Are 9Marks and Church Discipline Advocates Misinterpreting Matthew 18 and Causing Unnecessary Pain?

“The evangelical movement has become just a bit victimized by a success-oriented culture, wanting the church – like the corporation – to be successful.” Henri Nouwen link

I wish to express my gratitude to the professor and members of my seminary class who are teaching me, while demonstrating the love and kindness that are inherent qualities in true pastors.


After blogging since 2009, I believe there is nothing that has caused so much pain and unnecessary abuse of church members as the misapplication of Matthew 18 in regards to church discipline. Recently, I have been auditing a course on pastoral leadership in a conservative Lutheran seminary. I am the only non-pastor. A recent discussion on church discipline has significantly impacted my view on the goals and methods of that discipline.

Matthew 18 – Three short Bible verses which have caused untold pain.

When the topic of church discipline came up, I reviewed the abuse of Karen Hinkley by Matt Chandler and The Village Church. I asked the class of pastors “Is this approach to discipline appropriate?” Our professor immediately caught my attention when he asked a simple question. “What exactly does Matthew 18 say about church discipline?” I was challenged to look at the assumptions of authoritarian churches when it comes to discipline.

Take a minute and review the verses, concentrating on what they do NOT say.

Matthew 18:15-17 NIV Bible Gateway

Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

1 Corinthians 5: The New Testament example of a church discipline situation.

Now, review 1 Corinthians 5 since it involves the major example of church discipline in the New Testament. Focus on the actual sin and the attitude of those in that church towards that sin.

Also, slander in this verse refers to Biblical slander, which means purposely telling a lie in order to bring harm to someone’s reputation. Here is a post I wrote on the meaning of slander in the Bible – Slander or an Inconvenient Truth? This, too, is important as I build my case that today’s church discipline has been misrepresented by authoritarian leaders.

1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,a b so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

Galatians 6:1: Restore gently

Finally, what is this verse telling us about our posture as we approach church discipline?

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (NIV-Bible Gateway)

What is the primary goal of church discipline? Let’s start with gentle restoration.

This is the first question my professor asked us when I brought up this subject. Is the goal to get rid of the sin by quickly drop-kicking the sinner out the door? Here is where I am going to diverge from the discipline gurus out there who love to proclaim their authority, while insist they are protecting the sheep. I believe the primary goal is to restore the sinning person GENTLY.

The initial concern is not to protect the sheep but to correct the person who is sinning gently. The concern for the entire church should enter the picture if the congregation believes that the behavior of the sinner is righteous. This was the case for the Corinthian church, which thought it was fine for a man to sleep with his father’s wife. Review this verse from the Corinthians passage.

A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud!

Remember, folks, we are to live among those who disagree with us on the issue of sin. It should not come as a shock that there will be sin in our churches. What we need to avoid, as we work with those who are committing serious sin, is normalizing that sin within the congregation.

The answer to the professor’s initial question is “The goal of church discipline is to restore the person to the fellowship GENTLY.” It is restoration; not expulsion. My observations of many of these church discipline zealots seems to indicate that the sin is the focus, as opposed to the person who is sinning.

Are we disciplining sin or are we disciplining the violation of church rules?

That is the second question our professor asked us. Let’s go back to Matthew 18.

If your brother or sister sins…

Sadly, many of the church discipline abuse cases that we cover have nothing at all to do with sin. They have to do with violations of church rules. Many of these church rules are spelled out in membership covenants. Let me say this loud and clear. Membership covenants that spell out church rules are not the equivalent of a list of sins as outlined in Scripture. Matthew 18 makes it clear that we should be disciplining sin. Let’s review two infamous cases.

  1. Todd Wilhelm was put under church discipline for not joining a church immediately upon leaving his 9Marks church in Dubai. This is NOT a sin but a 9Marks church rule.
    Todd was once being considered for church leadership in UCC Dubai, which is an outpost of Mark *9Marks* Dever’s church. He became aware of the allegations of child sex abuse cover-up in CJ Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries. This church, mirroring Dever’s devotion to his BFF, CJ Mahaney, pushed Mahaney books in their bookstore. (What a witness to the world, guys!) Todd decided to resign from church membership because he disagreed with this. He refused to join another church immediately because he wanted to avoid another church like UCCD. Such a decision is wise and to be commended, not punished. Did you know that such an action is considered a SIN by 9Marks when it is merely one of their rules? Todd’s thoughtful action was treated like a sin, not because the Bible says it is a sin. It was considered a sin because some human beings instituted a church membership agreement which listed that *not joining a church immediately* was a church rule. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t in the Bible. It was a sin because they said so. You can read about what happened in these two posts.

    My, My Dubai: 9Marks Played Hardball While Lifeway/ David Platt Stretched the Truth
    The Magisterium of the United Christian Church of Dubai Have Spoken (By: Todd Wilhelm) Point: Todd Wilhelm was disciplined, not for sin as is listed in the Matthew 18, but for a violation of a church rule which is NOT listed in the Bible as a sin.
  2. Karen Hinkley was put under church discipline for annulling her marriage to a child porn watching, allegedly admitted molester and then resigning from the church because they would not leave her alone. Karen discovered that her husband was viewing child pornography while they were together on the mission field. There were confessions of pedophile behavior as well. Karen returned home, and the state of Texas allowed her an annulment of her marriage.The church put her under discipline and claimed that her ex-husband was *walking in repentance* after about a month of counseling. Along with Amy Smith of Watchkeep, we broke this story which became known internationally. The actions of the church were so grievous that eventually Matt Chandler had to apologize to Karen and affirm that she was certainly justified in seeking a divorce from her pervert husband. The embarrassment and harassment that Karen endured from The Village Church (TVC) is well documented in our series which you can access at this post. Her actions were not a sin according to Scripture. She simply violated TVC (9Marks affiliated) church rules, as codified in their document known as a church membership covenant. Point: Karen Hinkley was disciplined, not for a sin as is listed in the Matthew 18, but for a violation of a church rule which is NOT in the Bible.

Do we discipline for church rules or for sin as stated in Matthew 18? I contend that any church which disciplines for violations of church rules are actually in violation of Matthew 18, which states we are to discipline for sin. Reread this portion from the 1 Corinthians 6 chapter posted above.

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler.

It would seem to me that this is a list of sins that should be considered for church discipline, along with sleeping with the wife of one’s father.

Digression: I have yet to see a greedy person thrown out of a church. Perhaps they give too much money to the church coffers?

What is the time frame of the order of events found in Matthew 18?

Let’s assume there is a couple who is living together and attending a church of which they are members. Let’s also assume that the desire of the church leadership is to discipline said couple gently, as described in Galatians 6:1 posted above.

We are Americans addicted to smart phones, and we want things settled yesterday. Should we apply instantaneous discipline as well? How long should the Matthew 18 process take? (Pause here and reread the verses.)

Surprise! There is no time limit placed on the 3 steps. Why do you think Scripture does not impose time limits? Let me hazard a guess. I bet God is hoping that thoughtful people will take enough time to help the errant couple understand why the Bible says they should not be living together.

Let me give you an example. During the span of a couple of decades, a long time pastor has had 5 couples in his churches who were living together. Here is how he handled it.

  1. He sat down with the couple and reviewed their understanding of the Bible. He gave them some reading assignments and met with them a few times. This ongoing discussion continued over the course of many weeks. He actually cared enough to make sure they understood the Scripture and how it should lived out in their church. Also, they cared enough to meet with him over this time period. There is great hope in such a scenario. Ask yourself a question. In your church, would a pastor really care enough about the members to meet with them and assure them of his love and his concern beyond the actual sin itself? Or would he simply command them to stop living together immediately or be kicked out of the church?
  2. If they were still living together after this discussion/study was completed and they still refused to move apart, he still had one more trick up his sleeve. He would tell them that they were still welcome at the church, but they would need to refrain from taking communion. I am now in a denomination that takes communion very seriously, and this request would be a blow to most members in the church.
  3. There was no need for Step 3. Two of the couples chose to leave the church (without some big showy ceremony of placing them on a *care list* and being thrown out.) For those two couples, there is always the hope they will repent and return. The other three couples all began to live separately. Two of the couples eventually got married. One couple split.

This approach will leave all of those couple who participated in the process with a sense that they mattered and were cared for. Sadly, with most church pastors today acting like they are walking podcasts, there is little time and little inclination to engage with members of the church.

Who is supposed to be involved with Steps 1 and 2 of Matthew 18? The elders? The lowest rung of assistant pastors?

Reread Matthew 18 again. Note who the verses are addressing…*you.* Do these verses say that the pastors or elders are to deal with the problem? No. One pastor said “If someone comes to me to report a sin, I always ask that person if they have talked about it with the person first.”

Folks, we are all guilty of wanting to pass this off to someone else. I wonder how things might be different if a good church friend of a couple that is living together spoke to them first. Then, if one person had no effect, why not have a few people who know them well within the church go to the couple together? Do you see why this is so good? The church members who truly care for the couple are the ones doing the confronting.

We should do this before telling it to the *church.* Who is the church? Maybe *take it to the church* means it is time to get the pastors and elders involved. Perhaps church leadership should be the last resort option.

Does Matthew 18 actually say to have big, exciting (yet oh.so.serious.) meeting and tell it to every last person in the church?

One of the stupidest decisions made by Matt Chandler and his lieutenants in the Karen Hinkley situation (which could have resulted in a very serious lawsuit) was to send a letter to the intimate group of 6,000 (!) members of The Village Church informing them that Karen Hinkley was in sin and under church discipline. I even phoned an elder at The Village Church that I used to know when I lived in Dallas and asked him “What were you thinking???!!” He refused to answer because, well, you know, *confidentiality,* *pray,*… yada, yada, yada.

Folks, do you really think that this sort of action is what Jesus was discussing in Matthew 18? I presume that it is if you believe church discipline is meant to chase a person as far away from the church as possible. Do you really think that this is “restoring a person gently?”

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul was upset because the entire church thought that the dude having sex with his father’s wife was actually being kind of cool. That guy had to be thrown out, and the entire church needed to hear about it because they were actually *in bed* with the situation. (I couldn’t resist.)

Sadly, UCC Dubai leadership actually thought it was an excellent idea to tell the entire church that Todd Wilhelm needed to be on the *care* list. For those of you reading this who think – “There are two sides to that one” – it is crucial for you to know that Todd Wilhelm agreed to sign a statement allowing the church to release ALL information surrounding his *discipline.* As expected, UCCD leadership refused. Matt Chandler tried the same thing with Amy Smith and me, telling us via Twitter that we didn’t know the *whole* story. We let him know we had all of the texts, emails and church letters…

There is nothing in Matthew 18 that indicates it is against Scripture to tell just a few members of the church who are actually involved and truly care about the individual being disciplined, instead of telling the entire church. Yeah, like 6,000 members getting emails was what Jesus had in mind. In fact, if all 6,000 church members really cared about a *sinning* member, they should have been the first to approach said member at the start of the Matthew 18 process, since all 6,000 of them were truly invested in the situation…

Conclusion:

I think the implementation of *church discipline* has taken an ugly turn. There are far too few examples of gentle restoration a la Galatians 6:1. Many times the pastors and church members begin a process that is harsh, mean-spirited and often unScriptural. I believe in church discipline. The situation in 1 Corinthians 5 is an example of the sort of thing that must be handled. However, all too often we hear about abusive situations like the so-called ‘discipline’ that was foisted upon Karen Hinkley and Todd Wilhelm. Todd and Karen did not sin. They wisely chose not to follow man-made church rules.

When church rules become the basis for church elders to implement discipline, that church has become abusive and unbiblical. Those church leaders and members demonstrate that they have no wish to restore people gently. They just want to get rid of those lousy sinners in an expeditious manner. That sort of church proves they are just one more man-made, abusive, authority-driven business. Who has time for gentleness? Efficiency matters!

As it is, the world has far too many of those kinds of institutions. The church should be different. Gentleness matters!


Comments

Are 9Marks and Church Discipline Advocates Misinterpreting Matthew 18 and Causing Unnecessary Pain? — 188 Comments

  1. Many will say that most modern examples of church discipline are about power and control, and they are probably correct. My attitude towards the subject began to change when, at a church in Wake Forest, one of the assistant pastors privately told an adulterous couple to quietly leave the church until: 1. the man’s divorce was finalized; 2. the baby conceived through their affair was born, and; 3. they got married. Then they could return and have their membership restored. This was because the single woman had been held up by the head pastor and this assistant pastor, including from the pulpit, as a shining example of Christianity (until her baby bump started showing).

    Juxtapose that with another example a few years before at the same church. Through a series of events, a woman discovers her husband had been having an affair with another woman who was also a member of the church. Long story made short – guess which woman was brought before the church for discipline? It wasn’t the affair partner – she and the husband quit the church and ran off together. It was the aggrieved woman because she ‘dared’ pursue a divorce in order to protect her children.

    Actually, as I think about it, I know of another example of the above except the woman was threatened with discipline because she pursued divorce in order to protect and provide for her daughter.

    It still upsets me when I think about it.

