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?