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 Cainâ€™s question ‘Am I my brotherâ€™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.