What really finalized it for me was when I began studying their doctrine of “God the Son”. You have to realize, I asked and asked and asked for a doctrine class before I was a member and even after and when we finally did have classes I missed MAYBE one time. I loved the church so much that I wanted to understand every part of her inside and out. I knew I would agree with the doctrines and just could not wait to learn about them. Circular reasoning came in here as well. When I asked a question that seemed a little out of line I received an answer that would lead me back to the doctrines and back to the church’s way of thinking… No wonder I missed important pieces…
The church believes in the incarnation of Christ, but that it is a great mystery (Bible Doctrine and Practice, p. 39). They do not believe that Jesus had a human body, though. What?? I mean, WHAT??!! And I quote,
“The body of Jesus was an eternal product from heaven.” (Bible Doctrine and Practice, p. 40).
Um, no?? The book does reference Paul’s thoughts about Jesus taking on “the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”(KJV) in Philippians 2:7, so let’s look at it in context:
“6. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7. Instead He gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8. he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (NLT)
“7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8. And being found in the fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (KJV)
If He did not have our flesh then how could He experience our physical ailments and temptations? Would an “eternal product from heaven” allow Him to experience that? Maybe I am limiting the power of God in this thought (but I doubt it), but if the Bible says, God’s Word says, Jesus was human, then HE WAS HUMAN…Or maybe this doctrine is right and he was an alien…Shoot. I think I just proved the UFO theory for a lot of people…Makes sense…then, that aliens brought us here….and maybe we are a reality TV show like the South Park guys think??
Sensing some anger here? Yes, you are. I am angry! Angry that Satan has so many good people in his clutches because they allow themselves to be led by another person’s discernment of the Word and Holy Spirit when they have the ability to do it themselves! Jesus came so we could all have a personal relationship with God through Him and a direct line to God through the Holy Spirit! Not so I can go to a council meeting to hear what I should or should not be doing because that is what a group of “divinely lead” brethren decided would be good for us! It just makes me so sad… I asked a fellow menno, one who grew up in the church, if they knew that the doctrine book says this…. They did not! Never read the book.
Really??!! Never had the desire to read about your faith? Never had the desire to know WHY you must act a certain way, look a certain way?? But, when I consider that the church works on submission to the authority of their leadership and that questioning the church and her decisions is ALWAYS seen as a sign of spiritual problems within the questioner, it makes sense.
The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite refers to a few different writings for their doctrines. These include The Mirror of Truth by John Holdeman, The Bible Doctrine and Practice book which was commissioned by the Annual Meeting of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, at Linden, Alberta, in March 1993, to explain the faith and practice of the church, The Eighteen Articles of Faith, The Thirty-Three Articles of Faith, The Complete Writings of Menno Simons, and Martyrs Mirrors to name a few. Travel to their website and they will give you a lovely brief, General overview of their doctrines and what they believe. I haven’t found the ability to buy any of these items outside of the membership, though.
In the Eighteen Articles of Faith, Article 10 speaks of the Holy Supper and why we should partake of it. It does add, “Whereby we are admonished to the utmost, to love and forgive one another and our neighbor, as he has done unto us,” which begs the question, if I, an expelled sister am not your neighbor, nor are nominal Christians, then who is?? Did Christ not say to forgive thine enemies and to love your neighbor as yourself? (Matthew 5:43-47)… And that verse 47, is a whopper…. especially for you “true” Christians, “If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.”
Why the avoidance then? Yes, someone who is completely dead spiritually speaking, turned his or her face away from God, hates God, renounces their claim on Jesus’s blood, those we should avoid unless we are spiritually strong enough to withstand temptation from them while we minister to them, but someone who no longer believes in the same doctrines as you? Someone who simply cannot live the way you choose to anymore because it takes their vision away from God? Still my neighbors. Still my brothers and sisters in Christ.
It’s like my dear friend the antique dealer once told me, that is between them and God, not me and them and God, them and God. It is not my place to judge or try to discern whether or not my neighbor’s heart is right with God, it is my job to love them, as God’s children, as God’s creation, as the same sinner as me that Christ died for. It’s not my job to avoid them or shun them. Still, it might be yours….
Article 16 of the Eighteen Articles of Faith, with regard to “the Ecclesiastical Separation from the Church”, states, “but, as an offensive member and open sinner, shall and must be separated, put away, reproved before all, and purged out as leaven (see link ), and this for his amendment, as an example that others may fear,“… Working on fear now? Does the kind of fear they are speaking of come from the Lord?? It surely isn’t a reverential fear, is it? No, from my experience within the church, being expelled is NOT something you want to happen; it is NOT fun, and those who are expelled ARE spiritually dead, no matter what. That is not a Godly fear. That is a fear satan uses to scare us into or out of some behavior, belief, etc.
Furthermore, Article 17 of the Eighteen Articles of Faith is titled, “Shunning the Separated”. For the last nine years of my life I was told we do NOT SHUN. The AVOIDANCE IS NOT SHUNNING, yet here in plain sight, in a book written by your forefathers, that you believe in, that is published by the Gospel Publishers, your publishing company, it says
“Concerning the withdrawing from, or shunning the separated, we believe and confess, that if any one, either through his wicked life or perverted doctrine, has so far fallen that he has separated from God, and consequently, also separated and punished by the Church, the same must, according to the doctrine of Christ and His apostles, be shunned, without distinction, by all the fellow members of the Church, especially those to whom it is known, in eating, drinking, and other similar intercourse, and no company be had with him; that they may not become contaminated by intercourse with him , nor made partakers of his sins;”
Far be it for me to interpret these words so neatly printed (once again) in any other manner than they are put forth to paper. Yes, it seems the belief of shunning is quite alive and well in the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. And surely it is all worth it, to not become contaminated by intercourse with the expelled, we would not want any new ideas or thinking out of the box here. That would defeat the entire purpose of the faith set forth by the forefathers. There is not one mention of this to be found in the “Bible Doctrine and Practice” book, though, there is only a section titled “The Avoidance of the Excommunicated” (pp.190-194) Which goes into great detail on what one should or should not do with the excommunicated.
Once again, I have written a small essay and I simply meant to share a few words. My mind gets going and gets the better of me, I daresay, especially on this subject. I think I am just glad that I know now instead of ten or fifteen years down the road when my children are indoctrinated and members. I am glad God has brought me out of the dark recesses of the legalism of the pharisees and into the light where I can follow Him wholeheartedly. I was mad as I studied and found these things out. Mad at myself for allowing the beautiful singing, the lovely manners, and lifestyle, the simplicity of the way of life in all things, to overshadow the truth, for allowing these things to make me complacent. I have never been complacent in the convictions I have before.
I am mad because I wrongly defended this faith to the point of hurting my family, my husband, my friends, the people around me. I was so sure that I was right and that my way was the only way to heaven. I am mad because I believed that all those millions of people out there, many good Christians, were destined for hell because of their lack of faith. I am mad because I judged. I allowed myself to be caught up in such utter nonsense as to decide that I could judge rightly about others’ relationship with God.
Yes, if God leads me back, then I will follow, because He knows best how I can be of service to him, but if he doesn’t, I will most likely never return on my own because there is so much legalism. I told them when I asked to be expelled, I felt like I was being a pharisee, I was living one way on the outside and another on the inside. I was behaving as a menno in public, but a “nominal Christian” in private and I thought that was wrong. I was judging not only myself, but all the other Christians in the world that the church considers “nominal”. For this I must apologize to all of you dear sweet people and pray that you will forgive me.
Written in Weakness,