Reviving an ancient practice, churches are exposing sinners and shunning those who won't repent.
On a quiet Sunday morning in June, as worshippers settled into the pews at Allen Baptist Church in southwestern Michigan, Pastor Jason Burrick grabbed his cellphone and dialed 911. When a dispatcher answered, the preacher said a former congregant was in the sanctuary. "And we need to, um, have her out A.S.A.P."
Half an hour later, 71-year-old Karolyn Caskey, a church member for nearly 50 years who had taught Sunday school and regularly donated 10% of her pension, was led out by a state trooper and a county sheriff's officer. One held her purse and Bible. The other put her in handcuffs. (Listen to the 911 call)
The charge was trespassing, but Mrs. Caskey's real offense, in her pastor's view, was spiritual. Several months earlier, when she had questioned his authority, he'd charged her with spreading "a spirit of cancer and discord" and expelled her from the congregation. "I've been shunned," she...
There's more out there too. I'm not sure myself about some of the analysis focusing in on specific types of churches. I think the root cause sins are common to man and can be found in many places. But wherever they are found they need to be addressed without partiality.
"A church member asked her to leave, saying she was not welcome, but Mrs. Caskey told him she had come to worship and asked if they could speak after the service." "In August, she received a letter from Mr. Burrick that said her failure to repent had led to her removal. "
Now of course if she really was in sin, and if the remaining "church" members really were concerned for her soul and for her repentance they would be delighted that she had turned up to worship and be instructed by the Word of God.
Reminds me of a "church" that elected to put 3 men on the door using physical force to keep a church member out from their kangaroo court meeting of belly-laughably unbiblical charges. Of course they still have a sign up today saying "All are welcome".
All? All those who are willing to sin and be used in the shamed "pastor's" strongarm tactics? All - except those that come armed with nothing other than the scriptures and their testimony?
God is not mocked. May God deliver his church from the private in-crowd club mentality, that prevailing sin of the church of this age - the sin of partiality.
"Mrs. Caskey, along with Mr. and Mrs. Church, continued to insist that the pastor follow the church's constitution." Amen to that.
Dr. John, you did point out a good idea, look at Scripture.
Matthew 18 15. And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he hear [thee] not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. 17 And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church: and if he refuse to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican.
This church is actually about 30 minutes from where I live (not sure why they call it southwestern MI - it's actually pretty close to right in the middle of the state going east to west).
Any way from a local perspective, this church has some big problems - the greatest of which is the unchecked power of the pastor. Like many baptist churches the pastor is the one in charge - I believe they do have a council of some sort there, but with the current pastor (who hasn't been there for a very long time) many people were forced out and left because they didn't agree with the pastor.
This is one of the reasons that having elders in charge of the church is my preference, when you have a pastor with so much power - it often leads to problems.
Certainly this woman has issues - the best thing to do would just be to leave and find a good bible-believing church. Ideally in a Church that is obedient to the Bible, one needs to submit to the discipline of the elders. This whole "ancient" practice stuff is garbage - many Churches have continued this throughout the centuries - it is only liberalism that has crept in caused churches to stray from scripture.
The problem is bigger than the "my polity is better than yours" debate.
"The lack of justice is the principal reason many people do not respect church courts: They are either corrupt or incompetent, or both; they consist largely of good-ole-boy networks that crush ordinary church members and protect seminarians. If church courts want some respect, they should earn it by behaving as church courts ought to behave, not as Roman Catholic tyrants and confessors." - John Robbins (Presbyterian)
This is the problem with Independent Churches. Presbyterian churches aren't perfect, but if there's an abuse in the local congregation, the agrieved person can apeal to the Presbytery, who can hold both the congregant or the pastor or elder to account.
Now, what pride would prevent a godly pastor wanting to make himself subject to his peers?
In all my experience so far, fellow Christians who give "due process" in church gov't the seriousness it deserves are rare birds. More often, the "easy way out" is their basic principle, and silent departures of aggrieved parties (for example) is the norm. So it's not just a pastoral problem; it's a cultural one. People get the government they deserve.
In Scripture, it is clear that God expects His people to care about justice. There's plenty of raw material for a sermon: Gen 18:19, Job 8:3, Prov. 21:3, Is. 59:4, Mic. 6:8, Luke 11:42, 1 Cor. 6:2-5, Phil. 1:9
This is not an 'ancient practice', because church discipline has been ignored, sin has invaded many congregations. However, it is unbiblical to call the police and have a person arrested. The bible is quite clear on how to deal with anyone caught in sin; it is this procedure that should be followed. It seems the pastor who had the woman arrested has abused this procedure, and might need to repent himself. After reading the article, it appears as though this man is somewhat 'puffed up'. This woman has done nothing wrong; she appears to be more knowledgeable about scripture than he is. When Mr. Burrick called it a 'private ecclesiastical matter', he contradicts himself; he is the one who made it public by having the woman arrested in the first place. When scripture is twisted and not followed to the letter, this is what you get.
Jhawk44 wrote: It seems to me about half or more of the cases documented in the article are overbearing pastors with iron fists, and are using said fists in the wrong manner on the wrong issues....
Therein is a pertinent litmus test of the church in these days. Sinners are indeed being exposed - in more ways than one.
"Pastors" with 1) no regard for Christ and His glory 2) no regard for truth and integrity. 3) no regard for the souls of men, women, and children - including evidently their own souls. 4) no regard for the Bible's plain teaching (i.e. where it deals with their own sinful conduct), their Church's own constitution and articles.
Yet these pastors still claim to have the "theological goods" and claim to be training other men for ministry.
Saints have nothing to fear from the discipline of these "pastors" of Diotrophes' character.
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;.... But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing."
The pastor just can run out a person whom he dislikes, the proper procedures have to be followed. The IHCC Constitution gives the proper steps of discipline in the "E. Discipline of Membership"
Gil Rugh said or, wrote: God, speaking through Paul, instructs His Church not to associate with those professed believers from within the church who are continuing to practice sin. This confrontation will be grievous and sorrowful for the body to deal with, but absolutely necessary if it is to be healthy. Why? Because sin, when allowed to go undisciplined, will have a corrupting, permeating influence on the whole Church. As such, it must be dealt with as God has prescribed for the good of the corporate body as well as its individuals - including the one involved in sin.
Just reading through this article you can almost tell it was formulated to make fun of the church.
It seems to me about half or more of the cases documented in the article are overbearing pastors with iron fists, and are using said fists in the wrong manner on the wrong issues....
Although there are some valid things in the article. Also, it seems in the Caskey case it might go deeper than the article allows you to see, judgeing by Mrs Casykey's closing statements, her reapeat returning to the church for arrest, and her allies standing outside doing a protest, it leads me to believe she and her followers are very, very rebelious people.