Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pop Theology Quiz: Answer

How many sins will get you excommunicated?

Specifically, One:


Granted, the reason the young man was excommunicated in 1 Corinthians was for sexual immorality. (Still a good reason for church discipline, IMO, since we're as wayward as ever.)

But from Paul's response in 2 Corinthians, the man's penitence resulted in the command to love him and receive him back into the fellowship, speedily, so as not to overwhelm the penitent with sorrow.

So, actually, if the young man had been penitent as soon as he'd been "caught" or admonished, one could assume he would not have needed excommunication.

Excommunication, then, is actually for the impenitent sinner.

Consider: If the elders or other brethren approach the acknowledged and confirmed sinner in a proper format for church discipline, if they ask him or her in firm holiness and Christian love to cease doing X sin, because X sin is bringing shame to the person and doing harm to the household of faith; if the person is then sorrowful and repentent and willing to cease the sinful activity and seek wise counsel within the church, taking advantage of whatever spiritual aid is available for reconciliation; then there is no need for the full disfellowshipping that is excommunication, is there?

So, impenitence is the real, sole sin that leads to proper excommunication.

Do you agree? Or do you disagree?


Beth White said...

Hi, Mir--

I was just goofing off (Bad Beth) and decided to see what you're up to.

I agree with your Quiz answer.

So you're writing? Hmmm?


Anonymous said...

impenitence – the trait of refusing to repent

repent – to feel remorse, contrition, self reproach

The only reason I can see for “impenitence” (psychopathology aside) then is believing that you have done nothing wrong and refusing to be hypocritical about it (i.e. pretend otherwise). So being excommunicated or shunned or whatever from a community whose existence is based on believing otherwise seems like it would go without saying, a simple acknowledgement of what already is.

But sometimes “sorry” just doesn’t cut it. And impenitence can be faked especially under the emotional duress of threatened loss of community. This is why, for example, closed religious communities/settings are traditionally rife with child abuse. There is just too much fake impenitence and real forgiveness going around. When sometimes just weeping in front of some congregation is not enough.


Beth White said...

Chris, biblical repentance is not a feeling. It's a turning around in action. A measurable quantity.

Anonymous said...

And how do we "measure" this quality... excuse me, "quantity," in antoher? In ourselves even? What unit of measure would you be refering to here? What instrument do we calibrate to take this quantifiable reading?

So how long would I have to... oh say, stop molesting my 11 year old, to be considered repentant in the biblical sense?

I used a dictionary. I find this is the best way to learn the meanings of words.


Mirtika said...

Hi, Beth, btw. :)

The writing is going slow, except for the poetry. That particular Muse is up and at em, caffeinated and well-fed.

So, I follow her for now. Whatever it is that's coming out, is coming out in verse. And, if you'll excuse me for saying so, it's very good.

Like light and the first day.


Mirtika said...

Oh, and for the record, I don't believe in "closed communities" for children.

If adults want to go off and be ascetics or monks or nuns, cool.

But that should not be the norm, and it's certainly not good for families.

Christ wants us in the world to share the word, and that means an open community.

In my church, no one tells my family what to do day by day other than God. I eat what I want to eat and I sing what I want to sing. Communion is not about oppression, but liberation, expression of the faith. The New Testament believers met in homes to sing and pray and feast, then went to their own homes to live out whateve they learned, however imperfectly or well.

Christ is the head of the church, not any man on earth--or woman for that matter. We discuss things in our church. We vote. We choose the leader. We dismiss the leader if he gets weird, or we just leave and go to another church. Someone disfellowshipped from our church can go to anothe down the street.

Excommunication only matters if the person values the teaching, the elders, and the congregation.

If love of a people makes you want to act better, that's a good thing.


Mirtika said...

Okay, back to Chris' questions:

How does one measure it? By actions and by subsequent interactions, like anything else.

How do I know my husband still loves me. How he talks. What he does. How he treats me day by day.

I've known what it's like to BE a penitent (quite often), and I know it doesn't mean I don't slip back into bad behavior. It does mean I recognize it's bad and it's hurting people and I'm ashamed and I want to stop and do better.

Actions show penitence.

And I don't mean prescribed crawling on the knees on stones for a mile.

