Practical effects of ex-communication church discipline

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Scott1, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. Christians ought not have contact with the person

    3 vote(s)
  2. Christians ought not pray for the person

    0 vote(s)
  3. Person not allowed to participate in any way in the life of any church in the denomination

    7 vote(s)
  4. Person not to participate in any way in the life of any Christian denomination

    6 vote(s)
  5. Individual church members ought evangelize them as unbelievers outside of church life only

    13 vote(s)
  6. Evangelize them as unbelievers allowing them to continue as non-members

    11 vote(s)
  7. Discontinue all discipline immediately if person no longer wishes to be bound by member vows

    2 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    What is your understanding of the practical effects of a person who is ex-communicated from a particular church?

    Assume for purposes of the poll that a biblical process was followed up that point and that
    You may choose as many as apply.
  2. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I didn't vote. What do you mean by church discipline? Do you mean the person has been approached by elders and not repented, but still claims to be a believer? Or is this someone who after being approached by elders claims they are no longer a believer? If they deny Christ, they ought to be out completely, but people should continue praying for them.

    If the person does not see what it is they have done wrong and won't repent, then it is a matter of barring them from the Lord's Table and from doing activities in the church other than worship or teaching times.

    I don't believe it is ever right to not have contact with someone, because it is often in the contact that the person repents. There should be love, prayer and a non-tolerant attitude toward the sin.
  3. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    The poll has in view a person, a member, who has been dealt with by the denomination's formal (judicial) process, which would have included several biblical steps before ex-communication, and will not repent of open, known, scandalous sin.
  4. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    The practical effects? The unrepentant person usually defends their actions or acts in defiance of what they know is right. But the goal is repentance and restoration. The church needs to be ready to welcome back the person who repents. Part of that welcoming back is not to allow the brother or sister to live with a cloud over their head. We must avoid slander, gossip and alienation.

    If church discipline is practiced correctly we will understand that we are, indeed, our brothers keeper. Church discipline is not reserved only for cases of adultery or divorce. If we know that our brother is in sin, we are to love our brother by going to them privately. In order to do that we must have a close enough relationship to be heard by our brother. This means we should be engaging one another more than on The Lord's Day. I wonder if we loved each other the way John commanded whether ex-communication would be even more infrequent.
  5. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Your options leave a great deal to be desired. Handing someone over to the devil for sifting should mean we pray for their repentance and ultimate return to the fold.
  6. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I see you're a member of the PCA. The PCA BCO doesn't allow for just praying in the case of excommunication, and I doubt that the PCA is different than any other Reformed church on that score, so I'm not sure what would be gained by adding that as a poll option.
  7. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    Why on earth would you want them to cease attending and hearing the Gospel preached? This would be the ordinary method of securing repentance.

    I would have thought they should be removed from any office and the sacrements could be witheld, what more would be justified in the majority of cases?
  8. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    I thought the idea of church discipline was to scare people, to give them a sort of "time-out" so they can think of what they are doing and repent. Unfortunately with so many churches in any given area they will most likely just go to a church that just wants numbers.
  9. LadyFlynt

    LadyFlynt Puritan Board Doctor

    I also sincerely hope that whomever put "have no contact with them" did not also put "evangelise them as an unbeliever" for the two would be in direct opposition of the other, yes?
  10. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Presbyterian Church in America
    Book of Church Order
    the rules of discipline

  11. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    You can't allow them to stay in the church because the church is to be protected from such people and why should they repent if nothing has changed hardly and they still get to come to church? Just barring them from the table is one of the steps right. You are way past that once you get to excommunication.

    -----Added 12/20/2008 at 09:56:04 EST-----

    JC you are right they are incongruent. I think people are picking that to try to be softies but it defeats the purpose. I am sure that elders are capable of staying in limited contact to see if there is a sign of repentance and that it should be left to them.
  12. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Ex-communicating is not the same as preventing the person from actually attending the worship service. Ex-communicating is removing the person from the blessings of the visible church and considering them as not part of the invisible church. They cannot partake of the Lord's Supper or true fellowship. They are objects of evangelism, and a standing call to repentance. Short of using force to prevent them from walking in the building this would be the reality of ex-communication. Practically speaking, I doubt the individual would want to attend services after being ex-communicated unless it was because of true repentance.
  13. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    From an earlier thread, from Concerning Scandal (Naphtali Press, 1990).James Durham

    This might be helpful in understanding a historical biblical view of this:
    (emphasis added)

  14. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    I think 1 Corinthians 5 makes it clear that we must take it a step further. Beyond the fact that, unlike unbelievers, we call the ex-communicated to repent of specific willful sin, we are "not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner - not even to eat with such a person" (1 Cor 5:9). This is in light of the fact that this mandate does not include the "people of this world" (v. 10), since we would then need to go out of the world. The reason is that we judge those who are in the church according to Scripture, not those without. We leave those without to be judged by God alone (vv 12-13). This is one of the reasons we put those who are characterized by unbelief out of the church (excommunicate). They are then left to be judged by God alone. "Therefore put away from yourselves the evil person" (v. 13 & Deut. 13:5; 17:7, 12; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21, 24; 24:7; 1 Cor. 5:2).
  15. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I didn't take the time to delineate the blessings of the visible church that would be withheld from a person who is ex-communicated. I was writing from the big picture perspective.
  16. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Good thread. You don't hear about discipline and ex-communication much in the church (at least I haven't), so it is seldom discussed.

  17. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    John Calvin said a true church is characterized by three marks,

    Right doctrine
    Right administration of the sacraments
    Right administration of church discipline

    What is your understanding of what Scripture teaches of the practical effect of excommunication discipline?

    -----Added 12/22/2008 at 05:28:33 EST-----

    The poll has closed.

    Based on 24 votes of what voters understood to be the biblical practical affectations of ex-communication church discipline, one category received a majority vote (54%)

    Almost 46% of voters said ex-communicated members could remain at the church even after ex-communication, as non-members. This would seem to be a contradictory result within the poll results.

    8% said a church member who has taken member vows is immediately freed from church discipline process if they no longer wish to be bound by that vow (e.g. leaving)

    0% said we ought not pray for an ex-communicated person.
  18. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Tim in the SA Reformed churches they call it censure, and that's always been the way a small community keeps people in line. It doesn't happen often, but just the threat of it usually brings people back into line. I saw it happen to a guy who was sleeping with his farm laborers. He didn't repent, and no body would even greet him. They figured

    Means what it seems like it means.
  19. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Based on research from passages from James Durham, other Puritan Board threads such as this one, the PCA Book of Church Order, and GI Williamson's, "Church Censures" chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith for Study cases, here's what seems to be the most biblical:

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