September 25, 2005

Gay Lynn Voth - “Binding, Loosing and Forgiveness”

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Gay Lynn Voth (instructor of theology and ethics at Columbia Bible College) spoke on "Binding and Loosing; does it have to be Menno's Way?" Matthew 18, read through the glasses of his era, encouraged Menno Simons and others to teach that if you offend the standards of the community of faith and did not repent, you should be exiled from the community. This practice of the ban was applied at various times by communities influenced by particularly strict leaders. Mennonites and Amish sometimes felt that even if familial relationships were ruined by the ban, the practice was essential because it was biblical. More recently, people have been thinking about forgiveness, how it needs to be not only an emotional but also a rational response. Gay Lynn suggested that we might imagine that we are children so that we can reflect on how someone who is powerless is vulnerable when forgiveness is needed (rather than harsh punishment). Church discipline (Matthew) is best when it is not legalistic or when the community is able to look beyond their reactions to a particular action or point of view (which some individuals might think requires binding) and reflect thoughtfully on possible motives or reasons. Both courts and congregations are good at binding but far less accomplished on releasing. Rather than being institutions enforcing rules, our churches should be sanctuaries in which forms of loosing can take place, in which the very people some Christians wish to bind (punish, exile, discipline) can find healing through understanding and love. [JEK]


Passage: Mt. 18:15-20
Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event:
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: Gay Lynn Voth
Worship Leader: Carmen Dyck
Song Leader: Erna Friesen
Pianist: Jeff Schulz
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