Announcements regarding public censure are made publicly to the congregation for the following two reasons:
1. To request every member's prayers and assistance in this matter
2. To inform all that if any member would believe that the consistory is proceeding incorrectly, this would enable him to present additional facts of which the consistory may not be aware.
Why are both of these matters very important?
Classis - A meeting of church representatives from each denominational congregation located in a certain region
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
- Matthew 16:19
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
- I Timothy 5:20-21
Public censure (or major excommunication) proceeds through the three steps described in the chart below.
THE THREE STEPS OF PUBLIC CENSURE
1. Step One
Announcement is made to the congregation that a member (no name is mentioned) has been placed under censure for breaking God's law (the commandment is mentioned). The congregation is urged to pray for the member's repentance.
2. Step Two
Announcement is made to the congregation of the person's name and the commandment which is being transgressed. The congregation is again urged to pray for the member's repentance. This step may only be taken by a consistory after classis approval has been obtained.
3. Step Three
The member is officially cut off from, and set outside of, God's church.
Each step of censure may be taken only after repeated attempts by the consistory to encourage repentance have been ignored or resisted. The consistory is called to exercise love, wisdom, and patience in each step of the censure process. Reasonable and ample time for repentance must be patiently provided, yet avoiding unnecessary or unrealistic prolongings or postponings of the case. The consistory's motive and goal must be to try to bring the person to repentance and to win the member back, not to cut him off. Should repentance and confession of sin take place at any step, the censure process is ended and the person is forgiven. Censure only proceeds in cases of no repentance.
Public sin requires public confession of guilt or public censure for the following three reasons:
1. To uphold the honor of God - All members of God's church bear His Name. The honor of God's Name must be cleared through public disapproval of the public sin committed. All must clearly perceive that such sins are not according to God's will.