PCA HISTORICAL CENTER
Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church


The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Articles & Books on Church Polity:

Entries are listed by author. To search by title, Ctrl + F will pull up a search box. Most of the articles linked below are presented as pdf files. For transcriptions, care has been taken to preserved original formatting so as to allow the reader both to reference and to cite from these articles as if from the original document.

A Bibliography of Commentary on Presbyterian Polity

Garrison, Pinkney Jefferson, Jr. ("Jeff") [2 December 1906- 8 March 1984], Presbyterian polity and procedures: The Presbyterian Church, U.S . Richmond, John Knox Press, 1953. 190pp.

Leslie, John Douglass [1 July 1860 – 11 July 1935], A ready reference manual for church officers and courts of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Richmond, VA, Texarkana, Ark.-Tex., Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1930. 61pp.
_________________, Presbyterian law and procedure in the Presbyterian church in the United States. Richmond, Va., Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1930. 411pp.

Maddex, Jack, “Presbyterians in the South, Centralization, and the Book of Church Order, 1861-1879,” American Presbyterians, 68.1 (Spring 1990) 24-45.

Ramsay, Franklin Pierce [1856-1926], An exposition of the form of government and the rules of discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1898. 298pp.

Smith, Morton H. [1923- ], Commentary on the PCA Book of Church Order. Greenville, SC: Greenville Seminary Press, 1990.

Workman, William Hay [1858-1934], Presbyterian rule, embracing the form of government, rules of discipline and directory of worship in the Presbyterian Church in the United States. S.l., s.n., 1895. 225pp.

Baird, Samuel J., Digest

Blake, Eugene Carson, Presbyterian Law for the Local Church

Hall & Hall, Paradigms in Polity: Classic Readings in Reformed and Presbyterian Church Government

Hodge, Charles, Church Polity

Hodge, J. Aspinwall, What Is Presbyterian Law?

Holmes, John Agnew, The Polity of Presbyterianism, in a Review of Proceedings of a Session, Presbytery, and Synod, in a Recent Case of Discipline, (New York: John F. Trow, Printer, 1864), 40pp.

Lewis, John Nevin [1809-1879], The Presbyterian Manual: Containing Forms for the Records of the Session, Presbytery and Synod and for the Judicial and Other Ecclesiastical Proceedings Required by the Polity of the Presbyterian Church. Philadelphia : Presbyterian Publication Committee, 1860. 149pp.

Moore, William E., A New Digest of the Acts and Deliverances

Mudge, Lewis Seymour and Finney, William P., Manual of Presbyterian Law

Scott, David, Distinctive Principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church

Steuart, Walter, Collections and Observations (Edinburgh, 1770) [“Pardovan’s Collections”]

Travers, Walter, Book of Discipline , 1587

Adger, John Bailey
"Report of the Committee on Revision" in "The General Assembly at Memphis" The Southern Presbyterian Review 18.1 (July 1867): 114-121.


Adger, John Bailey, J.L. Girardeau and W.E. Boggs, "The Third Revision of the Directory of Worship" The Southern Presbyterian Review 36.2 (April 1885): 343-366.

First draft of the PCUS Form of Government [pdf file only, providing a close replication of the original document]

First draft of the PCUS Canons of Discipline [pdf file only, providing a close replication of the original document]

1869
Second draft of the PCUS Book of Church Order [a pdf file inclusive of both the Form of Government and the Canons of Discipline]

Boggs, Rev. William Ellison, "The Deacon’s Office in the Church of the New Testament," The Southern Presbyterian Review 26.3 (July 1875): 421-461.

Campbell, W.A., "The Power of the People in the Government of the Church" The Presbyterian Quarterly 8.3 (July 1894): 404-415.

Dabney, R.L. [1820-1898]
"The Changes Proposed in Our Book of Discipline," The Southern Presbyterian Review 12.1 (April 1859): 36-83.
Our concern on this page is church polity. However, in this particular article, Dabney's sad arguments regarding slaveholding, at the top of page 43, prompt us to direct the reader to compare Dabney's statements with the strong Biblical arguments against slaveholding presented by Dr. Alexander McLeod, in his 1802 work, "The Practice of Holding Men in Perpetual Slavery Condemned" [also titled "Negro Slavery Unjustifiable"]. Dr. McLeod proves clearly that Scripture does consider slaveholding to be an offence, or more fully, a sin. Moreover, contrast Dabney's presumptive claim with the success of the Reformed Presbyterian denominations in making slaveholding a bar to communion (beginning in 1800 !).

English, T.R., "On Licensure" The Presbyterian Quarterly 5.1 (January 1891): 100-107.

Jacobs, Ferdinand, "On the Examination of Ministers" The Presbyterian Quarterly 4.2 (April 1890): 289-294.

