Associate professor of church history princeton theological seminary baker book house

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4. The Churches of God in Christ Jesus, popularly known as the Age to come Adventists. See An­vENTIaTa, 6.

6. The Mennonite Church of God in Christ. See MENNONITES.
Meaning of the Expression (§ 1).

The Reformed Church Government (§ 2).

Fundamental Differences of Lutheran View (§ 3).

German Reformers not Opposed to State Govern­ment (§ 4).

State Government Accepted in Luther's Time (§ fi).

Actual Views of Luther and his Contemporaries 0 6).

Influence of the Idea of the Common Priesthood (¢ 7).

Modern Development of German Church Government (§ 8).

[The following article is a condensation of the article Kirchenregime'tt in the Hauck Herzog RE; for more general discussion of the subject see POLITY.

Church government in the speech of to day denotes that particular conduct of the ecclesiastical community which is not effected by means of the spiritual administration of word and sacraments, but by means which on occasion may be of civil constitution. Prior to the Reformation the pastor was called rector, and regere ecclesiam (" to gov­ern the Church ") indicated his spiritual care over



Church of Clod

Church Government

the congregation through the word and sacra­

ments. Church government is thus, originally, the

pastoral, though logically also the epis­

i. Meaning copal, and, in the last resort, the pa­

of the Ex  pal cure of souls; because the bishop

pression. is properly the pastor of his diocese,

and the pope at all events according

to the doctrine of the curia parochua mundi (see

CURE OF Sours). However, the divinely given

authority for the spiritual control (poteatas eccle­


braces, according to the theory then in vogue, every

regulative function, whether in a proper sense

spiritual or not; that is, certain functions not

within the direct sphere of word and sacrament,

provided only the same appear expedient to the

bishop or pope, as the case maybe, with relation

to the cure of souls. Hence prior to the Refor­

mation church government was regarded as part

and parcel of the episcopal, or ultimately papal,

cure of souls. It was only after the establishment

of the Reformers' principle, that this theory con­

flicts with Scripture, and that the ecclesiastical

authority which is to be exercised by the spiritual

office in virtue of divine commission comprises

rather the sole administration of word and sacra,

meats, and not, in addition, external control, that

the institution of church government as a power

by itself could become developed and was actually

developed. The idea of church government is this

sense is Protestant; the Roman Catholic Church, in

so far as it has continued upon the pre Refor­

mation basis, still construes the matter as falling

within the spiritual province of ecclesiastical


Of the two Protestant Church bodies in which, upon the basis of the aforesaid Reformation doc­trine, a scheme of church government has taken shape distinct from the spiritual economy it is pertinent to consider first the Reformed Church; and in fact its Calvinistic branch is of exceptional interest in this connection. The task of organizing the Protestant Church in France was

z. The Its  complicated at the outset by the hos­formed tility of the government. 1n the Church face of this enmity, the Church had to

Govern  organize as an independent association. meat. Starting with Calvin's tenets that the church organization described in the Acts of the Apostles and the pastoral epistles is ordained by God to be directed by a college of elders, sad that this Church is an example or article of faith for every particular congregation, it de­veloped this assumption, following Calvin's inter­pretation of Eph. iv. 11 sqq., Rom. aii. 7, and I Cor. xii. 28, into the doctrine that in accordance with the aforesaid divine arrangement there are two kinds of elders; namely, not only bearers of the teaching office who, in agreement with the Lutheran Church, were held to be restricted to teaching and the administration of the sacraments  but also " ruling " elders, who were regarded as filling the spiritual, but not the teaching office (Calvin's "Institutes" IV., chaps. i. v., Xi., xii.). Pastor and ruling elders together constituted the governing body of the congregation (Fr. cortsis 

faire, cf. K. Ricker, Grundsatze reformirter Kirchert­verfassung, Leipsic, 1899, pp. 102 eqq., 141 sqq.). Then there came together from the congregations, comprising a definite group, certain delegates of the consiatoires, both teaching and ruling officers, to form committees (" synods "), through whose agency the corresponding church circuit was gov­erned, the same as the congregation by the agency of the consistoire. Further, the French Evangelical Church as a whole is governed by a general synod (cf. G. von Polenz, Geschichte des franzdsisehen Calvinismus, 4 vols., Goths, 18.57; G. V. Lechler, Gesch.ic)rte der Presbyterial and Syrtodolverfdssung, Leyden, 1854, pp. 64 sqq.). The essential basis of the [Reformed] church government is thus clearly apparent in the main, even though now and then its lines of distinction coalesce. It rests upon divine authority just as in the pre Reformation Church; save that this commissioned authority is not im­parted to the teaching elders, but only to the ruling ones. Yet the former take part, and indeed as weighty personages, in the sessions of the govern­ing bodies, though this is only because they admin­ister the order of salvation, and because all church government, in the nature of the case, has no other object than to render possible and make sure the order of salvation; hence the teaching presbyters enjoy their influence upon church government not as retainers of a divine commission to rule, but as expert representatives of their divine commission to teach; so much so, for instance, that in questions of doctrine the non spiritual members of synods have no voice. These fundamental ideas of the French constitution of presbyterial synodal church government have undergone, in the course of time and in connection with their development in Ger­man territories, various alterations an account of which properly belongs to church history.

