Modified from a text conversation.
Why should only Teaching Elders (pastors) and not Ruling Elders (lay elders) administer the sacraments? Why are the sacraments (normally) not valid otherwise? Here are the broad strokes of my reasoning, with particular application to the EPC. A more detailed breakdown can be found on pages 30-38 of the document linked in this post.
Biblical theology: The sacraments are part of the churchly ministry granted to the apostles (e.g. Matthew 16:19, 18:18-19, 28:19; John 20:23; 1 Corinthians 4:1, 11:23). The authority to administer sacraments is not entrusted to just anyone in the church. Teaching Elders as pastors stand in continuity with this apostolic ministry (i.e. apostolic succession) – e.g. Romans 15:15-17; 1 Corinthians 12:27-29, 14:1; Ephesians 2:20-22, 3:7, 4:9-11; 1 Peter 5:1. Whatever Ruling Elders are, they are not an apostolic, sacramental office. Pastors (or bishops, or ministers, or Teaching Elders, or whatever your preferred term) do stand in ministerial, apostolic succession, and therefore do have a sacramental nature to their office. Teaching Elders have been authorized by Christ to administer the sacraments, Ruling Elders have not…
This is the problem with visually imaging Jesus for the sake of non-Christians. They love the Jesus of man’s imagination and creation, not the Jesus of the word.
My four-point defining feature of confessionalists, in distinction from evangelicals and pietists, is that they are
- Church oriented, grounded in the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Reformed traditions arising from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th-17th centuries.
- Church forms matter and are central for spiritual life, especially liturgical and doctrinal formulations, along with polity.
- Spiritual practice orbits the public worship of the church, with emphasis on preaching, the sacraments, and prayer.
- Ordinary life in the world is good and welcome.
In Reformed and Evangelical Across Four Centuries: The Presbyterian Story in America (2022), historians from four different American Presbyterian churches wrote on the subject of the intersection between Presbyterians and evangelicals…
I had the privilege to present on the subject of evangelism during a lunch session at this summer’s EPC General Assembly. My talk was sponsored by the Westminster Theological Society, which was an honor. Unfortunately, I’m a technological doofus and failed to hit the right button on my mic to record the talk. Below is a rough paraphrase of my talk: “Christians Need To Be Evangelized, Too”. I started my talk by reading Isaiah 60:1-6.
To be evangelized, eugelizoed, is to be gospeled. To evangelize is do the working of gospeling. There is a need to do this for Christians, and not just because of the volume of ignorance in our churches. There would be nothing more disheartening for a pastor than to survey his congregation with the question “What is the gospel?” and read the results. Those of us who have done officer interviews and ask this question have far too been dismayed as we are met with answers focusing on personal experience, transformation, and comfort, not the affirmation that the gospel is the good news that Jesus is king and that he has inaugurated his kingdom through his death and resurrection…