Discipline in an ecclesiastical context can be defined as the power of a church to maintain order among its members on issues of morals or doctrine. This book presents a scholarly engagement with the way in which legal discipline has evolved within the Church of England since 1688. It explores how the Church of England, unusually among Christian churches, has come to be without means of effective legal discipline in matters of controversy, whether liturgical, doctrinal, or moral. The author excludes matters of blatant scandal to focus on issues where discipline has been attempted in controversial matters, focussing on particular cases. The book makes connections between law, the state of the Church, and the underlying theology of justice and freedom. At a time when doctrinal controversy is widespread across all Christian traditions, it is argued that the Church of England has an inheritance here in need of cherishing and sharing with the universal Church.
The book will be a valuable resource for academics and researchers in the areas of law and religion, and ecclesiastical history.
Table of Contents
Introduction; 1. Toleration and its Effects; 2. The Old Discipline Lingers; 3. A Century of Doctrine Trials 1775-1871; 4. Law Defied – the Ritualists; 5. The Yearning to Fence the Altar; 6. Reluctance to Discipline; 7. The Lingering Temptation; Conclusion;
Revd Neil Patterson (MA BD) is Director of Vocations and Ordinands (Hereford), Rural Dean of Hereford, and a Member of the General Synod and the Ecclesiastical Law Society. He has published on ecclesiastical issues in books and periodicals.