the weblog of Alan Knox

More on Church Discipline

Posted by on Jul 16, 2008 in blog links, discipline | 3 comments

Matthew McDill has been blogging about “church discipline”. I’m glad to see that he doesn’t think that phrase is appropriate for what Scripture describes as a desire to reconcile brothers and sisters.

In his first post, Matthew refers to the book Walking Together: A Congregational Reflection on Biblical Church Discipline by Wyman Richardson. He contrasts the tenets of “cultural ecclesiology” to those of “biblical ecclesiology”.

In his second post, Matthew quotes R.T. France from his commentary on Matthew 18:15-17:

In a formally constituted church with an appointed leadership it is easy for the ‘ordinary’ disciple to hide behind that authority structure and to leave it all to the official leaders, appealing to Cain’s question ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ with the comfortable assumption that the answer must be No. But this passage asserts that the answer is Yes. In a community of ‘little ones,’ each must be concerned about and take responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the other.

Matthew (and France) are correct. Properly understanding the need to reconcile broken relationships begins with understanding that we (all of us) are our brother’s and sister’s keeper. Of course, “Church discipline” – that is, reconciling broken relationships – does not make any sense where there is no relationship to begin with.


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  1. 7-16-2008

    Hey Alan,

    How about because of the constant fragmentation of denominations and churches that Church Discipline is typically a joke. Not to mention are levels of intimacy is so shallow that I have no problem packing up and going to the church around the corner anyway. I have been reading some famous theologians say that you should leave a church if you aren’t being fed, or if there are not areas of service and the like.

    I am not being ugly but our church discipline is nothing more than the protecting of a church not the church

  2. 7-16-2008


    You’re correct. We treat “church discipline” as we if are excluding someone from our club and we don’t care if they join another club as long as its not our club.

    In Scritpure, what we call “church discipline” depends upon relationships, not organization.


  3. 7-17-2008

    It has been my experience that in today’s church discipline is nearly non-existent. When it does occur it is usually over matters that mean little while the important stuff is simply ignored.