Paul's Passing Thoughts

Why New Calvinist Church Discipline is Against American Laws

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 17, 2013

HF Potters House (2)There is something that everybody is missing in regard to so-called “Redemptive Church Discipline.” The New Calvinist movement is a return to authentic Calvinism. I read the Calvin Institutes almost daily, and I can tell you that the New Calvinists are making every effort to conform to every detail thereof. It is almost as if the Calvin Institutes are a higher authority than the Bible.

But there is a problem. Whether the Calvin Institutes or the Westminster Confession, those documents were prepared for a church/state venue. American laws are based on the separation of church and state. During the time that European government was in bed with the Reformation, the church could compel individuals to do certain things under threat of government force.

While seeking to have that same authority in the lives of American parishioners without government force, they are improvising through other means resulting in the violation of American civil liberties. When it gets right down to it, according to American law, you can’t restrict a person from the commission of a legal act by threatening to defame them publically. Church covenants with articles stating that parishioners cannot leave a church without the permission of the elders may be a violation of the law in and of itself. It’s a threat regarding loss of reputation if you exercise your legal right to leave a church. New Calvinist elders routinely tell parishioners that they cannot leave a church for doctrinal reasons. That’s against the law.

Furthermore, the so-called “Matthew 18 process” almost always ends up in excommunication if someone vacates their membership in-between one of the steps. I understand that they may be avoiding the issue in that way, but you absolutely can’t humiliate them publically for refusing to stay in the process. Leaving a church is not illegal; therefore, you can’t disparage them publically. Threatening to publically humiliate a person if they vacate membership (or any other legal act) is considered to be coercion under the kidnapping statute in most states.

I am presently doing research in preparation for a home church model. I am amazed to see how the New Testament model has a peaceful solution for almost every scenario. But in regard to this subject, the crux is fellowship versus authority. If a person leaves a church in the midst of a church discipline issue (for lack of a better term), they have merely vacated fellowship with the assembly on their own. That’s the only end result anyway if you’re in America, no? Trying to have authority over that person without government backing is where things get iffy.

Moreover, in many situations, the elders of a church really have no legal authority to ban a person from church property unless they are causing a disturbance. This has led to many ugly confrontations and legal challenges. A private home is different. If a home fellowship doesn’t want a person there for whatever reason, the homeowner can have the person removed by the local police if necessary. This is just one of many examples where home fellowships don’t find themselves in legal dilemmas.

The primary reason is that home fellowships are based on, well, fellowship and not authority. Breaking fellowship versus having some sort of authority over the person are two very different things, and the former circumvents a lot of unnecessary drama.



“Telling it to the church” would only involve telling it to the home fellowship of maybe 20 people. Somebody showing up at another home in that network is probably going to incite a phone call to the original fellowship anyway. Secondly, it cannot be restated enough that if a “member” leaves in the middle of the Matthew 18 process, the same result of no fellowship is accomplished anyway. The institutional church creates a bunch of unnecessary drama because of its penchant for authority.

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  1. lydiasellerofpurple said, on August 18, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    “Oh, they see through it. Getting them motivated is the issue. We are trying to hammer out a procedure for filing criminal charges against elders in such cases. In some states it qualifies as blackmail, and in others, as I have said, coercion under state kidnapping laws. On a Federal level, it is a violation of civil liberties. This should be no surprise as this construct comes from church/state polity. This is why churches need attorneys that parishioners are paying for.”

    Here is one for you. An older couple I know who attended a mega here for 35 years, but left 2 years ago, were telling me not only about the tithes for all those years but the EXTRA sacrificial giving to build all those huge buildings on their campus and other sat campi. They are furious about the money. Especially about the extra giving for buildings over the years…

    For one thing, the senior pastor has been there about 25 years and the jr pastor about 8. When they approached both of them about some things they were seeing they were concerned about— both told them they could leave. Could have cared less about them. (These pastors are an entitlement mentality lot and it is OUR fault for allowing it)

    I have heard this same scenario over and over. One of them involved a 20 year member who asked to see a budget because he saw spending that concerned him. They refused after giving him the great run around mega always give.

    I am wondering which scenario is finally going to be the big lawsuit. There is simply too much of it going on for it not to become more of a public issue America is going to have to come to terms with. the organized church has become a pit of corruption. Much like the OT priests were and the state church was. Totally spiritually bankrupt and corrupt


  2. lydiasellerofpurple said, on August 18, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Paul, you are dead right. They have no power over him once he leaves. If he is a predator they can call the police to have it invesitgated. That is about it.


  3. rich said, on August 18, 2013 at 9:18 PM house church check it out


  4. A Mom said, on August 19, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    Andrew, I remember reading about what happened to you and I was so disgusted & upset. At that point in time, I lost all respect for them. Please keep in touch with Paul. You are right to reach out to him. His email address is at the top right corner. I hope you are doing well. I will be praying for you, that you are surrounded with love & wise counsel. Let us know if you need anything!


  5. A Mom said, on August 19, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    Wow, Paul. Great work. You are a true watchman on the wall.


  6. lydiasellerofpurple said, on August 19, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    One other thing that a lot of people might not realize. it is perfectly legal for the person leaving to speak publicly about their “personal experience”. If they stay within the bounds of that, they should be ok. If they have documentation, all the better. But most church leaders have been counseled in the past few years not to put anything in writing….we have seen why.


  7. […] Why New Calvinist Church Discipline is Against American Laws. […]


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