Thursday, October 04, 2007

Words Mean Things II: Peeling Back The Curtain

In response to my previous article, I've gotten several e-mails that ask, in different ways, the same thoughtful questions: Aren't actions more important than words? Aren't words just so much insubstantial fluff until they're supported by behavior?

Well, that depends on the words--and how they're used.

Words spoken, published, or otherwise disseminated thoughtlessly, in the heat of a given moment, can serve as snapshots of their author's mind at a given moment, but not much more than that. However, words that are planned, calculated, and repeated in an organized manner by (even loosely) organized individuals are much more substantial, being far more revelatory, and must be taken much more seriously.

Let's take, as an example, something that I frankly expected to get far more press coverage than it has. Recently, U.S. Senators Harry Reid and Tom Harkin used the Senate floor (and its insulation against debate) to launch planned, calculated, and organized attacks against a private citizen--not against another legislator or government official, mind you, but against someone who's never run for elected office, much less been either elected or appointed to one. Reid and Harkin (and you know, if you've followed this blog for any length of time, what it means when I refuse to refer to a man even as "Mr.") told lies about this private citizen from the floor of the United States Senate, slung insults at him from the floor of the United States Senate, and used the floor of the United States Senate to insist that this private citizen made "unpatriotic remarks."

Problem is, the private citizen in question is Rush Limbaugh, and Mr. Limbaugh didn't say what Reid, Harkin, and their fellow Democrats would like people to think he said. The Senators and other high-profile Democrats had all sorts of opportunity to get the facts of the matter straight, but that would've meant forgoing their move to personally attack someone who has made their professional lives uncomfortable for many years. And rather than get it straight, they chose to (in the words of former boxing referee Mills Lane) "git it on!" Democrats make it a way of life to do things to help their party in lieu of helping the country as a whole, so these unfounded verbal attacks against Mr. Limbaugh should come as no surprise.

So, yes, their words do mean a great deal. The Democrats' words, repeated ad infinitum, demonstrate more clearly than any Republican or otherwise-conservative response just how dangerous the Democrat Party is. Yet there are well-meaning but misguided people who just don't get it: witness Barack Obama's recent hand-holding stint with Rick Warren, Tony Campolo's infatuation with the Democrat Party as a whole, and... well, I can't consider Jimmy Carter "well-meaning," so let's move forward.

Over time, and with organized repetition, words become powerful tools. They are meaningful, even when that meaning gets twisted; both Lenin and Goebbels understood how to torque language into useful shapes, how to use the power of the lie. Whatever the scale, words that are repeatedly employed reveal the character of their employer.

In the episode of Rush Limbaugh vs. the Senate Democrats, Mr. Limbaugh has been very careful over the years to indicate that, on issues of war and national security, he doesn't question the patriotism of those with whom he disagrees, but rather their particular choices on particular issues. Well, Rush (since I'm certain you're a regular reader, I hope you don't mind if I call you by your first name... heh heh...), the time has passed for being overly generous; when faced with a critical mass of evidence, there's no shame in admitting an inexorable conclusion.

And in the larger case to which this issue speaks, the conclusion is painful, but obvious: The Democrat Party in the United States is anti-American. It is interested in the consolidation of is own power base to the exclusion of the health and prosperity both of the country and its general population. It is invested in the failure of the United States military, and of traditional American institutions. Yes, theirs is a myopic worldview, but the evidence of it is overwhelming.

And it is no crime--indeed, only right and proper--to identify a spade as a gardening implement.

--Mike

EDITED TO ADD: If you think the attacks on Mr. Limbaugh aren't coordinated to at least some degree, get this latest bit of nonsense: Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democrat presidential contender John "The Breck Girl" Edwards, is now insisting Mr. Limbaugh's draft deferment wasn't legitimate--while, in the same breath, perpetuating the Democrat talking-point of a lie regarding Mr. Limbaugh's statements about our armed forces. As with Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Edwards couple has produced a critical mass of statements that can only lead people to believe they're far more interested in personal political power than with the good of the country.

28 comments:

gopher said...

How interesting that you can come to the following drastic conclusion:

"...... conclusion is painful, but obvious: The Democrat Party in the United States is anti-American. "

So how is it that a organization that once had a membership of 34,000 and now has less that 10,000 and is still removing members today, and currently spending millions on TV advertisements to draw new members, does not have leadership problems?

John Mark said...

So how is it that a organization that once had a membership of 34,000 and now has less that 10,000 and is still removing members today, and currently spending millions on TV advertisements to draw new members, does not have leadership problems?

Mostly what they have are idiot problems. For example, people who think that there were ever 34000 people at Bellevue on any given day. Or that those cheesy ads cost 'millions' of dollars. And no one was ever removed. Shoot, if a few HAD been removed a lot of this could have been avoided.

Oh, wait. You said 'organization'. I thought you were talking about a church.

Lynn said...

Mike,

The Democratic party in itself is not anti-American.

The Democratic Party has been hijacked by Anti-American Marxists who would rather make peace with Hitler Jr. (Ahmadinijad) than deal with the problem.

And the Republican Party is selling out to the leftists as well.

WatchingHISstory said...

Billie

I left a post for you on the "Words mean things" I replied to you post.

read this:
http://www.essentialchristianity.com/pages.asp?pageid=21230

WatchingHISstory said...

Would Dr Rogers have agreed with this?

"Some believe that God has subjected himself to the will of man. Lactantius argues against such a view. He states "for if God is a title of the highest power, He must be incorruptible, perfect, incapable of suffering, and subject to no other being." Some want to argue that God has limited his powers due to the freedom of man's will. Again, however this would mean God is subject to man, which Lactantius denies.

Humanism today asserts that man and reason rule the universe. Lactantius refutes this and argues that "I have, as I think, sufficiently taught by arguments, and confirmed by witnesses, that which is sufficiently plain by itself, that there is one only King of the universe, one Father, one God." God rules the universe by himself. He alone is King, sovereign, ruler, and the Father of the world.

In Book IV of the "The Divine Institutes" we find a strong statement on the sovereignty of God dealing with reprobation! God sovereignly rules the truth and to whom he gives the truth. In commenting on why Pythagoras and Plato did not discover the gospel by going to the Jews, who possess the gospel of truth, he said, "But I think they were turned away from them by divine providence, that they might not know the truth, because it was not yet permitted for the religion of the true God and righteousness to become known to men of other nations." This reveals the fact that he affirmed the doctrine of God's sovereignty in election to salvation or election to be left out. He viewed them both as being determined by the sovereign decree of God."

http://www.essentialchristianity.com/pages.asp?pageid=21230

Mike Bratton said...

A few things:

1) Lynn, thank you for being on topic.

With regard to your comment, no, the Democrat Party has not always, historically, been anti-American. However, in the modern day (and for the past couple of generations) it has been, and shows no signs of its own "conservative resurgence."

And with regard to the Republicans, the 2008 election will be telling; if the GOP forsakes its moral mooring found in those of us who are Christians, it will become as petty and narcissistic as the Democrat Party.

2) Gopher, whoever you are, what's really interesting is that this article contained precisely zero mentions of Bellevue Baptist Church, but a shot at Bellevue was your first response.

And since the general public wouldn't have access to specific attendance figures or advertising expenditure numbers, from whence do you get yours?

3) John Mark, I agree that a little church discipline could've gone a long way, but I understand the desire to err on the side of compassion.

4) Charles, once again you are wildly off-topic; at least Gopher tried to tie his anti-Bellevue remarks to my original article. Nevertheless, I'll engage your post enough to observe that it is yet another example of temporal shortsightedness, typical of the God-in-a-box methods of both Calvinism and Arminianism.

--Mike

bayoubaptist said...

Mike,

You have yet to answer my question about who LSU will beat worse...Auburn or Alabama?

Also as a fellow dittohead(supposing you are one), you may also listen to Hannity...(this subject was discussed yesterday)What do you think about the group of pro-family leaders(led by James Dobson) who recently met and nearly unanimously decided that if the major parties did not nominate someone pro-life, they would urge those of that mindset to support a 3rd party candidate?

Do you agree, even though the pro-choice Gulianni(I think that's how its spelled) said that he would nominate SC Justices like Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Aliaya(pardon my spelling)?

Bayou-man

--oh, and 'thanks alot' Auburn for beating Florida...now our win over the Gators this weekend will not be viewed as impressively as it should have...man you cant trust them tricky Alabamians!

Junkster said...

Mike Bratton said...
3) John Mark, I agree that a little church discipline could've gone a long way, but I understand the desire to err on the side of compassion.

