Larger font
Smaller font
The Church: Its Organization, Order and Discipline - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font


    “LET all things be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40.COOD 161.1

    Many questions from time to time have been propounded on church discipline, and as the answers may be of interest as well as helpful to other inquirers, we herewith present them.COOD 161.2

    Question.-At the time of the organization of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination was the tithe considered a principle of those entering into organization, and endorsed by them?COOD 161.3

    Answer.-The matter of tithes for the support of ministry was decided by a Bible class conducted by Elder J. N. Andrews, in Battle Creek, Mich., in April, 1858, as will be seen on page 110 of this pamphlet. It was called at first “systematic benevolence on the tithing principle;” but the Testimonies respecting it called it tithes from the first. When the matter of church organization was entered into in 1862 and 1863, this plan of raising means for the support of the gospel ministry was generally accepted among the churches, and was adopted in conference organization as the principal source of support for the ministry.COOD 161.4

    Q.-Do you make tea and coffee a test when you organize a church? and is it considered a violation of true Christian fellowship to continue their use?COOD 161.5

    A.-Before organizing a church, instruction is given to the candidates for membership, showing the physiological harm in the use of these articles, and that it is sin to indulge in the use of that which will injure us physically, and that to be a true commandment-keeper we can not sanction the use of anything that will tend to shorten our own lives, but I do not know of any one ever being expelled for using those articles.COOD 161.6

    Q.-Is the question of health reform made a test of fellowship?COOD 162.1

    A.-Those accepting the message should be instructed in the importance of true Christian temperance. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 the apostle says: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” When admonishing us to “so run, that ye may obtain,” he says, “Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” 1 Corinthians 9:24, 25. True temperance, let it be understood, is abstinence from all injurious articles, and a moderate use of that which is good.COOD 162.2

    Q.-Do you require a person to believe the Testimonies before baptizing him and receiving him into church fellowship?COOD 162.3

    A.-Instruction should be given with reference to the gift of prophecy, and its manifestation among Seventh-day Adventists, and the candidate should have opportunity to read enough of Sister White’s writings to learn the practical bearing and nature of her work among this people. There have been cases in the past where persons were baptized before they had even heard that there was such a gift among this denomination. Such a course is decidedly wrong. In some instances there was afterward “war in the camp,” as those individuals claimed they had been deceived by being brought into fellowship before they knew that the spirit of prophecy was among this people. Just how we should deal with different cases in reference to belief or unbelief in the Testimonies is plainly stated by Sister White herself, in Gospel Workers (1892), 279, 280.COOD 162.4

    On page 247 of the same book is presented how withholding the Testimonies from the people leave them without that which would “carry them forward to an experimental knowledge of vital godliness.”COOD 162.5

    Q.-Is the use of tobacco ever excusable when an individual believes his health to be at stake when he ceases to use it?COOD 163.1

    A.-The use of tobacco, in any form, is an injury to the health, as attested by the most eminent physicians. So the health plea for the continuance of its use is only a delusive snare of the enemy, and is not to be entertained.COOD 163.2

    Q.-To what extent do you make the dress question a test?COOD 163.3

    A.-We endeavor to instruct the believers from the testimony of Paul and apostle Peter, in the matter of plainness of dress, and the discarding of the wearing of gold and silver and other useless articles simply as ornaments. See 1 Peter 3:1-5; 1 Timothy 2:9, 10.COOD 163.4

    Q.-Are tithe paying, pork eating, and tobacco using made a test of fellowship?COOD 163.5

    A.-Refraining from the use of pork is urged upon the people from a physiological standpoint, and is a question that should be settled before coming into the church. The use of tobacco and all narcotics is made a test. As to the paying of tithes, we have tried to follow the instruction which was given to the churches in Ohio, in the sixties. Some in Ohio began to argue the matter of assessing each member for his tithes, and then collecting the same. The instruction given at time is found in Testimonies for the Church 1:237. The principles concerning the system of tithe paying was to be presented to the people, and they to be left free to carry out their convictions without compulsion. The Lord does not require nor desire forced gifts to sustain his cause. See also Vol. IV, page 396, second paragraph.COOD 163.6

    Q.-How many ways are there of receiving members into the church?COOD 163.7

    A.-On the page of the church record book devoted to the list of names you will note three ways of receiving members: By vote, by baptism, and by letter. By vote, is meant action taken to accept a member who has been baptized before applying for membership. In such case the date of taking such vote should be entered in the column headed “by vote,” and the record of the action taken will be entered in the report of the meeting when such transaction occurred.COOD 163.8

