February 27, 2011 Q & A

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 OPC.org 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 OPC.org. 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.



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