  2. That burns me up to read this. What is going on in these churches? Seriously some of these people need a good kick in the butt! Burwell wrote:

    Many will say that most modern examples of church discipline are about power and control, and they are probably correct. My attitude towards the subject began to change when, at a church in Wake Forest, one of the assistant pastors privately told an adulterous couple to quietly leave the church until: 1. the man’s divorce was finalized; 2. the baby conceived through their affair was born, and; 3. they got married. Then they could return and have their membership restored. This was because the single woman had been held up by the head pastor and this assistant pastor, including from the pulpit, as a shining example of Christianity (until her baby bump started showing).

    Juxtapose that with another example a few years before at the same church. Through a series of events, a woman discovers her husband had been having an affair with another woman who was also a member of the church. Long story made short – guess which woman was brought before the church for discipline? It wasn’t the affair partner – she and the husband quit the church and ran off together. It was the aggrieved woman because she ‘dared’ pursue a divorce in order to protect her children.

    Actually, as I think about it, I know of another example of the above except the woman was threatened with discipline because she pursued divorce in order to protect and provide for her daughter.

    It still upsets me when I think about it.

  3. I think one of the reasons for pastors/elders implementing discipline in a speedy fashion is to prove just how zealous they are in hating sin and keeping the church pure. It becomes a self-righteous badge of honor in which they can tell themselves that they love the truth.

  4. I have seen next to no gentleness in the youth groups, churches and Christian organizations I have visited. Nearly all of them are on a, “Stick to other Christian people, don’t talk to other dirty, dirty sinners. Don’t ask about their lives or try to reach them. They’re all EVIL…Not like us, us good, great and wonderful Christian people that we are… *sarcasm alert*”

    This is the first time that I’ve read a Christian blog post that talks of dealing with sin in “gentleness” and it’s refreshing.

    Sometimes, I find it hard to read the Bible because of all the contrasting and confusing doctrines and sermons I’ve heard (most of which are misogynistic, abusive, authoritarian, homophobic, etc.) Thanks to this article, things are starting to look a little brighter.

    Thanks Deebs! (*cue music from Smokey and the Bandit theme* Heavn’ bound, not proud, load it up and bloggin’, oh we gonna do what they say can’t be done…)

  5. From what I’ve seen about churches who regularly use church discipline, most are very quick to chase what Dee describes–church rules that are not listed as sin in the Bible.

    However, they:

    1) Treat men differently than women. They would “restore” a man who simply said he repented, while treating a woman they considered in sin as never trustworthy again, even if she went through the same “restoration” process.

    2) Never expect the same things from leaders as they would from members. It’s perfectly fine if leaders want to be prideful, greedy, boastful, bullies, sexual predators, or worse. It all gets ignored.

    I also find the mostly New Cal belief that everyone is always wretched and a worm, but expected to maintain an unreasonable standard of behavior, to be incompatible. I also do not see any bearing of each other’s burdens according to Galatians 6:2 unless it’s members expected to bear burdens for leaders.

    I do think quick church discipline is warranted in some cases, such as in child abuse. But most of these cases of church discipline we see on TWW have nothing to do with protecting the church or the individual, and everything to do with maintaining power and control–which is clearly sin and deserving of church discipline.

  6. Well, it’s obvious to me that the trouble with all of you is that you’re looking for the perfect church.

    What I would say is, if you ever find the perfect church, don’t join it – you’ll spoil it.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Arnold Smartarse

  7. I think church discipline is really important. Didn’t Jesus say that good shepherds will discipline the sheep by breaking their necks for their own good to stop them running away?

    God Bless,

    Arnold Dummarse

  8. When I was deep in fellowship one thing that I often feared was being disfellowshipped. Church discipline had several uses in my personal experience, first and foremost was retaliation and it worked very well (which justifies its use). It was also used to gain political power and quell disagreement. In my personal experience in real life, I have never seen it used for restoration, that does not ever happen. People would leave the fellowship, others would loathe them with a deep-seated passion for decades. Families would be torn to shreds etc. Again all this is irrelevant in the big picture which is pragmatism. One other thing is church discipline is never used against people in fellowship with money/power, that goes without saying. It is also not used against leadership unless its used by someone who is more powerful. As far as restoration forgiveness etc. that just does not happen in my personal experience.

  9. Real talk: Has anyone ever seen an invocation of Matthew 18 in the history of the Church that WASN’T intended to create a smokescreen for abusive behavior?

  10. Yes. As I’ve mentioned before, our daughter was excommunicated from a “Bible Church” for leaving her immoral abusive husband. Well, actually it was more an authority issue… they admitted she probably had “Biblical grounds” to leave BUT because she didn’t go back when the church leaders told her to go back she was labeled rebellious and the rest is history. They would probably say they tried to be “gentle” but underneath they were hard as rocks. They were ready to throw us out too for giving her and her children sanctuary… but we left of our own accord.

    In John 9 the Pharisees practiced “church discipline” on the man who had been healed of his blindness by Jesus. Their “law” had been broken and their “church member” had disobeyed them and so they felt justified in throwing him out. However, when Jesus heard about this injustice he reached out to the man in love. Yes, the man was thrown out of the “church”… but Jesus wasn’t there anyway… he was outside the “church” and the man went to HIM! Jesus receives those whom the “church” rejects. He isn’t into petty laws and rules of behavior… he only operates by the “law” of love (Rom 13:10).

  11. You won’t be surprised that Jonathan Leeman takes a different view.

    “To define it more specifically, corrective church discipline occurs any time sin is corrected within the church body, and it occurs most fully when the church body announces that the covenant between church and member is already broken because the member has proven to be unsubmissive in his or her discipleship to Christ. By this token, the church withdraws its affirmation of the individual’s faith, announces that it will cease giving oversight, and releases the individual back into the world.(The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love)

    Nice bloke

  12. @ Edward:
    Yes. My church. We had a member that had SEVERE anger issues, refused to repent, (and by that I mean he blew up AT CHURCH at many of us, one at a time,(It was very frightening) and when we met with him to pursue reconciliation he blew up worse….finally to keep the rest of the small church safe we had to kick him out. He is welcome to return if he is willing to repent to the people he hurt and to the pastor. We love him, but we love him too much to allow the behaviour to continue. And it was NOT instant soup. We all tried and tried to help him. The pastors were so patient with him. At the end frankly we were all relieved. We were all told about it but mostly because a)we are a small fellowship and b) most of us had faced the brunt of the anger.

    Our church feels safe and secure because no one is allowed to stay and be abusive to us. We know if we mess up we will be dealt with lovingly and with a goal of restoration. And we know for a fact that if our brother wants to come back he can if he is willing to repent.

  13. He gets a bit more expansive in “Church Discipline: How Churches Protect the Name of Jesul

    The standards for church membership should be no higher or lower than the standards for being a Christian, with one exception. A Christian is someone who has repented and believed, and that’s who churches should affirm as members. The only additional requirement is baptism. Church members must be baptized, a pattern that is uniform in the New Testament. Peter said to the crowds in Jerusalem, “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). And Paul, writing to the church in Rome, simply assumes that everyone who belongs to the Roman church has been baptized (Rom. 6:1–3).
    Church membership, in other words, is not about “additional requirements.” It’s about a church taking specific responsibility for a Christian, and a Christian for a church. It’s about “putting on,” “embodying,” “living out,” and “making concrete” our membership in Christ’s universal body. In some ways, the union which constitutes a local church and its members is like the “I do” of a marriage ceremony, which is why some refer to church membership as a “covenant.”
    It’s true that a Christian must choose to join a church, but that does not make it a voluntary organization. Having chosen Christ, a Christian has no choice but to choose to join a church.
    A FULLER CONCEPT OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE
    The preceding discussion on the gospel, the Christian, the church, and church membership provides the framework through which church discipline should be understood. Let me draw out four elements from this discussion that provide important foundational assumptions for church discipline:
    1) An expectation of transformation. The new covenant promises that Christ’s people will live transformed lives through the power of the Spirit. Even if change comes slowly, churches should expect change—the visible fruit of God’s grace and Spirit. Discipline is the right response to a lack of visible fruit, or, even more, the presence of bad fruit.
    2) The work of representation. Christians are to be little Christs, representing Jesus on earth. The concept of representation depends on the idea that Jesus is Savior and Lord; it depends on the fact that Christians are given a new status and a new work. Discipline is the right response when Christians fail to represent Jesus and show no desire for doing so.
    3) The local church’s authority. Jesus gave the local church the authority of the keys to officially affirm and oversee citizens of his kingdom. Churches do not make people Christians. The Spirit does that. But churches have the declarative authority and responsibility for making public statements before the nations about who is and isn’t a Christian. A church’s act of excommunication, therefore, does not consist of physically and forcibly removing the individual from its public gatherings, as if the church had the state’s power of the sword to physically move people’s bodies; rather, it consists of the public statement that it can no longer vouch for an individual’s citizenship in heaven. Excommunication is a church’s declaration that it can no longer affirm that an individual is a Christian.
    4) Membership as submission. Christians are called, as a matter of obedience to Christ, to submit to the affirmation and oversight of local churches. When threatened by a possible act of discipline, therefore, church members cannot simply preempt the church’s action with a resignation. That would be analogous to an individual resigning his national citizenship before a court could prosecute the criminal activity for which he had been indicted.

  14. Arnold Dummarse wrote:

    I think church discipline is really important. Didn’t Jesus say that good shepherds will discipline the sheep by breaking their necks for their own good to stop them running away?
    God Bless,
    Arnold Dummarse

    A. Dummarse: That would be breaking their LEGS, not necks. That would kill them. Unless, of course, that is the intent.

    By the way, could you send a message to your cousin (or whatever he is) A. Smartarse that it’s time for a new slogan. 😉

  15. The whole concept of church discipline was foreign to me when I was christian, I really didn’t know some churches actually chased people down. I figure who would want to go to a Christian church but christians?

    If you join the community, educate yourself to the rules of that community.

    If I ever did rejoin the faith, it would be as an adherent, not a member. I haven’t had communion for years anyway.

  16. Lowlandseer wrote:

    1) An expectation of transformation. The new covenant promises that Christ’s people will live transformed lives through the power of the Spirit. Even if change comes slowly, churches should expect change—the visible fruit of God’s grace and Spirit. Discipline is the right response to a lack of visible fruit, or, even more, the presence of bad fruit.
    2) The work of representation. Christians are to be little Christs, representing Jesus on earth. The concept of representation depends on the idea that Jesus is Savior and Lord; it depends on the fact that Christians are given a new status and a new work. Discipline is the right response when Christians fail to represent Jesus and show no desire for doing so.
    3) The local church’s authority. Jesus gave the local church the authority of the keys to officially affirm and oversee citizens of his kingdom. Churches do not make people Christians. The Spirit does that. But churches have the declarative authority and responsibility for making public statements before the nations about who is and isn’t a Christian. A church’s act of excommunication, therefore, does not consist of physically and forcibly removing the individual from its public gatherings, as if the church had the state’s power of the sword to physically move people’s bodies; rather, it consists of the public statement that it can no longer vouch for an individual’s citizenship in heaven. Excommunication is a church’s declaration that it can no longer affirm that an individual is a Christian.
    4) Membership as submission. Christians are called, as a matter of obedience to Christ, to submit to the affirmation and oversight of local churches. When threatened by a possible act of discipline, therefore, church members cannot simply preempt the church’s action with a resignation. That would be analogous to an individual resigning his national citizenship before a court could prosecute the criminal activity for which he had been indicted

    This is way to oppressive. The church of my childhood was not like this at all. If you were a Christian, you were in. But they wouldn’t harass you should decide it wasn’t for you.

    If belief in Christian salvation is a gift from God , then whether you continue believing is between you & God.

  17. Mary27 wrote:

    In John 9 the Pharisees practiced “church discipline” on the man who had been healed of his blindness by Jesus. Their “law” had been broken and their “church member” had disobeyed them and so they felt justified in throwing him out. However, when Jesus heard about this injustice he reached out to the man in love. Yes, the man was thrown out of the “church”… but Jesus wasn’t there anyway… he was outside the “church” and the man went to HIM! Jesus receives those whom the “church” rejects. He isn’t into petty laws and rules of behavior… he only operates by the “law” of love (Rom 13:10).

    Thanks for this example. Clearly illustrates the point of the post, even to the point of ridiculous cruelty (what they did to the healed blind man).

  18. Our former YRR pastor required that we read Mr. Leeman’s book on church discipline…it’s got nothing to do with loving someone back into fellowship. (Remember, folks–love is NOT one of Dever’s Nine Marks!)
    My personal understanding of Matthew 18 is that if a person wronged YOU (personally) then you first went to them personally to attempt to correct the situation. It isn’t about going around and looking for sin in other people’s lives.
    Leeman, Dever and the rest of these guys take it upon themselves to use this as a clobber passage to go sin-sniffing against anyone who they feel is wrong…more like a “church gestapo”, if you will.
    It is agonizing and infuriating to see the piles of damaged souls left in the wake of Dever’s overly zealous disciples! As I’ve stated before, I want our church to become a safe-haven from these power-hungry brats.

  19. The “church” didn’t exist during Jesus’ ministry. I suspect Mathew 18 was bolted on at a later date to enforce obedience.

  20. Dee, This is a thoughtful post. Thank you.

    In our experience, we have never been in a church during a Matthew 18 discipline procedure. Our pastors have shied away from explicit discipline, staying out of people’s personal lives, and unfortunately turning a blind eye toward, for example, consensual living together unmarried couples. We’ve also never personally witnessed a blatant scandal, although who knows what goes on behind the scenes and what is being swept under the rug.

