Nova
Dominia Ecclesia Quae Est Nova
Hierosolyma - The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma


Handbook of the Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma
Text and Print Edition Copyright 1985 by The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma.
Online Presentation Copyright 2000 by the NewEarth Swedenborgian BBS.


Nova Domini Ecclesia Quae Est Nova Hierosolyma

Resolutions Concerning the Government of the Church

 

The following resolutions were originally passed unanimously in Meetings of the International Council of Priests and of the International Interior Council held at the Hague, Holland, in September and October 1966, and later amended and brought into their present form with the unanimous agreement of both Councils in Meetings held in April and May 1968.

 

The Episcopal Office

 

In establishing an order in which the Internal in the Church can be brought to the life and deepened and developed, this Council looks to the further fulfillment of the Priestly Government as envisaged in the Principles and Plan of Order. The time has come for the Priesthood to order itself and it is now necessary for the Episcopal Office to be filled in the Church. In filling the Third Degree of the Priesthood, the Priesthood does not assume that the present Degrees of the Priesthood are such as they may exist in the future when the Church is fully instaurated. This Council acknowledges, however, that even now the Episcopal Office in its Order has a reception of that which is spiritual out of coelestial origin in relation to the Doctrine of the Church, and the natural quality which can bring this before the Priests for the direction of their work, and before the people of the Church. The Priesthood looks toward the further unfolding of these things in the Church and the further embodiment of them in the Episcopal Office, and to the eventual formation of a house of Bishops for the International Government of the Church as envisaged in the Principles and Plan of Order.”

 

In implementing the above resolution, it was further resolved:

 

“That the Reverend Philip Nathaniel Odhner be ordained into the Third Degree of the Priesthood in relation to the present state of the Church”

 

and it was further resolved that the general form of the Government of the Church in relation to the Episcopal Office should be as follows:

 

Title

 

The title “Bishop” shall be applied to any Priest in the Church who has been ordained into the Third Degree of the Priesthood.

 

The Consistory.

 

The Bishop shall be responsible for leading and directing bhe Priests of the Church in relation to their work, and in doing so he shall consult with the wisest advisors available. For this purpose he shall appoint a Consistory chosen by him from the Priests of the Second Degree, with which Consistory he shall meet regularly and take counsel whenever possible concerning all matters affecting the welfare of the Church. The powers of the Consistory shall be advisory only. In relation to matters which concern the Church in countries within his jurisdiction but where there are no Priests who are members of the Consistory, the Bishop may appoint a special Consistory for each such country drawn from any of the Priests in that country, with whom also he shall consult concerning anything affecting the welfare of the Church in that country.

 

The International Council of Priests.

 

The Membership of the International Council of Priests shall be determined by the Bishop of the Church and the Members of that Council. New Members shall be nominated by the Bishop and confirmed by a majority of the Members of that Council. The Bishop shall be ex officio the Chairman of that Council.

 

The International Interior Council.

 

The function of the International Interior Council in relation to the Doctrine of the Church as set forth in the statement of 1956 remains the same, but the Bishop will be ex officio Chairman of that Council.

 

Ordination.

 

The Bishop shall have full responsibility for considering and accepting Candidates for the Priesthood, and, until there is an established Theological School, also for making arrangements for their preparation. He shall also have full responsibility for the decision as to whether they will be ordained and for their ordination. His decision, made after receiving the recommendations of the appointed teachers, shall be final.

 

The Bishop shall have full responsibility for ordaining Priests into the Second Degree of the Priesthood. The decision to ordain any Priest into the Second Degree will belong to the Bishop, but he shall consult all the Priests of the Second Degree and also the Members of the Interior Council before making the decision.

 

A Candidate for the Third Degree of the Priesthood shall normally be chosen by the Bishop from among the Priests of the Second Degree. If the Bishop is unable to do so owing to death or incapacity, nomination may be made by any Priest in the International Council of Priests. Before a Candidate can be ordained into the Third Degree, his ordination must be confirmed by a majority of the Internalional Council of Priests, and also of the Interior Council.

 

The Appointment of Priests.

 

The Bishop shall have the power to direct in what Societies the Priests shall work. If the appointment of a Priest involves his transfer from one Society to another, the Bishop, after consulting with his Consistory, shall discuss the transfer with the Priest concerned and with the Council of his Society; and the appointment shall also be put before the Society to which he is to be sent, for confirmation. In the event of the appointment of a new Priest, the appointment shall be placed before the Society to which he is appointed for confirmation; and if he is a Priest of the First Degree who will work under the Pastor in that Society, the agreement of the Pastor will be required also.

 

Freedom in the Church.

