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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 19 : The Licensure of Candidates for the Gospel Ministry and Internship

Paragraph 2 : Of the Examination for Licensure

19-2. Examination for licensure.
The examination for licensure shall be as follows:
a. Give a statement of his Christian experience and inward call to preach the Gospel in written form and/or orally before the Presbytery (at the discretion of the Presbytery):
b. Be tested with a written and/or oral examination by the Presbytery (at the discretion of the Presbytery) for his:
1. basic knowledge of Biblical doctrine as outlined in the Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Presbyterian Church in America.
2. practical knowledge of the Bible content.
3. basic knowledge of the government of the Presbyterian Church in America as defined in The Book of Church Order.
c. Be examined orally before Presbytery for his views in the areas outlined in part b above.
d. Provide his written sermon on an assigned passage of Scripture embodying both explanation and application, and present orally his sermon or exhortation before Presbytery or before a committee of Presbytery.
No Presbytery shall omit any of these parts of examination except in extraordinary cases; and whenever a Presbytery shall omit any of these parts, it shall always make a record of the reasons therefor, and of the trial parts omitted.


[Historical Summary : .]

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1973, 20-6, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 138
Examination for Licensure.
The Presbytery shall examine the candidate with a comprehensive written statement of his understanding of the Christian Faith, including such doctrines as : Scripture, God, Creation, Decrees, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, Christ, Man, Sin, and an oral examination of his views before the Presbytery.
It shall also examine him on his knowledge of Theology, the Sacraments and Church Government, the English Bible, and Church History. Moreover the Presbytery shall require :
(1) An exegesis or critical exercise, in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism, presenting an explication of the Biblical text, stating its connection, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties, and solving any important question which it may present.
(2) A sermon, lecture or exposition of several verses of Scripture.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 20-5, Proposed text, p. 24
Examination for Licensure.
The Presbytery shall examine the candidate on his knowledge of Philosophy, the Natural Sciences, History and Literature, and similar subjects, or in lieu of the examination on any of these academic studies, it may accept a diploma or certificate from an approve college, with a comprehensive written statement of his understanding of the Christian Faith, including such doctrines as : Scripture, God, Creation, Decrees, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, Christ, Man, Sin.
It shall also examine him on his knowledge of Theology, the Sacraments and Church Government, the English Bible, and Church History, or in lieu of the examination on the original languages of the Scriptures and Church History, it may accept a diploma or certificate from an approved theological seminary. Moreover, the Presbytery shall require:
(1.) An exegesis or critical exercise, in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism; presenting an explication of the original text, stating its connection, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties, and solving any important question which it may present.
(2.) A sermon, lecture or exposition of several verses of Scripture.

PCUS 1933, XXII, § 112
and
PCUS 1925, XXII, § 112
The Presbytery shall examine the candidate on his knowledge of the Latin Language, Mental Philosophy, Logic, Rhetoric, Ethics, the Natural Sciences and similar subjects, or in lieu of the examination on any of these academic studies, it may accept a diploma or certificate from an approve college. It shall also examine him on his knowledge of Theology, the Sacraments and Church Government, the original languages of the Holy Scriptures, the English Bible, and Church History, or in lieu of the examination on the original languages of the Scriptures and Church History, it may accept a diploma or certificate from an approved theological seminary. Moreover, the Presbytery shall require:
(1.) A discussion in English, or in Latin, of a thesis on some common head in divinity.
(2.) An exegesis or critical exercise, in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism; presenting an explication of the original text, stating its connection, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties, and solving any important question which it may present.
(3.) A lecture or exposition of several verses of Scripture.
(4.) A sermon.

PCUS 1879, VI-6-4

The Presbytery shall try each candidate as to his knowledge of the Latin language and the original languages of the Holy Scriptures. It shall also examine him on mental philosophy, logic and rhetoric ; on ethics ; on the natural and exact sciences ; on theology, natural and revealed ; and on ecclesiastical history, the sacraments, and church government. Moreover, the Presbytery shall require of him--
1. A discussion in Latin of a thesis on some common head of divinity.
2. An exegesis or critical exercise, in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism ; presenting an explication of the original text, stating its connection, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties, and solving any important questions which it may present.
3. A lecture or exposition of several verses of Scripture.
4. A sermon.

