Calvin on Church Discipline

Last week, I posted an old essay I wrote in my first church on the connection between the sacraments and church discipline. Today I wanted to post a quote by Calvin on his definition of the “keys of the kingdom.”

But first, a couple of comments about leadership and the expression of biblical authority in the Church today. Continue reading

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When (and How) to Leave a Church: a Pastor’s POV.

Recently there have been some families that have left our congregation. Which has me reflecting on the question: when should a person leave a church, and how should it be done? Here are a few tips:

  • don’t break up with your church over secondary or tertiary theological reasons.
  • don’t break up with your church by way of text message or email.
  • don’t just stop participating in your church without meeting in person with the “powers that be.” And you should seek them out rather than stewing and waiting for them to notice that you’ve been gone.
  • when you meet with them, encourage them; their work is hard. If they have sinned against you, confront them humbly and lovingly, but also with a heart of forgiveness. If you are both sincere Christians you will be spending eternity together in heaven; and it is very likely the issues that divide you now will dissolve in a few years.
  • don’t gossip (“share”) with others in your church about the reasons why you’re considering leaving the church; it isn’t healthy for them nor does it provide you sufficient motivation to go directly to the people, or address directly, the situations, which are giving rise to your questions and doubts.
  • If possible, work to stay in your congregation for seven years, so you’re not part of the trend of wandering (Protestant) church consumers. It takes seven years to make a season of time, and in a season you will have had an opportunity to make an impact on that congregation.

Continue reading

Dear Bill: Baptism and Secondary Things

Dear Bill,

You’ve asked to me and asked me why I called “baptism” a “secondary matter.” I’d like to try and explain myself a little better than I did the first time we talked, so that’s why I’m taking time to write out my thoughts in the form of a letter.

First of all, “secondary matters” for Christians do not mean unimportant matters. Rather, they refer to things over which Christians may and do often disagree but which do not rise to the level of primary issues of orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy doesn’t mean beards and incense, by the way. It is what defines a Christian. Secondary matters are what distinguish Christians from one another.

I used to teach Biology; secondary matters are what makes a species. Primary matters are what make a genus. In Christianity, primary matters refer to the vital heart and center of the Gospel.

For example, did Jesus really rise from the Dead? Was He really fully man and fully God? Was he born of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Will we stand before God in judgment?

Secondary matters are not at the vital heart and center of the Gospel, but they are still convictions about what is “biblical” and “unbiblical.” The difference is that, at the end of the day, we can agree to disagree over these biblical convictions.

Some examples of such secondary matters include: Continue reading

Hiroshima vs. Detroit

In the conservative media, there are comparisons being made between Hiroshima and Detroit. The anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima (August 6) coinciding so closely with the declaration of bankruptcy by the city of Detroit.

Plus, I’m pretty sure Wolverine movie has something to do with it.

Anyhow, most of the critiques come in the form of attacks on the notion of a “welfare state” and other such favorite conservative issues.

For what its worth, my perspective: its not that simple.

After all, we mustn’t omit the fact that Hiroshima’s rebuilding was significantly subsidized by “government funding.” Continue reading