By Larry Ray Hafley
From Tennessee: “When a congregation withdraws itself front one of its members, do the Scriptures teach that all other churches must accept this church’s decision without the right to check into the matter themselves to determine whether the withdrawn from member is worthy or unworthy of their fellowship?”
This question appears frequently where there are several churches in close proximity. Of course, churches blessed with faithfulness do not have the problem. Churches cursed with failure to discipline after the New Testament order do not have the problem, either.
If the answer to the query above is, “yes,” the result would be:
1. That churches would have been required to refuse those whom an apostle accepted. In 3 John 9, 10, Diotrephes refused to receive the apostle John, “and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would and casteth them out of the church.” If churches “must accept this church’s decision in the matter,” then other churches should have knuckled and kneeled to Diotrephes.
2. That churches would have been forced to receive the brother in Corinth who had “his father’s wife,” since the church approved him. The rule applies both ways. If one church must automatically deny one who is withdrawn from, they must immediately take in one who is regarded as faithful elsewhere. In the case above, men rejected those whom God accepted, while in Corinth men received those whom God refused. Therefore, each church must “check into the matter themselves to determine whether the withdrawn from member is worthy or unworthy of their fellowship.”
On The Other Hand
It should not be forgotten that a congregation which scripturally delivers one unto Satan does so “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 5:4; 2 Thess. 3:6). It is a serious action. Each case should be judged with care; it cannot be ignored.
Then, again, erroneous judgments and personality conflicts scar churches in given areas. Men love admiration and advantage. Resentment builds against arrogant, self-willed men. A series of factions arise to fracture the frail thread of unity. Petitions are signed. Charges and counter charges are hurled. Hatred thrives but is denied by all concerned. Each “side” says they are on no one’s side, except the Lord’s. All disclaim the devil, except to say that he is “definitely in our midst.” Each side wants to “play the tapes” of a heated business meeting which, they both affirm, proves the guilt of the other. Both groups withdraw from each other. Both groups insist that “faithful churches” cannot “endorse that faction.” Both withdraw from churches that do not accept their view. Both groups solicit the support of preachers to give them an air of recognition. Both groups send articles to papers and periodicals bewailing the division which was “made necessary” by the ungodly actions of a “certain few.” On and on the gangrene spreads. The innocent, the unsuspecting, and meddlers are drawn in. It waxes worse and worse. Other churches are caught in the middle. Who or what shall they believe? It takes a Solomon to know the answer in cases like this which have pock-marked this country like a contagious disease the past fifteen years. Perhaps the wisdom of Solomon would not be a bad idea — take the quarreling brethren and divide them with the sword.
Truth Magazine, XX:19, p. 2
May 6, 1976