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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 27 : Discipline - Its Nature, Subjects and Ends

Paragraph 2 : Subjects of Discipline

27-2. All baptized persons, being members of the Church are subject to its discipline and entitled to the benefits thereof.

[Historical Summary : The current PCA text remains that of PCA 1973 and the Proposed Book of Church Order (1973). Only a comma after the word "Church" distinguishes PCUS 1933, upon which the PCA text was based, and the PCUS Revision of 1925. PCUS 1869, I-.2 retains the reading of PCUS 1867, but with stylistic changes (“Church”; “honour”).]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
PCA 1973, RoD, 1-1, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 145
and
Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 1-1, Proposed text, p. 39
[does not have a comma after "Church"]
In the one sense, all baptized persons, being members of the Church are subject to its discipline and entitled to the benefits thereof ; but in the other sense it refers only to those who have made a profession of their faith in Christ.

PCUS 1933, I-§165
and
PCUS 1925, I-§165
In the one sense, all baptized persons, being members of the Church, are subject to its discipline and entitled to the benefits thereof ; but in the other sense it refers only to those who have made a profession of their faith in Christ.

PCUS 1879, I-2

In the one sense, all baptized persons, being members of the Church, are subject to its discipline and entitled to the benefits thereof; but in the other, it refers only to those who have made a profession of their faith in Christ.


PCUS 1869 draft, I-2
Using the term in its wide sense, all baptized persons being members of the Church, are subject to its discipline, and entitled to the benefits thereof; but, in its narrow sense, it refers only to those who have made a profession of their faith in Christ. In this sense, the ends of it are the rebuke of offences, the removal of scandal, the vindication of the honour of Christ, the promotion of the purity and general edification of the Church, and the spiritual good of offenders themselves.

PCUS 1867 draft, I-2
Using the term in its wide sense, all baptized persons, being members of the church, are subject to its discipline, and entitled to the benefits thereof; but, in its narrow sense, it refers only to those who have made a profession of their faith in Christ. In this sense, the ends of it are the rebuke of offences, the removal of scandal, the vindication of the honor of Christ, the promotion of the purity and general edification of the church, and the spiritual good of offenders themselves.

PCUSA 1858, I-3
All baptized persons, being members of the Church, are under its government and training, and when they have arrived at years of discretion, they are bound to perform all the duties of members. Only those, however, who have made a profession of faith in Christ are proper subjects of judicial prosecution.

OTHER COMPARISONS:

OPC 2005, Book of Discipline, I-4

All members of the church, both communicants and those who are members by virtue of baptism only, are under the care of the church, and subject to ecclesiastical discipline including administrative and judicial discipline.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. 171-172), on : I-2

144.--II. In the one sense, all baptized persons, being members of the Church, are subject to its discipline and entitled to the benefits thereof; but in the other, it refers only to those who have made a profession of their faith in Christ.
The exception of non-professing members from judicial prosecution is justified by the consideration that the Church, already excluding them from the Lord's supper for not accepting and professing Christ, has no higher censure to inflict. The subjection of them to judicial process for other sins would only irritate them and exaggerate the heinousness of other sins as compared with not accepting Christ.

Charles Hodge, on Chapter 1, paragraph 3 of "The Revised Book of Discipline" (1858), pp. 697-699.

Thirdly. Such being the nature and grounds of discipline, who are its subjects? To this question the natural answer is, church members. But who are church members ? Some say only communicants. This answer is founded on the assumption that the church is, as it is defined by Independents, a body of believers united by covenant for the purpose of worship and mutual watch and care. Those only, therefore, who have entered into this covenant are members of the church, and consequently the proper subjects of discipline. Others say that the visible church consists of all those who profess the true religion together with their children. Therefore, all baptized children, as well as those who make a personal profession of religion, are the subjects of discipline. Others again say, that although baptized children, so long as they are, in the church sense of the term, minors, are members of the church, and therefore under its watch and care, yet when they become adults, unless they personally profess faith in Christ, they forfeit their church standing, and are not the subjects of discipline in the strict sense of that word.
According to this last mentioned theory, the visible church consists of those only on whose conversion the church has pronounced in charity a favourable judgment, in receiving them to the Lord’s table, together with their infant children. According to the other view, we are bound to regard and treat as members of the church all baptized persons, who have not renounced their baptismal vows, are free from scandal, and acknowledge themselves to be amenable to the authority of the church.
In our present Book, the question, Who are the subjects of discipline, is answered in these words: “All baptized persons are members of the church, are under its care, and subject to its government and discipline; and when they have arrived at the years of discretion, they are bound to perform all the duties of church members.” This is founded on the last of the views of the nature of the visible church mentioned above. In the revised Book the answer proposed is: “All baptized persons, being members of the church, are under its government and training, and when they have arrived at years of discretion, they are bound to perform all the duties of members. Only those, however, who have made a profession of faith in Christ, are proper subjects of judicial prosecution.” This answer does not seem to differ in principle from the old one. It admits that, all baptized persons are members of the church, and, therefore, subject to its government and training. But it makes a distinction between baptized and professing members; declaring the latter alone to be the subject of judicial process. This section bears on its face evidence of being a compromise, and, as is apt to be the case with compromises, it does not hang well together. We voted for it, however, and share the responsibility of recommending its adoption, although we prefer the old form. The fact that we never knew of any baptized person, not a communicant, being made the subject of judicial process, reconciled us to the adoption of the rule as it is reported. So long as it is admitted that all baptized persons are under the government of the church, the principle involved in the case is saved.



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FoG..
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9
10
11
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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]