Adopting Act of Westminster Confession
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After the formation of the first American presbytery in 1707, the nascent denomination subsequently formed its first synod in 1716 by splitting into four distinct presbyteries. That division raised the issue of ordination standards. Each presbytery wanted assurance that the others would ordain only theologically orthodox ministers. In 1729, the Westminster Confession of Faith, formulated in England in 1646, was adopted by the synod as the official standard of doctrine, practice, and ordination.

However, many Presbyterians were leery about granting too much authority to the synod at the expense of presbytery autonomy. Thus, the adopting act compromised by giving presbyteries the right to exempt ministers from affirming individual articles "not essential and necessary in doctrine." The tension between a uniform standard and an exemption right remained an issue going forward. Later, the controversy over denominational control broke into open disputation again with the Synod of 1737 and Gilbert Tennent's sermon condemning "The Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry."
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Westminster Confession, title page- Internet Archive
Book/Journal Source(s)
Hart, D.G. and John R. Muether, 2007. Seeking a Better Country: 300 Years of American Presbyterianism. P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ.
Web Page Contributor
Paul Matzko
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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