Two fundamental points differentiate the Lu­theran theory of church government both from the pre Reformation and Roman Catholic theory and from the Calvinistic Reformed the 

3. Funds  cry. In the first place, the Lutheran

mental Church does not assume that there

Differences is any form of church government

of ordained by divine commission, coin­

Lutheran cidently with the institution of the

View. Church, but rather esteems every

form of government admissible by

whose operation sufficient provision is made for

the rightful administration of word and sacra=

meats. Hence there is no Lutheran dogmatic basis

of church government; and Lutherans accord to

the claim of the Reformed that there is no such

higher dignity than that of a theological opinion.

The second point is the fact that the Lutheran

Church, when, in accordance with the imperial

decree of 1526 at Speyer, it developed the State

Church polity, virtually from the very start placed

church government in the State sovereign's hand.

In consequence of these two differences the ques­

tion of Lutheran church government is much more

complicated than that of the pre Information

Church, or of the Roman Catholic or of the Reformed


It has been asserted that the Reformers' ideals

Church Govorn out THE NEW SCHAFF HERZOG 94

were inconsistent with state government of the Church; and some (notably so F. J. Stahl, in

Kirchenverfaseung nach Lekre and ;. German Recht der Proteatanten, Erlangen, 1840,

Reform  2d ed., 1862; Lathes the Kirche and era not Union, Berlin, 1859) have inter 

flpposed to preted these ideals as tending in the

State Gov  direction of the pre Reformation con 

erament. ception; others (as A. L. Richter, in

the Zeitschrift fur deutsches Recht and die Rechtawasaenschaft, iv., 1840, pp. 1 aqq.; lehr_ bucla den Kirchenrechta, Leipsie, 1$41 aqq.; Geachichxe der evangeliachzn Kirchenverfassung in Deutsch­land, 1851) think that they sympathize with the presbyterial synodal organization. This difference of opinion shows how alight is the foundation for either aide. Both views have arisen from the rational desire to obtain historic support and Reformation authority for party strivings the product and expression of modern times and the contentions of both Stahl and Richter are inadmissible. The chief argument against Stahl's theory is the attitude of the Reformers with refer­ence to the actual institution and organization of church government by the territorial sovereigns: it is incompatible with a conception of polity funda­mentally contrary. Richter, on his aide, to demon­strate his proposition of presbyterial synodal ide­als of organization on the part of the Reformers, assumes that their views underwent a change somewhere about 1525; before that time their ideals were presbyterial synodal, but, owing to their experiences with Anabaptism and the Peasants' War, the said ideals were crowded out, and the Reformers were obliged to admit the actual neces­sity of church government under territorial sover­eignty. Richter submits thin contention without more particular evidence, which would be hard to find. He forgets, for one thing, that the prin­ciples from which the territorial sovereignty form of church polity is deduced theologically were extant even prior to 1525, and were declared by the Reformers; on another aide, that not until after that year did the Reformation begin its eccle­siastical organization, so that only the ideas real­ized by the Reformers after that year are in ques­tion; it was not in the spirit of that age to project and formulate ideal systems of organisation with­out practical conditions to uphold them.

R. $ohm in his Kirehenreeht (Leipsie, 1892) has defended the thesis that the territorial sovereignty form of church government came about in oppo 

sition to Luther's doctrine and after g. State his death, and that it was s product Government of the pusillanimous faith of Luther's