    However, we’ve read about the misuse of Matthew 18 in other churches.

    Your examples of correct application of Matthew 18 are enlightening and encouraging. May other pastors be so trained and mentored.

  21. @ Lowlandseer:

    Now let’s get really scary. I never hear of Leeman before today so I looked him up. His degrees are heavily into politics. Theological politics aka political theology; choose your terminology I noted when I looked up what that field might be. It is a relatively new discipline (apt terminology) and is nothing that one should be too casual about, IMO. Seriously, this stuff is a menace in the making.

  22. Hi all
    I am returning from a visit on Sanibel Island in Florida and will comment on this post more on Sunday.

  23. Ironically, the 9Marks philosophy of church discipline/authority are fundamentally anti-Baptist at their core.

    Soul freedom – soul competency, liberty of conscience? For starters.

    How *exactly* do those philosophies/theological philosophies not contradict almost everything they practice and teach in their ecclesiology?

    There are a lot of things I will let go with the SBC and other similar groups, but 9Marks and church contracts and all this hyper-authoritarian and self-referential celebrity and cult-like stuff and weird church disipine and cold utilitarianism…Nopey no nopers!

    It is so important that there are places for the church (or anyone who is concerned) to openly and freely dialogue about these trends. Please continue keeping this at the forefront!

  24. @ Lowlandseer:
    I call him Jonathan *Keys* Leeman and have written extensively on his views of church membership. Sadly, and I address this to all of those who buy into this potentially abusive program, any church who believes that they are the final arbiter of who is and is not a Christian is fooling themselves and setting themselves up as associate editors of the Book of Life.

    Never forget, this is the group who declared Todd Wilhelm in violation of their silly little church rule when he made a principled stand against the selling of CJ Mahaneys books. Then took at least one donation from CJ Mahaney when he ran from accountability in his own churches and featured him as the BFF of Mark Dever. How they justify that they are the ones who should judge the salvation of others is beyond me.

    In the long run, I wonder which person comes out as standing on the values as portrayed by Jesus.

  25. @ JYJames:
    This reports brought tears to my eyes this week. I am praying for her family who must be sick after hearing this report.

  26. @ dee:
    Also tearful, the really old pastor molesting preteen little girls. Sick.
    http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/71511/20171020/baptist-pastor-charged-molesting-five-girls-luring-office-candy.htm

    They don’t grow old and go out to pastor/pasture. They grow old and stay in the evil game. Unreal. Baptist and not YRR, but of the old traditional orthodox kind. Evil has been there all along. No good old days. Just wolves hidden among the sheep in plain sight, yesterday & today until Jesus comes again. Outliers, but they are/were there.

  27. Root 66 wrote:

    My personal understanding of Matthew 18 is that if a person wronged YOU (personally) then you first went to them personally to attempt to correct the situation. It isn’t about going around and looking for sin in other people’s lives.

    I’ve preserved my old NIV Duct Tape Edition (held together with duct tape) for times like this. It says “if your brother sins against you”. I think the emphasis here and other places is on preserving the fellowship of believers through patient outreach. Fellowship can be damaged by disputes amongst believers or by a single believer flaunting their sin in clear sight.

    Without creating a hard theological distinction, it seems that restoration is the discipling process that occurs once the person responds affirmatively to outreach. Haven’t seen it that much, but done properly it should involve tears of joy and expressions of love.

  28. @ Edward:

    Yes. An elder once called a meeting and said “some people” are upset and offended with us. Particularly with the sermon on 1 Corinthians 5 (where the subject of greed and swindling was emphasized). We knew who these people were and had been trying to get in touch with them for months, but they ignored us. This elder had advised this family to stay away from us, when my husband questioned that decision, citing Matthew 18 and our desire to try to work things out, he said, “I think there are better ways to do that.” The family ended up leaving, but we never did find out why they disliked us so much.

  29. “Who is supposed to be involved with Steps 1 and 2 of Matthew 18? The elders? The lowest rung of assistant pastors?”

    Unfortunately despite its usefulness Matthew 18 has become one of my least favorite passages because it is so misused, ranking right up there with Hebrews 13 – obey.

    Matthew 18 is for application to peer relationships and for situations clearly about sin. It is not applicable to differences of opinion nor within an authoritarian church. Christ’s teaching in Matthew 18 is for a group of equals, peers, brothers. His words can not be about working within the context of a hierarchy because that would be an anathema, it is also unworkable in such an organization.

    There must be a lot of bad teaching on Matthew 18 because I’ve even run across christian non-profits that use Matthew 18 for their employee grievance procedure, even stating it in their bylaws. Folks, if you have a grievance with an authoritarian boss, whether a non-profit director or a church “pastor”, you will likely get more grief if you go to them “in secret”. There are a lot of walking wounded who went in secret to the pastor while the pastor had no qualms later about spreading malicious rumors about them in retaliation. If you should then speak to someone else or speak publicly then you are accused of slander or gossip.

    Personal relationships are complicated and requiring a “one size fits all” rule for solving every grievance or difference of opinion is hampering if not damaging, especially in situations where it is not meant to be used. Christ emphasized that no one can lord it over others within his Church so we should not expect his Matthew 18 teaching to be applicable to something that should not even exist in his Church, dealing with an authoritarian “leader”.

    I can’t think of a passage where Christ outlined a procedure for dealing with abusive leaders in his Church but he provided numerous examples of how he handled them in his day, he excoriated them publicly.

  30. It is amazing when so-called “Christian” churches behave in this manner. Have they not actually read the Gospels? Because, I don’t think that if they had been around in the first century that they would have been following Jesus, they would have been the Pharisees and Sadducees opposing him, because they would have thought Him in sin and need discipline, since He didn’t follow their sabbath rules, hung out with tax-collectors and prostitutes, and called out the leaders on their hypocrisy.

  31. Jack wrote:

    The “church” didn’t exist during Jesus’ ministry. I suspect Mathew 18 was bolted on at a later date to enforce obedience.

    You are correct but the word church is actually “assembly”. When Jesus said “I will build my church” it was clearly in the future and an assembly which was uniquely related to him.

  32. emily honey wrote:

    Ironically, the 9Marks philosophy of church discipline/authority are fundamentally anti-Baptist at their core.
    Soul freedom – soul competency, liberty of conscience? For starters.
    How *exactly* do those philosophies/theological philosophies not contradict almost everything they practice and teach in their ecclesiology?

    They contradict them entirely! Sadly, the main reason this movement has gained so much traction is that most Southern Baptists are too lazy to open our bibles to see if these teachings square with what we believe. When our former YRR pastor made us read this book (so he could ‘revise’ our covenant and constitution, no less!) we became extremely troubled at many of Leeman’s whacky theological conclusions. I used up an entire package of red post-it flags on my copy of the book.
    Bottom line–most of the book involved pastors and leaders making decisions which should be reserved only for the power and work of the Holy Spirit. Very scary!
    The baptist hallmarks of ‘soul competency’ and ‘priesthood of all believers’ get tossed out the window by Leeman & Co.

  33. Also worth bearing in mind is that, when Jesus said “church”, at no point is there a shred of evidence that he was referring to a self-established, isolated faction of local believers with their own governance, creed and binding legal membership covenant.

  34. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    Are you advocating for central governance, creed and membership rules or are you saying that the local church should be more like a larger small group with none of the above?

    Or what?

  35. Several comments: First, the passage in Matt 18 is not called “church discipline” in the bible. That is a man-made title. Second, the “church” is not even involved until the last step. Third, the elders are not even mentioned in Matt 18. Fourth, and there is some mercy built in here, the passage does not say that the one who does not listen to the church is unsaved. It merely says that the church should treat the individual as such. The mercy here is in case the church falsely excommunicates the individual, the individual does not need to feel unsaved, but rather that they simply have no more dealings with an abusive church! Yes, I know there are churches that will still come after people, but many times not. Jesus met the blind man AFTER he was kicked out. True mercy.

  36. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Also worth bearing in mind is that, when Jesus said “church”, at no point is there a shred of evidence that he was referring to a self-established, isolated faction of local believers with their own governance, creed and binding legal membership covenant.

    Succinctly,and appropriately stated.

  37. Why is ‘church’ discipline so far off from the disciple of Jesus Christ? Jesus’ discipline….bending over and writing in the dirt for all of the religious leaders to see…..not one man standing when Jesus asked the woman caught in “sin,” “where are your accusers?”

    Jesus didn’t stone, He didn’t crucify, He didn’t make a big ruckus like we see abusive church leaders doing today…..He bent over, He wrote, He looked up and the evil and wicked men were gone.

    It is interesting how religious men of our day interpret the Holy Scriptures to their need for manipulation, power and control, and ultimately, to feed their insatiable lust for “authority.”

    What happens when a believer allows Jesus, to be the final authority in their lives, per Matthew 28? Do church hierarchy have personal control issues when they are not allowed to lord it over other believers with their vast knowledge and wisdom? I find it fascinating how church hierarchy becomes angry, bitter, stooping to levels of evil, when they cannot control other believers for their own personal “Christian empire.”

    I have heard it said that individuals are “not saved” if they are not under the “covering” of a local church…..and exactly Who is the One and Only True Shepherd that we are to follow?

    Jesus.

  38. okrapod wrote:

    Are you advocating for central governance, creed and membership rules or are you saying that the local church should be more like a larger small group with none of the above?
    Or what?

    Option 3: what.

    In my comment, I was alluding to the fact that many of these churches that are conspicuously zealous for “church discipline” are themselves split of from the rest of the local church (that is, the other groups of believers, or “churches” as they are known, in their locality).

    That is, “the church” in these pseudo-Matthew-18 expulsions is not the local church at all, but a faction thereof that has little or, more likely, no local accountability.

  39. I’ve always seen Matthew 18 translated as “if your brother sins AGAINST YOU” which totally changes the meaning of the verse. That makes more sense to me than the way the NIV translates it.

    This puts it not so much as “I heard so and so is doing such and such” but more “So and so personally hurt me and I want something done about it.”

    The way the NIV translates it opens the door for the authoritarian abuses you have mentioned in the past.

  40. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    That is, “the church” in these pseudo-Matthew-18 expulsions is not the local church at all, but a faction thereof that has little or, more likely, no local accountability.

    Unfortunately “accountability” only applies to the congregations for these churches.
    I may not like mega churches but there is a certain anonymity in size. My wife’s church is larger and no one has hassled me when I sit at the lobby & read while waiting.
    Comes down to what community you want to belong to.
    I feel bad especially for those raised in these oppressive organizations.

  41. Lydia wrote:

    We were in quite a few different SBC churches because of my mom’s music profession. (She did it all, music director, pianist, organist, etc)

    Sarcasm beginning.

    Wait now, how can that be? I keep hearing from people about how it was not possible for some woman to do anything of the sort back then, especially not in baptistville. They base their conclusion about that on some sitcoms they have seen. Are you really sure about your Mom, or are you making that up as you go along? I really need to know because I could have sworn I heard your mom play toccata and fugue in D minor at Walnut Street when I was a kid, and I remember being blown away at the time. If she did not do that then I need to go get treated for dementia or something.

    Full stop on sarcasm.

  42. This comment from LawProf a few weeks ago sums it up pretty well. IMO, Mark Dever oozes sadistic traits.

    “Yes, they are preaching a different Jesus–when they speak of Him at all. As we became more disillusioned at a small YRR church, my wife and I started counting how many references were made to Jesus from the pulpit: at one point pastor went over a month without saying the word “Jesus” once. There was much discussion of “The Mission” (never quite defined, but as near as we could make out, it vaguely involved growing our particular fellowship by bringing new twenty-somethings–and sundry others–through the doors and giving sacrificially of our monetary and time resources so that eventually our leader and coterie of young sycophants could control a church with enough revenues to provide them all with comfortable livings and have sufficient buttocks in the collapsible seats to make them feel important and, perhaps, have sufficient narcissistic supply upon which they could vent their sadistic schemes, which generally involved systematically eliminating any real fellowship that the people had in favor of programs that increasingly highlighted the leaders, while punishing anyone who questioned their unilateral manipulations).”

  43. I your brother sins vs if you brother sins against you are not the same statement. So I looked it up and found a footnote which says ‘some manuscripts say…’.

    This is a huge problem, because if the bible explains/ interprets itself, and if one must never make decisions based on or influenced by anything other than the specifics of what the bible says, then here is a real problem. What about when manuscripts differ? One may say that we don’t have the original manuscripts, which is quite true but which does not solve the problem. Hmmm. Well, I will let the sufficient inerrantists worry about that. But no, they can’t have it both ways and expect everybody to bow whenever they speak, not with that margin of error when their favorite methodology meets reality.

  44. okrapod wrote:

    Theological politics aka political theology; choose your terminology I noted when I looked up what that field might be. It is a relatively new discipline (apt terminology) and is nothing that one should be too casual about, IMO.

    “Today my Megachurch, TOMORROW THE WORLD!!!!!”?

  45. Karen wrote:

    Jesus didn’t stone, He didn’t crucify, He didn’t make a big ruckus like we see abusive church leaders doing today

    The religious (Jewish) leaders of Jesus’ time did, and Jesus had a few things to say about it, such as: “But woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces…” Matt. 23:13

  46. Jarrett Edwards wrote:

    Have they not actually read the Gospels?

