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


The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Chapter 4 : The Particular Church

Removed : Old Paragraph 4 : Of the Deacons

[DIGEST: While this text was part of PCA 1973, it was deleted in _______ and is no longer part of the current PCA Book of Church Order. The intent of this paragraph is now subsumed under the current BCO 9-2, which is a more extensive statement on the duties of the diaconate than is found here.]

BACKGROUND & COMPARISON:
1.PCA 1973, 4-4, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 129
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 4-4, Proposed text, p. 6
3. PCUS 1933, V, § 23
4. PCUS 1925, V, § 23
To the Deacons belong the collection and administration of the offerings of the people for the relief of those in need, and for the work of the church, under the supervision of the Session.

PCUS 1879, II-4-4
To the Deacons belongs the administration of the offerings for the poor and other pious uses. To them, also, may be properly committed the charge of the temporal affairs of the church.

PCUS 1869 draft, II-4-4
To the Deacons belongs the administration of the offerings for the poor and other pious uses. To them, also, is properly committed
the charge of the temporal goods of the Congregation.

PCUS 1867 draft, II-4-4
To the deacons is committed the administration of all the temporal goods of the congregation, and the oblations for pious uses.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 32-34), on II-4-4 :
23.--IV. To the Deacons belongs the administration of the offerings for the poor and other pious uses. To them, also, may be properly committed the charge of the temporal affairs of the church.
Over against the opinion that the function of the Deacons is limited to the care of the poor, this affirms that to them belongs the administration, not only of the offerings for the poor, but also of the offerings for other pious uses. The making of offerings is a part of the worship, and the administration of these, that is, the application of them to their uses, cannot be taken from the Deacons without depriving them of their office. But, while it may be assumed that the kingdom of Christ can have no temporal interest or property except in these offerings and the investment of them, yet it comes about that the use and control of these temporal interests and properties are, on the one side, matters of purely secular business, but, on the other, not separable altogether from the government of the kingdom in its spiritual activities. Therefore the charge of temporal affairs, that is, the management of them, the courts of Presbyters may retain in their own hands, or may commit to the Deacons under such limitations and directions as will not impair the full control of the courts over all matters. This principle may be applied, not only in the particular church, but also in the Church at large ; for just as Ruling Elders, though primarily officers of the particular church, are called to assist in the government of the Church generally, so may the Deacons, though primarily officers of the particular church, be called to the charge of the temporal affairs of the whole Church. Three principles, then, are stated : that to the Deacons may be committed the charge of temporal affairs, as well as the mere administration of them ; the charge of temporal affairs generally, as well as of the immediate administration of offerings ; and the charge of the temporal affairs of the whole Church as well as of the particular church. Of course, this commitment should, in each case, be by the court of Presbyters having authority over the interests thus committed.
The Form of Government says nothing about trustees, because the only officers are Pastor, Ruling Elder, and Deacon. To observe the institution of government and administration as ordained by Christ, the trustees necessary as a legal instrument under the laws of the civil government should either be the Session ex officio, or, if the Session commits the charge of the temporal affairs to the Deacons, the Deacons ex officio, or appointees of the Session, with no authority whatever except to legally execute what the Session may authorize. And if the civil laws happen to require that the trustees be elected by the body of members, then the Session, the Deacons, or nominees of the Session, should always be elected. It does not belong to the congregation to determine questions in temporal affairs, for the sole government is vested in the Session ; but, as the Session may commit the charge of temporal affairs to the Deacons, so it may consult with the congregation as to these affairs, and, indeed, as to all concerns. Since the Pastor is a member of the Session, he ought to have the same authority and responsibility for the management of temporal affairs as any other member of the Session.
I am expounding the rule of the Church as here laid down, and not the practice
.


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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