Thursday, March 17, 2011

Antioch - Canon 5

If any presbyter or deacon, despising this own bishop, has separated himself from the Church, and gathered a private assembly, and set up an altar; and if, when summoned by his bishop, he shall refuse to be persuaded and will not obey, even though he summon him a first and a second time, let such an one be wholly deposed and have no further remedy, neither be capable of regaining his rank.  And if he persist in troubling and disturbing the Church, let him be corrected, as a seditious person, by the civil power.

This canon matched up with the previous to stop banished leaders from continuing their work.  Her, those deposed were setting up rival churches and refusing to respect the authority that had cast him out in the first place.  If the leader refused multiple attempts to cease and bring him back into regular church fellowship, he was completely cut off from the church.  As a last measure, the civil authority was to be allowed to correct this wayward person and group.

This may be the first mention of using civil authority to bolster discipline within the church. The church would have been better served to heed Paul who told the church in Corinth:
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?  Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?  Do you not know that we are to judge angels?  How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!  So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?  I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?  (1 Cor 6:1-6)

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