Dealing with Contentiousness
Following is part of an exchange with a friend on FaceBook.
--beginnning of FaceBook Transcript--
That is a fact, but what does a church that exercises discipline look like, I wonder. More one on one confrontations with the elders? or elders' wives? More congregational exhortations? More members confronting members? We have great preaching, but discipline lacks greatly.
We lost an elder because one man, a contentious fellow, was allowed to keep on badgering the elder in Sunday School. For whatever reason, he would challenge the elder with this and that "deep" question... Finally, the elder left (for more than one reason). Should not the contentious man have been kicked out rather than us lose a good man!
I want to see the contender gone, but our pastor can't seem to exercise discipline...
---------- it is not the pastor's job to exercise discipline, except where he is a member of the empowered body. In the RCUS, the body is the Spiritual Council, made up of elders and ministers. The judicial procedures of complaint, witnesses, trial, etc. are carefully spelled out in the constitutions.
Yes, the contentious person should not have been allowed to act in such a way. An elder should have reproved him, and if he remained contentious, evidence should have been gathered, charges made, and a decision made according to the government of the church and denomination.
In the RCUS contentiousness is especially marked out in the constitution for discipline, but in practice, to our shame, it is sometimes tolerated beyond godliness.
--end of transcript from FaceBook.
Comments on the above
Earthly discipline is very hard in churches, sometimes. People lie over and over. Relatives protect one another. Other agendas intrude and corrupt the procedures. Ministers often do not believe in the constitutional provisions for discipline and opt for more "compassion" and "empathy," forgetting the damage to the church by self-will, rebellion against authority, and transgression of the law of God. They take the easy way.
But it must be done. Ministers and elders who do will be maligned, bullied, and slandered. But what is new? Jesus and the apostles also experienced these things.
Surprisingly, the church that disciplines, even though it will be criticized and maligned, will also gain the respect of the community and people of good will. Those who have an ax to grind will continue to gripe and complain, but the church and its officers will be respected for being willing practice what they preach.
From the constitution of the RCUS:
"An offense is anything in doctrine, principles, or practice of church member, officer, or judicatory that is contrary to the Word of God and nothing shall be admitted as matter of accusation or considered an offense which cannot be proved contrary to the Scriptures or to the regulations of teh Church founded on them. The following sins especailly merit discipline: heresy, schism, blasphemy, adultery, forniation, lascivious wantonness, theft, fraud, perjury, lying, contentiousness, intemperance, profanation of the Lord's Day, impudent scoffing, cruelty, and other violations of the Ten Commandments."
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