Louis Berkhof

Systematic Theology:

IV. The Power of the Church


Jesus Christ not only founded the Church, but also endowed it with the necessary power or authority. He is the Head of the Church, not only in an organic, but also in an administrative sense, that is, He is not only the Head of the body, but also the King of the spiritual commonwealth. It is in His capacity as King of the Church that He has clothed her with power or authority. He Himself spoke of the Church as founded so firmly upon a rock that the gates of hell cannot prevail against her, Mat_16:18; and on the same occasion — the very first on which He made mention of the Church — He also promised to endow her with power, when He said unto Peter: "I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven," Mat_16:19. It is quite evident that the terms 'Church' and 'Kingdom of Heaven' are used interchangeably here. Keys are an emblem of power (cf. Isa_22:15-22), and in the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven Peter receives power to bind and to loose, which in this connection would seem to mean, to determine what is forbidden and what is permitted in the sphere of the Church.32 And the judgment he passes — in this case not on persons, but on actions — will be sanctioned in heaven. Peter receives this power as the representative of the apostles, and these are the nucleus and foundation of the Church in their capacity as teachers of the Church. The Church of all ages is bound by their word, Joh_17:20; 1Jn_1:3. That Christ endowed not only Peter but all the apostles with power and with the right to judge, and that not merely actions but also persons, is quite evident from Joh_20:23 : "Whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." Christ gave this power first of all and in the fullest degree to the apostles, but He also extends it, though in a lesser degree, to the Church in general. The Church has the right to excommunicate an unrepentant sinner. But it can do this only because Jesus Christ Himself dwells in the Church and through the agency of the apostles has supplied the Church with a proper standard of judgment. That Christ has given power to the Church as a whole, is quite evident from several passages of the New Testament, Act_15:23-29; Act_16:4; 1Co_5:7; 1Co_5:13; 1Co_6:2-4; 1Co_12:28; Eph_4:11-16. The officers in the Church receive their authority from Christ and not from men, even though the congregation is instrumental in putting them into office. This means on the one hand that they do not obtain it at the hands of any civil authority, which has no power in ecclesiastical matters, and therefore cannot bestow any; but on the other hand also, that they do not derive it from the people in general, though they are representatives of the people. Porteous correctly remarks: "That the presbyter is termed the people's representative shows that he is their chosen ruler. The way in which the office is acquired, but not the source of its power, is designated by the title of representative."33


1. A SPIRITUAL POWER. When the power of the Church is called a spiritual power, this does not mean that it is altogether internal and invisible, since Christ rules both body and soul, His Word and sacraments address the whole man, and the ministry of the diaconate even has special references to physical needs. It is a spiritual power, because it is given by the Spirit of God, Act_20:28, can only be exercised in the name of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, Joh_20:22-23; 1Co_5:4, pertains exclusively to believers, 1Co_5:12, and can only be exercised in a moral and spiritual way, 2Co_10:4. 34 The State represents the government of God over the outward and temporal estate of man, while the Church represents His government of man's inward and spiritual estate. The former aims at assuring its subjects of the possession and enjoyment of their external and civil rights, and is often constrained to exercise coercive power over against human violence. The latter is founded in opposition to an evil spirit and for the purpose of delivering men from spiritual bondage by imparting to them the knowledge of the truth, by cultivating in them spiritual graces, and by leading them to a life of obedience to the divine precepts. Since the power of the Church is exclusively spiritual, it does not resort to force. Christ intimated on more than one occasion that the administration of His Kingdom on earth involved a spiritual and not a civil power, Luk_12:13 ff.; Mat_20:25-28; Joh_18:36-37. The Church of Rome loses sight of this great fact, when it insists on the possession of temporal power and is bent on bringing the entire life of the people under its sway.

2. A MINISTERIAL POWER. It is abundantly evident from Scripture that the power of the Church is no independent and sovereign power, Mat_20:25-26; Mat_23:8; Mat_23:10; 2Co_10:4-5; 1Pe_5:3, but a diakonia leitourgia, a ministerial power, Act_4:29-30; Act_20:24; Rom_1:1, derived from Christ and subordinate to His sovereign authority over the Church, Mat_28:18. It must be exercised in harmony with the Word of God and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, through both of which Christ governs His Church, and in the name of Christ Himself as the King of the Church, Rom_10:14-15; Eph_5:23; 1Co_5:4. Yet it is a very real and comprehensive power, consisting in the administration of the Word and the sacraments, Mat_28:19, the determination of what is and what is not permitted in the Kingdom of God, Mat_16:19, the forgiving and retaining of sin, Joh_20:23, and the exercise of discipline in the Church, Mat_16:18; Mat_18:17; 1Co_5:4; Tit_3:10; Heb_12:15-17.