    In case a vote is taken to accept a person as a candidate for baptism and membership when baptized, while it appears in the record of the meeting where such action was taken, it is not entered in the column headed “by vote.” But when such person is baptized, his baptism unites him to the church, and the date of his baptism unites him to the church, and the date of baptism is placed opposite his name in the column headed “by baptism;” and in the record it should be inserted when, where, and by whom such person was baptized.COOD 164.1

    When a person is received by letter form another church, the date to be placed in the column thus designated is that of the vote taken to receive the person. The record of the action is also placed in the record of the meeting when said action was taken.COOD 164.2

    Q.-Can one be a church-member who has two living wives or husbands?COOD 164.3

    A.-A person might get into that unpleasant situation before accepting the truth, or before making any profession of religion, and, upon sincere repentance, be forgiven that sin as well as other sins. Again, a woman may have been left by her husband, who preferred some other woman, or the husband may have been deserted by his wife, who preferred some other man. In such instances the position has been taken that, according to Matthew 19:9, the one thus deserted is free to marry again. In case of one having two living wives, a Testimony was given in the fifties that they should take a humble position in the church under a consciousness of their sin.COOD 164.4

    Q.-Is marrying out of the truth made a test of fellowship?COOD 165.1

    A.-I do not know of any case where it has been so made a test; but on the authority of the apostle Paul, and “Testimonies for the Church,” a marriage union is better to be “only in the Lord.”COOD 165.2

    Q.-If there is a dissenting voice to the reception of a member into the church, should he or she be considered as received? In other words, should the “majority” rule in this matter, should the vote be unanimous?COOD 165.3

    A.-For a reply to this question see page 135 of this pamphlet, in the conference address on organization.COOD 165.4

    Q.-Is it necessary to have a two-thirds or three-fourths vote to elect deacons, or to transact business for the church?COOD 165.5

    A.-In transacting the legal business of the church the law calls for “a majority vote of the regular worshipers.” Sometimes a church may have enrolled members who can not be present at the election. And, in fact, are so far away that they can not be counted as “regular worshipers.” In making the count before voting, we usually count out non-resident members, and look for a majority of the stated worshipers to transact the business. This applies especially to legally organized church societies. In companies unorganized legally, a majority vote of those assembled on a duly advertised call decides the business under consideration.COOD 165.6

    Q.-Would you advise a church to adopt purely parliamentary rules for the transaction of all their business?COOD 165.7

    A.-While a church should transact its business in a businesslike manner, they would probably make greater progress in seeking the Lord for his guidance than of being too strenuous to do all things just as they do in parliament. The presence of one angel in our church councils would expedite church matters more rapidly than an armful of parliamentary rules.COOD 165.8

    Q.-In whom, or in what body, is the discipline for a church vested? Can one church make tests as they choose on tobacco using, liquor drinking, profanity, etc., and still be in harmony with the conference, or the body of Adventists?COOD 166.1

    A.-It has never been recognized by the Seventh-day Adventists that it was the province of an individual church to make tests of fellowship, independent of the conference, and the body of Seventh-day Adventists. The following Testimony, already printed in a previous chapter, has a direct bearing on this question: “God is leading out a people, not a few separate individuals here and there, one believing this thing, another that. Angels of God are doing the work committed to their trust. The third angel is leading out and purifying a people, and they should move with him unitedly. Some run ahead of the angels that are leading this people; but they have to retrace every step, and meekly follow no faster than the angels lead.”-Testimonies for the Church 1:207.COOD 166.2

    Q.-In how many ways are members removed from the church?COOD 166.3

    A.-Three: By letter, by apostasy, and by death. When a letter is voted, the record of that vote is made in the register, but not in the column opposite the name. No date is placed in that column until a report is received from the church with which they have united. Then there is entered in that column the date when the vote was taken by the other church to receive them. In case of apostasy and a vote to withdraw from a member, the “apostasy” column should contain the date of the vote of expulsion, and the record of the meeting give the particulars respecting the charge against such person, and the vote. In case of death, the date of the death should be placed in the column assigned for such record. In the register of the doings of the church should be some particulars respecting the cause of death, and also who officiated at the funeral, etc.,COOD 166.4

    In some churches there has been adopted a plan of erasing the names from the list of individuals who fail to report. A better plan is reported in the Review of April 26, 1906, which reads: “It was voted that all members whose address could not be learned would be placed upon what should be known as the retired list, and not be counted with the other membership of the church. This is done with the understanding that as soon as any of these members are heard from their names shall be added to the regular list of members, provided they have remained faithful in the truth.” This is apparently in line with the instruction, “Thou art thy brother’s keeper.”COOD 167.1

    Q.-Is it deemed proper for Seventh-day Adventists to unite with secret societies?COOD 167.2

    A.-While Seventh-day Adventists have not regarded it as a part of their work to engage in a warfare on secret societies, we have ever sought to discourage our people from uniting with them, on the ground of the Lord’s charge,“Say ye not, A confederacy [“Confederacy, a compact of mutual support or common action.”-Webster], to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” Isaiah 8:12, 13.COOD 167.3

