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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 3 : Questions for Licensure

19-3. Questions for Licensure.
If the Presbytery be satisfied with the trials of the applicant, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner:
The moderator shall propose to him the following questions, namely:
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, to be the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scripture?
3. Do you promise to strive for the purity, peace, unity and edification of the Church?
4. Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this Presbytery, or of any other into the bounds of which you may be called?


[Historical Summary : Of note here is the addition of the clause "as originally given," which was added in 1980 as part of a complete revision of Chapter 19 (M8GA, 8-88, III.3, p. 116)]. The one other change of note occurred with the PCA's first approved BCO (1973), in which the word "inerrant" was added to modify the phrase "Word of God". In the Proposed BCO (1973), it had been initially added as a second adjective modifying "rule of faith", but according to a handwritten note in G. Aiken Taylor's copy of the Proposed Book of Church Order, it was at TE Don Dunkerley's suggestion that the word "inerrant" was moved forward in the sentence to serve as an adjective in front of "Word of God". Apart from these two changes and some minor differences of capitalization, the paragraph remains consistent with that of the 1789 PCUSA Form of Government.

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1973, 20-9, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 138
Questions for Licensure.
If the Presbytery be satisfied with the trials of the candidate, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner:
The Moderator shall propose to him the following questions, namely:
(1) Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
(2) Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
(3) Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the Church?
(4) Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this Presbytery, or of any other into the bounds of which you may be called?

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 20-8, Proposed text, pp. 24-25
Questions for Licensure.
If the Presbytery be satisfied with the trials of the candidate, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner:
The Moderator shall propose to him the following questions, namely:
(1) Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible and inerrant rule of faith and practice?
(2) Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
(3) Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the Church?
(4) Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this Presbytery, or of any other into the bounds of which you may be called?

PCUS 1933, XXII, § 115
and
PCUS 1925, XXII, § 115
Questions for Licensure.
If the Presbytery be satisfied with the trials of the candidate, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner:
The Moderator shall propose to him the following questions, namely:
(1) Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
(2) Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
(3) Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the Church?
(4) Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this Presbytery, or of any other into the bounds of which you may be called?

PCUS 1879, VI-6-7

If the Presbytery be satisfied with his trials, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner : The Moderator shall propose to him the following questions, viz. :
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the Church?
4. Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this Presbytery, or any other into the bounds of which you may be called?


PCUS 1869 draft, VI-6-7
If the Presbytery be satisfied with his trial, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner: The Moderator shall propose to him the following questions, viz:
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the Church?
4. Do you promise to submit yourself in the Lord, to the government of this Presbytery, or of any other into the bounds of which you may be called?

PCUS 1867 draft, VI-6-7
If the presbytery be satisfied with his trials, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner: The moderator shall propose to him the following questions, viz:
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the
Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the church?
4. Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this presbytery, or of any other into the bounds of which you may be called?

PCUSA 1789, XIII-5
Before the presbytery proceed to license the candidate, the moderator shall require of him the following engagements : viz.
1. Do you believe the scriptures of the old and new testaments to be the word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the confession of faith of this church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the holy scriptures?
3. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the church?
4. Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this presbytery, or of any other presbytery in the bounds of which you may be?

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 164), on VI-6-7:
135.--VII. If the Presbytery be satisfied with his trials, it shall then proceed to license him in the following manner : The Moderator shall propose to him the following questions, viz. :
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the Church?
These questions are identical with questions 1 and 2, and (nearly) question 5, put to Ruling Elders and Deacons, and contain the fundamental obligations of all admitted to office. (Cf. 112 and 119.) The word edification, inserted in question 5 named above, is omitted here, it being yet undetermined whether the licentiate shall be able to edify the Church. (Cf. pars. 139 and 140.)
4. Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this Presbytery, or any other into the bounds of which you may be called?

This is substantially the same as the fourth question in the ordination of Ministers ; but that is made more comprehensive, as the Minister comes into more complex relations with his brother Elders (through his membership in the courts), and the candidate is simply in subjection to the Presbytery alone without being a member of it.



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I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
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RoD
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DfW
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