    Leaders are counting on followers not reading their Bibles for themselves, or people would see exactly what you have clearly pointed out, and vote with their feet, run the other direction.

  47. JYJames wrote:

    Autopsy report completed on future pastor Matthew Phelps murdering his wife, 123 stab wounds, some 4″ deep, and she was slapped around before the fatal stabbing.

    123 stab wounds, concentrating on head, neck, and (upper?) torso.
    (How long a blade was used? If a TSA-limit 4″, that would indicate “up to the hilt”.)
    Now THAT is a Red Fog Frenzy indicating some serious hatred and anger.

    Oh, this is the one with the Cold Medicine Twinkie Defense.
    Sounds more like Bath Salts + Roid Rage than Coricidin.

  48. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    “Today my Megachurch, TOMORROW THE WORLD!!!!!”?

    I sincerely believe that is exactly what they are thinking. If Jesus won’t implement the totality of the Kingdom now, then we will. And we will sit on his right hand and on his left hand. It is not the first time that somebody took that approach, and it will not be the first time that it failed miserably either.

  49. One of the things that also bothers me about trotting out Matthew 18 for “church discipline” is that they ignore the historical backdrop of that time.

    Jesus was speaking to the Jews, not the New Testament church as we think of it today. This was about conflict between two people which may or may not have been over sin at all. Maybe a business transaction or something. The sin seems to be in how they were handling the conflicts.

    There is also the implication that both parties can fully make their case in front of their chosen witnesses and then the synagogue if needed. When I read the ‘take it to the church part’ i tend to think of a minyan which was a sort of congregational quorum to decide issues. I don’t know if that is correct or of that era But I do know that Jesus did not say take it solely to the rabbi but I do know that Jesus did not say take it solely to the rabbi/Pharisees.

    Matthew 18 is used today as a control mechanism because it says ‘take it to the church’. But that is not what the church discipline guys do at all. Can you imagine the uproar at the Villiage church if they had taken Karen Hinckley’s situation to the entire church?

    So they conveniently interpret ‘church’ as the handful of pimply faced elders who control everything and wanted her ‘pushed under their care’. And they fervently believe that they are biblical. Scary stuff.

    In my view the irony of this teaching is that very few people would want to take a conflict that far. It would be like the modern day version of ‘discovery’ in a lawsuit. 🙂

  50. Arnold Smartarse wrote:

    Well, it’s obvious to me that the trouble with all of you is that you’re looking for the perfect church.
    What I would say is, if you ever find the perfect church, don’t join it – you’ll spoil it.
    Yours Sincerely,
    Arnold Smartarse

    I like how you copy and paste onto every post the same thing. Really gets the point across good. What church do you go to?

  51. Lydia wrote:

    One of the things that also bothers me about trotting out Matthew 18 for “church discipline” is that they ignore the historical backdrop of that time.

    The Bible is a great and wonderful thing. And so far as holy books go, it has no equal on the planet. But (and I do hate to be so repetitious) how much of that stuff do you (generic you) wanna’ Huey (helicopter) outta’ the way back then and make it apply (even when said application is tenuous and by weak inference) in the here and now?

  52. @ okrapod:
    Lol. Women had much more freedom to operate in the church back then than they do today in the SBC.

    Churches seemed to be run more by the laity committees back then than a big paid staff. (I can’t get used to that) it wasn’t about hierarchies and caste systems. That doesn’t mean there weren’t controlling jerks. But you had that congregational vote to keep them in check, in most instances. The lowly poor nobody a least had an equal vote. The pastor was an employee. Respected —but stil a paid employee. I don’t know if I’m just being romantic or not but in my view, adults seemed to be much more independent thinking (not group thinking) back then than they are now. But maybe that’s because they were more involved in the running of the church than today?. I cannot even fathom my mother or any of my aunts putting up with how most SBC YRR pastors micromanage today. ( I can hear their ‘high horse’ comments in my head) things were much more loosey-goosey back then they are now, in my experience.

    I think that where people get hung up today is they demand equality in “church titles”. And I totally get it and pray that we can move beyond comp doctrine and toward a spiritual view of ‘gifts’ in the Body. But ultimately, in my view, the body of Christ doesn’t really need stinking titles or offices. It has functions that are not gender specific. I think of the scandal it must have caused for those Luke 8 women to travel around wth Jesus and even support the men financially in that day and time. What a commitment.

  53. Lydia wrote:

    Can you imagine the uproar at the Villiage church if they had taken Karen Hinckley’s situation to the entire church?

    The only party to that fiasco who sinned were the pastors, Karen made to error. So if Matthew 18 was to be applied it would be for Karen to take the unrepentant pastors before the church. In Karen’s case some people did take it to The Church, it just was not that gathering of Chandler groupies masquerading as a church.

  54. Becky Thatcher wrote:

    Potter is nefarious.
    There’s no telling what ungodly tripe he’ll segue into using this comment.

    Look! Muff attracted a chatbot! He’s in the big leagues now!

  55. Muff Potter wrote:

    The Bible is a great and wonderful thing. And so far as holy books go, it has no equal on the planet. But (and I do hate to be so repetitious) how much of that stuff do you (generic you) wanna’ Huey (helicopter) outta’ the way back then and make it apply (even when said application is tenuous and by weak inference) in the here and now?

    If I understand Christian thought right, then everything needs to be viewed through the lens of the gospels.
    So the viciousness of the old testament is more a reflection of the society at the time.
    The fall of Jericho & annihilation of its inhabitants reflects the reality of bronze age warfare more than God’s seeming lack of mercy.

  56. Jack wrote:

    Look! Muff attracted a chatbot! He’s in the big leagues now!

    Are you sure Muff isn’t the chatbot and Becky is another of his/her aliases?

  57. jim wrote:

    I like how you [Arnold Smartarse] copy and paste onto every post the same thing.

    Funny you should say that… that is quite literally how I do Arnold Smartarse. I have a text-file on my desktop that contains the comment, including the bold/italic html tags on the word “I”.

    The main challenge with alter-egos, especially when you have several, is to mind and update the “Name” field when you post!

  58. Lowlandseer wrote:

    You won’t be surprised that Jonathan Leeman takes a different view.
    “To define it more specifically, corrective church discipline occurs any time sin is corrected within the church body, and it occurs most fully when the church body announces that the covenant between church and member is already broken because the member has proven to be unsubmissive in his or her discipleship to Christ. By this token, the church withdraws its affirmation of the individual’s faith, announces that it will cease giving oversight, and releases the individual back into the world.(The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love)
    Nice bloke

    The only covenant that matters is the one between a believer and his or her Lord. This covenant with a church simply does not compare.

  59. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    The main challenge with alter-egos…

    Bah. Alter-egos are pathetic tricks peddled by losers.

    You’re all rubbish.

    Up Yours,

    Roger Bombast

  60. dee wrote:

    Hi all
    I am returning from a visit on Sanibel Island in Florida and will comment on this post more on Sunday.

    Are the shells back on Sanibel?

    Excellent post!!

  61. 9Marks is a cult created by and for cult leaders. These men are heartless, selfish, and bratty thugs.

  62. JYJames wrote:

    “But woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces…” Matt. 23:13

    This is one of the toughest things Jesus ever said and should be thrown in the Pharisees faces more. All good Christians should quote it more.

    To me it means people are turned off of Christianity because of sick selfish creeps like Matt Chandler, CJ Mahaney, and John Piper.

  63. Guest wrote:

    9Marks is a cult created by and for cult leaders. These men are heartless, selfish, and bratty thugs.

    Ding, ding, ding…..winner, winner chicken dinner.

  64. Dee.

    Your ARE the PASTOR of an on-line community and of the community of of the victims of abusive pastors and churches!

  65. Dee wrote:

    Digression: I have yet to see a greedy person thrown out of a church. Perhaps they give too much money to the church coffers?

    Seems like many pastors would qualify for being tossed out!!!

  66. Lydia wrote:

    @ okrapod:
    Lol. Women had much more freedom to operate in the church back then than they do today in the SBC.

    That is so true, much like in the early church, today’s SBC has forgotten that it was the women that kept the church going and growing, and that now that they have pushed the women aside the churches are stagnating or declining.

    In my life I have been a part of three churches, a small country SBC, a small country non-denominational church, and an SBC Mega Church. In the small country churches we had male pastors and deacons, but everything else was open and usually dominated by women, in fact it was understood that the deacons consulted their wives about church business before making up their minds, and women were never silent nor afraid to give their opinions in the congregational meetings. The mega church, did have a woman on the ministerial staff and she occasionally led prayer, which along with the choir music is why I joined it.

    I am especially afraid that today’s church will not have strong women like my deceased elderly cousin, who taught Adult Sunday School to both men and women, and brought many either into the faith or to grow in the faith. She was a strong Christian woman who would stand up to anyone who thought they had the power to take over the church, because she fully believed that it was the church(the members of the congregation) that controlled affairs of the church not the pastor, as she once told me “that’s why we are Baptists.”

  67. An Attorney wrote:

    Dee wrote:

    Digression: I have yet to see a greedy person thrown out of a church. Perhaps they give too much money to the church coffers?

    Seems like many pastors would qualify for being tossed out!!!

    You (generic you) can be a slum-lord, run a ponzi-type investment scheme, profit from the misery of third world farmers, just about anything,… they’ll never bat an eyelash.
    BUT, get caught having sex with another parishioner, or worse yet, get caught shackin’ up and see what happens to ya’…

  68. @ An Attorney:
    Judges 4
    Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”

    Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

    “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.”

    verse 21: But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to Sisera while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.

  69. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    Warren Throckmorton has the tax forms for Mark Driscoll Ministries. Driscoll was paid $207,000 in compensation and $104,500 in (a tax free) housing allowance in 2015.

    Poor guy must have been barely scrimping by in 2015. Needs more sheeple in the pews to fleece.

  70. Guest wrote:

    9Marks is a cult created by and for cult leaders.

    Whose core motivation (according to my old DM) is to (1) Get Rich, (2) Get Laid, or (3) Both.

  71. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    Warren Throckmorton has the tax forms for Mark Driscoll Ministries. Driscoll was paid $207,000 in compensation and $104,500 in (a tax free) housing allowance in 2015.

    And that’s just what’s in the set of books they kept for the IRS…

  72. Todd Wilhelm wrote:

    Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    Warren Throckmorton has the tax forms for Mark Driscoll Ministries. Driscoll was paid $207,000 in compensation and $104,500 in (a tax free) housing allowance in 2015.

    Poor guy must have been barely scrimping by in 2015.

    Especially with the Black Helicopters going over his Humble Parsonage scaring his children.

  73. okrapod wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    “Today my Megachurch, TOMORROW THE WORLD!!!!!”?

    I sincerely believe that is exactly what they are thinking. If Jesus won’t implement the totality of the Kingdom now, then we will. And we will sit on his right hand and on his left hand.

    Like the Commanders of Holy Gilead.

    It is not the first time that somebody took that approach, and it will not be the first time that it failed miserably either.

    But how big a body count will it rack up before it fails?
    How many mass graves of Infidels, Heretics, and Apostates will it fill this time?

  74. Guest wrote:

    To me it means people are turned off of Christianity because of sick selfish creeps like Matt Chandler, CJ Mahaney, and John Piper.

    The fact that these people have been given a free pass by some evangelical groups is the reason why I will not set foot in certain churches.

  75. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    But how big a body count will it rack up before it fails?
    How many mass graves of Infidels, Heretics, and Apostates will it fill this time?

    I am not sure that God has the same definitions for infidels, heretics and apostates that people use for those words. That is to say that I doubt that God is helpless in the face of various difficulties. God looks at the heart while man looks at whatever he thinks he sees, which may be just way off base.

  76. “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

    From which we infer that we are supposed to treat pagans and tax collectors as…what? Outsiders? Enemies? The problem with this whole passage (at least the way it is generally taught) is that Jesus was pretty clear about how to treat pagans and tax collectors – whom he hung out with on a regular basis.

  77. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
    From which we infer that we are supposed to treat pagans and tax collectors as…what? Outsiders? Enemies? The problem with this whole passage (at least the way it is generally taught) is that Jesus was pretty clear about how to treat pagans and tax collectors – whom he hung out with on a regular basis.

    I was hoping someone would point this out.

  78. ZechZav wrote:

    The fact

    The fact that so many Christians groups coddle, pity, baby, and protect perverts pedophiles and child rapist is the reason I will never go to another church again.

  79. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    Warren Throckmorton has the tax forms for Mark Driscoll Ministries. Driscoll was paid $207,000 in compensation and $104,500 in (a tax free) housing allowance in 2015.

    I’m going to have to revise my thinking on how these guys operate. It appears from your reports that Driscoll’s operation is not generating the type of revenue that would typically prop up $300,000 compensation, someone must be bank-rolling him. I usually figured Driscoll was a lone predator but it appears he hunts in a pack and these wolves look out for each other. It is an interesting part of the Christ’s analogy that he used wolves, a species that hunts in a pack. Christ didn’t say to look out for a wolf, he said wolves.

