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

Eating with Sinners

Jesus’ ministry was summed up by the Pharisees in this way (Luke 15:1-2 also Matt 11:19; Luke 7:34).

This man receives sinners and eats with them

Having assessed Jesus’ approach to ministry, the Pharisees also questioned it. Why does Jesus “eat with sinners” (Mark 2:16 NET)?

When the experts in the law and the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?

As we look back on Jesus’ ministry mission statement and how he dealt with sinners we can end up with a lot of questions too. Who should I eat and hang out with? Where should I hang out with them? What should I tell them about sin? What expectations should be placed on the sinners for there to be a continued close relationship? How long should I hang out with them if they keep sinning? How should we handle sinners in the church?  These are all good questions. And ones that are being hotly debated.

The Last Supper (Da Vinci)Here is how Jesus defended His “eat with sinners” approach to ministry (Mark 2:17 NET):

Continue reading

Reading the Bible makes us more Progressive? Really?

Benjamin Corey over at Formerly Fundie offers 10 reasons why reading the Bible makes us (or at least him) more progressive. And Jesus Creed had a lively discussion on this post. In this post I wanted to share my perspective on some of his list and provide 5 things the progressive movement misses when they read their Bible.

Five parts of the Bible the Progressive movement misses

  • Power is often abused by those who have it.
  • Voluntary acts of love and giving is what God wants. Continue reading