There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

never pleasant; often productive

We may have opened Pandora’s box slightly yesterday by exploring the place of Church of discipline, but in this case, it may be worth the trouble. As I promised, here’s a link to a sermon by Jonathan Edwards that speaks to how we exercise judicious and compassionate discipline in various scenarios. That of which he speaks of will seem awfully foreign to our ears, but inasmuch as he outlines what to do in extreme circumstances–in the cases of “gross sin”–there is value in this discussion for how we should treat the less heinous improprieties we find among us.

As is customary, I couldn’t possibly do the topic justice, so here’s a little section below I left out that summarizes (incompletely) how valuing the place of discipline would look in me, in us as a community, and in you as an individual member of that community.

so, as usual, share your thoughts. Expose my blind-spots. Suggest how this might look in us.

  • What would a healthy regard for Church discipline look like in me, in us, and in you personally?
    • Me:
      • It would mean I would take more than a passing interest in your maturing, that I would not merely be content with putting together a coherent lesson, but that it would seek to be for yours and mine maturing in the faith
      • I would refuse simply to preach to you at arms-length but take a more personal interest in you…and, by the same token, invite your observation of me to give me appropriate reproof when necessary (some of you already have!)
    • Us:
      • We would seek to act as a united front to preserve the Church’s witness as a people set apart to be and do something—something more than being labeled a “churchgoing people” or merely meeting together on Sundays
      • We would seek to master the balancing act of upholding the purity and sanctity of the church while not emptying it of the grace that brought her into existence and sustains and enriches that existence
    • You:
      • You would take an interest in one another’s interests and in the holiness of those interests
      • You would refuse to let someone’s besetting sins be someone else’s problem.
      • You would neither relish the reproof (by seeking to punish or take vengeance) nor refrain from offering it (to avoid conflict or to maintain a thin veneer of friendship)


  Gov Foote wrote @

I have enjoyed the 20+,and your lessons the only reason I’m chimming in is that, you talk about church discipline, would you say that it would also fall under, our own personal sins as well? meaning that we have to account for our own actions? as well for others?

  Patrick Lafferty wrote @

Anyone in the New Testament issuing instructions in holiness always addressed firstthose called to be holy. It was not as if Jesus, Paul, Peter etc. were totally mistrustful of an individual’s capacity to see to their own holiness, the SPirit’s superintention notwithstanding. And surely there are texts which call for the church to admonish one another (Col 3:16, for example), but church discipline–which, as we said Sunday, can be broadly defined as anything that sees to the holiness of the church–is in order only when individuals themselves have been derelict in their own self-control.

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