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Church Organization

(1,242 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
From the very beginning, the organization of the ancient church found itself in a process of increasing complexity that remains without parallel in the history of ancient religions.Development of the Local Congregation in the First Three Centuries CEThe process began with a variety of different congregational models. While the Corinthian congregation of Paul’s lifetime only exhibited a low degree of organization and probably got by without a formal congregational leadership, officials vested with leadership functions seem to have a…
Date: 2019-08-09

Complaint

(1,231 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
A precursor of the inner ecclesial court and thus also of the legal complaint that is brought forward at this court is found in 1 Cor 6:1–11. Paul states explicitly that Christians should under no circumstances bring their fellow Christians before secular courts. He criticizes that such legal disputes occur at all among Christians and advises the Corinthians to seek the arbitration of a wise man in order to settle these brotherly quarrels within the congregation. Such a ban on instituting legal proceedings before external judges is also attested in Jewish communities (Jos. Ant. 14.235; …
Date: 2019-08-09

Church Membership

(1,354 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
Soon after the Easter events, baptism became the act through which believers were incorporated into the church (Gaudemet, 1989, 55–69; Ferguson, 2009, 132–198), a relationship that was exclusive. According to early Christian understanding, it precludes all other paths to salvation in the sense of a religious pluralism. Accordingly, excommunication signifies the forsaking of salvation in this world and the next, at least as long as it is not rescinded. Membership in the church always has two dime…
Date: 2019-08-09

Church Authority

(1,327 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
The sources pertaining to the early church concur that all church authority comes from God (Ring, 1975, 64). Jesus himself already gave the church all essential rules of discipline during his lifetime. The authoritative mediators and interpreters of these rules are the 12 apostles, insofar as they genuinely witnessed the proclamation of Jesus with their own eyes and ears. God himself caused many of these rules to be written down in the New Testament through the intermediary of the apostles. Afte…
Date: 2019-08-09