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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 2 : The Visible Church Defined

Paragraph 1 : Its Unity

2-1. The Visible Church before the law, under the law, and now under the Gospel, is one and the same and consists of all those who make profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, together with their children.

[DIGEST: The wording and punctuation of the current PCA text is unchanged from that of PCUS 1879, 3-1.
Note too that PCUS 1879 had a prior section under Chapter 2, titled "Section 1.--Of its King and Head." That section, with minor changes of spelling and punctuation, is now found as the first section of the Preface to the PCA Book of Church Order.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
1. PCA 1973, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 129
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed text, 2-1
3. PCUS 1933, III-§12
4. PCUS 1925, III-§12
5. PCUS 1879, II-2-1.
The visible Church before the law, under the law, and now under the gospel, is one and the same, and consists of all those who make profession of the true religion, together with their children.

PCUS 1869 draft, II-1.
The visible church, which before the law, under the law, and now under the gospel, is one and the same, consists of all those who make profession of the true religion, together with their children; and under the gospel, it is catholic and universal; not, as before under the law, confined to one nation.

PCUS 1867 draft, II-1.

The visible church, which before the law, under the law, and now under the gospel, is one and the same, consists of all those who make profession of the true religion, together with their children; and under the gospel, it is catholic and universal; not, as before under the law, confined to one nation.

PCUSA 1789, I-2
The universal church consists of all those persons, in every nation, together with their children, who make profession of the holy religion of Christ, and of submission to his laws. [c]

[c] Rev 5:9; Acts 2:39; I Cor. 1:2 compared with II Cor. 9:13.

OTHER COMPARISONS:
OPC 1936, II-2

The universal Church consists of all those persons, in every nation, together with their children, who make profession of the holy religion of Christ, and of submission to his laws.

OPC 2005, II-2
The universal church visible consists of all those persons, in every nation, together with their children, who make profession of saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and promise submission to his commandments.

BPC 2003, 2-2
The catholic visible Church consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children.

RPCES 1973, I-1
The visible church throughout the world consists of all those who, in various forms of organizations, profess their faith in God through His Eternal Son, together with their children. Any organization for worship in which the Gospel is faithfully preached and faithfully shown forth in sacraments or ordinances, and in which denial of the basic principles of the Gospel, whether in word or in deed, is faithfully disciplined, may be regarded as a branch of the Universal Church.

ARP 2003, I-B-1
There is but one Church set forth in the Scriptures. This Church in all ages is one and the same, and consists of those who by faith are in the Lord Jesus Christ, together with their children.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, pp. 22-23), on II-2-1 :

Section II.--The Visible Church Defined.
While the visible Church is one, it has two sorts of divisions, into different denominations and into particular churches; accordingly, this section, after affirming the unity of the Church in the first paragraph, discusses the division into denominations in the second paragraph, and the division into particular churches in the third paragraph.
12.--I. The visible Church before the law, under the law, and now under the gospel, is one and the same, and consists of all those who make profession of the true religion, together with their children.
This is the same principle as that stated in paragraph 2; but, instead of the more sweeping "in all ages," this particularizes three ages : before Moses, from Moses to Christ, and since Christ. This also repeats the principle stated in paragraph 3, only substituting for "the holy religion of Christ and of submission to his laws" its equivalent, "the true religion."



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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]