Accepted contemporaries and successors, being is Luther's closely related to the reaction, eape­Time. dally on Melanchthon's part, to Ro 

man theories and to the conaietorial fabric which grew out of their influence, and the reenforoement of these conaiatories with temporal means of coercion. This thesis is untenable. If historical evolution be taken just as it stands, and the literature of the sixteenth century be considered as a whole, there can be no doubt that the govern­ment of the Church by the sovereigns of the State

was in harmony with the Reformers' theory; provided in this connection is understood by church government not the Reformers' " eccle­siastical authority " (see AUTHORITY, ECCLE8IAB­TICAL), but all that is involved in a legal direction of the church organism. The theory in question is not in any way taught by Melanchthon exclusively, as had been occasionally affirmed before Bohm; but in its main outlines it is apparent as early as Luther's tract An den Adel deutacher Nation (cf. O. Mejer, Die Grundlagen den lutherischcn Kirchen­regiments, Rostock, 1864, pp. 26 aqq.), and it is elsewhere taught by Luther and others. It is clearly implied in the Lutheran confessional wri­tings (Auga. Con., art. xxviii.; Art. Schmal., de potentate papa, pp. 354 355; Larger and Smaller Catechisms, pp. 361, 363, 448, and elsewhere; moat plainly in Auga. Con. rariata, article on marriage of priests, in Hale, Libra symbolici, p. L.). Its theological basic thoughts come to light in a long array of liturgies and other kinds of promul­gations on the part of the Reformatory territorial sovereigns.

The Church as a corporate unity separated from

the State is a thoroughly modern idea, to Luther

thoroughly unknown (cf. 8ohenkel,

6. Actual TSK, 1850, p. 1; Hundenhagen, ZKR,

Views i., pp. 451 aqq.; W. Kahl, Yerachieden 

of Luther heft der katholischen and evongeliachen

and his Anschauung caber daa Yerhaltnis Von

Contem  Staot and Kirche, Leipaic, . 1886; O.

poraries. Mejer, Rechtsleben der deutschen evan­

gel2:achenLandeakirchen, Hanover, 1899,

pp. 28 aqq.; K. Rieker, cat sup., pp. 55 aqq.). In

this unity two powers work aide by side, the two

swords of the Middle Ages; but this indicates

merely a " division of the administrative organiza­

tion of the single body "; the well known and so

often misunderstood utterances of Luther an to the,

relation of the temporal to the spiritual power are

not intended to mean that the temporal power has

nothing at all to do in the Church, but rather that

within the one body two members, each in its

office, have to cooperate for the weal of the whole

organism, only neither is to encroach upon the

other within its rightful sphere. The spiritual

commission of the teaching order than appears to

be confined to the word sad administration of the

sacraments (that in, ecclesiastical power in Luther's

sense of the term); the authority of the governing

order appears to be directed toward rightfully up­

holding the laws of God as expressed in the Ten

Commandments, especially according to the first

table of the same, to the end that no unlawful

form of divine service be endured in the land.

From these premises everything essential to the state

control of church government proceeds with logical

finality. Nor is this conclusion impaired by the

fact that the Reformers themselves accounted the

government's position not so much a source of

rights as a sum of obligations the government

was to fulfil, a responsible office which called

into play all those prerogatives which moderns

are wont to denigrate as corollaries to a " govern­


To be sure, alongside there lines of thought are


also to be found certain documentary indications

of the germs of a second and divergent theory; not

one, however, that reaches backward toward the

pastoral form of church government, but one out of

which, in favoring circumstances, a presbyterial­

synodal polity might have grown. There is here

is mind, above all, that fundamental principle of

Protestantism, the common priesthood. For even

though it be true that this principle was conceived

by the Reformers only as a religious

7. Infiu  principle (so that things were carried

ence of the too far when in earlier times it was

Idea of the attempted to derive from this basis

Common independent administration and oon­

Priesthood. gregational tenets, and set these up as

express doctrines of the Reformation),

it is none the less an overshooting of the mark on

another side when modern writers like Bohm (ut

sup., p. 510) and Rieker (ut sup., p. 79) profess to

credit this thought with no influence at all upon

the constitution of the Evangelical Church (of.

E. Sehling, in ZKR, 1894, p. 229, and Kirehenge­

adzgebureg enter Moriz von Sachsera, Leipsic, 1898,

pp. 3 sqq.). If, conformably to the well known

doctrine of the Lutheran confessional writings (cf.

