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Author Topic: A Church That Was Sued Twenty Years Ago  (Read 5594 times)

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Offline striving4

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A Church That Was Sued Twenty Years Ago
« on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 08:48:55 »
http://www.christianity.com/partner....00.html

The above article is an interview with the lawyer who was on the case regarding the Collinsville Church in Oklahoma that was sued about twenty years ago by a woman who was publically disfellowshipped by the Church.

The article states this:\"At the last meeting with the elders about the situation, Marian Guinn told them that she was withdrawing her membership from the church.

The elders subsequently informed the adult members of the congregation that the church was to withdraw fellowship from Marian Guinn and gave the scriptural reasons for doing so. Marian Guinn then filed her lawsuit, alleging that she was abusively treated and that her privacy had been violated. \"


1) Should a Church disfellowship someone who is leaving on their own?

Many  of you might know this case much better than I do but I've  seen  here in a Church I attended, where a woman who had an affair, subsequently left the Church on her own, and after she was gone, she was disfellowshipped.

What about the prodical son.  When he left home , was he disfellowshipped?

Should we disfellowship everyone who falls away or leaves voluntarily?

Isn't disfellowship for those who are AMONG US in sin, and not for those who have left on their own?
Lauren

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« on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 08:48:55 »

Offline Nelta

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« Reply #1 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 09:38:03 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (striving4 @ Feb. 04 2004,08:48)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]http://www.christianity.com/partner....00.html

The above article is an interview with the lawyer who was on the case regarding the Collinsville Church in Oklahoma that was sued about twenty years ago by a woman who was publically disfellowshipped by the Church.

The article states this:\"At the last meeting with the elders about the situation, Marian Guinn told them that she was withdrawing her membership from the church.

The elders subsequently informed the adult members of the congregation that the church was to withdraw fellowship from Marian Guinn and gave the scriptural reasons for doing so. Marian Guinn then filed her lawsuit, alleging that she was abusively treated and that her privacy had been violated. \"


1) Should a Church disfellowship someone who is leaving on their own?

Many  of you might know this case much better than I do but I've  seen  here in a Church I attended, where a woman who had an affair, subsequently left the Church on her own, and after she was gone, she was disfellowshipped.

What about the prodical son.  When he left home , was he disfellowshipped?

Should we disfellowship everyone who falls away or leaves voluntarily?

Isn't disfellowship for those who are AMONG US in sin, and not for those who have left on their own?
Lauren[/quote]
:frowning:

Good subject to bring up.  I, as well as others in this forum, lived through this, meaning were around when it happend.  Saw it on Donahue which was an embarassment because of some of the Church of Christ people in the audience.  After hearing the show, one women stood up and called the Church of Christ a cult.  

It was said by the lawyer (I think) that since the woman left there was no fellowship and the woman had written a letter telling them she was leaving, which simply meant she was withdrawing fellowship from them.  One of the Christian women spoke up (here is the embarassment) and said she could not do that.  They were required to withdraw fellowship from HER.  This, even if she left.

BTW did you all hear that on appeal, the woman lost the case and didn't get any money?  If not, I will try to find that info.  I was disappointed.

Nelta

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A Church That Was Sued Twenty Years Ago
« Reply #1 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 09:38:03 »

boringoldguy

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« Reply #2 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 09:39:30 »
My understanding of the elders' reasoning was that, just as a person doesn't add himself to the Church, a person can't quit the Church.   Because this woman was a member, they had to discipline her.

I'm not sure that a person who has been disfellowshipped is even out of the Church.   The purpose of discipline is to win back the errant person, so it would seem that even after disfellowshipping, a person is still part of the Church in some sense.

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« Reply #2 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 09:39:30 »

Offline Cliftyman

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« Reply #3 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 10:00:06 »
good observation.  I agree.

