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


22nd GS MINUTES, BPC, JUNE 19, 1958 and
23rd GS MINUTES, BPC, JUNE 4, 1959

REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL COMMISSION OF THE BIBLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH TO THE 22nd GENERAL SYNOD, JUNE 19-25, 1958

On the Necessity of Reordaining a Roman Catholic Priest

A letter from the Great Plains Presbytery asking for advice was submitted to the Commission by the 22nd General Synod. The letter concerned the necessity for reordination of Rev. Daniel J. Bormann, a converted Roman Catholic priest who has served for two years in a Methodist church.

The advice of the Commission is as follows:

In our opinion, the important matter in this case is the theological examination, testimony and evidence he (Bormann) gives of having received God's call to the ministry. Inasmuch as he was ordained by the Roman Catholic Church to the priesthood, we recommend his ordination by a true presbytery. Such ordination is not absolutely required, however, since we find no evidence that Roman Catholic priests, who became reformed at the time of the Reformation, were ordained by true presbyteries and there is nothing in our standards to make it imperative.

Respectfully submitted,
Kenneth A. Horner, Jr.
Chairman, Judicial Commission

It was moved that the answer of the Commission to the letter from the Presbytery of the Great Plains be adopted by Synod. This was seconded.
It was moved that this be amended by striking the words after "a true presbytery."
It was moved to amend the answer by adding the words, "and that he also be rebaptized."
This was seconded.
It was then voted that the Synod recommit this whole question to the Judicial Commission for detailed study with a report to be presented next year.

REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL COMMISSION

The Rev. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. reported for the Commissions as follows:

Fathers and Brethren:

In the two matters referred to the judicial commission by the last Synod, the members by correspondence requested the undersigned to serve as prolocutor. Investigation was carried on by correspondence and the results reported to the members and alternates in writing. The matters were then discussed by the commission, alternates also being present, at Quarryville on June 4, 1959. The following recommendations were agreed upon:

1. That the resolution presented by Mr. McEwen be adopted in substance in the following form, "Whereas independency and anabaptism fall short of the system of doctrine taught in the Scriptures; and whereas those doctrines are gaining a following and even confusing many Presbyterians; be it resolved that this Synod commit itself more devotedly to its doctrinal position as revealed in the Bible and as stated in the Standards, and that it urge upon its presbyteries to instruct the church membership more diligently than ever in devotion to the doctrinal standards of the Bible Presbyterian Church."

2. In the case of the Rev. Mr. Bormann, a former Roman Catholic priest, who left the Roman Catholic priesthood to become a Methodist minister, and subsequently left the Methodist Church on account of modernism and sought membership in our Great Plains Presbytery, our investigations indicate that at the time of the Reformation neither the Reformed nor the Lutheran churches re-ordained priests who were converted to protestantism. Our presbyteries have never re-ordained ministers who, from conviction, came to us from heretical denominations. Our standards discourage re-baptism, and on this analogy your Commission feels that to insist on re-ordination would place disproportionate emphasis on the ordinance.
Your C
ommission would urge the presbyteries to be diligent in the matter of examination of any minister coming to us from any body not holding with us in doctrine and polity. We would point out that converted Roman Catholic priests are frequently found to be seriously lacking in doctrine and in polity.
Whereas some of our churches baptize converted Catholics who personally feel that they have never been baptized, not even with an ignorant but honest intention on the part of their parents to obey Christ, and this is not considered re-baptism; and whereas on this analogy we conceive that a converted priest might feel that he had never been ordained, and might seek ordination at the hands of a presbytery; we recommend that the presbyteries deal with the individual cases on their merits, always placing the greatest emphasis on the examination rather than the ordinance, and we recommend that there be no general rule requiring the re-ordination of former Catholic priests or of ministers formerly in heretical denominations.

J. Oliver Buswell, Jr.

Synod adopted the recommendation.

[Documents of Synod, pages 330-331.]

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