Aug 15


From Church!

If you spend much time on the interwebs you have seen this story. The link I have given above is, as far as I can tell, the original source.

It details how a 92 year old woman got a letter effectively kicking her out of the church - excommunication is the technical term.
The letter alleges that she had shown "non-support" but failing to tithe.

From a purely Baptist perspective let us analyze this, we will get to the broader implications in a bit.

First, this is an example of church discipline. Not widely practiced anymore but still most often but not exclusively found, when it is practiced, in African-American communities in my experience (which may or may not be normative.) Churches that practice such should have a very clear set of by-laws that detail what is considered unacceptable behavior and the means of addressing it. Biblically, that typically means first a visit from the pastor, then from the pastor and a few church leaders, and finally presentation before the whole church. The person should be given ample chance to repent or explain and be brought back into fellowship. If not the last resort is to remove them from the church rolls. Unless they went through all of that with her, which does not seem to be the case, she should be throwing a holy fit. Literally. I would be willing to help her articulate her case.

There is a larger issue at work here, however, that is much broader reaching. The Law v. Grace. While that is Christian language it applies universally as the conflict between the Rules As Written (RAW) and basic human decency. When RAW becomes the end all and be all of a movement we call that Fundamentalism, the resort to a specific set of fundamental regulations or principals at the expense of all else. You can, by the way, be a Liberal Fundamentalist, or an Atheist Fundamentalist (looking at you Dawkins - not that you care), or a Philly Cheese Steak Fundamentalist. It doesn't matter what the subject is as long as you act like the RAW matters more than humans.

So, before you get all disgusted with religious hypocrisy and injustice, look to yourself first. You might find that you have, metaphorically, been kicking little old ladies out of the church.

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