Ideals to Guard and Maintain
Proper Constitution of the
Compiled by Jeremy T. Kerr, 2017.
The following are presented as some principles and ideals which ought to be incorporated and guarded in a proper constitution of the Presbyterian Church. They are informed and shaped chiefly by the mandates and directions of Holy Scripture, but also, in a lesser way, by the circumstances of the times in which we live, and by the historical precedents and obligations of the Presbyterian churches, and especially the Church of Scotland of the Second Reformation, 1638-1649. To some, this collection may at first appear as the particular desires of a peculiar individual, trying to describe what he imagines would be a “perfect church.” That is not what this is. The time was, when such a church existed, and laboured against many oppositions to maintain her integrity. And the time will be, when the Church of Jesus Christ will again move in this direction, and will adjust her official constitutions to guard and protect these principles and ideals.
Given the diversity of church constitutions of Reformed and Presbyterian churches at the present day, and the manner in which these have variously departed from the principles and doctrines embraced by these same communities in their former integrity, the hope of the writer in this present effort is only to point some in a better direction, suggest reforms, and perhaps give a first sketch of the holy unity which some of us desire to see approved and pursued among Covenanter churches, or other Reformed communions. It is not the expectation of any such Covenanters to prevent all sin in the Church of Jesus Christ, or to secure her from all possibility of backsliding in the future. Our desire is to help her discern her backslidings, and to obtain such a constitution of her order and unity as expresses a resolution to change her present course for the better.
It is also worth noting, that the present writer resides in Pennsylvania, where there has never been an established church. These ideals are, therefore, primarily contemplated as pertaining to North America in the twenty-first century.
These things premitted, we suggest and urge the consideration of the following particulars, as what can give no just offence to any who sincerely profess adherence to the Presbyterian Reformation of the seventeenth century, and who desire that charity should prevail to unite the children of God once more, as the Church of Jesus Christ, in such unity and order as will serve to make her the formidable kingdom and power in this world:
The realities of the sinful life of every Christian, and the state of Christ’s Church, not yet fully washed of her sins, will obviously make a perfect conduct and execution of the above impossible. The question, however, is this: inasmuch as such principles and ideals are those which ought to be embraced in the constitution of a Reformed or Presbyterian church—and more or less represent that which ought to be embraced in the constitution of any Christian church—can they, or can they not, be fairly and honestly incorporated in and guarded by a new constitution of a restored Presbyterian Church, to take away the reproach she has procured to herself through many generations and many divers paths of backsliding, and to take away the multitude of offences which leave some brethren wandering and straying in the present ecclesiastical wilderness of the 21st century?
The present writer, and editor of this website, will be thankful to hear from anyone who wishes to comment, either by way of criticism, having a desire to give more proper and scriptural instruction, or by way of encouragement, expressing a desire to see steps taken towards the same or similar goals for the Bride of Christ, who, in her low estate, has yet been preserved, with her ordinances, ministers, and mission, through so many ages of opposition and temptation.
—Submitted for consideration by my brethren, by a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, 2017.04.17.