In its ecclesiastical sense the word discipline denotes actions partly of a penal and partly of a reformatory nature directed against one who has offended against ch. law or morality. Discipline existed in the ch. in early and medieval times. At the beginning of Lent those convicted of notorious sins were put to pub. penance for their spiritual benefit and as warning to others. When the papacy was at its height, excommunication was a weapon so formidable that even powerful kings quailed at the thought that it might be directed against them. In the Ch. of Eng. excommunication has given place to the commination service on Ash Wed. In Presb. chs., discipline is exercised by the session, an appeal being allowed to the presbytery or syn. and thence to the Gen. Assem. In the constitutions of the Ref. chs. of Am. (e.g., Ger. and Dutch) the principles and rules of discipline laid down are very similar to those of the Presb. Ch. In the Luth. Ch., discipline is administered by the local cong. on the basis of the Word of God (Mt 18). In the M. E. Ch., discipline is by admonition, followed by trial and expulsion if convicted; appeal is allowed to a judicial conf. and thence to the gen. conf. See also Keys, Office of the; Penitential Discipline; Polity, Eccelesiastical; Western Christianity 5001500. 8.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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