Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thrown out of a Church


A few weeks ago, Nancy and I went to a new church near my house. In the sermon given, the pastor said some pretty horrible things. (Example: "Our country is a Christian country because its founders were Christians." --- Israel was founded by God speaking personally to Moses, did that make them a godly nation? Would a "Christian Nation" commit genocide against the American Indians out of lust for more territory, more lebensraum?)

Anyways, I went back there today and noticed in the bulletin that the upshot of the Lost Sheep parable was turned into a call for evangelism. I have written on this parable elsewhere (6-page .pdf) and went to speak to him about it. He was right next to the front door of the church (this was before the service began) and I literally got maybe one sentence out (that sentence being something like "I noticed what appears to be a misapplication of this parable ") before he said "we cannot have this," opened the door, and directly his lay leader to take me outside.

I then tried to discuss why the parable was really an exhortation for the Jews to make piece with Israel (at that time, Israel had been subsumed, so it came to be a representative of the Gentile nations at large). He soon had to go give the opening address, and after I told him that his pastor's behavior was inexcusable he asked me to leave.

And then he told two other men who were outside to make sure I left, as though I were one of those theologian-pipe bombers you hear about in the news all the time!


Rachel said...

I am sorry for the experience that you had, David. I too have had a painful time after disagreeing with the teaching at a particular church (see and it has taken me a long time to reconcile myself to the situation. It's a very tough learning curve and I'm not sure if what is to be learnt from these experiences is ever to be fully understood in this life. I think, ultimately, you just have to lay it down, rest, aim to be reconciled if possible and move on to a place where your questions and desire for two-way conversation will be as welcomed as Jesus welcomes them.

God bless Rach

David Rudel said...

Thanks, Rach!
I'm going to go check out your not a hanging offense now.

The Mystical Bearmaster said...

Hi David

My wife and I were made to feel so 'uncomfortable' in a church that we had to leave. The trouble had been brewing for a long time, and when the pastor started presenting studies on a particularly heretical book it really hit the fan.

My trouble was attempting to correct wrong teaching.


Bailey said...

Our Father chose the lowly and despised of the world - those who are thought to count for nothing - to reduce to nothing those who are something ...

So that no human being might boast before God.

Thanks for sharing your bounty with us David.
Better to be humble in spirit with the lowly,
Than to divide the spoil with the proud - lol

One Love

Stephen. J said...

Sorry to hear what happened David. In no way, should that have happened to you. In a sense, I'd say that the Church in question, would need to re-evaluate what 'Christianity' is all about.

From my understanding of reading what you said, was it right before the church service that you questioned the Pastor, or pointed out the misapplication of said parable?

Perhaps you should have thought about bringing this discussion to him after the sermon as one can be under a great deal of pressure leading up to such things. Or as an approach, ask to speak with them in private after the service or during the week without pointing out faults in their ministry interpretation until your meeting. Unfortunatly, this pastor might have taken your comment as a personal or ministry attack, particularly as it was right before the service and could very well distract them from their 'duty', and as you were new and unknown to them, they attacked you for your honesty.

Not saying this was your fault in any way!!! Rather it was something that the paster and church should have never done. Just maybe next time, in your approach you may need to be diplomatic in the way you engage such topics.

Hope things like this never happen to you again David.


Stephen. J

Rich Schmidt said...

I clicked the comment link to share the same advice that Stephen J did. As a pastor myself, I can tell you that there's often a lot going through my head in the minutes leading up to a worship service. While, of course, I don't think you should have been kicked out, as a practical matter, you'll have a better chance at conversation if you wait until afterward to talk with him (or set an appointment to talk later in the week).

Also, while you were joking about the theologian-pipe bomber thing, there actually are some people who feel a need to go around to different churches and interrupt the services pointing out what they see as wrong in that particular church. I've not had it happen to me, but I've seen the videos on YouTube. It's always possible that this pastor has had some experience with this kind of thing and was trying to guard against it.