Excommunication - What it is and is not

Christian ethics and theology with an Anabaptist perspective

Mark all the statements you agree with.

1. Excommunication is from the universal body of Christ.
1
2%
2. Excommunication is from both the universal body of Christ and the local church.
4
6%
3. Excommunication is from the local church, not necessarily from the universal body of Christ.
10
16%
4. Excommunication and local membership is not important.
1
2%
5. Excommunication and local membership is important.
14
22%
6. Excommunication should be only for specific sins that the bible clearly teaches against, and not for extra biblical local church standards associated with membership in the local church.
9
14%
7. There are times and circumstances that it is right for the local church to excommunicate for noncompliance with extra biblical local church standards.
8
13%
8. I am a member or interested in working toward membership of a Anabaptist church.
14
22%
9. I am not a member, nor interested working toward membership of an Anabaptist church, and never have been.
0
No votes
10. I used to be a member of an Anabaptist church but not now.
2
3%
 
Total votes: 63

RZehr
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Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby RZehr » Tue Jan 31, 2017 1:55 pm

I though about posting this in the General Theology section. Maybe it belongs there. Please expand on your reasons if you want to do so.
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lesterb
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Re: Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby lesterb » Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:48 pm

I feel that excommunication should never be used lightly. It should indicate that we as a brotherhood feel that the person in question is out of communion with God, and that we are recognizing that by following through on earth. If excommunication is only on a local level and we feel that the person is still part of the universal body of Christ, then we should not be using excommunication as a way of dealing with them.

If a person is showing by his blatant disobedience that he is not part of the body of Christ, then it doesn't really matter whether he disobeying a local standard or living in adultery, for instance. The point is that by excommunicating someone we should be showing him what his position is with God.

If we aren't clear on that, then maybe we should just ask them to withdraw their membership until such a time that they are ready to cooperate and be a productive part of the brotherhood.
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When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Pro 16:7 ESV)

Once Again
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Re: Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby Once Again » Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:22 pm

http://forum.mennonet.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=221&p=5056#p4990

Here is a thread that may relate to this discussion.
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Josh
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Re: Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby Josh » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:53 am

I really wanted to choose all the options.

I know someone who got excommunicated from a near-cult. I don't think he was excommunicated from the body of Christ.

Another person was not excommunicated from his home church, but many other people did disfellowship him personally one-on-one - he was having an affair.

And I think excommunication for breaking church rules depends on what the rule is. If the rule is "never, ever question a church leader" or "do not speak up about sexual abuse", I would argue that the excommunicant is not excommunicated from the body of Christ - the rest of that church is, and the excommunicant is the one still in the body.
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MaxPC
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Re: Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby MaxPC » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:34 am

#s 5 & 6 most closely apply to our definition.

I know: it's complicated :roll: :lol:
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Bootstrap
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Re: Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby Bootstrap » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:45 am

I chose #3, #6, and #9.

I was excommunicated from a (non-Mennonite) church once because I asked the elders to examine charges against the leader, who had been pressuring women into having sex with him and keeping silent. One of them had talked with him and recorded the conversation, then gave it to several of us. We took this, confidentially, to the elders, they responded by excommunicating us. I have no doubt that the elders were Christians. I have no doubt that this was unwise. A year later, they kicked the leader out because his actions became public. They shunned us. They told church members that we were under the influence of Satan.

I think we have to remember that local congregations can be wrong. And the Body of Christ is more than any one local congregation, movement, or denomination.
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RZehr
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Re: Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby RZehr » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:32 am

Thanks for all your comments. Josh & Boot - to clarify my meaning of the first few questions, I should have asked "What is your understanding of excommunication and as taught in the Bible?" Not necessarily what it is today.
Maybe the question is "What should it be?" Maybe you did understand that, and just are recounting personal experiences. Thanks!
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Bootstrap
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Re: Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby Bootstrap » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:20 am

RZehr wrote:Thanks for all your comments. Josh & Boot - to clarify my meaning of the first few questions, I should have asked "What is your understanding of excommunication and as taught in the Bible?" Not necessarily what it is today.
Maybe the question is "What should it be?" Maybe you did understand that, and just are recounting personal experiences. Thanks!


I think it would be helpful to make a list of things that the New Testament lists as reasons to excommunicate someone. Sleeping with your father's wife and refusing to repent is one. Failing to agree on some obscure aspect of theology is not. A complete list would be helpful to get a feel for the kinds of things that led to excommunication back then.
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Is it biblical? Is it Christlike? Is it loving? Is it true? How can I find out?

Wade
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Re: Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby Wade » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:54 pm

Since it was stated that a major part is the person's communion with God that is in question with excommunication I would say that Romans 1 and Galatians 5 could be the start of a list...
29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

However lists have problems...
I believe we see from these points held in scripture that a person could be very much at odds with the church if he is in disagreement with something from scripture or a church standard. But the question does come up about who has it right? So, I think these scriptures actual deal with our reactions, motives, intents, or lack of submission when these disagreements arise. Unfortunately they also then can be used in a wrong manner too justify excommunication, just like anything power can be used wrongly...
Takes a lot of humility because these things are going to happen.
One thing I have learn in leadership positions in the work place anyway (been on both sides in a few situations and settings) is that often leaders can contain more information in their decision than we realize or know of and if they would have chosen the same as we would have it very well could have been the wrong decision. Or not...
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Ernie
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Re: Excommunication - What it is and is not

Postby Ernie » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:26 pm

I think there are a lot of levels of discipline that the NT refers to.
Here are some...

1. rebuking sharply
2. not socializing with
3. dis-fellowshipping
4. excommunication


Also, the OP mentioned church standards but not church doctrine. I know a man about may age who was excommunicated a few years ago from a plain church and it was called a doctrinal excommunication. His character was good. He was a gifted scholar and speaker. But he had some very unorthodox basic beliefs about God and the Bible (somewhat universalist) and because he was so influential, the church felt they needed to call it out as false teaching. I think the church did the right thing.
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Corporate worship, mutual aid, fellowship and mutual accountability characterize this community. An individualistic or self centered Anabaptism is a contradiction in terms. - Kevin Daugherty


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