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Question and Answer

May a candidate for office believe in paedo-communion?


If a potential candidate for the office of deacon believes in paedo-communion, does that automatically disqualify him for the position?


I want to be cautious here as your question is a sensitive one and may reflect on a situation in your local church. It should also be stated that the answer I give is my own, based on what I believe the OPC has expressed and historically practiced. It is not an "official" answer, but simply that of an OPC pastor—me.

My sense is that if a candidate holds to paedo-communion, it would likely disqualify him from serving as an officer. At a minimum it would be a notable exception to the system of doctrine expressed in the Westminster Standards. This is based on the Larger Catechism question #177, and the way in which 1 Corinthians 11 and the WLC 177 was addressed by the General Assembly committee appointed to study paedo-communion in 1987. A number of other documents can be located through that express the OPC's position on paedo-communion, from articles in New Horizons (see for example "The Lord's Supper and Covenant Children"), as well as other questions to If you type in "paedo-communion" a number of items come up.

In short, the OPC has not wavered on the issue of paedo-communion. If a session were to approve a man who held to it, that would have to be noted by the session, the minutes of which would be read by the presbytery. It is hard for me to imagine a presbytery not challenging that decision.

I would add two wrinkles: The first is to wonder in my mind how strongly the person holds to the view and why? Some hold it out of conscience; others out of preference; still others hold it in connection with views such as Federal Vision, which the OPC has identified as an errant movement. A session would likely want to understand why and to what extent a man holds the view. Is he teachable? Is it possible to change or tone down the man's view pastorally for the sake of the man and the church? I would be careful not to disqualify a man without trying to work with him, study and pray with him, and then see where things stood. Depending on where that led, the session could even determine to ask the presbytery for advice. The presbytery may then be in a position to evaluate the details and help the session determine how best to counsel the man and whether or not to go forward. So again, I would be careful to get all the details and do the slow pastoral work. Your question did not necessarily ask all that, thus my attempt to give you a short, straight answer in the beginning. In the end, however, even questions like this prove to have layers that take a while to peel if you want to be thorough.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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