Indictment of the PCA Standing Judicial Commission | Exhibit 4

The Ministerial Obligation is provided in the PCA Handbook for Presbytery Clerks, year after year. All teaching elders must sign the same Confessional Subscription (BCO 13-7) corresponding to the same ordination vows (BCO 21-5) in order to be ordained, and their presbyteries must retain these contracts on file.

“Correct disciplining is to be coupled with consistent discipling.” 

“Provoke Not Your Children To Anger,” Tabletalk, June 2022, Vol. 46, No. 6, Robert W. Carver 

“There is, however, a slight difference in the mode of judging of individuals and of churches. For it may happen in practice that those whom we deem not altogether worthy of the fellowship of believers, we yet ought to treat as brethren, and regard as believers, on account of the common consent of the Church in tolerating and bearing with them in the body of Christ. Such persons we do not approve by our suffrage as members of the Church, but we leave them the place which they hold among the people of God, until they are legitimately deprived of it. With regard to the general body we must feel differently; if they have the ministry of the word, and honour the administration of the sacraments, they are undoubtedly entitled to be ranked with the Church, because it is certain that these things are not without a beneficial result. Thus we both maintain the Church universal in its unity, which malignant minds have always been eager to dissever, and deny not due authority to lawful assemblies distributed as circumstances require.
We have said that the symbols by which the Church is discerned are the preaching of the word and the observance of the sacraments, for these cannot anywhere exist without producing fruit and prospering by the blessing of God. I say not that wherever the word is preached fruit immediately appears; but that in every place where it is received, and has a fixed abode, it uniformly displays its efficacy. Be this as it may, when the preaching of the gospel is reverently heard, and the sacraments are not neglected, there for the time the face of the Church appears without deception or ambiguity and no man may with impunity spurn her authority, or reject her admonitions, or resist her counsels, or make sport of her censures, far less revolt from her, and violate her unity (see Chap. 2 sec. 1, 10, and Chap. 8 sec. 12). For such is the value which the Lord sets on the communion of his Church, that all who contumaciously alienate themselves from any Christian society, in which the true ministry of his word and sacraments is maintained, he regards as deserters of religion. So highly does he recommend her authority, that when it is violated he considers that his own authority is impaired. For there is no small weight in the designation given to her, ‘the house of God,’ ‘the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1 Tim. 3:15). By these words Paul intimates, that to prevent the truth from perishing in the world. the Church is its faithful guardian, because God has been pleased to preserve the pure preaching of his word by her instrumentality, and to exhibit himself to us as a parent while he feeds us with spiritual nourishment, and provides whatever is conducive to our salvation.
Moreover, no mean praise is conferred on the Church when she is said to have been chosen and set apart by Christ as his spouse, ‘not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing’ (Eph. 5:27), as ‘his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all’ (Eph. 1:23). Whence it follows, that revolt from the Church is denial of God and Christ. Wherefore there is the more necessity to beware of a dissent so iniquitous; for seeing by it we aim as far as in us lies at the destruction of God’s truth, we deserve to be crushed by the full thunder of his anger. No crime can be imagined more atrocious than that of sacrilegiously and perfidiously violating the sacred marriage which the only begotten Son of God has condescended to contract with us.
Wherefore let these marks be carefully impressed upon our minds, and let us estimate them as in the sight of the Lord. There is nothing on which Satan is more intent than to destroy and efface one or both of them—at one time to delete and abolish these marks, and thereby destroy the true and genuine distinction of the Church; at another, to bring them into contempt, and so hurry us into open revolt from the Church. To his wiles it was owing that for several ages the pure preaching of the word disappeared, and now, with the same dishonest aim, he labours to overthrow the ministry, which, however, Christ has so ordered in his Church, that if it is removed the whole edifice must fall. How perilous, then, nay, how fatal the temptation, when we even entertain a thought of separating ourselves from that assembly in which are beheld the signs and badges which the Lord has deemed sufficient to characterise his Church! We see how great caution should be employed in both respects. That we may not be imposed upon by the name of Church, every congregation which claims the name must be brought to that test as to a Lydian stone. If it holds the order instituted by the Lord in word and sacraments there will be no deception; we may safely pay it the honour due to a church: on the other hand, if it exhibit itself without word and sacraments, we must in this case be no less careful to avoid the imposture than we were to shun pride and presumption in the other. …
Meanwhile, if we strive to reform what is offensive, we act in the discharge of duty. To this effect are the words of Paul, ‘If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace’ (1 Cor. 14:30). From this it is evident that to each member of the Church, according to his measure of grace, the study of public edification has been assigned, provided it be done decently and in order. In other words, we must neither renounce the communion of the Church, nor, continuing in it, disturb peace and discipline when duly arranged. … Still, however, even the good are sometimes affected by this inconsiderate zeal for righteousness, though we shall find that this excessive moroseness is more the result of pride and a false idea of sanctity, than genuine sanctity itself, and true zeal for it. Accordingly, those who are the most forward, and, as it were, leaders in producing revolt from the Church, have, for the most part, no other motive than to display their own superiority by despising all other men. Well and wisely, therefore, does Augustine say, ‘Seeing that pious reason and the mode of ecclesiastical discipline ought specially to regard the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, which the Apostle enjoins us to keep, by bearing with one another (for if we keep it not, the application of medicine is not only superfluous, but pernicious, and therefore proves to be no medicine); those bad sons who, not from hatred of other men’s iniquities, but zeal for their own contentions, attempt altogether to draw away, or at least to divide, weak brethren ensnared by the glare of their name, while swollen with pride, stuffed with petulance, insidiously calumnious, and turbulently seditious, use the cloak of a rigorous severity, that they may not seem devoid of the light of truth, and pervert to sacrilegious schism, and purposes of excision, those things which are enjoined in the Holy Scriptures (due regard being had to sincere love, and the unity of peace), to correct a brother’s faults by the appliance of a moderate cure’ (August. Cont. Parmen. cap. 1). To the pious and placid his advice is, mercifully to correct what they can, and to bear patiently with what they cannot correct, in love lamenting and mourning until God either reform or correct, or at the harvest root up the tares, and scatter the chaff (Ibid. cap. 2). Let all the godly study to provide themselves with these weapons, lest, while they deem themselves strenuous and ardent defenders of righteousness, they revolt from the kingdom of heaven, which is the only kingdom of righteousness. For as God has been pleased that the communion of his Church shall be maintained in this external society, any one who, from hatred of the ungodly, violates the bond of this society, enters on a downward course, in which he incurs great danger of cutting himself off from the communion of saints. Let them reflect, that in a numerous body there are several who may escape their notice, and yet are truly righteous and innocent in the eyes of the Lord. Let them reflect, that of those who seem diseased, there are many who are far from taking pleasure or flattering themselves in their faults, and who, ever and anon aroused by a serious fear of the Lord, aspire to greater integrity. Let them reflect, that they have no right to pass judgment on a man for one act, since the holiest sometimes make the most grievous fall. Let them reflect, that in the ministry of the word and participation of the sacraments, the power to collect the Church is too great to be deprived of all its efficacy, by the fault of some ungodly men. Lastly, let them reflect, that in estimating the Church, divine is of more force than human judgment. …
And not to dwell on special examples, all the promises of divine mercy extant in the Law and the Prophets are so many proofs that the Lord is ready to forgive the offences of his people. For why does Moses promise a future period, when the people who had fallen into rebellion should return to the Lord?
‘Then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee’ (Deut. 30:3). …
What shall we say to the fact, that occasionally whole churches have been implicated in the grossest sins, and yet Paul, instead of giving them over to destruction, rather mercifully extricated them? The defection of the Galatians was no trivial fault; the Corinthians were still less excusable, the iniquities prevailing among them being more numerous and not less heinous, yet neither are excluded from the mercy of the Lord. Nay, the very persons who had sinned above others in uncleanness and fornication are expressly invited to repentance. The covenant of the Lord remains, and ever will remain, inviolable, that covenant which he solemnly ratified with Christ the true Solomon, and his members, in these words: ‘If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him’ (Ps. 89:30-33). In short, by the very arrangement of the Creed, we are reminded that forgiveness of sins always resides in the Church of Christ, for after the Church is as it were constituted, forgiveness of sins is subjoined.” 

Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, 4.1.9,10,11,12,16,24,27

The Second Helvetic Confession
Chapter XVIII. Of The Ministers of The Church, Their Institution and Duties
The power of the office and of the minister. Then there is another power of an office or of ministry limited by him who has full and absolute power. And this is more like a service than a dominion.
The keys. For a lord gives up his power to the steward in his house, and for that cause gives him the keys, that he may admit into or exclude from the house those whom his lord will have admitted or excluded. In virtue of this power the minister, because of his office, does that which the Lord has commanded him to do; and the Lord confirms what he does, and wills that what his servant has done will be so regarded and acknowledges, as if he himself had done it. Undoubtedly, it is to this that these evangelical sentences refer: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Matt. 16:19). Again, ‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’ (John 20:23). But if the minister does not carry out everything as the Lord has commanded him, but transgresses the bounds of faith, then the Lord certainly makes void what he has done. Wherefore the ecclesiastical power of the ministers of the Church is that function whereby they indeed govern the Church of God, but yet so do all things in the Church as the Lord has prescribed in his Word. When those things are done, the faithful esteem them as done by the Lord himself. But mention has already been made of the keys above.” 

“There are foundational gifts. There are edificational gifts. The foundational gifts are the source, they’re the norm, they’re the pattern of the edificational gifts. That means, therefore, that the authority of edificational gifts is always that of a stewardship. It’s an authority that’s accountable to a higher authority. That’s what a stewardship is. And therefore, successful stewardship is measured by faithfulness to Christ and to the apostolic foundation. …
This is why it’s such an egregious and grave matter when we take to designing ministries at our own whim, to doing church our way, okay? Who do we think we are?” 

— Dr. Scott Swain, Teaching Elder, the Central Florida Presbytery, PCA, and President and James Woodrow Hassell Chair of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando, teaching ST519: Ecclesiology and Sacraments 

“The Westminster Confession affirms that when decisions are made at the local church level with respect to doctrine, behavior, or matters of discipline, there is a court of appeal. If a person is convicted of something in the civil realm, he has the right to appeal to a higher court. Similarly, decisions made in a local congregation can be appealed to a higher court (the presbytery), and then to the highest court (the general assembly). People who are directly involved in a dispute often become so subjective that it helps to have a higher court rule on it.” 

Truths We Confess: A Systematic Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, R.C. Sproul, p. 638 

“R. C. said the crucial element [in the nineteen Articles of Affirmation and Denial of the Chicago Statement] is the denial. You may recall that R. C. had acute antenna for ‘studied ambiguity.’ Statements can be taken to mean, or to allow for, different things by different readers. The denial portion puts boundaries on the interpretation. The denials preclude a certain latitude of interpretation.” 

R. C. Sproul: A Life, Stephen J. Nichols, p. 131


04/09/2017: The Saint Andrew’s Chapel teaching elders publish in their weekly worship bulletin that Geoffrey Durand has been excommunicated “for contumacy.” Durand is only one of multiple instances over the years of excommunications by these presbyters. As a congregant of a non-PCA church, Durand does not have standing to appeal his disciplinary ruling to his pastors’ Presbytery of membership. (He is one of only two people who openly dissented to TE Sproul’s unwarranted seizure of congregational rights on 12/06/2015. This may or may not be connected to his later censure.) The excommunicant eventually brings a complaint to Central Florida Presbytery, which he then escalates to the General Assembly. The Standing Judicial Commission dismisses the case. 

(Saint Andrew’s Chapel morning worship bulletin, Sunday, April 9, 2017

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by TE R.C. Sproul, et al. 

Primary standards: Exodus 20:7,16, Psalms 11:3, 24:3-4, 50:16-17,19-23, 76:11, Proverbs 20:25, Ecclesiastes 5:1-6, Isaiah 29:15-16, Jeremiah 21:12, 44:25-26, Zechariah 8:16, Malachi 1:6-14, 2:7, Matthew 7:12, Luke 19:14,27, Acts 20:27-28, Romans 2:1-3,17-21,23-24, I Corinthians 4:1-2, 5:12-13, II Corinthians 6:3-8, Ephesians 4:25, Colossians 3:9, I Timothy 5:19-25, Hebrews 12:15, James 1:22-25, 3:1,17-18, I Peter 5:1-4 

Secondary standards: WCF 15.6; 20.2,4; 22.1-6; 30.1; 31.1-3; WLC Q.99.6-8, 111-114, 130, 143-145, 151; WSC Q.14, 76-78; BCO Preface I, II.1-7, III; 1-1,-4,-5; 3-2,-3,-5,-6; 8-1,-2,-3; 13-7; 21-4.2-7; 27-1,-2,-3,-4,-5; 29-1; 30-4; 31-3,-4; 32-3; 36-6


06/04/2017: Replacing the regular Saint Andrew’s evening worship service, a special investiture service takes place in which TE Burk Parsons is installed as the next Senior Pastor to succeed TE Sproul. Sproul preaches a sermon from I Kings 19 about the prophet Elijah passing the mantle to Elisha. There is no pulpit committee, congregational nomination, nor vote connected to Parsons’ investiture, so his appointment resembles “patronage” and “presentation of bishops” which Calvin lamented. Moreover, it is incongruous with the Confessional Subscription/Ministerial Obligation. Though TE Parsons appears inconsistent with the replete principles of Presbyterianism in his BCO which he promised to uphold, he appears consistent with his 2007 remarks in his 9Marks article. Later, Stephen J. Nichols in his 2021 biography R. C. Sproul: A Life, recounts, 

“At Saint Andrew’s, R. C. and the elders made Burk Parsons copastor. Before he died, the session, with R. C.’s full blessing, had announced that at R. C.’s passing Dr. Parsons would be installed as the senior minister.” 

