PCA HISTORICAL CENTER
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The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Chapter 10 : Church Courts in General

Paragraph 1 :

10-1. The Church is governed by various courts, in regular gradation, which are all, nevertheless, Presbyteries, as being composed exclusively of presbyters.

[Note : The current PCA text is identical to the earlier PCUS editions of 1933, 1925 and 1879, but differs from the early PCA texts in the capitalization of the word "Church".]

BACKGROUND & COMPARISON:

PCA 1973, 11-1, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly,
and
Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed text,
The church is governed by various courts, in regular gradation ; which are all, nevertheless, Presbyteries, as being composed exclusively of Presbyters.

PCUS 1933, XII, § 51
and
PCUS 1879, V-1-1

The Church is governed by various courts, in regular gradation ; which are all, nevertheless, Presbyteries, as being composed exclusively of Presbyters.


PCUS 1869 draft, V-1-1
It is agreeable to Scripture, and the practice of the primitive Christians, that the Church be governed by various courts, in regular subordination; which are all, nevertheless, Presbyteries, inasmuch as they are lawful bodies of Presbyters.

PCUS 1867 draft, V-1-1
It is agreeable to Scripture, and the practice of the primitive Christians, that the Church be governed by various assemblies, in regular subordination; such as congregational, classical, provincial, national, and œcumenical; which are all, nevertheless, presbyteries, inasmuch as they are lawful bodies of presbyters.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 62-63), on V-1-1
CHAPTER V. - OF CHURCH COURTS
The chapter has seven sections, as follows : one treating generally of the courts and their officers ; one treating particularly of the jurisdiction of the courts ; then one each on the four kinds of courts ; and, lastly, one on a sort of special courts, called commissions.
Section I.--Of the Courts in General.
After a paragraph on the gradation and nature of these courts, and another paragraph enumerating them, there come three paragraphs on their officers : two on the Moderator--one providing the Moderator for each court, and one defining his duties--and one on the clerk. Then is added a paragraph on the devotional exercises that shall be observed in the sessions of the higher courts (directions as to this matter for the Session being reserved to the section on the Session) ; and another prescribes the payment of the expenses of attendance on the higher courts.
52.--I. The Church is governed by various courts, in regular gradation ; which are all, nevertheless, Presbyteries, as being composed exclusively of Presbyters.
The underlying principle is, that, so far as the facilities of intercommunication between the different parts of the Church permit, the courts of the Church shall be so related to one another that whatever is done by one part of the Church shall be done by the one Church in that part. All courts are essentially the same, being exclusively Elders acting jointly, and their powers being, therefore, the joint powers of Elders. (Cf. par. 5



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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