 

Human freedom is necessary if men are to be led in freedom according to reason by the Lord into the life in the Lord which is freedom itself. It is therefore self-evident that no one in the Church can be compelled with regard to the acceptance of any doctrinal view and that the greatest freedom must be preserved in the Church with regard to the expression of the thoughts and feelings of all in the Church provided they are not in opposition to the Essentials and the Principles of Doctrine of the Church, as outlined in the adjoined paper. It is understood that a similar freedom exists in relation to each land and each Society.

 

Within this freedom there must be unanimity of acknowledgment of the presence of an internal sense in the literal sense of the Word of the Third Testament, and a striving for a further opening of it and for unity in its Spirit and Life, that the Second Coming of the Lord may further be fulfilled and the Church may be ever new and be one in the Lord.

 

While recognizing that the government of the visible Church is in the hands of the Priesthood, it is also self-evident that whenever possible in matters directly affecting the people the Priest shall seek their free consent and reciprocal co-operation.

 

Overseeing.

 

The Bishop, in overseeing the work of the Priests, out of a special priestly love shall be of help by teaching and leading them in relation to the internal and external of their Office in accordance with the Objective of the Church. He shall make Episcopal visits to all the Societies in the Church, and he shall have the power to direct that copies of Sermons preached, reports of work done during the year, and any other information be supplied to him in order that he may observe the work of the Priests who are under his care.

 

Maintenance of Order.

 

The Bishop shall be responsible for maintaining Order among the Priests of the Church. It is taught in the Word that Priests must teach according to the Doctrine of their Church out of the Word and lead to a life according to it. The Bishop therefore shall be responsible for overseeing the teaching and leading of the Priests to ensure that these Priest involves his transfer from one Society to another, the Bishop, after consulting with his Consistory, shall discuss the transfer with the Priest concerned and with the Council of his Society; and the appointment shall also be put before the Society to which he is to be sent, for confirmation. In the event of the appointment of a new Priest, the appointment shall be placed before the Society to which he is appointed for confirmation; and if he is a Priest of the First Degree who will work under the Pastor in that Society, the agreement of the Pastor will be required also.

 

Freedom in the Church.

 

Human freedom is necessary if men are to be led in freedom according to reason by the Lord into the life in the Lord which is freedom itself. It is therefore self-evident that no one in the Church can be compelled with regard to the acceptance of any doctrinal view and that the greatest freedom must be preserved in the Church with regard to the expression of the thoughts and feelings of all in the Church provided they are not in opposition to the Essentials and the Principles of Doctrine of the Church, as outlined in the adjoined paper. It is understood that a similar freedom exists in relation to each land and each Society.

 

Within this freedom there must be unanimity of acknowledgment of the presence of an internal sense in the literal sense of the Word of the Third Testament, and a striving for a further opening of it and for unity in its Spirit and Life, that the Second Coming of the Lord may further be fulfilled and the Church may be ever new and be one in the Lord.

 

While recognizing that the government of the visible Church is in the hands of the Priesthood, it is also self-evident that whenever possible in matters directly affecting the people the Priest shall seek their free consent and reciprocal co-operation.

 

Overseeing.

 

The Bishop, in overseeing the work of the Priests, out of a special priestly love shall be of help by teaching and leading them in relation to the internal and external of their Office in accordance with the Objective of the Church. He shall make Episcopal visits to all the Societies in the Church, and he shall have the power to direct that copies of Sermons preached, reports of work done during the year, and any other information be supplied to him in order that he may observe the work of the Priests who are under his care.

 

Maintenance of Order.

 

The Bishop shall be responsible for maintaining Order among the Priests of the Church. It is taught in the Word that Priests must teach according to the Doctrine of their Church out of the Word and lead to a life according to it. The Bishop therefore shall be responsible for overseeing the teaching and leading of the Priests to ensure that these are not in opposition to the Essentials and the Principles of Doctrine of the Church. The Bishop shall bring to the attention of the Councils of the Church those things of value which he observes in the work of the Priests. Any Priest of the Church shall have the right to bring to the notice of the Interior Council, anything of Doctrine which he considers to be new and of use to the Church, or anything in respect of which he desires counsel.

 

In the event that the Bishop regards the teaching of a Priest to be interiorly in opposition to the Essentials and the Principles of Doctrine of the Church, and he is unable to convince the Priest concerned, he may ask the Priest to present his idea to the International Interior Council where the matter shall be considered. If no agreement is reached with the Priest concerned, the matter shall be considered in at least one other series of meetings before a decision is reached. If the views of the Priest are found to be in opposition to the Genuine Understanding of the Word, the conclusions of the Council may be made known to the Society concerned, or to the Church as a whole. If through the persistent propagation of such views, there is, in the eyes of the Bishop, a harm to the Church or a serious disturbance, he may temporarily silence the Priest and ask that he be tried before a Court consisting of the International Council of Priests and the International Interior Council. A decision can be taken only by the agreement of at least two-thirds of the Members of the Court. In the event of a negative judgment the Court will be empowered to take such action as it sees fit.