    Our people have been taught from the beginning that the third angel’s message is worthy of all our best energies. In “Testimonies for the Church.” No. 34, page 17, we read: “We are to enter into no confederacy with the world, supposing that by so doing we could accomplish more.”COOD 167.4

    In Testimonies for the Church 7:84, we read: “We are now to use all our entrusted capabilities in giving the last warning message to the world. In this work we are to preserve our individuality. We are not to unite with secret societies or with trade unions.”COOD 167.5

    In Volume VIII, page 28, we read: “A power from beneath is working to bring about the last great scenes in the drama,-Satan coming as Christ, and working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who are binding themselves together in secret societies.”COOD 168.1

    Q.-Upon what ground were unbelievers in the Testimonies disfellowshipped?COOD 168.2

    A.-This question has reference to those who make war on those who believe the Testimonies. The instruction in these cases is given in the writings themselves. See Testimonies for the Church 1:228, 229, 382. On pages 250, and 251 of the same volume is reference to a case which, if the laborer had patiently waited for a few weeks, the man spoken of was violating the Sabbath, and might have been excluded from the church for that offense.COOD 168.3

    Q.-Would it be according to the word of God, and right for a church to elect three deacons, and give them, by vote of the church, authority to investigate and decide any case of an erring brother, and if they found him guilty of sin, for them to disfellowship him from the church without any other vote of the church?COOD 168.4

    A.-No; for two reasons. First, the duties of a deacon relate to the temporal interests of the church. The dealing with members is the work of the elders or evangelists, who are the shepherds of the flock. Second, the mode of dealing proposed is not in accordance with our Saviour’s instruction given in Matthew 18:15-20. We read of this instruction given by Christ where “he states the rule to be applied in cases of trial with its members. After he has given explicit directions as to the course to be pursued, he says ‘Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever [in church discipline] ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ Thus even the heavenly authority ratifies the discipline of the church in regard to its members, when the Bible rule has been followed.”-Testimonies for the Church 3:428. See also Vol. VII, pages 262-264.COOD 168.5

    Q.-Is it right to vote out a member at any ordinary business meeting, by a majority present, ought the vote to be unanimous?COOD 169.1

    A.-In a meeting properly notified when action is to taken on a case, according to the usage of the church, the vote to exclude should be unanimous, unless the opposition come from those who are themselves subjects of labor, or under the censure of the church.COOD 169.2

    Q.-What is the custom of our people in reference to insuring churches and other property? Do our publishing houses insure when they do not have to borrow money on the property? and has any Testimony been given against insuring church property?COOD 169.3

    A.-It is the general custom of this people to insure church buildings, office property, and our homes. While the Testimony has spoken against life insurance, there has been no such word against insuring property. By reference to chapter twenty-one of this book it will be seen that the very point stated in the first article Elder White wrote upon legal organization, was to be in a position that we might insure church property. The man who first wrote against it, mentioned in Testimonies for the Church 1:210, 212, claimed that property owned by the Lord’s people, property dedicated to him, the Lord would care for. The Testimony fully condemned his course, and said that he “left to the Lord what the Lord had left him to care for.”COOD 169.4

    The brother saw clearly the error of his position after refusing to take legal steps to show his right to his home farm of which there had been “peaceable possession” for twenty-one years. Instead of appearing in court to oppose a bogus claim, dating back of his title, he “left it to the Lord,” and lost his home.COOD 169.5

    Q.-In the absence of a minister what is the proper manner of conducting the church service?COOD 170.1

    A.-There should certainly be the avoidance of any stereotyped, formal manner that would run things into a special rut. The “Testimonies for the Church” give much excellent instruction on that point. As samples of this, see Vol.II, pages 419, 420, 577-579; Vol. IV, page 461; Vol. V, page 609, etc.COOD 170.2

    Q.-Is it proper for a minister to encourage the people in paying the tithe to him, instead of paying it through the proper channel? Would not such a course tend, in a short time, to break down organization?COOD 170.3

    A.-The Bible instruction on this subject is very plain: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse.” Malachi 3:10. In Nehemiah’s time there was a withholding of the tithes, and as a result the ministers of the Lord had “fled everyone to his field,” laboring to support themselves. The Lord admonished the people to bring in their tithes into the treasury. Treasurers were appointed to receive the tithes, and as the instruction was heeded, the work flourished again. Nehemiah 13:10-14.COOD 170.4

