George Booker
Biblical Fellowship


Our inquiries into this subject must of necessity be rooted and grounded in love — love of God and His most holy commandments, and also love for our brethren. This subject, above all others, is filled with hidden perils; at every step, we must openly and honestly examine our motives: Does personal animosity or personal preference affect our decisions? Are we being honest with our Father in Heaven, Who discerns even the intents of our hearts? Are we being truly sympathetic and considerate of our brethren “for whom Christ died”? Where do pride and stubbornness fit into the picture?

One theme emerging from our study is this: New Testament disfellowship (or withdrawal) was always intended to lead to the reclamation of the offender. The break in unity was always viewed as temporary, and the New Testament ideal was realized in the ecclesia striving to win back the erring brother. It follows, then, that disfellowship — now matter how carefully performed according to the letter of Matthew 18 — is unscriptural if not followed by a campaign for recovery and reunion just as painstaking and strenuous.

In our studies as they unfold we note also the inherent conflict of majority versus unanimity. In brief, must all members of an ecclesia (or group of ecclesias) concur with every action of the ecclesia involving “fellowship”? Must the dissenter from the ecclesial action also be dealt with in the same fashion as was the original offender? What about silence? Is it to be construed as consent or dissent? And, finally, how should the very real elements of distance and time affect our “fellowship” decisions? It may be beyond the ability of any brother to give full and satisfying answers to such questions. But, on the other hand, to ignore or bypass the difficulties is hardly honest. All we can hope to do is offer a little help in the unraveling of such complexities.

Robert Roberts has made a statement that is quite relevant to our study:

“It is possible to go too far in our demands on fellow-believers. How far we ought to go and where to stop, is at one time or other a perplexing problem to most earnest minds....” (“True Principles and Uncertain Details”, The Christadelphian, Vol. 92, No. 1097 — Nov. 1955 — p. 414).

We should at least be aware that this is a “perplexing problem”! We should often come back to this question: Is it more dangerous to be too lenient than to be too strict? The philosophy of some brethren would seem to be: ‘Give the Lord the benefit of the doubt, and cut the doubtful one off!’ Such brethren consider themselves to be ‘on the safe side’, but are they? It is to the Bible that we must go to find an answer.

Next Next Next