We've been looking at the foundational principles that guide our church and make us unique and distinctive. And I would have to think that our view of the family would be high on the list of issues that make us different. In fact, it is so opposite to the way many churches work that what I consider to be one of our most appealing features as a church –that we are a family integrated church – is overlooked because our philosophy of the family necessitates that we don't and won't provide what many people are shopping for in a church. Let me explain. When many people are shopping for a church they are looking for a plethora of programs that they can attend, things that they can send their children to, Bible studies geared to various age groups, age segregated Sunday School, well staffed nurseries. And I have no problem with people shopping for a church as it were. The church is in such need of reformation that families sometimes have to shop. But programs are not the only commodities to think about. Steve Schlissel very perceptively said, "Power is a commodity, subject to the law of scarcity: there's just so much to go around. Find an undue concentration of power in one institution and you'll likely discover it was obtained at the expense of another." Sometimes it is at the expense of the church, sometimes at the expense of the family.
It's like the state government. People don't like the fact that more and more power, influence and jurisdiction is being stripped away from families by the state, but they fail to realize that they have produced this situation by shopping for more and more government programs. They want the state to be all things to all people by way of programs, but they still want to maintain their own freedoms, powers and jurisdictional rights. But you can't have it both ways. As R. J. Rushdoony said so well, "the stronger [a] man makes the state, the weaker he makes himself." And in the same way, the more expectations that people have of the church to provide youth pastors, youth programs and age segregated influences, the more power and influence is being poached away from the family. In some churches youth pastors have far more influence on the children than the father does.
On the other hand, Schlissel has pointed out that the more the church restricts itself to the jurisdictional areas that God has given to it, and the more the church strengthens the family and the leadership of fathers, the more healthy the church as a whole becomes. And so today I want to look at 2 John to establish the limits of church authority, the relationship of family to church and what makes for a strong family, even when the father is not there. Since we are living in a culture where sound families are the exception, not the rule, I thought it would be helpful to illustrate what we are talking about from a passage where the father is absent from the home. In fact, I think it really puts some of these principles into stark relief.
Now that assumes of course that you believe that this book was written to a family. And there is some debate on that. There is debate on the identity of the elect lady of verse 1. Some commentaries like I Howard Marshall's insist that it has to be a figurative reference to the church as the bride of Christ. So on his interpretation, the church is the elect lady. And you are going to interpret this book totally different if you see all the references as being symbolic references to the power of the church.
On the other hand, the New Geneva Study Bible, several modern commentaries, almost all older commentaries and yours truly (your pastor) take this literally as Paul's pastoral letter to a widowed lady and her children. It is describing the joys and the challenges of a covenant home, and especially highlighting this widowed mother's impact upon that household. And so in some ways I think this shows the authority and qualities of the family even better than a passage like Genesis 17 where you have a description of a complete and ideal family. I was originally going to preach on Genesis 17, or possibly, Genesis 2. But if a family retains these powers even when the family has no father, how much more so in the case of strong families. So that is why I have picked this passage.
There are many arguments favoring my position that I won't bore you with, but let me just give four arguments very quickly as to why I believe this lady is a literal lady, not the church as a whole.
First, if the lady of verse 1 is the bride of Christ (like Marshall, Bruce and others say that she is), then who is her sister in verse 12? I think that is a fatal blow to the bride view. How can the bride of Christ have a sister? If the answer is that verse 1 must then not be referring to the bride as a whole, but to a local church, then there are several problems. The first is that it makes Jesus a polygamist because Jesus would then be married to the bride plus her sister, plus other sisters. The analogy really breaks down even on the issue of law because the law did not allow a man to take a sister as a rival to his wife, and so it makes for a very awkward symbol. Second problem with that objection is that there is absolutely no precedent for this language of a lady to be applied to a local church. To the whole church of all ages, yes, though the language is of a wife and a mother. But not to the local church. And since the bride argument is their strongest argument for the figurative view, I would say their argument has fatal flaws. On the literal view, the "sister" is easily accounted for. It's a literal sister. That's the first reason I think it's got to be a literal woman being addressed.