Mike,
Help me out here ... I'm confused by calls for "church discipline" by either side of the BBC issues. Ignoring the fact that most Baptist churches have generally not practiced much church discipline for decades -- what, biblically speaking, constitutes an appropriate basis for church discipline?

I'm assuming that exercising church discipline means basically removing a person from church membership/fellowship/communion and relating to them (per the much referenced Matt. 18) as an unbeliever -- that is, someone to be loved, witnessed to, won to Christ. At least that's what John Mark seemed to be taking about when he suggested some should have been "removed", which you equated with "church discipline". I know that the whole process that precedes the removal step could be called church discipline, but I’m taking about the end result, since that’s what John Mark suggested and you agreed with.

So, just what sort of actions (sins) does it take to make it appropriate for a church body to agree that a person should be removed and treated as an unbeliever? Is it a certain kind of sin (gross, flagrant, unrepentant immorality, as in 1 Cor. 5), or a certain number of sins (7 times 71, perhaps?), or a certain length of time of continuing in any particular sin or sins without evidence of repentance? (How “long” is our longsuffering supposed to be?) As you have noted numerous times, it is a serious thing to question someone's salvation, and that shouldn't be done on the basis of disagreements on "non-essentials". We can parse words all day, but if treating someone as an unbeliever isn’t calling their salvation into question, then nothing is. So where and when should that line be drawn? Are you ready to question the salvation of certain people -- and if so, on what basis?

Just some questions I've been pondering ... I know it isn’t what this thread is about, so perhaps this would make a good thread topic sometime.. It would be interesting if both you and the moderator of the NBBCOF would take on the topic at the same time, so that those here who aren't welcome there could post their thoughts, and those there who wouldn't set foot over here for fear of being struck by lightening could do the same, and see if there is any common ground.

-----
Tom



Word verification: goonzqf

Mike Bratton said...

bayoubaptist said...
Mike,

You have yet to answer my question about who LSU will beat worse...Auburn or Alabama?


Apologies. Since our family (well, since I decided) to root for Alabama, it's a temptation to say Auburn. However, after seeing how Auburn handled Florida, I think Bama might be less able to handle LSU.

Also as a fellow dittohead(supposing you are one), you may also listen to Hannity...(this subject was discussed yesterday)What do you think about the group of pro-family leaders(led by James Dobson) who recently met and nearly unanimously decided that if the major parties did not nominate someone pro-life, they would urge those of that mindset to support a 3rd party candidate?

One word: Grrrrrrrrr...

Do you agree, even though the pro-choice Gulianni(I think that's how its spelled) said that he would nominate SC Justices like Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Aliaya(pardon my spelling)?

Strict constructionists aside, politics is fundamentally a business of compromise. The recent mayoral election in Memphis (referenced elsewhere on this blog) highlights the dangers of a three-handed race, and two conservative-leaning candidates for the presidency will gift-wrap the Oval Office for Hillary Clinton.

It is politically naive of people like James Dobson, for whom I have the greatest respect, to suggest they will field a third-party candidate rather than work with the best available choice between the Republican and Democrat nominees. Actually, I have one other word for Dr. Dobson, and that word is "Perot." Think that might jog his memory with regard to what happens when the conservative vote is divided?

If abortion is a tipping point for Dr. Dobson, he should keep in mind that the strict constructionists Mr. Giuliani would be expected to nominate for the Supreme Court would be more inclined to overturn Roe vs. Wade and its subsequent decisions, and return abortion back to the purview of the individual states, which is where it belonged in the first place.

However, I have no particular perception that Mr. Giuliani will be the nominee; as a matter of fact, I believe Fred Thompson will be the GOP pick. And yes, Dr. Dobson doesn't like him, either.

Bayou-man

--oh, and 'thanks alot' Auburn for beating Florida...now our win over the Gators this weekend will not be viewed as impressively as it should have...man you cant trust them tricky Alabamians!


They are a wily lot, aye...

--Mike

Mike Bratton said...

Junkster said...
Mike Bratton said...
3) John Mark, I agree that a little church discipline could've gone a long way, but I understand the desire to err on the side of compassion.

Mike,
Help me out here ... I'm confused by calls for "church discipline" by either side of the BBC issues. Ignoring the fact that most Baptist churches have generally not practiced much church discipline for decades -- what, biblically speaking, constitutes an appropriate basis for church discipline?


Violating Biblical guidelines for conflict resolution by taking a church matter outside the church boundaries and into the public arena--that's one prime area where discipline could've come into play. As I've mentioned more than once, my current pastor here in Alabama suggested to me that, had he been in Pastor Gaines' situation, he would've imposed church discipline on those who aired their disgruntlement for all to see.

I'm assuming that exercising church discipline means basically removing a person from church membership/fellowship/communion and relating to them (per the much referenced Matt. 18) as an unbeliever -- that is, someone to be loved, witnessed to, won to Christ. At least that's what John Mark seemed to be taking about when he suggested some should have been "removed", which you equated with "church discipline". I know that the whole process that precedes the removal step could be called church discipline, but I’m taking about the end result, since that’s what John Mark suggested and you agreed with.

You have misreferenced Matthew 18 in one critical element, that of categorizing someone under church discipline as needing to be "won to Christ." The Scripture does not say that, and does not even imply that someone under discipline is unsaved.

So, just what sort of actions (sins) does it take to make it appropriate for a church body to agree that a person should be removed and treated as an unbeliever? Is it a certain kind of sin (gross, flagrant, unrepentant immorality, as in 1 Cor. 5), or a certain number of sins (7 times 71, perhaps?), or a certain length of time of continuing in any particular sin or sins without evidence of repentance? (How “long” is our longsuffering supposed to be?) As you have noted numerous times, it is a serious thing to question someone's salvation, and that shouldn't be done on the basis of disagreements on "non-essentials". We can parse words all day, but if treating someone as an unbeliever isn’t calling their salvation into question, then nothing is.

You are suggesting that Jesus is at odds with Himself by teaching the necessity (and even the process) of church discipline. And you have done so by insisting that the Bible says something it does not say.

So where and when should that line be drawn? Are you ready to question the salvation of certain people -- and if so, on what basis?

Just some questions I've been pondering ... I know it isn’t what this thread is about, so perhaps this would make a good thread topic sometime..


No, I don't think so, since your premise was fundamentally flawed. But asking questions, and even pondering them, is always a good thing for a believer to do.

It would be interesting if both you and the moderator of the NBBCOF would take on the topic at the same time, so that those here who aren't welcome there could post their thoughts, and those there who wouldn't set foot over here for fear of being struck by lightening could do the same, and see if there is any common ground.

The moderator of the Forum is one individual who should be under church discipline, as are those who have anonymously advocated death threats, blackmail, and the like as viable tools in their anti-Bellevue efforts. You know, the "struck by lightning" crowd?

And no, Junk, I don't consider you to be a part of that category. Your equanimity has, for the most part, been commendable. I do encourage you to revisit the 18th chapter of Matthew, though, and spend some time researching it.

--Mike

Junkster said...

Mike,

Below is the Matt 18 section in reference:

15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

I could always stand to do more research on any passage of Scripture -- but almost every sermon, commentary, or discussion I have ever heard or read on this passage (and I'd say that's probably about a half ga-jllion) says that "treat him as you would a pagan" means to treat the person as an unbeliever (and thus as one in need of loving guidance toward a relationship with Christ). That's the whole point of refusing them communion (the Lord's Supper), as that ordinance is only for believers in Christ. This is also in keeping with most interpretations of 1 Cor 5 I have heard. ("Expel the wicked man from among you.") Personally, I think maybe you should do some more research before dismissing a common (and reasonable) interpretation out of hand.

You said, "You are suggesting that Jesus is at odds with Himself by teaching the necessity (and even the process) of church discipline. And you have done so by insisting that the Bible says something it does not say." I have suggested no such thing, and I have insisted on nothing. I merely presented a common viewpoint. I'd appreciate it if you didn't put words in my mouth like that -- I know how much you dislike it when others do that to you.

I would think that you'd see potential value in discussing the appropriate subjects and situations for church discipline whether or not you agree with someone else's interpretation of the relevant passages -- actually, seems worth discussing all the more when differences of interpretation are at play. But whatever -- it's your blog; do as thou wilt. I suspect I'd get a similar "thanks but no thanks" response if I suggested the topic on NBBCOF.

And, by the way, if your pastor honestly thinks it is within his personal purview to "impose church discipline on" (remove from membership) anyone, then you, he, and that whole congregation have far more serious problems in understanding Matt 18 than just a disagreement on what "treat him as you would a pagan" means. Church discipline is a matter for the whole congregation -- this much has to be clear if words have any meaning at all.

