Democratic Authority

Gregory A. Wills

in Democratic Religion

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780195160994
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849574 | DOI:

Series: Religion in America

Democratic Authority

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The Southern Baptist maxim “Correct discipline is the life of the church” conveyed primarily the idea that discipline was the source of vitality and progress. Yet discipline constituted the life of the churches in another sense, for to a great extent it shaped their month-to-month activity. In most churches, virtually every conference meeting brought accusation, confession, repentance, forgiveness, excommunication, and restoration. At the heart of this drama was the notion that piety required submission to ecclesiastical authority. This chapter discusses how submission to the authority of the church was at the heart of the disciplinary apparatus. A particular transgression was secondary. The issue was submission to divine authority mediated by the community of believers. To oppose the church's discipline was to oppose the authority of God.

Keywords: Southern Baptists; discipline; religious authority; ecclesiastical authority; disciplinary apparatus

Chapter.  5532 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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