  80. Jarrett Edwards wrote:

    That is so true, much like in the early church, today’s SBC has forgotten that it was the women that kept the church going and growing, and that now that they have pushed the women aside the churches are stagnating or declining

    You should hear my 97 year old WW2 vet step father on this issue. He did not miss a convention for 50 years- to give you an idea. His last was 2009 and he washed his hands of all of it. No more money from him- a faithful giver all his life. He declares there would be no foreign missions today had it not been for WMU women over a century. Mohler stopped that because they had too much purse power. Mohler disgusts him.

  81. Jarrett Edwards wrote:

    she fully believed that it was the church(the members of the congregation) that controlled affairs of the church not the pastor, as she once told me “that’s why we are Baptists.”

    Exactly. Take that away and there’s no reason for me to be there. I just become a spectator and a follower of a guru.

  82. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Get Laid,

    It is easy for this group of men to get sex when they brainwash their daughters that they can never refuse their husbands sex, that they are condemned if they don’t get married at eighteen to church-going Christian men. They have it conveniently fixed where the women in their lives do not have a choice to say no to sex. It looks very much like this group of men knows they are unwanted sexually. The only way they can get sex is by way of manipulation, bullying, brainwashing, and force. I learned young that my father and grandfathers were pro-sex slavery of their own daughters and wives. They are not the kind of men a little girl who hates sexual abuse is happy she grew up knowing.

  83. Thersites wrote:

    It is an interesting part of the Christ’s analogy that he used wolves, a species that hunts in a pack. Christ didn’t say to look out for a wolf, he said wolves.

    Feral junkyard dogs also hunt in a pack.
    Wolves have more class than these guys.

  84. Guest wrote:

    It looks very much like this group of men knows they are unwanted sexually. The only way they can get sex is by way of manipulation, bullying, brainwashing, and force.

    As I first said in a comment about the Santa Barbara Shooter and his social media Manifesto:
    I know I’m unwanted sexually.
    Been that way since I first discovered girls in high school.
    Know what I did?
    I got myself a life that DOESN’T require women throwing themselves on me — or else.

  85. Guest wrote:

    It looks very much like this group of men knows they are unwanted sexually.

    But then how can they be the Big Stud they see in the mirror?

    The only way they can get sex is by way of manipulation, bullying, brainwashing, and force.

    Isn’t that called “Sexual Predator” or “Rapist”?

  86. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Wolves have more class than these guys.

    Yes they do. They don’t out breed their habitat and upset the balance of food and resources. And as a side note, there are only two cultures that revered wolves as spiritual totems; the Native American woodland peoples, and the pre-Christian Germanic tribes East of the Rhine. The Roman historian Tacitus touched on this.

  87. I bear some ancient, well healed scars from Matthew 18. I was General Baptist at the time. The pastor there preached on women causing sexual problems, including touching upon the fact that Bathsheba went willingly to David. I was concerned because I suspected that there were women in the congregation who would be hurt by his talk.

    I chose to write him a letter because I get intimidated by forceful men and therefore tongue tied and with a letter I could have another Christian review it to make sure that I was accurate and clear in my writing.

    The pastor called me at work, (and I was expecting the phone call to arrange an appointment with him). I was lambasted up one side and down the other. He was indignant that I chose to do it in writing vs face to face. I was both surprised and grateful that there were no interruptions (and I had phone tech service duty). I was even more thankful that I had another man that I considered my pastor, Fr. Bruce. (I was inching my way from Baptist to Roman Catholic)

  88. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    And the predecessor being: 1) Assume power
    so that 2) the wife complies, as well as Side Chicks, in some cases,
    and then 3) Fleece

    Power, Self-Gratification, & Money or the fulfillment of our lower natures, as opposed to building relationships (Love God, Love Others).

    Odd, how this is communicated on this blog instead of from the Sunday pulpit of some “leaders”.

  89. Anna A wrote:

    I bear some ancient, well healed scars from Matthew 18.

    Thank God for healing and moving on. Thanks for sharing.

  90. The new website arbca.org has some very interesting material on the Chantry case. These excerpts indicate how church discipline is likely to be carried out when the offender is the son of a denominational founder.
    “Marley (current Miller Valley Baptist pastor) reported that Chantry left the church under disciplinary actions and his discipline was handed off to another church for further counseling.”
    Supplemental Report— Prescott Police Dept July 21, 2015
    “In addition, Tom Chantry was never under discipline”
    ARBCA announcement—April 25, 2017
    As Uncle Andrew said: “No, Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”

  91. Anna A wrote:

    I was lambasted up one side and down the other. He was indignant that I chose to do it in writing vs face to face.

    I have started sincerely believing men become preachers/pastors because they are too immature and feeble to hack it in the real world. They can “NOT” handle not getting their bottoms thoroughly kissed. They turn into outrageous little brat boys as if their mommy has just told them it is time for their nap. Dealing with them is not like dealing with adults, it is like dealing with a five-year-old who has missed his nap. They are soooooooo bratty.

  92. In the OP Dee wrote, “Matthew 18, which states we are to discipline for sin.”
    I strongly disagree. Matthew 18 says nothing at all about discipline. Discipline in the Bible is ALWAYS carried out by parents toward children or God toward his people. Matthew 18 is about brotherly forgiveness. Peter asks for clarification of the correct point when he asks, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Matthew 18 also says nothing at all about what we as a group are to do. The lord spoke to “thee” — second person singular– not you plural. Notice again Peter’s use of “I” and ‘me”. If my brother or sister sins against me and they will not listen to me, a couple others, or a larger group, I am now free to treat them as I would a pagan. The church is not commanded IN THIS PASSAGE to do anything whatsoever beyond helping me the offender to listen. No discipline, no excommunication, no shunning.
    Practically speaking, if I as an ordinary believer think that a brother or sister who wrongs me is ever going to get effectively church disciplined, I have another think coming. He or she may be a leader or friend or family of a leader. In this case nothing will get past step 2. They may make a show of repentance without any restitution. Or, if excommunication does happen somehow, they can simply move on to a new church. Indeed — they may not be in the same church to begin with. What then? A great example of this is when Brent Detwiler attempted to get graceless 2u and MacArthur to discipline Phil Johnson, who had sinned against Brent. They just laughed him off, saying, “In response to your question, matters of church discipline are raised by our church members. We do not involve ourselves in the discipline issues of other local churches – neither do we invite non-members to raise or play a part in our cases.” http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/john-macarthur-refuses-to-follow-his-own-teaching-in-dealing.html
    I Cor 5 is a different sort of situation, in which churches are not required to follow any sort of a Matt 18 process. Churches especially should not make this sort of thing a long, drawn out process of many months. To quote Dr Seuss:
    “I do not like this one so well
    All he does is yell, yell, yell.
    I will not have this one about.
    When he comes in I put him out.”
    Let me conclude with the Readers Digest version of Matt 18 which summarizes the essential points:
    ‘Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.
    “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
    The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”’
    Luke 17:1-5 — a more appropriate commentary on Matt 18 than I Cor 5.

  93. @ Dave A A:
    @ Dave A A:
    I take forgiveness in that passage to mean one does not avenge. I don’t think the Lord meant we have to fellowship with professing believer pedophiles who said they repent, etc. Many antinomians teach this and it’s a disaster in the long run. Just not wise. It’s usually from a misunderstanding on what forgiveness means in practice. It’s the favorite verse of “christian” domestic abusers and keeps people in bondage.

    Forgiveness often means walking away unless a law has been broken.

    People often forget this part of 1 Corin 5.

    9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

    12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

    This means no meals with a lot of pastors (swindlers) hee hee.

  94. @ Anna A:
    He has more control face to face. Always communicate with such people in writing. Email if you can. They hate that.

  95. Guest wrote:

    I have started sincerely believing men become preachers/pastors because they are too immature and feeble to hack it in the real world. They can “NOT” handle not getting their bottoms thoroughly kissed. They turn into outrageous little brat boys as if their mommy has just told them it is time for their nap.

    Because of their Spiritual Superiority.
    Again, “A High and Lonely Destiny, Digory”.

  96. Late on chiming in…..

    Great post Dee!

    If only every church endeavoured to be as caring, sensible, in applying church discipline.

  97. __

    …sin sniffing, pushing ad nasium the doctrine of indwelling sin, the mis-use of Matthew 18, ironclad legal 501(c)3 church membership agreements, and the persistent pastoral chase for those who choose to flee, are weaponized christianity at its finest.

    🙁

    – –

  98. So, back fae a lazy day (less than 10 miles walked, and no ascent to speak of) in the southern Cairngorms. Discovered one or two bridges that were washed away a while back during Storm Frank. That is, we discovered the gaps where they used to be. One of these was especially inconvenient as the dangerous river crossing was between us and the car, so we had to backtrack to cross the Quoich Water.

    But overall, it was a nice walk; autumn colours in the deciduous trees, the ever-fascinating Scots Pine woodlands and the Cairngorm scenery (cloud permitting). And we finally walked through the Clais Fhearnaig.

    IHTIH

  99. Sport:

     Disaster for Liverpool
     Lewis Hamilton wins the US grom pree
     Disaster for Liverpool

  100. Muff Potter wrote:

    And as a side note, there are only two cultures that revered wolves as spiritual totems; the Native American woodland peoples, and the pre-Christian Germanic tribes East of the Rhine.

    Three, counting Elfquest.

  101. #1 of multiple unhelpful comments:

    This version of Matthew 18 re minds me of the 38 Special music video, “Back Where You Belong”. I can see Markie Dark (Dever) and The Fundie Bunch using this video as an example of how to catch sinners.

  102. #2

    Inspired by Dee’s story of success, I decided to check out a local church that I’ve visited before. I went to the Senior Mens Sunday School class where I was put on the spot immediately with one of those leading questions that, answered correctly, makes you a willing participant on the journey. Unsure where he was headed, I pointed to the extremely large McDonald’s cup sitting in front of me and shared about how I’m often impatient in the McDonald’s drive-thru. I shared with the same passion that Piper talks about his own inner thoughts. He indicated that I had given the wrong answer and gave me another chance. The inquiry ended when I correctly protested that I didn’t understand what he was asking me, as the answer I gave me should have met the most basic criteria without committing me to a conversation that I didn’t believe was necessary and was doomed to failure. I spoke only once after that and bit my tongue several times.

    Interestingly, he opened up a bit after class.

  103. #3

    I approach visiting a church for the first time the same way I do entering a store in a questionable neighborhood; I enter alone and cautiously.

  104. #4

    Sharing burdens and praying together are being purged by men who’s sin is far worse than the worst sin they target.

  105. Something I realized this week is that elders only being men is only important to men who think there should be people with authority in the church (usually themselves). If you are not seeking authority, or if you believe that God is your only authority, and all church members are equal in the church before God, then I doubt they would have a problem with female elders.

    I also realized just how much these ideas about elders and authority and many other things are assumptions, from which people have to work backwards to make Scripture fit. And the English translations have sometimes been creatively worded to make it so. There are female elders mentioned in Titus, but most English translations don’t make that clear. And translating from the Greek is not an absolute science, so… back to the assumptions to “make it clear”.

  106. Hi Dee and TWW readers
    we have a few posts on biblical discipline, Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5, at A Cry For Justice. Here are some links for anyone who is interested. I’ll give them over several comments, to avoid the spam filter.

    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/12/21/how-abusers-use-mis-use-matthew-18-to-escape-prosecution/

    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/09/21/an-abuser-is-called-a-reviler-in-scripture-and-the-reviler-is-no-christian/

  107. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

    From which we infer that we are supposed to treat pagans and tax collectors as…what? Outsiders? Enemies? The problem with this whole passage (at least the way it is generally taught) is that Jesus was pretty clear about how to treat pagans and tax collectors – whom he hung out with on a regular basis.

    Seems to me if that were the case, then Jesus would have said either:

    “…treat them as I would a pagan or tax collector.”

    or

    “…treat them as you should as pagan or tax collector.”

    Otherwise, those two parties were perhaps the most avoided people during the current redemptive time-frame.

    In addition, it seems unlikely Jesus was indicating he wants you to still hang out with the same people with the only caveat of considering them to be “unsaved”, when you combine the passage with Paul’s thoughts in I Cor. 5 and the other letters where he mentions to avoid certain people (who in essence take on the cloak of a Pharisee who has a form of godliness, but in reality are constantly in a state of denial…no power that leads to real change).

    Gets back to the root of what new natures actually produce in people via the death and resurrection of Christ.

    Just my .02 cents

  108. @ What Happened:
    I would have bought tickets to see that. Wish I had “do overs” on that score. I say that because in the past I have had the ridiculous tendency to think certain people are reasonable and sincere and by staying in that “fair” mode thinking that I am just not understanding them. Especially in Christendom with teachers/leaders. I mistakenly assumed that most Had thought through their teaching or assertions. What I missed is that they had the sincere part down but not the reasonable part. The problem was that they were not willing to just try to make their case and leave it at that. One had to agree OR they did not believe the true gospel or were not as enlightened as them…. something to that effect. In the end, that’s just an ego or manipulation game. And it comes without the most important diversity of all: diversity of thought.

    Working with mega staffs opened my eyes and cured me of that over time.

  109. @ ishy:
    The key for me and my big AHA moment came from realizing there is NO prohibition from God in the OT that women cannot teach or even lead. Not one. God is very clear and direct on what He prohibits. So we have to ask why He would make a NEW law in the new covenant just for believing women?