    The conference regulation is for the tithe to be paid to the church treasurer, who gives a receipt for the same. The treasurer sends it on to the conference treasurer, and receives his receipt. Then the money is paid out on order from the conference president and secretary. The accounts of ministers are audited, and also the conference treasurer’s account. Thus it can be known by the church just how the tithe is used. In case any choose to pay their tithe to one whose account is not audited by the conference, they know not how much he may be receiving or accumulating. Some of our conferences have passed resolutions against ministers receiving tithes from churches, or individuals, and directing them to have all their dealings in this respect directly form the conference, and through the regular channels.COOD 170.5

    Q.-Should a local elder officiate in baptizing believers?COOD 171.1

    A.-In the address on organization, while reference was made to the local elder baptizing, it was not supposed that would be done by him when a minister could be secured to officiate, but rather that it related to extreme cases, when it was desirable that the ordinance should be administered, and a minister could not be readily secured.COOD 171.2

    Q.-In case the conference committee, in arranging for quarterly meetings and the ordinances, request the ordained elder of the church to visit another church, would it be proper for him to officiate in the communion service?COOD 171.3

    A.-If the request for his attendance at the other church was in harmony with the mind of that church, it has been decided by conference action that it would be his province to officiate.COOD 171.4

    Q.-Is it proper for a deacon in the church to officiate as the the leader in a communion service, breaking the bread, etc.?COOD 171.5

    A.-No; because his duties pertain to the temporalities of the church. The deacons may, however, be requested to assist in passing the emblems.COOD 171.6

    Q.-If a person who has been ordained to the ministry, on account of misdemeanor fails to have his credentials renewed by the conference, is he, in that condition, authorized to baptize, officiate at communion, and perform the marriage ceremony?COOD 171.7

    A.-He is not by the church considered as having any authority to thus officiate. As to the marriage ceremony, he is not legally authorized to perform that ceremony. This was tested in a case, not long since, in one of the Stats. A minister without credentials from his conference performed a marriage ceremony, the parties not knowing but that he had credentials. On learning, after a lapse of time, that he had no credentials, they wished for some one lawfully authorized to remarry them. The case was referred to the judge of the court. He declared that this minister had no right to perform the ceremony. But as the action on the part of the contracting parties was sincere, the minister was not prosecuted. Surely if a minister in such a condition had lost his right to marry, he would have no right to perform the other duties specified in his credentials.COOD 171.8

    Q.-When a minister, approved by the conference come to visit a church, is it his privilege to officiate in matters of the church that he sees need attention, or is the authority of the local elder supreme?COOD 172.1

    A.-As will be seen by reference to the conference address (see Chapter XXIV). one ordained to a higher position is fully authorized to serve in any of the lower offices. If an evangelist, he may serve as elder, or even in the deacon’s duties. This, of course, he would not do without counsel with the officers of the church. And on the other hand, it is expected that the officers of the church will deem it a privilege to have counsel and help of an evangelist, or minister, who may visit them, and not look upon him as infringing upon their rights.COOD 172.2

    Q.-Is it proper to deed church buildings to a conference or general association?COOD 172.3

    A.-This has been done in many States. Thus doing, the church avoids the ofttime perplexing matter of getting a quorum of the members together annually to elect trustees. Let it be borne in mind, however, that such deed is only “in trust,” and that the corporation to whom it is deeded is not responsible for any expenses, such as repairs, insurance, taxes, etc. Some of our conferences have voted requesting the churches to deed their buildings to the corporation.COOD 172.4

    Q.-If a person has been ordained as elder or deacon in one church and removes to another church, is he authorized to officiate in that church without some action of that church approving of his thus acting?COOD 172.5

    A.-The position taken in this matter in some of the earlier general conferences was this, that before such a one could act in that capacity in the second church, it would require the vote of that church to fill the said office; but that in the matter of ordination, if he had been faithful to his church covenant, he need not be re-ordained.COOD 173.1

    Q.-Is an ordained local elder authorized to perform the marriage ceremony?COOD 173.2

    A.-This matter was acted upon in one of the past General Conferences. It was found that, in some of the States it was legal for even a local elder to perform the ceremony, while in other States it was not, and the law specified who might perform the ceremony. To save any difficulty in the matter it was given as the opinion of the conference that they did not encourage local elders performing the marriage ceremony. So it has not been customary for our local elders to thus officiate.COOD 173.3

    Q.-Would it be proper for one who has been ordained as elder of a local church, but has not been re-elected, to take the lead in the breaking of bread?COOD 173.4

    A.-If he has been ordained as elder of a church, and has been faithful in his church duties, although removed to another church, it might be proper for him to officiate if requested to do so by vote of the church.COOD 173.5

    Q.-If a minister in good standing visits a church, believing he has a message for the church, should not the local elder give way for the minister?COOD 173.6

    A.-The answer to this question may really be found in the the answer to the fourth question preceding this one.COOD 173.7

    Larger font
    Smaller font