Second, there are strong parallels between the language of 2 John and the language of 3 John. Since everyone agrees that 3 John is written to a literal individual, then the burden of proof really lies with those who would argue the figurative view. For example, look at 2 John 2: The elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth. Look at 3 John 1. It says, The elder, to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. OK? Almost identical language. Look at 2 John 12-13 for another parallel: Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of your elect sister greet you. Look at 3 John 13-14: I had many things to write, but I did not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. That is so strong a parallel. Look at 2 John 4. It rejoices that her children are walking in the truth. 3 John 4 is very similar. If you trace the language in the two books you will discover that it all points to the same kind of recipient that 3 John has, and everyone agrees that 3 John is addressed to an individual, not a church. It's a particular style of writing used for personal letters. And you can compare Paul's personal letter to Philemon.
Thirdly, John plans to visit this person and speak face to face in verse 12. Everyone agrees that that language has got to refer to an individual meeting in 3 John. Why can't the same interpretation be given identical language in this book?
Fourth, the elect lady is said to own a house in verse 10 and to extend hospitality in that home. He doesn't say, "If anyone comes to your assembly and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your assembly nor greet him." No. It says, do not receive him into your house. There's a world of difference between those applications.
And there are several other historical, grammatical and cultural arguments that could be given that this was addressed to a widowed mother of several children.
And when you once grasp that fact, this book comes alive. It is rich in family instruction. In fact, we are not even going to be able deal with all of the issues this morning or next week. Her home is a model home and yet, it is not an ideal home. As we'll see in a moment, not all of her children are walking in the truth, and we could hardly wish her widowed state on anyone. And yet it illustrates the principles of a family integrated church so well.
We are going to look first of all at the relationship of the family government to the church government, and then next week we will go on to some of the specifics of why that is the most healthy relationship for a family. But because of the controversies swirling around America on jurisdictional issues, I want to devote an entire sermon to that question.
There are two extremes to avoid on this question: the first extreme seems to put all power in heaven and earth in the family and the second extreme seems to put all power in heaven and earth in the church. Listen to these extreme statements. Here is a statement from someone who makes the church the all important government: Writing to a twenty year old college student, this Reformed writer said, "The church… has more authority over you than your father." I hope you're seeing "red" already. He goes on - "the father's authority is derived from the church, seeing as he is under the authority of the elders." You will notice that this is the exact reverse of what we believe. Our philosophy statement says that the family retains to itself all authority that has not been explicitly given to either state or church. I call it the regulative principle of government, and the Westminster Assembly was a strong advocate of my position, though not always entirely consistent. Anyway, this man said that the church retains all authority that has not been given to the family, and that the father's authority is derived from the church. That is abominable. He goes further, saying, "If I have a preference for my sons that is not a scriptural mandate, my elders have every right to gently persuade me from it or [to] even go so far as to usurp my fatherly prerogatives." In another place he says, "If the church is Christ's body and all institutions derive their authority from Christ, then… well, you see where I am going." (March 2000 CR, p. 12). That is an extreme that few would dare to say, but many churches act that way by usurping the role of the family. I think you can see why it is important for me to preach on this subject. There's a lot that hangs on it.
But the other extreme is becoming more and more common as well. It acts as if all authority is vested in the family and that if the family wants to grant some authority to the church, it may do so for convenience sake, but that the father has all of the full authority he needs to baptize, administer the Lord's Supper, discipline, excommunicate, etc. Mary Pride's husband seems to advocate this position. Another author said, "Ordination is not the bestowal of special powers inaccessible to the normal father in the church. Ministers lead as a helpful convention, not as the product of a command… Others might fill that office, if need be. … Any pious father is qualified, if liturgically competent…" (March 2000, CR, p. 14). Even though I see this as an extreme, I am probably closer to this position than I am to the other position, because I believe that the church has no authority that has not been explicitly granted to it. But there are still problems with this view because it really does mar the jurisdictional separation of powers between church and state. And it takes away the need for fathers to search the Scriptures for how they ought to govern their families.
The relationship of the family government to the church government in this book is a healthy corrective to extremes in our culture.
Avoid the extreme of centralization of power in the family (home church movement, no eldership, no accountability)
Notice that John addresses himself in his capacity as "elder," not as apostle (v. 1). He is her elder, and exercises authority as an elder (more below). (Argues against home church model.)