  110. Lydia wrote:

    Forgiveness often means walking away unless a law has been broken.

    A contractor who was part of our church built an addition to our home. One significant part of the work wasn’t done properly, and he kept putting off fixing it. Eventually we just let it go– but had it been something more serious we might have “taken it to the church”. Failing to get it corrected there, I think we’d have then been free to treat him as an unbeliever by taking it to the court. But even taking it to the church would have been problematic since by that time we’d left that church. And he was the pastor’s brother, so good luck with that one.

  111. Lydia wrote:

    He has more control face to face. Always communicate with such people in writing. Email if you can. They hate that.

    This is such an important point!

  112. @ Dave A A:
    Yeah? Well I refuse to share ALL my such trusting mistakes! (Sarcastic truth emoji here) I hope that was your only and worst one.

  113. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:

    A contractor who was part of our church built an addition to our home.

    First Big Mistake.

    Often it is the other way around, fellow members expecting free or discounted service and intrude that business into Sunday morning.

  114. Dave A A wrote:

    But even taking it to the church would have been problematic since by that time we’d left that church. And he was the pastor’s brother, so good luck with that one.

    And yet if you (generic you) get caught in violation of the ‘sexual purity’ codes, they’ll be all over you like flies on doo-doo.
    As they say in present day parlance, go figure.

  115. I think there are a lot issues with maintaining appropriate boundaries around concepts such as confessing our sins to one another, church discipline, and accountability. Too often, we are encouraged to share things that should stay on a need to know basis with a broader audience. Not everyone in the body needs to know everyone else’s sins and transgressions. I have been in services where anyone with a grievance against anybody else were encouraged to air them openly rather than resolve them privately. I have listened to people confess openly to sins that would be best confessed in private to those impacted.

    There are egregious sins that are obviously cause for alarm and need addressing within the church body. Apparently, the Corinthians had problems understanding this.With a little reliance on common sense and constant seeking of guidance from the Holy Spirit, these matters will take care of themselves. No need to codify what sins will and will not be subject to church discipline.

    The Matthew 18 passage is interesting in that there was no established understanding of The Church Universal nor of the local body of believers in the minds of those Jesus was talking to.

    If I am reading the 1 Corinthians passage correctly, the responsibility of separation from one who is to be taken out of fellowship is with the entire church. He is not addressing leadership, elders, pastors, or youth directors but the entire body. There is no mandate for any kind of authoritarian leadership to get traction from.

    BTW: One reason I post under an alias is to avoid “church discipline”.

  116. Interesting article except that Dee, you are using the same translation (NIV and ESV) that the abusing churches used, NKJV, KJV, Geneva, say “if a brother sins against you” The church can only judge obvious open sin. but it cannot use Matthew 18 for it’s authority. I think that the plethora of English translations is only confusing the subject.

  117. Okay, I have a serious question about this. When Jesus says, “…tell it to the church,” what was he thinking? What was the church in his context? He obviously wasn’t thinking of a big building with a pointy steeple where people sit quietly I rows and listen to a guy in a suit tell them how they should behave.

    Great post, by the way.

  118. Lowlandseer quoting leeman wrote:

    It’s true that a Christian must choose to join a church, but that does not make it a voluntary organization.

    Ha.
    Jack wrote:

    I may not like mega churches but there is a certain anonymity in size.

    True. I think a tiny church might drive me crazy. But I think megas with control issues try to corral you into small groups for this purpose.

  119. okrapod wrote:

    I could have sworn I heard your mom play toccata and fugue in D minor at Walnut Street when I was a kid, and I remember being blown away at the time.

    Our organist plays this on/around Halloween. It’s pretty fantastic.

  120. Dee & Deb,

    Have you seen this yet?

    Desiring God Website ( John Piper )

    Should a Christian couple take their children into danger as part of their mission to take the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world? Short answer: Yes.

    Why? Because the cause is worth the risk, and the children are more likely to become Christ-exalting, comfort-renouncing, misery-lessening exiles and sojourners in this way than by being protected from risk in the safety of this world.

    Am I the only one that thinks differently on this?

  121. Lydia wrote:

    @ Anna A:
    He has more control face to face. Always communicate with such people in writing. Email if you can. They hate that.

    Yes.

    There was a funny thing the other day, btw, talking about people’s responses to annoying people at work and one was ‘per my previous email’, which I have to admit I use myself. Then you can tack that email on and no one can misquote you. And if you are sending a letter, you can send it read receipt, if you’re feeling the need to be that way.

  122. kin wrote:

    In addition, it seems unlikely Jesus was indicating he wants you to still hang out with the same people with the only caveat of considering them to be “unsaved”, when you combine the passage with Paul’s thoughts in I Cor. 5 and the other letters where he mentions to avoid certain people

    The thing about this, though, is that if you’re married to an unbeliever, you’re not supposed to divorce them and cut them out of your life. Paul’s list is not generic unbeliever but of certain bad actions. I draw a distinction between someone who is not a Christian and someone who is actively doing evil things. I see that in the NT too.

  123. Lea wrote:

    The thing about this, though, is that if you’re married to an unbeliever, you’re not supposed to divorce them and cut them out of your life. Paul’s list is not generic unbeliever but of certain bad actions. I draw a distinction between someone who is not a Christian and someone who is actively doing evil things. I see that in the NT too

    When I ceased believing, my wife did not (and has never) forced me back to belief. I’m a good husband and father. I treat people well, work hard, try to do the right thing and for the most part succeed – without the expectation of a cosmic reward at the end of it all.

    I respect my wife’s faith as much as she respects my difficulties with faith. We’ve been together many years now and I don’t see that changing.

  124. shauna wrote:

    Am I the only one that thinks differently on this?

    I just read through most of the article you referenced (URL – https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/risk-your-kids-for-the-kingdom) and am blown away by Piper’s incredibly poor exegesis of 1 Timothy 5:8.

    Piper says

    The question raised by this text, and many others, is this: What is the greatest good you can do for your children? What does a real, countercultural, Christian ambassador and exile from heaven think when he is told, “Provide for your household”? Provide what? Culture-conforming comforts and security? Really? I don’t think so. He is thinking, How can I breed a radical, risk-taking envoy of King Jesus? How can I raise a dolphin cutting through schools of sharks, rather than a bloated jellyfish floating with the plankton into the mouth of the whale called the world? How can I raise offspring who hear Jesus say, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58) and respond, “Let’s go”?

    Short answer? Um, no. Paul is talking about one thing only – working and providing (financially) for your family.

    The entire context of the passage (5:3-16) addresses “the list”, i.e., the list of people aided by the church because they can not provide for themselves. Paul tells Timothy not to put anyone on the list who has family that can assist them, because God expects us to help our families in their time of needs. It is one of the ways we demonstrate the faith.

    Never one to miss an opportunity to guilt the church, Piper adds to the text by expanding the meaning of provision to include the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4). He then goes on to state: Perhaps we lose too many of our children because they weren’t trained as soldiers. Maybe we trained them in comfort and security, and now they won’t leave it. This is wrong on at least two levels – 1. This appeal to the consequences (fear of children walking away from the Lord) is a hypothesis which only reinforces his previous statement, there is no empirical evidence to support it, and; 2. His hypothesis is based on flawed exegesis, as previously stated above and is supported by both the Greek text and centuries of commentaries**.

    Once again we have an example of Piper taking a plain, straightforward/clear Bible passage and obfuscating it by using it to support one of his personal opinions. In this case, Piper uses a passage about caring for family members who cannot care for themselves and reworks it to imply that Paul was telling Christians to take their children into hostile territories as missionaries, because if they didn’t, their children would fall away from the faith. This is eisegesis of the worst kind and should not be excused simply because it came from the desk of John Piper.

    **For a more detailed, and Reformed Baptist, exegesis, see John Gill’s commentary on 1 Timothy 5:8 – http://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/1_timothy/5.htm

  125. Lea wrote:

    The thing about this, though, is that if you’re married to an unbeliever, you’re not supposed to divorce them and cut them out of your life. Paul’s list is not generic unbeliever but of certain bad actions. I draw a distinction between someone who is not a Christian and someone who is actively doing evil things. I see that in the NT too.

    Sorry, I’m not sure I understand what you are saying. I’m a little slow today (as usual).

    I’m not advocating for spouses to divorce in order to carry through with what I think Jesus is saying. That seems to be an obvious exception with its own difficulties.

    And, I’m not saying that I think Jesus wants us to decide whether they are saved/unsaved either. Merely making a judgement based on reoccurring evidence (over an extended period of time) that their claim to love Jesus doesn’t match their walk, i.e., they seem to have a spurious faith void of genuine repentance. Lots of huge question marks linger of their true allegiance due to their continued response to their patterns of sin.

    I found it interesting when Leonard Verduin in “The Anatomy of a Hybrid” discussed how the early church identified newness of life as a mark of a true believer, but over time it was slowly lost after 313 AD and Constantine’s ruling. Entire villages were expected to cross a little shallow creek while a holy man chanted the same thing over and over, and so on for over a thousand years till the Reformation period.

    Newness of life was disconnected from followers of Jesus. Not much different today it seems.

  126. should have said ” but over time it was slowly lost **for the most part** after 313 AD and …”

    Anabaptist didn’t lose it.

  127. kin wrote:

    Leonard Verduin in “The Anatomy of a Hybrid” discussed how the early church identified newness of life as a mark of a true believer, but over time it was slowly lost after 313 AD and Constantine’s ruling.

    Interesting! I was listening to a podcast on how Constantine killed his wife and son and now have a lot of random thoughts about Constantine…

    Anyways, what I was trying to get at is there is a difference between people who are simply not saved and the kind of people we should not even be eating with. If that makes sense?

  128. Jack wrote:

    I respect my wife’s faith as much as she respects my difficulties with faith. We’ve been together many years now and I don’t see that changing.

    Teamwork.

  129. Lea wrote:

    Anyways, what I was trying to get at is there is a difference between people who are simply not saved and the kind of people we should not even be eating with. If that makes sense?

    Sure does. Thanks!

  130. My ex husband is an unbeliever. He came home off deployment told me he wanted a divorce. No negotiating no discussing “He didn’t want to be married to me anymore”. He had found someone else. Billy was 2 1/2 years old at the time. I was a military wife and although we had arguments in our marriage it didn’t warrant the treatment. I gave him his divorce and have raised billy on my own ever since. I have been single lived a single life literally for 12 years now. God has blessed my singleness. I did it because of my desire to be a mother to Billy and because God at some point removed any desire for me to date (what a blessing). To define someone’s decision to divorce or stay married is treading on shaky ground. Only Christ knows the heart not man. There are to many fruit inspectors in churches and Christian communities. Was I wrong to divorce? I say no way I made a decision based on my circumstances at the time and the end result is my faith and trust in Christ is stronger. He has been my husband and my sons father. Divorce was hard I’m not going to lie. However it’s been fifteen years since my divorce was official and I’m so grateful to the Lord for the life we have. I’m learning still to trust Him each day for all our needs. Billy’s father is back in his life after being absent for fifteen years. How that works out is between billy and his father. Anyways divorce happens and it certainly doesn’t define ones faith in Christ. kin wrote:

    Lea wrote:

    The thing about this, though, is that if you’re married to an unbeliever, you’re not supposed to divorce them and cut them out of your life. Paul’s list is not generic unbeliever but of certain bad actions. I draw a distinction between someone who is not a Christian and someone who is actively doing evil things. I see that in the NT too.

    Sorry, I’m not sure I understand what you are saying. I’m a little slow today (as usual).

    I’m not advocating for spouses to divorce in order to carry through with what I think Jesus is saying. That seems to be an obvious exception with its own difficulties.

    And, I’m not saying that I think Jesus wants us to decide whether they are saved/unsaved either. Merely making a judgement based on reoccurring evidence (over an extended period of time) that their claim to love Jesus doesn’t match their walk, i.e., they seem to have a spurious faith void of genuine repentance. Lots of huge question marks linger of their true allegiance due to their continued response to their patterns of sin.

    I found it interesting when Leonard Verduin in “The Anatomy of a Hybrid” discussed how the early church identified newness of life as a mark of a true believer, but over time it was slowly lost after 313 AD and Constantine’s ruling. Entire villages were expected to cross a little shallow creek while a holy man chanted the same thing over and over, and so on for over a thousand years till the Reformation period.

    Newness of life was disconnected from followers of Jesus. Not much different today it seems.

  131. @ shauna:
    In attempting to be brief I apparently offended. I was not AT ALL judging people’s choices to divorce. If anything, I was thinking of how that verse gets thrown at abused people who decide to leave and how it’s not at all, to me, what was meant.

  132. Barbara Roberts wrote:

    Hi Dee and TWW readers
    we have a few posts on biblical discipline, Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5, at A Cry For Justice. Here are some links for anyone who is interested. I’ll give them over several comments, to avoid the spam filter.
    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/12/21/how-abusers-use-mis-use-matthew-18-to-escape-prosecution/
    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/09/21/an-abuser-is-called-a-reviler-in-scripture-and-the-reviler-is-no-christian/

    I particularly appreciated the survey of the different views on divorce and remarriage in relation to church discipline and your comments that it should be left the individual’s conscience. Where Christians are going wrong is by sticking to the letter and not the spirit. Whilst it is very important to check out the original languages and the historical context, we must also look out the “control text” of the supreme commands to love God and your neighbour. ANY interpretation of ANY Scripture which violates the royal law to love your neighbour as yourself is false and wrong from the start, no matter how technically correct it appears to be. Not allowing someone to divorce an abusive spouse is a violation of this law, and so is putting church discipline on an abuse victim.