In spite of all this, my basic question remains ... what, biblically, constitutes grounds for expulsion from a congregation? Regardless of what such expulsion implies about the spiritual state of the one expelled (a secondary issue that you pounced on, while avoiding the main point), unless such questions are addressed in a thoughtful, reasoned, and biblically grounded basis, your pastor's opinion, or yours, or mine, of when it is right to remove a church member are just hot air. And without a foundational understanding of when and why church discipline is appropriate, it is begging the question to state that it should be performed on those who "taking a church matter outside the church boundaries and into the public arena." Says who? If you can’t demonstrate biblically when church discipline is appropriate, you can't declare by fiat that it is appropriate in that case, or any other!

Junkster said...

Much more on topic ... as much as I tend to agree that the current direction of the Democratic party is contrary to several foundational American principles, I have to also admit how very dissapointed I am with current Republican political leadership. I feel as though lip service has been rendered to the values and concerns of conservative Christians (just enough to pander to us and maintain our loyalty as a voter block) but precious little has been done to really promote and defend those values. I realize there is no salvation in government, but after 20+ years of close association of evangelical leaders and Republican leaders, I feel like the thing evangelicals have managed to do most of is getting our hands dirty. :(

noanswerwillsuffice said...

Junkster,

Here are some more thoughts on the subject of church discipline.

When should the church exercise church discipline? In one sense, a form of redemptive church discipline is exercised whenever the Bible is taught and the truth of God's Word is applied to the lives of believers. The convicting power of the Word of God is the first corrective in the hearts of Christ's people. Nevertheless, a more personal and confrontational mode of discipline is required when sin threatens the faithfulness, integrity, and witness of God's people.

The Bible reveals three main areas of danger requiring discipline. These are fidelity of doctrine, purity of life, and unity of fellowship. Each is of critical and vital importance to the health and integrity of the church.

The theological confusion and compromise which mark the modern church are directly traceable to the church's failure to separate itself from doctrinal error and heretics. On this matter the Bible is clear: "Anyone who goes too far and does no abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone come to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds." [2 John 1:9-11] The Apostle Paul instructed the Galatians that "if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is accursed." [Galatians 1:8-9]

The letters of 2 Peter and Jude explicitly warn of the dangers presented to the church in the form of false prophets and heretics. Jude alerts the church that "certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who long before were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." [Jude v. 4] Similarly, Peter warns "there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." [2 Peter 2:1]

The church must separate itself from these heresies--and from the heretics. The permissive posture of the church in this century has allowed the most heinous heresies to grow unchecked--and heretics to be celebrated. Francis Schaeffer was among the most eloquent modern prophets who decried this doctrinal cowardice. Schaeffer emphatically denied that a church could be a true Christian fellowship and allow false doctrine. As he stated, "one cannot explain the explosive dynamite, the dunamis, of the early church apart from the fact that they practiced two things simultaneously: orthodoxy of doctrine and orthodoxy of community in the midst of the visible church, a community which the world can see. By the grace of God, therefore, the church must be known simultaneously for its purity of doctrine and the reality of its community."

The visible community of the true church is also to be evident in its moral purity. Christians are to live in obedience to the Word of God and to be exemplary in their conduct and untarnished in their testimony. A lack of attention to moral purity is a sure sign of congregational rebellion before the Lord.

Writing to the Corinthians, Paul chastised severely: "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." [1 Corinthians 5:9-11]

When Christians sin, their sin is to be confronted by the church in accordance with the pattern revealed in Scripture. The goal is the restoration of a sister or a brother, not the creation of a public spectacle. The greatest moral danger to the church is the toleration of sin, public and private. One of the greatest blessings to the church is the gift of biblical church discipline--the ministry of the keys.

The integrity of the church is also dependent upon the true unity of its fellowship. Indeed, one of the most repeated warnings found in the New Testament is the admonition against toleration of schismatics. The unity of the church is one of its most visible distinctives--and precious gifts.

The warnings are severe: "Now I urge you brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ, but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting." [Romans 16:17-18] Writing to Titus, Paul instructed that the church should "Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and sinning, being self-condemned." [Titus 3:10-11]

A breach in the unity of the church is a scandal in the Body of Christ. The church is consistently exhorted to practice and preserve a true unity in true doctrine and biblical piety. This unity is not the false unity of a lowest-common-denominator Christianity, the "Gospel Lite" preached and taught in so many modern churches, but in the healthy and growing maturity of the congregation as it increases in grace and knowledge of the Word of God.

The ongoing function of church discipline is to be a part of individual self-examination and congregational reflection. The importance of maintaining integrity in personal relationships was made clear by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount, as He instructed the disciples that anger against a brother is a deadly sin. Reconciliation is a mandate--not a hypothetical goal. "Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering." [Matthew 5:23-24]

Similarly, Paul warned against participating in the Lord's Supper amidst divisions. The Supper itself is a memorial of the broken body and shed blood of the Savior, and must not be desecrated by the presence of divisions or controversies within the congregation, or by unconfessed sin on the part of individual believers. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly." [1 Corinthians 11:26-29]

The 'discipline of the table' is thus one of the most important disciplinary functions of the congregation. The Lord's Supper is not to be served indiscriminately, but only to those baptized believers who are under the discipline of the church and in good standing with their congregation.

In the twenty-first century, the great task of the church is to prove itself to be in continuity with the genuine church as revealed in the New Testament--proving its authenticity by a demonstration of pure faith and authentic community. We must regain the New Testament concern for fidelity of doctrine, purity of life, and unity of fellowship. We must recover the missing mark of the church.


Al Moehler

WatchingHISstory said...

"The church must separate itself from these heresies--and from the heretics. The permissive posture of the church in this century has allowed the most heinous heresies to grow unchecked--and heretics to be celebrated." -Moehler

What if the heresy is an 'itity bitty' heresey, one that can be easily crossed over. What if that little heresy is the product of a really good man whose wisdom is considered the greatest the SBC has to offer. Whatever he says is unquestioned.

Fot the sake of evangelism he adjust the orthodxy to accomodate the heart of the sinner at the expense of the sovereign God. He set limits on God inorder to appeal to the will of the sinner.

There are those who blindly approve of everything he says and then there are others who silently disapprove yet 'feel' it is not a grevious heresy and the heretic is not really a heretic but just a good gentle spokesperson and so eloquent.

Is it just mild, mellow, civil humanism and a little humanism never hurt anyone?

Will this hurt a church? Will it foster grevious sinners and divisiveness?

Junkster said...

noanswerwillsuffice,

Thanks for the reasoned and thoughtful post. Does the "Al Mohler" at the end of your post mean that you are Dr. Mohler, or just that you were quoting him?

Mike Bratton said...

Junkster said...
Mike,

Below is the Matt 18 section in reference:

15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

I could always stand to do more research on any passage of Scripture -- but almost every sermon, commentary, or discussion I have ever heard or read on this passage (and I'd say that's probably about a half ga-jllion) says that "treat him as you would a pagan" means to treat the person as an unbeliever (and thus as one in need of loving guidance toward a relationship with Christ). That's the whole point of refusing them communion (the Lord's Supper), as that ordinance is only for believers in Christ. This is also in keeping with most interpretations of 1 Cor 5 I have heard. ("Expel the wicked man from among you.") Personally, I think maybe you should do some more research before dismissing a common (and reasonable) interpretation out of hand.


From the "I know you are, but what am I?" school of argumentation and debate?

Junk, if I treat you as though you have a contagious disease, does that automatically mean you have a contagious disease?

If I treat you as though you just won some lottery and were "rich beyond the dreams of avarice" (and kudos to the person who can reference the quote--no fair Googling!), does that automatically mean you're wealthy?

And you're confusing 1 Corinthians 5 with Matthew 18, particularly since the Corinthians passage refers to people who self-identify, through behavior, as being non-Christians.

You said, "You are suggesting that Jesus is at odds with Himself by teaching the necessity (and even the process) of church discipline. And you have done so by insisting that the Bible says something it does not say." I have suggested no such thing, and I have insisted on nothing. I merely presented a common viewpoint. I'd appreciate it if you didn't put words in my mouth like that -- I know how much you dislike it when others do that to you.

Apologies for coming across in such a way. However, your argument, as demonstrated, is a Scripturally dissonant one, and your argument makes wrong presumptions (whether or not they're common is irrelevant) about what the Bible does and doesn't say.

