excommunication?

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Preach

Puritan Board Sophomore
My question regards those children who have been baptized, but grow up and never make a profession of faith. How long does a person remain a non-communicant member before he is excommunicated? Or is he ever excommunicated? If a child is baptized at one week old, but spends the next 20 years in the church and never makes a profession of faith, what do the elders do with him? Thanks.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Hopefully the elders have been striving for fruit in this mans life from infancy along with the parents. But if after all there efforts he still refuses to believe, then I would start the excommunication process for him around age 18. By then he will most likely be on his own and have no interest in church anyway. But perhaps in the process, the Lord will wake him up to the danger he is in and come to faith. But if his reservations about profession are due to certain convictions, like not knowing if he has been born again, or that he would like to understand somethings better, I would let him be a little longer, still checking up on him and his progress regularly.
 

rembrandt

Puritan Board Sophomore
puritansailor, are you referring to the church at large? Meaning not only not being able to attend group functions (like around his age group), but also not being able to attend church with his parents (sunday services). I mean, its not like he would want to go to church anyway, but if he agreed to continue going with his parents... should we really try to "weed" him out (if he was living in blatant disobedience)?

I don't know of anybody who was "excommunicated"... especially in a covenantal church...
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
[quote:272eb64a1e][i:272eb64a1e]Originally posted by rembrandt[/i:272eb64a1e]
puritansailor, are you referring to the church at large? Meaning not only not being able to attend group functions (like around his age group), but also not being able to attend church with his parents (sunday services). I mean, its not like he would want to go to church anyway, but if he agreed to continue going with his parents... should we really try to "weed" him out (if he was living in blatant disobedience)?
[/quote:272eb64a1e]

I guess I'm refering to what should be. Most paedo churches are not so dilligent in this. Thankfully, the one's I have been in were diligent in seeing fruit produced. There must be a point at which people baptized as children, make a decision to make a formal profession and be admited to full membership status (i.e communion) or make that decision to depart. They are members of the visible church and must produce fruit. If they refuse to live accordingly then they must be disciplined and if necessary excommunicated. Otherwise your church will become full of unbelievers who've been told their whole life that it's ok to do nothing so long as they're baptized.
 

rembrandt

Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:6b8df87e67]They are members of the visible church and must produce fruit. If they refuse to live accordingly then they must be disciplined and if necessary excommunicated. Otherwise your church will become full of unbelievers who've been told their whole life that it's ok to do nothing so long as they're baptized.[/quote:6b8df87e67]

Okay, what if they do live accordingly as far as anybody can see. And hence, by outsiders he/she would be labeled a "good" person. They are not interested in the gospel, but still participate in church activities. This person is of age. Just doesn't want anything to do with the true kingdom of God. :puzzled:

Rembrandt
 

rembrandt

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would never be a pastor, cause I would be too harsh... If I had it my way, the person would be questioned about his/her faith (if he/she never made a profession). Then, upon the response (whatever it may be), a close eye will be kept.

I would have a serious talk with the person about the purpose of the Christian church. But depending on his/her relationship to the church (family there etc.), I don't know if I would try to boot the person out (if there was no evil behavior exhibited).

I guess, as you said, it has to do with the church's structure, exceptance of CT (edit post: I meant "acceptance" and was referring to the system of church government within the covenantal framework) etc. But in a Paedo church... :puzzled:

[Edited on 2-16-2004 by rembrandt]
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Excommunication means that the person is to be treated as an unbeliever per Matt 18. That means they are no longer apart of the visible church and can not participate in its activities. But if they repent they can come back. Consider the man who had relations with his mother in 1 Cor 5. The church was to bring him back after he repented in 2 Cor.

Excommunication is a last resort. It is not to be done unless all alternatives have been exhausted. As a member of a Session, I have had to excommunicate a member. Its a very painful thing to do, but God requires it of the unrepentant. Note that church discipline is not about punishment but about recovering a brother or sister in Christ.

Plus we do not excommunicate someone because they don't accept CT. A person becomes a communing member of the visible church based on a credible profession of faith. They do not have to subscribe to the Westminster Standards. A person is excommunicated for unrepented sin.
 

Preach

Puritan Board Sophomore
Wayne, since you are a ruling elder, let me pick your thoughts. You have said that you have only excommunicated one person. Please be very candid in your response so I do not have to read through the lines. I can take it. Thanks. Here goes: If a baptized child grows up and has no blatantly outward sin, joins in church activity, but after 20 years or so still has not professed Christ, what do you do with a person like that? I would estimate there are thousands of paedobaptit children who grow up and don't make the profession of faith. Yet, if you are representative of elders, that means that these thousands of covenant breakers (are they covenant breakers if they don't have publicly outward sin? ) are remaining members of the church. I ask these tough questions because I have converted to covenant theology and am attempting to understand the practicality of the covenant, not the theory. Thanks brother.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Preach,

In the Presbyterian Church, if a person is baptized as an infant, a profession of faith is only required when they become a communing member, at which point they are admitted to the Lord's Table. Usually a person who was baptized as an infant will come before a Session between the ages of 8 to 12 to make their credible profession and become a communing member. In the case you are describing, a lot of things would have to have gone wrong for someone to go 20 years, assuming all in the same church, and not become a communing member.

As far as commiting a blatantly outward sin, neglecting the Lord's Supper is a blatantly outward sin! None of the sacraments are to be neglected. The question then gets complicated as to what extent of discipline can be used regarding someone who is not a communing member of a particular congregation. In the PCA BCO, 28-4 gives some guidance concerning disciplining non-communing members:

( 28-4. Adult non-communing members, who receive with meekness and appreciation the oversight and instruction of the Church, are entitled to special attention. Their rights and privileges under the covenant should be frequently and fully explained, and they should be warned of the sin and danger of neglecting their covenant obligations. )

Unless someone knows of something else in the BCO, I believe that this section does allow for a Session to take any necessary action to recover the person in question. But hopefully, the Church and the person's parents would never let it go this far. And as I said before, excommunication is a last resort.

Say this would be a good question for all the Seminary students on the board. They are going to have to face situations similar to this sooner or later! Learning how to exegete a passage and getting your theology in order is important, but dealing with day to day situations such as this separates those who are truly called versus those who think they are called. And I guarantee you will deal with them, as the Church is chaukfull of sinners with all kinds of problems.
 
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