Monday, April 4, 2011

Antioch - Canon 11

If any bishop, or presbyter, or any one whatever of the canon shall presume to betake himself to the Emperor without the consent and letters of the bishop of the province, and particularly of the bishop of the metropolis, such a one shall be publicly deposed and cast out, not only from communion, but also from the rank which he happens to have; inasmuch as he dares to trouble the ears of our Emperor beloved of God, contrary to the law of the Church.  But, if necessary business shall require any one to go to the Emperor, let him do it with the advice and consent of the metropolitan and other bishops in the province, and let him undertake his journey with letters from them.

This somewhat restrictive canon attempted to thwart church officers from appealing to civil authorities even as rulers were attempting to hold sway over the church.  The rightful role of church discipline and authority as established by the apostle Paul (1 Cor 5:3-5; 6:1-11) was being circumvented.  The modern church would do well to understand that civil authority has no jurisdiction in church matters.  To go before the legal system of the land is tantamount to saying that Christ is insufficient for all things concerning his very body on earth of which he is head.  How short we fall when the elect cannot, will not, or is not allowed to adjudicate a just, loving, and binding verdict.

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