Today in Church History

September 19

Adopting Act (PCUSA, 1729), Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

On September 19, 1729, the General Synod of the Presbyterian Church in colonial America adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as its confessional basis for church office holders.

Ordination standards up that point were varied, and colonial Presbyterianism was divided between Puritans in New England (who argued that subscription conflicted with liberty of conscience) and Scotch-Irish in the middle colonies (who sought to maintain Old World subscription practices). The 1729 Adopting Act was a compromise effort that limited subscription to "all essential and necessary articles" of the Standards. Ever since, American Presbyterians have disputed what the words, "necessary and essential," have meant, some arguing for strict subscription and others understanding those words to allow some flexibility.

- John Muether

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