Lecture 9 – Forms of Church Discipline

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The major forms of corrective church discipline

1. The verbal
Mt. 18:15-17a
Gal. 6:1
Titus 1:13; Titus 3:10a
1 Tim. 5:20
2. The social
2 Thes. 3:6,  2 Thes. 3:14-15
Rom. 16:17
1 Cor. 5:9-13
Mt. 18:15ff
Titus 3:10c
Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, vol. 2, (Hartford: Silas Andrus & Son, 1858), p.229.
Griffith, Benjamin. (1743). A Short Treatise Concerning a True and Orderly Gospel Church.  Word doc or here.
“(2.) Suspension is rather to be looked upon to be, when a church doth debar a member from communion for some irregularity that he may be guilty of, which yet doth not amount so high as to be ripe for the great sentence of excommunication; but that the person, for such irregularity, ought to be debarred of the privilege of special communion and exercise of office, in order to his humiliation, 2 Thes. 3:6-7,  2 Thes. 3:10-11, 2 Thes. 3:14, 15. Such is not to be accounted as an enemy, but to be exhorted as a brother in union, though not in communion: but if such a one remain impenitent and incorrigible, the church, after due waiting for his reformation, is to proceed to excommunication, Matt. 18:17 for that would be a not hearing the church in the highest degree.” (Griffith, 1743)
4. Some necessary warnings with respect to the proper understanding and wise administration of corrective discipline
1. Beware of the natural desire to have a detailed manual of corrective discipline.
James Bannerman, The Church of Christ, vol. 2, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1868), pp. 198-199. M7.L9.P2.IV.D.1
Consult Owen, vol. 16, pages 151-183 for excellent practical counsel on these issues.
2. Beware of the carnal tendency to unbiblical extremes in the administration of corrective discipline.
a. Carnal laxity
Alexander B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve, (New York: A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1889), p. 211. M7.L9.P2.IV.2a
b. Carnal severity
Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, (Hartford: Silas Andrus & Sons, 1858), p. 230. Q.1 M7.L9.P2.IV.2b
c. Aim at expressing a godly balance which reflects the character of the God who deals with men in his “goodness and severity.”
Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, (Hartford: Silas Andrus & Sons, 1858), p. 230. again, Q. 2 M7.L9.P2.IV.2c
3. Beware of the tendency to make artificial and arbitrary categories of sins with respect to corrective discipline.
1 Cor. 5:9-13
Gal. 5:19-21
Mt. 18:15ff.
Rienk B. Kuiper, Glorious Body of Christ,(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2006), pp. 311-312. M7.L9.P2.IV.3
4. Beware of the tendency to insulate the issues of corrective discipline from their corporate context.
5. Beware of administering corrective discipline apart from the required attendant attitudes and activities.
John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 16, (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), pp. 169-170 M7.L9.P2.IV.5

Summary and Conclusion:

A bibliography of helpful materials on this subject
  1. Biblical Church Discipline, Daniel Wray, Banner of Truth Trust, now published by Solid Ground Books. (This little booklet is the most helpful single statement of the major issues relative to church discipline that I am aware of. I heartily recommend it.)
  2. The Training of the Twelve, A. B. Bruce, pp. 200-28 (this section in Bruce’s classic work contains some very helpful insights on the subject).
  3. The Glorious Body of Christ, R. B. Kuiper, pp. 297-312.
  4. The Church of Christ, vol. 2, James Bannerman, pp. 186-200.
  5. The Reformed Pastor, Richard Baxter, pp. 104-111; 163-171.
  6. The Institutes, John Calvin, Book IV, Chapter XII, Section 1-13.
  7. The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 2, pp. 118-121.
  8. The Biblical Concept of Church Discipline, Wayne Mack.
  9. Excommunication, vol. 16, John Owen, pp. 151-183.
  10. Local Church Practice, Carey publication, pp. 105-115.