PCA and WCF

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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I know that in some denominations there have been minor changes to the WCF.

What WCF and Standards have the PCA adopted?

I.e. I have the Free Presbyterian Publications Westminster Standards, what parts in it have been changed or edited in what the PCA has adopted?
 

raderag

Puritan Board Sophomore
I know that in some denominations there have been minor changes to the WCF.

What WCF and Standards have the PCA adopted?

I.e. I have the Free Presbyterian Publications Westminster Standards, what parts in it have been changed or edited in what the PCA has adopted?

The PCA adopted the American version of the confession:

From the preface of the WCF, writen by the PCA:

The Presbyterian Church in America received the same Confession and Catechisms as those that were adopted by the first American Presbyterian Assembly of 1789, with two minor exceptions, namely, the deletion of strictures against marrying one's wife's kindred (XXIV,4), and the reference to the Pope as the antichrist (XXV,6).

Other than these changes, and the American amendments of Chapter XXIII on the civil magistrate (adopted in 1789), this is the Confession and Catechisms as agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster which met from 1643-1647. The Caruthers edition of the Confession and Catechisms, which is based upon the original manuscript written by Cornelius Burgess is the Edition presented to and adopted by the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America.

http://www.pcanet.org/general/cof_preface.htm
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I would not call the American revisions "minor changes" (the OPC, which also adheres to the American revisions, says that they are "not insignificant" while allowing that the word count to the revisions is "minor"). The PCA website summarizes but in fact does not give a complete record of all the changes that were made.

Besides the changes made to chapters 23, 24 and 25 that the PCA mentions specifically, there are also American revisions which were accepted by the PCA to chapters 20 and 31, and WLC 191. The revisions were not just made to the text of the Confession but also to the prooftexts as well (which the PCA says are not part of its constitution).

For additional information on the revisions, see here (although Wikipedia is mistaken in attributing the deletion of the identification of the Papacy with Antichrist to the 1788 revisions; this was in fact done in 1903) and here.
 

raderag

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would not call the American revisions "minor changes" (the OPC, which also adheres to the American revisions, says that they are "not insignificant" while allowing that the word count to the revisions is "minor"). The PCA website summarizes but in fact does not give a complete record of all the changes that were made.

Besides the changes made to chapters 23, 24 and 25 that the PCA mentions specifically, there are also American revisions which were accepted by the PCA to chapters 20 and 31, and WLC 191. The revisions were not just made to the text of the Confession but also to the prooftexts as well (which the PCA says are not part of its constitution).

For additional information on the revisions, see here (although Wikipedia is mistaken in attributing the deletion of the identification of the Papacy with Antichrist to the 1788 revisions; this was in fact done in 1903) and here.

BTW, I didn't characterize the changes as minor; that is from the PCA preface.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I would not call the American revisions "minor changes" (the OPC, which also adheres to the American revisions, says that they are "not insignificant" while allowing that the word count to the revisions is "minor"). The PCA website summarizes but in fact does not give a complete record of all the changes that were made.

Besides the changes made to chapters 23, 24 and 25 that the PCA mentions specifically, there are also American revisions which were accepted by the PCA to chapters 20 and 31, and WLC 191. The revisions were not just made to the text of the Confession but also to the prooftexts as well (which the PCA says are not part of its constitution).

For additional information on the revisions, see here (although Wikipedia is mistaken in attributing the deletion of the identification of the Papacy with Antichrist to the 1788 revisions; this was in fact done in 1903) and here.

BTW, I didn't characterize the changes as minor; that is from the PCA preface.

Actually I wasn't quoting you, I was quoting the OP.
 

raderag

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would not call the American revisions "minor changes" (the OPC, which also adheres to the American revisions, says that they are "not insignificant" while allowing that the word count to the revisions is "minor"). The PCA website summarizes but in fact does not give a complete record of all the changes that were made.

Besides the changes made to chapters 23, 24 and 25 that the PCA mentions specifically, there are also American revisions which were accepted by the PCA to chapters 20 and 31, and WLC 191. The revisions were not just made to the text of the Confession but also to the prooftexts as well (which the PCA says are not part of its constitution).

