With May just around the corner, many of us in Classis leadership are preparing for classis meetings. A large part of our meetings are often taken up with examining candidates for ministry. This has got me thinking of the place of these examinations in our classes. Our Church Order says that:
“The ordination of a candidate for ministry of the Word requires the approval of the classis of the calling church and of the synodical deputies. The classis, in the presence of the deputies, shall examine the candidate concerning the candidate's doctrine and life in accordance with synodical regulations” (Article 10a) .
This examination is the last step in a long process of being declared a candidate. I wonder if it is a bit redundant. Before the classical exam the candidate has been through four years of theological education, been examined and approved by the faculty of the seminary, been examined and approved by the Synodical Candidacy Committee and been approved at Synod. The Manual of Christian Reformed Church Government 2008 Revision commentary on Article 10 explains this step by saying:
“It is important to note that the ordaining of candidates, while actually accomplished within a congregational setting, is done by the authority of, and on behalf of, the whole church. In Reformed polity...ministers of the Word are ordained into a “denominational” office.... That is why synodical deputies are involved in the approving a candidate for ordination.”
Isn't this already covered by the process of becoming a candidate? Why this extra step? It seems unbalanced that someone who has gone through all the steps before could potentially be prevented from becoming a minister of the Word by a group who may not know the candidate well and only meets with them for an hour or two before needing to make a decision. Do we do things this way because it is the way we have always done it? Am I missing some part of the big picture around this issue?
What do you think?