.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

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

Paragraph 3 :

34-3. If any one knows a minister to be guilty of a private offense, he should warn him in private. But if the offense be persisted in, or become public, he should bring the case to the attention of some other minister of the Presbytery.

[DIGEST: The current PCA text differs from that of PCA 1973 and the PCUS editions, 1879-1933, only in the deletion of the last three words of the second sentence, "for his advice."]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
1. PCA 1973, 8-3, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 149
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 8-3, Proposed Book of Church Order, p. 47
3. PCUS 1933, VIII-§219
4. PCUS 1925, VIII-§219
5. PCUS 1879, VIII-3

If any one knows a Minister to be guilty of a private offence, he should warn him in private. But if the offence be persisted in, or become public, he should bring the case to the attention of some other Minister of the Presbytery for his advice.

PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, VIII-2
and
PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, VIII-2

If any one knows a Minister to be guilty of a private censurable fault, he should warn him in private. But if the guilty person persist in his fault, or it become public, he who knows it should apply to some other Minister of the Presbytery for his advice in the case.

PCUSA 1858, Revised Book of Discipline, V-6
As the success of the Gospel greatly depends upon the exemplary characters of its ministers, their soundness in the faith, end holy conversation; and as it is the duty of all Christians to be very cautious in taking up an ill report of any man, but especially of a minister of the Gospel; therefore, if any man knows a minister to be guilty of a private, censurable fault, lie should warn him in private. But if the guilty person persist in his fault, or it becomes public, he who knows it should apply to some other bishop of the Presbytery for his advice in the case.

PCUSA 1821, V-6
As the success of the Gospel greatly depends upon the exemplary character of its ministers, their soundness in the faith, and holy conversation; and as it is the duty of all Christians to be very cautious in taking up an ill report of any man, but especially of a minister of the Gospel; therefore, if any man knows a minister to be guilty of a private, censurable fault, he should warn him in private. But if the guilty person persist in his fault, or it become public, he who knows it, should apply to some other bishop of the presbytery for his advice in the case.

PCUSA 1789, Forms of Process, II-4
As the success of the gospel greatly depends on the unblemished character of its ministers ; their soundness in the faith, and holy, and exemplary conversation ; and as it is the duty of all Christians to be very cautious in taking up an ill report of any man ; it is especially so of a minister of the gospel. If, therefore, any man know a minister guilty of a private censurable fault, he should warn him in private. But if he persist in it, or it become public, he should apply to some other bishop of the presbytery, for his advice in the matter.


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. 256.
All Christians ought to be so prudent and wary in accusing ministers of any censurable fault, as that they ought neither to publish nor spread the same, nor accuse the minister before the presbytery, without first acquainting the minister himself if they can have access thereto, and then, if need be, some of the most prudent of the ministers and elders of that presbytery, and there advice got in the affair.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order, on Chapter 2, section 1 :
198.--III. If any one knows a Minister to be guilty of a private offence, he should warn him in private. But if the offence be persisted in, or become public, he should bring the case to the attention of some other Minister of the Presbytery for his advice.
Any one proposing to be a voluntary prosecutor would be disqualified if he had failed to comply with these requirements. (Cf. also 165.) If the "any one" here spoken of is himself a Minister, the paragraph may not be disregarded by him ; and he must not proceed beyond private remonstrance without first taking the advice of some other Minister of the Presbytery. The aim of the paragraph is
to save the offender without bringing scandal on the Church.



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I. King & Head of Church
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