Friday, July 25, 2008

A few quotes by Ellen White

SDA is often accused of being a cult. Generally I've found them to be pretty reasonable on most issues. Here are a few quotes regarding discipline from Ellen White herself. We've recently been discussing what good leadership would do in trying to take a church which has become overly harsh and judgmental in a more reasonable direction. Those churches which many of my regular readers come from might do well to learn something from what she had to say to her lower leadership:

Perverted Discipline
In dealing with the erring, harsh measures should not be resorted to; milder means will effect far more. Make use of the milder means most perseveringly, and even if they do not succeed, wait patiently; never hurry the matter of cutting off a member from the church. Pray for him, and see if God will not move upon the heart of the erring. Discipline has been largely perverted. Those who have had very defective characters themselves have been very forward in disciplining others, and thus all discipline has been brought into contempt. Passion, prejudice, and partiality, I am sorry to say, have had abundant room for exhibition, and proper discipline has been strangely neglected. If those who deal with the erring had hearts full of the milk of human kindness, what a different spirit would prevail in our churches. May the Lord open the eyes and soften the hearts of those who have a harsh, unforgiving, unrelenting spirit toward those whom they think in error. Such men dishonor their office and dishonor God. They grieve the hearts of his children, and compel them to cry unto God in their distress. The Lord will surely hear their cry, and will judge for these things.--Review and Herald, May 14, 1895
Control Self First
Those who control others should first learn to control themselves. Unless they learn this lesson, they can not be Christlike in their work. They are to abide in Christ, speaking as He would speak, acting as He would act,--with unfailing tenderness and compassion.--Review and Herald, April 28, 1903. {ChL 65.2}

Pastoral Ministry 36.1:
Those with incorrigible, unbending, stubborn traits of character, when transformed, make the most valuable ministers.--Ministers have been presented to me, with their course of action and their character before they were converted--the hardest and most incorrigible, the most unbending, the most stubborn--and yet, every one of these traits of character was what they needed in the work of God. We don't want to kill that. It is needed in order to fill important positions of trust in the cause of God. There must be a transformation of character. The leaven must work in the human heart, until every action is in conformity to the will of God, and they are sanctified; then they become the most valuable. It is this very kind of individuals that God can use in the different branches of His work.--9MR 61.PaM36.1


Will said...

Hello, just a few comments on church discipline that maybe you had not considered. This is not exactly relavant to this post but I saw your comments in your blogger comments and thought that this was worth saying.

Every organization needs to have boundaries. Let me give an example. Imagine a homosexual rights group that fights for equal acceptance, workplace equality and gay marriage. Now imagine that one of the people on the leadership team publically states that he thinks homosexuality is a sin and that gay marriage is wrong. The rest of the leadership team might be the most accepting, nice, tolerant people in the world but they would certainly insist that the person step down from his role.

Every group has standards that if violated, require 'excommunication'. Baseball teams have rules for their players. Political parties have rules for those who caucas with them. Corporations have rules for employees. It is quite possible that each one of these groups can kick out a member based on some sort of behavior or statement. This doesn't make them hateful or mean, it makes them a definable group.

The Christian church is a definable group. We say that to be Christian is to adhere to certain behaviors and beliefs. For the record, I think it would be easier to get fired from my job at a corporation than it is to get excommunicated from my church (corporations have stricter rules). It would also be harder to get reinstated to a corporation (the church accepts back anyone who admits fault and asks to be restored but corporations tend to be less forgiving).

So, you are criticising the church for doing what every organization has to do to remain an organization: have standards that are enforced.

CD-Host said...

Hello Will and welcome to the blog, glad to have you.

I don't have any objection to church discipline per se. OTOH I do think people being disciplined need a resource that helps them think through their options and decide what they want to do. That is assistance for the defense. You use the analogy of corporate terminations, I think a labor representative is a good idea.

An example of the sort of things I'm calling on churches to do is in Rule for due process. Other threads are often denomination/issue specific. For example in many church discipline mainly geared at lower power persons (woman and children), which strikes me as a gross violation of the norms that Jesus established that those in leadership should be held to the highest standards.

Will said...

The problem is that you are coming at it from the outside.

By the way, I have been involved in many church discipline issues (I was a deacon at a church for 4 years) and we never disciplined a woman or a child.

CD-Host said...

Will somehow I missed this comment and happened to hit upon this thread 3 years later. I don't know if you are still subscribed to comments or not. On the off chance you are.

You are right, I'm coming to it from outside. I have to. This blog covers a huge range of discipline from Presbyterian, to Reformed Baptist, to Catholic, to Mormon, to Jehovah's Witnesses, to Adventists to Wiccans. I couldn't possibly cover this from an insider's perspective.

I talk about what's common and when there is a specific call, dig into specifics. But because I'm so far removed generally I'm seen as unbiased.