My thinking on this comes from Matthew 18 and 1 Cor 5 and 2 Cor 1 exclusively.

and sueing the Church?  Well I don't think that is the best course of action...... the bible makes that pretty clear (taking up Church matters with secular courts)

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« Reply #3 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 10:00:06 »
Pinterest: GraceCentered.com

Offline s1n4m1n

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« Reply #4 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 10:18:20 »
BOG,

[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote [/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]My understanding of the elders' reasoning was that, just as a person doesn't add himself to the Church, a person can't quit the Church.   Because this woman was a member, they had to discipline her.
[/quote]

Since I've been a member of a non-institutional church of Christ I've always been taught:

1) Christians are free to join or leave a congregation, that is , \"place membership\" or \"stop membership\"

2) Congregations are free to accept or reject individual membership, that is, \"extend fellowship\" or \"disfellowship\".

I don't know what churches of Christ that support institutions teach, but I would be suprised if it was different. The question of one being in the Church (universal sense) is a seperate issue apart from congregational membership. That is what I have been taught.

Given the above, if the woman wrote a letter saying she was leaving the congregation, then the elders didn't have a basis for \"disfellowshipping\" her because she would not be under their \"oversight\". IMO.

Ken

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« Reply #4 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 10:18:20 »



boringoldguy

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« Reply #5 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 10:27:08 »
Ken,

I've never heard any of that.   I've always heard that Christ makes you a member of the Church upon:

a)  immersion; or

b)  immersion for the \"right reason\"

and if you presented yourself for membership and met that test, no one has any right to deny fellowship to you unless perhaps you were under discipline somewhere else.  (My home congregation doesn't ask too many questions about the \"reason\" for immersion, which I think is appropriate.)    
Furthermore, until you request to be identified with some other congregation, you're considered a member of the congregation you've identified with.

How 'bout it?    Is what Ken puts forth the standard teaching?
Is my geographical isolation showing again?

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« Reply #5 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 10:27:08 »

Offline s1n4m1n

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« Reply #6 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 10:52:15 »
BOG,

Are you saying that one always is a member of a congregration? That it is impossible to be a member of the universal church and not a member of a congregation?

Ken

boringoldguy

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« Reply #7 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 11:20:00 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (s1n4m1n @ Feb. 04 2004,10:52)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]BOG,

Are you saying that one always is a member of a congregration? That it is impossible to be a member of the universal church and not a member of a congregation?

Ken[/quote]
Well, Ken, I never thought of it that way, but I do believe ther's no such thing as a free-lance Christian.   Christianity can't be practiced in isolation.

Offline hmb

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« Reply #8 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 11:37:20 »
I agree with Ken.  I don't see how any congregation could claim to exercise any authority or influence over a member who left to attend another congregation.

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« Reply #8 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 11:37:20 »

Offline Dennis

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« Reply #9 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 11:54:54 »
For what it's worth, if anyone is interested, the Oklahoma Supreme Court case can be read in its entirety at:

http://www.oscn.net/applica....er1fn80

The opinion includes a summary of the facts as they were developed through the evidence at trial.  The case was remanded to the trial court for a new trial based on the Court's holding that the Church was free to discipline its members but, that once she withdrew, she was no longer subject to Church discipline.  The Court held she had in essence consented to Church discipline by becoming a member, but that once she withdrew, that consent was revoked and the elders enjoyed no legal privilege any greater than any other person or entity.  The case was settled before the re-trial.

As a lawyer, I think the OK Sup Court had it about right, based on the facts as stated to it.  As an Christian, I can see the position of the Elders, but think they probably went further than they needed to go [up to and including reading the specific scriptures she had violated and sending the letter for public reading to four other congregations in the area].  However, I cannot say with certainty the Collinsville elders were wrong.  At some point, I think we all realize that our duties as Christians have to take precedence over our duties to the Government.  If you agree the elders had no choice, then this was one of those times.  We must obey God rather than men.  But if there is a way to live within the law and still obey God, I think we are obligated to do that.  Without consideration of the civil law, from the above comments, I think we agree that the \"disfellowshipping\" process is intended to lead to repentence.  With that in mind, it seems to me that we should exercise caution in the way we go about it and try to leave the lifeline dangling out there.

