From the 9marks website: Article: 4 Reasons Churches Don’t Practice Church Discipline by Jeremy M. Kimble, Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, and a member of Grace Baptist Church. (original source here)
Some churches don’t practice discipline because they’re unaware of the biblical mandate or unsure how to start the process. Others, however, have concerns about the potential consequences of such a practice. They know what Scripture teaches on the matter but remain unconvinced as to its legitimacy or pragmatic viability.
Churches reject the practice of church discipline for lots of reasons. Some believe the practice doesn’t comport with the biblical concept of love. Related to that idea, some will point out that none of us are perfect, and therefore we should not be focused on getting rid of people when they sin. Still others maintain that the church can err in their practice of church discipline since the church is filled with fallible, sinful human beings. Finally, some maintain such a practice is far too invasive of private lives. These objections will be considered and answered.
Objection #1: Discipline is unloving.
Many look at any form of discipline as arrogant, cruel, and unloving. Love is meant to look past sin and let things go; it covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). However, ultimately knowing that sin leads to death (Rom. 6:23), the church must understand that discipline is in fact a loving act. As a declarative sign of potential eschatological judgment, discipline is meant to serve as both a call to repentance and a means to persevering in the faith. What may seem unloving is in fact meant to demonstrate the greatest kind of love, pointing someone to eternal life.
God demonstrates his love through disciplinary acts (Heb. 12:3–11; cf. 1 Cor. 11:17–32), as he seeks to turn the hearts of his people toward holiness. He has delegated a version of this divine authority to the church as well, so as to discipline for the same purposes (Matt. 16:16–19; 18:15–17). The goal of church discipline is to see members of the church pursuing maturity in godliness. God makes it clear that his people will be marked by holiness (1 Peter 1:15–16; cf. Heb. 12:14), and discipline is one means toward pursuing holiness. Therefore when done as God directs, discipline is a loving act.
Objection #2: The church is filled with sinners.
Others object to discipline in the church because everyone is guilty of sin. The argument here is that discipline is hypocritical since no one is guiltless; we’re all marred by sin. While this is true, it doesn’t negate the obvious texts in Scripture that call for church discipline to be exercised. Far from negating the practice of ecclesial discipline, the presence of our own sin should chasten our approach and humble us. Continue reading