Tag Archives: church discipline

Church discipline and penitence–how it used to be done


Some snippets from lecture notes of mine–borrowed mostly from Dr. Garth Rosell, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I’d be interested to hear readers’ comments on church discipline: have you seen it exercised in good ways? bad ways? Do we need more? less? What stands in the way of biblical church discipline today? A “penitential lifestyle” is one of the five themes of my course (with Mark van Steenwyk) and possible future book (with same) on “resources for radical living.” What would a penitential lifestyle look like in your part of the 21st-century world?

Church discipline and the system of penance

This is another theme reflected richly in these early documents. You read these and you quickly find out that strict discipline very important to early church.

Its purposes

Preservation of the Church’s Purity

We often place this as central emphasis today. But a second purpose was . . .

Restoration to Spiritual Health of the Fallen Christian

Back to spiritual purity, life, vitality! Continue reading

Tangling with wolves: why we still need heresy trials


I suspect this post will make some readers mad. Good! Respond to the post, and let’s talk about it! My own parents disagree with it too. But today’s world of gentle, neighborly, non-doctrinal churchmanship (sorry, churchpersonship), in which you can believe almost anything and still be considered a member in good standing of most churches, has missed a very important point:

In matters of belief, souls are at stake.

If we don’t believe that, then we may as well pack it in. Because as Paul said, if the resurrection (to take one important example) hasn’t happened, then we Christians are of all people most to be pitied. We’re just fooling ourselves. There’s no logical reason we shouldn’t stay home every Sunday, crack open a cold one (or a case of cold ones) and enjoy ourselves in front of the TV set:

Tangling with Wolves
Why we still need heresy trials
Chris Armstrong

Originally published in Christianity Today, summer 2003.

United methodist bishop Joseph Sprague publicly denies that Jesus rose bodily, that he is eternally divine, and that he is the only way to salvation. He has been charged four times with teaching heresies, and four times denominational representatives have acquitted him.

This is not a lone incident. Continue reading