PCUS 1869 draft, VI-6-4
The Presbytery shall try each candidate as to his knowledge of the Latin language and the original languages of the Holy Scriptures. It shall also examine him on philosophy, including logic; on ethics; on the natural and exact sciences; on theology, natural and revealed; and on ecclesiastical history, the sacraments, and Church-government. Moreover, the Presbytery shall require of him,
1. A discussion in Latin of a thesis on some common head in divinity.
2. A critical exercise; in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism; presenting an explication of the original text, stating its connexion, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties, and solving any important questions which it may present.
3. A popular lecture in exposition of several verses of Scripture.
4. A doctrinal sermon.

PCUS 1867 draft, VI-6-4
The presbytery shall try each candidate as to his knowledge of the Latin language and the original languages of the Holy Scriptures. It shall also examine him on philosophy, including logic; on ethics; on the natural and exact sciences; on theology, natural and revealed; and on ecclesiastical history, the sacraments, and church-government. Moreover, the presbytery shall require of him,
1. A Latin thesis on some common head in divinity.
2. A critical exercise; in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism; presenting an explication of the original text, stating its connexion, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties, and solving any important questions which it may present.
3. A popular lecture in exposition of several verses of Scripture. And,
4. A doctrinal sermon.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 159-162), on : VI-6-4
132.--IV. The Presbytery shall try each candidate as to his knowledge of the Latin language and the original languages of the Holy Scriptures.
This knowledge of the languages is set first and to itself, as lying at the basis of learning in general (that is, of the sort of learning required, which is rather that of the classical than of the scientific course), and of biblical learning in particular.
It shall also examine him on mental philosophy, logic, and rhetoric ;
Teachers need to understand psychology, since they are to work upon mind ; logic, that they may be able to interpret, expound, and maintain their doctrines ; and rhetoric, that they may be able effectively to present their teachings.
on ethics;
This must be understood here to include metaphysics ; and the singular importance of this branch of study as underlying theology is not to be overlooked.
on the natural and exact sciences;
While the mental and ethical sciences are more important for the minister, the training of the mathematical and physical sciences may not be dispensed with in a regular course of learning ; and not only is this element of training needful for the minister, but the knowledge of the physical sciences is now of practical importance.
on theology, natural and revealed;
This means not only a systematic arrangement of the doctrines of Scripture, but also a comprehensive philosophy of the system of doctrines taught in the Scriptures and otherwise known concerning God and man's relations to him.
and
not only is it indispensable that the candidate stand a satisfactory examination on theology in general, but, for practical reasons, especially
on ecclesiastical history, the sacraments, and church government.
It is noteworthy that the Presbytery is never at liberty to omit trying each candidate on these subjects. How much he shall know on these subjects is left to the Presbytery's discretion under the guidance of paragraph 133 ; but it not left to the Presbytery's discretion whether to ascertain, by examination, some just measure of his knowledge and discipline in each of these subjects ; nor may the Presbytery omit any of the exercises following.
Moreover, the Presbytery shall require of him,
1. A discussion in Latin of a thesis on some common head in divinity.
This will test his knowledge of the Latin language, of theology, and of logic and rhetoric.
2. A critical exercise; in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism; presenting an explication of the original text, stating its connexion, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties, and solving any important questions which it may present.
This will test his acquaintance with one, if not with both, of the original languages of the Scriptures, with almost the whole list of branches of learning, and especially with the Bible itself in the original.
3. A popular lecture in exposition of several verses of Scripture.
Besides serving largely the same purposes as the critical exercise, this will especially test his acquaintance with the English Bible and his ability as an expositor.
4. A doctrinal sermon.

Lying back of the sermon there needs to be a grasp of theological truth in system, and the power to set it forth, as is to be shown in the thesis ; a command of the instruments of critical exegesis, as is to be shown in the critical exercise ; and the power of expounding the Scriptures in accord with the principles of sound theology and criticism, but so as to instruct and help popular assemblies, as is to be shown in the lecture ; but the sermon itself is the preacher's great work, by which he works the truth of Scripture into the lives of men. Men may be profound theologians, correct exegetes and clear expositors, and still fail as preachers ; and such men should not be licensed to preach.

PCUS 1879 - text without comparable parallel in PCA 1973 and following:
VI-6-2.--The trials of a candidate for licensure shall ordinarily be had by the Presbytery having jurisdiction of the church of which he is a member; but should any one find it more convenient to put himself under the care of a Presbytery at a distance from that to which he most naturally belongs, he may be received by the said Presbytery on his producing testimonials, either from the Presbytery within the bounds of which he has usually presided, or from any two Ministers of that Presbytery in good standing, of his exemplary piety and other requisite qualifications.



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