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Showing posts from March, 2007

Chaos Versus Control in the Church of Christ

The CoC has a serious identity crisis. You can call it bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but by whatever term you choose, if the CoC were a human being, it would be seriously mentally ill. The problem is that it veers between the two extremes of being very rigid and controlling and being utterly chaotic, and the mixed messages that you receive as a child in that environment are maddening. Let me give you a few examples.

The church service: The CoC likes to say that everything is done "decently and in order," yet it rejects any sort of liturgy as being man-made (and Papist, to boot). So, although there is some structure to the service (in fact, every single CoC I've ever attended has followed pretty much the same order of service), if you look beneath the surface, things are quite chaotic. The sermon is on whatever random topic the preacher chooses. The scripture reading, if any, is often a Psalm and usually has no relevance to the topic of the sermon. And the song leader…

You Can Check Out Anytime You Like, But You Can Never Leave

One of the central tenets of the CoC tradition is that once you're a member, you're a member for life, which means that even if (or after) you try to leave the church, the leadership still has the right to "discipline" you for your sins and infractions. Even if a person says, "Please take my name off your membership list," the church believes that the person is still a member and that it has the right to instruct that person in moral matters.

However, the church reserves the right to kick you out anytime it likes. What other churches call "excommunication" the CoC calls "disfellowshipping." It's very similar to the shunning practiced by the Amish, although it's not nearly as extreme. You are allowed to talk to someone who has been disfellowshipped, but only for the purposes of trying to persuade that person to come back to the church. You can't have a friendship with that person any more. If a member of your immediate family w…