I would think that you'd see potential value in discussing the appropriate subjects and situations for church discipline whether or not you agree with someone else's interpretation of the relevant passages -- actually, seems worth discussing all the more when differences of interpretation are at play. But whatever -- it's your blog; do as thou wilt. I suspect I'd get a similar "thanks but no thanks" response if I suggested the topic on NBBCOF.

You would from there, no doubt, but not from me. By all means, let's discuss.

And, by the way, if your pastor honestly thinks it is within his personal purview to "impose church discipline on" (remove from membership) anyone, then you, he, and that whole congregation have far more serious problems in understanding Matt 18 than just a disagreement on what "treat him as you would a pagan" means. Church discipline is a matter for the whole congregation -- this much has to be clear if words have any meaning at all.

Did I indicate that such discipline should be unilaterally imposed from "on high" by a church's pastor? Again, my hearty apologies.

In spite of all this, my basic question remains ... what, biblically, constitutes grounds for expulsion from a congregation? Regardless of what such expulsion implies about the spiritual state of the one expelled (a secondary issue that you pounced on, while avoiding the main point), unless such questions are addressed in a thoughtful, reasoned, and biblically grounded basis, your pastor's opinion, or yours, or mine, of when it is right to remove a church member are just hot air.

Which would be your opinion.

And without a foundational understanding of when and why church discipline is appropriate, it is begging the question to state that it should be performed on those who "taking a church matter outside the church boundaries and into the public arena." Says who?

Says the Bible. Didn't we cover that already? :)

If you can’t demonstrate biblically when church discipline is appropriate, you can't declare by fiat that it is appropriate in that case, or any other!

Quite right. Seeing as how I haven't, I'm in the clear there.

The church discipline section of Matthew 18 comes, as does everything else in Scripture, in context. In the earlier portion of the chapter, Jesus is teaching on the need for humility, personal discipline, and reclamation--leaving the ninety-nine to recover the lone wanderer, turning on its head the wisdom that states (here comes another name-that-quote opportunity!) "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

After His emphasis on humility, discipline, and reconciliation, Jesus gets to the tough stuff. He instructs us in the implementation of church discipline. When? Not for egregious, clearly-defined sins such as in 1 Corinthians 5 or elsewhere, but if a believer trespasses against a brother (or, by extension, a sister) in Christ.

What's a trespass? Good question. Jesus doesn't give us any extra definition in this passage, no follow-up. We do know that the word "trespass" is the Greek hamartano, translated most often (according to Strong's) as "sin," literally "missing the mark." Since Jesus chose to be no more specific than that, neither can we be.

Feel trespassed against? Go talk to the person who committed the offense against you. If you can fix it between the two of you, you'll have a stronger bond between you. That didn't work? Ask a couple of other believers to go to a second meeting between you two, so they can see the dynamic.

Did that still not get it? All right, time to discuss things before the church body as a whole (obviously there's no reference to any unilateral pastoral pronouncements here). If the offending party is still found to be offending, and still refuses to acquiesce, then that congregation is to treat him as though he (or she) were a pagan or someone who is antithetical to the church, without the trust formerly extended to that believer as a member in good standing of that local congregation.

And that's all we get about church discipline in that section of Matthew 18. Is the offending party's salvation revoked? Obviously, no. The fellowship is broken, where the relationship cannot be.

Comments?

--Mike

Lynn said...

Mike, Regarding Dr. Dobson and that meeting where they said they would back a third candidate.

If they did that, it would be like Prince Mongo running for mayor of Memphis in 1991.

Additionally, and while I am not an expert, I am a thinker. The last thing we need is to split the vote and let Hillary, Obama, or Edwards into the Oval Office. Not only because they would pose a major threat to Christians in my opinion, I feel that them backing a 3rd party would put our nations security at a major risk. If our nation is not secure, we can forget debating Roe Vs. Wade....there will be no United States to debate this.

Mike Bratton said...

Lynn said...
Mike, Regarding Dr. Dobson and that meeting where they said they would back a third candidate.

If they did that, it would be like Prince Mongo running for mayor of Memphis in 1991.


Well, as the old Petra song used to say, we Christians are "Not Of This World." :)

Additionally, and while I am not an expert, I am a thinker.

Lynn Beck, Lynn Beck, Lynn Beeeeeeeeeck...

The last thing we need is to split the vote and let Hillary, Obama, or Edwards into the Oval Office. Not only because they would pose a major threat to Christians in my opinion, I feel that them backing a 3rd party would put our nations security at a major risk. If our nation is not secure, we can forget debating Roe Vs. Wade....there will be no United States to debate this.

Couldn't agree more.

--Mike

Junkster said...

Lynn said...
The last thing we need is to split the vote and let Hillary, Obama, or Edwards into the Oval Office. Not only because they would pose a major threat to Christians in my opinion, I feel that them backing a 3rd party would put our nations security at a major risk. If our nation is not secure, we can forget debating Roe Vs. Wade....there will be no United States to debate this.

Mike Bratton said...
Couldn't agree more.

Mega-dittos!

Junkster said...

Mike Bratton said...
From the "I know you are, but what am I?" school of argumentation and debate?

From the "I'm rubber and you're glue" school? :)

Junk, if I treat you as though you have a contagious disease, does that automatically mean you have a contagious disease?

If I treat you as though you are a pagan (an unbeliever, by definition), does that somehow not mean I should lovingly seek to win you to Christ?

If I treat you as though you just won some lottery and were "rich beyond the dreams of avarice" (and kudos to the person who can reference the quote--no fair Googling!),

Ok, but since you didn't say "no ask.com-ing" -- McCoy, ST2. But who was he quoting? (I wouldn't have known if I hadn't cheated.)

does that automatically mean you're wealthy?

If I am treating you like an unbeliever, and if I am doing to you as I'd have you do to me, and if I am being faithful to Christ’s command to make disciples, how can I do anything but seek to bring you to a relationship with Him?

And you're confusing 1 Corinthians 5 with Matthew 18, particularly since the Corinthians passage refers to people who self-identify, through behavior, as being non-Christians.

There are indeed differences in the situations under consideration in 1 Cor 5 (publicly known, unrepented sin) and Matt 18 (individual sin, not necessarily publicly known, and not necessarily unrepented--depends on where one is in the process). But, no, I am not confusing them, and no, 1 Cor 5 does no more or less to identify those being considered as believers or unbelievers. In both 1 Cor 5 and Matt 18 the sinning person is identified as a "brother", yet in both cases, their unrepentant behavior is cause for us to treat them as if they are not. Neither passage (in full context) clearly indicates whether or not the one who has sinned is truly a Christian. But both call us to treat them as if not (and thus to expel them).

You said, "You are suggesting that Jesus is at odds with Himself by teaching the necessity (and even the process) of church discipline. And you have done so by insisting that the Bible says something it does not say." I have suggested no such thing, and I have insisted on nothing. I merely presented a common viewpoint. I'd appreciate it if you didn't put words in my mouth like that -- I know how much you dislike it when others do that to you.

Apologies for coming across in such a way. However, your argument, as demonstrated, is a Scripturally dissonant one,


Mike, I've said this before on other topics we've discussed, and will repeat it -- when you assert something, that is not the same as demonstrating it. You have demonstrated nothing ... I can't even see where you have used and form or argumentation or logic to attempt to demonstrate it -- all you have done is say I am wrong and you are right. Maybe I will get it if you consider me stupid and try using some cogent sequence of logical steps ("A equals is B and B equals C so A equals C" and not non sequiturs "Some A is not B therefore all B is not A".)

and your argument makes wrong presumptions (whether or not they're common is irrelevant) about what the Bible does and doesn't say.

My argument is based solely on what the Bible does and does not say; that is my entire point. The commonness of an interpretation is certainly no proof that it is correct, but dismissing the most common opinion of scholars and commentators without solid supporting argumentation is arrogance.

Did I indicate that such discipline should be unilaterally imposed from "on high" by a church's pastor?

Yeah, ya did. John Mark recommended expulsion and you agreed, expounding with "my pastor ... would have imposed church discipline."

Again, my hearty apologies.

None needed toward me. :)

In spite of all this, my basic question remains ... what, biblically, constitutes grounds for expulsion from a congregation? Regardless of what such expulsion implies about the spiritual state of the one expelled (a secondary issue that you pounced on, while avoiding the main point), unless such questions are addressed in a thoughtful, reasoned, and biblically grounded basis, your pastor's opinion, or yours, or mine, of when it is right to remove a church member are just hot air.

Which would be your opinion.


And so ..... ? Again, solid reasoning would go a long way. Here's the essence of what I said: "Unless someone's opinion can be demonstrated in a coherent manner to be based on Scripture, that opinion if of little value." And here is the essence of your response: "That's your opinion!"

