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Over the weekend, I was reading at Sharperiron.org and commenting on a thread that went on a rabbit trail about 9Marks. My comment got long-winded and I thought it might be good to discuss it here as I’ve never brought up 9Marks before and my concerns with this group.
9Marks exists to equip church leaders with a biblical vision and practical resources for displaying God’s glory to the nations through healthy churches. (Source)
Evidently, churches can be identified as a 9Marks church if they follow their practices/guidelines, so if you want to find a church that adheres to the 9Marks guidelines, you can search here for a church in your area.
The following is my comment which first includes an excerpt of what I am responding to:
“Here are the nine marks (changes) Dever advocates churches adopt (change to): expositional preaching; biblical theology; the Gospel; biblical understanding of conversion, biblical understanding of evangelism; biblical understanding of church membership; biblical church discipline; concern for discipleship and growth; biblical church leadership.I cannot find the nefarious influence lurking there – I agree that churches all across the land would be wise to return to these core values.”
I’ve read some of the 9Marks writings and some of these ideas are troublesome to me. I am concerned that while the basic principles may seem to work as a guideline for good and decent shepherds, they also may give license to those pastors who are heavy-handed in authority and ruling over their congregants. We need to be wise in turning to core values in the Bible, not core values of Dever and 9Marks – just sayin’.
I was asked to explain further and here is my response regarding 9Marks:
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Chip, I am happy to explain. I need to break it up into 2 comments because of length.
Here’s an example of something I find troublesome at 9Marks: their guidelines on church membership. What exactly does the Bible say about church membership? Not a whole lot, yet 9Marks has a whole lot about it. Where did all of that come from?
Here is an article explaining some of their thinking on members who leave churches: Pastors, Don’t Let Your People Resign into Thin Air.
I would first like to address an overall tone that I find prevalent at 9Marks. What do you think an average church member will think when they read that title? Look at the word “let” – it implies that a pastor is the one who decides, not the congregant. Once again, pretend you are a congregant when reading the following excerpts and see if you can read an underlying tone that church leaders own church members:
When a church releases a member in good standing,
WHY YOU CAN’T LET PEOPLE RESIGN INTO THIN AIR
When your church made that person a member, you were declaring to the world that this person belongs to the kingdom of Jesus (Mt. 16:18-19). By regarding this person as a member, your church affirmed that he is indeed a “brother” in Christ (1 Cor. 5:11-13).
If someone tries to resign mid-process in order to “escape discipline,” should the church just let them go? Of course not. That would defeat the whole point of church discipline. Instead, the church must retain the right to refuse someone’s resignation and send them out another way—through excommunication.
The upshot of all this is that a church should not accept a member’s resignation who is not doing what Christians do—in this case, regularly assemble with a church.
I thought pastors were to guide their people, being servant leaders, not rule over. That is a topic all on its own. But I thought it was important to observe the overall tone first. This is the prevailing tone at the site, that pastors rule over congregants. I realize I’m probably stepping on some toes by saying this, but if you (in general) are feeling defensive by my words and perhaps because I’m a woman bringing this subject up, I’d like to challenge you on this authoritarian position. If pastors are modeling after Christ, they are servant leaders.
I am aware that a lot of pastors participate at this site. I want to be sure that this message is clear: I am not at all against pastors/shepherds. I am against spiritual abusers or what scripture refers to as wolves. Because of this tone and pretty strict guidelines on membership/discipline, etc, I think 9Marks could be very attractive to spiritual wolves who are control-happy and care more about being in charge rather than guiding sheep.
Most pastors who have studied scripture in Jude, 2 Tim, Matt 7 know very well the dangers of spiritual abusers/false teachers. I recently read that one of the top 10 professions that appeal to narcissists are pastors. We know from scripture the dangers of false teachers and God shows his grief about the harm it causes His sheep and what He will do to spiritual wolves in Ezekiel 34. Scripture also says that wolves creep in unnoticed and devour. They deceive. The behavior of false teachers/wolves in scripture matches up with behavior of narcissism. Even if pastors were in the top 20 professions for narcissists, that still paints a very sad picture for the health of some of our churches and for the people within them. (Source)
JA note: I will post Part 2 tomorrow.
55 thoughts on “9Marks: Church Authority over Church Members”
You Go Girl…
“This is the prevailing tone at the site, that pastors rule over congregants”
“I realize I’m probably stepping on some toes by saying this, but if you (in general) are feeling defensive by my words and perhaps because I’m a woman bringing this subject up, I’d like to challenge you on this authoritarian position.”
