Excommunication is a Biblical method of correction that, when used properly, is meant to help the unruly Christian to learn the error of his ways and enter back into the fold. The Bible gives us a clear instruction on how this correction should be administered, and the grounds for usage.
Some modern day cult followings, such as the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses also use excommunication, but with one major difference. Their extra-Biblical insights lead to adding extra-Biblical grounds for shunning and methods of correction. While this helps to keep their followers held within their cult, they do not realize many of their "extra-Biblical" methods actually originated from Pagan practice.
While the Biblical instruction for shunning is a means for correction and eventually leading the offender back to God, the Pagan practice of excommunication involved a much deeper spiritual effect on anyone rejecting their beliefs. Pagans believed that if a follower questioned their false gods, it might lead others away from the following. Not only were they placed under a ban, they were no longer protected by their false god and would in danger of utter destruction.
The Bible gives us the Truth about excommunication, and how it should be used for leading a sheep back into the fold:
- Matthew 18: The follower should be a member of the church administering the punishment. The Bible references a sheep that has wandered from the shepherd
- Matthew 18: The follower should be a sinner who has rejected Christ and has failed to repent
- Corinthians 5: Fornication, greed, idolatry, drunkenness, and swindling are all grounds for excommunication
- Romans 16: Rejecting Christ
If your spiritual leader has not followed the Biblical formula for excommunication, the only alternative is the Pagan formula. The Bible teaches us to test everything to make sure we are following the true instructions given in the Word of God. Any questions of the doctrines will have a Biblical answer, or the doctrines are not of God. Leaders who know there are no Biblical grounds will excommunicate a follower so that others will not learn of the errors in doctrine.
As with everything in your lives, you don't have to worry or fear because God has given you the Word. If you compare it to the Word and it does not stand up to the Bible test you don't have to fear it at all.
An interesting article makes us fear it less; most of us have already been excommunicated from the Catholic Church. (read article)
It should be noted that even the Catholic church as seen the error of their ways and repented of it.
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