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Religious Organizations Enforcement of their Beliefs

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  • Religious Organizations Enforcement of their Beliefs

    Cow Poke started a discussion, "Catholic Bishops - on Denying Communion to Pro-Abortion Politicians" over in CIVICS. I want to have a similar discussion "in house."

    I grew up in PC(USA). I left the denomination when my church split. I didn't give up on the denomination at that point. That came several years later when I read an article about a PC(USA) minister who denied all the supernatural elements of Christianity but was going on calling himself a Presbyterian minister. From my experience with PC(USA) polity, I realized the man would never be defrocked.

    How far should a religious organization go in enforcement of their beliefs? Certainly the leadership should be held to a higher standard. I think, however, they have to leave room for disagreement on points where the Bible isn't clear. Also, the members (non-leadership) should be cut more slack on disagreeing with the standards. On the other hand, an influential member who really challenges core beliefs should be disciplined and if necessary cast out.

    This is tough and as I think about it, I'm not surprised many organizations don't do well. However not doing some degree of enforcement means eventually your group will believe anything and cease to be meaningful. I have more respect for people who have and maintain a position than those who change with the wind.

    It's got to be done. You can't expect someone to say, "I don't believe this anymore, I'm leaving," More likely they're going to say, "I'm going to change the organization to reflect my beliefs."

    What do you think?
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

  • #2
    Conservative denominations (and even more so conservative independent churches) tend to have a problem with listing too many beliefs as required to subscribe to in order to believe. I also get the impression that they don't pay that much attention to them in many cases. I don't see a point in requiring one to hold a given belief on the points of TULIP, or one's interpretation of Genesis 1. All that does is present roadblocks to genuine Christians to joining the church. (I once saw a church website that went so far into details on beliefs that it actually listed a stance on whether Christians had to get tattoos surgically removed if they got them before they became Christians. Seriously, let it go.)

    The reason I suspect that some people don't take it as seriously is because I've seen it. I attended a church once where I could not attend because of my stance on an eschatology issue (despite the fact that they told new members that one of their biggest influences was John Stott, who held the same stance.) The assistant pastor said that it wasn't a big deal and I could probably just go ahead and join, but if it explicitly says otherwise, I'm not okay with that.

    Liberal churches have the opposite problem, but I'm not concerned with them here. That's a whole different can of worms.
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
      Cow Poke started a discussion, "Catholic Bishops - on Denying Communion to Pro-Abortion Politicians" over in CIVICS. I want to have a similar discussion "in house."

      I grew up in PC(USA). I left the denomination when my church split. I didn't give up on the denomination at that point. That came several years later when I read an article about a PC(USA) minister who denied all the supernatural elements of Christianity but was going on calling himself a Presbyterian minister. From my experience with PC(USA) polity, I realized the man would never be defrocked.

      How far should a religious organization go in enforcement of their beliefs? Certainly the leadership should be held to a higher standard. I think, however, they have to leave room for disagreement on points where the Bible isn't clear. Also, the members (non-leadership) should be cut more slack on disagreeing with the standards. On the other hand, an influential member who really challenges core beliefs should be disciplined and if necessary cast out.

      This is tough and as I think about it, I'm not surprised many organizations don't do well. However not doing some degree of enforcement means eventually your group will believe anything and cease to be meaningful. I have more respect for people who have and maintain a position than those who change with the wind.

      It's got to be done. You can't expect someone to say, "I don't believe this anymore, I'm leaving," More likely they're going to say, "I'm going to change the organization to reflect my beliefs."

      What do you think?
      I think that's why Baptists believe in the "Priesthood of the Believer". And you can believe just about anything and attend our services, but you have to agree to a minimum collection of beliefs to be a teacher or in any spiritual ministry.
      The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

      Comment


      • #4
        Paul seemed to think that it was very important to enforce beliefs (and behavior).

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
          Conservative denominations (and even more so conservative independent churches) tend to have a problem with listing too many beliefs as required to subscribe to in order to believe. I also get the impression that they don't pay that much attention to them in many cases. I don't see a point in requiring one to hold a given belief on the points of TULIP, or one's interpretation of Genesis 1. All that does is present roadblocks to genuine Christians to joining the church. (I once saw a church website that went so far into details on beliefs that it actually listed a stance on whether Christians had to get tattoos surgically removed if they got them before they became Christians. Seriously, let it go.)

          The reason I suspect that some people don't take it as seriously is because I've seen it. I attended a church once where I could not attend because of my stance on an eschatology issue (despite the fact that they told new members that one of their biggest influences was John Stott, who held the same stance.) The assistant pastor said that it wasn't a big deal and I could probably just go ahead and join, but if it explicitly says otherwise, I'm not okay with that.

          Liberal churches have the opposite problem, but I'm not concerned with them here. That's a whole different can of worms.
          I agree that churches can be overly detailed in their requirements. It goes back to what is essential and what is discretionary. I've sat through a few sermons that tried to make some doctrine or personal belief into an essential.

          Liberal churches are definitely a different problem. They seem more likely to accept everything and can drift into believing nothing.

          Thanks for contributing.
          "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

          "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Sparko View Post
            Paul seemed to think that it was very important to enforce beliefs (and behavior).
            Definitely. If he could see us today, I think he would be stunned at the amount of bureaucracy and complexity we're put on top of Christianity. I think he just had to deal with a group of loosely connected house churches.
            "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

            "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
              Conservative denominations (and even more so conservative independent churches) tend to have a problem with listing too many beliefs as required to subscribe to in order to believe. I also get the impression that they don't pay that much attention to them in many cases. I don't see a point in requiring one to hold a given belief on the points of TULIP, or one's interpretation of Genesis 1. All that does is present roadblocks to genuine Christians to joining the church. (I once saw a church website that went so far into details on beliefs that it actually listed a stance on whether Christians had to get tattoos surgically removed if they got them before they became Christians. Seriously, let it go.)

