Read me my rights, Arresting Church
February 14, 2009, 10:17
Filed under: Uncategorized

As an American citizen, I am blessed to live in a country that recognizes I have rights.  These rights are not credited to a system of government, but to God himself, and the state has promised not to revoke them.  No matter who is in power, or what I have done, I retain these rights and the ability to exercise them, and to have any of them limited in any way takes a costly and complicated judicial process.  Even if I lose, due to due process  a portion of my rights,  I still have protection under the law.  My punishment cannot be cruel or unusual,  and I retain rights to appeal, and even to protest.   We must never cease to thank God for this system and do all we can to ensure its continuance. 

Do we have rights in church?   If the founding fathers gave credit to God for our rights within a secular community,  should there not be rights for the people of God,  in His House,  in a Sacred community?   Do  church folk have a right to expect ….anything?  In this country do we sign our rights away when we walk in the door of the church?   Don’t think I am being silly,  the first amendment guarantees free speech.  How free is your speech in the average church?   Can you disagree?  Can you even question?  Do you have rights if you are accused?  Do pastors have rights?  More rights?   Less?  

I propose a Bill of Rights to establish what may and may not be expected in church as far as intellectual freedom is concerned.  

  1. Church shall make no rule infringing on the right to doubt. (Matt. 14:31)  And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”  This was said to Peter,  and he even though his doubt was  mentioned even by Jesus the Messiah, was of certain use to the Kingdom.  Doubt itself needs prayed on and is the natural condition of man.  Church should welcome, pray for, pray with and love doubters.  Most of us at some point will get a turn. 
  2. Church shall not abridge the right to disagree.  While membership or participation in ordinances requires shared faith; open, honest variance of opinion is part of a free society.  Church needs to be a place where debate can take place in Christian love. (Acts 15:39) ” And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;”  This disagreement rendered neither unfit for service, and in fact was used by the Lord to further the Kingdom. 
  3. The people have a right to bad days, even in church on a Sunday.    (John 11:35)   ” Jesus wept.”  If the Savior allowed Himself emotion why do we feel a need to put on a plastic smile mask at Service? When the people  are feeling low they should be most welcome at church, not avoid it because they can’t be as upbeat as their fellows.
  4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, they shall have the right to say “NO” to committees and assignments.  (1 Cr 7:23)  ” You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”  The Spirit that empowers and equips must also motivate; forced labor is often Spiritless labor and does not bear fruit.
  5. The process of Sanctification being ongoing, and incomplete for most if not all,  the right to be wrong is not to be abridged for Pastor or Parishioner.   Where there is repentance there should be forgiveness.(Matt 18:21) “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? ”  We have no right to expect perfection in the Pulpit or the Pew, only in Christ.
  6. The people have the right of intellectual freedom, and may read, listen to, watch, attend,  what they will.  Some of these choices may be detrimental,  but the value of freedom of the mind is so high that allowances must be made and the Holy Spirit trusted to do His work in pruning the branches of desire to conform to to the Vine of Christ.   Legalism does not hurry sanctification, but hinder it by denying opportunity for discernment.( Phl 3:8)”  Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,”  It was the Holy spirit that changed Paul’s  value system and caused him to put those things he formally valued in the septic tank.   This right does not preclude loving condemnation of the acts that seem biblically improper, it precludes the condemnation of the person . 

So what do you think?  Is this fair?  is it Biblical?  Do you have additions?  Disagrements?  

Have you had instances where these rights were violated?  Here at Willohroots,  you have the Right to opine. 


    9 Comments so far
    Leave a comment

    I think it’s about time! I truly believe if the church charters were not so slanted toward the power of the leadership, but empowered the membership also, there would be more not less respect for the leadership.

    Comment by Shawn W

    Hello, folks at Dayspring–

    I’m a reader of this blog, and I have a blog and a website for survivors of an abusive church of the Plymouth Brethren flavor. The concept of a church bill of rights for intellectual freedom is intriguing, from the standpoint of our experience with spiritual abuse. I agree with all the points made here. If they are overtly incorporated in practice at Dayspring they would go a long way toward making it a safe church. A couple of other things might also be spelled out.

    Freedom of association – the people have the right to associate with whomever they will, including disgruntled former members, former pastors, etc.

    Freedom of conscience on matters not directly and clearly stated in the Bible. For example, Peter tells women that their beauty should not depend on great hair and earrings, but he does not state a rule that women should not wear earrings or have their hair done.

    Freedom from claims by anyone to have special insider knowledge of God’s will, prophetic insight, secrets of sanctification, etc., so that person becomes a special guru who is the gatekeeper to the secrets.

    Well, just some thoughts. Blessings to you all.


    Comment by Margaret

    i think its a good thing jesus didnt cling to his rights and maybe we should look for that aspect of christ in us.

    Comment by graceshaker

    Graceshaker, I hear you on Jesus, He gave it all up, but His followers , very unfortunately and all too often, need a form of protection. Listen to Margret’s tone and the humble things she asks, do you think she is going to far?

    Comment by willohroots

    I knew from reading your blog you would have some great insight! Thank you. For my take on Guilt by association please see the About NINNIE. Tongue in cheek, but you will get it. I am going to add your list to mine and repost, this is a work in progress, but will be used to guarantee
    members and seekers at Dayspring some level of intellectual freedom. Like the founding fathers we will all have input and conversation until the project is deemed finished. Thanks again

    Comment by willohroots

    i dont know willoh. im reading and rereading your post and hers trying to see it from different perspectives.

    youve not heard my story but im no stranger to religious and spiritual abuse. my story is on my forum if your interested: http://www.theholywild.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=950

    that said the very idea of a bill of rights when talking about matters of gods kingdom seems out of place. while im certainly no fan of abuse i think its wrong in another way to stand against it in this manner.

    my attitude is along the lines of: no one can hurt a dead man. and if i have been crucified with christ then im dead. what rights might a dead man posses?

    Comment by graceshaker

    Margaret, I agree with you. Thank you for your comments. I, as a pastor’s wife (I do not subscribe to the “box”, if you will, of what a pastor’s wife should look like, should act like, should live like, I depend and trust on the Holy Spirit – to walk with Him). If we are true Christians walking with God, then we don’t need a bill of rights as so says graceshaker. However, Christians are people who sometimes become enamored of power and allow it to corrupt them, thereby hurting those around them.
    Dawn, wife of a man who is answering the call of pastorship.

    Comment by Dawn

    Graceshaker, you old warhorse!
    The mortification of the flesh is not an instant process. You are a meat eater, and what you have been through has actually been used for your good by God, I get it. But suffer the little children! all of us are not fully crucified yet! Were you never an infant in the Lord? A bottle baby? Do these not deserve a safe area to learn of His love? CHURCH SHOULD BE THE SAFEST PLACE IN AMERICA. Safe to question and to learn. Safe to be wrong. Christ warned us about being a stumbling block. Perhaps this Bill of Rights will cut down the number of mill stones needed. church can’t keep turning people away from God!
    We are brothers, Hang with this post, and please post your experience under When Church Attacks. wow.

    Comment by willohroots

    It all looks good to me.
    You know I am all about the power being in the hands of the people.

    Comment by Rob

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