Archive for the ‘Church Discipline’ Category

Excommunicating Apostates

October 27, 2010

Over at the Roman Catholic Called to Communion blog (home to a number of apostate “Reformed” folks), the topic of excommunication came up. Apparently, one of the folks there (Christopher Lake) who wants to leave his church for Rome has been receiving at least the threat of godly discipline (link to comment).

I am glad to hear that at least one church seems to be taking discipline in this area seriously, but what was sad and surprising was that in a number of other cases, the apostates are reporting that although they were threatened with discipline, nothing ever came of it.

Possibly they think that nothing ever came of it, when in fact they were informally excommunicated using an erasure mechanism. But is that kind of informal procedure really enough to warn these apostates of their spiritual danger?

My question for elders whose sheep have left the visible church to be joined with Rome: have you fulfilled your spiritual obligation toward them by duly excommunicating them and informing them of the dreadful spiritual consequences of excommunication? Or have you neglected your duties?

There’s no need, of course, for there to be answers here – though I would be interested in thoughts that my Reformed brethren have to share. While apostasy is obviously the fault of the apostate, if Reformed shepherds are really doing only a halfhearted effort at applying discipline they too are to blame for not having diligently warned their flock.

I applaud Mr. Lake’s session for emphasizing the seriousness of his departure from the gospel. I am sorry to see in the comment box that it appears that some “non-denominational” church has been more willing to exercise godly discipline than (according to the reports provided) various PCA churches have been.

One final question: what more can we do to help apostates understand that their move to Rome is not like getting traded from the Mets to the Yankees, it’s like defecting from America to North Korea – that it’s leaving the gospel of Christ for service to antichrist – that it is evidence that they were not of us else they would not have gone out from us, and consequently that they are in need of repentance and in danger of hell fire?


Starbucks Christianity

August 14, 2009

This video (link), which I don’t endorse, provides a “parable” regarding how Starbucks would look if it were marketed like a church. While there are a number of amusing aspects to the video, the apparent underlying message (that the church, to be successful, should be more like Starbucks) is wrong.

Yes, there are bad things that go on in churches. Nevertheless, the point of church is not simply so random folks off the street can come in, get served, and go. The church is a fellowship of believers.

Yes, there are many pulpit crimes taking place in churches throughout the world. There are many inappropriate ways that churches handle new visitors. Despite that, though, the point of church is not simply to purvey a commodity as a coffee shop does: it is not designed to help one relax and unwind. It is not a place where a person should feel anonymous and simply a part of the crowd. It is a place where discipline is exercised and fellowship is nurtured and fostered.

The services of worship are about serving and worshiping God, not the congregants. We do want people who visit to make their stay permanent. But we do not wish to do so by giving up our zeal for God, the reality of our fellowship with one another, or the push for proselytizing.

Give up any of those and we might as well run a coffee shop instead.


Thomas Smythe on Church Harmony

February 5, 2009

The Virginia Huguenot has provided a list of 12 ways to enhance the harmony of one’s church, taken from the great Southern Presbyterian, Thomas Smythe (link). It’s rich in Scriptural truth, and promotes the peace and unity of the body. An excellent preventative medicine for every generation.



Church Discipline and Holiness

January 24, 2009

Criticism of “Protestant” church discipline, with a positive example illustrated in this video by Dr. James White (just under 15 minutes long):

This is partly to provide balance to my criticism of Rome in these two recent posts (first post) (second post). Notice that Rome is not alone in failing to do proper church discipline. The fact that I’ve pointed out Rome’s mistake in this error doesn’t let those “Protestant” churches that do the same thing off the hook.


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