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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 26 : Amending the Constitution of the Church

Paragraph 3 : Amending the Standards

26-3. Amendments to the Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms may be made only in the following manner:
(1) Approval of the proposed amendment by three-fourths (3/4) of those present and voting in the General Assembly, and its recommendation to the Presbyteries.
(2) The advice and consent of three-fourths (3/4) of the Presbyteries.
(3) The approval and enactment by a subsequent General Assembly by three-fourths (3/4) of those present and voting.
This paragraph (BCO 26-3) can be amended only by the same method prescribed for the amendment of the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Church.

[Historical Summary : .]

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1973, 27-3, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 144
Amendments to the Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechism may be made only in the following manner:
(1) Approval of the proposed amendment by three-fourths of the General Assembly and its recommendation to the Presbyteries.
(2) The advice and consent of three-fourths of the Presbyteries.
(3) The approval and enactment by a subsequent General Assembly by three-fourths vote.
This paragraph (27-3) can be amended only by the same method as it prescribes for the amendment of the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Church.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 27-1, Proposed text, pp. 37-38
[The text of the Proposed Book of Church Order bears a typographical error, in that most of what should have been 27-3 is missing, with only the following portion provided, on page 38 of the typescript]:
"This paragraph (27-3) can be amended only by the same method as it prescribes of the amendment of the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Church."

PCUS 1933, XXIX, §161
and
PCUS 1925, XXVIII, § 161
Amendments to the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church may be made only in the following manner :
(1) The approval of the proposed amendment by the General Assembly and its recommendation to the Presbyteries.
(2) The advice and consent of three-fourths of the Presbyteries.
(3) The approval and enactment by a subsequent General Assembly.
This paragraph (161) can be amended only by the same method as it prescribes for the amendment of the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Church.

PCUS 1879, VII-1
[no comparable provision in this chapter]

PCUS 1869 draft, VII-1
[no comparable provision in this chapter]

PCUS 1867 draft, VII-2
The Doctrinal Symbols may be amended on the recommendation of one general assembly, when three-fourths of the presbyteries and synods advise and consent thereto, and a succeeding general assembly shall ordain the same. But in every instance the proposed amendment must be carried in these respective courts by a vote of three-fourths of the members.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 169), on VII-3 :
142(a).--III. Amendments to the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church may be made only upon the recommendation of one General Assembly, the concurrence of at least three-fourths of the Presbyteries, and the enactment of the same by a subsequent Assembly.
The only real difference from the preceding paragraph is that three-fourths of the Presbyteries must concur instead of a majority. In acting on these amendments, too, Presbyteries should vote to concur or not to concur, but, in acting on those, to advise and consent or not to advise and consent.
The provision contained in the preceding paragraph for the amendment of the Book of Church Order shall not apply to this paragraph; but this paragraph shall be amended or altered only in the way in which itself provides for the amendment of the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Church.
Without some such sentence as this the whole paragraph would fail of its end, since it might be wiped out by a majority of the Presbyteries.
These two provisions for amending the Constitution settle two things beyond question : this Book of Church Order cannot mean to impose any obligation upon any person inconsistent with his keeping an open mind for improvement of the doctrinal standards and of the Book of Church Order by changes of omission, addition or modification; and nothing said by any Minister or Rulng Elder of the Church in any court in relation to any proposition to amend the Constitution ought ever to be pleaded against him in charging him with an offence. This unwritten immunity takes away excuse for willingly agitating the Church generally in opposition to its Constitution before one endeavors in this constitutional way to have the Constitution amended.



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FoG..
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9
10
11
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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]