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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 40 : General Review and Control

Paragraph 4 :

40-4. Courts may sometimes entirely neglect to perform their duty, by which neglect heretical opinions or corrupt practices may be allowed to gain ground; or offenders of a very gross character may be suffered to escape; or some circumstances in their proceedings of very great irregularity may not be
distinctly recorded by them. In any of these cases their records will by no means exhibit to the higher court a full view of their proceedings. If, therefore, the next higher court be well advised that any such neglect or irregularity has occurred on the part of the lower court, it is incumbent on it to take cognizance of the same, and to examine, deliberate and judge in the whole matter as completely as if it had been recorded, and thus brought up by review of its records.


[Historical Summary : The current PCA text remains identical to that of PCUS 1879 except for the one minor difference of having "its records" in place of "the records" at the end of the final sentence. The earlier PCUS draft versions were in essence identical, but used some different wording (e.g., "superior" in place of the later "higher").]

Background and Comparison :
1. PCA 1973, RoD, 14-4, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 152
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 14-4, Proposed text, p. 56
3. PCUS 1933, RoD, XIV-§264
4. PCUS 1925, RoD, XIV-§264
5. PCUS 1879, Rules of Discipline, XIII-1-5
Courts may sometimes entirely neglect to perform their duty, by which neglect heretical opinions or corrupt practices may be allowed to gain ground; or offenders of a very gross character may be suffered to escape; or some circumstances in their proceedings of very great irregularity may not be distinctly recorded by them; in any of which cases their records will by no means exhibit to the higher court a full view of their proceedings. If, therefore, the next higher court be well advised that any such neglect or irregularity has occurred on the part of the lower court, it is incumbent on it to take cognizance of the same, and to examine, deliberate, and judge in the whole matter as completely as if it had been recorded, and thus brought up by the review of the records.

PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, XIII-1-5
and
PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, XIII-1-5

Courts may sometimes entirely neglect to perform their duty, by which neglect heretical opinions or corrupt practices may be allowed to gain ground; or offenders of a very gross character may be suffered to escape; or some circumstances in their proceedings, of very great irregularity, may not be distinctly recorded by them; in any of which cases their records will by no means exhibit to the superior court a full view of their proceedings. If, therefore, the superior court be well advised that such neglects or irregularities have occurred on the part of the inferior court, it is incumbent on it to take cognizance of the same, and to examine, deliberate and judge in the whole matter as completely as if it had been recorded, and thus brought up by the review of the records.

PCUSA 1858 draft, Revised Book of Discipline, VIII-1-5

Judicatories may sometimes entirely neglect to perform their duty, by which neglect heretical opinions or corrupt practices may be allowed to gain ground; or offenders of a very gross character may be suffered to escape; or some circumstances in their proceedings of very great irregularity, may not be distinctly recorded by them. In any of which cases, their records will by no means exhibit to the superior judicatory a full view of their proceedings. If, therefore, the superior judicatory be well advised, by common fame, that such neglects or irregularities have occurred on the part of the inferior judicatory, it is incumbent on them to take cognizance of the same; and to examine, deliberate, and judge in the whole matter, as completely as if it had been recorded, and thus brought up by the review of the records.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. 242), on XIII-5 :
244.--V. Courts may sometimes entirely neglect to perform their duty, by which neglect heretical opinions or corrupt practices may be allowed to gain ground; or offenders of a very gross character may be suffered to escape; or some circumstances in their proceedings of very great irregularity may not be distinctly recorded by them; in any of which cases their records will by no means exhibit to the higher court a full view of their proceedings. If, therefore, the next higher court be well advised that any such neglect or irregularity has occurred on the part of the lower court, it is incumbent on it to take cognizance of the same, and to examine, deliberate, and judge in the whole matter as completely as if it had been recorded, and thus brought up by the review of the records.
That is, in reviewing the proceedings of an inferior court, the superior court, proceeding upon sufficient evidence outside of the records, may record in its own and the inferior court's records, or send down to the inferior court, such corrections, censures and orders as if the full evidence had been in the records.



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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]