From: Lex Kuhta (lexkuhta@mail2.DELTANET.COM)
Date: Tue Jul 29 1997 - 01:43:24 EDT
Had a thought about something you said:
> I nevertheless find myself wondering how Lex arrives at the
> implication that 18:15ff. does NOT concern the manner in which the
> church community maintains discipline against offenders within it
1) I never said it does NOT EVER concern other matters in church
discipline. All princiles will eventually find some kind of universal
2) What I was getting at, and realized as I was thinking about it on the
way to work this morning, was that there was a primary audience and then
subsequent audiences. The primary audience was the disciples, or future
church leaders. As current church leaders, the application to us would
be an easy slide. The subsequent audiences would be the subsequent
generations who heard the Jesus stories retold or who arranged them for
publication, or who read them after publication.
3) The discussion on the list seemed to be getting away from remembering
the primary audience and all I wanted to do was remind us of that
primary audience and was not trying to exclude any subsequent
4) You asked "how" I arrived at a consideration of the primary audience.
I just looked at the passages and each response of Jesus seemed to be
preceded by a question from one of the disciples (v 1 and v 21) that
prompted a response from Jesus. The fact that these Jesus stories were
published with the primary audience still attached to the story might
indicate that Matthew thought the primary audience "ought" to be part of
the way the responses were framed and given meaning.
5) In my opinion, the church community has "appropriated" this passage
to use for discipline. And we hear the passage cited a lot. But that
does not mean people are keeping the primary audience in mind when they
cite or use the passage. Also, have you EVER heard of a church that
really used this process? I haven't. It's all posturing.
And another idea about something you said:
> ...the need ever to resort to excommunication--but nevertheless,
> 18:17 surely seems to affirm that alternative as the last resort
> to be employed in a matter of church discipline.
1) We read this passage in Greek Reading this afternoon and were by no
means certain that excommunication was what was meant in that passage.
We recalled that this passage is set in the context of searching for the
lost sheep and encouraging the servant to be forgiving. One option, in
addition to the option of excommunication, seems to be to treat the
problem person, who will not hear, as a gentile and a tax collector,
that is, as a lost sheep who needs further prayer and ministry and that
the prayers of two or three in harmony could have the effect of moving
the spirtual mountain in that person's life. We did not get around to
attempting to prefer one option over the other, as we realized it would
take more exegetical work. But we did agree that the grammar alone did
not mandate excommunication in that passage but that it also seemed, in
context, to speak of prayer and evangelism.
I don't want to have a flame war. I just wanted to talk about it some
more in the context of my drive to work and thinking about primary and
subsequent audiences. I like always to locate the primary audience and
keep it handy for reference. And in terms of what we came up with during
Greek Reading this afternoon with people from several different
denominations and persuasions.
Had fun writing this e-mail. Many Blessings,
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