Wall Street Journal on Church Discipline, Excommunication, Baptist Ban – WSJ

by Tony K on January 18, 2008 · 8 comments

A resurgence of church discipline is making the news today as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has written an article on church discipline, excommunication and the ban. They cite several cases from Baptist churches and even quote Southern Seminary professor Greg Wills. Here is what Southern Baptist bloggers and others are saying about the news.

Wall Street Journal on Church Discipline, Excommunication, Baptist Ban – WSJ

A Wall Street Journal Hatchet Job by Dr. Hershael York, a professor at Southern Seminary and Southern Baptist pastor. He writes

The article is tantamount to being against spanking because some parents abuse their children, or criticizing “time out” because some parents lock their children in the basement.

I have little doubt that discipline is sometimes abused, but frankly the greater and far more frequent problem in contemporary churches is that discipline isn’t even discussed–regardless of what Jesus taught. What a shame that a publication the stature of the WSJ would countenance so unbalanced a presentation of the facts.

Church Discipline Matters by Barry Joslin (Boyce College Professor)

Would that all of us think rightly about what it means to be in fellowship with other believers in a local church since being woven into the fabric of a local church matters. Would that God would help us all understand the biblical basis for church discipline in both its corrective and preventative forms. As Dever rightly warns, if we can’t, as a church, “say how a Christian should not live, how can we say how a Christian should live?”

Church Discipline Gets Chastised in WSJ by Dr. Denny Burk, a professor at the Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. He writes:

On the whole, the story is negative, focusing on cases which are less than exemplary. A church here in Dallas is mentioned in the article, Watermark Community Church, as well as First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals, Alabama and Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama.

Banned From Church by Tim Ellsworth, a writer for Baptist press, also links the article. He writes:

And while many churches might be willing to discipline for offenses such as adultery, sadly, they’re not willing to discipline for such issues as “skipping service and criticizing church leaders.” I know a lot of churches that could have been spared so much heartache and division if the church had obediently and lovingly disciplined those who were habitual gossips and consistent critics of church leaders.

The Truth or Consequence bloggers are also talking it over.

What Other Bloggers Are Saying About The Wall Street Journal on Church Discipline, Excommunication and the Baptist ban

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1 Jen January 18, 2008 at 8:43 pm

I am one of those who has been excommunicated and shunned, albeit for unbiblical and unjust reasons. I did refuse the Wall Street Journal’s request to tell my story in this article, but my story is online, if you are interested in a real live story about this. Just click on my name. I’m glad that attention is being given to when the discipline is sometimes just plain wrong.

2 Mark January 19, 2008 at 5:24 am

As the theologians circle the wagons, one fact still remains clear: There is no oversight of “independent” churches when church discipline rises to abuse or spiritual “rape” by an unaccountable pastor. This is particularly true in baptistic circles.

When the theologians opposed to the WSJ article are man enough to begin taking their fellow pastors to task for abusing the sheep, then they have a leg to stand on. However, until such time, all that these theologians accomplish with their opposition to the article (regardless of how one sided) is to show the world they love power just as much as any politician and, that, when the going gets tough, they will behave like doctors (unwilling to testify against any type of outrageous peer conduct).

My advice: Physician (pastor), heal thyself!

3 Beverly Moore-Rowe April 1, 2008 at 12:32 pm

I was excommunicated From the Episcopal Church in the Episcopal Dioecese of South Carolina Nov. 7. 2002. SEE story in: THE CHARLESTON CITY PAPER in the archived articles. The title of the article is “BREAKING FAITH”. The caption reads; The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina protects one parisheoner that preys on its flock and excommunicates another who tries to protect it.”
I was excommunicated when I would not be silent about a preditor in the church who was later arrested in 2004.
I was later issued a letter by The Protestant Episcopal Church USA acknowledging that I am in good standing at the National and Diocessan level. Though I can attend services I am still prevented from active participation in leadership roles such as singing in choir or as a music worship leader. The treatment I receive makes me feel unwelcome
and unwanted in Gods church.
The man I complained about was arrested after victims came forward to report to the civil authorities. In 2005 he pled guilty and was convicted of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor and two counts of asault and battery of a high and agrivated nature. Through plea bargaining he got off with no jail time. He is now a registered child sex offender on the SC Sex offender list and he has manditory sex offender treatment with ten years of probation which will be suspended after three years. Victims had reported their abuse to church officials and the vestry and others church officials knew that this man had molested children in the past. According to the church this sex offender now attends on James Island he has been welcomed as a repented sinner in another local Episcopal Church.. Unfortunately this church is loaded with young families and lots of precious little children.
I can be contacted by e-mail. My email address is
excommunicated@comcast.net.