“I recently read that one of the top 10 professions that appeal to narcissists are pastors.”
Yup – You weren’t just stepping on some toes.
You were “Irish Step Dancing” ALL over their faces, their toes, and their beliefs.”
HA, Amos! I love Irish Step Dancing.
Yea, I’m sure I did step on toes – especially because I’m supposed to be tending the kitchen or laundry 🙂 Actually, I’m off to put a load in right now. 🙂 I’m going to have my cake and eat it.
I know that I brought this up a long long time ago, but what is church discipline?
The only choices that I have ever seen is to be kicked out if you are purposely sinning.
I know, some will reference Matthew 18. But I don’t see discipline in that either. I see two options.
1. To confess and be forgiven, or
2. Kicked out.
After all, the topic of Matthew 18 is about forgiving 70×7.
But, I think that it is interesting that Matthew 16 is being reference. More specifically, that it is being addressed to Peter.
That is where the Catholics run with this, that Peter represents the leadership.
Not so fast.
First, let me quote what Jesus said to Peter, and then I will move to Matthew 18.
…whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Now, so far that gives the illusion that the LEADERSHIP has all the authority.
BUT NOT SO FAST!!
Lets see Matthew 18:18, which quotes the same thing as Matthew 16:19.
But WHO is it being told to in Matthew 18:18?
See Matthew 18:1. Disciples. Plural. Not Apostle, single.
We all have the authority to “bind or loose”, not just Peter.
There is a major distinction in regards to HOW the Apostles were mentioned in the gospels.
1. The twelve (After Judas killed himself, “the eleven”).
3. By specific name.
I researched how they were addressed long ago, due to debating Catholics.
But, when you are discussing disciples, the Apostles were never addressed as disciples once he proclaimed them to be Apostles. Jesus had more than just 12 followers.
In Luke 10, Jesus sent out 70 of them. So, at least we know that Jesus had a minimum of 82 disciples.
Bottom line…The Church’s need to stop pretending that Peter is a word used to signify LEADERSHIP, in order to justify churches sanctioning discipline.
Again, it’s either confess for forgiveness, or kicked out as a heathen. There is more than one example of that in scripture.
Discipleship is different than discipline.
Where does the Bible discuss discipline of Christians by church leadership?
Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 is the Catholic justification for Confession Booths, that only the priest can forgive sins, because they consider Peter as the LEADER, the Apostle that Jesus said this to.
I notice that BGBC is on the 9Marks list. They must be okay with a pastor who was “disciplined” by having his minister’s license revoked. It makes it seem as though the standards that are set for the members do not apply to the pastors.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Any church discipline should be done with the intent of restoring a brother or sister who is living in open sin to a right relationship with God. It should be done with humility, “LOVE”, soul searching to be sure we are free of sin, especially the kind that might cause us to accuse someone wrongly and causing us not to hear Gods direction in the matter wrongly. And heartbreak, because it would be like cutting off an arm (a member of the body) It should never be for a punishment. That is in Gods hands. Expulsion from the fellowship can be a good thing if it restores someone who is out of fellowship with God back into a right relationship with God. Done for the wrong reasons will not only harm that person but the church itself, and replects badly on Jesus to the lost.
JA, I can see where some of your concerns are valid.
Your second paragraph begins, “Any church discipline…”
With all due respect, I still don’t see “discipline”, as in the leadership gets to spank the person overtaken in a fault. Nor do they have the right to make him stand in the corner. Nor do they have the right to make him say 3 hail Mary’s, nor to write on the chalk board, “I will not…” 1000 times, etc.
I see discipleship as a mentoring…elders mentoring the younger…not due to age, but due to Christian maturity. And that the one who restores, is also not one weak in the same sin as the one he is restoring, lest he be tempted.
Accusing is the job of the devil. He accuses the saints (Christians are the Saints), night and day. Is the devil wrong in his accusations? No. But, we are already covered by the blood of the lamb, whether the accusation is true, or false.
However, Matthew 18 states that by the mouth of 2 or 3 shall every word be established, so there can be no room for falsely accusing a brother of doing something that he ought not.
It is apparent to me that your reference is in regards to a person who struggles with sin, rather than one who living “in” sin, which is another way of saying, on purpose.
I wish that we would all get away from the use of the word discipline, and restore the word discipleship, mentoring, etc.
