Dr. Henry B. Waiters: On church discipline
Church Discipline: The absent prerequisite of the visible representation of the invisible body of Christ.
The abandonment of Church Discipline is described by:
1. The Chapel Library
2. Edward T. Hiscox Church Manual
3. The Unger’s Bible Dictionary
The Chapel Library: (Discipline is training that corrects, molds, or perfects; a system of rules governing conduct.)
The decline of Church Discipline is perhaps the most visible failure of the contemporary church. No longer concerned with maintaining purity of confession or lifestyle, the contemporary church sees itself as a voluntary association of autonomous members with little or no accountability to God, much less to each other.
The absence of Church Discipline is no longer remarkable, it is generally not even noticed. The present generation of both church members and ministers are virtually without experience of Biblical Church Discipline.
Without a recovery of functional Church Discipline, firmly established upon the principles revealed in the Bible, the church will continue its slide into moral disintegration and the idea that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.
The abandonment of Church Discipline is linked to American Christianity’s creeping accommodation to American Culture. As the 20th century began, this accommodation became increasingly evident as the church accepted reluctantly, but without protest, and gave in to a culture of moral individualism.
The result of this is the loss of the Biblical pattern for the for the church, and the impending collapse of Authentic Christianity in this generation. The church today is suffering from an infection which has been allowed to fester. As an infection weakens the body by destroying its defense mechanisms, so the church has been weakened by this ugly sore. The church has lost its power and effectiveness in serving as a vehicle for social, moral, and spiritual change. This illness is due, at least, a great part to a neglect of Church Discipline.
Discipline includes all those processes by which a church, entrusted with the care of souls, educates its members for heaven, such as their public and private instructions in the Gospel and the Word, the maintenance of social meetings for their edification and comfort, and in general, the cultivation of a spirit adapted to awaken and cherish the Christian life. In this lies the chief power of the church. A pure and healthful tone of religious life in the body, an all pervasive spirit of love and loyalty to Christ and the church are the most effective means of securing a pure life in the individual members; then, the Church becomes a spiritual magnet that draws and holds souls to Christ and to itself …
Edward T. Hiscox: The Church is the organic representative of the kingdom of Christ; unless law prevails in the kingdom and order is maintained, how shall the King be honored, the kingdom be advanced, or the world be blessed by its coming and triumph? It is therefore of the utmost importance that a correct Scriptural discipline be strictly maintained within the Churches. Discipline is to prevent, restrain, or remove the evil that may exist, to encourage and protect the right, and cherish the good, “for the edifying of the body of Christ,” that it may be perfect in love and without reproach. The disciplined Church is always held in higher esteem by its own members, and more respected and honored by the world, where a high standard of Christian morals is maintained, and a jealous watch-care is exercised over the faith and conduct of its members …
Unger’s Bible Dictionary: As visible institutions, Churches must exercise government over the members. If the church is, as Roman Catholics believe, infallible, because divinely inspired, then all that the church may require is of divine obligation.
If the churches, as some believe, are merely voluntary human societies formed for Christian purposes, then, such rules as from a human standpoint may seem appropriate are binding upon those who enter and remain in their communion.
The Protestant Theory is, the churches are divine-human institutions, and not infallible, but the rules of conducts must be in accordance with the teachings of the infallible Word. The ethical standard of the visible church must be simply that of the Holy Scriptures, otherwise the true idea of the church is lost sight of …
A strict Scriptural Discipline is always what you do for a person, not to a person, regardless of required scriptural action.
The urgency of considering and restoring this Scripturally mandated directive cannot be overstated. All scripturally positioned Pastors should seek the courage and wisdom to begin this restoration process which will slow the rapidly growing Apostasy, and moral disintegration.
A loss of normal voice caused me to retire from the Friendship Baptist Church, Lexington, NC after 38 years, 6 months. During those years we maintained a strict Scriptural Discipline, and were amazed at how it impacted the church, homes, schools, work place, and community. We soon agreed that God’s Way is always more beneficial and productive than man’s way.
If you are steadfastly maintaining a Strict Scriptural Discipline, I would appreciate a response.
Dr. Waiters can be reached at 704-636-3369.