Note: This question is admittedly a bit technical, but I hope it serves to clarify differences in polity between two distinct but related Reformed traditions in the US.
In the brand of presbyterianism that I am most familiar with, the PCA, prospective pastors (teaching elders) must affirm the Westminster Standards. They are expected to express any "exceptions" they may have – that is, if they have views that are at odds with the Standards, they must communicate them.
These exceptions are evaluated by the presbytery before the prospective pastor is ordained, and the presbytery ordains the man only if his exceptions are deemed not to "strike at the vitals" of the system of belief.
Now, I'm wondering if there is a comparable procedure in the "modified presbyterianism" of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Of course, one difference would be that the standards being affirmed there would be the Three Forms of Unity. But perhaps more significant is the body that evaluates candidate's theology – according to Wikipedia, it is the congregation, not a higher court, that ordains:
ministers are ordained and credentialed by a local congregation, not the regional classis or presbytery. (source)
My questions, then, are:
- What is the role of individual congregations of the CRCNA in evaluating a prospective pastor's adherence to the Three Forms of Unity?
- Do they lead the effort, work together with/below a higher court, or have no role?
- Does any higher court in the denomination have the authority to prevent a candidate from being ordained by a congregation if it deems the candidate's views to be heretical?