Of course, by then you have left, you don't sit there and listen to yourself being excommunicated, that is not what happens. I don't even know how and if we were 'read out'. But the 'who can eat with who' conversation hung in the air. It was a borderline kind of thing. Maybe some people don't remember it that way. I do.
Someone who grows up in an exclusive fellowship, unlike someone who has entered it later in life, is bound psychologically in a particular way. The boundaries are firm, you are either on the inside or on the outside. At the table of the Lord, or the table of Demons. But some part of your brain says "oh, come on."
I can't say that is the whole picture, but a segment, a slice of the reality of living in a closed fellowship.
Here are a few links.
Is Fermented Mare's Milk Unclean? Three Hierarchies
The Obligation To Assume Challies
Obligation To Assume: Church Discipline Challies
The Heidelberg Catechism: On Excommunication Jim West
Bullinger: On Excommunication Jim West
The Heidelberg Catechism concerns me.
- Thus: when according to the command of Christ, those who under the name of Christians maintain doctrines, or practices inconsistent therewith, and will not, after having been often brotherly admonished, renounce their errors and wicked course of life
Bullinger sounds less rigid, but consider this.
- In the Passover, no one was excluded because of moral impurity; rather, all were welcome (except those ritually impure). (Jim West's comment on Bullinger)
- The Eastern Orthodox treatment of fermented mare's milk as unclean was not some theologically unreflective folk opinion. William of Rubruck's statement that the Greek and Ruthenian priests treat koumiss "as sacrificed to idols" shows that they were using New Testament categories to analyze this cross-cultural issue, but coming to conclusions exactly opposite of what Paul was saying.
There are extensive notes in the comment section of Challies' post so this is a good resource, complementing Jim West's recent posts. I wonder if these people are interested in thinking about this from the point of view of those who have been excommunicated wrongfully. And yet, their arguments do seem persuasive, as long as it isn't happening to you.
Excommunication gives opportunity for an abuse of power. On the other hand, Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? At what cost? To whom the cost?