Article 8 — Exceptional gifts
Persons who have not pursued the regular course of theological study shall not be admitted to the ministry unless there is convincing evidence of their exceptional gifts of godliness, humility, modesty, good intellect, and discretion, as well as the gift of public speech. When any such person presents himself for the ministry, classis shall (with synod's prior approval) examine him, and upon a favourable outcome allow him as candidate to speak an edifying word in the churches of the classis for a set period of time. Thereafter the classis shall further deal with him as it shall deem edifying, observing the ecclesiastical regulations adopted for this purpose.
This article states that the rule is: No admission to the Ministry of God’s Word without a theological training, but it does stipulate a course of action in the case of an exception. There may be persons with exceptional gifts.
These gifts – which are also required from those who have followed a theological training – must be convincingly evident as being exceptional.
Not for nothing is “Godliness” mentioned as the first one of these gifts. The person concerned must be filled with the Holy Spirit and the fear of the LORD.
“Humility” is the second – his exceptional gifts could easily make him proud and full of conceit. However, his Godliness has to be proved in his humility.
“Modesty” means that he leads a quiet and unblameable life.
One of the gifts must also be an exceptionally ”good intellect”. He must have an understanding of the Scriptures and be able to expose them to others.
“Discretion” means that he must be able to distinguish between sound doctrine and heresy, and have a degree of insight into the human character.
Apart from all this he should possess the gift of public address, enabling him to clearly express himself.
When such a person presents himself for admission to the ministry in this extra-ordinary way, the classis shall examine him, upon approval of synod.
This means that the local consistory and the classis, to which his congregation belongs, have to be convinced that he possesses all of these exceptional gifts. When that has been achieved, each will present a certificate concerning these gifts to the synod. Investigations having been made and the synod having been sufficiently assured as to the truth of these testimonies, approval is granted and the classis will then subject the person concerned to a preparatory examination.
This examination is identical to the one mentioned in Article 5, with the exception that the knowledge of ancient languages is not essential.
If the examination has a favourable result, the classis grants him permission to officiate in the churches of the classis for a certain period of time. In this way he has the opportunity to practise. This happens under supervision of the consistories of the classis-churches, while the ‘sermons’ are examined by some of the ministers appointed by the classis for this purpose.
When it becomes apparent that this also has favourable results the classis declares him eligible to be called to the Ministry of the Word.
All this is included in the ‘general regulations’ mentioned in the final
sentence of this article.
It may be clear that the churches want to be diligent in caring for the faithful preaching of God’s Word in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.