Thanks for the warning about 9 Marks, it seems it includes a church with control issues.
Kathi, whoa, it never occurred to look up to see if BGBC was there. That’s quite unbelievable. But you are right. It seems the rules for members don’t apply to leaders. I got in a ranty mood this morning and reminded them on the site that Dever, who started up 9Marks, also allowed CJ Mahaney to take refuge at his church when he was taking a leave of absence for church-relates issues that SGM brought to his attention. This certainly would not have been allowed for any other SGM leaders. Preferential treatment much?
When I get home I can post the link.
Here is an article explaining some of their thinking on members who leave churches: Pastors, Don’t Let Your People Resign into Thin Air.
“But one thing is for certain: We never had to build a Wall to keep our people in.”
— President John Kennedy regarding The Berlin Wall (from memory)
Ed, I understand your point, but if discipleship fails and this individual is continuing to undertake things that are a detriment to the ministry of the church, what then? No discipline? What if an associate pastor is spiritually abusing folks and after discipleship there is no change? No discipline? leave him in that position? What about the deacon we stripped of his being a deacon and removed him from our membership roles and was told not to come back because we found him to be molesting children and then he confessed to it? Should we have not disciplined him? Perhaps we were wrong there and should have continued to disciple him and left him as an active deacon in our church? At what point is it right to discipline or is it never right to discipline?
Darrell, that deacon you mention should first be reported to authorities and let them deal with crimes committed and then he should be removed from all ministry and put in church discipline. I also think it is appropriate, even if he repented, to move to a new church because of the victims. The survivors need to feel safe at church. This is not just a sexual issue, but a spiritual issue for the survivors.
I’ve been following stories of sex abuse survivors who were violated in church or missionary schools or Christian organizations and there is a predominant theme of spiritual confusion if not a complete abandonment of faith as a result of the abuse. I think the most important help a pastor can do is provide spiritual care for that hurting sheep. If that means telling the perpetrator to leave, then so be it.
I will come at it from another perspective. So many pastors are starting their own ministries separate from their church job. And yes, it is a job. They are paid employees of a special tax exempt entity.
One reason pastors do this is to have a venue to build their personal brand, have another source of income and a ready made retirement ministry. These para church organizations are either separate tax exempt entities (where they have to report/file to IRS) or run through the church where they do not have to make such reports public.
Many of the pew sitters have no problem with this as they are proud to have a guru who is becoming well known. It is part of our celebrity culture although they think it is for Jesus so that makes it ok
The whole thing is a huge sin trap and unnecessary.
I did a quick search and could not find 9Marks as a separate entity so I am thinking it might be run through CHBC. Since that entity is really run by a handful of men (even though they claim different), much of what flows in and out of 9Marks will be known only to a few.
When the parachurch org filings are public we can see who are the officers and how much they are paid including family members. This is an area that became quite embarrassing for RC Sproul, Sr of Ligonier a few years back. Church Swindoll has also had quite the good income flow for his family, too.
JA we would have reported it, but it occurred at a church down the road on Wednesday nights to his grand daughters so he had been arrested is how we found out. Our church would have done the right thing and did all the right things.
“Church Mercy Ministry as Integrated Auxiliary”
By Jamie Dunlop
“3. Integrated Auxiliary. Recognizing that churches sometimes form organizations to carry out legitimate ministry that falls outside the primary focus of churches themselves, in 1969 the U.S. Congress established the concept of an integrated auxiliary of a church. These integrated auxiliaries are structured as separate corporations from a local church, with their own governing boards and finances. Nonetheless, they are permitted to share the church’s special religious exemption from some filings (such as the 990 and 1023 forms) and are considered as integrated under the local church’s 501(c)(3) status. Think of it as a legal blurring—but not merging—of the ministry and the church. As outlined by the IRS, an organization must meet a number of qualifications if it is to be considered as an integrated auxiliary of a church. It must be affiliated with a local church (or church association); it must be described as both a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and a public charity (that is, not a private foundation); and it must either qualify as a mission society or show that it garners most of its financial support internally from the church. In general, a mercy ministry would meet these qualifications.’
Also from the above link-
“At our church, we have used integrated auxiliaries to house 9Marks, a campus-based student ministry, an economic development company to assist overseas church planting efforts, and (potentially in the near future) a micro-loan non-profit. Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York has structured Hope for New York as an integrated auxiliary “to provide volunteer and financial resources to organizations serving the poor and marginalized of New York City.