By the way, with 5 lawyers listed on his side in the case, and an admitted war chest of over $1 million, I find Mr. Rucker's decription of the case as a \"David and Goliath\" matter questionable.

Offline s1n4m1n

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« Reply #10 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 12:02:14 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (boringoldguy @ Feb. 04 2004,11:20)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--][!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote [/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]BOG,

Are you saying that one always is a member of a congregration? That it is impossible to be a member of the universal church and not a member of a congregation?

Ken[/quote]
Well, Ken, I never thought of it that way, but I do believe ther's no such thing as a free-lance Christian.   Christianity can't be practiced in isolation.[/quote]
Of course, you've been corrupted by the \"Church Fathers\"  ;)

If Christianity can't be practiced in isolation, then what does that say about truly autonomous and independant congregations?

Ken

Offline striving4

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« Reply #11 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 12:15:56 »
If it is O.K. to disfellowship people, after they leave on their own, then why arn't the fifty percent of the youth that leave the Church , disfellowshipped?  Is adultry the only sin that needs a public reprimand upon one leaving voluntarily? What about the love of money?

There is no record of the prodical son being disfellowshipped after he left home. :rolleyes:

However , I do believe if one continues to CALL themselves a Christian ,attend services regularly ,and wallow in sin after repeated warning then there should be Church discipline.

When this event happened , I was in Bible School with a preacher's daughter. She told me she wished someone had said something to her when she was growing up in the Church but  being immoral as a teenager.

Offline Nelta

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« Reply #12 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 12:50:26 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (boringoldguy @ Feb. 04 2004,09:39)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]My understanding of the elders' reasoning was that, just as a person doesn't add himself to the Church, a person can't quit the Church.   Because this woman was a member, they had to discipline her.

I'm not sure that a person who has been disfellowshipped is even out of the Church.   The purpose of discipline is to win back the errant person, so it would seem that even after disfellowshipping, a person is still part of the Church in some sense.[/quote]
Possibly you are mixing the universal body of Christ where one cannot add himself but is added by Christ, with the Church of Christ that is set up today.  They are surely totally different.  So to answer your question, someone who places membership in a Church of Christ can surely leave at will.  That is what the woman did.  She did not leave the universal body in which Christ put her upon her baptism .

Nelta

boringoldguy

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« Reply #13 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 13:05:30 »
Ken,

As far as I can tell, truly autonomous and independent congregations are not described in the New Testament.
As best I can tell, the example of the council at Jerusalem is the more correct picture of relationships between congregations.    In that episode, while one congregation didn't dictate to the other, neither did either pretend that they had no accountability to the other.

boringoldguy

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« Reply #14 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 13:07:11 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (Nelta @ Feb. 04 2004,12:50)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]Possibly you are mixing the universal body of Christ where one cannot add himself but is added by Christ, with the Church of Christ that is set up today.  They are surely totally different.  [/quote]
Nelta,

I'm not sure of anything of the sort.

Offline James Rondon

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« Reply #15 on: Wed Feb 04, 2004 - 22:04:45 »
After writing a letter, indicating that I and my family had \"withrawn our fellowship\" from the NI CoC that we had been involved with over a year and a half ago, I promptly received a letter which \"marked\" me, and \"withdrew\" from me. I wrote a letter to the \"Preacher\" asking him how the congregation could withdraw something that no longer existed, to which I received no response. In fact, there were no phone calls, no visits, and no correspondence trying to persuade us to come back. There was only an email sent by the \"Preacher\" telling me that I was wrong the evening before their letter was signed and sent... So much for \"leaving the ninety and nine\".

Offline striving4

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« Reply #16 on: Thu Feb 05, 2004 - 08:18:29 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote [/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]After writing a letter, indicating that I and my family had \"withrawn our fellowship\" from the NI CoC that we had been involved with over a year and a half ago, I promptly received a letter which \"marked\" me, and \"withdrew\" from me. I wrote a letter to the \"Preacher\" asking him how the congregation could withdraw something that no longer existed, to which I received no response. In fact, there were no phone calls, no visits, and no correspondence trying to persuade us to come back. There was only an email sent by the \"Preacher\" telling me that I was wrong the evening before their letter was signed and sent... So much for \"leaving the ninety and nine\".[/quote]
:rolleyes: Interesting, since we've been talking about the Early Church Fathers on a history thread.  What did the Early Church do to disfellowship , seeing that there was practically an 100% illiteracy rate, no email, and no telephone or cars...

