This article was written when Rodney was disfellowshipped by the Macon, GA, Worldwide Church of God (WCG) congregation. It was originally published on the MarkTab Ministries website, which no longer exists. It is copyright by Rodney O. Lain. Links have been retained when possible, but many go to the Internet Wayback Machine.
Rodney Lain “Disfellowshipped” by WCG on June 11, 1997
The Worldwide Church of God proves in this 1997 letter that the doctrine of “disfellowshipping” is still an active policy choice which represents the tradition and vision of WCG. You need to know this if you are choosing WCG as your home fellowship, because it affects who you will spiritually have fellowship and contact with. If you consider yourself a organizational member of WCG (as distinct from just being a member of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ) then there are additional requirements you are expected to support, which include tithing (January 1997) and “disfellowshipping” (June 1997).
For two years, I have written extensively about this topic, and intend to continue to add to this material by showing the philosophical roots that the practice of “disfellowshipping” has with the old covenant and other Old Testament precedents. It started with Adam and Eve, but don’t forget who was the second Adam, and what that means for Christians today.
In general, Rodney Lain has received positive support from the subscribing members of the Ekklesia mailing list, and this note puts an interesting spin on whether Bill Ferguson should drop Rodney Lain from the mailing list, or whether WCG members should drop themselves from the Ekklesia mailing list as a result of this announcement. What happens to WCG members who ignore this announcement? Would something different happen to a WCG minister or lay pastor ignores this announcement – what would justify a different standard for ministers under the priesthood of believers?
But do we have a clear understanding of what “ignore” means? Currently, there is a debate alive in the RCG-Forum mailing list as to whether “disfellowshipping” refers to stopping social contact or stopping spiritual contact. I have heard it both ways in WCG, and currently this topic is providing considerable debate among members of United and Global, who have heard that there have been not a few social events among members of Worldwide Church of God and United Church of God. Some say social only, and others spiritual only – apparently, neither United nor Global provide literature on this topic, and simply leave it to the minister’s discretion (which I believe is a marker of the Levitical Priesthood).
Date sent: Thu, 12 Jun 1997 10:27:39 -0700
From: William Ferguson (quango)
Subject: Official Disfellowship Announcement from WCG
Send reply to: ekklesia
(EXCERPTED FROM JUNE 11, 1997 CROSSROADS UNDER FAIR USE LAWS)
Cross Road Supplement
A Newsletter for Ministers of the Worldwide Church of God “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
June 11, 1997
To Be Announced Only If Necessary
In accordance with the biblical commands, the doctrine and long-standing practices of the church, we are sometimes required to notify you that certain people have been disfellowshipped. It is our unpleasant duty at this time to notify you that Rodney Lain has been disfellowshipped. The church does not, and you should not, bear any ill will toward Mr. Lain. Rather, you should pray that God will grant him repentance.
If you examine I Corinthians 5, you notice that it was Paul convincing the congregation that they needed to expel the man committing incest, partly because this was a crime considered heinous in general society, but also because keeping him in the congregation where he flaunted his sin was not a good representation of the group. By their allowing this man to remain, they were becoming approvers of the crime. So the expulsion was not just for the man, it was also for the congregation. And it was the congregation which itself needed to take action to perform the expulsion, not Paul himself (who wasn’t there anyway). If Paul had not succeeded in convincing them, nothing would have happened (mostly because they were not reporting to Paul in the corporate tradition of WCG). That the Corinthians expelled the man was their response to the Holy Spirit – a man who commits and flaunts a sin considered heinous in society should not be part of the congregation – and because the man was flaunting, the sin was already very well known. The church is a place where all sinners come, no matter how bad, but that we admit our sins to each other as necessary, and if we choose to admit sins to one another that we do not glorify them. The following link describes how to properly “disfellowship” according to I Corinthians 5:
- How to “Disfellowship” or Excommunicate Based on I Corinthians 5
- How to “Disfellowship” or Excommunicate Based on Romans 16
- How to “Disfellowship” or Excommunicate Based on 1 Timothy 1 and 6
- How to “Disfellowship” or Excommunicate Based on Titus 3
- How to “Disfellowship” or Excommunicate Based on 2 Thessalonians 3
- How to “Disfellowship” or Excommunicate Based on 2 John
In an immediate sense, inasmuch as our primary contact with Rodney Lain is via e-mail and his webpage, it is necessary that since Pasadena believes that this action is necessary, then they need to convince myself and Bill Ferguson and other subscribers of the Ekklesia mailing list that we need to cast Rodney Lain out of our fellowship, and also list for what sin(s) this action is being made.
To not appraise myself and Bill Ferguson and members of the Ekklesia mailing list of the specific sin and consequences of fellowshipping with someone with that sin may be placing our spiritual salvation in jeopardy, as per the example in I Corinthians 5 (where both the specific sin and consequences were clearly spelled out). However, I am not aware of sins which Rodney is flaunting before members of the body of Christ.
Over the past two decades, and even today in 1997, the tradition of “disfellowshipping” has not proven to be an effective tool in bringing significant grace to members of the Worldwide Church of God. To the contrary, many members who believed in the correct evangelical teaching on grace, as well as the priesthood of believers, have been historically cast out of WCG through the tradition of “disfellowshipping”. Given the fact that this tradition has been intertwined with old covenant philosophy, the repulsion toward grace has been no surprise. [For the record, I have defended some limited use of some type of “disfellowshipping” on the webpage “Toward a Reengineered Disfellowshipping Process”.]
Bottom Line: As Bill Ferguson put it, what is the point of “disfellowshipping” a non-attending WCG member?
– Rodney Lain
Follow Up with Your Pastor and Congregation
If this general topic of “disfellowshipping” perks your interest, I would suggest you have a private, off-the-record, frank discussion with your pastor and other members in your congregation. You may choose to write me a private note on this topic, and be assured that it will be kept confidential. But if you do talk with your pastor, ask your pastor point blank what they have believed about what “disfellowshipping” means, where it comes from in the Bible, and how it helps build a strong church.
Make sure your pastor convinces you because this is an important expectation of being an official member of WCG, United or Global.
Rodney O. Lain teaches English and Journalism at Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA, and is the worship coordinator for the Macon, GA, Worldwide Church of God (WCG) congregation.
Keywords: #worldwidechurchofgod #disfellowshipping #rodneylain #rodneyolain