  133. Muff Potter wrote:

    And yet if you (generic you) get caught in violation of the ‘sexual purity’ codes, they’ll be all over you like flies on doo-doo.

    Only if you are a Lowborn Tithing Unit.
    If you’re Highborn ManaGAWD, you can get away with anything.

  134. shauna wrote:

    There are to many fruit inspectors in churches and Christian communities.

    “Fruit Inspectors” or “Sin-Sniffers”/”Witchfinders-General”?

  135. Lydia wrote:

    @ shauna:

    I have met too many third culture teens coming back to attend college to agree with Piper.

    What kind of feedback do you hear from them?

  136. @ shauna:

    I saw this as well and didn’t have the creative energy to respond at the time; he’s constantly tweeting about unreached people grpups.

  137. I’m concerned for some dear friends of mine that I’ve known for many years. We were all members of the same Christian cult that used abusive tactics to control and manipulate. I was so glad when they left that toxic environment. Sadly, they have been attending a 9Marks affiliated church where the pastor is a Master’s Seminary graduate. I was looking on their website today and Good Grief, the warning signs and Red Flags are everywhere. If you have the wherewithal, feel free to read the pages under the Know heading entitled:
    Doctrinal Commitments
    Relational Commitments

    One of the first Red Flags I saw on their website was the following statement:

    If you are not yet ready to become a member, you and your family are certainly welcome to attend our worship services, find fellowship in a small group, and seek assistance from our leaders. Please understand that if you continue relating to us in any of these ways, we will assume that you have consented to these Commitments, even if you have not yet formally joined the church.

    After reading that church’s website, I now understand why these dear friends have changed in their attitude toward me. The 9Marks, John MacArthurite spell has been cast upon them. They went from one cult to another.

    I will post the church’s website in the next comment.

  138. shauna wrote:

    Desiring God Website ( John Piper )
    Should a Christian couple take their children into danger as part of their mission to take the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world?

    Short answer: Yes.
    Why?

    Because the cause is worth the risk, and the children are more likely to become Christ-exalting, comfort-renouncing, misery-lessening exiles and sojourners in this way than by being protected from risk in the safety of this world.

    On the flip side, pastor Mark Driscoll once did a sermon or a blog post explaining / implying that really, only single (unmarried) adults should go over-seas to share the Gospel, especially in ‘dangerous’ countries, because if or when an unmarried gets killed off for Jesus, nobody will care.

    But, Driscoll seemed to say, one should not really expect married people (especially ones with children) to go on missions overseas because they may get killed, which would be a shame because their spouse and/or kids would miss them.

    I linked to that once on TWW – there was a blog post or something by Driscoll that spelled this stuff all out.

    Driscoll was, so far as I can recall, suggesting that God keeps singles single because they’re expendable, not worth as much as Married Parents (TM).

    Something to that effect. Again, I linked to Driscoll’s post about this well over a year ago on this very blog.

    So many Christians so often hold so many horrible, untrue, or inaccurate views about adult singleness

    (To add insult to injury, some such Christians attribute their stupid opinions about singleness and single adults to God, and God is all like,

    “Hey, don’t claim to speak for me on this – insert Neil deGrasse Tyson Reaction meme here.”)

    For reference:
    Neil deGrasse Tyson Reaction meme:
    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/neil-degrasse-tyson-reaction

  139. shauna wrote:

    I did it because of my desire to be a mother to Billy and because God at some point removed any desire for me to date (what a blessing).

    I’d like to marry eventually but hate the dating part of it (having to date a ton of guys to find a compatible one and hope it works out).

    There are so many weirdos or selfish yea-hoos out there, especially on the dating sites.

  140. @ Refugee:
    It’s not really feedback. They grew up in a country where they didn’t really fit in and come back to a country where they really don’t fit in. This plays out in a lot of different ways from marrying very young to going absolutely wild when they come back.

  141. kin wrote:

    Newness of life was disconnected from followers of Jesus. Not much different today it seems.

    This is my view in general. From the concept of new life modeled by the resurrection(defeating death) to over complicated doctrines of punishment, inherited guilt, bizarre view of sin, etc, to even more complicated and mind numbing “solutions” that basically enslave people and make them easier to control.

  142. @ Lydia:
    I did not mean for that to sound Flippant I’ve just known a lot of third culture kids over the span my life. I do think it is improving with technology.

  143. I completely agree that CD must be for sin and not violation of church rules and that gentle restoration is always the primary goal. I wrote a book on the topic and I’ll send a free copy to up to 5 interested people.

  144. @ Darlene:

    Darlene,
    The majority of their 14-page “Relational Commitments” document mainly deals with discipline…I think that says it all right there! Accountability groups, Hebrews 13:17, general sin-sniffing and other fun stuff awaits you! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–why are we trying to do the work that the Holy Spirit says He will do?!? Isn’t John chapters 14-16 in the ESV Permanent Text Edition? 😉

  145. @ Daisy:

    It seems most evangelical church leaders can’t even fathom there are single people in their midst. Usually they think only high school age and younger are single. The fact that some people post-college age, even some middle aged people might be single never occurs to them. Which is why some churches waste Sunday morning after Sunday morning about “ways to improve your marriage the Biblical way” sermon series.

  146. Oh I’m sorry I wasn’t offended at all. I didn’t mean to come across as if I was offended. Hopefully I didn’t hurt you by implying that you meant it any other way. Lea wrote:

    @ shauna:
    In attempting to be brief I apparently offended. I was not AT ALL judging people’s choices to divorce. If anything, I was thinking of how that verse gets thrown at abused people who decide to leave and how it’s not at all, to me, what was meant.

  147. I believe if God has called single or married people to the mission field and they choose to respond I pray for their safety and that God will bless their ministry. I don’t think it’s right to say some should go and others shouldn’t or some should risk more than others. It’s not up to us to decide that. Piper should be talking about ways people could serve in the mission field but not that they are to risk their children because he thinks they should. I don’t see that anywhere in scripture. I believe we have an incredible responsibility to the children God gives us charge over. He calls them a blessing, a gift, that blessings can come from a quiver full of children. We are not to put them in harms way but to raise them up in the admonition of the Lord. If they are in harms way we are to model Christ and protect them. Throughout scripture God speaks of widows, orphans, children, the helpless, the weak, the meek, the elderly. We are to treat them with care and protection. If God takes this seriously to say it then where does he get off saying that we are to go even if it means putting kids who have no choice in harms way? Again it comes down to the individual calling. That parent or parents who choose to take their children to dangerous places to spread the gospel they will have to give an account if they went and God did not desire for them to go. Also look at who this is coming from. A weirdo Calvinist who preaches a false gospel message!!! Of course he’s going to say these things.

  148. Daisy wrote:

    On the flip side, pastor Mark Driscoll once did a sermon or a blog post explaining / implying that really, only single (unmarried) adults should go over-seas to share the Gospel, especially in ‘dangerous’ countries, because if or when an unmarried gets killed off for Jesus, nobody will care.

    AKA If you’re one of Those Singles, the ONLY thing you’re allowed to do is go to Darkest Africa as a Missionary and pass out tracts as you go into the stewpot, Ooga Booga.

    While the Marrieds stay in (affluent) America Focusing on Their Families (and breeding Heirs and Spares for their Quiver).

  149. Donnie wrote:

    Which is why some churches waste Sunday morning after Sunday morning about “ways to improve your marriage the Biblical way” sermon series.

    Every one of those types of sermons I’ve heard turns out to be a steaming pile of horse poo-poo.

  150. Headless, you nailed it! That’s our former church. Except they go on mission trips to AFRICA, HONDOURUS< NEW ZEALAND, RUSSIA,INDIA. The pictures posted on the members facebook pages look like they are more on vacations rather than mission trips. One of the elders wives posted HONDORUS and labeled the photos (Dump Kids) which is what they call the children there that live in the streets I guess. However it's not something I would refer to them as in a fb post. Also there are only about six photos of them in a building with the kids. The rest are scenic photos with their spouses and friends oh and shopping photos. The trips to AFRICA there are many photos posted on social media of the African Safari tours rather than the work being done. My unbelieving cousin pointed these things out when he found the pictures on the members facebook and twiiter posts. I won't even go into the the New Zealand photos. The pastor and some key members go over there almost once or twice a year. Are they reaching out to unbelievers? No! They are going for conferences with the pastor and his wife. The month Billy was assaulted Pastor Ken and his wife went to New Zealand and used that as an anniversary trip as well. He left not more than a few weeks after the assault. Then he left again for another trip claiming it was for their anniversary. All on the churches dime by the way I'm alleging. What they do with the members money is up to them but I find it difficult to believe the pastor when he gives sermons trying to relate to the rest that he uses coupons for CC's Pizza and has to look for deals when his kids wear the latest designer clothes and styles. Oh and for the sake of fairness one of those trips it was announced that someone bought two tickets for Ken and his wife's anniversary one year. In all fairness I thought I should mention that. The members of our former LBC church the income bracket for our area is 175,00 plus income and the homes are more. It's an affluent area. The families are all tight knit and if your not in their circle you are never invited to dinners or coffee dates, play dates unless they are disciplining you for something and you don't even know. So headless is right about one thing The Marrieds do stay in affluent America breeding Heirs and Spares for their Quivers. I love that by the way headless lol. This church also homeschools and if your not in their group they encourage you to put your kid in public school like they did billy. I think there was an agenda for that still haven't figured out why. It is a question I ponder from time to time but don't spend to much time on it or it will drive me crazy. A lot of the members live in high end gated communities as well. I'm truly happy for those who can do that but then don't come to me telling me how to budget and expecting me who at one time could barely put food on the table that I needed to save!!! Save what? Especially when the pastor told me when I said we were barely surviving after people started dropping me as their business and I told him I didn't want to ask the church for food that I could no longer put food on the table for Billy when they did that. Kens words " oh we appreciate that"!!! He appreciated me not asking the church for food or help! This coming from a man who drives a nice car, lives in a two hundred thousand plus home, gets a salary, retirement package, and medical benefits, plus all the perks in the church. This coming from a church who stocked the pantry of a returning missionary who purchased almost a 300,000 plus home and filled their home with furniture. Really?? Not opposed to helping returning missionary's but really? Sorry I think back to all the times of struggle and boy are we a living testimony to if these men ignore God's call to answer a hungry family's needs He will raise up someone else. He raised up THE WARTBURG WATCH community and some outside of that church to hold us in His hands. These affluent families who could do something choose to pass the buck and ignore when they have so much to offer and I don't mean money. They could have loved us and I was working for our keep no one was asking for handouts! Headless God is so good and this community is evidence of His goodness. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Daisy wrote:

    On the flip side, pastor Mark Driscoll once did a sermon or a blog post explaining / implying that really, only single (unmarried) adults should go over-seas to share the Gospel, especially in ‘dangerous’ countries, because if or when an unmarried gets killed off for Jesus, nobody will care.

    AKA If you’re one of Those Singles, the ONLY thing you’re allowed to do is go to Darkest Africa as a Missionary and pass out tracts as you go into the stewpot, Ooga Booga.

    While the Marrieds stay in (affluent) America Focusing on Their Families (and breeding Heirs and Spares for their Quiver).

  151. Sorry I keep mentioning what you guys did but it remains forever in my heart and billy’s. This community of believers I just don’t know how we would have processed all the abuses without your support. My heart aches still for those left behind at LBC the ones who have no idea yet what they are in for once they wake up. I know we were not the only ones hurt nor are we the last. There are many sweet believers there who do mean well. Who are as sweet as can be but are afraid to say something or leave or just can’t see because they truly only show you once side. How can so many abuses happen and nobody find out? Because most leave quietly in fear of being labeled gossips or divisive. They want to keep their friends their business contacts. Some just break away completely never wanting to go through the trauma again. This is not just LBC but the churches looped into the celebrity pastors such as piper, MacArthur, Dever, 9 Marks, and so on.

  152. shauna wrote:

    He appreciated me not asking the church for food or help!

    I was pleased to find out the other day that the church I belong to quietly supports members in distress with part of our funds. I fully believe that is the way it should be!!

  153. I agree Lea that is awesome…… Lea wrote:

    shauna wrote:

    He appreciated me not asking the church for food or help!

    I was pleased to find out the other day that the church I belong to quietly supports members in distress with part of our funds. I fully believe that is the way it should be!!

  154. shauna wrote:

    A lot of the members live in high end gated communities as well. I’m truly happy for those who can do that but then don’t come to me telling me how to budget and expecting me who at one time could barely put food on the table that I needed to save!!! Save what? Especially when the pastor told me when I said we were barely surviving after people started dropping me as their business and I told him I didn’t want to ask the church for food that I could no longer put food on the table for Billy when they did that. Kens words ” oh we appreciate that”!!! He appreciated me not asking the church for food or help! This coming from a man who drives a nice car, lives in a two hundred thousand plus home, gets a salary, retirement package, and medical benefits, plus all the perks in the church.