To disfellowship someone AMONG us is one thing, and can be found in scripture...

To  disfellowship someone who has left voluntarily, as in the example of the prodical son does not seem to be found in scripture.


What does the O.T. say about those who left the Jewish community for the \"world\"?   ???

Romans 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Offline Cliftyman

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« Reply #17 on: Thu Feb 05, 2004 - 09:32:17 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote [/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]Well, Ken, I never thought of it that way, but I do believe ther's no such thing as a free-lance Christian.   Christianity can't be practiced in isolation. [/quote]

I don't understand this statement at all?

Christianity can be practiced in isolation.  A person can have faith outside of Christ without having anyone else around (I am thinking of some verying bad circumstances) say you were a Christian and you were trapped on a deserted island?

boringoldguy

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« Reply #18 on: Thu Feb 05, 2004 - 09:59:46 »
No one is talking about extreme circumstances such as being cast away on a desert island or held in solitary confinement.
And of course a person can have faith in those circumstances.
Not only that, but it is possible that Christ might come to him, as He did to John on Patmos.

But consider:

God said it wasn't good for man to be alone

Christ promised that where two or three are gathered in His name, He would be in their midst (Matt 18:19 - 21)   I think most people take this to mean Christ is present in our assembly in a way that He is not present to us individually.

Christ's last instruction to his followers was to make disciples.

Our ultimate command is to love each other.

We are instructed not to forsake assembling together.

All of these things involve community.   Which is why you can't practice Christianity - you can't do the things Christians do, in isolation.     Even monks who practice silence gather for religious services.

Offline MIZ83

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« Reply #19 on: Sat Feb 07, 2004 - 16:05:06 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote [/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]Interesting, since we've been talking about the Early Church Fathers on a history thread.  What did the Early Church do to disfellowship , seeing that there was practically an 100% illiteracy rate, no email, and no telephone or cars...
[/quote]

Here are just a few quotations:

All of those who separate from the church and give heed to old wives' tales, like these persons, are truly self-condemned.  Paul commands us \"to avoid [these men] after a first and second admonition.\"  Furthermore, John, the disciple of the Lord, has intensified their condemnation.  For he desires us not even to address them with the salutation of \"Godspeed.\"  He says, \"He who bids them Godspeed is a partaker with their evil deeds.\"  - Irenaeus, c. 180  1.341, 342

\"Therefore, do not be partakers with them.\"  Back then, the condemnation of sinners extended to others who approved of them and joined in there society. and the case at present is still the same, for \"a little leaven levens the whole lump. \"        - Irenaeus, c. 180  1.500

If one must censure, it is necessary also to rebuke.  For it is time to wound the apathetic soul.  I do not mean mortally, but salutarily, securing exemption form everlasting death by a little pain.   - Clement of Alexandria, c. 195  2.228

He forbids us either to salute such persons or to receive them to our hospitality.  Yet, this is not harsh in the case of a man of this sort.  But he admonishes Christians neither to confer nor dispute with those who are not able to handle divine things with intelligence, lest through them they be seduced from the doctrine of truth.   - Clement of Alexandria,  c. 195  2.577

Felicissimus has rushed forth with many more and has declared himself as a leader of a faction....Let him receive the sentence that he first of all imposed - that he may know that he is excommunicated by us.  For he has added the crime of adultery to his crimes of fraud and plunder....All of these things we will judicially examine when, with the Lord's permission, we will assemble in one place with many of our colleagues....Moreover, whoever will ally himself with that man's conspiracy and faction, let him know that he will not communicate in the church with us, since he has preferred to be separated from the church of his own accord.   - Cyprian,  c. 250  5.316


Those are just a few.

Blessings,

Bob