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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 29 : Offenses

Paragraph 3 : Personal & General Offenses

29-3. Personal offenses are violations of the divine law, considered in the special relation of wrongs or injuries to particular individuals. General offenses are heresies or immoralities having no such relation, or considered apart from it.

[Historical Summary : The current PCA text remains identical with that of the earliest PCUS drafts of 1867 and 1869. PCUS 1879 is distinguished from the other key texts solely by the capitalization of the word "divine".]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, RoD, 3-3, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 146
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 3-3, Proposed text, p. 40
3. PCUS 1933, RoD III, § 175
4. PCUS 1925, RoD III, § 175
Personal offences are violations of the divine law, considered in the special relation of wrongs or injuries to particular individuals. General offences are heresies or immoralities having no such relation, or considered apart from it.

PCUS 1879, RoD III-3

Personal offences are violations of the Divine law, considered in the special relation of wrongs or injuries to particular individuals. General offences are heresies or immoralities having no such relation, or considered apart from it.


PCUS 1869 draft, CoD III-2
and
PCUS 1867 draft, CoD III-2
Personal offences are violations of the divine law considered in the special relation of wrongs or injuries to particular individuals. General offences are heresies or immoralities, having no such relation, or considered apart from it.

PCUSA 1858, Revised Book of Discipline, II-2

Personal offences are violations of the Divine law considered in the special relations of wrongs or injuries to particular individuals. General offences are heresies or immoralities, having no such relation, or considered apart from it. All personal offences are, therefore, general; but all general offences are not personal.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 181), on III-3:
154.--III. Personal offences are violations of the Divine law, considered in the special relation of wrongs or injuries to particular individuals. General offences are heresies or immoralities having no such relation, or considered apart from it.
One may not plead that his offence was against a particular individual, and that for this reason the Church should not intermeddle in the matter ; nor that his offence is not a wrong to any one, and that for this reason the courts should not intervene. The Church is enforcing Divine law, and not protecting personal rights.



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I. King & Head of Church
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[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]