Monday, August 16, 2010

On Church Covenants

My good friend Alan Knox has written an excellent post entitled, "Why Is One Covenant Not Enough?" I encourage you to read it.

Alan's main point is that since all followers of Christ are covenanted together with God, we do not need any other man-made church covenants.

Alan writes, "So, all of those who are in Christ – who have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ – are covenanted together with God… not based on their (our) ability to keep a covenant, but based on God’s promises (for example, see Hebrews 10:23)."

Alan goes on to say, "If we use a 'church covenant' to include some believers and exclude others, then we are dividing the body of Christ and making distinctions that only God can make. We are trying to choose who to love and who to serve. (Of course, this makes life much easier, but it doesn’t make it a life that is lived according to the gospel.)"

In my (Eric) experience, church covenants are generally written with good intentions. The local church desires to put down on paper how the people of the church intend to relate to one another. It is, obviously, important that we think about how we are to live in relation to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The problem is that this creates an artificial dividing line (like Alan has said) between those who are in our local church family and those who are out. This is, simply, unbiblical. The bible does not call on us to treat some Christians in one way but others another way.

I have heard of some churches who take their man-constructed covenants extremely seriously. If folks who are part of these churches leave for some reason, they are told that they are "in sin" for breaking covenant. The interesting (and sad) thing about this is that those leaving have not broken God's covenant, but only one created by man. If Christian people leave a church body for biblical reasons, there is absolutely no sin involved - no matter how loudly the church leaders may say they are "in sin."

I'll admit that we have a church covenant at Chevis Oaks. I used to think it was a good idea, but if it is going to separate us from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ then we will need to do away with it.

Let's all strive to be biblical in all things. Thanks Alan for the reminder.


Aussie John said...


Alan's is a very necessary comment.

I have seen more harm than good come from these covenants. As harsh as this comment sounds, I am certain that, in some instances the covenant is an attempt to have a document of legal appearance by which to exercise control.

Eric said...


I imagine that is the case some of the time. Other times I really do think the motivation is good, but the ramifications are not. It is shame that something can begin with good intentions and end up fostering disunity.