OK. Let's look at the first extreme. The first extreme that needs to be avoided is where power is centralized either in the individual (that would be libertarianism) or in the family (and that would be unlimited patriarchalism). Now I believe in patriarchalism, but I think it needs to be carefully defined by the bible. There are some segments of the home church movement that strenuously object to the institutional church, to elders, to connectionalism, to church court, to discipline. Others accept the idea of the institutional church but argue that there should be virtually no accountability. The biblical approach is that there are varying jurisdictions of government. There is self-government which seeks to govern one's own conscience and conduct by self-discipline under the Word of God. And none of the other governments may bind my conscience with anything but the bible. So there is self-government. Then there is family government, church government and state government.
When the state engages in cradle to grave welfare programs, it is fighting against self-government. When parents do all of the thinking for their children, they are failing to mature their children in self-government. When the church provides what the family was commissioned to provide, it fights against family government and is seeking to do what God says family can do best. When families have communion on their own, they are in rebellion against church government. On the other hand, when churches fail to administer to the Lord's Table through the heads of households, they have a tendency to ignore the shepherding role of fathers, and that the fathers are indeed leaders in the church. So there is a balance even there. The father's lead within the context of the church, but they do indeed lead. Each of the governments has its own unique jurisdictions, yet there is a relationship between them.
Now, if you run across people who have rejected all church government and who meet in families without any elder rule, I want you to notice right off the bat that John calls himself, "The elder." Not "an elder," but "the elder." He was her elder. John could have written this epistle simply in his role as an apostle giving Scripture and giving oversight to a church. But he is not writing to a church. Like Paul in Philemon and John in 3 John, here he is writing to a family, and his relationship to this family is not as this family's apostle, or friend, or advisor, or confident. He could have written from a variety of capacities (even as a fellow saint – like Paul did in Philemon). But by God's inspiration, John writes in the capacity of a church elder, and he exercises eldership authority over her and over her family. I cannot imitate John's authority as an apostle or as a prophet. He functions as both. I cannot write Scripture. However, I can imitate the things that John does which are specific to his office as elder. He is a role model here to elders. So the first error is to think that a family can be out from under the authority of elders.
Notice that while he recognizes her headship in the home, he addresses both her (vv. 1,4,5,13) and her children (v. 1,6 – plural "you", 8, 10 – plural "you", 12 – plural "you," 13) with the Word of God. (Argues against extreme view that elders may not address God's Word to children except through the mediation of the father.)
A second error that is sometimes made in these circles is to think that elders cannot preach to the children. Now there is an element of truth in this objection. Let me read from one Reformed author, and I'll agree with the first half of the statement and disagree with the second half. This author says, "…the children of the church are not directly under the authority of the elders…" I agree with this first half. If there is discipline that is needed, the father needs to be addressed. Discipline is jurisdictionally a parent's prerogative. But then this author goes on to make a wrong conclusion: He says, "So long as the children reside under their father's authority, the church's approach to those children must, until their majority, be mediated by the father." (On his view I ought not to say in a sermon, "children, this next statement is particularly for you," because that wouldn't be mediated through the father.
There is a balance here. In age segregated teaching, the parents are absent, and frequently not welcome. That's not good. That's usurping the father's role. But in public worship, God calls for the whole family to be present, and the whole family to listen. Deuteronomy 31:12 says, "Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn" God expects the children to hear and learn from the teaching of the Levites or the pastors. Nehemiah 8, Joel 2:16 and other passages say the same thing. Here is the issue. Though there is a jurisdictional separation of powers, the family is involved in the other two governments, and the church is commanded to preach to all powers and to all who are under the authority of those powers. It is commanded to preach to magistrates, to wives, to children, to slaves, to all.
So I want you to notice something in 2 John. Notice that while he recognizes her headship in the home, he addresses both her (that's in verses 1,4 and 5) and he addresses her children (that's in verses 1,6,8,10 and 12). Verse 1 indicates that this letter is addressed to the elect lady and to her children. In three verses the plural "you" is used addressing everyone in the family. For example, in verse 12 he says, Having many things to write to you [plural – to y'all], I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you [plural – to y'all] and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. In verse 13 the singular for "you" is used. The greetings of the other children was to aunty, but John was dealing directly with the children of her elect sister and conveying their greetings. "Pastor John, could you please tell aunty our greetings?" and he does so.
