Treat them as Gentiles and Tax Collectors

Most of us have read through the church discipline passages and probably have given them very little thought as to how they might be applied. Unfortunately as an elder of a local church we are forced to wrestle with them not just from a theological perspective but from a very practical sense.

As many readers likely know, Matthew 18:15-20 is the standard passage used to define the church discipline process. The process involves four successive steps:

  1. private meetings between the sinner and the offended party.
  2. discussions between the sinner and the offended party with witnesses to establish whether the alleged sin is occurring.
  3. bringing the matter to the attention of the church is typically when elders start to get involved and has its own set of steps.
    • The elders, similar to step 2, will investigate the matter and determine whether sinful activity is occurring.
    • If the sinful activity is verified the elders will often meet with the person who is sinning to discuss the situation and encourage them to repent.
    • If the person refuses to repent the congregation is informed of the matter, with the goal of aiding in the process of reconciliation. The unrepentant, sinning person is given some additional time to change their actions.
  4. treating the sinner as a Gentile and a tax collector
    • this final step is reserved for people who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge their sin and continue in their sinful activity.

The goal at every step in this process is for there to be an end to the sinful activity and reconciliation between the sinner and offended party. The hope is that this can be done in as few steps as possible.

The Calling of St. Matthew

The Calling of St. Matthew

What did Jesus mean when He said treat them as Gentiles and Tax Collectors? Continue reading

World Vision, Wesley, and Differing Opinions

Matt Anderson tweeted this as a reminder to all those responding to the World Vision decision to first hire Christians who are in a same-sex marriage and then the reversal of that decision a few days later.

As this was unfolding, a friend of mine, knowing that I have blogged through some of John Wesley’s sermons, asked me what I knew of the relationship between Wesley and Augustus Toplady. Not knowing much I did what anyone would do and fired up “Google”.

[if you are scratching your head at this point,the connection between these two events will be clear soon]

Continue reading

What are 6 essentials of the faith on which you would never bend?

Tim Kimberley the Executive Director at Credo House has a great series called Elder Questions over at the Parchment and Pen blog. In a recent post he posed the question (or rather he was posed the question)

list 6 core convictions concerning which you (as elder) will never give in, nor even bend on, as you lead the church and reference at least 3 scriptures [in] support [of] each one.

I think this is a great question to wrestle with. Here are my six.

1. God created all things seen and unseen
In keeping with the intent of this question, I am not necessarily addressing how long it took or even how long ago that occurred (although these are important). Here the central conviction is that God exists outside of His creation, outside of space and time, and is the First Cause of all that exists. This is probably the most central claim of the Scriptures and the one that can be seen in creation itself. Continue reading