(R. C. Sproul: A Life, p. 270) 

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Saint Andrew’s Chapel “Co-pastors,” et al. 

Primary standards: Exodus 20:7,16, Psalms 11:3, 24:3-4, 76:11, 78:72, 95:20, Ecclesiastes 5:1-6, Isaiah 29:15-16, Jeremiah 44:25-26, Zechariah 8:16, Matthew 7:12, Luke 19:14,27, Acts 6:1-7, 20:27-28, Romans 2:1-3,17-21,23-24, I Corinthians 4:1-2, II Corinthians 6:3-8, Ephesians 4:25, Colossians 3:9, I Timothy 3:2,15, Titus 1:5-7, Hebrews 12:15, James 1:1,22-25, 3:17-18, I Peter 5:1-4 

Secondary standards: WLC Q.99.6-8; BCO Preface II.6,7; 3-1; 7-3; 8-1,-2,-3; 13-5,-7; 16-2; 20-2,-3,-4,-5,-6,-7; 21-4.f,-5.2,3,4,7,8; 22-2; 24-1,-2,-3,-4,-5; 25-1,-7


06/12-15/2017: The 45th PCA General Assembly continues recognizing a pattern of errors, oversights and incomplete records in requirements for Central Florida Presbytery’s licensure, examination and ordination process for teaching elders, especially with its out-of-bounds calls at non-PCA organizations. In its report, the GA Committee on Review of Presbytery Records approves Central Florida Presbytery’s records, “with exception of substance.” Among the many exceptions is, “TE laboring out of bounds without concurrence of Presbytery within whose bounds he labors … There are no minutes for Stated Meeting on November 11, 2014. The minutes move from the 152nd meeting to the 154th meeting. … No record is given for ministerial obligation forms being signed by TEs.” 

(Minutes of the Forty-Fifth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, pp. 374-375

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Central Florida Presbytery 

Secondary standards: BCO 13-7,-11; 40-1,-4; RAO 16-3,-4.c,-5,-10.b 

Tertiary standards: Central Florida Presbytery Standing Rules, Article IX


08/01/2017: The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly transmits a letter to Durand, who has continued seeking help with his censure at Saint Andrew’s, stating, “the Standing Judicial Commission of the General Assembly of the PCA has no jurisdiction regarding your case and cannot consider it. A member of an independent church has no appellate recourse.” The Stated Clerk’s letter contains no reference to the obligation of the Saint Andrew’s teaching elders toward their Presbyterian ordination vows, nor the many BCO statutes which require teaching elders to exercise the authority of ecclesiastical censures only within the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church appellate system. By all visible indications, the PCA at the highest level appears to accept its teaching elders excommunicating people from churches outside the denomination’s jurisdiction. 

(Letter from the GA Stated Clerk to Geoffrey Durand, August 1, 2017

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Standing Judicial Commission 

Primary standards: Psalm 11:3, Proverbs 31:8-9, Jeremiah 21:12, Lamentations 3:34-36, 5:14, Zechariah 1:2-6, 8:16, Malachi 2:7, Matthew 3:8, Acts 20:27-28, II Corinthians 6:3-8 

Secondary standards: WCF 1.10; 30.1; 31.1-3; WLC Q.99.6-8; WSC Q.14, 76-78; BCO Preface I, II.1-7; 1-1,-5; 3-2,-3,-5,-6; 11-4; 13-7; 14-6,a,b,c,g,k; RAO 15-5.b; 17-1.4; OMSJC 2.1; 16.1 


12/14/2017: TE R.C. Sproul passes away, closing just more than two decades laboring out of bounds as the founding pastor and senior minister (later, “co-pastor”) of Saint Andrew’s Chapel. 


04/16/2018: Five former members of Saint Andrew’s’ Senior Pastor’s “discipleship group” bring charges of alleged abuse to Central Florida Presbytery, styled a “complaint,” bringing investigation of this PCA teaching elder. Benyola was not in the discipleship group and was never involved. 


04/19/2018: In an interview, Stephen Nichols refers to R.C. Sproul as the founding pastor of Saint Andrew’s, and Sproul assents without objection. 

R.C. Sproul and Warfield’s Perfectionism
On this episode of Open Book, Stephen Nichols and R.C. Sproul discuss a book peddler, the ‘second gift,’ and two people who claimed they never sinned.
… Up at the top it reads, ‘Saint Andrew’s Men’s Ministry,’ and it sketches out the intentions for the church that you founded and copastor, for a men’s ministry at Saint Andrew’s Chapel. In case you lost it, we found it for you.
R.C. SPROUL: We wrote that up almost twenty years ago.”

According to R. C. Sproul: A Life, “Stephen J. Nichols (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries.” An esteemed and qualified scholar, Nichols also is a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow, a member of Saint Andrew’s Chapel, and Sproul’s 2021 biographer; so there would not seem to be any more credible source available to remark on Sproul’s role in the genesis of Saint Andrew’s with Sproul’s immediate assent. 

( (PNG))


05/04/2018: Durand, excommunicated by the Saint Andrew’s teaching elders and seeking redress, publishes a blog linking to all the complaints and correspondence he has exchanged with Central Florida Presbytery and the General Assembly. Benyola has never been in contact with Durand. 



06/12-15/2018: The 46th PCA General Assembly continues noticing a pattern of many errors, oversights and incomplete records in requirements for Central Florida Presbytery’s licensure, examination and ordination process for teaching elders, especially with its out-of-bounds calls at non-PCA organizations. In its report, the GA Committee on Review of Presbytery Records approves Central Florida Presbytery’s records, “with exception of substance.” 

