.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 21 : The Ordination and Installation of Ministers

Paragraph 5 :

21-5. The day appointed for the ordination having come, and the Presbytery being convened, a sermon suitable for the occasion shall be preached by a person appointed or invited by the Presbytery. The Presbytery member appointed to preside shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit the proceedings of the Presbytery preparatory to the ordination; he shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance, and endeavor to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.
Questions for Ordination*
Then, addressing himself to the candidate, he shall propose to him the following questions:
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 Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
3. Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity?
4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the Gospel of His Son?
6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
7. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relational, private or public; and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?
8. Are you now willing to take the charge of this church, agreeable to your declaration when accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a pastor?

*For an assistant minister, only questions 1-7 shall be used.

[DIGEST: Apart from the instruction regarding the assistant minister, the current text remains largely that of PCUSA 1789, with minor differences of spelling and capitalization. Otherwise the one substantive difference between the PCA editions and all prior additions, both PCUS and PCUSA, is the insertion of the adjective "inerrant" descriptive of the Word of God in Question 1. See the Historical Summary note at BCO 19-3 regarding the placement of "inerrant" in the Proposed BCO and in PCA 1973.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
PCA 1973, 22-5, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, pp. 140-141
The day appointed for the ordination having come, and the Presbytery being convened, a member of the Presbytery, previously appointed to that duty, shall preach a sermon adapted to the occasion. The same, or another member appointed to preside, shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit the proceedings of the Presbytery preparatory to the ordination; he shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance, and endeavor to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.
Questions for Ordination
Then, addressing himself to the candidate, he 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; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
(3.) Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the ____________________________, as being that which conforms to the general principles of Biblical polity?
(4.) Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
(5.) Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the Gospel of His Son?
(6.) Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
(7.) Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a Minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relative, private or public; and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?
(8.) Are you now willing to take the charge of this church, agreeably to your declaration when accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a Pastor?


Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 22-5, Proposed text, pp. 29-30

The day appointed for the ordination having come, and the Presbytery being convened, a member of the Presbytery, previously appointed to that duty, shall preach a sermon adapted to the occasion. The same, or another member appointed to preside, shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit the proceedings of the Presbytery preparatory to the ordination; he shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance, and endeavor to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.
Questions for Ordination
Then, addressing himself to the candidate, he 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; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
(3.) Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the ____________________________, as being that which conforms to the general principles of Biblical polity?
(4.) Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
(5.) Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the Gospel of His Son?
(6.) Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
(7.) Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a Minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relative, private or public; and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?
(8.) Are you now willing to take the charge of this church, agreeably to your declaration when accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a Pastor?

PCUS 1933, XXIV, §136
and
PCUS 1925, XXIV, §136

The day appointed for the ordination having come, and the Presbytery being convened, a member of the Presbytery, previously appointed to that duty, shall preach a sermon adapted to the occasion. The same, or another member appointed to preside, shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit the proceedings of the Presbytery preparatory to the ordination; he shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance, and endeavor to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.
Questions for Ordination
Then, addressing himself to the candidate, he 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; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
(3.) Do you approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
(4.) Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
(5.) Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the Gospel of His Son?
(6.) Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
(7.) Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a Minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relative, private or public; and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?
(8.) Are you now willing to take the charge of this church, agreeably to your declaration when accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a Pastor?

PCUS 1879, VI-5-4

The day appointed for the ordination having come, and the Presbytery being convened, a member of the Presbytery, previously appointed to that duty, shall preach a sermon adapted to the occasion. The same, or another member appointed to preside, shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit the proceedings of the Presbytery preparatory to the ordination; he shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance, and endeavor to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.
Then, addressing himself to the candidate, he 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 approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the gospel of His Son?
6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel and the purity and peace of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
7. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a Minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relative, private or public; and to endeavour by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the gospel in your conversation, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?
(8.) Are you now willing to take the charge of this church, agreeably to your declaration when accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a Pastor?


PCUS 1869 draft, VI-5-4
The day appointed for the ordination being come, and the Presbytery convened, a member of the Presbytery, previously appointed to that duty, shall preach a sermon adapted to the occasion. The same, or another member appointed to preside, shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit, in the audience of the Congregation, the proceedings of the Presbytery preparatory to the ordination; he shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance, and endeavour to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.
Then addressing himself to the candidate, he 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, and 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 approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the gospel of His Son?
6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace of the Church; whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
7. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a Minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relative, private or public; and to endeavour by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your conversation, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?
8. Are you now willing to take the charge of this Congregation, agreeably to your declaration at accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a Pastor?

