Friday, February 29, 2008

More on Matthew 18


Thanks again to Eric's "On the Wittenberg Trail," I took notice to this post regarding the use of Matthew 18 and the ever growing trend in so many Evangelical churches to use this Scripture, designed to bring unity and foster communication between the brethren as an invitation to discipline. Read another post from the "Cyber Stones" blog. (Apparently this isn't just a trend found only within patriarchy and Presbyterianism.)


It is the sad reality of our synod that the most quoted passage at any casual gathering of pastors is Matthew 18. This portion of Holy Writ contains part of Our Lord's instruction on Holy Absolution. You'd think this would make me happy. It would if that was how it was quoted, but it is not. In our circles "Matthew 18" is not invoked as a gift for repentant sinners anymore than "Matthew 28" is invoked as the institution of the Office of the Holy Ministry. Rather it is cited as an ecclesiastical Miranda rights which if not followed to the satisfaction of the critics (and it is impossible to follow this to the satisfaction of the critics for such are the criteria that it cannot be done except by looking the other way) then the 'accused' gets off scot free, the accusation is removed - without the absolution. I know this probably sounds insane. It is insane. But such is the case in our synod at the casual level. We just want to get along. We dislike those who rock the boat. We are so fearful of debate, or disagreeing, of struggling through the issues that the precious Words of Our Lord are used as a threat and club to end discussion before it begins. If is quite likely that if you dare to question, to accuse, to complain, you will be shunned and looked down upon for "violating Matthew 18."
Click here to read the rest of the post and the comments that follow.
This is reminiscent of another excellent blog post from November and a subject that I also addressed on this blog a few months ago as well.


...Several times I have been personally (and have seen others as well) admonished to go to those with whom I disagree and begin a Matthew 18 process with them. I have been asked numerous times if I did that with any of those whom I have critiqued and if I have discussed my differences with them, seeking reconciliation....

This has been a strange suggestion to me, since what I have always understood that passage of Scripture to mean is that when another brother or sister in Christ has sinned against you, you are to go to them and tell them how they did so, hoping that they will confess that sin and make it right with you...

Just because someone has offended you does not mean that that person has sinned against you, no matter how angry they have made you. It does not mean that you can read their hearts, their motives, or assign sin to them, allowing feelings about them as a person to override the truth of God’s Word. And the sin must be worthy of taking all the way to the end process if necessary...

And this brings us full circle to the reason why understanding the differences between applying Matthew 18 and Galatians 2 is so crucial within the homeschooling community. You see, those who are currently raising the subject of “online gossip and slander” of late are within the patriocentric camp. They know that they cannot win their debate in the arena of public discussion. They think if they can make a case for privately talking, one on one, where they can say anything they want, free from public accountability, they can continue to teach what they teach. Those of us who are challenging these teachings MUST keep the discussion within the sphere of public discourse, where each and every word can be seen and heard....

Please read the full post (without my many omissions in copying only a small portion of it) HERE.

We can use the Gospel and the Word of God to work reconciliation, but many use it as a means to browbeat the sheep into submission and compliance. God have mercy on us!