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Excommunication ever???

Started by RevSteve, August 26, 2012, 08:58:48 PM

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RevSteve


On another thread a discussion I had de-railed into a debate about excommunication. If I understood the person correctly he basically felt that excommunication was never a viable option. I disagreed and said that while it's certainly nothing any pastor should hope for, nor should any pastor seek to make it a regular part of their practice,  under the worse possible conditions it could become necessary, citing Matthew 18:15-20 as biblical precedent for this.

I personally am aware of this happening at two different churches in the last few years; one ELCA and one LCMS. I have also heard second-hand of excommunications happening elsewhere in the last few years.

So am I just backwards?? Should excommunication ever be something we ever consider, or should we never consider it even under the most dysfunctional of situations??

Are any of you personally aware of excommunications taking place in your years of ministry? Have any of you had to make the, doubt painful decision to remove someone from fellowship??

What role, if any, does excommunication play in church discipline??

Pastor Steven M. Bliss LCMC and NALC-  St Olaf Lutheran Church, Bode, Iowa

New quote, got tired of questions about Dante quote...

"Doin stuff is overrated. Like Hitler did a lot of stuff but don't we all wish he would have just sat around all day and got stoned?"-Dex from the Tao of Steve

Brian Stoffregen

If you ever sent your children to bed without supper as punishment, then you probably believe excommunication is an option. If you never saw withholding food from your children as a viable punishment, then you probably don't believe in excommunication.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

readselerttoo

#2
My take on the issue of excommunication is that it is initiated by the behavior of the communicant of refusing fellowship at the communion table.  IOW, it is not something that the church itself actively seeks out and performs.  But it is simply a declaration of the church that a fellow brother or sister in Christ no longer wishes to commune within the fellowship.  The church simply declares excommunication as the last word in terms of closure.  The church does not aggressively seek  to excommunicate but in the case of authentic excommunication it is the behavior of the communicant that initiates the church's response of excommunication as the regrettable last option.

J. Thomas Shelley

#3
Some guidance from an ELCA Full Communion partner (the NALC/ACNA paralles not to be overlooked)


http://holycross-raleigh.org/bcp/409.html

Disciplinary Rubrics

If the priest knows that a person who is living a notoriously evil life
intends to come to Communion, the priest shall speak to that person
privately, and tell him that he may not come to the Holy Table until
he has given clear proof of repentance and amendment of life.

The priest shall follow the same procedure with those who have done
wrong to their neighbors and are a scandal to the other members of the
congregation, not allowing such persons to receive Communion until they
have made restitution for the wrong they have done, or have at least
promised to do so.

When the priest sees that there is hatred between members of the
congregation, he shall speak privately to them, telling them that they
may not receive Communion until they have forgiven each other. And if
the person or persons on one side truly forgive the others and desire
and promise to make up for their faults, but those on the other side
refuse to forgive, the priest shall allow those who are penitent to come
to Communion, but not those who are stubborn.

In all such cases, the priest is required to notify the bishop, within
fourteen days at the most, giving the reasons for refusing Communion.


I have never needed to apply any aspect of these rubrics:  Those who could have come under discipline have perceived their sinfulness and have voluntarily abstained. 

As a Lutheran without hierarchs their self-excommunication has been a great relief.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

D. Engebretson

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 26, 2012, 09:14:39 PM
If you ever sent your children to bed without supper as punishment, then you probably believe excommunication is an option. If you never saw withholding food from your children as a viable punishment, then you probably don't believe in excommunication.

Based on your analogy I suspect you do not believe that excommunication is ever a viable option.  If so, how do you interpret the Matthew 18 passage?
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

RevSteve

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 26, 2012, 09:14:39 PM
If you ever sent your children to bed without supper as punishment, then you probably believe excommunication is an option. If you never saw withholding food from your children as a viable punishment, then you probably don't believe in excommunication.

So we can then assume that the ELCA bishops who removed "schismatic" pastors from the ELCA roster must be in favor of withholding food from children.
Pastor Steven M. Bliss LCMC and NALC-  St Olaf Lutheran Church, Bode, Iowa

New quote, got tired of questions about Dante quote...

"Doin stuff is overrated. Like Hitler did a lot of stuff but don't we all wish he would have just sat around all day and got stoned?"-Dex from the Tao of Steve

Keith Falk

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 26, 2012, 09:14:39 PM
If you ever sent your children to bed without supper as punishment, then you probably believe excommunication is an option. If you never saw withholding food from your children as a viable punishment, then you probably don't believe in excommunication.

"Son, this is your supper tonight.  It has been prepared for and given to you. " The son refuses to eat.  "Son, we aren't preparing more food.  You can't go into the pantry or have a snack later.  You have to eat your supper"  The son refuses to eat.  "Son, you know the rules of the house.  You aren't getting any other food until you eat supper"  The son still refuses to eat.  It is bedtime.  Still no supper has been eaten.  The son goes to bed without eating.

Was food withheld?
Rev. Keith Falk, STS

Charles_Austin

We cannot truly excommunicate anyone. We might say they can no longer be in one of our congregations; but they will simply go somewhere else and commune. So it is no longer an effective discipline.

We do have provisions for removing "persistent troublemakers" from our congregations. But that may have nothing to do with whether they are doctrinally pure or committers of Great and Public Sin.


J. Thomas Shelley

Quote from: Charles_Austin on August 26, 2012, 11:12:52 PM
We cannot truly excommunicate anyone. We might say they can no longer be in one of our congregations; but they will simply go somewhere else and commune. So it is no longer an effective discipline.