PCUS 1867 draft, VI-5-4
The day appointed for the ordination being come, and the presbytery convened, a member of the presbytery, previously appointed to that duty, shall preach a sermon adapted to the occasion. The same, or another member appointed to preside, shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit, in the audience of the congregation, the proceedings of the presbytery preparatory to the ordination; he shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance, and endeavour to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.
Then addressing himself to the candidate, he 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, and 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 approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote his glory in the gospel of his Son?
6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel and the purity and peace of the church; whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
7. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the gospel, whether personal or relative, private or public; and to endeavour by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the gospel in your conversation, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?
8. Are you now willing to take the charge of this congregation, agreeably to your declaration at accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a pastor?

PCUSA 1789, XIV-§10
The day appointed for ordination being come, and the presbytery convened, a member of the presbytery previously appointed to that duty, shall preach a sermon adapted to the occasion. The same, or another member appointed to preside in this business, shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit, in the audience of the people, the proceedings of the presbytery preparatory to this transaction : He shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance ; and endeavour to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.
Then addressing himself to the candidate, he shall propose to him the following questions, viz.
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the old and new testament, to be the word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice? [d]
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? [e]
3. Do you approve of the government and discipline of the presbyterian church, as prescribed in the form of the government and discipline of the presbyterian church in these United States? [f]
4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord? [g]
5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry, from love to God, and a sincere desire to promote his glory in the gospel of his Son? [h]
6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel, and the purity and peace of the church ; whatever persecution, or opposition, may arise unto you on that account? [i]
7. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all private and personal duties, which become you as a Christian and a minister of the gospel ; as well as in all relative duties, and the public duties of your office, endeavouring to adorn the profession of the gospel by your conversation ; and walking, with exemplary piety, before the flock, over which God shall make you overseer?
When the candidate is to be ordained as the pastor of a particular congregation, the following question shall be added.
8. Are you now willing to take the charge of this congregation, agreeably to your declaration at accepting their call? And do you promise to discharge the duties of a pastor to them, as God shall give you strength?
[d] 2 Tim. 3.16--Eph. 2.20.
[e] 2 Tim. 1.13.
[f] See letter e.
[g] 2 Pet. 5.5.
[h] 1 Cor. 2.2 -- 2 Cor. 4.5.
[i] Acts 20.17-31.

COMMENTARY:

F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 145-146) on VI-5-4:
119.--The day appointed for the ordination having come, and the Presbytery being convened, a member of the Presbytery, previously appointed to that duty, shall preach a sermon adapted to the occasion. The same, or another member appointed to preside, shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit the proceedings of the Presbytery preparatory to the ordination; he shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance, and endeavor to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.
Then, addressing himself to the candidate, he 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 approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States?
4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the gospel of His Son?
The purport of the first three questions was set forth under paragraph 112, but questions 4, 5, and 7 are additional to the questions asked of Ruling Elders and Deacons at their ordination. What the Minister here explicitly professes and promises is all implied in the obligations assumed by those lower officers ; but the superior dignity and importance of the Ministerial office is indicated in making these elements of the obligation explicit. Subjection to one's brethren is, of course, qualified by such teachings as are contained in Section I. of Chapter II., and by the particular provisions of the Book of Church Order ; but within these limits the obligation of obedience to ecclesiastical authority is assumed, and should be humbly and strictly kept. And so many are the temptations to enter the Ministry from unworthy motives, so impossible is it to do the work of this office efficiently except from love to God, and so great is the guilt of prostituting this office to the service of lower motives, that each one is put upon searching his own conscience to see and to declare this pure motive his real motive.
6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel and the purity and peace of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
This is substantially the same as question 5 in paragraph 112, put to Ruling Elders and Deacons ; but lays more emphasis upon fidelity in the face of opposition and persecution ; and for this there is the fact that a Minister may lose his means of living and professional standing by such fidelity, if he thereby encounters opposition from the worldly and ignorant in the Church. Perhaps this part of the Ministerial vow is more often violated than any other, on this very account.
7. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a Minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relative, private or public; and to endeavour by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the gospel in your conversation, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?
See comments under question 5. Emphasis is thus put upon the preeminent importance of the Minister's life as distinguished from his teaching.
(8.) Are you now willing to take the charge of this church, agreeably to your declaration when accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a Pastor?

This is parallel with question 4 in paragraph 112.
If the candidate should fail to answer any of these questions in the affirmative, that failure would arrest the ordination service.



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Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of 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]