Did the early Christian's put as much importance on disfellowshipping?

by free2beme 8 Replies latest jw friends

  • free2beme

    As a Witness, I remember that disfellowshipping, reproofing, disassociating, etc, were a huge issue in the congregation and took a lot of the elder bodies time and energy. There was all the backroom meetings, the interviewing of witnesses to the crime, the late night discussions, the researching and so on. I asked an elder one time, "Did the early Christians spend as much time as Witness do today, on all this disciplinary action?" The elder mentioned a couple of scriptures and so on, but in essence, he had to side step the answer, because the answer is "NO." I have read the Bible many times, like many of you did too, I just remember a whole lot about these disciplinary actions being such a key theme.

    Public outcry, and protest, often lead to successful changes to a religion or organization. Even to make that religion more pure, if that is your goal. People who are closed minded to this, to the point that they expel all levels of this outcry or protest, are bound to fall in on themselves. How can you be there to tell an organization of a mistake, if the simple act gets you expelled. In any sense, I sit back sometimes in amazement, at how the disfellowshipping theme was in the top three of all topics I remember being preached at the Kingdom Hall and that just seemed wrong and out of character from the religion you read about in the New Testament.

    Did anyone else think this topic was raised to way to important of a level?

  • free2beme

    I would love to see a report on how many "hours" were reported from the organization to get someone out of the religion and compare that to the amount spent to get them in.

  • lostlantern

    I agree with you. The act of disfellowshipping is out of hand. Instead of calling brothers and sisters in to help them with scripture they are more inclined to "cleanse" the congregation at all cost. It is a "guilty until proven innocent" system, they have the mentality, "take action now and ask NO questions later." I can't imagine that Jesus would approve.

  • jwfacts

    It is a good point on the difference between the number of hours to get someone in compared to putting them out.

    It does not seem that there was a formal disfellowshipping arrangement, certainly the procedures that the WTS do, such as elders sending a letter to Bethel for approval we not practiced.

    Terms like disfellowship, disassociate, excommunicate do not appear in the bible. The scriptural principles are more based around not having active association with practicing wrongdoers.

    It is cults and high control groups that have made a wise principle into a legalistic practice, and a good indication if a person is associating with an unchristian group if they put great emphasis on this type of practice.

  • Apostate Kate
    Apostate Kate

    I think most of us reading this know the Scripture passage that the WTBTS uses to justify disfellowshipping. To paraphrase; a guy was doing the wild thing with his step mother, kissing and telling, and no one had the sense to tell him that this was not a good thing. You can take that incidence even out of the church and Dr Phil would have a few choice words for the two. It was kind of a no brainer that Paul should not even have had to address.

    It is all about control. Fear inducing, and elders on power trips. Some elders were sweet kind and sincere but many weren't. I like the way Ray Franz puts it in Crisis of Conscience page 293;

    "deeds of faith had to be spontaneous, not systematized or made to conform to a certain mold, just as acts of love should be spontaneous, not something performed out of mere compliance with some scheduled activity programmed by others"

    I would add that the same goes for any type of disciplinary action. Especially since the word discipline comes from "to disciple"

  • Narkissos

    There were many kinds of early "Christian churches" and, accordingly, different (and evolutive) disciplinarian systems. In particular, the need for discipline was not the same whether a "church" as a social group was closer to a "holy community" model (cf. the Essene Qumran Rule or the later conventual rules) or to a looser "fellowship" of people with a secular life, family etc. Also, whether the group defined itself as just a "school" or "sect" within a larger religious identity (such as the Jewish "Nazoreans" within Judaism) or as the chosen few in a doomed evil world -- all of this changes the nature and meaning of "discipline".

    Bottom line: there is no consistent disciplinarian model in the NT. Every religious group must assume responsibility for the rules it makes, and no patchwork of unrelated "proof-texts" can justify it.

  • Honesty

    One real "smart" elder told me, "We're not policemen but we do have to keep the congregation clean even if it means spying on people." This same idiot wonders why I no longer want to be a member of the club.

  • slimboyfat

    Some people have the notion that early Christianity was benign in comparison with the disciplinary structure of modern-day sectarian movements. This is not the case. There may have been nuances of difference in the NT, but common denominator is stict control and authoritarianism. See this great book on the subject:

    Cost of Authority: Manipulation and Freedom in the New Testament
    Graham Shaw


  • Narkissos
    There may have been nuances of difference in the NT, but common denominator is stict control and authoritarianism.

    I'm afraid you are quite right sbf.

    Even though the WT cannot rely on NT data for making up its specific, consistent disciplinary system, and has added a lot of unscriptural features (grounds for discipline, judgement by special committees behind closed doors, etc.), it is still true that the most painful features are found in Bible texts (e.g. "shunning" in 2 John 9-11).

    Also, what the WT left out from the NT (such as authoritarian excommunication by the individual apostle/bishop in the Pastorals) was hardly better than the Committee system.

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