Yes, of course it is my opinion! That's why I stated it. What does the fact that what I stated is my opinion have to do with anything? Is saying "that's your opinion" supposed to be some sort of negation of the accuracy of validity of my opinion? From the "So there!" school?

And without a foundational understanding of when and why church discipline is appropriate, it is begging the question to state that it should be performed on those who "taking a church matter outside the church boundaries and into the public arena." Says who?

Says the Bible. Didn't we cover that already? :)


Says Mike Bratton says the Bible. Where in the Bible does it state what is a "church matter" and that such matters are not to be discussed outside the church? Is that something like a "family secret"? Can we say "dysfunctional family"?

If you can’t demonstrate biblically when church discipline is appropriate, you can't declare by fiat that it is appropriate in that case, or any other!

Quite right. Seeing as how I haven't, I'm in the clear there.


Another undemonstrated assertion.

The church discipline section of Matthew 18 comes, as does everything else in Scripture, in context. In the earlier portion of the chapter, Jesus is teaching on the need for humility, personal discipline, and reclamation--leaving the ninety-nine to recover the lone wanderer,

Now that's better! This was an attempt to demonstrate rather than just assert. There may yet be hope!

turning on its head the wisdom that states (here comes another name-that-quote opportunity!) "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

No Googling or ask.com-ing necessary ... Spock, ST2.

After His emphasis on humility, discipline, and reconciliation, Jesus gets to the tough stuff. He instructs us in the implementation of church discipline. When? Not for egregious, clearly-defined sins such as in 1 Corinthians 5 or elsewhere, but if a believer trespasses against a brother (or, by extension, a sister) in Christ.

What's a trespass? Good question. Jesus doesn't give us any extra definition in this passage, no follow-up. We do know that the word "trespass" is the Greek hamartano, translated most often (according to Strong's) as "sin," literally "missing the mark." Since Jesus chose to be no more specific than that, neither can we be.


You started so well ... then came to this. You are neglecting that all Scripture must be interpreted not only in terms of the immediate context, but in light of the whole of God's Word. Sin in clearly defined all through scripture, we are not left to personal, subjective definitions of what it might mean. A sin is, in essence, a violation of a command of God. We exercise church discipline when God's laws have been broken, not when we "Feel trespassed against".

Feel trespassed against? Go talk to the person who committed the offense against you. If you can fix it between the two of you, you'll have a stronger bond between you. That didn't work? Ask a couple of other believers to go to a second meeting between you two, so they can see the dynamic.

Did that still not get it? All right, time to discuss things before the church body as a whole (obviously there's no reference to any unilateral pastoral pronouncements here). If the offending party is still found to be offending, and still refuses to acquiesce, then that congregation is to treat him as though he (or she) were a pagan or someone who is antithetical to the church, without the trust formerly extended to that believer as a member in good standing of that local congregation.


If one applied this process to situations in which a person "felt sinned against", all that would be needed to expel someone from membership would be for a person to take up a personal offense, on some basis other than a violation of God's commands, and then be able to persuade others that he had a good reason to feel offended. That could be nothing more than a popularity contest! It would be unjust to the extreme, the very opposite of what biblical church discipline ought to accomplish. Church disciple must be applied only in situations regarding scriptural conduct and doctrine for it to be at all meaningful and just.

And that's all we get about church discipline in that section of Matthew 18. Is the offending party's salvation revoked? Obviously, no. The fellowship is broken, where the relationship cannot be.

No one (certainly not I) stated or implied that church discipline has a bearing on salvation, or that anyone salvation could be "revoked". What I did say, based on what is said in Matt 18 and 1 Cor 5 (both passages dealing with removal of someone from church membership, even if under different circumstances), is that when a person is expelled, we are making a judgment that, based on unrepented sin, the one being disciplined is to be treated as an unbeliever. My argument is not that when someone is removed from church membership we are impacting someone’s salvation, or even that we are making a conclusive, absolute statement regarding their salvation. I am saying that in order to truly treat someone as an unbeliever, though I may not know whether or not he or she is truly saved, I must assume that he or she is not.

Surely we can agree that there are those who claim to be believers who are really not. But when we accept someone into membership of a church, we are making a judgment that they should be treated as a believer, based on their profession, baptism, reputation ("letter"), etc. We would not say, "We must treat them as believers, but since we can't be sure, we should assume they aren't and keep witnessing to them to win them to faith in Christ." To truly treat them as a believer, we have to assume that they are a believer.

Likewise, when someone is removed from a church, we are making a judgment that the person should be treated as an unbeliever, based on their unrepented sin. We should not say, "We treat them as an unbeliever, but since we can't be sure, and they may actually be a believer, we should not be witnessing to them to win them to faith in Christ" To truly treat them as an unbeliever, we have to assume that they are an unbeliever.

Comments?

That should be enough for now.

Mike Bratton said...

Junkster said...
Mike Bratton said...
From the "I know you are, but what am I?" school of argumentation and debate?

From the "I'm rubber and you're glue" school? :)


My question still lingers, unanswered, in the air...

Junk, if I treat you as though you have a contagious disease, does that automatically mean you have a contagious disease?

If I treat you as though you are a pagan (an unbeliever, by definition), does that somehow not mean I should lovingly seek to win you to Christ?


Two unanswered questions.

If I treat you as though you just won some lottery and were "rich beyond the dreams of avarice" (and kudos to the person who can reference the quote--no fair Googling!),

Ok, but since you didn't say "no ask.com-ing" -- McCoy, ST2. But who was he quoting? (I wouldn't have known if I hadn't cheated.)


Dr. McCoy was quoting the same fellow who coined the phrase "adding insult to injury."

does that automatically mean you're wealthy?

If I am treating you like an unbeliever, and if I am doing to you as I'd have you do to me, and if I am being faithful to Christ’s command to make disciples, how can I do anything but seek to bring you to a relationship with Him?


Three unanswered questions.

And you're confusing 1 Corinthians 5 with Matthew 18, particularly since the Corinthians passage refers to people who self-identify, through behavior, as being non-Christians.

There are indeed differences in the situations under consideration in 1 Cor 5 (publicly known, unrepented sin) and Matt 18 (individual sin, not necessarily publicly known, and not necessarily unrepented--depends on where one is in the process). But, no, I am not confusing them, and no, 1 Cor 5 does no more or less to identify those being considered as believers or unbelievers. In both 1 Cor 5 and Matt 18 the sinning person is identified as a "brother", yet in both cases, their unrepentant behavior is cause for us to treat them as if they are not. Neither passage (in full context) clearly indicates whether or not the one who has sinned is truly a Christian. But both call us to treat them as if not (and thus to expel them).


Wrong conclusion, as previously illustrated.

You said, "You are suggesting that Jesus is at odds with Himself by teaching the necessity (and even the process) of church discipline. And you have done so by insisting that the Bible says something it does not say." I have suggested no such thing, and I have insisted on nothing. I merely presented a common viewpoint. I'd appreciate it if you didn't put words in my mouth like that -- I know how much you dislike it when others do that to you.

Apologies for coming across in such a way. However, your argument, as demonstrated, is a Scripturally dissonant one,

Mike, I've said this before on other topics we've discussed, and will repeat it -- when you assert something, that is not the same as demonstrating it. You have demonstrated nothing ... I can't even see where you have used and form or argumentation or logic to attempt to demonstrate it -- all you have done is say I am wrong and you are right. Maybe I will get it if you consider me stupid and try using some cogent sequence of logical steps ("A equals is B and B equals C so A equals C" and not non sequiturs "Some A is not B therefore all B is not A".)


How about if you answer questions posed to you? There's a reason I ask so many...

and your argument makes wrong presumptions (whether or not they're common is irrelevant) about what the Bible does and doesn't say.

My argument is based solely on what the Bible does and does not say; that is my entire point. The commonness of an interpretation is certainly no proof that it is correct, but dismissing the most common opinion of scholars and commentators without solid supporting argumentation is arrogance.


The problem lies, if I may be blunt, in not answering simple questions put to you. At last count, three await your response.

Did I indicate that such discipline should be unilaterally imposed from "on high" by a church's pastor?

Yeah, ya did. John Mark recommended expulsion and you agreed, expounding with "my pastor ... would have imposed church discipline."


No, I didn't.

Because my current pastor would agree with the process, and implement church discipline, doesn't mean he could even do so unilaterally. If my pastor believes he should start the first church on the moon, is his own effort alone enough to achieve such a goal, or would there have to be a group effort involved?