The bottom line is that it's impossible for pastors and elders to avoid the influence of the word on children. But discipline needs to be done through the parents. John appears to be in disagreement with this lady in the way in which some of her children were behaving. In verse 4 it appears that some of them are walking in the truth, implying that some were not. In verse 5 it appears that some were not loving one another. But John does not force his way. He shows patience and influence, but does not interfere in the discipline. And I will deal with that shortly. But I want you to notice that just as the Old Testament had a non-mediated, direct preaching to children, so too does this elder.
Now where the author I quoted is correct on this, is that parents should be there during the preaching of the Word, and if they disagree with the pastor on some point of doctrine, they have the ability to discuss it with their children at home over roast preacher. That's the beauty of how God set up the governments. Just as there is jurisdictional interposition of one civil government against another government's ungodly laws (for example Nebraska can annul any unconstitutional federal mandate), parents have the authority to tell their children that they disagree with some point of preaching. In fact, they have the duty to do so if they see the teaching as being unbiblical. But it would be impossible for parents to give that oversight of the teaching if there were age segregated classes, or if children had to go off to children's church. But can you see how it is easy to go to extremes on this subject if we don't account for all of Scripture?
Notice that this "elder" exercises authority to give commands where they are Biblical commands (vv. 5,6,8,9,10-11)
One more point under this first extreme is that this elder exercises authority to give commands to the family. Now it's important to realize that these are not arbitrary commands. The church has no authority to command opinion. The only authority that I have as an elder is the authority of the Word of God. And even though this is an inspired letter, as a model elder, he too appeals to the Word of God in His commands. Verse 5: And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. And you can examine the other references that I've given in your outline. By giving both teaching and commands, he is exercising rule in this family's life. Like Paul who praised the Bereans for checking the truth of His statements against the Scriptures, John praises the elect lady for having a family governed by truth. Verse 1 they love the truth, they know the truth. Verse 4 they walk in the truth. It's not just blind trust in what the church says. But there still is rule; there is authority; there is accountability; the family is under the oversight of an elder.
Avoid the extreme of centralization of power in the church
Notice that John does not take over her role as head of the household just because her husband is dead. He calls her "lady" which is the feminine for "lord" (v. 1). She is the lord of her home.
So that's the first extreme. Let's go to the second one which seeks to centralize power in the church. That is not a good thing. We as a church believe that the church has zero power to do anything that has not been explicitly authorized in the word of God. We believe in limited state government and we believe in limited church government. It doesn't matter how good the thing might be, if it's not authorized, then we can't do it. To use an analogy, looking at the state, it's not enough to see Scriptural commands to engage in charity toward the poor and then to say: "State, you need to give money to the poor, set up orphanages, feed all children who don't have food, because here are Biblical commands to do so." No. We need to find out who the commands are given to. The command to provide food for your own is given to the father. The command's for charity are given to family first, and then to church. They are not given to the state. The family retains to itself all authority not explicitly given to either church or state.
Now remember the quote at the beginning of the sermon. There are people who take the opposite approach and say that the church has all authority unless the bible specifically forbids the church to engage in that behavior. But I want you to notice limits to the exercise of John's elder-power in this book. Obviously he has apostolic power that goes beyond this, but he is writing this as an elder to the home.
Now some of you may disagree with this, saying that a widowed woman must always be under male authority. But I think there must be balance here. Under male protection, yes. Under male authority, not unless she needs to move in with her father. Now obviously she is under elder authority just like anyone else in the congregation would be. But I believe that an elder cannot function in the place of a husband, like many Reformed people are advocating nowadays. To do so would destroy the home's jurisdictional separation of powers. I think elders need to give special support, encouragement, protection, guidance and help to widows. But that is totally different from acting as a parent for the widow or acting as the husband of the widow. The widow is still suffering as a widow and there is nothing the church can do to change that fact. There is no indication that Paul made Lydia find a substitute authority to her former husband.
Notice first of all that he addresses her in verse 1 as "the elect lady." The Greek word for "lady" is kuria, which is the feminine form of the word kurios which means lord or master. We speak of a man as being the king of his castle, but when he is not present, she is the lord of the castle. She continues to maintain her family's governmental status as distinct from the church. The term kuria carries authority connotations to it. The word "elder" carries authority connotations to it. So here is one authority structure (the church) speaking to another authority structure (the family). There is not a merging of church and state just because the husband has died. They are her children, not his children. To the elect lady and her children.
