Church Order

Owen Chadwick

in The Early Reformation on the Continent

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780198269021
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600470 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 Church Order

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Reformers rejected the notion of the ‘indelible character’ of ordination, whereby an ordained person is a priest for life, but Luther's early theory of the priesthood of all believers created problems concerning the nature of the pastor's calling. Although they rejected the traditional use of excommunication, Reformers faced the problem of the role of the church in moral discipline, and controversies arose, particularly in the Swiss cities, over the respective role of the civic authorities and the new consistories. Bishoprics were incorporated into the reformed churches in various ways: bishops’ rights could be ignored, leading to conflict; some bishops accepted the evangelical faith and reformed their territories; in other cases an evangelical was elected on the death of the old bishop; and in a few cases, neighbouring Protestant states put pressure on conservative canons ensuring the election of a reformer.

Keywords: bishops; church discipline; excommunication; ordination; priesthood

Chapter.  8841 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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