Reconciliation, What is it?
Leaving an authoritarian environment is never easy. It will “almost” always end in chaos. I’m attempting to make an absolute statement without making it absolute, I’m always hopeful. I believe it is true given it is an authoritarian church environment with authoritarian pastors.
Assuming someone wants to leave an authoritarian church, they will not be able to leave without there being an unreconcilable situation. Fellowship will be permanently broken. I’m also assuming they desire to leave in a godly manner to the best of their ability.
If all these are true, then there will be conflict. The pastors of the church won’t “want” or “allow” the person to leave. They won’t accept any reason for them to leave no matter how hard they try. It won’t happen. That’s a guarantee.
In this case, someone is wrong.
I’m not saying it is impossible for the person leaving to be wrong. In my experience, if someone approaches the leadership and says we are leaving because we believe legalism and authoritarianism exist in this church and therefore we have decided to leave. I find no fault in this method of leaving.
The question of reconciliation comes down to the very issue of someone being right and someone being wrong. God has reconciled sinners to Himself because sinners come to recognize their guilt (they are wrong). They repent, they believe, and they are justified and reconciled to God (Romans 5:1-11) (reconciliation occurs).
I’ve been accused of refusing to reconcile. I understand how this can be viewed, but if I believe I’ve done what is right there is nothing for me to reconcile. It is up to the other party to reconcile if they recognize their faults. But if they won’t, there will not be reconciliation.
Reconciliation requires repentance. A recognition of some sort of wrongdoing. If I have done my level best to present the other party with what I believe is the truth and they won’t accept it, then I’m done with my responsibility to them. I recognize this doesn’t fly with a lot of people, but I don’t see it can be any other way unless I decide to sweep it all under the rug and move along, that’s not biblical either.
Peace and reconciliation must be firmly established on the truth of the gospel. Extending forgiveness and gaining reconciliation is at the root a gospel issue. Steps and processes cannot be skipped to get to reconciliation ahead of schedule, otherwise, we do not have true peace and true reconciliation.