Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 15:2 (Autumn 2002)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“Sanctified Entirely: The Theological Focus of Paul’s Instructions for Church Discipline,” Stacy R. Obenhaus, Restoration Quarterly (First Quarter 2001): 1-12.

Restoration Quarterly is a publication of Abilene Christian University, which is sponsored by the Churches of Christ, an unashamedly Arminian denomination. Obenhaus is a member of the Skillman Church of Christ in Dallas, TX where he serves as an adult Sunday School teacher and youth leader.

I found much of value in this article. The author looks at four passages in Paul: 1 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 2 and 7, and Galatians 6:1–2. He draws some interesting conclusions.

First, Paul was not here or elsewhere writing a formal discussion of church discipline. His purpose in each case was to maintain the health and purity of the church. Thus we don’t find any step by step approach to church discipline (e.g., p. 11). General principles are given and that is all.

Second, while Paul had concern for the erring brothers, his primary concern evident in these texts was for the church as a whole. The health of the body was of primary importance for Paul (e.g., p. 2).

Third, the death of Christ is prominent in each of these passages. Thus the loving sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the motivational basis for the church to maintain its purity and to exercise church discipline (e.g., pp. 10, 12).

Fourth, he seems to imply that the reconciliation in 2 Cor 5:20 (“we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God”) primarily concerned reconciliation of the believers in Corinth with the apostle Paul. Others were leading the believers in Corinth to question Paul’s apostolic authority. Giving in to that thinking led to a need for reconciliation with Paul and hence with God whom Paul represented (p. 12).

The strength of this article is that it sees the key to church discipline as the health of the church body. The weakness is the author’s statement that Paul was not primarily concerned with restoring the fallen believers.

One need not set these as conflicting goals. Church discipline is designed to help both the individual and the church.

I highly recommend this article. I think the author is right that Paul and the NT as a whole do not give us a detailed procedure to follow when exercising church discipline. Instead we find we are to admonish err...

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