.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 3 : The Nature and Extent of Church Power

Paragraph 4 : Its Limitation

3-4. The power of the Church is exclusively spiritual; that of the State includes the exercise of force. The constitution of the Church derives from divine revelation; the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of providential events. The Church has no right to construct or modify a government for the State, and the State has no right to frame a creed or polity for the Church. They are as planets moving in concentric orbits: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21).

[Historical Summary : This particular paragraph is unique to the PCA, and in its original form dates to the Proposed BCO (1973), though the proposed text was much longer and was edited before approval at the First General Assembly.]

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1973, Adopted text for 3-4, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 129
The power of the Church is exclusively spiritual; that of the State includes the exercise of force. The Constitution of the Church derives from divine revelation; the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of providential events. The Church derives from divine revelation; the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of providential events. The Church has no right to construct or modify a government for the State, and the State has no right to frame a creed or polity for the Church. They are as planets moving in concentric orbits. "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

Continuing Presbyterian Church, 1973 Proposed text, 3-4
The power of the Church is exclusively spiritual; that of the State includes the exercise of force. The Constitution of the Church is a divine revelation; the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of providential events. The Church has no right to construct or modify a government for the State, and the State has no right to frame a creed or polity for the Church. They are as planets moving in different orbits, and unless each is confined to its own track, the consequences may be as disastrous in the moral world as the collision of different spheres in the world of matter. It is true that there is a point at which their respective jurisdictions seem to meet - in the idea of duty. But even duty is viewed by each in very different lights. The Church enjoins it as obedience to God, and the State enforces it as the safeguard of order. But there can be no collision, unless one or the other blunders as to the things that are materially right. When the State makes wicked laws, contradicting the eternal principles of rectitude, the Church is at liberty to testify against them, and humbly to petition that they may be repealed. In like manner, if the Church becomes seditious and a disturber of the peace, the State has a right to abate the nuisance. In ordinary cases, however, there is not likely to be a collision. Among a Christian people there is little difference of opinion as to the radical distinctions of right and wrong. The only serious danger is where moral duty is conditioned upon a political question. Under the pretext of inculcating duty, the Church may usurp the power to determine the question which conditions it, and that is precisely what she is debarred from doing. The condition must be given. She must accept it from the State, and then her own course is clear. If Caesar is your master, then pay tribute to him; but whether the 'if' holds, whether Caesar is your master or not, whether he ever had any just authority, whether he now retains it or has forfeited it, these are points which the Church has no commission to adjudicate.


No comparable text in the following editions:
PCUS 1879

PCUS 1869 draft
PCUS 1867 draft
[no comparable section]

OTHER COMPARISONS :
OPC 2005, III-4
All church power is wholly moral or spiritual. No church officers or judicatories possess any civil jurisdiction; they may not inflict any civil penalties nor may they seek the aid of the civil power in the exercise of their jurisdiction further than may be necessary for civil protection and security.

COMMENTARY :

[no comparable section for discussion in Ramsay's Exposition]



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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]