“Jamie Dunlop is an associate pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC.””
Wow Diane, Good job. So, convenient, eh? so many pastors are double dipping it is a shame. How is 9Marks a mercy ministry?
I don’t think the author was stating that 9marks was specifically a mercy ministry, but that if a church had a mercy ministry, it could be structured as an integrated auxiliary.
He then goes on to say that 9marks is structured that way, their campus-based student ministry is as well, along with the others he mentions in the third paragraph. That’s how I understood it.
Oh…and it would be my assessment that 9marks is very much a merciless ministry.
A failure of discipleship? That’s a new one for me.
I think that the Bible is extremely clear.
1. If a person purposely sins, he is not ready to be a Christian. Kick him out.
2. If a person is struggling with sin, be a mentor (discipleship).
Discipleship never fails. The disciple fails. Get a new disciple to mentor him.
I have yet to read where any Christian was ever disciplined. There are no examples, nor is it ever mentioned.
Even in Matthew 18, there are but two chioces:
1. Repent and be forgiven 70×7, or
2. Kick him out.
Never keep an unrepentant sinner. You kick him out to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit can be saved.
In other words, let him voluntarily live the life that he desires…outside the church. No discipline.
I’ve always found it interesting that people come to the conclusion that Jesus was talking about withdrawing fellowship in Mt. 18:17.
Kicking out, withdrawing fellowship, shunning, excommunication, that’s the most common interpretation, but, the example that He lived out was quite different in the way He treated tax collectors and Gentiles.
Kick them out until they repent and beg for readmission? What then of the Parable of the one lost sheep? I think it’s a call for us to treat them with even more love. Building a wall by kicking someone out seems completely contrary to the Christ who built bridges and joined us all in brotherhood.
Sorry Ed, I misunderstood your position. Have a good night.
With all due respect, Eric, I think we are discussing a lost sheep that doesn’t want to be found.
From the KJV of Matthew 18:17:
“…let him be as an heathen man and a publican.”
This is not a parable. If there is a heathen in your church, show them the door.
Moving on to Corinthians, sin is likened to leaven. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
One bad apple spoils the whole damn bunch.
Sin will spread like a disease to other church members.
Sorry, Eric…you gotta kick them out.
So we just kick them out and let them wander aimlessly? Or do we re-evangelize them with patient and gentle love hoping to bring them back to Christ.
Even when shunning isn’t de jure from the church leaders, it’s almost always a de facto result in the congregation. You can quote scripture and use the purity metaphor all you want, but I’ll not buy into it one bit.
Besides, you’re assuming a meaning in Mt. 18:17 that is not nearly as explicit as you wish it to be, Ed. Christ Himself enjoyed fellowship with heathens and publicans, but we’re supposed to ignore that fact and interpret that as a call for expulsion? I call BS on that.
Sin must be stronger than Christ, according to your logic, I guess.
I see you use a different version than I do. Yours states the word “Gentile”, while mine states the word heathen. I use the KJV.
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) was not for the Gentiles, but for the Jews. For the Gospels say that Jesus did not come but for the House of Israel.
And, we know that the law of Moses forbids the Jews from mingling with the Gentiles in religious matters.
So, from a bible standpoint, Gentile was the heathen. So, we are not discussing a tax collector here, as Matthew (Levi) was a Jew, collecting taxes for the heathen (Gentile).
1 Corin 5 talk about openly purposeful living in sin. And there Paul says kick him out or turn him over to satan so he can be saved. But notice it is for the entire church to deal with. no where are elders mentioned in this.
JA, you need to have a BP ALERT along with the Trigger Alert…..my blood is boiling!
And it all sounds a lot more like Law than Grace.
Yes, you just kick them out. If a person has a desire to be a Christian, he MUST FIRST repent (have a change of mind) of his sins.
Something tells me that there was no repentance.
Eric, It might help to understand Matt 18 is speaking of “personal offenses” between 2 people which is why you see the process you do with witnesses, etc. Many pastors add a step in there stating you should take it to the elders. It does not say that. They read into it.
Ah, so it is about Law only, and not Grace at all. Sorry, but I’ll follow Christ’s loving example and not the Law of men’s traditions.
Eric, 1 Corin 5 is dealing with some sort of incest that was being done openly and proudly. The people in that body were acting like it was no big deal. In fact they were proud according to reports to Paul.
