Ecclesiastical historian Joseph Bingham writes concerning the early centuries: “The discipline of the church consisted in a power to deprive men of all the benefits and privileges of baptism, by turning them out of the society and communion of the church, . . . and every one shunned and avoided them in common conversation, partly to establish the church’s censures and proceedings against them, and partly to make them ashamed, and partly to secure themselves from the danger of contagion.” “ . . . no one was to receive excommunicated persons into their houses, nor eat at the same table with them; they were not to converse with them familiarly, whilst living; nor perform the funeral obsequies for them, when dead, . . . These directions were drawn up upon the model of those rules of the apostles, which forbade Christians to give any countenance to notorious offenders.”—The Antiquities of the Christian Church, pp. 880, 891.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. September 15, 1981 p. 23