Aye, nevertheless: Should that unfortunate situation ever arise that I would need to enforce the "Disciplinary provision"; I hope that I would have both the presence of mind and the sense of intra-Lutheran collegiality to inform my neighboring ELCA and NALC clergy.

Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: D. Engebretson on August 26, 2012, 10:25:14 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 26, 2012, 09:14:39 PM
If you ever sent your children to bed without supper as punishment, then you probably believe excommunication is an option. If you never saw withholding food from your children as a viable punishment, then you probably don't believe in excommunication.

Based on your analogy I suspect you do not believe that excommunication is ever a viable option.  If so, how do you interpret the Matthew 18 passage?


While we don't have many references on how Jesus treated "pagans," Matthew gives us a few stories about how Jesus treated tax collectors: 9:10-11; 10:3; 11:19; 21:31-32.


Should a child's behavior at a dinner table disrupt and offend the other dinner participants, that child would be sent away.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

RevSteve

Quote from: Rev. J. Thomas Shelley, STS on August 26, 2012, 11:34:13 PM
Quote from: Charles_Austin on August 26, 2012, 11:12:52 PM
We cannot truly excommunicate anyone. We might say they can no longer be in one of our congregations; but they will simply go somewhere else and commune. So it is no longer an effective discipline.

Aye, nevertheless: Should that unfortunate situation ever arise that I would need to enforce the "Disciplinary provision"; I hope that I would have both the presence of mind and the sense of intra-Lutheran collegiality to inform my neighboring ELCA and NALC clergy.

Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.


Exactly. The LCMS pastor that I know who excommunicated someone did just that.
Pastor Steven M. Bliss LCMC and NALC-  St Olaf Lutheran Church, Bode, Iowa

New quote, got tired of questions about Dante quote...

"Doin stuff is overrated. Like Hitler did a lot of stuff but don't we all wish he would have just sat around all day and got stoned?"-Dex from the Tao of Steve

RevSteve

Quote from: Charles_Austin on August 26, 2012, 11:12:52 PM
We cannot truly excommunicate anyone. We might say they can no longer be in one of our congregations; but they will simply go somewhere else and commune. So it is no longer an effective discipline.


This reminds me of a scene from the show "True Blood" where the young deputy Jason Stackhouse is trying to convince the seasoned Sheriff Andy Beleflour that they don't need to go through with a planned drug-raid. Deputy Stackhouse argues "Well even if we catch them, what does it matter, more drug dealers are just going to take their place." To which Sheriff Beleflour responds "You have just rationalized away any need for law-enforcement anywhere ever." Needless to say the Sheriff won that argument.
Pastor Steven M. Bliss LCMC and NALC-  St Olaf Lutheran Church, Bode, Iowa

New quote, got tired of questions about Dante quote...

"Doin stuff is overrated. Like Hitler did a lot of stuff but don't we all wish he would have just sat around all day and got stoned?"-Dex from the Tao of Steve

RevSteve

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 27, 2012, 01:45:35 AM
Quote from: D. Engebretson on August 26, 2012, 10:25:14 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 26, 2012, 09:14:39 PM
If you ever sent your children to bed without supper as punishment, then you probably believe excommunication is an option. If you never saw withholding food from your children as a viable punishment, then you probably don't believe in excommunication.

Based on your analogy I suspect you do not believe that excommunication is ever a viable option.  If so, how do you interpret the Matthew 18 passage?


While we don't have many references on how Jesus treated "pagans," Matthew gives us a few stories about how Jesus treated tax collectors: 9:10-11; 10:3; 11:19; 21:31-32.


Should a child's behavior at a dinner table disrupt and offend the other dinner participants, that child would be sent away.

Of course those passages have nothing whatsoever to do with excommunication. And of course you ignore the Matthew passage that actually does speak of excommunication.
Pastor Steven M. Bliss LCMC and NALC-  St Olaf Lutheran Church, Bode, Iowa

New quote, got tired of questions about Dante quote...

"Doin stuff is overrated. Like Hitler did a lot of stuff but don't we all wish he would have just sat around all day and got stoned?"-Dex from the Tao of Steve

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: RevSteve on August 26, 2012, 10:57:12 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 26, 2012, 09:14:39 PM
If you ever sent your children to bed without supper as punishment, then you probably believe excommunication is an option. If you never saw withholding food from your children as a viable punishment, then you probably don't believe in excommunication.

So we can then assume that the ELCA bishops who removed "schismatic" pastors from the ELCA roster must be in favor of withholding food from children.


Bishops cannot remove pastors. There is nothing in our rules that give them that power. There are some who act as though they can exert that authority over a pastor, but they can request that an errant pastor resign.


When bishops seek to remove a pastor through persuasion or starting the disciplinary process, its because it is deemed that their behavior is disruptive and offensive to the church. There is nothing that keeps a disciplined pastor from receiving communion.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Keith Falk on August 26, 2012, 11:02:26 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 26, 2012, 09:14:39 PM
If you ever sent your children to bed without supper as punishment, then you probably believe excommunication is an option. If you never saw withholding food from your children as a viable punishment, then you probably don't believe in excommunication.

"Son, this is your supper tonight.  It has been prepared for and given to you. " The son refuses to eat.  "Son, we aren't preparing more food.  You can't go into the pantry or have a snack later.  You have to eat your supper"  The son refuses to eat.  "Son, you know the rules of the house.  You aren't getting any other food until you eat supper"  The son still refuses to eat.  It is bedtime.  Still no supper has been eaten.  The son goes to bed without eating.

Was food withheld?


No, but neither do we call it excommunication when people refuse to receive communion.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

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