Presbytery at last responds to exceptions from the GA on errors and omissions from 2016. One exception, “TE laboring out of bounds, without concurrence of Presbytery within whose bounds he labors,” is answered, “The Presbytery agrees with the exception as the information was recorded in the minutes. However, the work of the TE was not made clear to the stated clerk.” 

Is it haphazard for Central Florida to allow men to possess the PCA’s ministerial credentials out of bounds without understanding what they are doing and what their out-of-bounds work entails? 

One has to wonder if any of the events at Saint Andrew’s in recent years, such as the teaching elders’ seizure of congregational voting rights, their excommunication of church members who have no appeal rights, or the investiture of the Senior Pastor without any congregational vote, are mentioned by any of the TEs in their annual reports that should be in Central Florida’s records. 

(Minutes of the Forty-Sixth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, pp. 370-379

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Central Florida Presbytery 

Secondary standards: BCO 13-11; 20-1; 21-1; 40-1,-4; RAO 16-3,-4.c,-5 


06/19/2018: After further correspondence, the Stated Clerk (emeritus) of the General Assembly transmits a response to Durand repeating that Durand cannot access the appellate system, and “Regarding your requesting investigations of the PCA ministers who serve St. Andrew’s Chapel, you should address your inquiries to Stated Clerk Central Florida Presbytery … In the event the Presbytery does not indict and try the ministers, you have no further recourse.” Again, there is no reference to the pastors’ Presbyterian ordination vows nor the PCA governing documents’ limitation of infliction of ecclesiastical censures only within the Presbyterian Church. The PCA at the highest level easily informs a former Saint Andrew’s member that he does not have standing to appeal his discipline inflicted and publicly announced by the PCA’s very own teaching elders, yet it does not seem relevant to mention the predicament of people coming under the same Presbyterian ministers’ disciplinary rule without being afforded any of the fundamental, irrefragable Presbyterian rights that their ministers themselves would have, were they the ones to be censured. 

(Letter from the GA Stated Clerk to Geoffrey Durand, June 19, 2018

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Standing Judicial Commission 

Primary standards: Psalm 11:3, Proverbs 31:8-9, Jeremiah 21:12, Lamentations 3:34-36, 5:14, Zechariah 8:16, Malachi 2:7, Matthew 3:8, Acts 20:27-28, II Corinthians 6:3-8, James 1:22-25, 3:17-18 

Secondary standards: WCF 30.1; 31.1-3; WLC Q.99.6-8; BCO Preface I, II.1-7; 1-1,-5; 3-2,-3,-5,-6; 11-4; 13-7; 14-6,a,b,c,g,k; OMSJC 2.1; 16.2; 17-1.4


02/07/2019: The Standing Judicial Commission rules to dismiss Case 2018-03, the Complaint of Geoffrey Durand vs. Central Florida Presbytery. 

(Minutes of the Forty-Seventh General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, p. 575

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Standing Judicial Commission 

Primary standards: Psalm 11:3, Proverbs 31:8-9, Lamentations 3:34-36, 5:14, Zechariah 1:2-6, 8:16, Malachi 2:7, Acts 20:27-28, II Corinthians 6:3-8 

Secondary standards: WCF 1.10; 30.1; 31.1-3; WLC Q.99.6-8; WSC Q.14, 76-78; BCO Preface I, II.1-7; 1-1,-5; 3-2,-3,-5,-6; 11-4; 13-7; 14-6,a,b,c,g,k; RAO 15-5.b; 17-1.4; OMSJC 2.1; 16.1


The Westminster Confession of Faith 

Chapter 31: Of Synods and Councils

1. For the better government, and further edification of the church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils: and it belongeth to the overseers and other rulers of the particular churches, by virtue of their office, and the power which Christ hath given them for edification and not for destruction, to appoint such assemblies; and to convene together in them, as often as they shall judge it expedient for the good of the church.

“Jesus Christ our Mediator has laid down in his Word a pattern of Presbytery, and of one Presbyterial government in common over several single Congregations in one Church, for a rule to his Church in all later ages.” 

Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici, or The Divine Right of Church-Government, originally asserted by the Ministers of Sion College, London, December, 1646, repr., rev. and ed., David Hall, p. 200 

An Advertisement to the Pious and Judicious Reader
“In the Independent government … All censures and acts of government are dispensed in single congregations ultimately, independently, without all liberty of appeal from them to any superior church assembly; so the parties grieved are left without remedy. …
In the Presbyterial government … All censures and acts of government are dispensed in congregational presbyteries subordinately, dependently, with liberty of appeal in all cases to presbyterial or synodal assemblies; where parties grieved have sufficient remedy.” 

Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici, Naphtali Press and Reformation Heritage Books, p. 48 

Part One: Of the Nature of Divine Right
Chapter Three. Of the nature of a jus divinum, a divine right in particular.
“Consequently, in the present case of church government, that which is agreeable to the true light of nature must necessarily be confessed to be jure divino. Though light of nature is but dim, yet it will lend some help in this particular. For example, light of nature teaches … That in every ill-administration in inferior societies, the parties grieved should have liberty to appeal from them to superior societies, that equity may take place. And why not from inferior to superior church assemblies?” 

— ibid., p. 62 

“Notice that this power of order is a joint power. Were elders individually, or severally, to exercise this power, chaos would ensue in the church. To preserve good order in the worship and government of the church, it is elders only acting in church courts who must exercise this power. …
The work of discipline is what we have termed an exercise of the ‘joint’ power that belongs to the eldership. In other words, elders cannot individually administer discipline. It is a work that belongs to the elders assembled in the courts of the church. This point is certainly in view in Matthew 18:15-20.” 

— How Jesus Runs the Church, Guy Prentiss Waters, pp. 72, 75 

“Thus the youngest and humblest member of the Presbyterian Church enjoys the inalienable privilege of having his case finally adjudicated by the whole Church.” 

— Presbyterians and the Revolution, the Rev. W.P. Breed, D.D., p. 33 

Chapter 4. Courts of the church. 

Section 2. Of the church session. 

160. How are matters to be brought up before the session for its judgment upon them?
Either by an elder, or by any member of the church presenting a memorial, or bringing a complaint, or making charges.
161. Is there any appeal from the judgment of the session, by a party supposing himself aggrieved?
Yes; there is an appeal from the session to the presbytery.
(Acts 15:6, Matthew 18:15-20, I Corinthians 14:33)

Section 6. Of the Presbytery — concluded. 

185. Is there any appeal from the decision of the presbytery?
Yes; an appeal can be taken from the decision of the presbytery to the synod. 

Section 8. Of the synod. 

193. Is there any appeal from the judgment of the synod?
Yes; there is an appeal to the general assembly, the greatest and highest court of the church. 

