Driscoll: Matthew 18, those who don’t listen, pagans and tax collectors

Two posts describe the approach to discipline followed by Mark Driscoll's Church at Mars Hill:

In the second part a very unpleasent letter to Mars Hill members describes how they should treat someone who leaves the Church "under discipline", the behaviour is explained as being compatible with the process of deailing with sin in the Church detailed in Matthew chapter 18:15-17:

Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.The letter gives specific instructions to members of the Church that include not eating meals with the person under Church Discipline.

However, I wonder what Matthew thinks Jesus means when he says "treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector". I can only imagine that Jesus expects us to treat someone who refused to listen to the Church in the same way as he (Jesus) treats pagans and tax collectors.

Fortunately, we have three very specific gospel accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke to see how Jesus treats Tax Collectors and Sinners. In all three Jesus gets into trouble for eating with tax collectors and sinners. We can of course add to this the story of Zaccheus in Luke Chapter 19 where Jesus deliberately seeks out a tax collector and invites himself for a meal when the Tax Collector has not yet repented or changed.

Therefore, if we are to treat someone who won't listen to the Church as Jesus treats tax collectors and sinners shouldn't we be choosing to eat with them?

Please do not take this to mean that this is my only disagreement with the way that Mark Driscoll teaches his Church to handle "discipline". I note it because I find it horribly ironic when a Church claims to be following specific teaching Jesus while ignoring the personal example of Jesus.

6 thoughts on “Driscoll: Matthew 18, those who don’t listen, pagans and tax collectors

  1. jvangeld

    Aye, MH invoked Matthew 18 to back up it’s argument. Matthew 18 might not give the strongest argument for what they are doing. But surely you are familiar with 1 Corinthians 5? In that passage, exclusion from meals is specifically commanded. Now, we could argue whether any specific case deserves that kind of discipline, but it appears to me that this is the kind of tool that is available to churches.

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  2. Rhea Flanery

    Why do even think that bit is in the Bible…about treating them like pagans or tax collectors? As in…why doesn’t it just say to ‘treat them with love’ or something like that. Do you think there’s a specific purpose for the text reading like it does? I’m genuinely curious as to any insights you might have no this :)

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  3. Dave

    Rhea,
    What stands out in that post is what is missing.
    If things have gone wrong enough that you have had to sack people in the Church and now investigate others then:
    a) you need to apologise for the failings and for the hurt caused. There is no apology in this post!
    b) you need to make changes so this won’t happen again. There is no recognition that things need to change.
    Essentially these missing elements are all about grace. This post does not show grace.
    1. Th

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    Aye, MH invoked Matthew 18 to back up it's argument. Matthew 18 might not give the strongest argument for what they are doing. But surely you are familiar with 1 Corinthians 5? In that passage, exclusion from meals is specifically commanded. Now, we could argue whether any specific case deserves that kind of discipline, but it appears to me that this is the kind of tool that is available to churches.
    +1

    Reply

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