PCA HISTORICAL CENTER
Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church


The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Chapter 1 : The Doctrine of Church Government

Paragraph 7 : Necessary but not essential

1-7. This scriptural doctrine of Presbytery is necessary to the perfection of the order of the visible Church but is not essential to its existence.

[DIGEST : The current PCA text dates to the first approved PCUS edition of 1879.]

BACKGROUND & COMPARISON:

1. PCA 1973, Adopted text for 1-7, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 129
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church, 1973 Proposed text, 1-7
3. PCUS 1933, I-§7
4. PCUS 1925, I-§7
5. PCUS 1879, I-7.
This scriptural doctrine of Presbytery is necessary to the perfection of the order of the visible Church, but is not essential to its existence.

PCUS 1869 draft, I-7
and

PCUS 1867 draft, I-7
Although the practical adoption of the scriptural doctrine of presbytery is necessary to the completeness of the efficiency and the perfection of the order of the church, yet it is not essential to its existence.

The Presbyterial Form of Church Government...Agreed upon by the Westminster Assembly of Divines...(1645),
"Of Classical Assemblies"

The scripture doth hold out a presbytery in a church. A presbytery consisteth of ministers of the word, and such other publick officers as are agreeable to and warranted by the word of God to be church-governors, to join with the ministers in the government of the church. The scripture doth hold forth, that many particular congregations may be under one presbyterial government.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. 17), on I-7 :

But some of the Church as defined in paragraph 2, do not accept this doctrine of Presbytery; how, then, can they be members of the
Church?
7.--VII. This scriptural doctrine of Presbytery is necessary to the perfection of the order of the visible Church, but is not essential to its existence.
The visible Church may exist, and may be an ordered body, without this doctrine, its officers having valid ordination ; but without this doctrine the Church must lack something necessary to make its order perfect. Without it, there will be more or less of violation of the scriptural order, some men discharging official functions to which they have not been properly appointed, and some needful official functions not being adequately provided for
.


Chapter Index [links are to Paragraph 1 in 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]

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