Chapter 5. Power of the church 

Section 6. Of the third division of the power of the church, or the power of discipline. 

257. By what means is the character of the church, as a society of professing Christians, to be preserved?
By faithful exercise of a scriptural discipline, in enforcing the observance of her laws, and by censure and excommunication.
(I Corinthians 5:7)
258. Why is this exercise of discipline necessary to the purity and peace of the church?
Because offenses will frequently arise from unregenerate professors, and from the remaining corruptions of those who are truly pious.
(Matthew 18:7, Revelation 2:14)
259. Who are to exercise this discipline?
The officers of the church.
(Matthew 16:19, 18:15-18, 28:19, Acts 14:23)
260. How far does this power of church officers extend?
It is their responsibility to judge who may be admitted to the church; to inspect their conduct when received; and to censure and expel such as prove to be unworthy.
(II Timothy 4:2, Titus 2:15, I Corinthians 5:12, Hebrews 13:17) 

Section 7. Of admission to, and exclusion from, the church.

270. Are any censures of the church to be made public?
Yes; when the offenses are of such magnitude and publicity as to bring scandal upon the church.
(II Corinthians 2:6, I Timothy 5:20)
271. Is the church injured by the neglect of discipline?
Yes; for thereby godly persons will be deterred from entering it; the anger of God provoked; and Christ’s name dishonored.
(I Corinthians 5:11, 10:20, Revelation 18:4, Jeremiah 7:11, II Samuel 12:14, Romans 2:24, Ephesians 4:30)
272. May a church, by the utter neglect of discipline, cease to be a true and living church of Christ?
Yes, this has happened.
(Revelation 2:9, 3:9, 16)
273. On the other hand, are there many and great benefits arising from the exercise of strict and faithful discipline?
274. What benefits may arise to the offender from the exercise of discipline?
By this he sees sin to be evil and shameful; and if he receive the censure in a proper spirit, it has a powerful tendency to humble, reclaim and edify him.
(II Corinthians 7:9-10, II Thessalonians 3:4)
275. What benefits arise to the church from the faithful exercise of discipline?
By it, sinners are discouraged from hypocritically joining the church, and the leaven which might infect the whole lump is purged out; the number of her true converts is increased, her holiness is manifested; the honor of the Head is vindicated; and God’s gracious presence and blessing secured.
(I Corinthians 5:7, Acts 5:11-14, 16:4-5, John 2:16, Ezekiel 36:23, II Corinthians 6:17-18)
277. Are the rulers of the church deeply responsible for the right exercise of discipline?
They who hold office by appointment from Christ, whose faithfulness will be followed by so many and great blessings, whose negligence must be the source of such deep and lasting injuries to the church, dishonor to Christ, and evil to sinners; should feel themselves under a most solemn responsibility in this matter, and must expect to be called to a most strict account at the day of judgment, for the part which they act in relation to it.
(I Peter 5:4, Hebrews 13:17)
278. How may each member of the church fully understand all its rules, and order of discipline?
By studying the Form of Government and Book of Discipline attached to the Confession of our Faith and which every member of our church should possess. 

Chapter 6. Fellowship of the church. 

Section 2. Of the duties of church members. 

286. What duties do members of the church owe to the church itself?
They are bound to support it; to take a deep and active interest in all its concerns; to seek its prosperity by all lawful means; and cordially to submit to its discipline.
(I Corinthians 16:2) 

Chapter 7. Relation of the Presbyterian Church to other denominations and to the world. 

Section 5. The advantages and claims of the Presbyterian church. 

326. Name some of the further advantages possessed by members of the Presbyterian church?
They possess the right of choosing their own pastors and elders; they are neither subject to the spiritual despotism of a priesthood, nor to anarchy and misrule; they can bring any matter, — whether it be unfaithfulness in ministers or elders, or in the other officers and members of the church, or errors in doctrine, — before the church courts, composed of an equal proportion of clergymen and of representatives of the people, chosen by themselves, for investigation and decision; and they have the privilege and power, when their rights as citizens of Zion are assailed, of appealing from one church court to another. 

Section 6. Of the relation of the Presbyterian church to the world. 

336. Why, then, is it the especial and imperative duty of the Presbyterian church, and of every member of it, to engage with all their powers in the great work of spreading the Gospel throughout the earth?
Since it is thus the great end and duty of the church to act as a missionary association, this also must be the great end and duty of the Presbyterian church, as a branch of the Catholic church; and since the purest form of Christianity, which derives all its doctrines, polity, and worship from the pure word of God, to labor earnestly for its extension to the ends of the earth. 

