Thursday, December 1, 2011

All are (Not) Welcome

I believe it is time for churches to stop with the hypocrisy already.

Just the other day, I came across this particular blog on the Living Lutheran website:

You did read it correctly.  The pastor, kicked a guy out of the congregation because he displayed the characteristics of a child molester. 

Now, I'm all for protecting children.  I'm all for keeping predators away from children, but there are several very major things at stake in this whole process.

#1.  The Gospel is indeed for ALL people.  Face it, everyone of us is screwed up in some form or fashion.  Even the most stable seeming people on the outside...even the most righteous looking people on the outside have something dreadfully wrong with them.  It may be a secret sin or sins.  It may be an addiction.  It may be a ticking bomb within that can go off at any moment leading to brokenness of family, job, or what have you.  No one is fully good.  No one is fully evil.  We are both saint and sinner.  Which is why the Gospel is for ALL people.  The Gospel has the power to transform that which is evil and bring about good.  From the little information we get from this article, the pastor never gave the Gospel a chance to transform.

#2. Within the Church, Jesus gave us a process for handling members who sin.  It isn't going up to a person and saying, "Buddy, you've got to go."  It's Matthew Chapter 18:

15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

These aren't simply nice words to consider.  They are a plan of action to deal with folks who pose a threat to the harmony and wellness of a church by sinful behavior.  The goal is to help a person deal with his or her sin, confront them with it, have them work toward repentance, and minister to them.  The guy never apparently had that opportunity in the story.

#3. There indeed comes a time when people are not welcome in our congregations or churches.  We need to be honest about that.  For instance, it is all well and good if someone wants to believe they must do something to earn salvation; it is all well and good that such a person decides to worship at a Lutheran church; but it is not well and good that such a person try to impose such a belief upon a church which directly defines itself in the vein of St. Paul who says, "We are saved by grace alone through faith in Christ Jesus."  If a person directly tries to influence a Lutheran church in that manner, then they are not welcome.  Similarly, in the above blog, if the pastor and church members confronted the guy with his behavior, with calls to repentance, and none were forthcoming, then that gentleman should no longer be welcome in that congregation. 

Those congregations, and to an extent denominations, who put the sign out "All are Welcome" are being intellectually and practically dishonest.  It's time to lose that idiotic sound byte.  It's time to be truthful. 

"Come as You Are, but Be Prepared to Change"


Kathy said...

Great post. I totally agree. I only wish the Catholic bishops had gotten your message about 40 years and billions of dollars in lawsuits ago.

Just one little question: Where does Saint Paul say "We are saved by grace alone"? The word "alone" does not appear in my Bible, and I have tried to read Romans very carefully. I think if we could answer this question, we could clear up a lot of confusion.

Kevin Haug said...


You are correct that Paul never says, "By grace alone." That verbage isn't in Scripture, but do take a moment to read through all the commentary given by Paul when it comes to being saved by grace versus being saved by the law or by anything we do. Paul is adamant that there is nothing we do for salvation.

Kathy said...

I completely agree that there is nothing we can do to earn Salvation. Jesus did that for us on the Cross, and it is only for us to accept the Gift. But there is a lot we can do for our Sanctification.

This is really total confusion. If you are implying that the imaginary guy who thinks he can earn Salvation has a Catholic viewpoint, that is totally silly. I have been a Catholic for going on 40 years, and I have never met someone who believed that. This is a total misunderstanding.

I wish to heaven that we could just clear this up. Check the Catechism, do anything you want, and you will see that the Catholic Church does not and has never taught that we earn Salvation.

Really, if we could clear this up, the Church could be united.