So I think that is an important point to make. The church is not a mass of individuals. It is covenanted families. And the modern church has almost obliterated this issue of the family's authority within the church by mandating an age segregated break up of the family. They place the children outside of the parent's control and authority and even the wives and husbands often being separated. Now if jurisdictional separation of powers continues to be maintained even when the father is not present, it shows how important the family's jurisdictional powers are in God's plan.
Though John has full magisterial power (as an inspired apostle writing an inspired document), in his ecclesiastical role as elder he still models ministerial power (compare also Paul in Philemon 8-10,14)
Second, it's interesting how John exercises his power. Keep in mind that John wears several hats. When he talks with his wife in the living room, he doesn't relate to her as apostle, or elder or father. He is her husband. When he talks to his children, he wears the hat of father. When he guides the church as a whole or gives Scripture, he wears the hat of an apostle. But in this letter he is especially wearing the hat of a church elder. And so point #2 says, "Though John has full magisterial power (as an inspired apostle writing an inspired document), in his ecclesiastical role as elder he still models ministerial power."
Definition of terms: Magisterial power means authority which is 1) supreme or legislative (in other words, they make up the rules), 2) or it is an authority from which there is no right of appeal and/or 3) carries with it the weight of force. Ministerial power means a subordinate, limited, delegated power which seeks to declare God's judgments by appeal to God's revelation.
Now maybe those are terms that you are not familiar with, so I have written some definitions in the outline. Magisterial power means authority which is 1) supreme or legislative (in other words, they make up the rules), 2) or it is an authority from which there is no right of appeal and/or 3) carries with it the weight of force. In that sense, only God has this power. And because John is the very mouthpiece of God, not giving his own opinion but giving God's, this epistle carries magisterial power. It has the power of God behind it. But John also wears the hat of elder in which he must rule over his charges, care for them, protect them, etc.
And we would say that church authority cannot be magisterial for a number of reasons, the chief of which is that 1) Christ is the supreme authority and we must simply declare what He has spoken, 2) humans can be in error in understanding what He has declared, and so there needs to be the right of appeal, 3) thirdly, we are limited jurisdictionally and 4) then fourthly, the keys of the kingdom are declarative in nature. If you don't understand all of that, don't worry. These are important defining marks for some people, but for most of you, if you get the general drift, you will be doing fine. So that's magisterial power and the problems with it.
On the other hand, Ministerial power means a subordinate, limited, delegated power which seeks to declare God's judgments to the best of its ability. When the church excommunicates someone, they can't guarantee that they are heathen and publicans. All they can do is declare them to be so and treat them so. When I preach, I am declaring what I believe to be the right interpretation, but my word is not final. I am not Christ. And the Confession says that God alone is the Lord of the conscience and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men. I am simply a minister of Christ. And parents are not Christ. They represent Christ and seek to the best of their ability to do so accurately. The nice thing about the PCA is that they have this written right into our Constitution.
Let's look at how John models this ministerial authority (even though he had the right to magisterial authority by means of divine revelation - which would be Christ directly speaking through him), he models to us ministerial authority. He wears the hat of an elder.
Though he doesn't need to (he is after all inspired), he appeals to Scripture as any other elder would (vv. 1,2,4,5,6,9,10)
First, though he doesn't need to appeal to Scripture as an inspired author, he must do so as an elder. Like with any Old Testament prophet, God is writing Scripture through John. But God also wants to give instruction to elders on how to exercise authority. So John appeals to Scripture throughout this book just like any other elder would.
He could have given a new commandment as an apostle. He was inspired. This is an inspired book after all. But modeling as an elder he says, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. Verse 4 says, as we received commandment from the Father. The only authority that I have as an elder is what God has given to me by revelation in the bible. This book is my authority. And if I go beyond that as an elder, I have gone beyond my jurisdictional limits. I knew a pastor here in town who lined children up and paddled them. I'm sorry. The church has the keys of the kingdom, but the father has the paddle of the family.
