How to lose an institution

I know; you're wondering if I'm over going to write something of my own again.
Just know that I'm in a catch-up mode on blogs and podcasts, and that my author-self will resurface once that's over.

This one I'm directing back at the denomination I just left, though the original intent was elsewhere. I think it carries over nicely.

"Lack of discipline will kill your [denomination] -- a [denomination] without discipline has no way to fight off 'infections.' If a [denomination] is unwilling or unable to fire administrators or [pastors], [excommunicate] or suspend [members], the [denomination] will take on the mission desire by those the [denomination] refuses to let go. The troublemakers can determine, rightly, that the [denominational leadership] want to do it the troublemakers' way instead of the way set out in the founding vision of the [denomination]" (The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 182).


  1. Steve,

    I don't know if it does any good to state the obvious or not...but The quote entirely misstates the concept of Christian discipline.

    The quote you posted equates discipline with punishment. They are two very different realities. Discipline may include punishment but does not always need to.

    Notice that the the Belgic Confession doesn't mark "punishment" as a mark of the true church, but "discipline." Discpline takes the past into account but is foward looking and future oriented. The quote was about punishment - an entirely different thing. (It has its place, I'm certainly not going to argue that...but it's a different place than discpline.)

    Grace and Peace,

  2. Tim, I'm not sure how your distinction helps to fight off infections harmful to the body.

    Firing, excommunicating, etc., have the double goals of defending/defining the truth, and seeking to return the offender to that truth. They are not inherently without grace and backward looking. The quote is not solely about punishment, but incorporates that as a part of discipline, as does Hebrews 12:5.

    I would say you are reading into the quote a "retributive punishment" scheme; could it be because you disagree with how to fight off infection, or with defining what the infection is?

  3. Steve...

    I know...I probably shouldn't have said anything in the first place - I doubt anything can come of the whole discussion. Yet I'll try again. You miss my entire point, and indeed, take Hebrews 12:5 out of its larger context.

    Sure, Hebrews 12:5 mentions "rebuking" which can be translated (or interpreted) as punishing someone. But the entire passage is a passage about discipline. Teaching & learning. The disease model has nothing to do with it.

    It's a common misconception in the church that discipline is about getting rid of the "bad apples." We're not Judaism. We're not a religion based on a particular legal, holiness code. We're a grace-based religion. To put it blundly, we don't "catch" the mold of those bad apples that worship among us, they "catch" the holiness we're to live out. That's what Jesus did and it's what we're called to do. Jesus wasn't concerned about whores making him unclean - he brought holiness and righteousness into their lives.

    Does that mean there's no place for punishment? Of course not! But it does mean that punishment ought not to be our primary intent and, as I've already said, needs to be distinguished from discipline.

    Grace and Peace,