In connection with the three offices of Christ there is also a threefold power in the Church, namely, the potestas dogmatica or docendi, the potestas gubernans or ordinans of which the potestas iudicans or disciplinae is a subdivision, and the potestas or ministerium misericordiae.

1. THE POTESTAS DOGMATICA OR DOCENDI. The Church has a divine task in connection with the truth. It is her duty to be a witness to the truth to those who are without, and both a witness and a teacher to those that are within. The Church must exercise this power:

a. In the preservation of the Word of God. By giving His Word to the Church, God constituted the Church the keeper of the precious deposit of the truth. While hostile forces are pitted against it and the power of error is everywhere apparent, the Church must see to it that the truth does not perish from the earth, that the inspired volume in which it is embodied be kept pure and unmutilated, in order that its purpose may not be defeated, and that it be handed on faithfully from generation to generation. It has the great and responsible task of maintaining and defending the truth against all the forces of unbelief and error, 1Ti_1:3-4; 2Ti_1:13; Tit_1:9-11. The Church has not always been mindful of this sacred duty. During the last century too many of the leaders of the Church have even welcomed the assaults of a hostile criticism upon the Bible, and have rejoiced in the fact that it was brought down to the level of a purely human production, a mixture of truth and error. They have shown little of the determination which caused Luther to cry out: "Das Wort sollen Sie stehen lassen."

b. In the administration of the Word and of the sacraments. It is not only the duty of the Church to preserve the Word of God, but also to preach it in the world and in the assembly of the people of God, for the conversion of sinners and for the edification of the saints. The Church has an evangelistic or missionary task in the world. The King, clothed with all authority in heaven and on earth, gave her the great commission: "Go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe whatsoever I commanded you." Through the ministry of the Church the Son is ceaselessly gathering out of the whole human race a Church chosen to everlasting life. The empirical Church of any particular time must be actively engaged in the enlargement and expansion of the Church through missionary endeavors, must be instrumental in bringing in the elect out of all the nations of the world, adding living stones to the spiritual temple that is in process of construction, and must in that manner promote the completion of the number who will ultimately constitute the ideal Church of the future, the perfect bride of Christ, the new Jerusalem of Rev_21:1-27. If the Church of Jesus Christ should be derelict in the performance of this great task, she would prove unfaithful to her Lord. That work must be continued and must be completed before the glorious return of the Saviour, Mat_24:14. And the great means at the disposal of the Church for the accomplishment of this work is, not education, civilization, human culture, or social reforms, though all these may have subsidiary significance, but the gospel of the Kingdom, which is none other, in spite of what Premillenarians may say, than the gospel of free grace, of redemption through the blood of the Lamb. But the Church may not rest satisfied with bringing sinners to Christ through the instrumentality of the gospel; she must also engage in preaching the word in the assemblies of those who have already come to Christ. And in the performance of this task it is not her main task to call sinners unto Christ, though the invitation to come to Christ may not be wanting even in organized churches, but to edify the saints, to strengthen their faith, to lead them on in the way of sanctification, and thus to solidify the spiritual temple of the Lord. Paul has this in mind when he says that Christ gave the teaching officers to the Church "for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Eph_4:12-13. The Church may not rest satisfied with teaching the first principles of faith, but must press on to higher ground, in order that those who are babes in Christ may become full-grown men and women in Christ, Heb_5:11-14, Heb_6:1-3. Only a Church that is really strong, that has a firm grasp of the truth, can in turn become a powerful missionary agency and make mighty conquests for the Lord. Thus the task of the Church is a comprehensive task. She must point out the way of salvation, must warn the wicked of their coming doom, must cheer the saints with the promises of salvation, must strengthen the weak, encourage the faint-hearted and comfort the sorrowing. And in order that all this work may be done in every land and among all nations, she must see to it that the Word of God is translated into all languages. The ministry of the sacraments must, of course, go hand in hand with the ministry of the Word. It is merely the symbolical presentation of the gospel, addressed to the eye rather than to the ear. The duty of the Church to preach the Word is plainly taught in many passages of Scripture, such as Isa_3:10-11; 2Co_5:20; 1Ti_4:13; 2Ti_2:15; 2Ti_4:2; Tit_2:1-10. In view of the clear instructions of her King she may never allow any totalitarian government to dictate to her what she must preach; neither may she accommodate herself, as far as the contents of her message is concerned, to the demands of a naturalistic science, or to the requirements of a culture that reflects the spirit of the world. Modernists have done just that during the past decades by the suicidal efforts to adapt themselves in their preaching to the demands of a rationalistic higher criticism, of biology and psychology, of sociology and economics, until at last they completely lost the message of the King. Many of them are now coming to the discovery that the message recommended in Rethinking Missions and in Vernon White's A New Theology for Missions is quite different from the original message and contains little that is peculiar to the pulpit; and that, as things now stand in their circles, the Church has no message of its own. Frantic attempts are made by Modernists to discover for themselves some message which they might bring to the churches, while they should seek to recover the original message and humbly take their place at the feet of Jesus.

