Discipline, Book of
The Book of Discipline (or Rules and Discipline), contain the body of rules and regulations governing the exercise of the authority of the church in the care and control of its members for the maintenance of purity of faith and life, the removal of offenses, and the general edification of the church, and including penalties for disobedience up to and including excommunication. All Catholic and Protestant denominations have such a body of rules and regulations, written or unwritten, and many of them specifically term the written form "the discipline" or "the book of discipline." For instance, the Presbyterian Church in the USA first adopted its present 30-page "book of discipline" in 1788. The Methodist Episcopal Church has a Book of Discipline of over three hundred pages.
Printed disciplines either of congregations or conferences were found in all North American Mennonite branches in the mid-20th century. All the district conferences of the Mennonite Church (MC) had a printed conference "discipline," which usually had its origin at the very beginning of the conference. The Eastern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church published its Ordnung in 1848. The Evangelical Mennonites of Eastern Pennsylvania (later Mennonite Brethren in Christ) published its first Doctrine of Faith and Church Discipline in 1867 (tr. of Glaubenslehre und Kirchenzucht-Ordnung of 1866). In those groups that have congregational autonomy, the "disciplines" are usually congregational, sometimes stated in the form of constitutions or articles of faith; in others they are conference disciplines.
The content of the disciplines varies with the degrees of strictness in discipline. Usually a discipline specifies the various items of belief or conduct that are forbidden, states how disobedient members are to be dealt with, defines the duties of the church officials and the congregation with respect to discipline, and states the grounds for forfeiture and restoration of membership.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 68-69. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Discipline, Book of." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/discipline_book_of.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1956). Discipline, Book of. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/discipline_book_of.