So your point is that everything must be proven by pure and perfect behavior from the sinner? And that no one sins after salvation and thinks they are in the right in any situation? We judge the hearts and minds of others solely according to words in the Bible? We kick them out according to rules of men interpreting scripture as Law? What if they are actually in the right and haven’t actually sinned? Sounds more than just a bit like the attitude of many Calvinists I know.
I made this comment on the previous post, but it seems to apply even more to this post.
It seems like some of these tax-exempt organizations are really “gospel centered” council meetings with officials governing over the constituents, instead of churches full of servants doing God’s will & work here on earth. As citizens, we fiercely protect our civil, legal & protective rights, only to give them up once our tooshes hit the pews.
It seems like tax-exempt orgs are a very attractive, enticing way to syphon money without hardly anyone knowing anything about it. Not just in salaries earned, but in expenses (food, travel, clothing, utilities, homes, you name it). Some live very lavish lifestyles compared to most church-goers. I wonder just what type of person would be attracted to this lifestyle, supported by donations/gifts from struggling families, single Moms, the faithful poor. Servants of God?
If I were a Paulist, I’d give more weight to Paul’s writings and apply them as delineations for fellowship and inclusion. But, I’m not, so I choose to live as I am led by God’s Holy Spirit. He’s leading me to some very different places in my heart and my life right now, so perhaps I should follow that lead in more areas of my life.
May God bless us all.
“We judge the hearts and minds of others solely according to words in the Bible?”
Not at all. We can only judge behavior. If I take your example to extreme it would mean we welcome the rapist and show him love and hope it changes his heart. No, we protect others and call the police. Then you can take him brownies in prison and show him love. :o)
Eric, Just keep in mind that many predators and con men love the church. it is a great place to operate/hide for many reasons I won’t go into here. I am not just making this up….a police detective in my SS class told us many stories of such and why it is a problem and an old friend of mine who is a judge (and agnostic) once asked me why the Christians packed the courtroom begging for leniency for one of their own who turned out to be a child molester but will pack another court room demanding new zoning laws for porn shops?
A mom, the really smart ones are not living lavishly but quite nice and amassing quite the nest egg for not only them but for their grown kids who work for them. When the Ligonier (RC Sproul) scandal hit USA Today and the Orlando Sentinel, donors reported that the Ligonier telemarketers were calling them every week begging for donations.
The institutional church was the government for centuries now it is a business enterprise.
Eric Fry, I’m not a Paulist either, LOL. But I think many have traded Jesus in for Paul & don’t even realize it, because it’s worded “Christ alone”, “Christ centered”, gospel driven”, etc.
All this heart talk is another control strategy. If they keep us focused on “heart issues”, which no one can know, we’ll be so confused we won’t know what to do when we see actions. We’ll question our hearts, we’ll question their hearts, etc.
I have moved away from all that “heart” nonsense and try to talk strictly about actions. Actions are indisputable. Heart talk can run in circles. And that’s where they want us, running around in circles.
Lydia, Good point. Their lifestyles may not appear lavish at first glance.
Many people today are working through their retirement years. Some are supporting their adult kids & grandkids. These folks would consider pastors who are amassing a nice nest egg for themselves & their grown children a “lavish lifestyle” as well. Especially when it’s off the backs of folks who work so hard.
A mom, You are talking my language. One of the tactics used in the seeker mega world by the leaders was to say this: Trust positive intentions. (I have heard some use “believe the best”)
Now it is amazing how many people melt when they heard that said so sweetly to them when they questioned something. Of course, those of us behind the scenes knew what it meant. Suckers!
So, I don’t do “intentions”, “motives”, “you don’t know what is in my heart”, etc, etc. I go by words and actions ONLY. It actually saves a lot of heartache in the end to do so.
Oh, and when words and actions do not match, I believe the actions. :o)
With the heart:
I’ve noticed even here on this blog when someone mentions heart motives, immediately & without fail someone else pipes up that “you can’t know their heart, you can’t know their motive, you can’t judge their heart, you can’t see their heart, you don’t know what they were thinking, etc”.
But if the discussion centers around actions, words or behavior, the blog room dissenters go eerily silent. 😉
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
This has nothing to do with “the law”. What it has to do is with the attitude of the Gentiles vs. the Jews.
The Gentiles were the heathen. They were outside of the promises of God. They were the “sinners” that the Jews were not to mingle with.
