Thursday, December 11, 2008

Excommunicate or Be Excommunicated

This morning I read a short biography of Joseph Stalin. It was interesting to learn that Stalin, in his early years, was a regular attendee at Sunday service, was awarded for his reading of the Psalms in the service, and began formal studies towards ordination as a priest.

However, the seminary in which he was studying, was Liberal and compromised. During his time in the seminary, Stalin obtained a copy of Darwin's Origin of the Species and ultimately read himself into a condition of atheism. He never completed his studies, was never ordained, but became "one of the greatest mass murderers in history."

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

"This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme." (I Timothy 1:18-20)

The Scriptures clearly lay out the path in relation to excommunication. It is the ultimate sanction that God has committed to the Church. However, whenever the church fails to administer the rite of excommunication, especially of heretical officers, then the fruit of such heretics is the creation of such monsters as Joseph Stalin.

Under the Law, God commanded that adulterers, murderers, sodomites, kidnappers, idolaters, and such like be capitally punished. He then exhorted that a culture which failed to removed such criminals from its midst would be judged by God, and he would remove the entire culture for its failure to remove the source of sin. In like manner, churches that fail to deal with its heretics through excommunication will be judged:

"Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce ... Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. ...."
(Revelation 2:18-29).

In his book Crossed Fingers (1996), Gary North chronicles how the Orthodox ministries of the American Presbyterian Church extended Christian charity to the heretics in their midst. However, as soon as the heretics gained the ascendancy, they excommunicated the orthodox theologians and ministers.

God will not be mocked. We either do as He commands, or bare the consequences that He pronounces upon the disobedient.

To excommunicate, or not to excommunicate? That is the question.


Steve from the Alice said...

Interesting that you should blog on a culture's failure to remove serious criminals from its midst as a precursor to God's judgment in the form, among other things, of cultural and societal collapse. A work colleague of mine were discussing this morning, how prison in Central Australia is not viewed as punishment at all, but is more a rite of passage into what is seen as masculinity. Together we were lamenting the fact that hundreds of men are in effect removed (often quite legitimately) from their wives and children, with high rates of recidivism and more prison space being necessitated all the time. The conversation ended when I pointed out to my friend (not a Christian) that the Biblical Israelites knew nothing of prisons except for those operated by Egyptians, Babylonians and Romans. The near extinction of capital, and more recently, even corporal punishment in western society, is playing out inevitably. Whatsoever is sown is reaped!

Bridge said...

Biblically there are three primary institutions: the family, the church and civil government. Each of these institutions has been given by God a set of ultimate sanctions to curb sin. For the family, the ultimate sanctions are "the rod" and "disinheritance"; for the church it is "excommunication - a giving over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh"; and for the civil government it is "capital punishment".

When any or every one of these institutions relinquishes or has taken from them the liberty of exercising these ultimate sanctions, then sin has no boundaries. Sin will increase and flourish until God Himself has to step and wipe the wicked from the land, through judgment.

My son came home this evening and said to the family that he had heard on the radio that there were intentions to make corporal discipline a criminal act in the Northern Territory. Should that occur, then our streets will become a war zone, with children terrorising the community.

The fool has said, "There is no God." With the decline in the saltiness of the church, fools have taken control of the institutions of influence.

This is why it is so important that heritics and their heresies are dealt with, so that the church can regain its saltiness and once again speak, "Thus saith the Lord!" in to the culture again.