4 Tim Bodnar January 6, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Yes… I was disciplined “wrongly” in a church. The discipline was abused becasue I was trying to open eyes about easy decisionism and pragmatic church evangelism that turned the church into a circus. I tried to put a motion through encouraging our church to follow Resolutuion no. 6 at last years SBC comvention actually advocatiing church discipline on wayward membership and it was shot down… and instead they disciplined me.

Well… praise God, becasue now I am at a truly biblically based church that does believe in correct discipline and loving restoration. God is sovereign and He is good. The Holy Spirit wasn’t moving at that last church and it wasn’t where I needed to be anyway. Church discipline is still what we need in a truly regenerate congregation, even if it is sometimes abused or not. As a matter of fact, if the elders are regenerate, “bad discipline” won’t happen because the Holy Spirit will be involved and put a stop to it.

In order to purify Christ’s body, we have to put out the goats if they refuse to repent. It needs to be biblical and in the proper order as laid out in Matthew 18:15-18.

If a church is led by unregenerate goats, they have to get rid of the sheep… the darkness hates the light and will do everything they can to get rid of it so they can stay in the datk and in their sin. That’s just the way it is. TRUE CHRISTIANS WILL ALWAYS BE PERSECUSTED WHETHER THEY ARE IN THE CHURCH OR NOT. If the church does not love the truth, they will hate the regenerate. Haven’t folks been reading the words of Jesus? I mean… he told us it would be this way. Count it all as joy friends.

My advice is find a church that preaches and caters to the sheep and not the goats. Find a church that is led by regenerate men (not women) and that follows the bible in all their affairs. Remember… not all christians are Christians. You have to use discernment. You will know a tree by its fruit.

