Recent events and topics have had me thinking a lot about Mt 18. I don’t even have to mention the verses, do I? Well, at any rate, I’ll quote them all the same.
11For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
12How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
14Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:11-14, King James Version)
What? Not the verses you expected? They come afterwards, don’t they? Notice the context, though. Jesus talks about offences. He talks about despising the little ones. He talks about restoration.
Yes, restoration. Saving that which was lost. That’s the context!
15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Matthew 18:15-17, King James Version)
And so, Jesus tells us how to go about restoring a lost relationship.
Notice the steps, though:
1. Go to your brother in private and try to work it out. It doesn’t give any limits on how many times you might want to try this before moving on to step 2.
2. After exhaustively attempting to reconcile on your own, take along 2 or 3 witnesses with you. Notice, these are “witnesses” not judges. It doesn’t say take along people that will agree with you. The implication is that they should be objective. They should not be intimately involved with the people concerned. Again, there are no time limits. There are no stated limits that say it can only be one meeting, two meetings, etc.
3. After exhaustively attempting to work it out this way, then it goes before “the church”.
Now, at this point, some believe “the church” should be a group of ministers. Some believe “the church” means the entire body of believers. To be far, both sides have valid points. To say the least, however, by the time you reach that point, the contention is obviously made public. It seems that the real point Jesus is making is not whether only men schooled at some Bible college can judge or not, but rather the point seems more along the lines of working it out privately if at all possible.
There were parties in all sides of the recent UCG upheaval that violated this, certainly. However, if you are going to choose any of those sides as part of your allegiance and/or affiliation, then I would give careful thought as to which side seemed more inclined to follow it, try to meet with others and didn’t try to publicly decry the conduct of others, versus which side seemed more inclined to publicly answer what should have been private communications, accuse others, slander other leaders in written form and cut off and control communications.
I realize people are sometimes frustrated that, “My minister doesn’t tell me anything,” but perhaps it is because he is trying to follow Jesus’ admonition to go to someone privately rather than telling the world of another’s faults.
13A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. (Proverbs 11:13, King James Version)
You see, there is a level of transparency that is needed in any organization. However, when it involves going to your brother, perhaps it is best to avoid the spreading of gossip.
Unfortunately, that depends on which group you look at and had run ins with.
The Facebook group United We Stand got genuinely nasty and I am hard pressed to say any good came out of it. It alone helped create a bad name for just about everyone that left. While it does not represent the majority of those leaving, it was certainly the most vocal and visible. I was on "their side" and even got disgusted at what I was seeing (before they kicked me out of the group in July).
I personally know people that look at the actions of that group by-and-large when thinking about what the new group consists of. Their example, sadly, over powers a lot of the more congenial and well done examples of this split–because those examples don't parade themselves around as much.
@Andrew: You are right, and a couple of them seem to still be dealing with some issues. Perhaps I would have otherwise come to a conclusion earlier, although that's not for certain.
The interesting thing was that the dove page actually started getting worse at one point than the UWS page. That's when I started to realize there really were extremists on both sides.
Fortunately, it's calmed down to a large degree on both. Most have made up their minds, and I think that fact is settling in.
At any rate, what I've been saying all along is that it is about leadership. What is the leadership of each group doing, and how did they get there? There's a lot of innuendo to wade through, and there are surely problem children on both sides. However, when you look at the overall picture, each of us has to discern the way to go.
My Pastor admitted last weekend he hasn't always agreed with UCG Council of Elders decisions.
But he said grumbling about it and airing such dirty laundry (borrowing from your label) before the congregation would "poison" the flock.
I can see why he thinks that way. But part of me hears the words "political correctness" in that approach — or at least someone toeing a corporate line, instead of being real with the members.
Anonymous wrote: "But part of me hears the words 'political correctness' in that approach — or at least someone toeing a corporate line, instead of being real with the members."
That is a real possibility! I think we all know we are capable of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. I've done it. You've done it. Some are probably doing so now.
