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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

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

Paragraph 8 : On Restoration

34-8. A minister under indefinite suspension from his office or deposed for scandalous conduct shall not be restored, even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until he shall exhibit for a considerable time such an eminently exemplary, humble and edifying life and testimony as shall heals the wound made by his scandal. A deposed minister shall in no case be restored until it shall appear that the general sentiment of the Church is strongly in his favor, and demands his restoration; and then only by the court inflicting the censure, or with that court’s consent.

[DIGEST: Amendments to this paragraph have been made in 1989 [M17GA, 17-6, Item 6, p. 47] and in 1990 [M18GA, 18-8, Item 4, p. 47].]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
1. PCA 1973, RoD, 8-8, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 149
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 8-8, Proposed text, p. 48
3. PCUS 1933, RoD, VIII-§224
4. PCUS 1925, RoD, VIII-§224
5. PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, VIII-8

A Minister suspended or deposed for scandalous conduct shall not be restored, even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until he shall exhibit for a considerable time such an eminently exemplary, humble, and edifying walk and conversation as shall heal the wound made by his scandal. And a deposed Minister shall in no case be restored until it shall appear that the general sentiment of the Church is strongly in his favor, and demands his restoration; and then only by the court inflicting the censure, or with its consent.

PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, VIII-8
A Minister suspended or deposed for scandalous conduct, shall not be restored, even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until he shall have exhibited for a considerable time such an eminently exemplary, humble and edifying walk and conversation as shall heal the wound made by his scandal. And a deposed Minister shall in no case be restored until it shall appear that the sentiments of the religious public are strongly in his favour, and demand his restoration, and then only by the court inflicting the censure, or with its consent.

PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, VIII-8
A minister suspended or deposed for scandalous conduct, shall not be restored, even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until he shall have exhibited for a considerable time such an eminently exemplary, humble and edifying walk and conversation as shall heal the wound made by his scandal. And a deposed minister shall in no case be restored until it shall appear that the sentiments of the religious public are strongly in his favour, and demand his restoration, and then only by the court inflicting the censure, or with its consent.

PCUSA 1858, Revised Book of Discipline, V-13

A minister deposed for scandalous conduct shall not be restored even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until after some time of eminent and exemplary, humble and edifying conversation, to heal the wound made by his scandal. And he ought in no case to be restored, until it shall appear that the sentiments of the religious public are strongly in his favour, and demand his restoration.

PCUSA 1821, V-16
A minister deposed for scandalous conduct, shall not be restored, even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until after some time of eminent and exemplary, humble and edifying conversation, to heal the wound made by his scandal. And he ought in no case to be restored, until it shall appear, that the sentiments of the religious public are strongly in his favour, and demand his restoration.”

PCUSA 1815, II-13
A minister, deposed for scandalous conduct, may not be restored, even on his deepest sorrow for sin, without some time of eminent and exemplary, humble, and edifying conversation, to heal the wound made by his scandal.

PCUSA 1789, Forms of Process, II-13

A minister deposed for scandalous conduct, may not be restored, even on his deepest sorrow for sin ; without some time of eminent and exemplary, humble and edifying conversation, to heal the wound made by his scandal.

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.
But before a minister deposed for scandalous carriage can be restored to the exercise of the ministry, there should not only be convincing evidences of a deep sorrow for sin, but an eminent and examplary [sic] humble walk, and edifying conversation, so apparent and convincing as hath worn out and healed the wound the scandal gave.

COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. 213), on VIII-8 :
203.--VIII. A Minister suspended or deposed for scandalous conduct shall not be restored, even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until he shall exhibit for a considerable time such an eminently exemplary, humble, and edifying walk and conversation as shall heal the wound made by his scandal. And a deposed Minister shall in no case be restored until it shall appear that the general sentiment of the Church is strongly in his favor, and demands his restoration; and then only by the court inflicting the censure, or with its consent.
If scandalous conduct was the ground of suspension or deposition, there shall be no restoration until his behavior removes the scandal ; and after deposition, whether the deposition was for conduct or doctrine, there shall be no restoration until both the general sentiment of the Church demands it and the original court consents thereto. This court is the more likely to know whether the reformation is likely to be permanent.



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