33. Church Censures

  1. The censures which may be inflicted by church courts are admonition, suspension from the Sacraments, suspension from office, deposition from office, and excommunication. When a lower censure fails to reclaim the delinquent, it may become the duty of the court to proceed to the infliction of a higher censure.
  2. Admonition is the formal reproof of an offender by a church court, warning him of his guilt and danger, and exhorting him to be more circumspect and watchful in the future.
  3. Suspension is a censure which may be inflicted on either a private member or an officer of the Church. In respect to the former, it is a temporary exclusion from the Sacraments; and to the latter, from the exercise of office, and, in ordinary cases, from Sacraments also. This censure becomes necessary when very gross offenses have been committed; or when, notwithstanding admonition or rebuke, an offense is repeated or persisted in; or when probation is necessary to attest repentance and reformation, or to restore to the offender a sense of solemnity and fear when coming to the Lord’s Supper. Suspension may be for a definite time, but generally it should be indefinite in duration, and its removal depends upon evidence of repentance.
  4. Excommunication is the excision of an offender from the communion of the Church. This censure is to be inflicted only on account of gross sin or heresy and when the offender shows himself incorrigible and contumacious. The design of this censure is to operate on the offender as a means of reclaiming him, to deliver the Church from the scandal of his offense, and to inspire all with fear by the example of his discipline.
  5. Deposition is the removal of an officer from his office, and may or may not be accompanied with the infliction of other censure.

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