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Lapsi (Christianity)
In the early Christian Church, lapsi were apostates who renounced their faith under persecution by Roman authorities. The term refers to those who have lapsed or fallen away from their faith, only to return to it later.
Origins
The Decian persecution of 250 AD, which required all citizens of the Roman empire to publicly sacrifice to traditional gods, created unrest within the Church. Christians who submitted to pressure and made public sacrifice were called lapsed or "lapsi". Upon completion of sacrifice, individuals received a certificate of sacrifice, or libellus, a legal document proving conformity with Roman religion. To avoid this test, many members of the clergy fled, leaving their communities without leadership. In their absence, lay people who had not lapsed, called confessors, filled their leadership role.
Upon return to Carthage, St. Cyprian found these confessors had assumed authority of clergy, especially forgiveness of sin. Although many confessors willingly relinquished their positions of authority upon the clergies' return, some attempted to retain their positions. Cyprian called a council in 251 AD to address this problem, the root of which was the status of the lapsi. Confessors tended to accept lapsi back into communion, while the clergy demanded harsher punishments. Cyprian was able to avoid schism by identifying five categories of lapsi and assigning penance appropriate to each.[1]
Classifications
After the 250 AD Decian Persecution, Cyprian of Carthage held a council sometime after Easter 251 AD, in which Lapsi were classified into five categories:
At Rome, the principle was established that the apostates should not be abandoned, but that they should be exhorted to do penance, so that, in case of their being again cited before the authorities, they might atone for their apostasy by remaining steadfast.[2]
See also
References
  1. ^ Frend, W.H.C. (1984). The Rise of Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress. pp. 318–323. ISBN 9780800619312.
  2. ^ Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Lapsi." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 13 March 2021
    This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
Bibliography

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Last edited on 16 March 2021, at 00:24
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