Tag Archives: excommunication

Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #11) IT’S OKAY FOR CHRISTIANS TO BE JUDGMENTAL AND OBNOXIOUS!

We are continuing our review of the book by the United Methodist minister Martin Thielen entitled What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? We’ve already seen a number of areas where he rejects such doctrines as the sovereignty of God, the accuracy of the Bible, the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to God, and the reality of eternal suffering for those who die without the Lord Jesus.

In this last section of “Ten Things Christians Don’t Need to Believe,” he subtitles this chapter True Christians leave judgment to God.

[Again, before I read his chapter, let me point out that he himself has been quite judgmental toward Christians who hold to a “literal” method of interpretation, who  believe homosexual behavior is sinful, who believe in inspiration, etc. He will most likely bring up Matthew 7 where Jesus says “Judge not lest ye be judged,” a passage many misunderstand.  We’ll see.]

Well, I guessed right! Thielen begins this chapter by quoting Matthew 7:1- “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.” He then tells several very sad stories of people being kicked out of churches for a variety of reasons (singing in a bar, being addicted to drugs or alcohol, unwed mothers, evolutionists, homosexuals, etc.).

MY RESPONSE: Of course judgmentalism is sinful.  Of course there is no excuse for obnoxious Christians! But Thielen’s “bottom line” is: True Christians leave judgment to God.  Talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water (pun intended).

What about passages like Matthew 5 and Matthew 18 and I Corinthians 5? What about proper, biblical, compassionate church discipline? What about the Apostle Paul’s command in I Corinthians 5 regarding an unrepentant believer who will not cooperate with the church’s process of restoring him to the Lord and the Lord’s people: “Expel the wicked person from among you”? In fact, Paul asks the Corinthians “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” (vv. 12-13). 

And Thielen doesn’t deal with the Matthew 7 (“Judge not lest ye be judged”) reference. A careful look at that text shows that Jesus isn’t saying don’t judge. He is saying don’t judge hypocritically! Here’s the passage:
So, I am first to get the plank out of my eye so I can “then see clearly to remove the speck from [my] brother’s eye.”

I wonder — is the concept of church discipline completely anathema to Thielen? Of course, discipline out of anger and rage is never right. When church discipline is exercised biblically, there should be many tears and prayers.

The second half of the book concerns “Ten Things Christians Need to Believe.” With all that he has rejected, it will be interesting to see what Thielen affirms.











Posted by on February 21, 2019 in judging


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Insight from a Blind Man ( A Study of John 9) Part 23

“Steeped in sin at birth” — That’s the insult these men of God “hurl” at this man who sees far more than they do about Jesus.  He is then tossed out of the synagogue.

I grew up in the Brethren assemblies which leads me to the following joke:  “If you’re Catholic and you do something bad, you get excommunicated.  If you’re Baptist and you do something bad, you get disfellowshipped.  But if you’re Brethren and you do something bad, you get DISASSEMBLED!”

Being asked or told to leave a local body of believers ought to be one of the greatest fears of our lives.  The church ought to be that important to us!  But, alas, some would simply say, “I never liked the color of the new carpet anyway.  I’ll just go to the church down the street.”  And, sadly, the church down the street probably won’t bother to ask the first church why he was asked to leave.

I wonder what the parents thought right about now?  The thing they feared the most has happened to their son.  True, he’s got his sight, but he won’t be looking at the inside of God’s house any time soon.  He’s being shunned, put under God’s judgment, discarded by the highest religious authorities on earth. (to be continued)


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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in excommunication


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Insight from a Blind Man (A Study of John 9) Part 12

When I was a wee lad, the worst that could happen to me would be people talking to my parents about something I allegedly did or did not do. Here we have the Pharisees engaged in “Meet the Parents!”

They don’t believe the man’s oft-repeated story of his healing, so they send for Mom and Dad.  This must have been traumatic for them.  They are  interrupted as they are presumably looking at brochures for a sight-seeing tour for their son and are hauled onto the carpet to be interrogated by frustrated, angry Pharisees!

They are grilled with three questions: (1) “Is this your son?”; (2) “Is this the one you say was born blind?”; (3) “How is it that now he can see?”  The first two questions are easy to answer, although some parents might have been tempted for reasons of self-interest to not claim this man as their son.  But how in the world were they to answer the third question?!

They keep their answers short — out of fearscreen-shot-2017-03-01-at-6-30-31-amFear of being expelled from the synagogue, the center of Jewish social and religious life.

If you were to list your top 10 fears in life (being tossed in a pit with rattlesnakes, becoming the hairdresser for President Trump, etc.), would being tossed out of the local church be one of them?  For many of us, if that were to happen, we might just say as we were walking out, “I NEVER LIKED THE COLOR OF THE CARPET ANYWAY!”  And then just go to the church down the street.

To the Pharisees acknowledging Jesus as the cause of this man’s healing meant (virtually) acknowledging Him as the Promised Messiah.  And that they could not allow!  So the parents pass the buck — back to their wide-eyed son. (to be continued)


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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in fear


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