Posted by: chuckbumgardner | September 12, 2007

Church Discipline and the Gospel

I have been enjoying an excellent work on church discipline by Marlin Jeschke. I’ve profited from J. Carl Laney’s A Guide to Church Discipline (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1985), but find Jeschke to be more thoughtful in his approach.

If you are interested in the volume, you should purchase Marlin Jeschke, Discipling in the Church, 3d ed., revised and enlarged (Scottdale, Penn.: Herald, 1988).  It is a reworking of his 1972 work Discipling the Brother.  The more recent work is to be preferred in this case. At the time of this post, a used copy was available on Amazon for $4.40.

Jeschke is (or “was”; my information may not be current) professor emeritus of philosophy and religion at Goshen College, a Mennonite institution.

The work is structured around Matthew 18:15-18, but draws from the various NT church discipline passages.

One of Jeschke’s main burdens is to demonstrate the organic connection between church discipline and the gospel. In his words:

The purpose of this book is to reinterpret the doctrine of church discipline in Matthew 18:15-18 and to place it once more in the context of the gospel. It is to liberate Matthew 18:15-18 from the legalistic interpretation it has suffered since medieval times. In the following pages, we will explore each stage of the disciplinary process. We will constantly refer to the principle that discipline, like evangelism, is an act of discipling and as such a function of the gospel. (34, emphasis added)

“The initial approach in the ministry [n.b.!] of church discipline – whether it is called admonition, exhortation, rebuke, reproof, correction, or any other term – must be a presentation of the gospel.” (54) He therefore compares discipline to evangelism: “In evangelism the church respects an individual’s rejection of the gospel and does not incorporate that person into the body of Christ.  In a similar way, the church respects an individual’s rejection of the word of admonition and formally recognizes that person’s decision to no longer follow Christ. The difference is that admonition addresses a sinner in the church, while evangelism addresses one outside the church.” (54-55) “We declare the gospel in order to bring people into the way of Jesus Christ, to keep them in that way and, if necessary, to restore them to that way.” (33)

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Responses

  1. If you find this topic interesting, I run a blog dedicated to the topic of church discipline click above or link. There is a much greater degree of focus on practice but I have a few resources pages with several dozen link off to gospel connections with various practices.


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