ARE THE MOSAIC LAWS FOR TODAY?
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revealed in the Scripture…. The exercise of ecclesiastical powers, whether joint or several, has the divine sanction when in conformity with the Statutes enacted by Christ the Lawgiver….”3 The above words of the continuing Presbyterian Church in America go all the way back to the first paragraph of the 1645 Form of Presbyterial Church-Government of the Westminster Assembly.4 That Assembly not only composed a Form of Presbyterial Church-Government. It also drew up two very fine Catechisms – and a great Confession of Faith. Yet fine and great though they were and still are, even the Westminster Standards of the mid-seventeenth century were fallible documents. In fact, they were amended in 1788 (and also again subsequently) by the North American Synod of the Presbyterian Church in America denomination. This was done, because the initial version of these documents was ultimately deemed to be insufficiently Scriptural on certain points. For, unlike the original autographs of Holy Writ, all of the various versions of the Westminster Standards are corrigible. Though highly valuable, they are nevertheless fallible summaries of the teachings of the inerrant Bible as the only final authority in all matters of faith and practice. Now here in our present discussion, we shall use the 1973-1977 Presbyterian Church in America’s version of the Westminster Standards. This consists: of the unamended 1647 original British version of the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms;5 of an American version of the Westminster Confession of Faith;6 and of the Biblical prooftexts of the original British Standards (except for those in the chapter of the Confession on the Civil Magistrate where the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A.’s edition is followed).7 But, being fallible documents, the possibility (yet improbability) of further 3 Presbyterian Church in America: Book of Church Order (Montgomery, Alabama: Committee for Christian Education and Publications), 1975, Preface I, & ch. 3-3ff. 4 Cf. the Westminster Assembly’s Form of Presbyterial Church-Government, 1645, Preface: “Jesus Christ, upon Whose shoulders the government is, …of the increase of Whose government and peace there shall be no end.” etc. 5 In 1973, the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America adopted the original unamended versions of the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. See 1973 Minutes of the National Presbyterian Church (subsequently renamed the Presbyterian Church in America) [Montgomery, Alabama: Committee for Christian Education and Publications, 1973, pp. 31, 75-126]. 6 The Presbyterian Church in America’s version of the Westminster Confession of Faith, as adopted by the 1973 First General Assembly (cf. 1973 Minutes, pp. 31, 75-126), consists of the original American version of 1788 as subsequently amended (see below). The original American version of 1788 is identical to the original British version of 1647-1648, except for the original American amendments to chs. 20:4 and 23:3 and 31:1-3 (see A.A. Hodge: Confession of Faith [London: Banner of Truth, 1958, pp. 21-23]). The subsequent Presbyterian Church in the United States’s amendments of 1886 (to ch. 24:4) and of 1939 (to ch. 25:6) were also adopted by the Presbyterian Church in America in 1973. 7 In 1977, the Presbyterian Church in America gave “tentative approval” to and authorized the printing of a study edition of the Westminster Standards with the Biblical proof texts of the original seventeenth- century Westminster Assembly. Only as regards “the chapter of the Confession on the Civil Magistrate” did the Presbyterian Church in America not adopt the original prooftexts. As regards that chapter, the Presbyterian Church in America substituted the prooftexts of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of the United States of America. Cf. Minutes of the Fifth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in