.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 34 : Special Rules Pertaining to Process Against a Minister
(Teaching Elder)

Paragraph 2 :

34-2. As no minister ought, on account of his office, to be screened in his sin, or slightly censured, so scandalous charges ought not to be received against him on slight grounds.

[DIGEST: Apart from the lack of capitalization for the word "minister", the current text is unchanged from that of PCUS 1879.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
1. PCA 1973, 8-2, Adopted text, M1GA, p. 148
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 8-2, Proposed text, p. 47
3. PCUS 1933, VIII-§218
4. PCUS 1925, VIII-§218
5. PCUS 1879, VIII-2

As no Minister ought, on account of his office, to be screened in his sin, or slightly censured, so scandalous charges ought not to be received against him on slight grounds.


PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, VIII-1
As, on the one hand, no minister ought, on account of his office, to be screened in his sin, nor his offences to be slightly censured, so
neither ought scandalous charges to be received against him on slight grounds.

PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, VIII-1
As, on the one hand, no minister ought, on account of his office, to be screened from the hand of justice
, nor his offences to be slightly censured, so neither ought scandalous charges to be received against him on slight grounds.

PCUSA 1858, Revised Book of Discipline, V-1
As the honour and success of the Gospel depend, in a great measure, on the character of its ministers, each Presbytery ought, with the greatest care and impartiality, to watch over the personal and professional conduct of all its members. But as, on the one hand, no minister ought, on account of his office, to be screened from the hand of justice, nor his offences to be slightly censured; so neither ought scandalous charges to be received against him by any judicatory on slight grounds.

PCUSA, 1821, Forms of Process, V-1
As the honour and success of the Gospel depend, in a great measure, on the character of its ministers, each presbytery ought, with the greatest care and impartiality, to watch over the personal and professional conduct of all its members. But as, on the one hand, no minister ought, on account of his office, to be screened from the hand of justice, nor his offences to be slightly censured; so neither ought scandalous charges to be received against him, by any judicatory, on slight grounds.”

PCUSA 1789, Forms of Process, Chapter II, Introductory paragraph
As the success of the gospel, in a great measure, depends upon the credit and good report of its ministers, each presbytery ought, with the greatest attention, to watch over all their members ; and be careful to censure them, when necessary, with impartiality ; either for personal crimes, which they may commit in common with other men ; or those that are vocational, arising from the manner in which they may discharge their important office.

Steuart, Walter, Collections and Observations Concerning the Worship, Discipline, and Government of the Church of Scotland (1709; reprinted 1770), Chapter VII, Concerning Process Against a Minister, p. 255.
The credit and success of the gospel (in the way of an ordinary mean) much depending on the entire credit and reputation of ministers, their sound doctrine and holy conversation, no stain thereof ought lightly to be received, nor when it comes before a judicature ought to be negligently inquired into, or when found evident, ought to be slightly censured.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Orde
r, (1898, p. 210), on Rules of Discipline, VIII-2 :
196.--I. Process against a Minister shall be entered before the Presbytery of which he is a member.
197.--II. As no Minister ought, on account of his office, to be screened in his sin, or lightly censured, so scandalous charges ought not to be received against him on slight grounds.
The very fact that Presbyteries ought to feel most sensitively the importance of preserving the good name of Ministers justifies the fear that, on the one hand, they may be tempted to screen offenders, and, on the other hand, that they may be tempted to pay undue attention to charges not well grounded.



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I. King & Head of Church
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