.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

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

Paragraph 6 : Of Acts of Infirmity

34-6. If the Presbytery find on trial that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended, so that little or nothing remains to hinder the minister’s usefulness, it shall take all prudent measures to remove the scandal.

[DIGEST: In substance, this paragraph is unchanged from PCUSA 1789. The current text remains unchanged from PCA 1973 (which capitalized “Minister”), PCUS 1933, 8-222 and PCUS 1879, 8-6.
PCUS 1867 and 1869 had an added clause, "..., and thus the religious public be satisfied,...", which was not used either before or after these two draft editions.]


ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
1. PCA 1973, 8-6, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 149
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 8-6, Proposed text, p. 47
3. PCUS 1933, VIII, § 222
4. PCUS 1925, VIII, § 222
5. PCUS 1879, VIII-6

If the Presbytery find on trial that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended, so that little or nothing remains to hinder the Minister's usefulness, it shall take all prudent measures to remove the scandal.

PCUS 1869 draft, VIII-6
If the Presbytery find on trial that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended,
and thus the religious public be satisfied, so that little or nothing remains to hinder the Minister’s usefulness, it shall take all prudent measures to remove the scandal.

PCUS 1867 draft, VIII-6
If the presbytery find on trial that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended,
and thus the religious public be satisfied, so that little or nothing remains to hinder the minister’s usefulness, it shall take all prudent measures to remove the scandal.

PCUSA 1858, Revised Book of Discipline, V-12

If the Presbytery find, on trial, that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended, and
the people satisfied, so that little or nothing remains to hinder his usefulness, they shall take all prudent measures to remove the offence.

PCUSA 1821, Forms of Process, V-15
If the presbytery find, on trial, that the matter complained of, amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended, and the people satisfied; so that little or nothing remains to hinder his usefulness, they shall take all prudent measures to remove the offence.

PCUSA 1789, Forms of Process, II-12
If the presbytery find, on trial, that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended, and the people satisfied; so as little or nothing remains to hinder his usefulness; they shall take all prudent measures to remove the offence.

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. 258.
If the presbytery find upon trial, the complaint to resolve upon the minister's having committed such acts of infirmity or passion, as considering all the circumstances may be either amended and the people satisfied, and no such offence taken, or at least not to remain, so as to hinder the minister's profiting the people, and that the offence was taken by the minister's own people only or mainly ; then the presbytery is to take all prudent ways to satisfy and reclaim both minister and people, and do away the offence.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. 212-213), on VIII-6 :
201.--VI. If the Presbytery find on trial that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended, so that little or nothing remains to hinder the Minister's usefulness, it shall take all prudent measures to remove the scandal.
All are subject to infirmity, and any Minister's usefulness is liable to be injured or destroyed by the malicious or inconsiderate exaggeration of his failings, when, on the whole, he is really a well-qualified Minister.



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