In spite of all this, my basic question remains ... what, biblically, constitutes grounds for expulsion from a congregation? Regardless of what such expulsion implies about the spiritual state of the one expelled (a secondary issue that you pounced on, while avoiding the main point), unless such questions are addressed in a thoughtful, reasoned, and biblically grounded basis, your pastor's opinion, or yours, or mine, of when it is right to remove a church member are just hot air.

Which would be your opinion.

And so ..... ? Again, solid reasoning would go a long way. Here's the essence of what I said: "Unless someone's opinion can be demonstrated in a coherent manner to be based on Scripture, that opinion if of little value." And here is the essence of your response: "That's your opinion!"


The "what he really said" method of obfuscation, something I really don't like.

The Bible is its own best commentary; where it speaks, we should listen, and where it doesn't, we should not extrapolate.

Yes, of course it is my opinion! That's why I stated it. What does the fact that what I stated is my opinion have to do with anything? Is saying "that's your opinion" supposed to be some sort of negation of the accuracy of validity of my opinion? From the "So there!" school?

It is a qualification, and a reminder that while sometimes opinions are well-grounded, sometimes they are not. If I hold the opinion that there will be a manned moon base in fifteen years, that opinion is well-founded on the plans NASA has to have a base established there by the year 2020. If, on the other hand, I hold the opinion that there will be a manned base on Mars in the next fifteen years, that opinion is not well-founded.

Not all opinions are created equal.

And without a foundational understanding of when and why church discipline is appropriate, it is begging the question to state that it should be performed on those who "taking a church matter outside the church boundaries and into the public arena." Says who?

Says the Bible. Didn't we cover that already? :)

Says Mike Bratton says the Bible.


Wrong, and you really need to quit defaulting to that inert argument.

Show me in Matthew 18 where any believer who feels he's been sinned against by another believer has the recourse of publicizing his feelings to the world at large. I'll save you the trouble of looking, because it simply isn't there.

Where in the Bible does it state what is a "church matter" and that such matters are not to be discussed outside the church? Is that something like a "family secret"? Can we say "dysfunctional family"?

No, but we can say "Don't injure the cause of Christ or the work of the local church by acting like a spoiled child."

If you can’t demonstrate biblically when church discipline is appropriate, you can't declare by fiat that it is appropriate in that case, or any other!

Quite right. Seeing as how I haven't, I'm in the clear there.

Another undemonstrated assertion.


Not in the slightest. I've been, actually, more than a bit thorough in referencing the Scripture in question. If that's unsatisfactory, I really don't know what else to tell you.

Speaking of which, why--look at the next thing you quoted from me!

The church discipline section of Matthew 18 comes, as does everything else in Scripture, in context. In the earlier portion of the chapter, Jesus is teaching on the need for humility, personal discipline, and reclamation--leaving the ninety-nine to recover the lone wanderer,

Now that's better! This was an attempt to demonstrate rather than just assert. There may yet be hope!


Then you should've gone back and deleted your hyperbolizations.

turning on its head the wisdom that states (here comes another name-that-quote opportunity!) "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

No Googling or ask.com-ing necessary ... Spock, ST2.


Bravo.

After His emphasis on humility, discipline, and reconciliation, Jesus gets to the tough stuff. He instructs us in the implementation of church discipline. When? Not for egregious, clearly-defined sins such as in 1 Corinthians 5 or elsewhere, but if a believer trespasses against a brother (or, by extension, a sister) in Christ.

What's a trespass? Good question. Jesus doesn't give us any extra definition in this passage, no follow-up. We do know that the word "trespass" is the Greek hamartano, translated most often (according to Strong's) as "sin," literally "missing the mark." Since Jesus chose to be no more specific than that, neither can we be.

You started so well ... then came to this.


Hmm. Deferring to Christ's words on a matter don't meet with your approval?

Fascinating.

You are neglecting that all Scripture must be interpreted not only in terms of the immediate context, but in light of the whole of God's Word. Sin in clearly defined all through scripture, we are not left to personal, subjective definitions of what it might mean.

And I introduced subjectivity where, exactly?

Let me save you the trouble again.

I didn't.

A sin is, in essence, a violation of a command of God. We exercise church discipline when God's laws have been broken, not when we "Feel trespassed against".

Then, according to you, the anti-Bellevue types who were members of the church should've been brought up before the church a long, long time ago for their incredible, oft-repeated sins. But, of course, it's easy to sin when nobody knows your name except a few of your co-conspirators, right?

I take it you understand now just how absurd it has been to see people carping about accountability and sin for over a year while insulating themselves as best they can against the consequences of their own sins?

Feel trespassed against? Go talk to the person who committed the offense against you. If you can fix it between the two of you, you'll have a stronger bond between you. That didn't work? Ask a couple of other believers to go to a second meeting between you two, so they can see the dynamic.

Did that still not get it? All right, time to discuss things before the church body as a whole (obviously there's no reference to any unilateral pastoral pronouncements here). If the offending party is still found to be offending, and still refuses to acquiesce, then that congregation is to treat him as though he (or she) were a pagan or someone who is antithetical to the church, without the trust formerly extended to that believer as a member in good standing of that local congregation.

If one applied this process to situations in which a person "felt sinned against", all that would be needed to expel someone from membership would be for a person to take up a personal offense, on some basis other than a violation of God's commands, and then be able to persuade others that he had a good reason to feel offended. That could be nothing more than a popularity contest! It would be unjust to the extreme, the very opposite of what biblical church discipline ought to accomplish. Church disciple must be applied only in situations regarding scriptural conduct and doctrine for it to be at all meaningful and just.


To coin a phrase, that response was less than compelling. You're grasping. And you're suggesting both that Jesus' own guidelines set the stage for a "popularity contest," and that God is either unwilling or unable to be sovereign in such matters.

And that's all we get about church discipline in that section of Matthew 18. Is the offending party's salvation revoked? Obviously, no. The fellowship is broken, where the relationship cannot be.

No one (certainly not I) stated or implied that church discipline has a bearing on salvation, or that anyone salvation could be "revoked".


Yes, you did...

"treat him as you would a pagan" means to treat the person as an unbeliever (and thus as one in need of loving guidance toward a relationship with Christ).

What I did say, based on what is said in Matt 18 and 1 Cor 5 (both passages dealing with removal of someone from church membership, even if under different circumstances), is that when a person is expelled, we are making a judgment that, based on unrepented sin, the one being disciplined is to be treated as an unbeliever.

Actually, if you'll scroll back, that's what I said.

My argument is not that when someone is removed from church membership we are impacting someone’s salvation, or even that we are making a conclusive, absolute statement regarding their salvation. I am saying that in order to truly treat someone as an unbeliever, though I may not know whether or not he or she is truly saved, I must assume that he or she is not.

Thank you for the clarification. But that isn't what you said originally, as your previous quote illustrates.

So your clarified position is that you don't take people at their word? (Note that I'm not saying, in this instance, whether or not that's necessarily a bad thing.)

Surely we can agree that there are those who claim to be believers who are really not. But when we accept someone into membership of a church, we are making a judgment that they should be treated as a believer, based on their profession, baptism, reputation ("letter"), etc. We would not say, "We must treat them as believers, but since we can't be sure, we should assume they aren't and keep witnessing to them to win them to faith in Christ." To truly treat them as a believer, we have to assume that they are a believer.

Likewise, when someone is removed from a church, we are making a judgment that the person should be treated as an unbeliever, based on their unrepented sin. We should not say, "We treat them as an unbeliever, but since we can't be sure, and they may actually be a believer, we should not be witnessing to them to win them to faith in Christ" To truly treat them as an unbeliever, we have to assume that they are an unbeliever.

Comments?

That should be enough for now.


Had you said something along the lines of "We really need to make sure that the people on the receiving end of church discipline are ministered to, and have a clear, Biblical reason for believing themselves to be saved," you would've saved a lot of bandwidth.

--Mike

John Mark said...

Likewise, when someone is removed from a church, we are making a judgment that the person should be treated as an unbeliever, based on their unrepented sin. We should not say, "We treat them as an unbeliever, but since we can't be sure, and they may actually be a believer, we should not be witnessing to them to win them to faith in Christ" To truly treat them as an unbeliever, we have to assume that they are an unbeliever.

Sin isn't the only reason that people are removed from church. I was cast out because I was hit by a drunk driver, left partially paralyzed, and my wife divorced me. Oh, sure, the church never took an official vote to expel me, but their actions spoke much louder than words (God's words, that is).

