Recently I wrote an article addressing the question “Is disfellowshipping scriptural?“. That article ended up being over 5,000 words! So, I decided to try to boil the topic down into 4 core topics explaining why disfellowshipping is wrong.
Why is disfellowshipping wrong?
- The process of disfellowshipping implies that a person’s salvation is based on a human decision.
- Disfellowshipping has no scriptural basis and is not supported by the Bible.
- Disfellowshipping is a pagan practice.
- The practice of disfellowshipping has severe consequences on a person’s mental health.
1. Disfellowshipping implies that a person’s salvation is based on a human decision
|“and if one should remain in this disfellowshipped condition till he died, it would mean his everlasting destruction as a person who is rejected by God.“|
Watchtower 1965 Dec 15 p.751 para.15
According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a person’s salvation depends on the decision of 3 elders at a judicial hearing. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that if that person dies while being in a disfellowshipped state, they will lose their salvation forever.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the practice of disfellowshipping is supported by the Bible, but what do Jehovah’s Witnesses make of the following bible verses?
|“Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation.”|
|“Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”|
According to the Bible, salvation only comes through a personal relationship with Jesus. There is no provision for human mediators between man and Jesus.
|“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus,”|
1 Timothy 2:5
In order to earn back their salvation, a disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witness must prove to the judicial committee that they have displayed adequate signs of repentance. If this committee of elders feel that the person is not sufficiently repentant, they will not reinstate the disfellowshipped person.
2. Disfellowshipping has no scriptural basis
In an Awake Article published on the 8th January 1947, Jehovah’s Witnesses actually said the practice of ex-communication (a mirror image of disfellowshipping) is “Altogether foreign to Bible teachings”. However, the organization implemented the very same practice around five years later.
So, what does the bible actually say about this matter?
The only disciplinary direction given by Jesus was at Matthew 18:15-17.
|“Moreover, if your brother commits a sin, go and reveal his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 17 If he does not listen to them, speak to the congregation. If he does not listen even to the congregation, let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector.|
If a person stops the wrongdoing, there is no further action is needed. If the person unrepentantly carries on in their wrongdoing, then one must take a personal stand against the actions of that person based on their own conscience, not on an institutionalized decision to disfellowship and shun the person.
3. Disfellowshipping is a pagan practice
According to an article published in the 1947 Awake magazine on the 8th of January, titled “Are You Also Excommunicated?” the Catholic Church was criticized for its practice of ex-communication, and had the following to say.
- People who were excommunicated were looked upon with contempt, being cursed and damned by the Devil.
- That ex-communication is a punishment that has no biblical support and is altogether foreign to Bible teachings
- That ex-communication has a pagan influence and that the clergy used this weapon to attain power.
It is interesting to note that the practice of disfellowshipping is a near mirror image of the Catholic ex-communication. So much so, that the Jehovah’s Witnesses cite the exact same scriptures as the Catholics did, in an attempt to justify the practice of disfellowshipping and shunning.
4. The practice of disfellowshipping has severe consequences on a person’s mental health.
In fact, Dr. Savin Bapir, a Counselling Psychologist recently described in an article published online, that shunning is a form of social humiliation and abuse, and a practice often used by cults as a punishment for those who do not share the groups’ beliefs.
Many of Jehovahs’s Witnesses who are disfellowshipped and consequently shunned are at high risk of falling into depression, which often results in self-abuse, suicide, and recently, even murder-suicide!
The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that disfellowshipping is a loving provision, but there is nothing loving about shunning a mother, father, son daughter, or brother. Disfellowshipping and its consequent shunning have been the cause of severe mental health problems, and for many, leading to self-abuse and suicide. In more extreme cases, even murder-suicide.
It is a form of humilation, and bullying. A way of using fear to make people comply.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that this is a teaching from the Bible, but there is very little support for these claims. In fact, in 1947, they published an article stating that this policy has “has no biblical support and is altogether foreign to Bible teachings”.
Not only is this teaching not in the Bible, but it also is not compatible with the Christian faith because a person’s salvation is dependant on the decision of a committee of men, which is the complete opposite of what is taught in the Christian Bible.