A Note From Our Editor: Matthew 18:15-17 And Romans 8:28--Their Neglect In Evangelical Circles -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 04:2 (Jun 2004)
Article: A Note From Our Editor: Matthew 18:15-17 And Romans 8:28--Their Neglect In Evangelical Circles
Author: John Warwick Montgomery

A Note From Our Editor: Matthew 18:15-17 And Romans 8:28--Their Neglect In Evangelical Circles

John Warwick Montgomery

I seldom engage in sermonising in the context of a theological journal. This Introduction, however, will be an exception. I am compelled to comment on strange lacunae in evangelical personal conduct and homiletics: the remarkable disregard of two key biblical passages, namely, Matthew 18:15-17 and Romans 8:28.

Matthew 18. Here Jesus provides the locus classicus for handling disagreements and criticisms between and among believers. The principle set forth is crystal clear: one must first go to the individual whom one considers to have erred and endeavour to clear up the matter there; only if this does not achieve the proper end does one take the matter to others, carrying it to a wider audience. Sounds simple enough, yes?

However, in my experience, this fundamental rule of decency and respect for the other person is generally honoured only in the breach. Let me give a few egregious examples.

Our neighbours were selling their house. Their estate agent (American lingo: realtor) brought a couple to view the house. The couple were effusive in their praise for the house and said that it was ideal for their family. Two weeks later the estate agent informed the owners that the couple were not going to make an offer, and listed all the negative comments that they had made to him. Why did the couple not give this information directly to the owners, thus keeping them from false hopes and facilitating their showing the property to others? That couple, by the way, made a great point of the fact that they were strong evangelical believers.

A close acquaintance went through a messy divorce over a decade ago and then moved out of state. The ex-wife secured an attractive remunerative position in a large church, and refused contact with the ex-husband: her telephone number was unlisted and she told the adult children not to give her address to the ex-husband. The latter therefore ceased to provide spousal support. Twelve years later, the husband came on a short business trip to the state where she was living, and the ex-wife learned of it. While he was there, she had him served with a contempt suit for non-payment of support. In that particular jurisdiction (unlike many) the ex-wife’s neglect to press her claim for support for so many years—an equitable laches defense—was unavailable to the husband, so he was subjected to a bench warrant for his arrest. The ex-wife claimed to be Christian believer. Why did she not simply contact the ex-husband, reveal her financial need, if such there was, and ask fo...

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