Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 4. Organization and Discipline of the Church” Loc. 13792-14769 (part 12).
§57. Church Discipline.
Schaff has previously addressed church councils and a variety of church manuals. Here he turns his attention to the matter of church discipline, and important issue in a time when the purity of Christianity was under attack. The section starts with a brief, lightly annotated bibliography (Schaff 2014, Loc. 14624). Schaff notes that as church and state became more closely related, the censure of church could lead to civil and criminal charges (Schaff 2014, Loc. 14631). As time passed, the concept of mortal sin and venial sin developed. Mortal sins were those which would result in excommunication (Schaff 2014, Loc. 14638). Those who committed these sins were required to engage in catechesis before entering into the fellowship of the Church. By the end of the third century the standards for demonstrating penitence were becoming more universal and established (Schaff 2014, Loc. 14645). Penance and restoration normally took up to four years (Schaff 2014, Loc. 14653). Schaff is clear that restoration would not qualify a lapsed priest to office (Schaff 2014, Loc. 14660). Though there were stricter and more moderate parties, all demonstrated that there was no foolproof solution to the problems caused by falling away under persecution (Schaff 2014, Loc. 14682).