              The reason I suspect that some people don't take it as seriously is because I've seen it. I attended a church once where I could not attend because of my stance on an eschatology issue (despite the fact that they told new members that one of their biggest influences was John Stott, who held the same stance.) The assistant pastor said that it wasn't a big deal and I could probably just go ahead and join, but if it explicitly says otherwise, I'm not okay with that.

              Liberal churches have the opposite problem, but I'm not concerned with them here. That's a whole different can of worms.
              I know of several churches that required a YEC interpretation of Genesis 1 to be a member (not sure if they still do -- that was in the 90s) and a few others that required certain essentially political stances wrt taxes and abortion.

              To me these churches are putting "an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way" (Romans 14:13) and are, in effect, adding to Scripture -- something we're repeatedly and explicitly told not to do (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; cf. Revelation 22:18-19). When they demand that someone must hold a specific belief about such things they are offering up what Paul denounced as being "another Gospel" (II Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8).

              I'm always still in trouble again

              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
              "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                I know of several churches that required a YEC interpretation of Genesis 1 to be a member (not sure if they still do -- that was in the 90s) and a few others that required certain essentially political stances wrt taxes and abortion.

                To me these churches are putting "an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way" (Romans 14:13) and are, in effect, adding to Scripture -- something we're repeatedly and explicitly told not to do (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; cf. Revelation 22:18-19). When they demand that someone must hold a specific belief about such things they are offering up what Paul denounced as being "another Gospel" (II Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8).
                Yeah, in all my days in church and in ministry, the closest I've ever seen to that was a "Church Covenant" with which we were encouraged to agree, but it wasn't even required.
                The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                  Definitely. If he could see us today, I think he would be stunned at the amount of bureaucracy and complexity we're put on top of Christianity. I think he just had to deal with a group of loosely connected house churches.
                  Yeah. And while he was concerned about behavior in the church (telling them to kick out the guy who was sleeping with his stepmother) he also was against overly strict legalistic regulations, like the circumcision thing.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sparko View Post

                    Yeah. And while he was concerned about behavior in the church (telling them to kick out the guy who was sleeping with his stepmother) he also was against overly strict legalistic regulations, like the circumcision thing.
                    So more concerned with conduct than ceremony.

                    I'm always still in trouble again

                    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                    "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                      I know of several churches that required a YEC interpretation of Genesis 1 to be a member (not sure if they still do -- that was in the 90s) and a few others that required certain essentially political stances wrt taxes and abortion.

                      To me these churches are putting "an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way" (Romans 14:13) and are, in effect, adding to Scripture -- something we're repeatedly and explicitly told not to do (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; cf. Revelation 22:18-19). When they demand that someone must hold a specific belief about such things they are offering up what Paul denounced as being "another Gospel" (II Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8).
                      I agree. I haven't really seen any discussions of YEC in awhile but I think there still advocates out there. I suspect there are more churches concerned with taxes and abortion although I haven't run into any of those recently either. Maybe it's just the area I live in where churches seem to go out of their way not to offend society.
                      "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                      "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The subject of Cow Poke's post was priests denying the Eucharist to pro-abortion Catholics. Let's pick this up in a non-Catholic setting.

                        Your church has a statement that abortion is morally wrong. One of your members in a legislator, mayor, governor, etc. (i.e. a person with political power) who consistently votes pro-abortion. Some members of your church have come to you and said this is causing a scandal because he is advocating a position different from our church. To simplify the discussion, the members have already followed Matthew 18 and gone individually and as a group to the politician and there has been no change. They are now bringing the matter to the church.

                        What should the church do in this case?

                        Does it make a difference of the politician is also in a church leadership position?
                        "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                        "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                          The subject of Cow Poke's post was priests denying the Eucharist to pro-abortion Catholics. Let's pick this up in a non-Catholic setting.
                          Actually, wasn't it about the Bishops voting on not granting Communion to politicians who advocate for abortion?

                          Your church has a statement that abortion is morally wrong. One of your members in a legislator, mayor, governor, etc. (i.e. a person with political power) who consistently votes pro-abortion. Some members of your church have come to you and said this is causing a scandal because he is advocating a position different from our church. To simplify the discussion, the members have already followed Matthew 18 and gone individually and as a group to the politician and there has been no change. They are now bringing the matter to the church.

                          What should the church do in this case?

                          Does it make a difference of the politician is also in a church leadership position?
                          In our Church, we stress that receiving Communion is up to the member to decide --- from the "let a man examine himself" clause in 1 Corinthians 11:28-34.

                          Somebody would have to give a good reason for us as a Church to say "no, you can't".

                          The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                            Actually, wasn't it about the Bishops voting on not granting Communion to politicians who advocate for abortion?

                            In our Church, we stress that receiving Communion is up to the member to decide --- from the "let a man examine himself" clause in 1 Corinthians 11:28-34.

                            Somebody would have to give a good reason for us as a Church to say "no, you can't".
                            On the first, yes. Bad phrasing on my part.

                            On your last sentence, what might be those reasons?

                            Finally, how would you respond to the group that is bring the matter to the whole church?
                            "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                            "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                              On the first, yes. Bad phrasing on my part.


                              On your last sentence, what might be those reasons?

                              Finally, how would you respond to the group that is bring the matter to the whole church?
                              I preach and teach on Matt 18:15-17 --- that's the process. I'm pretty firm on that.

                              The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                              Comment

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