For additional information on the revisions, see here (although Wikipedia is mistaken in attributing the deletion of the identification of the Papacy with Antichrist to the 1788 revisions; this was in fact done in 1903) and here.

BTW, I didn't characterize the changes as minor; that is from the PCA preface.

Actually I wasn't quoting you, I was quoting the OP.

Dueling quotes. :lol:

Of course, they aren't minor if you hold to those points. I really don't know myself.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
BTW, I didn't characterize the changes as minor; that is from the PCA preface.

Actually I wasn't quoting you, I was quoting the OP.

Dueling quotes. :lol:

Of course, they aren't minor if you hold to those points. I really don't know myself.

:lol: Yes, I emphasized the point about "minor" because I hold to the original WCF.

BTW, an aside to the interested reader, those who rely on the Westminster Confession found at A Puritan's Mind to be the original WCF (as stated) should be aware that it is a mix of the original and amended versions as noted here.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I would not call the American revisions "minor changes" (the OPC, which also adheres to the American revisions, says that they are "not insignificant" while allowing that the word count to the revisions is "minor"). The PCA website summarizes but in fact does not give a complete record of all the changes that were made.

Besides the changes made to chapters 23, 24 and 25 that the PCA mentions specifically, there are also American revisions which were accepted by the PCA to chapters 20 and 31, and WLC 191. The revisions were not just made to the text of the Confession but also to the prooftexts as well (which the PCA says are not part of its constitution).

For additional information on the revisions, see here (although Wikipedia is mistaken in attributing the deletion of the identification of the Papacy with Antichrist to the 1788 revisions; this was in fact done in 1903) and here.

Can you show specifically the changes from the original (NOT AMERICAN ORIGINAL, but Westminster Original) to the PCA version. That is Can you quote a chapter section that was changed from Original to PCA version? Thanks.
 

jbergsing

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have a copy of both the PCA and OPC versions (OPC v. has the modern translation in parallel) and I see no difference with the sited changes. Neither declares the Pope as the anti-Christ (XXV,6) and both are identical in XXIV,4. Does the PCA and OPC adhere to the same version?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I have a copy of both the PCA and OPC versions (OPC v. has the modern translation in parallel) and I see no difference with the sited changes. Neither declares the Pope as the anti-Christ (XXV,6) and both are identical in XXIV,4. Does the PCA and OPC adhere to the same version?
Basically they do on the WCF I think. OPC has some unique changes.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I should add, don't use a PCA edition before the third edition. The earlier ones, at least the first edition, confused the Scottish and American texts.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
The revisions were not just made to the text of the Confession but also to the prooftexts as well (which the PCA says are not part of its constitution).

But were the proof-texts not put in at the insistence of the parliament? A concession to Erastianism if you ask me. Moreover, what if one minister disagreed with the application of a proof text to a specific part of the WCF, should he be barred from the ministry even though he agrees with the doctrine in the actual text of the Confession itself?

:banghead:
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Please explain how a person can have difficulty with the Scripture, the supreme standard, whilst maintaining the proposition built upon the Scripture, the subordinate standard?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I think he is saying that one would disagree with the context and use of said scripture to support said doctrine.

The analogy of Scripture would allow said Scripture to support said doctrine where said doctrine can be established on the basis of other Scripture support.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I think that is what Daniel was getting at.

That's it exactly.

:handshake:

So you allow said scripture to support said doctrine on the basis that it is supported by Scripture generally? If so, how do you come to the conclusion that said proposition is OK, but said Scripture is not?

That's not what he is getting at. For example, let's say--and I know the Confession doesn't use this, but it is an extreme case that will show my point--that I believe in Creation in six days. For my scriptural support, I use the story of David and Goliath.

Now, if someone disagrees with this use of Scripture, are they disagreeing with Scripture? No.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
So you allow said scripture to support said doctrine on the basis that it is supported by Scripture generally? If so, how do you come to the conclusion that said proposition is OK, but said Scripture is not?