c. In the framing of symbols and confessions. Every Church must strive for self- consciousness in the confession of the truth. In order to accomplish this, it will not only have to reflect deeply on the truth, but also to formulate its expression of what it believes. By doing this it will engender in its members a clear conception of their faith, and convey to outsiders a definite understanding of its doctrines. The necessity of doing this was greatly enhanced by the historical perversions of the truth. The rise of heresies invariably called for the construction of symbols and confessions, for clearly formulated statements of the faith of the Church. Even the apostles sometimes found it necessary to restate with greater precision certain truths because of errors that had crept in. John restates the central truth of Christ's manifestation in the world in view of an incipient Gnosticism (cf. his Gospel and his First Epistle); Paul restates the doctrine of the resurrection, which was denied by some (1Co_15:1-58; 1Ti_1:20; 2Ti_2:17-18), and also that of the second coming of Christ, which was misunderstood (2Th_2:1-17); and the council of Jerusalem found it necessary to re-assert the doctrine of Christian liberty (Act_15:1-41). Naturally, the Bible contains no example of a creed. Creeds are not given by revelation, but are the fruit of the Church's reflection on revealed truth. In our day many are averse to symbols and confessions, and sing the glories of a creedless Church. But the objections raised against them are not at all insuperable. Creeds are not, as some insinuate, regarded as equal in authority to the Bible, and much less as superior to it. They do not, either by express statements or by implication add to the truth of Scripture. They do not militate against the freedom of the conscience, nor do they retard the progress of scientific theological study. Neither can they be regarded as the cause of the divisions in the Church, though they may be expressive of these. The divisions were there first and gave rise to the various creeds. As a matter of fact, they serve to a great extent to promote a measure of unity in the visible Church. Moreover, if a Church does not want to be silent, it is bound to develop a creed, be it written or unwritten. All this does not mean, however, that creeds cannot be abused.

d. In the cultivation of the study of theology. The Church may not rest on its oars and be satisfied with the knowledge of the divine truth to which it has attained and which it has formulated in its confessions. It must seek to dig ever deeper into the mine of Scripture, in order to bring to light its hidden treasures. Through scientific study it must seek an ever deeper knowledge, an ever better understanding, of the words of life. It owes this to the truth itself as a revelation of God, but also to the training of its future ministers. The Church is in duty bound to provide for, or at least to supervise, the training of the successive generations of its teachers and pastors. This would seem to be implied in the words of Paul to Timothy: "And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." 2Ti_2:2.

2. THE POTESTAS GUBERNANS. This is divided into the potestas ordinans and the potestas iudicans.

a. The potestas ordinans. "God is not a God of confusion, but of peace," 1Co_14:33. Hence He desires that in His Church "all things be done decently and in order," 1Co_14:40. This is evident from the fact that He has made provision for the proper regulation of the affairs of the Church. The regulative authority which He has given to the Church includes the power:

(1) To enforce the laws of Christ. This means that the Church has the right to carry into effect the laws which Christ has promulgated for the Church. There is an important difference on this point between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches. The former virtually claims authority to enact laws that are binding on the conscience, and the trangression of which carries with it the same penalty that is annexed to any breach of the divine law. The latter, however, disclaim any such authority, but maintain the right to enforce the law of Christ, the King of the Church. And even so they claim no other than a ministerial or declarative power, regard the law as binding only because it is backed by the authority of Christ, and apply no other censures than those which He has sanctioned. Moreover, they feel that compulsion would conflict with the nature of their power and could never result in real spiritual benefit. All the members of the Church possess this power in a measure, Rom_15:14; 1Th_5:11, but it is vested in a special measure in the officers, Joh_21:15-17; Act_20:28; 1Pe_5:2. The ministerial character of this power is brought out in 2Co_1:24; 1Pe_5:2-3.

