What We Believe
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From the Editor. A subcommittee of the Committee on Christian Education, Special Committee on Ruling Elders (Danny Patterson, Mike Shields, and Stephen Tracey), had been tasked

in consultation with the General Secretary to propose specific means for assisting in the education, training, and encouragement of ruling elders in the discharge of the duties of their office, both individually and collectively, and to present a preliminary report to the fall 2020 meeting of the CCE.

The committee observed that ample printed material is available in the archives of Ordained Servant. After considering several possible means of achieving this goal, such as a conference similar to the Committee on Diaconal Ministry’s conferences for deacons or a video series, like the occasional webinars from the Committee on Ministerial Care, it was determined that a podcast for Ordained Servant to address the needs of the office of elder was most appropriate. When a sufficient number of topics addressing the education, training, and encouragement of ruling elders is complete, the podcasts will expand their subject matter for pastors and deacons, encompassing the entire mission of the journal.

Due to Danny Olinger’s Covid illness, the launch, which had been scheduled for this month, has been delayed and will be announced when a new date is determined.

I am republishing my 2014 “Democracy and the Denigration of Office” in this issue due to its relevance to the ministry of elders. I am also republishing a slightly revised version of my 2007 article “Ordained Servants: The Importance of the Office of Ruling Elder,” which was originally the foreword to the 1987 republication of Samuel Miller’s The Ruling Elder (1832). Miller was one of the original professors of Princeton Theological Seminary, whose chapel is named after him. The Ruling Elder is still well worth reading today as we continue to build on our great Princeton Theological Seminary heritage. A PDF of the reprint is available here.

Along with this theme I have reviewed a very important book by Kornelis Sietsma, The Golden Key for Life and Leaders: The Idea of Office. This is a republication of the 1985 translation by Henry Vander Goot, which was then simply titled The Idea of Office. It is a profound little book that helped me become a more consistent Presbyterian, coming as I did out of egalitarian liberal Congregationalism and the 1960s counterculture. A PDF of the original is available here.

Alan Strange continues his “Commentary on the Form of Government of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church” with chapters 16–17. When complete this will be published as a unique resource for church officers.

Danny Olinger brings us the first chapter of The Writings of Meredith G. Kline on the Book of Revelation, dealing with the structure of Revelation. drawing from published and unpublished works to weave the elaborate tapestry of Kline’s interpretation of Revelation, Olinger is developing a wonderful resource for interpreting this difficult book. Kline’s oeuvre represents a significant development of his mentor Geerhardus Vos, who was the pioneer of orthodox biblical theology. Olinger recently wrote Vos’s biography, Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian.[1]

Stephen Magee reviews the latest book by Rod Dreher, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, in which we are encouraged to cultivate Christian community in order to ward off the incursions of our “pre-totalitarian culture,” a culture increasingly hostile to historic Christianity.

Ryan McGraw reviews A Workman Not Ashamed: Essays in Honor of Albert N. Martin, edited by David Charles and Rob Ventura. Martin has had a wide influence on Reformed Baptist and Presbyterian ministers across America as he helped revive interest in Puritan ministry, especially in preaching.

Finally, our poem this month is apropos to the idea of office—William Wordsworth, “Ode to Duty.” How ironic that one of the chief Romantic poets of the nineteenth century should memorialize duty as a blessing and something to be pursued for a variety of important reasons. Tragic that it has become a curse word in the modern world. Wordsworth begins this poem with a quote from one of Calvin’s favorite ancient authors, the Roman Stoic philosopher Luis Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC–AD 65). Calvin’s first published work (1532) was a commentary on Seneca’s De Clementia (on clemency). The soil in which Wordsworth’s poetry grew was fertilized with the classics of the ancient world, including the Bible. He defended the Church of England although his choice of quotes from Seneca indicates a lack of appreciation of original sin in pursuing duty.

The cover painting is “The Ordination of Elders in a Scottish Kirk” (1891) by John Henry Lorimer, from the National Galleries of Scotland.

Blessings in the Lamb,
Gregory Edward Reynolds

FROM THE ARCHIVES “ELDERS, OFFICE”

Subject Index Vols 1–28

  • “Working with the Eldership.” (Jay E. Adams) 1:2 (Apr. 1992): 27–29.
  • “Biblical Qualifications for Elders.” (Archibald Alexander Allison) 3:4 (Oct. 1994): 80–96.
  • “A Training Program for Elders.” (Gregory Reynolds & William Shishko) 10:3 (Jul. 2001): 55–58.
  • “Qualifications for Ruling Elders: An Historical Survey.” (Mark R. Brown) 10:3 (Jul. 2001): 65–66.
  • “The Duties of Elders.” (Daniel R. Hyde) 13:1 (Jan. 2004): 4–7.
  • “Lessons from the Life of an Extraordinary Ruling Elder.” (William Shishko) 16 (2007): 44-46.
  • “Elder Self–Evaluation.” (Francis E. VanDelden) 22 (2013): 72–73.
  • “Democracy and the Denigration of Office.” (Gregory E. Reynolds) 23 (2014): 12–23.
  • “How a Faithful Elder Can Make a Difference: Reflections on the Life and Death of a Friend.” (Ryan M. McGraw) 29 (Dec. 2020), see here.

Ordained Servant exists to help encourage, inform, and equip church officers for faithful, effective, and God-glorifying ministry in the visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its primary audience is ministers, elders, and deacons of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as well as interested officers from other Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Through high-quality editorials, articles, and book reviews, we will endeavor to stimulate clear thinking and the consistent practice of historic, confessional Presbyterianism.

[1] Philadelphia, PA: Reformed Forum, 2018.

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