.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 40 : General Review and Control

Paragraph 2 :

40-2. In reviewing records of a lower court the higher court is to examine:
1. Whether the proceedings have been correctly recorded;
2. Whether they have been regular and in accordance with the Constitution;
3. Whether they have been wise, equitable and suited to promote the welfare of the Church;
4. Whether the lawful injunctions of the higher court have been obeyed.


[Historical Summary : The current text dates to the PCUS revision enacted in 1925. PCUS 1879 and the earlier draft versions are closely similar.]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, RoD, 14-2, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 152
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 14-2, Proposed text, p. 55
3. PCUS 1933, XIII-§262
4. PCUS 1925, XIII-§262

In reviewing records of a lower court the higher court is to examine:
(1) Whether the proceedings have been correctly recorded; (2) whether they have been regular and in accordance with the Constitution; (3) whether they have been wise, equitable, and suited to promote the welfare of the Church; (4) whether the lawful injunctions of the higher court have been obeyed.

PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, XIII-1-2

In reviewing the records of an inferior court, it is proper to examine, First, Whether the proceedings have been constitutional and regular; Secondly, Whether they have been wise, equitable, and for the edification of the church; Thirdly, Whether they have been correctly recorded; Fourthly, Whether the lawful injunctions of the superior courts have been obeyed.


PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, XIII-1-2
In reviewing the records of an inferior court, it is proper to examine, First, Whether the proceedings have been constitutional and regular; Secondly, Whether they have been wise, equitable, and for the edification of the Church; Thirdly, Whether they have been correctly recorded; Fourthly, Whether the injunctions of the superior courts have been obeyed.

PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, XIII-1-2
In reviewing the records of an inferior court, it is proper to examine, First, Whether the proceedings have been constitutional and regular; Secondly, Whether they have been wise, equitable, and for the edification of the church; Thirdly, Whether they have been correctly recorded; Fourthly, Whether the injunctions of the superior courts have been obeyed.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, pp. 239-240), on XIII-1-2 :

241.--II. In reviewing the records of an inferior court, it is proper to examine,
First, Whether the proceedings have been constitutional and regular; Secondly, Whether they have been wise, equitable, and for the edification of the church; Thirdly, Whether they have been correctly recorded; Fourthly, Whether the lawful injunctions of the superior courts have been obeyed.
While practically the superior court must usually make this examination through committees, these committees should be so selected that they will be superior in wisdom in each case to the court whose records they are to review.
An act may be constitutional in the main, but have been taken in disregard of certain regulations of the Constitution ; irregular, then, means unconstitutional in a minor sense, that is, contrary to less important requirements of the Constitution. In all cases of unconstitutionality the fact is to be recorded in the review, even if the superior court should itself be persuaded that the more fundamental principles of the Constitution required the action in contravention of its subordinate regulations. But even actions that are constitutional, that is, that are by the Constitution put in the discretion of the court, may not be advisable. When, therefore, an action is found to be constitutional and regular, it remains to inquire whether it is wise, and especially whether it is equitable ; for foolish regularity and unjust constitutionality are prejudicial to the true edification of the Church. An action which is unobjectionable may not be correctly recorded ; and this should always be noted, with an intelligible explanation of what the correct record would be. And the court may have done nothing objectionable, but may have omitted to obey lawful injunctions ; and such neglect of obedience should never be passed over in silence by the superior court. It is important, indeed, that superior courts abstain from commanding, except where they have authority and reason for enjoining ; but when they lay an injunction they should see that it is obeyed ; otherwise, the unity and efficient working of the Church are impaired.
The feeling that the thorough examination and criticism of the records of the lower courts is merely perfunctory, a thing to be committed to such members of the superior court as may not be wise enough to take in hand more serious matters, must work great loss ; and, on the other hand, thoroughness and wisdom here, without hypercriticism, of course, would be a great help to lower courts and a great gain to the harmonious and successful working of our system.



©PCA Historical Center, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]