An Ecclesiastical Catechism of the Presbyterian Church, Thomas Smyth, 1843 

Part II. Power of the Church
Chapter II. The Rule or Law of Church Power
“III. In what light are the office-bearers of the Church to be regarded, in accordance with the doctrine that the Bible, and the Bible only, is the rule of Church power?
The answer to this question is equally plain and obvious as in the former case. They are ministerial and subordinate, having no authority or discretion of their own, and being merely ministers or servants to carry out the will and execute the appointments of Christ. They are not masters to do their own will, or act at their own discretion, but servants, held bound to submit to the will and carry out the instructions of another. There is a magisterial and supreme authority in the Church; and there is a derived and subordinate authority, accountable to the former. The one belongs to Christ as Head of His Church, the only law or limit of His authority being His own will; the other belongs to the Church, or the office-bearers of the Church, the law or limit of their authority being the power intrusted to them by their Master, and the instructions given to them by Him. In reference to the office-bearers of the Church, of whatsoever place or authority in it, they, if they keep within their office, are but the instruments in the hands of Christ Himself, acting in His name, ruling by His authority, and carrying into effect no more than His instructions. It is true here, as in other respects, that ‘the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.’ Their office is wholly ministerial; their authority is wholly derived and subordinate. They are not ‘lords over God’s heritage,’ licensed to act according to their discretion or caprice, and independently of any authority but their own. They are not free to administer word, or ordinance, or authority, as from themselves, and independently of the Head that is over them. In all their duties and functions they act only for Christ, and therefore must keep within the strict limits of His commission. The rights and privileges of Christ’s Church are protected from the caprice and arbitrary encroachment of the office-bearers, by the restraint of Christ’s express authority over them; and underneath His crown, and sheltered by it, is found the liberty wherewith Christ has made his people free. The functions of the office-bearers of the Church are ministerial, not lordly.
IV. In what light are the decisions of the Church or its Courts to be regarded, in consistency with the great principle that the Bible, and the Bible only, is the rule of Church power?
We have seen that the laws of the Church, in so far as they can be regarded as valid, are declaratory and not enactive. We have seen that the function of the office-bearers of the Church is ministerial, and not lordly. And now, when the office-bearers, in the lawful administration of their office, proceed to apply the laws of Christ to any particular case, as the circumstances or emergency may demand, and when, acting not for themselves, but for Christ, they pronounce a judicial decision,—in what light is that judgment to be regarded, and to what extent, and in what manner, is it binding upon the conscience? Here, too, the answer is not far to seek or difficult to find, determined as it must be by a reference to the great and fundamental principle that the mind of Christ, revealed and expressed in the Bible, is both the rule and the limit of Church power. If the judgment or decision pronounced in the lawful exercise of their authority by the Church or its office-bearers be in accordance with the principles of the Word of God, that decision was before pronounced in heaven; and it is both valid and binding upon the conscience, not only because it is consistent with God’s Word, but also because it is a decision lawfully pronounced by a lawful tribunal appointed by Christ for the purpose. ‘Verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ (Matt. 18:15-18) But, on the contrary, if the judgment pronounced by the Church or its office-bearers, although in the lawful exercise of their office, be itself unlawful, if it be inconsistent with the mind of Christ as expressed in His Word, then the decision is itself invalid, and the authority by which it was pronounced does not make it binding on the conscience. No judgment of any Church whatsoever can bind the conscience, except in so far as, and no further than, it is grounded upon the Word of God. And in the case of the last resort, when remonstrance and argument and persuasion have failed to induce the Church to reconsider or reverse its own decision, as incompetently or invalidly given, there is yet one remedy, and an ultimate one, reserved to the member against whom the decision is pronounced: he may transfer the case for judgment to a higher tribunal, and for relief and freedom to his own conscience may take appeal from the act of the Church of Christ on earth to the judgment of Christ Himself in heaven. Under the solemn protection of an appeal so taken, his conscience shall be free, and the sin shall not be on him, but on his judges. The acts of the Church are binding and valid only in so far as they are ratified by Christ, and in accordance with His Word.” 

The Church of Christ, James Bannerman, pp. 229-231 

Part II. Power of the Church
Chapter IV. The Extent and Limits of Church Power
“When church power is employed ministerially to declare the truth of God in a question of faith, or ministerially to judge in a question of government or discipline, the declaration of doctrine and the decision of law are to be received and submitted to on two grounds: first, and chiefly, because they are agreeable to the Word of God; but second, and in a subordinate sense, because they are emitted by the Church, as an ordinance of God instituted for that very purpose. And what is true, as intimated in the Confession, in regard to the exercise of Church power in matters of faith, or government, or discipline, is true also of Church power in any of its other exercises,—as, for example, in regard to the administration of the Sacraments in the Christian Church. … The exercise of Church power, when in accordance with the Word of God, will have a blessing more and better than the exercise of a merely human power when in accordance with that Word; just because the one is of God, and the other of man. The use of Church authority, when agreeable to the Scriptures, will have in it a power more and better than human authority when agreeable to the Scripture; just because the one is Divine and the other is not. In fine, the power of the Church is one of authority and not only of advice, when employed in the administration of government; because it is Christ’s ordinance for rule. The power of the Church is a power of blessing, and not a power without a blessing, when employed in the dispensation of ordinance and Sacrament; because it is Christ’s appointed channel to bless. The power of the Church is one judicial, and not extrajudicial, when employed in the execution of discipline; because it is Christ’s ordinance on earth to bind or to loose. To this extent the power of the Church unquestionably goes, being ‘an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word.’ …
There can be no such thing in the discipline of the Church as a judicial act sufficient to bind or loose; for discipline in its highest form, as excommunication, can be no more than is the exclusion of a member by any private or voluntary society. Under such a system there would be laws without authority, ordinances without grace, and discipline without judgment. It is not necessary to delay to deal with such a theory of the Church and of Church power as this. It is plainly founded on the doctrine, which has already been considered and found wanting, that the Church is no more than a private and voluntary society, and that its prerogatives and privileges are derived from the delegation and consent of its members. If the Church be of God, it has powers and prerogatives, not its own, but His. If the Church be His ordinance for administering doctrine, government, Sacrament, and discipline on earth, the power of the Church must be something more and higher than merely human power, or human permission.” 

— ibid., pp. 249-251 

Part II. Power of the Church
Chapter V. The End and Design of Church Power
“We have now brought to a close our discussion of the extent and limits of Church power: its extent, as maintained against the views of those who deny its reality, either ascribing to it a human origin, or unduly restricting it, like the Independents; its limits, as maintained against the system of the Popish and semi-Popish worshippers of Church authority. There is a reality in Church power, and there is a certain extent assigned to it in its administration and exercise of authority: it is not a mere name or a nullity. But, on the other hand, while its authority and its exercise are real, and not merely nominal, there are definite limits prescribed to it, beyond which it cannot pass: it is checked and restrained by fixed and definite principles. Church power is a real and effective element in the ecclesiastical system; but it is an element like some of those forces, both in the moral and material world, which are balanced and modified in their working by other and counteracting forces. The harmony of the system is maintained, not by ignoring the existence of Church authority, or denying its extent, but by the operation of those opposite and counterbalancing principles in the ecclesiastical body, which modify its direction and limit its force.” 

— ibid., pp. 263 

Part II. Power of the Church
Chapter V. The End and Design of Church Power
“As regards the world at large, the aim of Church power, and the end to be accomplished by it, are not direct, but indirect.
The power conferred on the Church by its Divine Head was bestowed, in the first instance, for the use and benefit of the Church itself, and can have only an indirect bearing on the world at large. It is limited in its object—at least primarily—to certain ends to be accomplished in regard to the Christian society; and does not, except as a secondary object, contemplate results to be attained beyond the limits of the society. This seems to be fairly implied in the general principle laid down by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Church at Corinth, when instructing that Church to exercise its power of discipline in excluding from its membership the incestuous person found within its pale. ‘But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth.’ There is a general principle here laid down by the apostle in regard to Church power, drawing a line of marked distinction between those within the Church and the world without. In regard to those within the Church, the power of the Church was intended to take effect; so that with an offender who is called a brother, the Corinthians were not to keep company, not so much as to eat. In regard to those without the Church, or the world at large, Church power was not intended to take effect; so that in regard to an offender, not a brother, but belonging to the world at large, no such restrictions were to be imposed or observed, and the Corinthians were not called to separate themselves in the same manner from him. In short, because a brother, and within the Church, it was necessary to deal with an offender by the authority of the Church; while it was not necessary so to deal with one equally an offender, but belonging to the world at large. And what is true, as intimated by the apostle, in the case of the exercise of Church power in the way of discipline, is true also generally of the exercise of Church power in any of its departments. The power of the Church of Christ is intended primarily for those that are within, not for those that are without: it bears only indirectly upon the world at large.” 

