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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 16 : Church Orders - The Doctrine of Vocation

Paragraph 1 :

16-1. Ordinary vocation to office in the Church is the calling of God by the Spirit, through the inward testimony of a good conscience, the manifest approbation of God's people, and the concurring judgment of a lawful court of the Church.

[Historical Summary : The current PCA text dates to PCUS 1925, and but for the final clause, is also that of PCUS 1879.]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, 17-1, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 136
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 17-1, Proposed text, p. 20
3. PCUS 1933, XIX, § 96
4. PCUS 1925, XIX, § 96

Ordinary vocation to office in the Church is the calling of God by the Spirit, through the inward testimony of a good conscience, the manifest approbation of God's people, and the concurring judgment of a lawful court of the Church.

PCUS 1879, VI-1-1

Ordinary vocation to office in the Church is the calling of God by the Spirit, through the inward testimony of a good conscience, the manifest approbation of God's people, and the concurring judgment of the lawful court of Christ's house according to His Word.

PCUS 1869 draft, VI-1-1 and V-1-2
1. Vocation to office in the Church is of two sorts, extraordinary and ordinary. It is extraordinary, when it is by God Himself, as was the calling of the Prophets and Apostles, which kind of vocation has ceased. It is ordinary, when besides the calling of God by the Spirit, and the inward testimony of a good conscience, there is the manifest approbation of God’s people, and the concurrent judgment of the lawful court of Christ’s house, according to His Word.
2. Ordinary outward vocation consists in election and examination.

PCUS 1867 draft, VI-1-1 and VI-1-2
1. Vocation is of two sorts, extraordinary and ordinary. It is extraordinary, when it is by God himself, as was the calling of the prophets and apostles, which kind of vocation has ceased. It is ordinary, when besides the calling of God by the Spirit, and the inward testimony of a good conscience, there is the manifest approbation of God’s people, and the concurrent judgment of the lawful court of Christ’s house, according to his word.
2. Ordinary outward vocation consists in election, examination, and admission.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, pp. 121-122), on VI-1-1:
CHAPTER VI.
OF CHURCH ORDERS.

This chapter, which has to do with the induction of men into office, after two preliminary sections on the doctrines of vocation and ordination, has a section on the election of officers, followed by two sections on their ordination and installation, one as to Ruling Elders and Deacons, and one as to Ministers. And there is added a section concerning the preliminary step toward ordination, called licensure.
Section I.--Of the Doctrine of Vocation.
This first preliminary section, which has to do with the theory of how men are called to office in the Church, has three paragraphs, one of them having to do particularly with one, and one with another, of the three elements in a call.
96.--I. Ordinary vocation to office in the Church is the calling of God by the Spirit, through the inward testimony of a good conscience, the manifest approbation of God's people, and the concurring judgment of the lawful court of Christ's house according to his Word.
"Ordinary vocation," means vocation to the ordinary offices. (Par. 33.) A true call is wholly by the Spirit, making a concurrent indication of God's will through three means : by producing the same conviction in the mind of the called, in the mind of the people of God that have experience of the called man's service or knowledge of him, and in the mind of the appropriate court. The essence of the call lies in the Holy Spirit working an inward conviction in the man himself; but subsidiary and confirmatory means are not to be despised as helps to the man himself, and are indispensable for the sake of order in the Church.



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FoG..
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11
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15
16
17
18
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20
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25
26
I. King & Head of Church
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§5
RoD
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32
33
34
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II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
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[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]