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2008.01.18

Comments

hashman

I love how this whole topic is defined by the most outrageous anecdotal scenario, you could find.
Anyone who read the article looking for an intelligent, balanced, presentation of a movement in religious circles, did not find it featured article.
What an awful article! Talk about preaching to the choir.

Hashman

I heard of a parent that locked their kids in a closet for 4 days for getting bad grades...
That just goes to show you that parents shouldn't discipline their kids.

Lisa S.

Hello, anonymous commenter backing Burton Memorial Baptist Church! Your ministry must be proud of members who don't sign their name on drive-by Internet comments.

Since you seem to have a vested interest in disputing the premise of the article, why don't you give a reasoned defense for church discipline? Attempting to discredit the article and making up fallacious arguments don't really lend the pro-discipline argument credence.

molly

What?! Religion being used in an abusive fashion....get out!!

Love the mindless follower who posted above...Baaaaa.

Duaine Michaels

Two things strike me here.

First you have the extreme example of the abuse of power implied here.

No, churches should not shun you for a disagreement on the authority of your Pastor. (You'd have to start setting up a major power struggle for that to qualify as the grounds). This case sounds like a power trip on the part of the pastor which should have been resolved in other ways.

Second is the implication by WSJ (and the tone of this writing) that we have some wide spread issue here. There are millions of churches in the U.S. so the whole scope of all the lawsuits and similar cases combined this issue affects less than a fraction of 1 percent of churches.

All injustice is wrong, so church discipline should only be used in the extreme of cases to avoid even the opportunity of a case like this one - however the idea that this is representative of a trend is really misleading. It amounts to an anti-christian attack to carry such an implication over such a small percentage. The fact that this case occurred is sad. The way it is being represented is sadder still.


A little background on the bible and Church Discipline:

Church discipline in the bible is best defined by the book of Matthew, Chapter 18:15-22

Jesus said:

"If a believer does something wrong, go, confront him when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have won back that believer. But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you so that every accusation may be verified by two or three witnesses. If he ignores these witnesses, tell it to the community of believers. If he also ignores the community, deal with him as you would a heathen or a tax collector. I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you imprison, God will imprison. And whatever you set free, God will set free. I can guarantee again that if two of you agree on anything here on earth, my Father in heaven will accept it. Where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them."

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked him, "Lord, how often do I have to forgive a believer who wrongs me? Seven times?"

Jesus answered him, "I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy times seven."

You can see from this that the focus is on forgiveness, not shunning or removal of the person.

The only strong case of removal in the bible is in 1 Corinthians - where a man is kicked out of church because he would not stop bragging about God's grace for allowing him to pay to sleep with his own step-mother. In that culture temple prostitution was an act of worship of the Greek idols. He was continuing the same practice with his Dad's wife and telling the church it was okay. For this he was "handed over to satan" to be taught" not to do this evil thing which even the pagans around him would not have allowed in their temples. Paul rebuked the whole church for allowing this to even happen. The end result was that the guy stopped the practice, and was allowed back into the group. That is how church discipline should work. The bible never shows us situations of a believer being removed over mere disagreements. St. Paul even had a face to face with St. Peter but they didn't kick anyone out of the church over it.

That all being said - I have been in 1000's of churches - this case as presented in the WSJ does NOT represent common practice or belief of churches. This is not "normal" church life. The church is not here to police our morals - Jesus did not die on a cross to give us better morals. He died to make the dead live again. This reporting makes you think Christianity is about religious morals.

That is no where near the truth.

--Duaine
(I retain the rights including copyright on what I have written, but allow its reprint by the WSJ in this forum and by any blog or internet group that does not charge a fee for reading it.)


Polly

My parents have been through several ministers in their church, and every now and again you get one of these God's Authority = My Authority types. They're Congregationalist, so the congregation is supposed to make a lot of decisions, and right now they've got a minister who hates those pesky congregational meetings and would like to see them ended so that he can make all the decisions himself. (And my parents are like, you know there are other denominations out there, don't you?) It kind of doesn't matter what the rationale is--if the minister has control issues (or is trying to cover some bad behavior up), he'll pull whatever religious justification he needs right out of his ass.

kevin

I don't blame anyone for being angry about church discipine after reading that article, unfortunately that article wasn't a fair representation of the issue.

It's unfortunate that many people can't conceive of any balance between the extremes of arresting grandma and the other extreme of completely ignoring Christ's command to the church in Matthew 18.

Every repudable church that I know, that practices redemptive discipline, would completely reject what was done in the featured story. That story was intended to inflame not enlighten people on an interesting subject.

What is ironic is that people have accused the church of being hypocritical for judging the world and not themselves. So some faithful churches have decided to attempt to look inside their own house so that their words will match their actions and they get slammed for it. I guess some would rather the church just continue to be hypocritical.

There is a balance between no standards for the church and arresting grandma, unfortunately we didn't get it in this story.

They interviewed some people who had some positive examples of how it played out in a redemptive way, but they chose not to include them. www.hershaelyork.blogspot.com

Lisa S.

The thing I always love about posting religion-themed items is how they attract people who swoop from blog to blog, commenting anywhere they can.

I will bet you all dollars to doughnuts that the anonymous commenter, Duaine Michaels and kevin all found this post because it popped up on some other "here's what blogs had to say about this article" widget.

*

To address kevin directly, I challenge you to tell me this: who are these "many" whom you perceive as unable to "conceive of any balance between the extremes of arresting grandma and the other extreme of completely ignoring Christ's command to the church in Matthew 18"? And by what criteria do you assess their inability?

