Ask Your Preacher
(This post is in reference to “A Parent’s Sorrow”)
Just reading the Q and A about the woman's daughter that has chosen a homosexual life… when do we as a church or member disfellowship ourselves from someone, and how do we do this with a family member or loved one? Out of love, we are not to even eat or associate with them, but how can we do this effectively with an adult child or straying parent?
Dear Cutting Ties,
The Bible doesn’t tell us to withdraw from all people who are living actively sinful lifestyles; we are only told to withdraw from christians who live actively sinful lives. Paul even said that the church isn’t in the business of judging all mankind (that’s God’s job); we are only responsible to exhort and, if needed, discipline our own (1 Cor 5:9-13). In the question you are referring to, it doesn’t sound like the daughter is a christian and the member of the church.
Secondly, even if the person is a christian, when the church withdraws from someone, family relationships aren’t as clear-cut as the rest of the brethren. The church is given strict orders to withdraw and not associate with a wayward brother or sister (1 Cor 5:13). However, the immediate family doesn’t have the same “black and white” guidelines. In fact, we see that they sometimes are commanded to do the opposite – as in the case of an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:13). Close relatives and loved ones falling away can be torturous on the rest of the family, and immediate family oftentimes has to make the tougher decisions of when to draw back and when to keep the family door open. Family ties in the case of a wayward christian becomes a gray area that requires wisdom and should be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Is it correct to use the word ‘church’ in place of ‘ekklesia’?
A Little Wordy
Dear A Little Wordy,
‘Ekklesia’ is a Greek word, and ‘church’ is an English word. It isn’t wrong to translate the Bible from its original Greek into other languages. In fact, Jesus quoted from a Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint (the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew). The word ‘ekklesia’ means ‘the called out’ and refers to a group that is called together for a specific purpose. In modern English, we use words like ‘church’ and ‘assembly’ to express the same definition. The church of Christ is a group of people who have heard and heeded the call of Jesus Christ.
I have been attending a United Methodist church for about two years now and really enjoyed the teaching of the Bible from my clergy; recently, he told me the Bishop was transferring him to another church, one that in distance would prevent me from attending. I feel I have lost a good teacher, one that had and could capture all my attention and others’ when we would hear his words on the teachings of the Bible. Why would a church replace a man that meant so much to the people he ministered to? I have tried to listen to the new appointed minister, but somehow, it’s just not giving the blessings of the Word of God that were there for me with my last clergy. I am a bit disappointed, and we are now looking for new church… again.
Dear Left Behind,
The reason the United Methodist church did this was because they haven’t been following the Bible – they’ve been following their own traditions. Your frustrating situation is a great example of what has gone wrong with the religious world. God never intended for congregations to take orders from some regional archbishop or governing council. The Bible pattern for local churches is much simpler – and it avoids the sort of congregational disruption you experienced.
Every congregation of the New Testament had independence. Only local elders were over them (1 Pet 5:1-2, Acts 14:23). They were bound to follow Christ as their only head (Eph 5:23)… no boards or committees, no headquarters in some other state, no popes or potentates. If a congregation was happy with their preacher, he stayed. If they were unhappy, they stopped supporting him. Simple as that.
What you are looking for is a local body of believers who are accountable to Christ and His Word, not some district office or United Methodist jurisdiction. Congregations like this exist all over America and the world. If you’d like, we’d be happy to get you in touch with a congregation that plays by God’s rules, not their own. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of service.
Hi, and thank you for listening. I always wondered what exactly heaven will be like. Will we have our memory from this life to the next? Also, when Jesus returns, will that be the end to this existence? No Earth, no solar system, and so on? Thank you and God bless.
Still On This Side
Dear Still On This Side,
Even those in torments remember their lives and families after death. The story of Lazarus and the rich man shows that the rich man awoke in torments and remembered his brothers (Lk 16:27-28). We have every reason to believe that after we die, we will still remember who we are, the relationships we have built, and the lives that we have touched on this planet.
