Studied a bit more of the Westminster Confession earlier tonight and one part sticks with me. In XXVII, 3 (to use what appears to be its standard) it says that the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper should only be dispensed by an ordained minister. This makes sense for baptism, at least for paedobaptist types, but it strikes me as an odd requirement for the Lord's Supper. Not sure why...I guess I've never thought of it in such a context.
The commentary makes a decent supporting argument based on the fact that the Bible makes no mention of sacraments being administered by any other than church leaders and 1 Cor. 4:1 says that "servants [ministers] of Christ" ought to be "entrusted with the secret things of God." So that holds if you include sacraments in the "secret things of God" category. I'm not convinced that works but I'm not sure so I'll take it to be true for now. But, similarly, my quick search revealed no places in the Bible other than the Corinthians verse above that says only ministers may dispense the sacraments. And I would think that if Williamson could have found a better supporting verse for his argument he'd have used it. So as to who can and cannot preside over the sacraments it seems the Bible is silent unless the previous case is assumed.
There's another question that must be answered. Is the WC intended only to govern only churches that are part of a presbyterian denomination, or is it intended to be the church's blueprint for how the kingdom of God on earth ought to be managed? I see some interesting missions implications here in places where there may not be an ordained minister present. Would that mean the leader of the group assumes the role of minister, even though he (or, dare I say it, she) may have little or no formal training, for purposes of administering the sacraments? Or if believers gather together in homes can the Lord's Supper not be properly taken without a minister present to dispense it? Hard to imagine the latter happening much today but I would think it happened more often in NT times.
I guess one answer could be that the WC is an all-or-nothing document. One can't choose parts of it to follow and not others because the chapters build off of and depend upon one another. This makes sense--after all the Bible is this way--but for me it would lead to some tough personal questions. Those parts about baptism and church hierarchy would mean much more in light of the rest of the confession, rather than being stand-alone items I don't fully agree with the WC divines on. But this would also mean that any church not following some of the basic precepts of presbyterianism would be exempt from the rest of the Confession. Not to say the truths in the WC wouldn't apply, but the Confession itself couldn't be used as a standard by or for that church because some parts couldn't be applied to the context of a non-presbyterian church.
In a way this is all a moot point. The WC should follow the Bible, and to the extent that it does the implications are universal. And where it doesn't the Bible has the final say anyway and the WC should not be followed. But it's still interesting to ponder...