I never asked for preferential treatment, or threated anyone with a lawsuit for not conforming to the ADA (which hadn't been created yet), but my church made it abundantly clear that I wasn't welcome any more. Why? Because I made them uncomfortable.

Why is it sin is overlooked in the name of compassion, but not calamity?

Junkster said...

Mike Bratton said...
My question still lingers, unanswered, in the air...

I know you are not as obtuse as you are letting on. My question was my answer to your question. A perfectly valid rhetorical method for making a point. I learned it from Jesus. But just to ensure that you don’t continue to claim I didn’t answer because you either didn’t like or didn’t comprehend my response, here is a more direct and literalistic one: As far as I know, there is no such thing as the “I know you are, but what am I?” school of argumentation and debate. You stated that I needed to do further study, and I stated I could use it, but that maybe you could, too -- meaning that it is my opinion that your assertions reflected a lack of understanding of a passage you were claiming I needed to study further..

So now you have my answer. You may not like it or agree with it, but I have spelled it out.

Junk, if I treat you as though you have a contagious disease, does that automatically mean you have a contagious disease?

If I treat you as though you are a pagan (an unbeliever, by definition), does that somehow not mean I should lovingly seek to win you to Christ?

Two unanswered questions.


No, two questions answered with a question. But to again be more direct: No, if you treat me as having a contagious disease, it does not necessarily mean I have one. But it would make no sense to treat me that way if you didn’t assume it was true. Jesus wasn’t advocating playing games, he was stating what should be an appropriate response to what appears to be reality from our limited human perspective.

If I treat you as though you just won some lottery and were "rich beyond the dreams of avarice" … does that automatically mean you're wealthy?

If I am treating you like an unbeliever, and if I am doing to you as I'd have you do to me, and if I am being faithful to Christ’s command to make disciples, how can I do anything but seek to bring you to a relationship with Him?


Three unanswered questions.

Yet again, to allay the appearance of confusion: No, treating me as wealthy does not mean I really am. But for you to do so when you didn’t really think I was would be silly and pointless. With his admonition to treat the one expelled as an unbeliever, Christ was not recommending a useless course of action.

There are indeed differences in the situations under consideration in 1 Cor 5 (publicly known, unrepented sin) and Matt 18 (individual sin, not necessarily publicly known, and not necessarily unrepented--depends on where one is in the process). But, no, I am not confusing them, and no, 1 Cor 5 does no more or less to identify those being considered as believers or unbelievers. In both 1 Cor 5 and Matt 18 the sinning person is identified as a "brother", yet in both cases, their unrepentant behavior is cause for us to treat them as if they are not. Neither passage (in full context) clearly indicates whether or not the one who has sinned is truly a Christian. But both call us to treat them as if not (and thus to expel them).

Wrong conclusion, as previously illustrated.


Illustrated??? By those questions equating nonsensical behaviors with what Jesus was saying? Hardly.

Mike, I've said this before on other topics we've discussed, and will repeat it -- when you assert something, that is not the same as demonstrating it. You have demonstrated nothing ... I can't even see where you have used and form or argumentation or logic to attempt to demonstrate it -- all you have done is say I am wrong and you are right. Maybe I will get it if you consider me stupid and try using some cogent sequence of logical steps ("A equals is B and B equals C so A equals C" and not non sequiturs "Some A is not B therefore all B is not A".)

How about if you answer questions posed to you? There's a reason I ask so many...



The problem lies, if I may be blunt, in not answering simple questions put to you. At last count, three await your response.


I already had, but just to make sure there could be no claim of not understanding the responses, I have now elaborated. Three questions, three responses. Care to answer mine now? You can even skip the first one, since it was merely a sarcastic response to your sarcastic response. You know, you can skip them all; I don’t think you’re willing to acknowledge the faults in your logic. I do think you are smart enough to see them, but I think the problem isn’t with what you know, it is with how you chose to respond to those who disagree with you. Some people pretend they don’t get someone’s meaning when they don’t have a strong argument.

Did I indicate that such discipline should be unilaterally imposed from "on high" by a church's pastor?

Yeah, ya did. John Mark recommended expulsion and you agreed, expounding with "my pastor ... would have imposed church discipline."

No, I didn't.

Because my current pastor would agree with the process, and implement church discipline, doesn't mean he could even do so unilaterally. If my pastor believes he should start the first church on the moon, is his own effort alone enough to achieve such a goal, or would there have to be a group effort involved?


That would be a valid point if John Mark’s original statement, and your concurrent with it, had been referring to the whole process of church discipline. But what he suggested, and you agreed with, and what you referred to as church discipline, was not the process, but the end result (expulsion of the unrepentant). Perhaps you and your pastor had in mind the process, but that isn’t what you originally said. But I have no problem accepting that what you said wasn’t precisely what you meant.

In spite of all this, my basic question remains ... what, biblically, constitutes grounds for expulsion from a congregation? Regardless of what such expulsion implies about the spiritual state of the one expelled (a secondary issue that you pounced on, while avoiding the main point), unless such questions are addressed in a thoughtful, reasoned, and biblically grounded basis, your pastor's opinion, or yours, or mine, of when it is right to remove a church member are just hot air.

Which would be your opinion.

And so ..... ? Again, solid reasoning would go a long way. Here's the essence of what I said: "Unless someone's opinion can be demonstrated in a coherent manner to be based on Scripture, that opinion if of little value." And here is the essence of your response: "That's your opinion!"

The "what he really said" method of obfuscation, something I really don't like.


It was not an attempt to say “what he really said”, it was an attempt to summarize. I made a point, and your response was “Which would be your opinion”, a phrase with no substantial difference from the words I used to summarize (“That’s your opinion”).

The Bible is its own best commentary; where it speaks, we should listen, and where it doesn't, we should not extrapolate.

Agreed. So please stop doing that! :)

Yes, of course it is my opinion! That's why I stated it. What does the fact that what I stated is my opinion have to do with anything? Is saying "that's your opinion" supposed to be some sort of negation of the accuracy of validity of my opinion? From the "So there!" school?

It is a qualification, and a reminder that while sometimes opinions are well-grounded, sometimes they are not.


Yeah, I got that. My intent was to point out that you did nothing to attempt to demonstrate that my opinion was not well-grounded, you merely used the qualifier to indirectly assert that it wasn’t..

Not all opinions are created equal.

Says Mike Bratton says the Bible.

Wrong, and you really need to quit defaulting to that inert argument.


I will quit stating that you make assertions without backing them up when you quit doing it.

Where in the Bible does it state what is a "church matter" and that such matters are not to be discussed outside the church? Is that something like a "family secret"? Can we say "dysfunctional family"?

No, but we can say "Don't injure the cause of Christ or the work of the local church by acting like a spoiled child."


Same thing. A dysfunctional family says “Don’t air our dirty laundry … don’t let anyone know our sins and wrongdoings… keep it in the family … we must keep up appearances … we must not spoil our reputations” even though the family’s good reputation to outsiders is a sham. When we as believers have sins or problems, either individually or corporately, and our response is to keep them out of site so as to avoid damaging our testimony, we have become hypocrites of the worst kind. The way of Christ is transparency, openness and brokenness over sins, and brokenness never seeks to cover it over. It is more harm to our testimony about the grace and forgiveness of Christ when we pretend we have nothing to be ashamed of than it is when we acknowledge and forsake our sin, and show the world that we need His grace just as much as we claim they do.

Yes, to maintain our testimonies we must be careful how we air our grievances (not to act like spoiled children, as you put it), but to say it is wrong for us to be public and open and honest about sins within the body is to miss the point of grace and forgiveness altogether.

If you can’t demonstrate biblically when church discipline is appropriate, you can't declare by fiat that it is appropriate in that case, or any other!

Quite right. Seeing as how I haven't, I'm in the clear there.

Another undemonstrated assertion.

Not in the slightest. I've been, actually, more than a bit thorough in referencing the Scripture in question. If that's unsatisfactory, I really don't know what else to tell you.

Speaking of which, why--look at the next thing you quoted from me!


Ummmm …. the “next thing” I quoted came after you’d made an assertion without supporting argumentation. (That’s what “next” means.) You can’t say you have already done something because you are about to attempt it.

The church discipline section of Matthew 18 comes, as does everything else in Scripture, in context. In the earlier portion of the chapter, Jesus is teaching on the need for humility, personal discipline, and reclamation--leaving the ninety-nine to recover the lone wanderer,

Now that's better! This was an attempt to demonstrate rather than just assert. There may yet be hope!

Then you should've gone back and deleted your hyperbolizations.


I was pointing out that you finally got around to attempting what you’d previously not done.

You started so well ... then came to this.

