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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 3 : The Nature and Extent of Church Power

Paragraph 3 : Its Function

3-3. The sole functions of the Church, as a kingdom and government distinct from the civil commonwealth, are to proclaim, to administer, and to enforce the law of Christ revealed in the Scriptures.

[Historical Summary : The current PCA text remains that of PCUS 1879 and subsequent editions.]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, Adopted text for 3-3, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 129
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church, 1973 Proposed text, 3-3
3. PCUS 1933, IV-
4. PCUS 1925, IV-
5. PCUS 1879, II-3-3.

The sole functions of the Church, as a kingdom and government distinct from the civil commonwealth, are to proclaim, to administer, and to enforce the law of Christ revealed in the Scriptures.

PCUS 1869 draft, II-3-3.
The sole functions of the Church, as a kingdom and government distinct from the civil commonwealth, are to proclaim, to administer, and to enforce the law of Christ revealed in the Scriptures.

PCUS 1867 draft, II-3-3.
The sole functions of the church, as a kingdom and government distinct from the civil commonwealth, are to expound and apply, to administer and enforce the law of Christ revealed in the Scriptures, which is the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 27-28), on II-3-3 :
17.--III. The sole functions of the Church, as a kingdom and government distinct from the civil commonwealth, are to proclaim, to administer, and to enforce the law of Christ revealed in the Scriptures.
Three functions, though really running into one another in action, are distinguished : to proclaim law, which is not legislation, but the publication of law ; to administer law, which is judicially to praise and censure actions as conforming or contrary to law, and to enforce law, which is the infliction of penalty for violation of law. The nature of penalties that the Church may inflict is not in this paragraph defined ; the law with which church government concerns itself is carefully limited. It is not the will of the Church or of its officers, but only the law of Christ, nor is it the law of Christ known, or supposed to be known, in any way, but only the law of Christ revealed in the Scriptures. The law there revealed, and that only. The Church may require nothing that Christ in the Scriptures does not require ; and the Church may endorse nothing that Christ does not in the Scriptures teach. Emphatically is nothing to be enforced because it is in the subordinate standards unless it is in the Scriptures. But the Church is not inhibited from formulating Christ's law as given in the Scriptures ; only it must be mere formulation of his law already thus revealed, and not some extra-scriptural regulation.
The proclaiming, administering and enforcing of this law is not only the function of the Church, but the only function of the Church as a government.
The scope of the Church's work is broader.



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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]