    Even though I don’t believe in the Christian doctrine of hell as a place of eternal conscious torment, I still believe that there will be a reckoning one day. I believe that we reap what we sow, either in this life or in the world (or worlds) to come.

  155. Yes I agree my hope would be that these men and women would have a change in their heartMuff Potter wrote:

    shauna wrote:

    A lot of the members live in high end gated communities as well. I’m truly happy for those who can do that but then don’t come to me telling me how to budget and expecting me who at one time could barely put food on the table that I needed to save!!! Save what? Especially when the pastor told me when I said we were barely surviving after people started dropping me as their business and I told him I didn’t want to ask the church for food that I could no longer put food on the table for Billy when they did that. Kens words ” oh we appreciate that”!!! He appreciated me not asking the church for food or help! This coming from a man who drives a nice car, lives in a two hundred thousand plus home, gets a salary, retirement package, and medical benefits, plus all the perks in the church.

    Even though I don’t believe in the Christian doctrine of hell as a place of eternal conscious torment, I still believe that there will be a reckoning one day. I believe that we reap what we sow, either in this life or in the world (or worlds) to come.

  156. Burwell wrote:

    Long story made short – guess which woman was brought before the church for discipline? It wasn’t the affair partner – she and the husband quit the church and ran off together. It was the aggrieved woman because she ‘dared’ pursue a divorce in order to protect her children

    This is what troubles me. Where I am, I feel like church discipline isn’t really done at all, or it’s done to the wrong people. Right now, I’m in an abusive marriage. It’s taken me years to get to the point where I understand and can admit that’s what’s going on. I’ve been to the church for help several times, and they’ve responded by telling me not to give up, to pray and trust God, to make sure I’m not bitter or angry. Someone from the church got up in my face and accused me of not loving my husband. The same guy came to me once and informed me he was praying for me because “things might be hard but you don’t want a divorce, do you?” As if a divorce was worse than what’s currently happening to me and my kids.

    I feel like they don’t really believe me when I tell them what my husband is like, and they would blame me if I asked him to leave. I don’t believe anyone is beyond God’s redemption, but I also fear for my kids’ safety, and I don’t think I’d get any support from the church if I tried to take action, so I feel kind of stuck.

  157. kin wrote:

    In addition, it seems unlikely Jesus was indicating he wants you to still hang out with the same people with the only caveat of considering them to be “unsaved”, when you combine the passage with Paul’s thoughts in I Cor. 5 and the other letters where he mentions to avoid certain people (who in essence take on the cloak of a Pharisee who has a form of godliness, but in reality are constantly in a state of denial…no power that leads to real change).

    I agree. I think the key thing is that there’s a big difference between someone who is acting a certain sinful way out of ignorance, and someone who should know better. It’s why Jesus had such scathing words for the Pharisees. They were supposed to be beacons of righteousness, but they were hard-hearted. Whereas some of the people Jesus hung around with were breaking God’s laws, but they knew it and were soft-hearted towards God. Because the thing is, we all break God’s laws, and the only way to deal with that is to repent and be in relationship with Him.

    I’m not quite sure how to put this, but I’m mulling over the idea that actually, in terms of Mosaic legality, it would be right to stone an adulterous person or keep your distance from someone who was ritually unclean. The priests were supposed to draw people to God, help them worship, and carry out sacrifices and offerings in order to restore people and make them clean again. But also to declare consequences, reparations, matters of justice from the Law God gave. As the priesthood of believers, that’s our job now. Obviously not offering animal sacrifices, but holding out to others what Jesus has done. Then it’s up to them if they want to accept it or not.

    Jesus told his disciples when he sent them out, to preach the good news wherever they went, but if people didn’t accept it they should shake the dust off their feet and move on. That’s sort of how I see the restoration process. You do everything you can, you are loving and humble and do everything you can to persuade the person to repent. But if they won’t, then you do have that distance between you, that “shaking the dust off your feet”. It doesn’t mean that if, in 3 years’ time, that person comes along and says, “hey, I was hardened against your message back then but now I see what you meant and I accept it”, you tell them to get lost. If they’ve genuinely repented you welcome them in. But if there’s no fruit you have to be careful, for the sake of the other believers.

  158. Many people forget what Matthew 18 was even about because all they read is verses 15-17. But reading the whole chapter the central message is very clear.

    Love and forgiveness.

    Verses 1-6: Be humble and serve the least of these.
    Verses 7-9: Fight against sin (But what sin? More on this later.)
    Verses 10-14: God prioritize about that one lost sheep over the 99 that didn’t get lost.
    Verses 15-20: Win your sinful brother back. Discipline.
    Verses 21-35: Forgive your brother 77 times. Those without mercy will be shown no mercy from God.

    Furthermore Matthew 18 is directly related to Luke 17:1-10. This was actually the same event, told from 2 prospective. Here Jesus clearly DEFINED what specific sin he is talking about: Unforgiving. (verses 3-4)

    Unforgiving is a terrible sin. Jesus said WOE to the one who this sin comes from. So if any teacher preaches un-forgiveness for any reason, Jesus said WOE to that teacher. If any teacher said give up on this brother for any reason, Jesus said WOE to that teacher. If any teacher said stop loving this brother for any reason, Jesus said WOE to that teacher.

    As if Jesus wasn’t clear enough, he said “Pay attention to YOURSELVES!” in verse 3. Jesus DIDN’T say “Look at these terrible sinners!” So this is 100% about the followers (us, me, you, etc) being unforgiving. This isn’t actually about that sinning brother (he, she, they, etc). This passage is about SELF-REFLECTION, since it is addressed to us Christians directly. No part of this can be used as a weapon against other brothers, even when they are in sin.

    The apostles even asked Jesus to increase their faith, because love and forgiveness is so hard for them. In which Jesus replied that if they don’t forgive their brothers 7 times it is not due to a lake of faith. But a TOTAL ABSENCE of ANY FAITH. Because love and forgiveness is nothing special to a servant of God. Love and forgiveness is basic and expected.

    Verse 9-10
    9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants;[e] we have only done what was our duty.’”

    So this whole thing was about love and forgiveness. Jesus is pointing out how this kind of love and forgiveness is basic and expected from all true believers.

    When people only look at verses 15-17, they often see it as a way to rush a sinner out of the church doors. But is this really what it is talking about? No it cannot be! Because all the verses before and after that session is talking about love and forgiveness. God had just told us how it is BASIC and EXPECTED for true believers to humble ourselves, resist the sin of un-forgiveness, go chase after that 1 lost sheep and forgiven your brother 77 times. So then how can verses 15-17 be used to rush a sinner out of the church doors?

    Instead verse 15-17 must be read in a way where love and forgiveness NEVER stops. That Love and forgiveness is certain and without question. If read this way, what does one to one, three to one and finally the whole church mean? This means when you go discipline one on one a sinning brother (in the case of a non-publicly harmful sin), this is about love and forgiveness. Grace and mercy must be filled in the process. You are NOT there to rush that sinner out of the church to “purify” it. Jesus said WOE WOE WOE to you if this is how you think.

    Instead your goal is to lovingly restore that sinner back into the church by correcting and discipline. And if you tried one and one for a long time and that sinning brother doesn’t listen to you, go get 1 or 2 more other brothers or sisters. etc. Why one or two? Because this whole process should be in secret and the less people know the better. We do this because we DO NOT want to expose the sins of this brother. Once again our goal must be to love, to restore and to forgive.

    Now in the case of public sins, like child sexual abuses, we have no choice but to rush the discipline to the church level. In fact we must call the police to expose this criminal. We do this to protect the victims. While the church loves both the victim and the criminal alike, the victim must be protected immediately. Once the criminal is locked away and harmless, we can do prison ministry to try to restore that criminal. The church must NOT become a haven for criminals to hide in.

    This was the case in 1 Corinthians 5. The sin of this man sleeping with his father’ wife was so public and the church doing nothing about it, that the church members were actually being led astray. They are getting corrupted by this sinners and they start thinking that this is ok in God’s eyes. Since public damage is being done to the church and its members, this sin must be exposes publicly and that sinner expelled (excommunicated). The goal here is to protect the victims.

    Where do we draw the line between love/restore/forgive and to protect the victims? I believe a bit of common sense is required. If the sin is private and there is no victim except for the sinner himself, let this sin be dealt with privately. But if there are other victims getting hurt right now, protecting the victims immediately must be a priority.

    And of course all of the above applies only to actual sins in the bible. That means clearly written sins as per the bible, not some man made traditions and rules. Else we would fall into the same pitfalls as the Pharisees.

  159. Liz wrote:

    The same guy came to me once and informed me he was praying for me because “things might be hard but you don’t want a divorce, do you?”

    I’m so sorry.

    Not to be flippant, but when people ask questions where I am clearly supposed to answer ‘no’ I just answer ‘yes’ and then they sometimes they sputter.

  160. shauna wrote:

    Headless, you nailed it! That’s our former church. Except they go on mission trips to AFRICA, HONDOURUS< NEW ZEALAND, RUSSIA,INDIA. The pictures posted on the members facebook pages look like they are more on vacations rather than mission trips. One of the elders wives posted HONDORUS and labeled the photos (Dump Kids) which is what they call the children there that live in the streets I guess. However it's not something I would refer to them as in a fb post. Also there are only about six photos of them in a building with the kids. The rest are scenic photos with their spouses and friends oh and shopping photos. The trips to AFRICA there are many photos posted on social media of the African Safari tours rather than the work being done. My unbelieving cousin pointed these things out when he found the pictures on the members facebook and twiiter posts. I won't even go into the the New Zealand photos. The pastor and some key members go over there almost once or twice a year. Are they reaching out to unbelievers? No! They are going for conferences with the pastor and his wife. The month Billy was assaulted Pastor Ken and his wife went to New Zealand and used that as an anniversary trip as well. He left not more than a few weeks after the assault. Then he left again for another trip claiming it was for their anniversary. All on the churches dime by the way I'm alleging. What they do with the members money is up to them but I find it difficult to believe the pastor when he gives sermons trying to relate to the rest that he uses coupons for CC's Pizza and has to look for deals when his kids wear the latest designer clothes and styles. Oh and for the sake of fairness one of those trips it was announced that someone bought two tickets for Ken and his wife's anniversary one year. In all fairness I thought I should mention that. The members of our former LBC church the income bracket for our area is 175,00 plus income and the homes are more. It's an affluent area. The families are all tight knit and if your not in their circle you are never invited to dinners or coffee dates, play dates unless they are disciplining you for something and you don't even know. So headless is right about one thing The Marrieds do stay in affluent America breeding Heirs and Spares for their Quivers. I love that by the way headless lol. This church also homeschools and if your not in their group they encourage you to put your kid in public school like they did billy. I think there was an agenda for that still haven't figured out why. It is a question I ponder from time to time but don't spend to much time on it or it will drive me crazy. A lot of the members live in high end gated communities as well. I'm truly happy for those who can do that but then don't come to me telling me how to budget and expecting me who at one time could barely put food on the table that I needed to save!!! Save what? Especially when the pastor told me when I said we were barely surviving after people started dropping me as their business and I told him I didn't want to ask the church for food that I could no longer put food on the table for Billy when they did that. Kens words " oh we appreciate that"!!! He appreciated me not asking the church for food or help! This coming from a man who drives a nice car, lives in a two hundred thousand plus home, gets a salary, retirement package, and medical benefits, plus all the perks in the church. This coming from a church who stocked the pantry of a returning missionary who purchased almost a 300,000 plus home and filled their home with furniture. Really?? Not opposed to helping returning missionary's but really? Sorry I think back to all the times of struggle and boy are we a living testimony to if these men ignore God's call to answer a hungry family's needs He will raise up someone else. He raised up THE WARTBURG WATCH community and some outside of that church to hold us in His hands. These affluent families who could do something choose to pass the buck and ignore when they have so much to offer and I don't mean money. They could have loved us and I was working for our keep no one was asking for handouts! Headless God is so good and this community is evidence of His goodness. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Daisy wrote:
    On the flip side, pastor Mark Driscoll once did a sermon or a blog post explaining / implying that really, only single (unmarried) adults should go over-seas to share the Gospel, especially in ‘dangerous’ countries, because if or when an unmarried gets killed off for Jesus, nobody will care.
    AKA If you’re one of Those Singles, the ONLY thing you’re allowed to do is go to Darkest Africa as a Missionary and pass out tracts as you go into the stewpot, Ooga Booga.
    While the Marrieds stay in (affluent) America Focusing on Their Families (and breeding Heirs and Spares for their Quiver).

    Reading that story is shocking. False prophets are everywhere. And they led many astray.

    Lucky for many of us, Jesus in John 10 promised that any true follower of Jesus will be able to tell apart the true voice of God from false voices. So when a pastor preaches falsehood, true believers won’t follow him. Because true believers have trained themselves and seek deeper understanding. Those who are lazy and just follow whatever their false teacher tells them to do, these lazy people do not actually seek Jesus. Their lack of effort in reading the bible for themselves and doing online research (etc) is the clear sign that they are not of Jesus. (V3-5)

    If someone have the right theology but do no good works of love from God, do NOT believe him neither. But if that person has the right theology AND ALSO do good works of love from God, believe in the works so that you know God is in that person.

    I highly recommend everyone to read John 10.

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