Sunday, November 27, 2005
Edwards: Deacons and Bishops (Elders)
This is a picture of me beside a chair made from the wood of a tree in Jonathan Edward's yard. This chair sits secluded in the back corner of the sanctuary of "Edward's Church."
The actual title of the 5th sermon in The Salvation of Souls is: "Deacons to care for the body, ministers for the soul." This title is a very accurate reflection of this main point of this sermon.
Edwards preached this sermon at the ordination of deacons at his church. He seeks to lay out the responsibilities of deacons and elders. Edwards believed that deacons and elders were the only two offices for the church today. He says these are "ordinary" offices. He believed that the "extraordinary" offices (prophecy, healing, etc.) had ceased with the apostles. Thus, we learn some of Edwards' cessationist views.
Edwards infers from the duties of the ordinary offices that there are two kinds of work: physical and spiritual. He spends the entire doctrinal section explaining that deacons are to care for the body and elders are to care for the soul.
I appreciate this sermon very much. It is helpful to view our tasks as either spiritual or physical. Both are important and we are to make sure that both are taken care of. I think our churches need a better focus on what deacons and pastors do. If we were clear about roles and responsibilities maybe more would be accomplished for the good of the body.
I do not agree with Edwards' cessationism; but that is a post for another time.