Practical Polity

Subordinate Standards

The government of our church is determined by certain documents called "subordinate standards". These standards are subordinate to the ultimate authority of Scripture, the "supreme standard" of church polity. The other subordinate standards that we have, all in agreement with the Confession, are:Regarding Church Government

Second Book of Discipline 1578Westminster Form of Presbyterial Government 1645

Regarding Worship

Westminster Directory for Public Worship 1645Westminster Directory for Family Worship 1647

Regarding Catechisms

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Introduction to Polity

Polity, as the Oxford Dictionary puts it, is “a form or process of civil government or constitution”. In relation to the Church, polity refers to the very same processes of organisation, laws and government which determine and regulate how a church functions.

But why is it necessary to establish any particular form or processes of government in the Church? All who belong to Christ’s church recognise that He is the head of the church and so can we not be lead by His Spirit, even as our direction is revealed in His Word? Can’t we all just “get along” without all sorts of rules and regulations?

The Necessity of Polity

Theodore Beza, the direct successor of John Calvin, stated that good government in the church was vital in repelling Satan’s attack:

Satan “hopes that it is easier to overthrow [church government] than to overthrow the foundation which is doctrine.”[1]

 

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