clay
http://thepotterandtheclay.wordpress.com/

Tim Bodnars last blog post..Examine yourself…

5 Beverly Moore-Rowe August 19, 2009 at 9:00 pm

No doubt, God is soverign and good.
This is true of God though, it is not always true of we human beings. Often our beloved trusted leaders, who call themselves CALLED OF GOD, fail themselves, their families and their churches.
Our leaders stand in the pulpet on Sunday mornings and preach to us about right living. They speak of how we members are supposed to behave, all the while they are failing in their own lives to live up to the standards, which they expect of the people in their care.
No one is ever perfect. We are all flawed so anyone who professes that they have an untarnished life is lying through their teeth.
How many clergy child molesters exsist and how often do we now hear of ministers, who have been arrested these days?, Who do we know that is addicted to Porn. Just look at all the alcholism and drugs abuse problems facing our world? How many of our clergy, family, friends, and neighbors have had extra marital affairs. We are constantly hearing that christion political leaders have been caught in some compromising situation and are leaving their spouse and children and violating their commitment? How many abuse the ones they claim to love? Young people are killing each other in the schools and on our streets. We are constantly being bombarded with social problems and it is in the news every night.
Just what is wrong with this picture? We can point out and focus on problems any where but inside the WALLS OF THE CHURCH. If the problem is in the church it must be hidden kept secret.
When a problem occurs in the church, we all have a responsibility to try to do something about it. Child sex offence is a felony and even the Bible tells us we are supposed to obey the laws of the land, which require reporting all child abuse. The Bible says that for someone to harm one of Gods little ones; they might as well have a millstone around there neck and be cast into the depths of the sea.
God help anyone who dares to stand up about something that truly needs addressing; as in my case, protection of children, and the presence of a child molester in the congregation. (Note the man I complained about was arrested and later pled guilty and was convicted. The church was roped off as a crime scene, with church leaders admitting to law enforcement their awarness of the validity and exsistence of the problem. Church officials also acknowledging awareness that “other victims exsist beyond the three male victims that pressed charges”.
Sadly the attorneys were allowed to plea bargin the charges down to two counts of assault and battery of a high and agrivated nature and one count of comitting a leud act on a minor under 16. The minor in question actually stated he was just eleven, when the molestation began.
Unfortunately the convicted, fellon, child-molester, is free and walking the streets again and is attending another local church of the same denomination, and welcomed according to the priest; “as a repented sinner.” This is a church loaded with little children, and the clergy is aware.
When you speak out expect to be slambed with acusations that you are unforgiving. You will likely be threatened, warned, and acused of wrong doing. You will be told that you must forgive, reconcile and come under authority, which is the first warning sign that the church is in the wrong.
All of the above stated issues are occuring in fairly high numbers in most denominations in the USA as well as other countries.
These issues face all churches in every area of the world and at some point they are going to have to be addressed by someone or civilization as we have know it is going down. If the called clergy will not adress the issues, when they enter the church, who is going to do it? We can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the problems don’t exsist, and we can’t pretend that they will just go away if we look away and ignore them. Child molestation is evil and it is sin and it is immoral and the church should not hide it. Children and families must be protected from these murders of the souls of children.
I am taking an unpopular stand as I speak out on these issue these issues in my home town and I hope that others will begin to stand behind me. It is my belief that Leaders are fearful that their own hidden sins will come to light. They protect themselves and are then prone to shoot the messanger, instead of standing against valid complaints and true wrongs.
I believe the fear is that members will leave, if an evil is exposed and if there is an attempt, on the part of anyone to push leaders to addressed; a serious problem of this nature. The real fear is that members will leave and take their money with them. This fealful reaction is a form of idolotry, becuse it indicates doubt in the souverign power of the Lord to protect and mantain the church.
I think we all need to strive to do the right thing, regardless of how others react and decide to preceive us. We also need to remember that God said, “that even the gates of Hell will not prevail over his church”. God will protect his church if his people are Righteous and Godly and if they in their walk are truly trying to do the right thing. The word REPENT means to turn away and go in the opposit direction. It means Stop the evil life styles and inappropiate behavior. We are all called to live Godly lives. We are supposed to tell people about the saving love of Jesus, heal the sick, and care for the widows and orphens, and anyone alse, who is vulnerable and in need of care and protection.
I believe our job as Christians is to stand up agains evil and wrongs in the church and in the world. Rest assured you will be made to know if and when God wants you to do something. He alert you when he has a job for you to do.
I believe we are called to stand firm unwavering, even in the face of adversity, regardless of how church hirarchy reacts. All of our truly Great leaders such as Luther, Westley, Huss, Calvin, ect. were all called to special works for God and some literally gave their lives to the cause God called them to.
God knows who the Goats are. Those who have done evil and harmed others, will have there day at Judgement.
Remember that if you really do something for God; You will be persecuted and MAYBE you will undergo a modern day form of crucifiction, which will likely be at the hands of people you loved and trusted; an ultimate betrayal. I can be contacted by e-mail –
excommunicated@comcast.net

6 Dr. James Willingham August 20, 2009 at 11:13 am

There is no doubt about the fact that the issue of child-molesters must be dealt with firmly. I had an experience of having to deal with 5 cases of incest in 3 mos, This was yrs. ago. It moved me to get training in order to address such situations. What utterly blew me away was to find out how devestating sexual abuse of children can be them as they grow up, mature, and become adults. Then I worked in a Senior High School with a large counseling staff. As a member of that staff my responsibility was to handle the incest and pedophilia cases as they involved the law and child welfare agency.
The break down in society is due in part to the perusal of pornography by mny in society; it is also due in part to the break down of church discipline which had provided the cement for society. The problem today is the difficulty in implementing such a thing. I once tried to do it in a church, but the deacons were unwilling to address the difficulties. Following the word of God involves suffering. Not many are willing to pay the price for it. And then we have those who will run the thing into extremes sometimes on purpose). Another Great Awakening would surely be helpful, and for that I have prayed for 36 yrs. Could it be that the rise of all these Sovereign Grace believers are but a hint of things to come? After all, that was the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and of the origins of the Great Century of Missions.
.-= Dr. James Willingham´s last blog ..The Climax of the Reformation =-.

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