the same collected with the pertinent citations in

O. Mejer, Lehrbuch des Kirchenrechta, GSttingen,

1869), the congregation of believers is bound by

the obligations of faith to see to it that sufficient

provision is made at all times for the rightful ad­

ministration of word and sacraments, and if,

furthermore, this congregation is charged with

responsibility before God in this matter (APoI.,

p. 292, and elsewhere), it follows that the congrega­

tion as a congregation must see to it that this divine

commission is properly exercised by those whom

it appoints to this end. Upon such bases a pres­

byterial synodal church government might very

well be constructed. But these ideas were not

developed, because, as above set forth, they were

thrust aside and suppressed by the system of terri­

torial sovereignty that governed the Church. Or,

slightly changed, they were introduced into the

territorial system by the teaching that since each

member of the congregation is bound to contribute

according to the measure of his ability toward the

maintenance of a rightful and adequate adminis­

tration of the word and sacraments, and since the

territorial sovereign possesses an especially high

measure of such ability (in virtue whereof he is

designated as membrum ecchai&, pracipmum), he

must accordingly apply all his power entrusted to

him by God toward the satisfaction of that obli­

gation. By this process the government of the

Church might practically fall into the hands of the

territorial sovereign alone; because the means at

his disposal pre so vastly superior to those of all

other church members that these, in comparison,

find nothing further to do (Luther's Bedsaken von

1630. Erlangen ed., liv., p. 179; Art. Schmal., p. 350;

Mejer, ut sup., pp. 109 eqq., cf. 27, 36, 48). The

idea of me»sbrum ecclesia Trrceciptcum, to be sure, is

spin and again by subsequent absurd

usage; but it always carries the assumption that

the territorial sovereign has the power to apply

his governing rights to the furtherance of ecde 

siastical ends. This was the case in the Reforma­

tion period and in general so long as his rights were

regarded and exercised as operative private rights.

According to the civil law of to day, however, the

governing rights of the territorial sovereign are in

the nature of public powers, which reach no further

than their corresponding official obligations. The

doctrine of membrum ecclesace yorocigruum is there­

fore antiquated, and has no significance in present

praxis. On the other hand, conjointly with the

custodica prioris tabuhe, it constituted, down to the

middle, or thereabout, of the nineteenth century,

the principal foundation upon which the territorial

sovereignty rule of the Church was declared to be

a part of the territorial governing office, and as

such was regarded as an adjunct of state supremacy.

Meanwhile, after some beginnings of changing

views that were even earlier apparent, since the

middle of the eighteenth century the point of view

according to which church government is admin­

istered by the State has changed more and more.

In place of the purpose to uphold the

8. Modern first table of the Ten Commandments,

Develop  there intervened, as Territorialiemn

meat of (q.v.) came into power, the humani­

Germaa tarian political aim to make the State

Church religiously a unity, to the end that

Government. quiet and peace, the supreme ends of

the State, be achieved; and when a

subsequent further evolution of think brought

the tolerance principle into play, for this aim was

substituted one deriving from freedom of conscience,

which determines state activity on this side to day.

The theory of the Church was neat changed by the

natural right school; the Church is not an institu­

tion founded by God, but a society, an association

within the State. But several equally legitimate

churches standing aide by aide in the State can

be treated by the state government only as church

associations which govern themselves; and if

among them there is a Lutheran Church, its status

dote not differ from that of any other, and the right

of the State in its government becomes a mere

Kirchenlwheit (jus circa sacra), which is essentially

the police control of associations. This appears the

more equitable since the new constitutional pmg­

res has brought matters to such a pass that the

popular representatives have acquired directly or

indirectly a determining influence in legislation

and certain other specific rights of government,

indeed the satire sphere of operation; since, further,

all representatives in the Diet have equal voice ­

the Reformed, the Roman Catholic, and the non­

Christian members the same as the Lutherans­

and this equality of influence on the part of non.

adherents of the Lutheran Church is inconsistent

with its constitutional parity. Accordingly there

are projects on every side in the direction of a

logical transformation of the territorial sovereignty

form of church polity into corporate a& govern.

ment. It has been previously remarked that the

Reformers' theology opened the way to progress

in this direction; and that the example of the

Calvinistic Reformed Church was not far removed,

even though the Tatter's dogmatic tenets were not

here to the purpose. And in fact it is true that


as soon as the collegialistic and constitutional State theories gained force and were here earlier, there later, here more, there less, carried into execution, likewise in the Lutheran Church the congregations have employed presbyterial church committees; synods have been constituted of representatives of these committees for districts; and finally a general synod for the land, or, where several Lutheran denominations exist, a synod of the denominations has been brought together as the general repre­sentative body of the church. So the Lutheran Church is acquiring the organization of a corporate Church, in virtue whereof it governs itself.

E. SEar.Irla.


7. Nature and Aim.

II. Church History and Secular History. III. Sources.

Written Sources (5 1).

Unwritten Sources (¢ z>.

TV. Duty of the Historian.

Investigation Q 1).

Presentation of Results

(¢ 2)•

V. Periods and Epochs.

1. Sacred or Biblical His­tory.

9. Christian History or Ecclesiastical History Proper.

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