(2) To draw up canons or church orders. Numberless occasions arise on which the Church is prompted to make enactments or regulations, often called canons or church orders. Such enactments are not to be regarded as new laws, but merely as regulations for the proper application of the law. They are necessary to give the outward polity of the Church a definite form, to stipulate on what terms persons are permitted to bear office in the Church, to regulate public worship, to determine the proper form of discipline, and so on. General principles for the worship of God are laid down in Scripture, Joh_14:23; 1Co_11:17-33; 1Co_14:10; 1Co_16:2; Col_3:16(?); 1Ti_3:1-13; but in the regulation of the details of divine worship the churches are allowed great latitude. They may adapt themselves to circumstances, always bearing in mind, however, that they should worship God publicly in the manner best adapted to the purpose of edification. In no case may the regulations of the Church go contrary to the laws of Christ.

b. The potestas iudicans. The potestas iudicans is the power that is exercised to guard the holiness of the Church, by admitting those who are approved after examination, and by excluding those who depart from the truth or lead dishonorable lives. It is exercised especially in matters of discipline.

(1) Scriptural teachings respecting discipline. Among Israel unintentional sins could be atoned for by a sacrifice, but sins committed "with a high hand" (intentional) were punished with extermination. The cherem (the ban or that which is devoted) was not only an ecclesiastical, but also a civil punishment. The uncircumcized, the lepers, and the impure, were not permitted to enter the sanctuary, Lev_5:1-19 f.; Eze_44:9. It was only after Israel lost its national independence, and its character as a religious assembly became more prominent, that the ban, consisting in exclusion from the assembly, became a measure of ecclesiastical discipline, Ezr_10:8; Luk_6:22; Joh_9:22; Joh_12:42; Joh_16:2. Jesus instituted discipline in His Church, when He gave the apostles and, in connection with their word, also the Church in general, the power to bind and to loose, to declare what is forbidden and what is permitted, and to forgive and to retain sins declaratively, Mat_16:19; Mat_18:18; Joh_20:23. And it is only because Christ has given this power to the Church, that she can exercise it. Several passages of the New Testament refer to the exercise of this power, 1Co_5:2; 1Co_5:7; 1Co_5:13; 2Co_2:5-7; 2Th_3:14-15; 1Ti_1:20; Tit_3:10. Such passages as 1Co_5:5 and 1Ti_1:20 do not refer to regular discipline, but to a special measure permitted only to the apostles and consisting in giving the sinner over to Satan for temporary physical punishment, in order to save the soul.

(2) The twofold purpose of discipline. The purpose of discipline in the Church is twofold. In the first place it seeks to carry into effect the law of Christ concerning the admission and exclusion of members; and in the second place it aims at promoting the spiritual edification of the members of the Church by securing their obedience to the laws of Christ. Both of these aims are subservient to a higher end, namely, the maintenance of the holiness of the Church of Jesus Christ. With reference to diseased members of the Church, discipline is first of all medical in that it seeks to effect a cure, but it may become chirurgical, when the well-being of the Church requires the excision of the diseased member. It is impossible to tell when a process of discipline begins, whether a cure will be effected, or whether the diseased member will finally have to be removed. Probably the Church will succeed in bringing the sinner to repentance —and this is, of course, the more desirable end—; but it is also possible that it will have to resort to the extreme measure of excommunicating him. In all cases of discipline the Church will have to figure with both possibilities. Even in the most extreme measure it should still have the saving of the sinner in mind, 1Co_5:5. At the same time it should always remember that the primary consideration is the maintenance of the holiness of the Church.

