Congregation Discipline in the First Century
February 02, 2023
Vic Vomodog (we used to pull together in the work!) landed this one in my in-box: (He doesn’t like the way it works with discipline.)
“In first century Christianity individual errors were investigated, counseled, reviewed, and if necessary reproved at Congregational meetings in front of and with the input of the Entire Congregations. Then they voted as to whether someone should be rebuked or reproved. This was ONLY AFTER the procedures of Matthew 18 were followed.”
How does he know this? Let’s call him out on it: “This is a statement you have made countless times. But you have never actually backed it up with evidence it was done that way. Can you?”
‘Sure,’ he answered. ‘The entirety of Matthew the 18th Chapter. Visualize as you read along.’
Oh, come on! Is that all you got? ‘Speak to the congregation?’ (18:17) It doesn’t occur to him that when I say I’m speaking to Chevy about my old Citation , I don’t actually imagine I’m speaking to every Chevy employee but only to a representative of that company?
Okay, so maybe it could have been that way but it’s hardly a slam-dunk—certainly not enough that he should be carrying on as he does. Vomodog puts the dog into dogmatic!
In fact, it’s not very likely at all. Paul said there are plenty of dishonorable vessels in a congregation, not to mention immature ones, ones who haven’t yet learned to fully distinguish between right and wrong, ones in the process of drawing away. John adds to the list in Revelation: ones whose love has grown cold, ones who tolerate ‘that woman Jezebel’, and so forth. You mean to tell me that all these have a say equal to that of the irreproachable ones appointed to ‘shepherd the congregation of God?’ Fat chance.
Vomodog got sucked into politics. Some go right. Some go left. He’s gone right. It spills over and clouds judgment. He becomes enamored with mantras like ‘power to the people,’ ‘equal voting rights for all,’ and so forth.
***Don’t be so mean to Vomodog? Didn’t he say something nice about me recently? He’s just setting me up for a sucker punch, most likely, but still maybe I should be more kind. It is part of the religion and all. Should it be tearful reconciliation in view of his recent praise?
It’s like how Abraham Lincoln illustrated that the victorious Union was now in postilion to settle the score with Britain, the way it had not been during the war. Then, the North just had to put up with England’s continual meddling on behalf of the South.
He opened the subject by telling an anecdote, the way he loved to do. He told of the old man on his deathbed making peace with his lifelong enemy, ironing out all former feuds so he could die at peace with all men. “If possible, as far as it depends on you, be peaceable with all men,” says Romans 12:18.
It was a scene to melt a mafioso’s heart. Tears flowed like a river. The very angels wept. But as the reconciled enemy made to take his leave, the newly minted peacemaker raised himself on an elbow to remind: “But remember—if I get better, that grudge still stands!”
So it is with Vomodog. If he resumes his outrageous ways, that grudge still stands.
****** The bookstore
Let me get this straight, Vic Vomodog is saying that the Scriptures advocate putting the judging of very serious matters into the hands of those who have not "been tested as to fitness (spiritually) first," into the hands of many who are spiritual babes, and to minors (baptized minors are part of the congregation so Vic, to be consistent, must include them)?
What Vic is advocating is something that no civilization on earth does - give the judging to the entire population. All societies that I have ever learned about, ancient or modern, delegates the judging to a small subset of the population - they are called Courts of Law. That goes for Criminal as well as Civil matters. To fairly judge a matter, oftentimes very sensitive and confidential information must be brought out - innocent individuals must come forward to testify and their anonymity must be respected and, as much as possible, be preserved.
Even Biblically, in ancient Israel the judging was left to the "older men" and not to the entire city (this is the pattern throughout Scripture). The "older men" represented the entire city. Likewise, the elders today, the "seven stars" that are in Jesus' right hand, represent the entire congregation.
As shepherds, they are divinely appointed. As such they are responsible before Jesus and Jehovah for the welfare of the congregation (1 Pet. 5:1-4). When two or more sheep get into a tussle, a good shepherd does not let the rest of the flock iron out the problem - he is responsible to handle the situation. If need be, he may have to separate a consistently disorderly sheep/ram from the rest of the flock. As shepherd he is in the best position to do so, not some outsider who does not know the flock.
[Ans: Alas, Vic has become a serious piece of work.]
Posted by: Dean Rush | February 08, 2023 at 06:32 PM