Friday, December 19, 2008
Church Discipline in the News (Again)
This is one of those stories that just doesn't pass the smell test.
According to Fox News, a woman by the name of Rebecca Hancock (pictured) is upset that Grace Community Church in Jacksonville, Florida, is "threatening to make her sins public" as they carry out church discipline.
You can read the Fox news account through the hyperlink, but the gist is this - Ms. Hancock is alleged to be in unrepentant sin. The church followed the biblical guidelines for church discipline laid down by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 18. Here's what the Lord said:
If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17).
Ms. Hancock refused to repent, and so the church began the discipline process, which incensed Ms. Hancock to the point where she left the church. She has now helped stir up an outcry in the general public about this mean old church threatening her reputation and the sensibilities of her children, who are still allowed to attend the church.
It goes without saying that the church is right in this matter, and the carping critics in and out of the media are wrong. As a member of a church, you agree to follow its bylaws and procedures, and are made aware of that when the church accepts you as a member. Ms. Hancock claims ignorance of those rules, but I'm not buying it.
For someone who is so concerned about her "sins being made public," don't you find it odd that she has no trouble talking to national media about the matter, including the situation that got her in trouble in the first place? The church wasn't about to go to the news media with this story. It's an internal matter in the congregation. But now that she's gone public herself, the story is fair game.
This isn't the only time something like this has happened. Numerous churches have been sued (another sin between believers) because they exercised church discipline according to the demands of Scripture. It's a classic example of unrepentant and likely unregenerate people trying to force a church to abandon biblical integrity rather than changing their own behavior. I for one am not going to sit silently and watch when this happens.
The media feeding frenzy has begun, and the church is facing withering criticism. I hope and pray that the leadership of Grace Community stands firm. I also pray that Ms. Hancock will do what she's supposed to do if she is a true Christian. Repent!
John Kasich subbed for Bill O'Reilly tonight and had a segment on this case, with radical feminist lawyer Wendy Murphy as his guest. I've never been more disappointed in Kasich. Murphy was inflammatory as usual and demonstrated no knowledge of church discipline much less Christianity. But Kasich described himself as a believer, and then sided with Murphy against the church. "We need grace, and grace is what it's all about." Hokum and bunkum.
I fired off an email to Kasich telling him that he'd better review Matthew 18 again, especially point three where the Lord instructs us to "tell it to the church" when someone remains unrepentant. No doubt my note will probably be ignored, but I had to send it. This kind of smear job makes me so mad. I'm glad I am out of broadcast journalism