Drinking Deeply

Thursday, November 03, 2005 at 3:43 AM

Judge lest ye be judged (4)

So I finally got to the post I originally wanted to make, but realizing I had to clear away some objections (lest I be instantly stoned), got detoured.

Church discipline is a difficult issue nowadays. We want to say "how is this being loving?" "didn't Christ call us to bear with one another in love and humility?" I'm sure we can all multiply passage after passage that tell us to love our neighbor, to treat one another higher than ourselves, and so on and so forth.

So why church discipline?

Well, for a brief history lesson: The reformers considered the 3 marks of a true church to be 1) Proper preaching of the Word, 2) Proper administration of the sacraments (Baptism, and the Lord's Supper) and 3) Proper administration of church discipline.

Now, a few caveats:

1) Church Discipline isn't just about kicking people out of the church. It was about church oversight and shepherding. It's about making sure the proper theology is taught, it's about guarding fellow believers from gross sin, and it's about rebuking (and restoring) those who have fallen.

2) These are not necessarily what should be considered the marks of a true church by everybody, they are merely what the reformers believed. (Though I do agree with them to a large part, though now I'm not sure how restrictive the "proper" must be. I do welcome Baptists as brothers, though I don't think I agree with their thinking behind believer's baptism (namely, the rebaptism of those infant baptized or not fully immersed). )

Thus if church discipline was one of the marks by which the Reformers considered a church to be a true church (and we don't have any reason to disagree), it behooves us to examine church discipline. A few questions. I'm going to restrict myself to the very limited usage of church discipline to mean the casting out (excommunication) of a member of the church from the church.

What is God's purpose for church discipline?

What is the process of church discipline?

What happens after someone has been disciplined out of a church?

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