— ibid., pp. 264-265 

Part III. Matters in Regard to Which Church Power is Exercised
Division III. Church Power Exercised in Regard to Discipline
Chapter I. Nature, Design, and Limits of the Discipline of the Christian Church
“… that exercise of church authority which respects discipline, may be held to be directed to two grand objects, which are essentially necessary for the order and well-being of the Christian society. In the first place, its aim is to carry into effect the institutions of Christ in regard to the admission and exclusion of members in connection with the Christian society. There are certain principles laid down in His Word which sufficiently indicate the terms of membership which Christ has enacted for His Church, and the character and qualifications of those entitled to be received into the Christian society, or to remain in it as its members. And the first object which that particular branch of Christian authority which respects discipline contemplates, is to execute the laws of Christ in the admission to Church membership of those entitled to the privilege, and in the exclusion of those who are not. In the second place, its aim is to carry into effect the instructions of Christ in regard to those who belong to the Church as its members, in the way of securing their obedience to His laws, and of promoting their spiritual edification. There are certain laws which Christ has appointed, not only for the admission and exclusion of members, but also for the regulation of the conduct of those within the Church,—prescribing to them the duties to be done, and the order to be observed by them, as members of the Christian society. And, accordingly, the second object which this branch of Church power contemplates is to promote and secure both the obedience and the edification of the members of the Church, by the restraints of ecclesiastical authority imposed upon them; by the inflictions of the penalties of censure and rebuke, and deprivation of the privileges of the society, when these have been merited; and by the operation of a system of spiritual rewards and punishments, calculated to promote the order and profit of the Christian community. Speaking generally, these are the two grand aims of that exercise of spiritual authority in the Church which relates to discipline. It provides for the execution of the laws of Christ as these have been revealed in connection with, first, the admission of parties into, or their exclusion from, the Christian society; and second, the obedience and edification of Church members.
Such being the general nature and design of that power of discipline claimed by the Church, the question that meets us at the outset of the discussion is, as to the ground on which this claim rests. It will not be difficult to show that the right to exercise such a power is one that belongs to the Christian Church, both by the law of nature, as evinced by reason, and by the law of Christ, as revealed in His Word.
I. The power to regulate the matter of the admission and the exclusion of members, as well as their conduct while they continue members of that society, belongs to the Church by the light of nature itself. It is an inherent right vested in every voluntary association of whatever nature it may be, and necessary to its existence and well-being as an orderly society.
The very conditions necessary to the subsistence of an organized body of men, and the order implied in combined operations, obviously require that they shall agree on some fixed principles both of union and action,—a compliance with which forms the terms of their admission into and continuance in the society as members, and departure from which must entail the forfeiture of the privileges of membership. No society created for a common end, and requiring a common action, could possibly subsist upon the principle of being compelled to admit, or to continue to regard as its members, those who transgressed its regulations, or set themselves in opposition to the ends for which it is established. There must be in every voluntary association a right to impose its own laws on its members,—a power to refuse admission to such as give no guarantee for their conformity with the rules and ends of the society,—and, when no other remedy is sufficient, authority to deprive of its privileges and expel from its fellowship those who perseveringly and systematically depart from the order and obligations of the institution. If a society be a lawful association at all, it must have this right to exercise the power of order and authority over its members which is necessary to the very ends for which it is instituted.
The existence of the right as belonging to the Church, in common with every other lawful society of men, is clearly demonstrated from the light of nature itself.
And from the same source it is not difficult to gather a proof, not only of the justice of such a claim, on the part of the Christian society, but also of the limits that are justly appointed to the right. In regulating the order of the society and the conduct of the members, and in exercising the right of admission and expulsion in conformity with its fixed principles, there are two limitations plainly set to the power so used. First, no society has a right of this kind beyond the circle of its own members, or of those who have voluntarily come under the rules and obligations of the society. The right of order and authority exercised by it does not extend to those beyond the association. And second, in enforcing its regulations even upon its own members, it can award, in the case of transgressions, no other kind or amount of penalty than the deprivation of some or all of the rights or advantages which the society itself has conferred. When it has deprived the offender of the privileges he enjoyed in communion with the society, and expelled him from its membership, it has exhausted all its rightful authority and its legitimate power in the way of punishment. And these two limitations, which are plainly set to the powers of any voluntary society over its members, restrict also the exercise by the Christian Church of its powers of discipline. By the very law of nature, applicable to the Christian society as well as any other, it may lawfully assert a right to regulate the admission and expulsion of its members, and their conduct while they continue members within it. But first, the Church has no power of discipline or authority over those who have not sought or adopted its communion; and second, the Church has no penalties in its storehouse of authority beyond the forfeiture it may award to offenders of the privileges which they have received from its communion. And when the sentence of expulsion from these is pronounced, in the case of the last extremity, its authority is then and there exhausted and at an end.” 

— ibid., pp. 704-706 

Application of the Test to Independency
“In the apostolic church there was the privilege of appeal to the assembly of elders. Among the Independents nothing of this kind can exist. The distinctive principle of their system precludes all appeal. The decision of the pastor, and deacons, and people, assembled in a church-meeting, is final in every case. No matter how partial or unjust their decision is felt to be, there is no power of bringing the sentence under review of a less prejudiced and more enlightened tribunal. The judgment of the Church may be in strict accordance with justice, or it may be the offspring of prejudice or malevolence in a few of the leaders of the meeting, masked, of course, under zeal for purity of communion, and for the cause of religion; but, no matter how superficial the investigation, or how deep the wrong, the system deprives the injured man of the privilege of appeal, and clothes the perpetrators with irresponsible power. By denying and repudiating all association, it enables the rulers to be, if they please, the tyrants of the church, and strips the injured of the possibility of redress.
‘Independency,’ says Dr. Wardlaw, ‘is the competency of every distinct Church to manage, without appeal, its own affairs’ (Dr. Wardlaw’s Congregational Independency, p. 232, Glasgow, 1848). This is an ingenious mode of disguising the most repulsive feature of the system. Very few would deny that a Church is competent to manage its own affairs in such a way as to obviate the necessity of appeal; but what we assert is, that, when the Church lacks the necessary wisdom and discretion to do so, appeal among Independents is not permitted, the injured is deprived of redress, and power, for which the possessor is irresponsible to man, degenerates into tyranny when it is unwisely exercised, and there is nothing to keep it in check.” 

