Showing posts with label Discipline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Discipline. Show all posts

Friday, March 15, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: The Discipline of Discipline

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Immanuel Can: The only verse in the Bible that everyone today seems to know is “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Tom: Sounds about right.

IC: Okay, so that verse seems to people to be conveying something important. Maybe it needs some closer examination.

Tom: Fair enough. Well, it seems to me there’s an obvious incentive on the part of those who use it to rebut any potential critique of their own behaviors — or the behaviors of those for whom they choose to be advocates. I mean, quoting a verse to an unbeliever would carry no weight at all, so it’s clearly a device to disqualify dissenting Christian opinion and shut down any debate before it begins.

It’s saying to you and me, “Aha, see, you’re not allowed to have a view on this.”

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Just Get Up

Sammy came to visit me yesterday.

I shouldn’t call him that, actually. He’s not a kid. He’s close to thirty now, I would guess; he’s done with college, done with establishing a career, and while he’s not yet married (if he ever chooses to be), he’s a highly successful entrepreneur who owns two flourishing businesses.

But when I knew him he was “Sammy”. I coached him in his teens, you see.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The Whole Gathering

Pick out from among you seven men of good repute …”

When was the last time your local church “read out” or excommunicated someone?

I know some churches that have never done it. Even in churches that have, for most it’s been a very long time, to almost nobody’s regret. In these litigious days, telling a brother or sister they are no longer welcome in the fellowship of the saints is not an action in which anybody is particularly enthusiastic about participating. Nor should it be: there is plenty of financial risk involved, as well as the potential risk to testimony if a person so excluded elects to push back in a public way and the church’s version of the excommunication narrative is called into question by people incapable of understanding its purpose.

Who jumps at handling a hot potato like that? Nobody with a keen sense of self-preservation, that’s for sure.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: Church of the Revolving Door

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Almost all in-groups, public or private, have some form of disciplinary process in place. At work, if you engage in behavior the company defines as “harassment”, you will generally find yourself in front of a supervisor and a Human Resources rep, either to be written up or dismissed. The NFL regularly suspends players who don’t comply with its codes. Even Twitter will freeze your account for expressing what it considers to be inappropriate political views. All of this is standard procedure.

Tom: If you read a fair bit of recent online commentary, you might be forgiven for thinking that contemporary evangelical churches are the only institutions in existence that have no self-policing mechanisms in place.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Two or Three Mistakes

“Where two or three are gathered …”

I’ve heard this little phrase quoted for years in churches all over the place. I’ve almost never heard it quoted correctly, meaning in its context and referring to the situations to which it actually applies.

When I’ve heard it quoted, almost invariably it is used to suggest that any local gathering of the church, no matter how small, is important enough to the Lord that he will, in some spiritual way, be present and involved with that situation. And really, I can’t say that isn’t true. But I can say for sure that that isn’t what this particular verse was given us to teach us.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Straddling the Fence

The blogosphere is forever.

Well, maybe not forever exactly. Writers whose posts I would be happy to share with the world are being deplatformed every day, it seems, to the point where I have taken to archiving anything I really enjoy, fully expecting it to disappear the moment it attracts the attention of our new, self-appointed internet censors. And sometimes it does.

That said, when you post something online you had better be very sure you stand behind it, because there is a better than average chance it will never go away, Exhibit A being this much-maligned effort by Doug Wilson from 2018 counseling a (hypothetical) church elder’s wife about how to leave her husband.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Mining the Minors: Amos (8)

Relationship is the foundation of all appropriate correction.

Where there is no set of mutual obligations established, and no agreed-upon standard to be abided by, we are generally fairly careful about playing judge — or at least we ought to be. “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?” asks the apostle Paul. Of course; it is before his own master that each servant stands or falls. It is quite appropriate for a father to punish his own children when they misbehave, a little less so for an uncle to do it, even less so for the neighbors, and wholly inappropriate for strangers to interfere with someone else’s children.

I try to apply this principle in my interactions with other people’s kids, no matter how irritating they may be. After all, nobody likes busybodies and meddlers.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Biblical Procedure for Church Discipline?

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

From time to time we come across believers referring to this famous passage in Matthew as the “biblical procedure for church discipline”.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: The Discipline of Discipline

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Just Get Up

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (55)

Those who rule over us pay more attention to the small nuances of our lives than we might think.

Never has this been truer than in the information age, when all kinds of micro-details — true, false and grossly misleading — may be compiled into an executive summary with the click of an icon. That said, it is good practice to assume those who have the authority to call us to account are smarter than they sometimes appear. My own boss is able to find out a surprising amount about my work habits and relationships for the purpose of annual reviews, most of it via word of mouth from other employees.

Here are several proverbs that probably originated in King Solomon’s meditations as he observed the daily habits of the subjects of the kingdom he administered, and reflected on the performance and character of its officials.

Maybe one or two of them even noticed he was doing it.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Criticism and Grace

The apostle Paul (and Timothy) to the church of God in Corinth:

“For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it — though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”

You may already know the background here …

Saturday, January 12, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (41)

There’s a little something for almost everybody in this week’s selection of proverbs: children, parents and seniors, alcoholics and other people with out-of-control habits, and most especially their enablers. Even the envious get a quick name-check.

Never let it be said that the Bible isn’t practical …

Saturday, November 24, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (34)

In raising his children, my father maintained a keen sense of the big picture. He would always encourage my mother when things seemed most hopeless. I can assure you that happened with regularity: my father traveled, and Mom had an unvarnished, highly realistic, frequently-reinforced view of all the basest aspects of male teen behavior.

Somehow she survived. Hope, maybe.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Two or Three Mistakes

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Threshing Sledge and Cart Wheel

To the best of my recollection, I have never planted anything in my life. In an urbanized society where everything green you will ever need is already on the shelves of the local supermarket, I never had to. The plants I have cared for around the house from time to time were bought already potted and needed little more than the occasional watering.

I killed a few of those too, but that’s a different issue.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Bit Too Welcoming

A recent post here touched briefly on the perceived need for churches to be more welcoming. Alan Shlemon addresses the same subject in a post entitled “Doing Church Biblically Can Be Messy”, which turns out to be rather a mess of its own.

Shlemon has written usefully on a number of subjects, but his take on a church that welcomed and loved a lesbian couple even though its pastor declined to officiate their ‘wedding’ ... well, let’s just say it’s not his finest hour. (Comments on the thread are now closed, but that seems to be the case with a number of other STR posts, so if you happen to follow the link to Shlemon’s post, don’t read too much into that. I suspect the liberal element would have little to scold him about in this instance.)

Helpful hint: when you’re talking about doing church ‘biblically’, it might be useful to indicate which bits of the Bible you’re actually referring to.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: Church of the Revolving Door

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Just Get Up

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: The Discipline of Discipline

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Church Discipline and Membership

Let’s imagine a (hopefully semi-plausible) business scenario that may, if all goes well, turn into something of a parable.

We’ll say that I am a night supervisor working on a single floor of one of those corporate telephone solicitation colossi. I have under me perhaps a hundred employees coming and going on a regular basis. Some work on my floor only briefly before moving on to other departments. Others stay for years. I do not hire them, and I do not fire them. My role is simply to confirm that they have what they need to do their jobs and to work with them to make them better telephone salespeople.

Under these circumstances, I find myself writing an email to my department manager.