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(90 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
The title “ephor” (Gk. ephoros, “overseer”) was used—and occasionally is still used today in Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican circles—for those who supervise church institutions and for officials charged with the training of pastors or the administration of funds. It was a title in ancient Sparta that J. Calvin recalled in Inst.  4.20.31 and that stresses a biblical aspect of church leadership (2 Cor. 8:21; Col. 4:17). The extra salary that, according to German Protestant church law, deans and others receive is sometimes called the ephor allowance. Albert Stein†


(143 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
Delegation is the handing over of tasks to another person (the delegate) to discharge on his or her own responsibility. This may be done in a general way, as when a Catholic bishop commits questions of penance (Confession of Sins) or marriage to priests, or in special cases, as when a parish priest leaves a matter to an assistant. Roman Catholic canon law lays down rules for delegation (1983 CIC 131–42), and the church may step in when mistakes are made or substantial doubts arise (can. 144). In Protestant church law, delegation occurs particularly in occasional services when, at…


(310 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
In 1527, at the time of the visitation throughout electoral Saxony, the consistory appointed certain pastors as “superintendents” over specific districts. In other territorial churches “inspectors” were also instituted. To them were given the episcopal tasks (Bishop, Episcopate) of ordination and visitation. The Rhenish Westphalian order used the term “preses” in a similar synodical structure (Synod). Superintendents, appointed by synods or congregations, both represent and coordinate. The appointment is only for a time and goes along with pastoral d…

Lay Preaching

(430 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
The obvious meaning of the phrase “lay preaching” is church proclamation by members of the congregation who are not ordained. The primitive Christian community was acquainted with speaking at worship as the Spirit freely prompted (1 Corinthians 14). In the early church, however, speaking was by right of office. The wandering preachers of the Waldenses and mendicant orders encountered prohibitions from the 12th century onward. The Reformation allowed lay preaching in case of need. Martin Luther (1483–1546) and article 14 of the Augsburg Confess…

Seal of the Confessional

(634 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
The “seal of the confessional” is the guarantee that whatever a penitent shares in the rite of penance (Penitence) will not be disclosed by any who hear it. The duty of silence that members of the clergy accept at ordination corresponds to the right of silence that the state extends to the clergy in court. The church’s basis for it is the Christian love that does not expose a neighbor except in emergency (Matt. 18:15) and that accepts responsibility for penitents, and also the confidence it has in its own pastoral care. Roman Catholic canon law (1983 CIC  983–84, 1917 CIC 889–90) strictly fo…

Residence, Duty of

(321 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
The duty of residence is that imposed by church law upon the holders of ecclesiastical offices, which stipulates that they should reside in the place where they minister (the clergy in manses or vicarages) and leave this place only on some task or on leave or with permission of some kind. The duty of residence came into canon law in the Middle Ages because of the scandals associated with pluralism, simony, and nonresidence. It was given greater emphasis at the Council of Trent. Today the 1983 CIC  lays down the rules for the various ministers, while Protestant churches may have …


(259 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
A dispensation is a grant of relief from an ordinance in individual cases, a means for the church to give spiritual direction in particular matters affecting an individual. In canon law the dispensation presupposes the presence of adequate legal grounds (1983 CIC 90). A dispensation from divine law is impossible. The cases of dispensation today are primarily in relation to hindrances to marriage or ordination. Except when the privilege is reserved for the papacy (e.g., see discussion of celibacy, can. 291), diocesan bishops grant the dispensation, although with dele…

Clergy and Laity

(2,003 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
1. Historical Data The NT laos (people) is the whole priestly people of the community of believers in Christ (Luke 1:17; 1 Pet. 2:10; Heb. 4:9). The term klēros (lot, Matt. 27:35) denotes the special ministry (Acts 1:17, 26, etc.) that is at work in and for this community according to God’s gracious gift (cf. 1 Cor. 12:4). In the ministries of the early church, with the sometimes tense relation between charisma and office involving development from the functional to the institutional, there gradually arose a differentiation into clergy as the officeholders and the laity as the rest, …


(186 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
In the hierarchy of the early church and the medieval church, “primate” refers to a bishop of the Latin Rite midway between a patriarch and an archbishop. The primate could summon councils and crown kings, and he had oversight over other bishops. Today a primate, either by tradition or papal appointment, has only honorary rank (1983 CIC  438). The archbishop of Salzburg was primate of Germany, and after 1945 the primate of Poland came to the fore as spokesperson for the church in dealings with the state. In the monastic world (Monasticism) the abbot…

Official Principal

(257 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
In the Anglican Communion the official principal is the person entrusted by a bishop with the exercise of judicial authority. The same function is discharged by the chancellor or commissary general of the Consistory Court. The Orthodox Church has no comparable office, since the bishop himself exercises jurisdiction. Nor is there any place for an office of this kind in the jurisdiction of Protestant churches. In the Roman Catholic Church the officialis, or judicial vicar (vicarius iudicialis), represents the diocesan bishop in ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The 1983 CIC 141…


(9,795 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Schnelle, Udo | Wainwright, Geoffrey | Leonard, Bill J. | Grethlein, Christian | Et al.
Overview In Christianity, baptism—either by plunging in water or by sprinkling with it—represents the first act of incorporation “into Christ” and into the fellowship of the church. Further acts of incorporation are confirmation (Initiation Rites 2) and the Eucharist. Other religious societies have similar rites (Initiation Rites 1). Jewish proselyte baptism incorporates the baptized not only into the religious fellowship but also into God’s covenant people. This matter is relevant in the dialogu…