In 1788 the PCUSA adopted the following as Chapter 23 § 3.

Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and Sacraments;a or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven;b or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith.c Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger.d And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief.e It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.f

a. 2 Chron 26:18. • b. Mat 16:19; 1 Cor 4:1-2. • c. John 18:36; Mal 2:7; Acts 5:29. • d. Isa 49:23. • e. Psa 105:15; Acts 18:14-16. • f. 2 Sam 23:3; 1 Tim 2:1; Rom 13:4.

And so it stood in the Confession as adopted by the PCUS in 1867, the OPC in 1936, the UPCUSA in 1958, the PCA in 1973, and the PC(USA) in 1983.


The following two chapters were added to the Confession by the PCUSA in the year 1903 (as chapters 34 and 35),(156) and by the PCUS in 1948 (as chapters 9 and 10). They are included in the Confession as adopted and published by the UPCUSA in 1958 and the PC(USA) in 1983.

Chapter 34. Of the Holy Spirit.

1. The Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity, proceeding from the Father and the Son, of the same substance and equal in power and glory, is, together with the Father and Son, to be believed in, loved, obeyed, and worshipped throughout all ages.a

a. 2 Cor 13:14; John 15:26; Mat 28:19; Mat 3:16; Luke 1:35; Eph 4:30; Heb 10:29; 1 Cor 10:10-11; Rev 22:17; Eph 2:18-20; Eph 2:22; John 14:26; John 16:7; Gal 4:6; Acts 5:3-4; Acts 16:6-7; Mark 3:29; Rom 8:26-27; 1 John 2:20-27.

2. He is the Lord and Giver of life, everywhere present, and is the source of all good thoughts, pure desires, and holy counsels in men. By him the prophets were moved to speak the Word of God, and all the writers of the Holy Scriptures inspired to record infallibly the mind and will of God. The dispensation of the gospel is especially committed to him. He prepares the way for it, accompanies it with his persuasive power, and urges its message upon the reason and conscience of men, so that they who reject its merciful offer are not only without excuse, but are also guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit.a

a. Eph 4:30; Eph 5:9; Gen 1:2; John 3:5; Acts 2:1-21; Gal 5:22-25; John 16:8-11; 2 Pet 1:21; 2 Tim 3:16; 1 Cor 2:10; 1 Pet 1:11; John 16:13-15; Acts 7:51; 1 Thes 5:19; Eph 4:30; Psa 104:30.

3. The Holy Spirit, whom the Father is ever willing to give to all who ask him, is the only efficient agent in the application of redemption. He regenerates men by his grace, convicts them of sin, moves them to repentance, and persuades and enables them to embrace Jesus Christ by faith. He unites all believers to Christ, dwells in them as their Comforter and Sanctifier, gives to them the Spirit of adoption and prayer, and performs all those gracious offices by which they are sanctified and sealed unto the day of redemption.a

a. John 3:1-8; Acts 2:38; Luke 11:13; 1 Cor 12:3; John 7:37-39; John 16:13; John 16:7-11; Rev 22:17; Titus 3:5-7; 2 Thes 2:13; Gal 4:6; 1 John 4:2; Rom 8:14; Rom 8:17; Rom 8:26-27; Eph 4:30; 1 Cor 2:13-14.

4. By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit all believers being vitally united to Christ, who is the head, are thus united one to another in the Church, which is his body. He calls and anoints ministers for their holy office, qualifies all other officers in the Church for their special work, and imparts various gifts and graces to its members. He gives efficacy to the Word and to the ordinances of the gospel. By him the Church will be preserved, increased, purified, and at last made perfectly holy in the presence of God.a

a. Eph 2:14-18; Eph 4:1-6; Eph 5:18; Acts 2:4; Acts 13:2; 1 Cor 12; 2 Pet 1:19-21; 1 Thes 1:5-6; John 20:22-23; Mat 28:19-20.

Chapter 35. Of the Gospel of the Love of God and Missions.

1. God in infinite and perfect love, having provided in the covenant of grace, through the mediation and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, a way of life and salvation, sufficient for and adapted to the whole lost race of man, doth freely offer this salvation to all men in the gospel.a

a. Rev 22:17; John 3:16; 1 John 2:1-2; Acts 2:38-39; Mat 11:28-30; 2 Cor 5:14-19; Titus 2:11; Heb 2:9; Luke 24:46-47.

2. In the gospel God declares his love for the world and his desire that all men should be saved; reveals fully and clearly the only way of salvation; promises eternal life to all who truly repent and believe in Christ; invites and commands all to embrace the offered mercy; and by his Spirit accompanying the Word pleads with men to accept his gracious invitation.a

a. Mat 28:19-20; Acts 4:12; John 6:37-40; John 17:3; Acts 16:31; Acts 2:38; Gal 2:16-20; Rom 1:16-17; Rom 4:5; Acts 13:38-39; Acts 13:48; 2 Pet 3:9; Mat 11:28-30; Mark 1:14-15; Acts 17:30; Rev 22:17; Ezek 33:11; Isa 1:18; Luke 13:34.

3. It is the duty and privilege of everyone who hears the gospel immediately to accept its merciful provisions; and they who continue in impenitence and unbelief incur aggravated guilt and perish by their own fault.a

a. Heb 2:3; Heb 12:25; Acts 13:46; Mat 10:32-33; Luke 12:47-48; Heb 10:29.

4. Since there is no other way of salvation than that revealed in the gospel, and since in the divinely established and ordinary method of grace faith cometh by hearing the Word of God, Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinances of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth.a

a. Acts 4:12; Mat 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Rom 10:13-15; Heb 10:19-25; Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 16:1-2; Mat 9:36-38; Acts 13:2-4; Col 3:16; Rev 22:17; Col 1:28-29.

The following statement was also added to the Confession by the PCUSA in the year 1903,(156) and is included in the Confession as adopted and published by the UPCUSA in 1958 and the PC(USA) in 1983.

Declaratory Statement.

While the ordination vow of ministers, ruling elders, and deacons, as set forth in the Form of Government, requires the reception and adoption of the Confession of Faith only as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures, nevertheless, seeing that the desire has been formally expressed for a disavowal by the Church of certain inferences drawn from statements in the Confession of Faith, and also for a declaration of certain aspects of revealed truth which appear at the present time to call for more explicit statement, therefore the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America does authoritatively declare as follows:

First, with reference to Chapter 3 of the Confession of Faith: that concerning those who are saved in Christ, the doctrine of God's eternal decree is held in harmony with the doctrine of his love to all mankind, his gift of his Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and his readiness to bestow his saving grace on all who seek it; that concerning those who perish, the doctrine of God's eternal decree is held in harmony with the doctrine that God desires not the death of any sinner, but has provided in Christ a salvation sufficient for all, adapted to all, and freely offered in the gospel to all; that men are fully responsible for their treatment of God's gracious offer; that his decree hinders no man from accepting that offer; and that no man is condemned except on the ground of his sin.

Second, with reference to Chapter 10, Section 3, of the Confession of Faith, that it is not to be regarded as teaching that any who die in infancy are lost. We believe that all dying in infancy are included in the election of grace, and are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and where and how he pleases.

For an explanation of the 1903 additions see D. G. Hart and John R. Muether, "Turning Points in American Presbyterian History — Part 8: Confessional Revision in 1903," New Horizons, August/September 2005. In an editorial published in 1936 J. Gresham Machen characterized the changes and additions of 1903 as "compromising amendments," "highly objectionable," a "calamity," and "a very serious lowering of the flag." (Presbyterian Guardian, Nov. 28, 1936, pp. 69-70.)