Sunday, May 03, 2009

PCA – BCO: Introductory Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve been in the habit of posting on this blog. What was once my blog has essentially become my wife’s blog as she is the only one who has been consistently posting here lately. I basically gave up blogging over a year ago after attempting to bite off more than I could chew, namely, prove that the Apostles’ teaching on men and women was the direct result of the gospel as taught by Jesus in the Gospels. While I am still inclined to think that way, I have not been able to substantially establish the connection to my own satisfaction, nor do I really have the time to work through the issue.

However, I do want to get back to posting regularly, so I’m going to start a series of posts on what I’m studying right now: the Presbyterian Church of America’s (PCA) Book of Church Order (BCO). I’m working through the BCO with a group of men at church as a part of the church’s officer training class. While the BCO is not the most exciting thing to study, I intend to post on things that are off particular interest to me, and thereby, hope to keep these post free of the kind of materials that make me feel the way I generally tend to feel while reading the BCO.


The first thing that stands out as particularly interesting to me is the fact that the BCO is not only amendable, but that it has been amended so much in the PCA’s short history. From the title page, a reader will note that the PCA’s current BCO is in it’s sixth edition, even though the denomination has only been around for thirty-six years. That basically means that a new edition is created about every six years.

But that is only a small part of the story, for these major editions are amended each year. The amendments to the sixth edition are referenced on the second page as follows (Note, I don’t really expect anyone to read this section, I’m only posting it to make a point: the BCO is a very fluid document):
1990 – BCO 14-1.14; 19-10; 30-1,3; 34-7,8; 36-4,5; 37-1,2,3,7,8; 42-6; 45-1,4,5; 46-5

1991 – BCO 14-1.11; 14-1.12; 14-2; 15-2

1992 – BCO 10-3; 42-11; 43-3; 43-7

1993 – BCO 14-1.15; 15-4; 24-5

1994 – BCO 15-1; 21-4.d; 24-1; 37-9; RAO 4-3; 4-6; 5-1; 13-1; 13-6; 13-13.c.6; 13-14.d; 14-9.c; Corporate Bylaws Article VI, p. R-39 and Certificate of Incorporation, pp. R-29-31

1995 – BCO 13-10; 14-1.12; 32-18; RAO 15-3 and Corporate Bylaws Article IV,4 and VII,1

1996 – BCO 35-14; 42-5; 42-6; RAO 14 and Corporate Bylaws Article VI,5

1997 – BCO Preface II, 15-1, 15-4, 15-5, 19-1, 19-6, 38-4, 39-3, 46-2, 46-5

1998 – BCO 13-6; 15-5c; 38-3; RAO 14-7; Corporate Bylaws Article VI,5

1999 – BCO 13-5; 13-12; 20-2; 32-6; 33-2; 33-3; 34-4; RAO 4-18 [editorial changes to 15-3 and 16-3]; SJC Manual 6.2d; 8.3b; 19.10c; and 19.11 [editorial changes to 11.9a.2 and 18.7b]

2000 – BCO 13-12; 15-1; 24-1; 38-1; 43-5

2001 – BCO 14-1.12; Appendix B; Appendix H; RAO 4-5, 9-6, 15-2; Corporate Bylaws Article VI,1; VI,4; VI,5

2002 – BCO 12-5.e, 13-1, 14-1.12, 32-3, 32-4, 32-18, 35-7, 43-1, Appendix I; RAO 4-2, 4-3, 4-8, 4-9, 5-1, 6-4, 7-5.c, 13-1; SJC Manual 13.8.c.5, 6, 16, 18, 19-22 renumbered; Corporate Bylaws Article V,E; V,F; V,G; Article VI,1; VI,5

2003 – BCO 14-1.12b.4, 21-4, 21-5.6; RAO 13-1.6, 13-2, 13-5d, 13-6.e, 13-6.f-j renumbered; 14-3.e.5, 14-8; SJC Manual 13.10, 14.7, 15.7, 19.8.j, 19.8.k, 20.12, 21.2.f; Corporate Bylaws Article VI,1

2004 – BCO 58-5; SJC Manual 3.1, 11.7b, 12.3.b

2005 – BCO 24-3; 24-5; 24-6-9 relettered; 24-9 (now 24-10)

2006 – BCO 15-4; 24-1.b; 40-5; RAO 2006 revised edition

2007 – RAO 4-11; 11-1; 14-8.d; 19-2; SJC Manual 21-3

2008 – BCO 12-1, 12-2; RAO 14-6.k; 14-9.e, g; 14-9.f relettered; 15-8.c, e; 15-8.f-g relettered. [Editorial note added RAO 14-6.d and 15-6.i; editorial changes SJC 10.5; 11.6; 16.2; 17.2.(d); 18.1.(a); 21.5; and 22:1]
It seems appropriate to say in response to all these changes, “Rules are made to be modified.” The BCO is certainly not like the Bible.

For this first post, I'll just point out one other aspect, the BCO is made up of five sections, though not all are equally authoritative (more on that in coming weeks):

Part I – Form of Government

Part II – The Rules of Discipline

Part III – The Directory for the Worship of God


General Zebulon Pike Lock & Dam #11, taken late in the evening last Thanksgiving.

Point of Interest: This dam, one of the closest to my folks home in Illinois, is named after the same man as the mountain we see as we walk out our door each morning: Pikes Peak.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I have to admit: there was a time when I enjoyed poking fun at "BCO thumpers" lumping them together with folk like Robert's Rules of Order groupies and other such finer-point Nazis.

But then I grew up a little and realized that battles for souls are won and lost upon finer points. Churches split, doctrine is slowly eroded, factions and controversies take root when care is not taken to prevent division.

Now instead of making fun of BCO enthusiasts, I am thankful for the careful and diligent labor that men have taken to study the scripture and form a church government that most closely conforms to what they find scripture teaches. The many amendments show that our leaders are not coasting and relying on the study of past leaders, but are constantly reevaluating and improving the foundations laid in the past.

It is a blessing to be a part of a denomination that takes seriously the life of its churches and therefore the souls represented within; that seeks an orderly way of dealing with all possible sin and difficulties that will most certainly arise in every church; that seeks to lay down rules that will, as far as is possible, subvert some of the many schemes that Satan will certainly bring in an attempt to make Christ's church unfruitful.

Praise God for the men who labored to write the BCO and for those who are committed to studying and refining it for today.