I mean ongoing behavior.

If I am, say, a thief. If I am confronted by the church, if I feel shame and remorse, and I STOP THIEVING, maybe go to Kleptos Anonymous, that shows outwardly a POSSIBLE true penitence. (Yes, folks can fake, but hey, if faking means you stop stealing or killing, I'm all for faking as at least SOME THING better than not faking and thieving an dkilling.)

The church, when it does according to its leaders commands, functions much better than when it does.

When it does: Child molesters are confronted, exposed, and turned over to authorities, even as spiritual counseling may (if they wish it) continue for the sake of their eternal soul.

When it does not: Child molesters are protected, their activities only mildly pooh-poohed and victims accrue.

The Catholic Church's handling of pedophile priests was a violation of Pauline instruction. Those priests should have been confronted, turned over to authorities for due punishement. Christians are bound to obey government laws unless they conflict with the mandate to obey God. In the case of sexual deviants, there is no ground in the Bible or apostolic teaching for covering it up and allowing them to continue in the ministry.
Ministers are supposed to be above reproach or lose their leadership positions. All priests and ministers and deacons and etc who commit sexual sins are supposed to be, even if maintaining communion with the saints after penitence, removed from office. They are no longer above reproach. They can serve in the body, as we all do, but not as leaders.

And yes, that's a difficult thing, expecting pastors and priests to be role models, but that's what they're supposed to be. Once they prey on the congregation--and boinking the organist or molesting a child or stealing from the church funds are all ways of preying on the flock they are supposed to protect.

So, hey, penitence is more than "I'm sorry." Faith is more than an intangible. In Christian theology, true faith works and true repentance acts.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to lay out your position in such a well thought out and articulate fashion Mir. I understand and agree with you. And I'm happy your muses are on line again. (Also, I finally got my check from Cosmos. Yesterday. Woo hoo!)

Mirtika said...

You got a check. Well, dang-howdy, the lattes are on YOU today!

I should be getting a small check for something soon. Can't say what yet.

I donated the small publication fee for "Monument" back to DKA. That was my good "support Christian SF" deed for that day. :)

I hope one day to get a nice, big, juicy check for my writing. One so juicy the tithe would feed a small village for a year and immunize all the kids!


Anonymous said...

Or you could just give it to some huge international relief org with like a 93 percent admin cost structure. Because, it ain't about the money anyway, it's the thought that counts. For me, anyway.

Mirtika said...

Well, you dear snarky man, I always research the organizations I give to online. Charity evaluation services are out there. In fact, one of my regular charities is the Miami Rescue Mission. We've given them thousands over the years. So, when I saw they had a higher than I'd prefer admin cost structure, I emailed them. They called. They sent me financial statements. Their financial officer sent me a long letter and some explanations and documents. They were wonderful about explaining why they weren't as admin cost as, say, Food for the Poor or World Vision or Etc.

So, sometimes, there are reasons. (And no, I am not gonna post a four page essay on what it was. As em yourself.)

I do try to give to those that are at the ground base, have connections to get the stuff in. World Vision is huge, but they work to build communitites and have folks at the village sites. And once a village is brought up to a certain level of self-sufficiency, they move on. I love that. I've had a sponsored child TAKEN OFF my list when her village got normalized. It means their efforts helped them become a functioning village that didn't need intense intervention. So, I got another child. I pray her village will be thriving soon. (As well as my other child's.) Granted, Africa is a tougher row to hoe in that regard. But I keep the faith.

I also like to give to specific persons, if, say, a church person tells me of X person in Brazil or Y person in Honduras who has a soup kitchen for the very poor or a program to buy sewing machines (or ship them) to women for eventual self-reliance.

I'm all about teaching villages and folks to fish and giving them that fishing rod, rather than just giving them fish stick dinners forever.

So, what organizations do you like for efficiency in helping the poor?


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm sort of partial Revenue Canada. We have tons of homeless and hungry right in our own backyard, and both our governments are like zillions in debt, and so probably qualify as poor.

A lot of my family are involved in MCC. But thanks to the tsunami, they are super flush for the nonce.


PS going to look up "snarky" now. I'm guessing "cynical" with a twist.