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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 57 : The Admission of Persons to Sealing Ordinances

Paragraph 5 :

57-5. The time having come for the making of a public profession, and those who have been approved by the Session having taken their places in the presence of the congregation, the minister may state that:
Of the number of those who were baptized in infancy as members of the Church of God by birthright, and as heirs of the covenant promises, the Session has examined and approved (call them by name), who come now to assume for themselves the full privileges and responsibilities of their inheritance in the household of faith.
If there be present any candidates for Baptism, the minister may state that:
As applicants for admission into the Church of God by Baptism, which is a sign and seal of our engrafting into Christ, and of our engagement to be the Lord’s, the Session has examined and approved (call them by name), who are cordially welcomed into the fellowship of the household of faith.
The minister may then address those making a profession in the following terms:
(All of) you being here present to make a public profession of faith, are to assent to the following declarations and promises, by which you enter into a solemn covenant with God and His Church.
1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?
2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
4. Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
5. Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
The minister may now briefly admonish those making a profession of faith as to the importance of the solemn obligations they have assumed; then baptism may be administered, if there be present any candidates for the ordinance, and the whole concluded with prayer.

DIGEST :
PCUS 1925, at Question # 3 has the added clause at the end of the sentence, “… , forsaking all sin, and conforming your life to His teaching and example? The revision enacted in 1929 deleted that added clause and also inserted a new question as Question #4. PCA 1973 lacks PCUS 1933's use of parentheses at the opening of the Minister's address, i.e., "(All of you)", but that use of parentheses is returned in the current PCA text.
]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS :
PCA 1973, DfW, 11-5, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 159
and
Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, DfW, 11-5, Proposed text, p. 71-[72]

The time having come for the making of a public profession, and those who have been approved by the Session having taken their places in the presence of the congregation, the minister may state that:
(1) Of the number of those who were baptized in infancy as members of the Church of God by birthright, and heirs of the covenant promises, and who were then dedicated to God by their parents, or some other responsible person, in solemn vows, the Session has examined and approved A, B and C, who come now to assume for themselves the full privileges and responsibilities of their inheritance in the household of faith.
(2) If there be present any candidates for baptism, the minister may state that:
As applicants for admission into the Church of God by baptism, which is a sign and seal of our engrafting into Christ, and of our engagement to be the Lord’s, the Session has examined and approved D, E and F, who are cordially welcomed into the goodly fellowship of the household of faith.
(3) The minister may then address those making a profession in the following terms:
All of you being here present to make a public profession of faith, are to assent to the following declarations and promises, by which you enter into a solemn covenant with God and His Church.
1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?
2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Saviour of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becometh the followers of Christ?
4. Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
5. Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
The minister may now briefly admonish those making a profession of faith as to the importance of the solemn obligations they have assumed; then baptism may be administered, if there be present any candidates for the ordinance, and the whole concluded with prayer.


PCUS 1933, DfW, XI, § 354

The time having come for the making of a public profession, and those who have been approved by the Session having taken their places in the presence of the congregation, the minister may state that:
(1) Of the number of those who were baptized in infancy as members of the Church of God by birthright, and heirs of the covenant promises, and who were then dedicated to God by their parents, or some other responsible person, in solemn vows, the Session has examined and approved A, B and C, who come now to assume for themselves the full privileges and responsibilities of their inheritance in the household of faith.
(2) If there be present any candidates for baptism, the minister may state that:
As applicants for admission into the Church of God by baptism, which is a sign and seal of our engrafting into Christ, and of our engagement to be the Lord’s, the Session has examined and approved D, E and F, who are cordially welcomed into the goodly fellowship of the household of faith.
(3) The minister may then address those making a profession in the following terms:
(All of you) being here present to make a public profession of faith, are to assent to the following declarations and promises, by which you enter into a solemn covenant with God and His Church.
1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?
2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Saviour of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becometh the followers of Christ?
4. Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
5. Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
The minister may now briefly admonish those making a profession of faith as to the importance of the solemn obligations they have assumed; then baptism may be administered, if there be present any candidates for the ordinance, and the whole concluded with prayer.

PCUS 1925, DfW, X-5, § 345
and
PCUS 1894, DfW, X-5
(1) The time having come for the making of a public profession, and those who have been approved by the session having taken their places in the presence of the congregation, the minister may state that,--
Of the number of those who were baptized in infancy as members of the church of God by birthright, and heirs of the covenant promises, and who were then dedicated to God by their parents in solemn vows, the session has examined and approved as to [their] faith in Christ, and knowledge to discern the Lord's body, A, B, and C, who [come] now to assume for [themselves] the full privileges and responsibilities of [their] inheritance in the household of faith.
(2) If there be present any candidates for baptism, the Minister may state that,--
As applicants for admission into the church of God by baptism, which is a sign and seal of our engrafting into Christ, and of our engagement to be the Lord’s, the session has examined and approved as to [their] personal experience of divine grace, and [their] acceptance of Christ, D, E, and F, who [are] cordially welcomed into the goodly fellowship of the saints.
(3) The Minister may then address those making a profession in the following terms:
[All of] you being here present to make a public profession of faith, are to assent to the following declarations and promises, by which you enter into a solemn covenant with God and his Church.
1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving his displeasure, and without hope save in his sovereign mercy?
2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Saviour of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon him alone for salvation as he is offered in the gospel?
3. Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to walk as becometh the followers of Christ, forsaking all sin, and conforming your life to his teaching and example?
4. Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
The minister may now briefly admonish those making a profession of faith as to the importance of the solemn obligations they have assumed; then baptism may be administered, if there be present any candidates for the ordinance, and the whole concluded with prayer.

COMMENTARY:
[none available at this time]

DEFEATED OVERTURES:
1979 - Overture 23. From the Presbytery of New River [answered in the negative, M7GA, 7-41, III, 25, p. 105]
That the Book of Church Order, paragraph 58-5, be changed in Question 2 to read as follows:
2. "Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God, and only Saviour of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?"
The Rationale: The rationale for such a change lies in the felt need to express our church vows more specifically in harmony with our biblical beliefs and in clear agreement with the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 8, "Of Christ the Mediator." Also, such clarification is needed to express precisely our belief in our Lord's Deity as the eternal Son of God, apart from the several cultic groups (e.g., Mormons) who call Him the Son of God, without any biblical understanding attached to their wording. In summary, the addition of these two words will clearly denote our Lord's eternal Deity and that "there is salvation in none other."
Passed by New River Presbytery in Session at South Ruffner Presbyterian Church, Charleston, West Virginia, March 10, 1979.
Attest: James N. Gay, Moderator; R.E. Kresge, Clerk.
Answered in the negative - M7GA, 7-41, III, 25, p. 105. [no discussion or reasoning in provided in the Minutes at p. 105]


NON-JUDICIAL REFERENCE & CONSTITUTIONAL INQUIRY:

2000 - Reference 4 - James River Presbytery [M28GA, 28-19, III, pp. 72-73]
Question - "Does the current printing of BCO 57-5 (using "Church" in the introduction to the profession of faith, and "church" in vows 4 and 5 accurately reflect BCO 57-5 when it was duly adopted?"
Response - It is the advice of the Committee that the original language of BCO 57-5 used an upper case "C" in both vows 4 and 5. The change to lower case was apparently the result of a typographical error at some point. The Committee recommends that this be corrected. The Committee does not believe it is appropriate for us to recommend whether any changes ought to be made in the language of the vows.
The response was adopted by proper motion, 7-0-0.



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Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]