Our Denomination's Polity
The Reformed Presbyterian Church (Hanover Presbytery) is a Constitutional
Presbyterian denomination tracing its roots to the first presbytery
organized for the South. The Hanover churches continue the Constitutional
traditions in the Associate Presbyterians, Associate Reformed Presbyterians,
Reformed Presbyterian Church (General Synod), and especially the United
Synod of the South.
The original Form of Presbyterial Church-Government and of Ordination
of Ministers approved by the General Assembly in 1645 remains in force
without modification. The usages and customs to implement the document
follow the patterns of early English Presbyterians.
Presbyterians have historically held to a view of Church government
that limits the authority of the Church to that which is set forth either
explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. Rather than attempting a modern "improved"
exegesis of central passages, we believe that there
is a history concerning the exegesis of those passages that Presbyterians
have shared since at least the 17th Century.
Constitutional Presbyterianism is nothing other than the Reformation
doctrine of Sola Scriptura applied to Church polity. Some in this generation
have characterized the Reformed understanding of worship as "The
Regulative Principle of Worship." Constitutional Presbyterianism
proposes that a "Regulative Principle of Polity" would look
very much the same as the worship principle long espoused by Reformed
and Presbyterian Churches. This is borne out by the Westminster Confession
of Faith at I.6, where circumstances of both worship and Church government
fall under the same rubric. While some of the circumstances of Church
government belong to the areas of human wisdom and Christian prudence,
the actual elements of Church polity, such as officers and jurisdiction,
the Church must leave to Scripture alone to define.