.

When Chris Tobias designed the new format of Ordained Servant, he of course had the reader in mind, not me putting it together. That is, the book is attractive in its design and easy to read. But the mix of fonts and styles makes it rather complicated to format. There were also a number of technical software issues (e.g., involving footnotes), but I figured out what I thought was the most efficient way to handle them. I passed on my secrets to Judith, who has no doubt figured out better ways to do things.

Greg always wanted me to do a final proofing of the printed volume. Since it had already gone through several layers of editing and proofing, I was reluctant to take on such a time-consuming job. But I looked over the material that seemed to be in good shape and spent more time with material that clearly needed more work (especially where Hebrew and Greek text was involved). I did what I could in the time available, but more thorough work could have been done.

I must say that I was consistently impressed by the high quality of the articles and book reviews that I was putting into print. Written mostly by Orthodox Presbyterian  ministers, they showed mature insight into the subjects addressed. While my contribution to Ordained Servant was relatively minor, I was always glad to help facilitate the ministry of Christ’s church.

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Ayrian Yasar, copy editor for the digital edition (2020–present)

James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.” While we pray for wisdom from the Lord, and know he is the one who provides it, he often uses other believers in our growth and acquisition of wisdom. In our current post-modern society there seems to be no loss for experiencing lack of wisdom to deal with current events and secular thought. In this regard Ordained Servant is a useful tool for ministers in that it offers biblically based reflections on issues of the church and keeps ministers aware of current secular thought and biblical resources for various concerns. It is a means for passing along wisdom.

For ministers who find themselves in the trenches in their churches, OS provides a means by which these pastors can get a taste of what is going on in academia and the broader culture. It provides an opportunity for pastors to be aware of important issues, but with only a small use of precious time. An article like “Imago Hominis: Our Brave New World” by Gregory E. Reynolds is a great example of shedding light on an important subject via reviewing Jacob Shatzer’s book, Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship.

For ministers who need encouragement, that also can be found in Ordained Servant with selections like “Poured Out Like a Drink Offering: An Ordination and Installation Charge” by Richard B. Gaffin, to just name a recent article among others. Such articles follow the directive in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” As minsters are not immune to burn-out from their ministries, Ordained Servant is a blessing and means of encouragement to pastors through its writings.

Whether it is understanding church history or current secular thought, gaining a better understanding of the church standards, discovering an appreciation for poetry, or influential biblical resources, Ordained Servant brings an assortment of valuable material for the minister that aids in his growth in wisdom. But in all this accumulation of useful information, in this sharing of each one’s gifts and time as individuals write articles and review books, is the understanding that this work is a blessing to Christ’s people, and specifically fellow under-shepherds. The coming together to build each other up and be a source of encouragement and wisdom to each other is a beautiful thing that will, Lord willing, continue to show how Jesus blesses his people as they love him and love each other.

Endnotes

[1] Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 10.

[2] G. I. Williamson, “Introducing Ordained Servant,” OS, Jan. 1992, 2.

[3] First Book of Discipline, available at https://www.fpchurch.org.uk/about-us/important-documents/the-first-book-of-discipline-1560/.

[4] Second Book of Discipline, 6.4, available at https://www.fpchurch.org.uk/about-us/important-documents/the-second-book-of-discipline-1578/.

[5] See D. G. Hart, Between the Times: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Transition, 1945–1990 (Willow Grove, PA: Committee for the Historian, 2011), 65–66.

[6] Form of Government, 10.3, available at https://opc.org/BCO/FG.html#Chapter_X.

[7] Alan D. Strange, “Commentary on the Form of Government of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Preface”; Ordained Servant Online, April 2020, was the first in the series. A list of available installments in this series appears here.

Ordained Servant Online, January 2022.

Publication Information

Contact the Editor: Gregory Edward Reynolds

Editorial address: Dr. Gregory Edward Reynolds,
827 Chestnut St.
Manchester, NH 03104-2522
Telephone: 603-668-3069

Electronic mail: reynolds.1@opc.org

Submissions, Style Guide, and Citations

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Ordained Servant: January 2022

Ordained Servant at 30

Also in this issue

Grace in Winter: Reflections on Ordained Servant at Thirty

Ordained Servant at Thirty

The Writings of Meredith G. Kline on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 7, “Har Magedon: The End of the Millennium” (1996)

Commentary on the Form of Government of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Chapter 23, part 2

Digital Life Together: The Challenge of Technology for Christian Schools by David I. Smith, Kara Sevensma, Marjorie Terpstra, and Steven McMullen

Duplex Regnum Christi: Christ’s Twofold Kingdom in Reformed Theology by Jonathon D. Beeke

Ordained Servant Survey

The Calendar of Life

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