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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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is an ecclesiastical term denoting the power and authority vested in a bishop, by virtue of the apostolical commission, of governing and administering the laws of the Church within the bounds of his diocese. The same term is also used to express the bounds within which a bishop exercises his power, i.e. his diocese. To define this power of the ecclesiastic properly from that of civil jurisdiction has led to no little discussion. Of old the earl and bishop sat in the same court. Afterwards the bishop held his courts by himself, though temporal lords sat in synod with bishops "the one to search the laws of the land, and the other the laws of God." The question of jurisdiction, after the period of the Conqueror, was often agitated between the pope and sovereigns. The things, the latter argued, and reasonably, that are Caesar's belong to Caesar, and it is treason to take them from him; the things that are God's belong to God, and it is impiety to take them from him. The Church is a free society, and should have perfect power of self government within its own domain, and a purely spiritual sentence should be beyond review by a civil court. (See INVESTITURE); (See KEYS, POWER OF).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Jurisdiction'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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