Hence, the use of the word Gentile/Heathen in Matthew 18.
I am sorry, Eric, but I stand by scripture. The Heathen is not to be in the church, period. Once a heathen repents, he is no longer a heathen. He is a member of the family.
Struggling with sin has nothing to do with outright sinning on purpose. Outright sinning on purpose is a heathen.
What is the motive of the heathen in a church? If we have one heathen in the church, it’s way too many. But we know that there are wheat and tares. God will sort them out in the end. But…we are NOT TO COMPANY WITH ANYONE who calls them self a BROTHER who sins on purpose.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without (OUTSIDE THE CHURCH)? do not ye judge them that are within (INSIDE THE CHURCH)?
13 But them that are without (OUTSIDE THE CHURCH)God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
The list is pretty long, so it isn’t discussing ONLY a person having sex with his mother. Fornicators, coveters, extortioners, idolaters, railer, drunkard, etc.
I have noticed the same thing, that they say that only God can judge the heart. This comes even from pastors who have commented on this SSB. But the Bible tells us that the actions reflects the heart. Maybe seminary didn’t teach them this?
You had said:
“What if they are actually in the right and haven’t actually sinned?”
Matthew 18 shows that by the mouth of two or three may every word be established…meaning, there had better be at least 2 or 3 as witnesses of the sin.
Next, when the Apostle Paul mentions an incest situation in 1 Cor 5, reports of it was coming to him.
So sorry, Summer! Yea, I’m glad I was away for a few hours to cool down after reading the SI site this morning. But I came home to a few more comments I had to respond to. There goes that BP again – lol. ::::inhale,exhale::::: The conversation has been respectful, but I find the focus on authority and devotion to Dever unsettling.
I love discussing church membership from a – ahem! – “biblical” point of view. I’d like to contrast something from the 9Marks excerpt with what the bible actually says about it.
When your church made that person a member, you were declaring to the world that this person belongs to the kingdom of Jesus First and foremost, no church ever makes somebody a member. God does that. Churches simply recognize that God made somebody a member, and adds that sheep to the list. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. – 1 Cor. 12:13. See? The Spirit caused us to be baptized into the body.
Also, But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 1 Cor. 12:18. See again? It is GOD who places the [already existing] members into the body, just as HE (God) desired. The “he” here is talking about God, not about the pastor.
By regarding this person as a member, your church affirmed that he is indeed a “brother” in Christ 9Marks gets it backward here, and their proof text is out of context. Notice the logical order. Somebody is considered a brother in Christ, not based on whether he believs in Christ, but rather by being regarded as a member? Huh? This is salvation by church membership! This needs to be the other way around! Regarding that a person is a Christian means you affirm his membership, because after all, it is God who placed him there.
When you don’t understand what God means by membership, you are likely to create all kinds of weird doctrines and hurt the sheep by using those doctrines.
It is GOD who places the [already existing] members into the body, just as HE (God) desired. The “he” here is talking about God, not about the pastor.
This is salvation by church membership! This needs to be the other way around!
Excellent comments, Steve. I know this is a hot button for you. Didn’t you do a long blog series on church membership?
Yes, Julie Anne. The blog series is called “Re-Thinking Church Membership” and now stands at 35 parts. Here’s the link to the series: (some old links I provide to other sites are no longer available)
I have joy in my heart to see that so many of you are going to scripture to support you’re concerns about abuse. It is not an issue that the church can eve be ignorant of. Note, though, that scripture is full of instructions for pastors to serve over and to reprove sin even though it be acted out by the beloved regenerate sinner in the church. that is to be done from a posture as peer in Christ but with a role that we must all perform.
In that context I would like to encourage you as a former member of Mark Dever’s church. While there is certainly now way to say that abuse does not ever exist in a church that chooses to be affiliated with 9marks, nor is there a way to promise that authority will never be abused at CHBC, ….. but I can tell you that leadership at CHBC is respnsive to congregational rule not rule by the elders or pastoral authority. I can also say that everyone goes to scripture to seek conviction from the only real source of authority in asking God to help them individually contextualize it’s application.
Keep on guarding your hearts from abuse of authority, but please note that precious few churches are willing to lovingly reprove christians of their sin. While the author of this article does a fine job of addressing a community she doesn’t actually know well,….. some of you are excited about rebellion to God and appropriate reproof.
Our inclination not to be reprooved is just as strong as a pastor’s inclination to misuse biblical authority….. so be careful.