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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 1 : The Doctrine of Church Government

Paragraph 5 : Its Courts.

1-5. Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is not a several, but a joint power, to be exercised by presbyters in courts. These courts may have jurisdiction over one or many churches but they sustain such mutual relations as to realize the idea of the unity of the Church.

[DIGEST : Apart from punctuation, the current text is unchanged from that of PCUS 1879.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
PCA 1973, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 129
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is not a several, but a joint power, to be exercised by Presbyters in courts. These courts may have jurisdiction over one or many churches but they sustain such mutual relations as to realize the idea of the unity of the Church.

Continuing Presbyterian Church, 1973 Proposed text, 1-5
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is not a several, but a joint power, to be exercised by Presbyters in courts. These courts may have jurisdiction over one or many churches but they sustain such mutual relations as to realize the idea of the unity of the Church.

PCUS 1879, I-5.

Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is not a several, but a joint power, to be exercised by Presbyters in courts. These courts may have jurisdiction over one or many churches; but they sustain such mutual relations as to realize the idea of the unity of the Church.

PCUS 1869 draft, I-5.
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is not a several, but a joint power, to be exercised by Presbyters in Courts. These Courts may have jurisdiction over one or many Congregations; but they sustain such mutual relations as to realize the idea of the unity of the Church.

PCUS 1867 draft, I-5.
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is never a several but always a joint power, and is committed to church-courts, consisting of presbyters of the two classes. These courts may have jurisdiction over one or many congregations; but they sustain such mutual relations as to realize the idea of the unity of the church.

The Presbyterial Form of Church Government...Agreed upon by the Westminster Assembly of Divines...(1645),
"Of the power in common of all these Assemblies."
It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that the several assemblies before mentioned have power to convent, and call before them, any person within their several bounds, whom the ecclesiastical business which is before them doth concern.[o] They have power to hear and determine such causes and differences as do orderly come before them. It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that all the said assemblies have some power to dispense church-censures.
[o] Mt. 18:15-20.

COMMENTARY:

F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 16), on I-5 :
As already implied, the power of government in the stricter sense,
5.--V.
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is not a several,
power, to be exercised by an individual,
but a joint power, to be exercised by Presbyters in courts.
Presbyter means an officer having joint jurisdiction with other officers.
These courts may have jurisdiction over one or many churches; but they sustain such mutual relations as to realize the idea of the unity of the Church.
It is necessary to note the distinction between "church" and "Church." The latter has been already defined in paragraph 2, and the former will be defined in paragraph 20. The Church is one. No group of churches is together independent of the whole Church; and especially can no particular church be, of right, independent of the Church catholic, any more than an individual member. This is an emphatic denial of Independency.



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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]