The Apostolic Church Which Is It?, Thomas Witherow, 1855

“The entirety of Calvin’s ministry was established fundamentally on the Word of God. In accordance with the Reformation credo ad fontes, ‘to the sources’ (particularly to the only infallible source), Calvin’s Institutes was a summary of the Christian religion according to Scripture. … Through the years, as I have spoken with fellow Reformed pastors throughout the world, I have often sensed their grief over the multitudes of so-called Calvinists who may have worked out some of the doctrinal difficulties of one point or another but have not even begun to grasp all the magnificent nuances of Calvin’s Calvinism. Such Calvinism is engendered and shaped by Scripture alone—and that makes it a Calvinism that begins with God, teaches us about God, and directs our hearts and minds back to God according to the way He deserves, demands, and delights in our worship of Him and our obedience to Him. This is the threefold foundation of Calvin’s Calvinism: devotion, doctrine, and doxology—the heart’s devotion to the biblical God, the mind’s pursuit of the biblical doctrine of God, and the entire being’s surrender to doxology. …
A true Calvinist is one who strives to think as Calvin thought and live as Calvin lived—insofar as Calvin thought and lived as our Lord Jesus Christ, in accordance with the Word of God.” 

John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology, Chapter 1: “The Humility of Calvin’s Calvinism,” Burk Parsons, pp. 5-6 

“The end of discipline is to secure conformity on the part of the members and ministers to the terms of Christian and ministerial communion. And as our church does not pretend to demand perfection of Christian character and conduct of church-fellowship, nor perfect knowledge or entire freedom from error, as a condition of ministerial fellowship, so every shortcoming from the standard of perfection in either case, is not to be regarded as an offence. Nothing is an offence, but what, if persisted in, would justify either suspension from the privileges of the church, or from the office of ministry. The importance of this distinction between a sin and an offence, will be at once perceived. No minister or church member would ever be safe from prosecution, and no judicatory could ever know whether they are called upon to prosecute or not, if every sin were an offense, or a just ground of judicial process. Minor evils are to be corrected by admonition, instruction, and the ministry of the word. It is only these evils in the faith or practice of a church member which would bring disgrace or scandal on the church, as tolerating what the Bible declares to be incompatible with Christian character, which can be a ground of process. Such is not only the theory but the practice of the church. We never hear of any professing Christian being arraigned and put on trial, unless for some immorality, or some such denial of the truth, or such neglect of his duty as a professor of the religion of the Lord Jesus, as affords good ground for calling the sanctity of that profession into question.” 

The Revised Book of Discipline, Chapter I, paragraph 2, p. 697 

“In order for a member or officer of the PCA to be charged and tried there must either be an allegation of a chargeable offense or a charge is filed (BCO 31-2; 32-2). Errors of judgment and relational failures may or may not rise to the level of a chargeable offense. ‘Chargeable offenses’ (BCO 29-1 through 4), are ‘violations of divine law,’ or doctrines or practices contrary to the Word of God, or the Constitution of the Church. The Constitution of the Church is The Book of Church Order, The Westminster Confession of Faith, and The Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms.” 

— “Chargeable Offenses: BCO 29,” L. Roy Taylor 

“When the sixteenth-century pastor John Calvin wrote an all-encompassing systematic theology of the Christian faith, he titled his work, in Latin, Institutio Christianae Religionis, which can be translated Institutes of Christian Religion, or Institutes of Christian Piety. For Calvin a man’s doctrine is the foundation of his entire religion, and a man’s religion is not isolated to one segment of his life but has implications for all of life. We cannot restrict our doctrine as many attempt to do. Rather, our doctrine will, by its very nature, branch out into every sphere of Christian piety and practice. In other words, a man’s doctrine is a man’s life. What we believe inescapably influences what we think, what we do, and even our motives of why and how we think it and do it.” 

Why Do We Have Creeds? Basics of the Faith Series, Burk Parsons, p. 11 

“However, when we say our belief about God affects everything, we are not only referring to our beliefs about God’s attributes but our beliefs about all of God’s revelation to us in his holy Word, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which are the foundation and fountain of our entire religion. …
Our belief about God informs every other belief. And while God has revealed himself generally in creation, it is only what God has revealed specially to us in his Word that guides us finally and infallibly—without error. God gave us himself and everything that comes with knowing him, which entails knowledge of ourselves and others, of sin and salvation, of life and death, of Satan and our Savior. His Word is our only infallible guide, and from it we obtain true and saving knowledge about our all-encompassing religion. As such, it is from God’s Word alone that we derive the doctrine that informs us and that, in turn, must inform our creeds. …
As he indwells us, the Holy Spirit teaches us through the very means that he himself has not only permitted, but through the means of men he has called and gifted for the church today, namely, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11). In his sovereign wisdom God has not only given us his truth by his grace, but he has given us the means to learn his truth as we, by his grace, strive to believe, confess, and proclaim his truth fully and entirely. Paul describes this in Ephesians 4, making perhaps the most poignant biblical case for the necessity of creeds. … What Paul explains to the growing, world-advancing church at Ephesus is precisely what Jesus teaches in the Great Commission as he commends to us an all-encompassing faith and life that is consumed with learning to ‘observe’ all that Jesus commanded us as his disciples at his feet and disciple makers to the nations. Simply put, to observe all Jesus’ teaching we must believe, confess, and proclaim his truth in all our doctrine, piety, and practice, not as ‘children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine’ but as mature disciples of Jesus Christ standing firm on the doctrine of Scripture. In order to do this we must strive to learn and remember the entirety of the doctrine of Scripture that Jesus himself affirmed, confessed, and proclaimed. As sinful creatures, the best way we know to do this is to search Scripture as the Bereans did (Acts 17), collectively affirm what Scripture teaches as the council at Jerusalem did (Acts 15), and declare it and disseminate it in every way possible as the apostles did (Acts 15:22-34), using a format by which we can more easily learn and remember, just like Paul did wherever he went (Acts 15:30; 19:8; 26:23). …
So whether we have in mind the only inspired and infallible creedal formulations in Scripture itself or the uninspired and fallible creedal formulations such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the London Baptist Confession of Faith, the Three Forms of Unity of the Dutch Reformed churches consisting of the Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dordt, and Second Belgic Confession, or the confessional standards to which I heartily subscribe, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, it is crucial that we understand the church’s God-given duty to be a faithful steward and guardian of the one and only faith delivered to the saints in order to provide the church of all generations with carefully worded, concise summaries of the doctrine of Scripture.” 

— ibid., pp. 14-15, 26-29