 

If there is evidence of serious misconduct by a Priest, or if he openly denies the Essentials and the Principles of Doctrine of the Church, he shall be obliged to retire immediately, if instructed to do so by the Bishop, pending a final decision. A Priest shall have the right to elect that his case be heard by the Bishop alone, or by the Bishop advised by his Consistory. The decision in both cases shall then rest with the Bishop, but the Priest may exercise his right of appeal.

 

If a Bishop teaches and leads contrary to the Doctrine of the Church, if he conducts himself in a way which is seriously detrimental to the welfare of the Church, or if he becomes incapacitated through age or illness, he may be removed from Office after an appeal has been made by one of the Priests of the Second Degree to the International Council of Priests, and also to the Interior Council, and only after his removal has been agreed to by a majority consisting of at least two-thirds of the Members of the International Council of Priests, and also of the Interior Council.

 

In the event of the removal of a Priest from Office, a reasonable provision for his livelihood shall be made.

 

Worship.

 

In order that the things of Worship may be perfected in accordance with the Doctrine of the Church and brought into correspondence with the internal things of love and faith, proposals for new forms of Worship shall be brought by the Bishop to the International Council of Priests for discussion. New forms of Worship must be agreed to by the Council before they may be put into effect. If more light is desired on the doctrinal things involved, the Bishop shall also confer with the Interior Council, or call a joint Meeting of the Interior Council and the International Council of Priests. This order does not preclude any Priest from bringing to the International Council of Priests for discussion any question or idea concerning Worship.

 

The Bishop shall be responsible for overseeing the External Worship of the Church, and for defining how far the External Worship may vary from the received and accepted Orders of Service of the Church, according to the state of the Priest and of the Society in every place, and he shall endeavor to allow the Priest and the Society sufficient latitude to enable their love to be in true freedom of Worship.

 

We look forward to a greater harmony in the Orders of Service in the different lands, but a variation in the different Orders of Service in the different lands according to customs and affections is recognized. No permanent changes may be made in the regular Orders of Service without consulting the Bishop, and all important changes should be deferred and brought up through the Bishop for discussion in the International Council of Priests.

 

Powers of Appeal.

 

In the event that a Priest wishes to appeal the decision of a Bishop, and in the absence of a properly constituted Ecclesiastical Court, the International Council of Priests may be used as a Court of Appeal, and when Doctrinal things are involved, the Interior Council.

 

Finances.

 

In recognition of the place of the Priesthood in the initiament of uses in the Church, and of the place of the Interior Council in overseeing the finances of the whole Church, the Budgets will be drawn up by the Priests and presented to a financial Committee consisting of the Bishop, and a representative of the Interior Council and the President of the Corporation, for consultation and decision. The Bishop shall then present the Budgets to the Board of the Corporation.

 

Changes in the Form of Government.

 

Any change in the Order of Government shall be initiated by the Bishop, and made effective by the confirmation of the International Council of Priests and the Interior Council. In respect of any change directly affecting the people the Priesthood shall seek their free consent and reciprocal co-operation.

 

The Essentials and the Principles of Doctrine of the Church

 

The Essentials of the Church are:

 

1. The acknowledgment of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Divine Human as the one only God of Heaven and Earth, in whom is the Divine Trinity.

 

2. The acknowledgment of the Word of the Lord in its three Testaments, the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, which are the Third Testament. In this Third Testament the Lord has fulfilled His Second Coming, and all the Divine Truth of His Divine Human from firsts to lasts is present therein in fullness, holiness and power. What is said in this Testament concerning the Sacred Scripture or Word applies also to itself.

 

3. The life of faith, charity and love into the Lord that is of Heaven, being the Divine essence of eternal life in man and in the Church.

 

The Principles of Doctrine are:

 

It is not the Word that makes the Church, but the understanding of it. The Church is according to its Doctrine and the Doctrine is out of the Word. However the Doctrine does not instaurate the Church, but the integrity and purity of the Doctrine, consequently the understanding (intellectus) of the Word.

 

The Doctrine is spiritual out of coelestial origin not out of rational origin.

 

The Third Testament without Doctrine is as a candlestick without light, and those who read that Testament without Doctrine, or who do not acquire for themselves Doctrine out of the Third Testament, are in darkness as to all Truth.

 

(These Resolutions were approved by the Members of the Church.)

 

 



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