(3) The exercise of discipline by the officers. Though the ordinary members of the Church are frequently called upon to take part in the application of discipline, it is generally applied by the officers of the Church and can be applied only by them when discipline becomes censure. There are two different ways in which it may become the duty of a consistory to deal with a matter of discipline. (a) Private sins can become a cause of discipline in the more technical sense of the word in the manner indicated in Mat_18:15-17. If one sins against a brother, the latter must admonish the sinner; if this does not have the desired effect, he must admonish him again in the presence of one or two witnesses; and if even this fails, then he must notify the Church, and it becomes the duty of the officers to deal with the matter. It should be remembered, however, that this method is prescribed for private sins only. The offence given by public sins cannot be removed privately, but only by a public transaction. (b) Public sins make the sinner subject to disciplinary action by the consistory at once, without the formality of any preceding private admonitions, even if there is no formal accusation. By public sins are meant, not merely sins that are committed in public, but sins that give public and rather general offence. The consistory should not even wait until someone calls attention to such sins, but should take the initiative. It was no honor for the Corinthians that Paul had to call their attention to the scandal in their midst before they took action. 1Co_5:1 ff.; nor was it an honor for the churches of Pergamus and Thyatira that they did not rebuke and exclude the heretical teachers from their midst, Rev_2:14-15; Rev_2:20. In the case of public sins the consistory has no right to wait until someone brings formal charges; neither has it the right to demand of anyone who finally feels constrained to call attention to such sins that he admonish the sinner privately first. The matter of public sins can not be settled in private.

The disciplinary action of the consistory passes through three stages: (a) The excommunicatio minor, restraining the sinner from partaking of the Lord's Supper. This is not public, and is followed by repeated admonitions by the consistory, in order to bring the sinner to repentance. (b) If the preceding measure does not avail, it is followed by three public announcements and admonitions. In the first of these the sin is mentioned, but the sinner is not named. In the second the name is made known in accordance with the advice of classis, which must first be obtained. And in the third the imminent final excommunication is announced, in order that this may have the consent of the congregation. During all this time the consistory, of course, continues its admonitions. (c) Finally, this is followed by the excommunicatio major, by which one is cut off from the fellowship of the Church, Mat_18:17; 1Co_5:13; Tit_3:10-11. It is always possible to reinstate the sinner, if he shows due repentance and confesses his sins, 2Co_2:5-10.

(4) The necessity of proper discipline. The necessity of proper discipline is stressed in Scripture, Mat_18:15-18; Rom_16:17; 1Co_5:2; 1Co_5:9-13; 2Co_2:5-10; 2Th_3:6; 2Th_3:14-15; Tit_3:10-11. The church of Ephesus is praised because it did not bear with evil men, Rev_2:2, and those of Pergamus and Thyatira are reproved for harboring heretical teachers and heathen abominations, Rev_2:14; Rev_2:20; Rev_2:24. On the whole the Reformed churches have excelled in the exercise of Church discipline. They strongly stressed the fact that the Church of Christ must have an independent government and discipline. The Lutheran Churches did not emphasize this. They were Erastian in Church government, and were content to leave the exercise of Church discipline in the strict sense of the word in the hands of the government. The Church retained the right to exercise discipline only by means of the ministry of the Word, that is, by admonitions and exhortations addressed to the church as a whole. This was entrusted to the pastor and did not include the right to exclude anyone from the communion of the Church. At present there is in the Churches round about us a noticeable tendency to be lax in discipline, to place a one- sided emphasis on the reformation of the sinner through the ministry of the Word and —in some instances—through personal contacts with the sinner, and to steer clear of any such measures as excluding one from the communion of the Church. There is a very evident tendency to stress the fact that the Church is a great missionary agency, and to forget that it is first of all the assembly of the saints, in which those who publicly live in sin cannot be tolerated. It is said that sinners must be gathered into the church, and not excluded from it. But it should be remembered that they must be gathered in as saints and have no legitimate place in the Church as long as they do not confess their sin and strive for holiness of life.


a. The charismatic gift of healing. When Christ sent His apostles and the seventy disciples out, He not only instructed them to preach, but also gave them power to cast out devils and to cure all manner of diseases, Mat_10:1; Mat_10:8; Mar_3:15; Luk_9:1-2; Luk_10:9; Luk_10:17. Among the early Christians there were some who had the gift of healing and who could perform miracles, 1Co_12:9-10; 1Co_12:28; 1Co_12:30; Mar_16:17-18. This extraordinary condition, however, soon made way for the usual one, in which the Church carries on its work by the ordinary means. There is no Scriptural ground for the idea that the charism of healing was intended to be continued in the Church of all ages. Evidently, the miracles and miraculous signs recorded in Scripture were intended as a mark or credential of divine revelation, themselves formed a part of this revelation, and served to attest and confirm the message of the early preachers of the gospel. As such they naturally ceased when the period of special revelation came to an end. It is true that the Church of Rome and several sects claim the power of miraculous healing, but the claim is not borne out by the evidence. There are many marvelous stories in circulation of miraculous cures, but before they are given credence it must be proved: (1) that they do not pertain to cases of imaginary sickness, but to cases of real diseases or physical defects; (2) that they do not refer to imaginary or pretended, but to real, cures; and (3) that the cures are actually wrought in a supernatural way, and are not the result of the use of natural means, either material or mental.35

