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Usury

(376 words)

Author(s): Frost, Herbert
Adopting ancient cultural traditions (Babylon, Egypt, Rome) and Jewish rulings (e.g., Exod. 22:25; Deut. 23:19–20), the early church took up the question of usury. On the basis of Luke 6:35 (“lend, expecting nothing in return”), John Chrysostom (ca. 347–407) and Augustine (354–430) demanded full prohibition. The Council of Nicaea (325) forbade it absolutely for clergy. In the Carolingian capitularies we also find an absolute prohibition at the Synod of Paris in 829. Contemporary theology followed suit, and Lateran II (1139) confirm…

Moderator

(231 words)

Author(s): Frost, Herbert
In modern usage “moderator” (Lat. modero, “restrain, direct”) denotes the (neutral) president of an assembly or leader of a radio or television colloquy. It has been in use since the Middle Ages for the one charged to chair a council. The 1983 CIC has the term for the lead priest in multiple parishes or parish unions (can. 517) and also for a vicar-general whose function is to coordinate diocesan administration (can. 473). We also find the term for leaders in religious orders and congregations. Among the Reformed, Presbyterians (Reformed and Presbyterian Churches), and Congreg…

Elder

(533 words)

Author(s): Frost, Herbert
Elders, or presbyters (Gk. presbyteroi), are members of Christian congregations entrusted with special ministries in leadership, liturgy, church discipline, and diakonia. 1. The organization of the early church shows plainly the influence of the Jewish synagogue and the Greek laws pertaining to societies, though there is no direct continuity. In the NT we see various charismata, from which the offices of bishop, elder, and deacon soon arose. For the most part, the elders had collegial functions. Already in the Pasto…

Congregationalism

(1,308 words)

Author(s): Frost, Herbert | Clements, Keith W.
1. Polity The term “Congregationalism” is used in both a more general and a more specific sense. In the former, it denotes a type of church polity in which episcopal and synodic elements have no place, with authority being concentrated in the local congregation and with extralocal conferences having only an advisory function. Today most Baptists, Quakers (Friends, Society of), the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church [Disciples of Christ]), and individual free churches are Congregationalists in this sense (see 2). In the more specific sense the reference is to a fellowship…

Church Government

(5,330 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen | Frost, Herbert | Thon, Nikolaus | Link, Christoph
1. Early Church Tendencies 1.1. Two Fundamental Convictions Two fundamental convictions concerning the nature of the church, which are of great significance for the later development of church government, become evident in the NT writings. 1.1.1. The church has its origin in God’s actions in Jesus Christ. It is ekklēsia, or the people of the end time chosen and sanctified by God, to whom belongs the sphere of the sacred. Because he alone exercises his dominion over the church through the Holy Spirit, the church does not stand at the disposal of any human control or power (1 Cor. 3:16–17). Th…

Church Discipline

(1,764 words)

Author(s): Frost, Herbert | Ridder, Richard R. De | Morris, Paul C. E.
1. History In the course of church history, church discipline has sought to fashion and safeguard Christian living as a response to the preached Word. It falls somewhere between Christian ethics and church law. NT statements form the starting point for discipline within the church, for example, the dominical saying in Matt. 18:15–18 concerning the settlement of disputes among Christians, or the saying about the power of the keys in Matt. 16:18–19. The primitive practice of expulsion and forgiveness is reflected in 1 Cor. 5:1–6 and 2 Cor. 2:5–11. Church discipline relates fundamenta…