*

Finally, this is what I get for not elucidating more fully in the original post in re: what the article is REALLY about. It is not only exposing the phenomenon of churches punishing their members -- it's explaining how both the churches and their members often attempt to bring secular law to bear in promoting their point of view. The willful attempt to bring the state into the church? I find THAT ironic from a first-amendment perspective.

Duaine Michaels

____________________________________
Lisa S. Said:

"I will bet you all dollars to doughnuts that the anonymous commenter, Duaine Michaels and kevin all found this post because it popped up on some other "here's what blogs had to say about this article" widget."
____________________________________

Kind of an easy bet Lisa ;-)

And yes, there was a widget on the WSJ page (I don't know if it is theirs or if it was part of the click through when I went to the WSJ from another blogs post about it) but I did read through this blog!

(I found this blog intriguing, and wished I could have some long discussion about most of the posts).

But to clarify, I don't swoop around making comments. I just found this one article to be interesting enough for me to comment.

I usually just read blogs.

Also, the religion slant didn't make me comment as much as the political view. I think Polly made the best point about the religious abuse, but I can see the point you raise is really the highest concern.

The mixture of church and state has always been way over the line. (Marriage law alone is a great example of how intertwined church view and traditions are with the state. It has created intolerable laws and views, leading to intense injustice). Religion alway degrades into the same petty evils. State involvement in religion only allows for the evil and corruption to become societal institutions.

Anyway, I am sleepy, have a grand weekend.

-Duaine

Stephanie

Random thoughts and reactions to the article:

* I read and comment here regularly so I'm not drive-by-posting. :)

* I hate it when religion is in the news like this. There are so many variations of thought in any religion, including Christianity, and such articles rarely if ever take a nuanced view of the issues. They almost always include statements that I feel are completely out of whack theologically. Sometimes the writers got those ideas from the religious community itself; other times the writer is simply an outsider who hasn't really understood some of the subtler points of what is going on.

* That "passage in the gospel of Matthew that says unrepentant sinners must be shunned" (quote from the article) says nothing of the sort. So very often people, Christians and non, read "deal with him as you would a heathen or a tax collector" and think "shun him!" They forget to ask "how were heathens and tax collectors to be treated?" Those are the precise people that Jesus hung out with! He visited the non-pious in their homes. He called them to repentence and offered them forgiveness. IMO the verse outlines steps for issuing a wake up call to the unrepentent. It's a way of saying "Look, you've messed up. Repent. Come back to us." It's not suggesting kicking them out and washing your hands of them.

* Every time I read phrases in the article such as "there is little consensus on how sinners should be dealt with" I had to laugh. As if there are only a couple of sinners and they must be "dealt with" in a particular way. Hello! The main point of Christianity is that every single person is a sinner right on up to the pastor.

* Churches interact with the state in many ways. For example, when an arsonist set fire to my church in 1994 the public fire department came and put the fire out. When our church was hosting a homeless shelter in 2002 and one of the homeless men shot another one, we called the police in. I don't see that as bringing secular law into the church. No matter how wrong I think the pastor in the stated case is (and I think he is very, very wrong), private entities do have the right to refuse service to anyone. It says so in restaurants on signs right on the walls. Thus as long as the church isn't asking the state to decide who is welcome or not, it doesn't seem to be bringing the state into the church. To me. Had the person been deemed a trespasser for a different reason, it would seem logical to involve the police if asking someone to leave did not work. Doesn't make their actions right though.

* The cases mentioned where people were suing churches or the other way around seem very sad. And yes, some of those cross the line of getting the state involved in church affairs.

PAT

BURRICK , WOULD NOT GO BY OUR CONSTITUTION AS HE PROMISED,
SAID HE DIDN'T NEED A DEACON UNTIL 3000 PEOPLE WERE ADDED, WELL THAT CHURCH ONLY SEATS ABOT 150 MEMBERS. HIS FIRST MEETING WITH US
HE SCREAMED AT US SIT HERE IN A ROW, WHERE I CAN LOOK YOU SQUARE IN THE EYES, IF YOU BLINK AN EYE, TWITCH A CHEEK, NO FOLDING OF THE ARMS OR CROSSING OF THE HANDS , WHAT YOU SAY AND WHAT YOU DONT SAY WILL BE AGAINST YOU, FOLLOW ME 100% OR IT WON'T BE PRETTY.
I WILL RUN THIS CHURCH. ONLY BECAUSE WE KEPT ASKING HIM AT THE MEETING TO PUT STUFF ON THE FLOOR TO VOTE IN A DEACON AND ETC.
HE WOULD ALWAYS SAY LATER, THAT NEVER CAME. SO HE STARTED IN ON THE ONES THAT WANTED HIM TO DO SOME OF THIS STUFF TO HELP RUN THE
CHURCH RIGHT, NEVER HAPPENED,
HE DOESN'T HAVE 70 PEOPLE, HE HAS ABOUT 25 PEOPLE, THE 70 WAS
PROTESTERS THAT CAME THAT ONE DAY.
He took everything from the women to do, even doing quilts for the Medical Facility would meet us at the door and say your not welcome leave, blocked karolyn off at the sidewalk, while she is trying to hold on to the rail, to go in, back and forth like a football defence would do. so much went on , this is ALL over us trying to get him to go by the church constitution, ONLY. and
we had a man in the church that had been a deacon before in other churches for about 15 years, but Burrick said no one in that church was qualified to be a deacon, and and turn around and say he didn.t need on,
To todden Karolyn down on the web , is about the worst thing anyone could ever do, she is about one of the finest people you could know. all she ever wanted was to help keep that church going there in that little town Antique Town of Allem Mich. she did everything she could to do to help Burrick, but he has a side of him
that is so wrong for a pastor, the worst that I have ever seen and call himself a pastor, wonder if it' only a title for him,

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