On the basis of other portions of Scripture. If someone believed a doctrine was Biblical but thought that a proof-text (not necessarily all the proof-texts) in the WCF was taken out of context, it does not affect their overall doctrinal commitment, even if their interpretation of the proof-text is wrong. If I am not mistaken, were the Westminster Divines not opposed to the idea of proof texts in the first place, and they were only inserted at the insistence of the parliament? So if the Divines were not that keen on them to begin with then is it not a bit much to expect modern Presbyterians to retain them?
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
That they did not like the idea to begin with is true; but since they could not persuade Parliament otherwise, it would be wrong I think to conclude they didn't take the work seriously. At this juncture these many centuries later, I think most see having proof texts as a benefit.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Warfield in his book on the Assembly noted that the Divines did not see a need for Scripture proofs since they would have to reprint the entire Bible and they did not see the Standards being inconsistent with other Reformed Confessions.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
First, on Scripture proofs generally -- what we have is fairly indicative of the biblical argumentation used in the divines' discussions. Upon becoming members of the assembly they vowed that every position would be scripturally supported. (See, for example, the long discussion on John 3:16 in the Minutes). I'm not sure where the idea has come from that they were against proofs. Certainly it was an inconvenience because of time constraints. But the proofs were part and parcel of historic protestant exegesis. Muller has a good section on the dicta probantia in PRRD, vol. 2.

Secondly, I think if you're going to put forth the hypothesis that a proposition can be biblical whilst the scriptural proof is not, then you're obliged to provide a concrete example and not an imaginary one. I find it difficult to believe that the divines just guessed their way to the correct proposition.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I can't say where I have picked up the idea that the Assembly was not in favor of the idea, but here is what Carruthers says when the issue first comes up regarding the first 19 chapters of the WCF:

[This instruction reached the Assembly on 19th December 1646; Baillie took leave on going to Scotland on Christmas Day, before the Divines began the work; but he shared the view of the Presbyterian section that the demand was not prompted by a genuine desire for Scripture. He wrote, "The retarding party has put the Assembly to add Scriptures to it, which they (i.e. the Divines) omitted only to eschew the offence of the House, whose practice hitherto has been to enact nothing of religion on divine right or scriptural grounds, but upon their own authority alone. This innovation of our opposites may well cost the Assembly some time, who cannot do the most easy things with any expedition; but it will be for the advantage and strength of the work" (Letters, III, 2). No action was taken in Assembly till 6th January 1646-7, when a committee was appointed, which reported promptly the next day. The work went steadily on, hut was not finished till 5th April 1647. On that day Lazarus Seaman made a proposal which, had it been adopted, might have saved much subsequent criticism of the proofs; he wanted "something annexed by way of caution to shew how the proofs are to be applied". But the Assembly would not have it, probably realising that it might only lead to more delay, and they were busy with the Catechism.]
Online here.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This innovation of our opposites may well cost the Assembly some time, who cannot do the most easy things with any expedition; but it will be for the advantage and strength of the work" (Letters, III, 2).

Thanks Chris. I had a vague recollection of this statement when writing the previous post, but couldn't put my hands on it.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I think if you're going to put forth the hypothesis that a proposition can be biblical whilst the scriptural proof is not, then you're obliged to provide a concrete example and not an imaginary one. I find it difficult to believe that the divines just guessed their way to the correct proposition.

Take for instance, the establishment principle were the Divines appeal to Is. 49:23. It is possible to agree with the establishment principle but not agree with their application of this text to it (though I believe that they were right to use this passage in support of the establishment principle).

I find it difficult to believe that the divines just guessed their way to the correct proposition.

I don't think anybody is saying that, just that the Biblical support for the doctrine of the WCF is broader than that cited in the proof-texts. A friend of mine told me that the Westminster Divines were originally opposed to proof-texts as they wanted people to see that their doctrine was based on a coherent deduction from the whole counsel of God.

:westminster:
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Take for instance, the establishment principle were the Divines appeal to Is. 49:23. It is possible to agree with the establishment principle but not agree with their application of this text to it (though I believe that they were right to use this passage in support of the establishment principle).

It's difficult to answer a hypothetical which proves to be correct.

To my mind, knowing that interpretation has advanced somewhat since those days, I would still see valid *applications* of the general principle of a given text, even where I thought the text wasn't speaking directly to the issue.
 
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