"NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL OF FELLOWSHIP---"
April 1, 1987 Issue
Recently, I, and more I feel sure, received a "notice" with the above caption. The men who signed the "notice" are dear friends of mine (two or three of 11, I do not recognize as having met), well-meaning brethren in Christ, men with whom I have worked in the church for along time. So, my addressing this unfortunate matter is not to question their sincerity, their love for the truth. I am as much opposed to sin as are they; my life and preaching bear witness. It is my sincere conviction that they have made a grave mistake for reasons I will give.
I have known the brother, the subject of the "notice", all of his life. Since his problems became a matter of public record, I have been to see him personally, and made contact by way of letter. I asked him face-to-face, man-to-man to forgive me of any stumbling block I had ever put in his way; he assured me that I had not. He is in sin; he will tell you that. What he has done and is doing is wrong, wrong, wrong! He does not deny this. He chose to withdraw himself from the church. So far as I know, he is not bothering the church . He, on his own volition, severed all ties. He and his sin are not leavening the lump. The church is not "puffed up" at what he has done; rather the church is grieved.
Now, I have said that in order to say this; please bear me out. The brothers case does not come within the context of 1 Cor. 5 where Paul ordered withdrawal. In 1 Cor. 5, the man was in sin; he, too, was wrong, wrong, wrong! However, from this point on, his case, and our brothers case do not parallel. The man in 1 Cor. 5 had not withdrawn himself from the church; our brother has; the man in 1 Cor. 5 was bothering the church by his presence and direct influence; our brother is not doing that. The brothers sin in 1 Cor. 5 was leavening the whole lump; our brother is not doing that. The brothers sin in 1 Cor. 5 had influenced the church to be puffed up, they were condoning what he was doing; in our brothers case here, this is not the case; the church is not puffed " condoning our brother and his sin. Logically, scripturally, 1 Cor.5 does not condone and I know of no other scripture, that condones the "Notice of Withdrawal of Fellowship---". In every Bible case and admonition, the member was still there, he had not chosen to go his way, withdraw himself. The steps our brethren have taken in sending the "notice" out is without scriptural precedent. Scriptural withdrawal is for two purposes; namely, to save the man and save the church. In this case, neither is accomplished.
Conclusively, my heart goes out to all concerned: the church, the man, his wife and children; his parents and others close to him; the family of his wife, all of whom I have known well and long. He was a preacher, is a brother beloved; we could ill-afford losing him. So sad, indeed! The "notice" has only added to the sadness. Such errors in judgment, though with the best intentions, linger for years to hurt and hinder. None of us want to do that. It is my hope and prayer that such will not be done again; it is unscriptural, uncalled-for, and unnecessarily devastating to the innocent.
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Withdrawal of Fellowship
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