Order of Contents
Who May Call Synods?
Synods have all the Powers of a Presbytery
Who May Call Synods & in What Circumstances?
WCF & the Scottish Qualification
Gillespie, George – pt. 3, ch. 8, Digression 2, ‘Of the Convocation & Moderation of Synods’ in A Dispute Against the English-Popish Ceremonies... (1637), pp. 173-76 The first part of the article deals with calling synods, only the last paragraph pertains to modertaing in them.
Synods & Higher Assemblies have All the Powers of a Presbytery
The question here is not if it may be more appropriate for a synod or a general assembly to refer or defer something to a presbytery, for any number of reasons, whether for good order or otherwise, but whether presbyteries have powers in principle that a synod absolutely cannot exercise.
This seems to sometimes be thought under the notion that the presbytery, in presbyterianism (and in Scripture), is the ‘root of Church of power’. However, this is a misunderstanding of this concept, as Rutherford delineates below.
If a synod or greater assembly did not have all the power of presbyteries, it could never override and correct errant presbyteries under it; but it can, and must be able so to do for the sake of the health of Christ’s Church. Numerically greater assemblies of pastors (and elders) do not lose authority that smaller assemblies of pastors (and elders) have.
A Peaceable & Temperate Plea... (London, 1642), ch. 13, pp. 188-99
“This presbytery consisting of more pastors is the first ruling and governing Church, having power of the keys in all points of discipline within themselves; They have intensively power of the keys in all points, and equal power, intensive [intensively] with greater synods and assemblies, because ordination of pastors by them, 1 Tim. 4:14, is as valid in the point of Church discipline
as the decrees made in the great council convented at Jerusalem, Acts 15:21-22, etc.
But provincial synods and national assemblies have greater power than the presbyteries extensive [extensively]; because they have power as a great body to exercise discipline that concerns the whole congregations of all the nation, which power is not in inferior elderships.”