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Presbyterian Church (USA) committee proposes dropping standards

"Presbyterian Church (USA) committee proposes dropping standards" Continued...

The opening paragraphs of the Form of Government are a powerful statement of the fundamental Christian and Reformed affirmation that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. In support of this primary affirmation, Chapter I of the Form of Government calls Christians to attend to the Scriptures, insofar as they set forth "Christ's will for the Church," and Chapter II identifies the church's confessions as its guides, subordinate to the authority of Jesus Christ and to the witness of Scripture. Our church thus has bound itself to a hierarchy of authority in which we are to obey Jesus Christ its Head, and, additionally, to heed first the Scriptures and then the confessions, to the extent that they accurately bear witness to Christ's will. This fundamental hierarchy of authority is accurately and eloquently reflected in the first three of the constitutional questions, the assent to which is required of each candidate for ordination and/or installation.
Although the hierarchy of the church's authority is clear, it is subverted by the current language of G-6.0106b, which substitutes for our obedience to Christ two concepts that are foreign to Reformed understanding: "obedience" to Scripture and "conformity" to the confessions. The proposed amendment would remove this paragraph and substitute new language, which (1) reflects the church's understanding of where its authority is to be found, and (2) reaffirms the church's reliance on the examination of candidates by its governing bodies as the principal means by which to ensure the commitment of its ordained officers to the duties of faith. The amendment additionally would insert appropriate language to ensure that each such examination would include discussion of the constitutional questions and the governing body's determination of the candidate's readiness to accept their principles and live by them to the extent any of us is able.
In order to be able to rely on Jesus Christ as its Head and as its chief guide in all of life, the church must shed any subordinate source of authority that would bind its ability to follow where he leads. The overture therefore also calls for the rescission of past interpretive statements that have had the effect of limiting Christ's freedom to use his servants as he would choose.
COMMENT
ADVICE FROM THE ACC

Advice on Item 05-09-From the Advisory Committee on the Constitution.

The Advisory Committee on the Constitution advises the 218th General Assembly (2008) regarding Item 05-09 with the following comment.

Rationale

The Advisory Committee on the Constitution refers the 218th General Assembly (2008) to its advice concerning Item 05-01, which sets forth the background that the Advisory Committee on the Constitution believes the assembly should consider in addressing each of the items related to ordination and installation of church officers.

Item 05-09 seeks to delete G-6.0106b from the Form of Government, to substitute a new provision in its place, and to set aside previous authoritative interpretations regarding ordination standards. The Advisory Committee on the Constitution advised the 213th General Assembly (2001), and assemblies since then, that the removal of G-6.0106b alone (or likewise, substitution of new provisions for the existing G-6.0106b) would not alter the church's position on ordination standards unless the General Assembly also amended or rescinded current authoritative interpretations regarding the eligibility of homosexual persons to hold church office. Approval of this overture would accomplish its intent to modify the church's position on ordination standards by taking both of the actions the Advisory Committee on the Constitution has advised are necessary to achieve that result.

The proposed language for G-6.0106b substitutes a standard of obedience to Jesus Christ for the current provisions of G-6.0106b. Governing bodies would be given discretion in the application of this standard to particular candidates through the examination process. The proposed language is clear and not inconsistent with any other provision of the Book of Order.

Impact of the proposed revisions to the proposed revised Form of Government before the assembly: To the extent the 218th General Assembly (2008) wishes to make amendment to the current G-6.0106b, the identical provision in the proposed Form of Government is found at 2.0103b.

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