Documents of Synod:
Study Papers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1965 to 1982)

150th GS MINUTES, MAY 12, 1972, pp. 112 - 114.

Overture E - Change 2nd Ordination Vow

BILLS AND OVERTURES:
Chaplain John MacGregor reported for the Committee on the following overtures (For previous action on overtures see pages 82-85, 89).

OVERTURE E - Change 2nd Ordination Vow
WHEREAS, Synod has recognized a need for clarification of the second ordination vow by the following actions:
1) The appointing of a committee to "study . . . question two and the apparent ambiguity therein, with a view toward revision if necessary." (148th General Synod: July 1970)
2) The reception of the committee's report, referring it to the presbyteries for study (149th General Synod: May 1971), and
WHEREAS, Synod has had an entire year for study of the report wherein is found abundant evidence that the mind of American Presbyterianism as seen in its official actions for 181 years (1729 - 1910) has been most clear and without ambiguity, ruling that the ordination vow binds the subscriber to receive and adopt the Confession and Catechisms rather than some undefined system of doctrine.
THEREFORE, The California Presbytery, most solicitous to bring our denomination into closer conformity with the mind of the church in that period when she had the highest regard for truth, overtures the 150th Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod to:
1) Aver its conviction that the second ordination vow binds the Subscriber to the Confession of Faith and Catechisms which he has vowed to receive and adopt as his own confession; not just so far as they happen to contain the system of doctrine taught in scripture, but because he recognizes them to be a faithful summary of scriptural doctrine;
2) Revise the second ordination vow to read: "Do you sincerely receive and adopt the doctrinal standards of this church, namely, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and Catechisms, Larger and Shorter, as your own confession of faith, and as a faithful summary of scriptural doctrine?"

3) Recognize that the second ordination vow assumes neither an ipsissima verba (every word) subscription nor the absence of any reservations. What it does assume is that the subscriber having honestly examined any and all reservations is willing to subordinate the same -- without any wounding to his conscience -- so far as to pledge his active support of the standards which he recognizes to be a most faithful summary of scriptural doctrine.

ANSWER: The Bills and Overtures Committee recommends that Synod adopt Overture E as follows:

Recommendation (1) as is.

Recommendation (2) as is.

Recommendation (3) with the following revision: Recognize that the second ordination vow assumes neither an ipsissima verba (every word) subscription nor the absence of any reservations (doubts or questions) nor the absence of possible honest disagreements. What it does assume is that the subscriber having honestly examined any and all reservations is willing to subordinate the same -- without any wounding to his conscience -- so as to pledge his support of the standards which he recognizes to be a most faithful summary of scriptural doctrine. Furthermore, when honest disagreement with any article does exist, the subscriber is to make known the exception(s) to the appropriate judicatory (presbytery/session) prior to the taking of the vow.

ACTION: It was moved and seconded to adopt recommendations 1, 2, and 3. Recommendation 1 lost. Recommendation 2 was amended as follows: to strike out "and as a faithful summary of scriptural doctrine" and to add: "and as embodying the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture."* and an asterisked footnote: *"The second ordination vow assumes neither an ipsissima verba (every word) subscription, nor the absence of any reservations (doubts or questions) nor the absence of possible disagreements. What it does assume is that the subscriber, having honestly examined any and all reservations, is willing to subordinate the same -- without any wounding to his conscience -- so as to pledge his support of the standards. Furthermore, when honest disagreement with any article does exist, the subscriber is to make known in writing the exception(s) to the appropriate judicatory (presbytery/session) prior to the taking of the vow."
 

One a procedural motion the previous question was passed. Dr. William Barker and Dr. Richard Gray asked that their negative votes be recorded.

At 3:20 p.m. Synod recessed with prayer. The Moderator reconvened Synod at 4:20 p.m. by asking Mr. William Bonner to pray.

The vote on recommendation 2 as amended lost by ballot count, 76 to 42, a 2/3 vote being required by F.O.G., VI, 2.

Recommendation 3 was amended and adopted as follows:

Synod recognizes that the second ordination vow assumes neither an ipsissima verba (every word) subscription nor the absence of any reservations (doubts or questions) nor the absence of possible honest disagreements. What it does assume is that the subscriber having honestly examined any and all reservations is willing to subordinate the same -- without any wounding to his conscience -- so as to pledge his support of the standards. Furthermore, when honest disagreement with any article does exist, the subscriber is to make known in writing the exception(s) to the appropriate judicatory (presbytery/session) prior to the taking of the vow.


OVERTURE N
-- Retain present 2nd Ordination Vow

The Rocky Mountain Presbytery overtures the 150th General Synod of the RPC,ES to find the second ordination question acceptable in its present form. We ask that application of this question to candidates for ordination be the prerogative of presbyteries without further changes by Synod.

We further note that it is not by rewriting already good vows that we will keep our church from either unbelief or unreformed doctrine, but by failure on the part of presbyteries to apply the present vow to the counsel and examination of candidates for ordination. For example, the Presbyterian Church U.S. (Southern) still has as its official standards the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, but in many cases men lie in taking their vows of subscription to those standards, and often presbyteries do nothing about it.

We further request that Synod go on record requiring a regular study by all elders and officers within the RPC,ES of the Westminster Standards.
ANSWER: The Bills and Overtures Committee recommends that Synod respond to Overture N by requiring regular study of the Westminster Standards by all elders and officers within the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Synod adopted this recommendation.

[Documents of Synod, pages 324-326.]

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