Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Excommunicating Apostates

Over at the Roman Catholic Called to Communion blog (home to a number of apostate "Reformed" folks), the topic of excommunication came up. Apparently, one of the folks there (Christopher Lake) who wants to leave his church for Rome has been receiving at least the threat of godly discipline (link to comment).

I am glad to hear that at least one church seems to be taking discipline in this area seriously, but what was sad and surprising was that in a number of other cases, the apostates are reporting that although they were threatened with discipline, nothing ever came of it.

Possibly they think that nothing ever came of it, when in fact they were informally excommunicated using an erasure mechanism. But is that kind of informal procedure really enough to warn these apostates of their spiritual danger?

My question for elders whose sheep have left the visible church to be joined with Rome: have you fulfilled your spiritual obligation toward them by duly excommunicating them and informing them of the dreadful spiritual consequences of excommunication? Or have you neglected your duties?

There's no need, of course, for there to be answers here - though I would be interested in thoughts that my Reformed brethren have to share. While apostasy is obviously the fault of the apostate, if Reformed shepherds are really doing only a halfhearted effort at applying discipline they too are to blame for not having diligently warned their flock.

I applaud Mr. Lake's session for emphasizing the seriousness of his departure from the gospel. I am sorry to see in the comment box that it appears that some "non-denominational" church has been more willing to exercise godly discipline than (according to the reports provided) various PCA churches have been.

One final question: what more can we do to help apostates understand that their move to Rome is not like getting traded from the Mets to the Yankees, it's like defecting from America to North Korea - that it's leaving the gospel of Christ for service to antichrist - that it is evidence that they were not of us else they would not have gone out from us, and consequently that they are in need of repentance and in danger of hell fire?

-TurretinFan

2 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"One final question: what more can we do to help apostates understand that their move to Rome is not like getting traded from the Mets to the Yankees, it's like defecting from America to North Korea - that it's leaving the gospel of Christ for service to antichrist - that it is evidence that they were not of us else they would not have gone out from us, and consequently that they are in need of repentance and in danger of hell fire?"

The Called to Communion guys and Francis Beckwith obviously disagree.

So to answer your question, I don't know what more or what else could be done.

ChaferDTS said...

The best thing to do is present them with the basic facts of what divides those of Reformed Theology and that of Roman Catholicism. Focus specifically on the issue of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. When I left Roman Catholicism I was aware of the differences between the two. And knew what I left them and embraced the true Gospel. One has the true Gospel and one teaches another gospel that is heretical and falls under the condemnation of the apostle Paul in Galations 1. Also a must is to discuss with such person the misuse and abuse of the church fathers than Roman Catholiicism does with them. Try and arrange by such Bishops /Elders of the local church to have a meeting at their home or place of worship to discuss those issues. Best way to avoid problems such as this is by the local church properly teaching them to make sure they know what they believe and why. With regard to Francis Beckwith it appears that he was not instructed properly or he had no good understanding of Protestant beliefs. He lacked solid ground in his foundational beliefs from the get go. It is sad that is what happend to him.