In the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Book of Order, the questions for ordination and installation of church officers refer to Scripture several times. Since, “in each case, the Scripture is elevated to an authoritative status” a presbytery has overtured the 221st General Assembly to change the denomination’s constitution to require church councils to be “obedient to Scripture and guided by the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”
Overture 001 from East Tennessee Presbytery states that in the constitutional questions, Scripture is elevated to an authoritative status. “Twice it is called ‘authoritative,’ once it is placed above the confessions, and finally, all things pertaining to the church are ‘subject’ to it.”
Therefore, the overture would change G-2.0104b to read (Text to be deleted is shown with a strike-through; text to be inserted is shown as italics):
“b. Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (F-1.02). The council responsible for ordination and/or installation (G-2.0402; G-2.0607; G-3.0306) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of ordained ministry. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Councils shall be guided by obedient to Scripture and guided by the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”
The reason behind the overture is that the current paragraph in the Book of Order “implies that Scripture is merely equal to the confessions and has no binding authority in the life of an ordained person or in a council of the church. The new language clearly recognizes the authority of Scripture and conforms to the language of the constitutional questions in the ordination process.”
Since the overture is seeking to amend the denomination’s constitution, if approved by the assembly, it will then be sent to the PCUSA’s presbyteries for ratification. A majority of the presbyteries must vote in favor of the amendment for the Book of Order to be changed.