Purification and purge

              “Many consider assessment to be identical with judgement, even though there is a big difference between the two concepts. The concept of assessment is not necessarily negative, since by itself it only means stating an opinion about good and evil: the practical application of the principles revealed in the Bible. This is just as important in connection with Earthly things as in spiritual life. On the other hand, the terms judgment, verdict and condemnation presume an evil cast of mind. Assessment originates from the desire to know justice and good, and it wishes to help with it, while in the absence of this objective even a perfectly right and true opinion becomes loveless and merciless condemnation”, says the homepage of the Christians. Based on the stories of those who left or were expelled, it is difficult to believe that the preceding event of the expulsions was some kind of helpful assessment.

              Those who left in various manners distinguish between “expulsion” and “sending away”: “Expulsion was the expression of the fact that we had a really negative opinion of someone and after multiple warnings we said that we could not live in the same community with him, but previously we had several discussions with him about this. When we believed that he stopped being a Christian, we sent him away”, explains one of the ex-brothers.

              In the following here are three typical stories, every one of which has characteristic features: The diagnosis of Antal’s sin was “false teacher”, but in reality his story is about something else: he is the one who took an oath before meeting the Christians then fell in love while he was in the community, but the matter and the excuse was not this at all. “I was searching for similar communities on the internet and I made contact with an American community. This became known in the congregation because the Americans responded not to me but to the congregation that they would like to get acquainted with us and visit us. I passed on this message. That girl did not want to remain in the congregation either. I apologized to the congregation for making contact in secret, and also for having violated my oath. They called me a false teacher. I was expelled, but a week later I was readmitted. They did not tell me the reason for the final expulsion. I would still gladly be there”.

              Aranka’s real sin was her request for reforming the community: “Together with Ábel and Nóra the three of us explained our criticism in writing, but they were afraid to sign it. But I sent it to the members in emails, to every city, in several languages. I received a reply from Germany. They firmly cautioned us. We discussed this at the winter conference as well. In February 2006 I was invited for a conversation where they accused me of not searching for unity. I criticized this conversation because it was not preceded - in the spirit of the Scripture - by contacting me personally. They proceeded in this manner to shatter my pride. They asked me »Have you thought about failure?« (meaning eternal separation from God). I disputed the opinion that whoever violates his oath fails. They were not in unison about this issue either, but the members who disagreed with those who criticized me were not even invited to this conversation. They demanded that I abandon my job, my occupation (I was preparing my class for their high school leaving examination at the time). They also disapproved of the fact that I did not identify the congregation with God. I met Antal whom they already considered failed, and he told me to stay. To this they said: an expelled cannot help another expelled member. Incidentally, I also participated in his expulsion. After the third conversation they reprimanded me. I requested that they clearly express their decision. A month later (in March 2006) they told me over the phone that they were expelling me. Their excuse was that I did not go for a walk with someone, all of this based on a single witness” (Aranka).

              Alojzia only spent a month and a half as a member, her sin was that she was asking too many questions. “I trusted them and I believed them. When I went to see a man experienced in religions to talk about them they expelled me instantly, although only temporarily. After this I had many questions, but they did not respond to these, and they permanently expelled me. When I asked them why they expelled me they answered: “we do not wish to give a reason”. When I reviewed the broader context of the words they used for their arguments, I noticed that practically everything was about something else than what they used it for.”

              Similarly to many others Lenke did not wait until she was expelled: “I had personal conflicts, largely because of minor things that stemmed from living together. I did not tell them what was bothering me, from time to time I had a breakdown, but even then I did not speak, I rather got up and left. For a while they tried to encourage me, and I agreed. Then all of a sudden they said that I was expelled. I moved out but we still met sometimes. I was uncertain, but I missed them. I did not search for another relationship. I even had pangs of conscience. I thought that I would have to fight against my own sin. I returned to discuss personally and in the community what mistakes I had made. Later they did not even try to talk to me, finally I was the one who left.”

            Whether those who judged said it or not, in the overwhelming majority of expulsions and departures a romantic relationship played a role, but in many cases this was not mentioned in the “official” verdict. Regarding the proceeding many have complained that according to the “official teaching” a member could only be expelled for false teaching or grave moral misbehavior, but in Aranka’s opinion (and in the opinion of others) “on multiple occasions the congregation disregarded these principles, and caused harm to itself (by the removal of useful members) as well as to the life of the expelled person. We gave up on brothers sooner than God, so several expelled members felt like they were buried alive. There were certain brothers whom we neglected for years, then later we got on their case and most often we expelled them. In recent years we have expelled several members not because they committed moral sins but because they had doubts, or they dared to question certain things, and by this they did not submit to the authority of the congregation. In recent years we have said much more easily about someone that he was never a Christian. If this was true and we had not noticed it earlier, we were not a Christian congregation. It was not a fair practice that the expelled member first had to write a letter, based on which the congregation would decide if they were willing to have a discussion with him[1]. There were expulsion discussions where sinful things were later revealed about most of the judges. We did not adhere to the order described in the Gospels: »If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you« (Matthew 18:15-18)”.


[1]             At the same time the expelled did not receive a written “verdict”.