b. The ordinary ministry of benevolence in the Church. The Lord clearly intended that the Church should make provision for her poor. He hinted at this duty when He said to His disciples: "For ye have the poor always with you," Mat_26:11; Mar_14:7. By means of a communion of goods the early Church saw to it that no one wanted the necessaries of life, Act_4:34. It is not impossible that the neoteroi of Act_5:6; Act_5:10 were the precursors of the later deacons. And when the widows of the Greeks were being neglected in the daily ministration, the apostles saw to it that seven well qualified men were put in charge of this necessary business, Act_6:1-6. They were to "serve the tables," which seems to mean in this connection, to superintend the service at the tables of the poor, or to provide for an equitable division of the provisions that were placed on the tables. Deacons and deaconesses are mentioned repeatedly in the Bible, Rom_16:1; Php_1:1; 1Ti_3:8-12. Moreover, the New Testament contains many passages urging the necessity of giving or collecting for the poor, Act_20:35; 1Co_16:1-2; 2Co_9:1; 2Co_9:6-7; 2Co_9:12-14; Gal_2:10; Gal_6:10; Eph_4:28; 1Ti_5:10; 1Ti_5:16; Jas_1:27; Jas_2:15-16; 1Jn_3:17. There can be no doubt about the duty of the Church in this respect. And the deacons are the officers who are charged with the responsible and delicate task of performing the work of Christian benevolence with reference to all the needy of the Church. They must devise ways and means for collecting the necessary funds, have charge of the money collected, and provide for its prudential distribution. However, their task is not limited to this offering of material help. They must also instruct and comfort the needy. In all their work they should consider it their duty to apply spiritual principles in the performance of their duty. It is to be feared that this function of the Church is sadly neglected in many of the churches to-day. There is a tendency to proceed on the assumption that it can safely be left to the State to provide even for the poor of the Church. But in acting on that assumption, the Church is neglecting a sacred duty, is impoverishing her own spiritual life, is robbing herself of the joy experienced in ministering to the needs of those who suffer want, and is depriving those who are suffering hardships, who are borne down by the cares of life, and who are often utterly discouraged, of the comfort, the joy, and the sunshine of the spiritual ministrations of Christian love, which are as a rule entirely foreign to the work of charity administered by the State.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY: How do the Reformed and the Lutheran conceptions of Christ as the Head of the Church differ? Does the Old Testament contain any indication that Christ is King of the Church? What systems of Church government deny, or detract from, the Head—or Kingship of Christ? How does the Headship of Christ affect the relation of the Church to the State, religious liberty, and liberty of conscience? Is the doctrine that the power of the Church is exclusively spiritual consistent with Romanism and Erastianism? How is the power of the Church overrated by High Church men, and underrated by Low Church men, of various descriptions? How do the Independents view the power of the officers? How is Church power limited? What is the end contemplated in the exercise of Church power? What is meant by the Church in Mat_18:17? Does the key of discipline shut out only from outward privileges in the Church, or also from a spiritual interest in Christ? By whom and how is discipline exercised in the Roman Catholic, the Anglican, the Methodist, and the Congregational, Church? Can a Church safely discard discipline?

LITERATURE: Bavinck, Geref. Dogm. IV, pp. 425-482; Kuyper, Dict. Dogm., de Ecclesia, pp. 268-293; id., Tractaat van de Reformatie der Kerken, pp. 41-69; Bannerman, The Church, I, pp. 187-480; II, pp. 186-200; Hodge, Church Polity, cf. Index; Morris, Ecclesiology, pp. 143-151; Wilson, Free Church Principles; McPherson, The Doctrine of the Church in Scottish Theology, pp. 129-224; Gillespie, Aaron's Rod Blossoming; ibid., On Ceremonies; Bouwman, De Kerkelijke Tucht; Jansen, De Kerkelijke Tucht; Biesterveld, Van Lonkhuizen, en Rudolph, Het Diaconaat; Bouwman, Het Ambt der Diakenen; Litton, Introd. to Dogm. Theol., pp. 394-419; Schmid, Doct. Theol. of the Ev. Luth. Church, pp. 607-621; Wilmers, Handbook of the Chr. Rel., pp. 77-101; Cunningham, Discussions of Church Principles; ibid., Historical Theology II, pp. 514-587; McPherson, Presbyterianism.