When Jesus returns, this universe will be totally destroyed by intense heat (2 Pet 3:10-13), and this earthly age will pass away and be replaced by a spiritual one for all eternity (1 Cor 15:49-54). Read “Through The Fire” for more details on what happens to the Earth on the judgment day.
In your response to a question about calling clergy “father”, you once again led the reader to accept your personal, fallible interpretation of Scripture. Unless you are claiming your interpretations are infallible? Why not give your reader a more complete picture of what Scripture has to say on this subject? Why not point out that Jesus Himself used the term “father” in a spiritual sense? Unless you are saying that the rich man was Abraham’s physical (biological) son (Lk 16:24-25)?
Why does Paul refer to christians in Corinth as his children? Are they all his biological children (1 Cor 4:14-15)?
What about the apostle John? Are they all his biological children (1 Jn 2:1)? What about the Old Testament? Joseph tells his brothers, “So it was not you who sent me here, but God, and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” in Genesis 45:8. Job has a similar statement, “I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know” (Job 29:16).
I think you guys know better than that. I think you know Jesus, John, and even Paul all used the term “father” in a spiritual sense. Again, I find it interesting that you leave these verses out in order to “hit a home run” against a faith system you disagree with. The Catholic Church is not, nor ever has been “wrong” concerning this issue. How could they be? If every christian is meant to search the Scriptures and determine doctrine based on the Scriptures, why are your interpretations correct and my interpretations incorrect? I see the term “father” used in a spiritual sense all throughout the Bible. Thus, if I am interpreting Scripture the same as you are, who are you to tell me I am wrong? You even admit in a previous response to a question ("Trust No Man"): “We aren’t infallible here at AYP; we are just men.” You might want to consider your previous statements before going and making an “infallible” proclamation concerning the practices of others.
Dear Swiss Guard,
Oh, Swiss Guard, how we have missed you and your anonymous rants. It is too bad that you never provide your e-mail address, so we could personally search the Scriptures together… it seems like all you want is to use our website to publicly voice your frustrations – but we digress.
First off, we have dealt with the way that Peter, Jesus, and John used the term ‘father’ – feel free to read the post from January 13th, 2011 entitled “Parental Paradox” for an explanation of all those verses that you say we leave out. We’ve handled this concern before. We don’t avoid verses – we just keep them in context… unlike the Catholic church.
As far as Lk 16:24-25, the rich man was a Jew, and he would have considered Abraham his biological ancestor – just like all the Jews did (Jhn 8:39). And Job 29:16 is literally saying that Job treated the poor like they were his children.
Now lastly, let’s deal with the idea of interpretation. The Bible tells us that it isn’t a matter of private interpretation (2 Pet 1:20). What you think and what we think doesn’t matter at all – what matters is what God said. That is why we always give lots of verses to back up our answers, so readers can check the Scriptures for themselves. People are fallible, but the Bible never changes and we encourage people to double-check for themselves. But that doesn’t mean that we can each believe whatever we want and all be okay – if that were the case, there would be no such thing as right and wrong at all! Instead, God’s Word is right though every man be found a liar (Rom 3:4). Just like a roadmap or an instruction manual – it says what it says... not what you want it to say.
In the end, Catholicism is a false religion because it isn’t built upon the Bible. Any religion that doesn’t use the Bible as its standard of measure is false (Gal 1:8). The Catholic church tells people that they can’t eat certain foods, and it tells their priests that they can’t marry – which is wrong (1 Tim 4:3). The Catholic church teaches that the Pope is directly in contact with God and that people should follow him… once again, wrong. Christ is our direct connection to God (Heb 1:1-4), and the Bible is what we should follow (2 Tim 3:16-17). Everything about the Catholic church’s organization is in direct opposition to the Scriptures. The question isn’t how old a church is; the question is whether or not Christ is its head (Eph 5:23). There is only one pattern for the church (Eph 4:4-6), and the Catholic church is not it. But, don’t take our word for it – take His.