DISCIPLINE, ECCLEsIA:sTICAL. The cor rective and preservative function by which or ganization- for the purposes of religion seek to maintain their of order and conduct among their members. It is a function common to all religious bodies, though it varies greatly in the objects to be attained and the means used. While the standards to be maintained have continued substantially the same. the pro cedure and the punitive facilities at the com mand of the churches have undergone radical alteration. The changes have been due in large measure to the changed relations Which the churches bear to the political organization of society; that is. the State. At the beginning of its history. the Christian Church modeled its dis ciplinary procedure upon that in vogue in the llebrew synagogues. where there were three de grees of punishment, all of which were species of excommunication. In the ancient Hebrew State the religious organization of society had the active cooperation of the political power in the enforcement of its discipline, which coOpera tion, however, was lost with the lows of political independence. The Christian Church in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages was in a similar position and lacked the aid of the civil power in the enforcement of it- discipline. In the ages of the Church certain crimes were subject to the discipline of public penance. We learn from Tertullian on Parity (c. 1I; and 12), and from Paeianus that they can be reduced to the heads of infidelity, luxury. and homicide. Saint Gregory- of Neo-Ciesarea mentions the four classes into which the public penitents were divided. They were the weepers, the hearers, the pros trate, and those who remained (consistentes). The weepers were kept entirely outside the church door; the hearers were admitted just within the door: the prostrate, under the same rule as the hearers. were excluded from the most sacred por tions of the service; the remaining penitents (consistentes1 were allowed to hear the whole ser vice, but could not receive the eucharist. (See AlisOLUTION: LAPSED.) When the Church came to he recognized by the State as the normal or ganization of society for the purposes of reli gion. her disciplinary facilities were enormously increased because of the aid received from the (-kit power. What had before been considered merely conduct unbecoming a baptized Christian came in many eases to be a breach of the civil law, of which the civil authorities would take cognizance. This relation of States to the (bombes has continued in varying de-trees in the different countries of Christendom. The ancient order has been most fully preserved. perhaps, in the Empire of the Pussias, whore the Church is recognized by the State as the normal organiza tion of society for the purposes of religion and here the police power of the State is in many eases at the disposal of the ecclesiastical authori ties. In Western Christendom, however, the re in the punitive facilities of the churches has come about by the development of the sphere of individual liberty so as to include liberty of speech mot action for the purposes of religion. Such a developMent has caused individual eccle siastical relations to he largely voluntary, an.I
has reduced the punitive facilities of religious organizations to a minimum. never exceeding ex pulsion from the communion and Church fellow ship. The Church of Rome has, of all the churches, retained the most elaborate system of discipline, by the side of which has also been maintained a system of dispensations (q.v.), yet the penalties are merely ecclesiastical and not civil. In the Protestant churches, discipline con sists in the indiction of three penalties: ( 1 ) Public censure, which is, as a rule, resorted to only after private admonition has been given; ( 2 ) .suspension; and ( 3 ) In Congregational churches, discipline is admin istered by the church body. In the Presbyterian churches these powers are exercised by the Ses sion, an appeal lying to the Presbytery, thence to the Synod and General Assembly. In the Metho dist Episcopal Church an accused member is brought to trial before a committee of not less than five members, who shall not belong to the quarterly Conference; if a majority find him guilty. the pastor executes the sentence, appeals being allowed to the quarterly and annual Conferences. Unlike the voluntary bodies, the established churches. such as the Church of Eng land, and the Protestant establishments on time Continent of Europe, have lost nearly all dis ciplinary powers over the laity, who have prac tically by virtue of citizenship the privileges of Church membership.
In the United States, Church discipline is ad ministered exclusively by Church officials and judicatories. The complete separation of Church and State deprives the civil tribunals of all power to revise or question ordinary acts of Church discipline, or of exclusion from Church membership. Secular tribunals have to do only with the rights of property and of personal lib erty. If these are illegally invaded, under pre text of administering Church discipline, the civil courts have authority to afford redress.
Whether a Church member is amenable to ec clesiastical punishment is to be determined by the proper officers or judicatories of the par ticular Church, in accordance with its rules of government and discipline. From their final de cision no appeal lies to a civil court. In the language of the United States Supreme Court: "The law knows no heresy, and is committed to the support of no dogma, the establishment of no sect. The right to organize voluntary reli gious associations to assist in the expression and dissemination of any religious doctrine, and to create tribunals for the decision of controverted questions of faith within the association. and for the ecclesiastical government of individuals, congregations, and officers within the general association is unquestioned. All who unite them selves to such a body do so with an implied consent to this government, and are hound to submit to it." The disciplinary authority of such bodies, and the rights and duties of their member-. ale goterned by the same general rules 01 law that control in case of social or political ,,V01),. other grit ate organizations. Sec CANON LAW.