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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 30 : Church Censures

Paragraph 2 : Of Admonition

30-2. Admonition is the formal reproof of an offender by a church court, warning him of his guilt and danger, and exhorting him to be more circumspect and watchful in the future.

[DIGEST: According to the amendment passed in 1989, BCO 30-2 was technically changed, as this paragraph was included as part of a small slate of changes instituted under Item 6 before the 17th General Assembly [M17GA, 17-6, Item 6, p. 47]. However the wording for this particular paragraph was not changed. In fact, the current PCA text is unchanged from that of PCUS 1879, and even the earlier PCUS drafts of 1867 and 1869 differ only in very minor ways : capitalization (1869) or hyphenation (1867). The content is unique to PCUS and PCA forms, and does not appear in either the 1858 PCUSA draft, nor in any of the earlier PCUSA editions.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
1. PCA 1973, 4-2, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 146
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 4-2, Proposed text, p. 41
3. PCUS 1933, RoD, IV-§178
4. PCUS 1925, RoD, IV-§178
5. PCUS 1879, RoD, IV-2

Admonition is the formal reproof of an offender by a church court, warning him of his guilt and danger, and exhorting him to be more circumspect and watchful in the future.

PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, IV-2
Admonition is the formal reproof of an offender by a Church court, warning him of his guilt and danger, and exhorting him to be more circumspect and watchful in the future.

PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, IV-2
Admonition is the formal reproof of an offender by a church-court, warning him of his guilt and danger, and exhorting him to be more circumspect and watchful in the future.

OTHER COMPARISONS:

UPCNA, 1892, Government and Discipline, Part III, Chapter IX, Article I - Admonition.
In What It Consists.--Admonition is the lowest degree of censure. It consists in tenderly reproving an offender for his sin and scandal, warning him of his guilt and danger, and exhorting him to be more watchful in the future. It is to be administered in private.

OPC Book of Discipline (2005), VI.B.1 - Admonition
[p. 109]
Admonition consists in tenderly and solemnly confronting the offender with his sin, warning him of his danger, and exhorting him to repentance and to greater fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, p. 182), on : RoD, IV-2
157.--II. Admonition is the formal reproof of an offender by a church court, warning him of his guilt and danger, and exhorting him to be more circumspect and watchful in the future.
Admonition does not impair the offender's ecclesiastical standing, and as soon as the admonition has been inflicted, he is no longer under censure, and he cannot be censured again unless after another conviction or confession. Should one convicted of an offense and sentenced to admonition refuse to receive the admonition and do not appeal (par. 255), the court may not change the sentence and inflict another censure without first finding him guilty, in a regular way, of an offense in refusing to hear the censure. Admonition may be conjoined with other censure.

OVERTURES:
1989 [M17GA, 17-6, Item 6, p. 47]
Item 6. That BCO 30-1, 30-2, and 30-3 be replaced with the following:
30-2. Admonition is the formal reproof of an offender by a church court, warning him of his guilt and danger, and exhorting him to be more circumspect and watchful in the future.
Adopted. [the Presbyteries having previously voted 35 in favor, 3 against, with 3 votes deferred. The amendment originally came before the 16th General Assembly (1988) as part of the Report of the Committee of Commissioners on Judicial Business, as reported under M16GA, 16-77, III, Item 17.]


CONSTITUTIONAL INQUIRY:
1987 - 15-62, 1., P. 128
In the report of the Judicial Commission in the case of TE Bogue et al. vs. of the Ascension:
a. Is not the censure of admonition applied to the complainants on p. 139 in the paragraph beginning "In fairness...." contrary to the requirements of BCO 27-5 which require due process?
b. Is not the explanatory opinion of Judgment No. 5 supporting an "in thesi" statement of the Assembly over a judicial decision of the Assembly contrary to BCO 14-7? - RE David Coffin.
The Committee recommends that the following response be adopted:
Admonition is of two kinds; formal and informal. Informal admonition is that which is part of the daily interaction of true Biblical relationships (Matthew 18). Formal admonition comes after the informal has not produced the fruit of peace in Christ, and after judicial process (BCO 27-5, 30-2, 36-3).
The paragraph in question falls within the sphere of informal admonition, and is not contrary to the requirement of BCO 27-5.



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