Friday, July 22, 2005

Important read from CT

How Discipline Died
The church should stop taking its cues from the state.
by Marlin Jeschke

The Protestant reformers named three "marks by which the true church is known": the preaching of the pure doctrine of the gospel, the pure administration of the sacraments, and the exercise of church discipline to correct faults. Today, church discipline is feared as the mark of a false church, bringing to mind images of witch trials, scarlet letters, public humiliations, and damning excommunications. Does discipline itself need correction and redemption in order to be readmitted into the body of Christ? We have asked several experts from different (and sometimes contrasting) professional and theological backgrounds to explain how church discipline fell into disrepair and how it can be revived, so that the true church can fully embody the pure doctrine of the gospel once again.


At 1:30 AM, Blogger Heath said...

The CT article was great. I wonder if we have not sacrificed church discipline for the sake of church growth. Sometimes to me it is as if we are saying if they have a heart beat, tithe and oh yea don’t commit any “big sins”… just leave them alone after all you wouldn’t be “judgmental.” So I ask my self as a leader were do I draw the line in a church that has no clue are care about what it means to belong to a community of believers and understand what they do affects the entire community. Were people were brought into membership just sake of looking good at the end of the year. My hat is off to those churches (mostly new starts) that instill in there members a meaning of belonging to the Body of Christ.

I like what Richard P. Heitzenrater said: “Within the church, in an age when shared governance, mutual ministry, lay rights, and making people feel good have taken center stage, the concept of strong leadership brings to some minds the image of oppressive, hierarchical structures with glass ceilings and procedures that implement repressive policies, The very word "authority" is tainted in some minds by the most pejorative meanings of its derivative "authoritarian." Leadership positions can be lonely positions-it is much easier to be just one of the guys or gals. Clergy are increasingly prone to abdicate leadership responsibilities in an ecclesiastical culture that emphasizes the role of the laity and highlights the concept of "general ministry," Granted, these are all oversimplified stereotypical generalizations that I have laid out. But those generalizations represent present-day perceptions that are part of the reality with which we have to deal. Wesley was usually able to relate to people where they were-if not on their level or from their perspective, at least aware of where they stood, Nonetheless, he was never hesitant to speak strongly, howbeit in love, against any position that he felt was wrong or nadequate. The current situation would present him with a real challenge, however. These days, no one wants to hurt anyone's feelings; everyone wants to be liked and accepted; many feel immediately victimized by any words of criticism. And the assumption is that the strong exercise of authority in positions of leadership is likely to jeopardize the comfort level in some lives, a situation that must be avoided at all costs. John and Charles Wesley would have had difficulty with such an approach to leadership.”


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