Card-checking, hug-forbidding, child-banning, COVID churches … just as Christ intended

For a generation, the trend within mainstream American Christianity has been to transform churches into "seeker-sensitive" venues that utilize worldly hooks to lure in unbelievers where they can be transformed by Jesus. Plenty has been written about the biblically questionable approach of trying desperately to grow a church wide rather than deep, and while I certainly have my own thoughts on the topic, that's not my focus here.

As part of this prevalent philosophy, there has been a near utter rejection of the biblical notion of expelling people from our congregations. Conventional wisdom has replaced the Bible's instruction to the point where it is far more common for church leaders to worry about popular opinion when it comes to booting an unrepentant sinner from the body. Fearing cultural condemnation for being "unloving" or "judgmental," church discipline as defined in the New Testament is now largely a relic of the past.

But I'm intrigued by the fact that while God's reasons for dismissing rebellious souls from His local church are frowned upon as cruel and insensitive, the government's reasons for doing the same are seen as loving and considerate.

This isn't about the vaccine or the masks. It's about the horrible message that this portion of the Church of Jesus Christ is sending to the world that their compliance with Christian doctrine isn't what determines whether you are welcomed into the body, but your submission to government dictate does.

The underground church in China that meets secretly in homes welcomes visitors regardless of the fact that they know that individual might be a government agent who will expose them, sentencing every member to certain death. They don't check ID cards at the door. But in the name of protecting every member, a concerning element of the American church will forbid children and only admit adults who show documentation of vaccination against a virus with an astonishingly high survival rate. That comparison is revealing. So is this:

Should church leaders in America biblically confront a serial adulterer in the congregation, and subsequently expel him for his refusal to repent…

Should they rebuke a practicing homosexual and then expel them from the body when they refuse correction…

Should they admonish a known gossip who persistently sullies the reputation of fellow believers for sport, and then oust the offender from the assembly for continuing the offense…

…those church leaders would be well within the divine guidelines of church discipline recorded in God's Word. But they would also be branded bigots by society and the growing contingent of American churches eager to scratch the itching ears of the world.

Yet look at the cultural commendation and popular praise that will be heaped upon a church so in tune with the spirit of the age that they publicize their intent to unceremoniously eject any troublemaker who dares to hug a fellow brother or sister in Christ. To do so would not be showing Christlike love, or something.

It's the same mentality promoted by pop culture pseudo-preachers like John Pavlovitz, who counsels his flock:

Pavolvitz is unironically publishing a book later this month called "If God is Love, Don't be a Jerk." Making sure people know they are unwelcome if they have chosen not to be vaccinated isn't being a jerk, in the fantasy world John has created for himself – a world where the Jesus he imagines shuts the door in the face of those contagious, unvaccinated lepers.

There will be no tolerance for those kind of people in today's COVID-cleansed churches whose sanctuaries are sanitized of anything remotely resembling biblical authority on matters like loving your neighbor and forsaking the assembly.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Not the Bee or any of its affiliates.

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