Though she has shown parental failures, John does not take over her parental responsibilities or powers; nor does he imply that the church should. If John does not do so, how much less so should modern church government? Instead, John seeks to persuade from Scripture as to her responsibilities. (vv. 4-6,9)
Another example of ministerial authority is that John does not take over her parental responsibilities. Certainly she had some failures. Some of her children were not walking in the truth in verse 4. And he tells her that. An elder does have the authority to reprove. Some of her children were not walking in love in verse 5. But Paul does not shoo her aside and begin to take over her parental responsibilities or powers. Nor does he anywhere imply that the church should. If that jurisdictional limit is true of John, how much more so of us church officers.
He pleads with the lady (v. 5)
In verse 5 he even pleads: And now I plead with you, lady… Magisterial power does not plead. Magisterial power says, "This is the way it is. Do it or else." It forces the issue, and does not allow for appeal. It does not allow for the individual conscience to judge the evidence. Magisterial power stands as the highest power. It dictates; it does not persuade. And so by persuading he is exercising ministerial, pastoral power.
The repercussion of failing to honor church discipline (vv. 7-9) is declaratory in nature (vv. 10-11).
That does not mean ministerial power has no teeth. Excommunication according to the bible is ministerial, not magisterial. But boy is there power behind excommunication. God heats up the discipline for those who are under discipline. But we have only declarative power. We can't change people from saints to heathen. Christ did not say that those excommunicated are indeed heathen and publicans. He says in Matthew 18:17, But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. It is a declaratory judgment. So those apostates were excommunicated. And John does command her to honor his discipline on apostates. But the reasoning he uses is not that he will force her, but that she will be accountable to God. Verse 11 says, for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. The PCA sees church discipline as being ministerial, not magisterial. Unfortunately, not all churches act like it. We must be humble in our approach to discipline and see it as fallible, subject to appeal and that it cannot bind the conscience on anything not found in God's Word.
This book illustrates the fact that the family retains to itself all powers not explicitly given to the church and state by the Scripture, but also that the family must acknowledge the powers God has granted to the church. The family is not dissolved into a mass of individuals within the congregation. It maintains its family character within the church. The church is covenanted families relating to each other in love (vv. 1-2), grace, mercy, peace, truth (v. 3), mutual exhortation (vv. 4ff) and mutual accountability (vv. 4ff).
So in point C, I summarize the balance between these two extremes this way: "This book illustrates the fact that the family retains to itself all powers not explicitly given to the church and state by the Scripture, but also that the family must acknowledge the powers God has granted to the church. The family is not dissolved into a mass of individuals within the congregation. It maintains its family character within the church. The church is covenanted families relating to each other in love (vv. 1-2), grace, mercy, peace, truth (v. 3), mutual exhortation (vv. 4ff) and mutual accountability (vv. 4ff)."
Families need that accountability. They need that love and mutual support. When they fall down, they need the mercy and grace shown by the church in bringing restoration. Anybody who has been a parent know how hard it is. God wants us covenanted together so that we can help each other. When parents are stressed out, they need the Shalom that John speaks to them – the healing and encouragement the Lord brings through the congregation. When parents start raising rebellious children and don't do anything about it, the family needs accountability to an elder like she had to John. He was exhorting her to take her parental responsibilities seriously. He is positive in verse 4 and praises her that some of her children are walking in the truth, but he brings God's word to bear and pleads with her to excel in her responsibilities so that all the children walk in love and truth as verse 5 shows. And it's this wonderful relationship of mutual support and encouragement; teaching and reproof; service and receiving of service within the church that I want to address next week.
We have only had one passage to look at this morning. But I hope you have gotten a little bit of a feel today for how our church seeks to maintain that balance of honoring the family as a family government, but also seeing the importance of the church, and seeing the church being covenanted families relating to each in love, truth and the other graces mentioned in this book. Let's pray.
When the term magisterial and ministerial is applied to reason, it means reason as the final arbiter (magisterial) versus reason being dependent upon divine revelation (ministerial). For example, Jonathan Sarfati gives the following definitions: "The magisterial use of reason occurs when reason stands over Scripture like a magistrate and judges it. Such ‘reasoning' is bound to be flawed, because it starts with axioms invented by fallible humans and not revealed by the infallible God…. The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason submits to Scripture. This means that all things necessary for our faith and life are either expressly set down in Scripture or may be deduced by good and necessary consequence from Scripture." ↩