Lapsley, R.A., "Has the Southern Presbyterian Church Any Distinctive Principles?" The Presbyterian Quarterly 15.3 (July 1901): 414-430.
This is an interesting article on several levels. Regrettably it reflects the segregationism of that era, in a brief comment on page 416. Curiously however, that same comment also makes it clear–at least in Lapsley's view–that racial segregation was not a distinctive of the Southern Presbyterian Church. But the main point of Lapsley's article has to do with a comparison of PCUS and PCUSA polity, and it is for this latter reason that the article is being presented here.

Palmer, Benjamin Morgan, "The Ancient Hebrew Polity" The Presbyterian Quarterly 12.2 (April 1898): 153-169.

Robinson, William Childs, "What Is An Offence?" The Presbyterian Journal 18.38 (20 January 1960) 13.

Smith, Samuel M., "The Presbyterian Pastorate" The Presbyterian Quarterly 3.2 (April 1889): 256-261.

Taylor, Dr. L. Roy
"Status of in thesi Statements"
• Absentee Voting in the PCA 
• BCO 13-5. Receiving an Ordained Minister without a Call.
• BCO 29. Chargeable Offenses.
• Issues Facing the PCA (2008)
• Minimum Voting Age in Congregational Meetings.
• The Presbyterian Church in America : Non-Hierarchical Presbyterianism
• Ruling Elders Administering Sacraments.
• The Rotational System of Officers in the PCA
• The Uniqueness of PCA Polity (2009)

General materials on the office of the deacon--
1869 - James M. Willson, The Deacon: An Inquiry into the Nature, Duties and Exercise of the Office..
___________Chapter 1: The Deacon a Standing Church Officer (argument from Scriptures; deacons in early church, etc.)
___________
Chapter 2: The Nature of the Deacon's Office (care of poor and management of finances, etc.)
___________Chapter 3: Of the Substitutes for the Deacon (contra Boards of Trustees)
___________Chapter 4: The Relations of the Deacon. The Deacon is Subordinate to the Ecclesiastical Courts.
___________Chapter 5: Conclusion and Appendix
1840s - Anonymous, "The Scriptural Office of the Deacon," in Presbyterian Tracts, vol. 6, tract no. 94, 16 pp.
1855 - Stuart Robinson, "The Office of Deacon," The Presbyterial Critic 1.6 (June 1855): 271-277.
1855 - Stuart Robinson, "Trustees of Church Property--Their Functions and Relations to the Deacons of the Church," The Presbyterial Critic 1.11 (November 1855): 490-497.
1859 - Ramsay, Rev. James Beverlin, "The Deaconship," The Southern Presbyterian Review 12.1 (April 1859): 1-24.
1880 - Rev. W.H. M'Millan, "The Diaconate a Scriptural Office," Evangelical Repository 57.1 (June 1880): 15-20.
1882 - J. Aspinwall Hodge, What Is Presbyterian Law?, Chapter 6--Of Deacons
1884 - Report on the Diaconate, by John L. Girardeau, Robert L. Dabney and Thomas E. Peck
1892 - T.E. Peck, Notes on Ecclesiology, Chapter 19--Deacons
New: 1903 - R.C. Reed, "The Deacon," The Union Seminary Magazine 15.2 (1903): 215-224.
1978 - Diaconal Principles of the NAPARC Churches [Report, Sixth PCA General Assembly, Minutes, Appendix D]

The Diaconate—Fine points argued by J.L. Girardeau and J.A. Lefevre:
Girardeau, Rev. John L., "The Diaconate," Part I, The Southern Presbyterian Review 30.1 (January 1879): 1-32.
Girardeau, "The Diaconate," Part II, The Southern Presbyterian Review 31.1 (January 1880): 117-160.
Girardeau, "The Importance of the Office of Deacon," The Southern Presbyterian Review 32.1 (January 1881): 1-29.
Lefevre, Rev. Jacob Amos, "The Presbyterian Diaconate," The Southern Presbyterian Review 32.2 (April 1881): 343-354.
Lefevre, "The Diaconate of Scripture," The Southern Presbyterian Review 32.2 (April 1881): 355-368.
Girardeau, "The Diaconate Again," Part I, The Southern Presbyterian Review 32.4 (October 1881) 628-664

Exegetical and historical consideration or debate regarding deaconesses--
1889 - B.B. Warfield, "Presbyterian Deaconesses"
1945 - PCUS Actions regarding deaconesses, 1880-1926
1976-1978 - RPCES studies on the Role of Women in the Church
1977 - Gordon H. Clark, "The Ordination of Women" [written in response to the 1976 RPCES study. An early draft of this article, with annotations, is found among the Gordon Clark Papers at the PCA Historical Center. The included explanatory preface was added later and is found in subsequent reprints of Clark's works by The Trinity Foundation.]

Larger Issues -- Discussion of Office, Ordination, etc.

1854 - John G. Shepperson, "Authority of Ecclesiastical Rulers," Part I, Southern Presbyterian Review 8.1 (July 1854).



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]

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