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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 31 : The Parties in Cases of Process

Paragraph 9 :

31-9. Every voluntary prosecutor shall be previously warned, that if he fail to show probable cause of the charges, he may himself be censured as a slanderer of the brethren.

[DIGEST : The notable difference in the current text is the change to "may" from the stronger "must" used in PCA 1973. The 1973 PCA text as adopted dated to the PCUS draft edition of 1867.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS :
1. PCA 1973, RoD, 5-9, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 147
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 5-9, Proposed text, p. 43
3. PCUS 1933, RoD, V-§190
4. PCUS 1925, RoD, V-§190

5. PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, V-9

6. PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, V-9
7. PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, V-9
Every voluntary prosecutor shall be previously warned, that if he fail to show probable cause of the charges, he must himself be censured as a slanderer of the brethren, in proportion to the malignity or rashness that shall appear in the prosecution.

PCUSA 1858, Revised Book of Discipline, V-7
[Of Process Against a Bishop or Minister]
The prosecutor of a minister should be previously warned that if he fail to show probable cause of the charges, he must himself be cen­-sured as a slanderer of the Gospel ministry, in proportion to the malignity or rashness that shall appear in the prosecution.

PCUSA 1789, Forms of Process, CHAP. II. Of Process against a Bishop or Minister, # 7
The prosecutor shall be previously warned, that, if he fail to prove the charges, he must himself be censured, as a slanderer of the gospel ministry ; in proportion to the malignity, or rashness, that shall appear in the prosecution.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 190-191), on :
169.--IX. Every voluntary prosecutor shall be previously warned, that if he fail to show probable cause of the charges, he must himself be censured as a slanderer of the brethren, in proportion to the malignity or rashness manifested in the prosecution.

This warning must be given when he is accepted as prosecutor ; and the failure of the court to institute process against him after the trial is over is ipso facto acknowledgment by the court that he did show the probable cause here required. To show probable cause means to show that he had probable evidence of the truth of the charges when he undertook the prosecution.



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I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
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RoD
27
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