And still, only God knows the hearts. Just because a minister is staying/leaving doesn't make him the enemy, either. Even if some have said some unwise things doesn't mean they aren't true Christians. It does mean they have things to work on still, like the rest of us.
I guess that's why I try to look at the groups involved from more of a distance. One individual having a tough time of it all or even one rotten apple doesn't mean the entire group is that way.
Right now, there is a discussion on FB going on about whether or not people leaving were influenced by their pastors to try to convince them to leave. I haven't seen one "Yes" answer. In fact, most are complaining that their minister told them very little or nothing at all until they resigned.
SIDE NOTE: Of course, that didn't stop the charge they were trying to draw people away to follow them.
However, did some of them go overboard with silence? Was there political correctness? Perhaps so. However, in light of Christ's command, I think it more prudent to be too cautious about what you say than the reverse.
At the beginning of this it seemed to me that the council was being heavy handed in almost everything it did.
However in the light of events, it seems that maybe they were actually ‘going to their brother privately’ a lot more than I thought, prior to taking action. Because it was private, and not mentioned, the subsequent actions came across as heavy handed.
For example – meeting the SA ministry – why didn’t this happen? It came across as it the Council were avoiding a meeting. But later it is apparent that the SA ministry refused to meet the council unless Leon Walker was first reinstated and after that they would come to talks.
Where has common sense and logic gone here? That is saying, reinstate the person, and then let’s talk about the situation, to decide if the person should be reinstated.
Another situation – a minister removed from his position (not fired), on the face of it because ‘he had signed the letter’. Again heavy handed it would seem.
Subsequently other evidence has come to light via internet boards of him actively involved in an organised ‘block voting’ move prior to the last council elections in May. There was other evidence on a more personal basis, from several sources, of a constant ‘drip feeding’ support of a breakaway movement, months before the breakaway was an organised reality.
Often, it seems, what appears to be heavy handedness is actually protection of the individual, not revealing everything that has gone on, for the sake of the individual. Rather than tale bearing, the matter has been concealed, following Proverbs 11v13.
@Questeruk: Well, both sides have their own spin on it all. I have to wonder, though, would the COE had better luck if they had sent someone besides Mario Seiglie? I guess we'll never know.
At least one minister was contacted and agreed to talk with the council. Eduardo Hernandez met with the COE, and basically after that he was hung out and dried. He states:
"That letter [of Mr. Luker’s letter of November 11th] has nothing to do with what you, the President of the Church and the Council, had told me and had given me to believe would happen regarding Latin America. In fact, it goes completely against everything we supposedly agreed to during my visit to the home office on September 13-15 of this year.
"…as part of the reconciliation process he and the Council demanded that I submit to Mr. Mario Seiglie and speak with him to resolve the situation. I suddenly find myself in the same situation as on June 23rd of this year when the Council, against all sensible judgment, wisdom, and every ethical principle, sent him as their representative in order to set things straight. The fruit of that decision is plain to see: the Work that God has carried out in Latin America through the United Church of God these past 15 years has been divided and splintered; there is chaos and confusion."
Charges of block voting on both sides have been made over and over, sometimes with no evidence whatsoever.
I don't know anything about a "drip feed" (not even sure what that means in this context, but it doesn't sound good). There was a very ad hoc process put in place to assist "breakaway congregations" of LA in the beginning, and then it expanded as time went on. I've been working on a timeline related to this, and I was hoping to get some feedback on it before publishing it.
There also is the timeline of events leading to The Timeline for the Establishment of
Church of God, a Worldwide Association. I've been reluctant to put a link to it, as it requests it not to be posted elsewhere. Of course, a link is not a post, but posting a link inherently risks someone else posting the actual document.
Say what you will, though, as Dennis Luker made it clear in his very first sermon that those who don't agree should peaceably separate. Well, it hasn't been peaceful. There's fault on both sides, certainly.
I can say that one side seemingly has attempted to personally contact and plead their case and has been met with public refusals and admonitions. And, that bothers me as much publicly releasing doctrinal sounding papers that obfuscate doctrines and events and accuse others.