Hmm. Deferring to Christ's words on a matter don't meet with your approval?


Huh? What did I miss? I said that you gave a good summary of the passage up to a point, but then you diverted into something the passage didn’t say. How is that a matter of me not approving of deferring to Christ’s words? I was merely not deferring to your misinterpretation of them.

You are neglecting that all Scripture must be interpreted not only in terms of the immediate context, but in light of the whole of God's Word. Sin in clearly defined all through scripture, we are not left to personal, subjective definitions of what it might mean.

And I introduced subjectivity where, exactly?

Let me save you the trouble again.

I didn't.


No trouble at all! You introduced subjectivity when you stated that the process of church discipline starts when a person “feels” trespassed against. Feelings have nothing to do with it; that is a subjective judgment. The basis of applying church discipline, including the initial step of going to the offending brother, is when there has been an actual violation of God’s law, not just when I feel offended. I might get my feelings hurt when someone does the right thing, simply because I am being selfish and immature. Should I go to a person claiming an offense, or bring him before witnesses, or before the church, when he has actually done no wrong? The answer is no. If he has done no real wrong, but I have a problem with what he has done (I “feel offended”), the problem is mine; it is not a matter over which to even begin the process of church discipline.

A sin is, in essence, a violation of a command of God. We exercise church discipline when God's laws have been broken, not when we "Feel trespassed against".

Then, according to you, the anti-Bellevue types who were members of the church should've been brought up before the church a long, long time ago for their incredible, oft-repeated sins.


Perhaps so. Don’t you think so?

There are private sins against the individual, that if repented of, need never be known by anyone but the original offender and offendee (the case with Matt 18), and there are public, open sins, which can be brought before the church for public rebuke and correction without first going one on one (the case with 1 Cor 5). I’m no genius, but I’d say that sins on a blog probably fall under the latter category.

But, of course, it's easy to sin when nobody knows your name except a few of your co-conspirators, right?

Just a random hypothetical … could a church choose to expel someone on the basis of repeated, public, unrepented sin, even though the person remained anonymous? I’ve heard of legal cases where a “John Doe” was tried for a crime on the basis of DNA evidence, with the hope that one day their DNA would be entered into the databases over another matter. If there were anonymous members (known by a pseudonym, perhaps?) who were agreed to be appropriate subjects of church discipline, could, or should, a church issue a call for them to come forward and confess and forsake their sins? And if they refused, could, or should, the church issue a statement the unknown members were hereby expelled? Assuming they were genuinely in violation of God’s commands, not unjust victims of a corrupt or apostate church, could the inner knowledge of their standing, even if known only to the offender, be a potential source of conviction, leading them to repentance? Hmmmm…

I take it you understand now just how absurd it has been to see people carping about accountability and sin for over a year while insulating themselves as best they can against the consequences of their own sins?

I’ve understood that for a long time.

To coin a phrase, that response was less than compelling.

Then go back and read Matt 18 again, and what I wrote again. I have faith that you’ll get it.

You're grasping. And you're suggesting both that Jesus' own guidelines set the stage for a "popularity contest," and that God is either unwilling or unable to be sovereign in such matters.

No, no, no … I am suggesting that basing church discipline on your misunderstanding (“feel trespassed against”) of what Jesus instructed (commands, by the way, not “guidelines”) would set the stage for turning church discipline into a popularity contest.

And it’s amusing that one who doesn’t recognize the biblical teachings on the nature of salvation (aka “Calvinism”) would question my understanding of God’s sovereignty. I got a good chuckle out of that!

And that's all we get about church discipline in that section of Matthew 18. Is the offending party's salvation revoked? Obviously, no. The fellowship is broken, where the relationship cannot be.

No one (certainly not I) stated or implied that church discipline has a bearing on salvation, or that anyone salvation could be "revoked".

Yes, you did...

"treat him as you would a pagan" means to treat the person as an unbeliever (and thus as one in need of loving guidance toward a relationship with Christ).


Ok, let’s parse this more carefully. “Treat him as you would a pagan”. What’s a pagan? Someone who does not know God, who sets up idols in place of God, who follows his own constructs of how to relate to God, rather than to submit to God’s revelation of Himself. What’s another word for someone who willfully does not submit to God? An unbeliever. So whatever else it might mean, “treat him as you would a pagan” means treating him as an unbeliever. And, as I stated elsewhere, to treat one as an unbeliever, if that is to be at all sincere, requires assuming he or she is an unbeliever and that such treatment is appropriate. And just what treatment is appropriate for us toward an unbeliever? Jeers and blows about the head with coconuts? No, but rather loving attempts to win them from unbelief to belief . And moving from unbelief to belief is what it means to be in relationship with Christ.

Do you not believe that there are those who have professed faith in Christ who are not truly His? I am sure you do. Those who have been expelled should be related to as in that category, until they evidence the fruits of salvation by repentance. When we do this, we are not “revoking” their salvation, for they never had it to begin with.

What I did say, based on what is said in Matt 18 and 1 Cor 5 (both passages dealing with removal of someone from church membership, even if under different circumstances), is that when a person is expelled, we are making a judgment that, based on unrepented sin, the one being disciplined is to be treated as an unbeliever.

Actually, if you'll scroll back, that's what I said.


I like it when you agree with the truth! :)

My argument is not that when someone is removed from church membership we are impacting someone’s salvation, or even that we are making a conclusive, absolute statement regarding their salvation. I am saying that in order to truly treat someone as an unbeliever, though I may not know whether or not he or she is truly saved, I must assume that he or she is not.

Thank you for the clarification. But that isn't what you said originally, as your previous quote illustrates.


As I just explained, my original quote was fully consistent with my later statements.

So your clarified position is that you don't take people at their word? (Note that I'm not saying, in this instance, whether or not that's necessarily a bad thing.)

I don’t assume that because someone claims to be a believer they actually are, if that’s what you mean.

Had you said something along the lines of "We really need to make sure that the people on the receiving end of church discipline are ministered to, and have a clear, Biblical reason for believing themselves to be saved," you would've saved a lot of bandwidth.

We could also have saved a lot of effort if you had not dismissed my original post on the topic as based on a flawed premise when it was not. But what fun would that have been?

-----
Tom

Junkster said...

John Mark said...
Why is it sin is overlooked in the name of compassion, but not calamity?

So sorry you've had those experiences. But the kind of "casting out" that you went through wasn't church discipline, it was just plain old church stupidity.

Memphis said...

BBC 11yrs said...

"You need to open your eyes and recognize that all who remain supportive of Steve Gaines are ignorant of scripture and pedophile supporters, habitual sinners, no good scoundrels. Those who have moved on are saints who do no wrong and recognize the wrong in everyone else."


Nice huh?

Karen said...

For those of you praying for my dad, he is in recovery and will be in ICU overnight (standard procedure). They took some lymph nodes to test (again, standard) and they took the upper lobe of his left lung. I'm on my way to the hospital for a visit. Thanks much for your faithful prayers.

karen

Jon L. Estes said...

Memphis,

I did not take BBC 11 years words literally, rather saw him trying to make a point as to the perception of the blog.

If I am correct, then the post makes sense. If not, then I'm not sure what he meant.

Junkster said...

Back to the topic:

I just read some excepts from Ann Coulter's new book, "If Democrats Had An Brains They'd Be Republicans". Though't I'd share a few:

From the introduction:
“Uttering lines that send liberals into paroxysms of rage, otherwise known as ‘citing facts,’ is the spice of life. When I see the hot spittle flying from their mouths and the veins bulging and pulsing above their eyes, well, that’s when I feel truly alive.”

Other quotes provide Coulter’s take on:

• Her politics: “As far as I’m concerned, I’m a middle-of-the-road moderate and the rest of you are crazy.”
• Hillary Clinton: “Hillary wants to be the first woman president, which would also make her the first woman in a Clinton administration to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office instead of under it.”
• The environment: “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.’”
• Religion: “It’s become increasingly difficult to distinguish the pronouncements of the Episcopal Church from the latest Madonna video.”
• Global warming: “The temperature of the planet has increased about one degree Fahrenheit in the last century. So imagine a summer afternoon when it’s 63 degrees and the next thing you know it’s . . . 64 degrees. Ahhhh!!!! Run for your lives, everybody! Women and children first!”
• Gun control: “Mass murderers apparently can’t read, since they are constantly shooting up ‘gun-free zones.’”
• Bill Clinton: “Bill Clinton’s library is the first one to ever feature an Adults Only section.”
• Illegal aliens: “I am the illegal alien of commentary. I will do the jokes that no one else will do.”