I know that a lot of the things I say seem extreme and sort of bordering on paranoid. Sure, there are problems in the church, but that is because there are sinners like you and me in the church. Yeah, maybe you had a bad experience at one church, but that doesn’t mean that the whole thing is bad. We all love Jesus and we just do church differently. That’s what they say.
I say that the “way” they “do” church destroys people. I say that it usurps the authority of Christ by promoting the “authority” of the pastor. I say that it defames God’s name by mistreating and misleading people and defending it as “Christian” beliefs. Maybe I am crazy. Maybe I am over the top. Maybe I am making up the Boogieman just to, I don’t know, feel important, feel rebellious, give myself an excuse for walking away from all the bullshit.
I heard a new book was coming out. It is written by two professors at a Southern Baptist (i.e. a huge enterprise of a denomination) seminary that I am rather familiar with. And, the greatest part, it is about the Church. Now we can see what the leaders in our denominations really think, and stop listening to the crazies who make them out to be evil authoritarian usurpers to the throne of Christ. The name of the book? Those Who Must Give an Account: A Study of Church Membership and Church Discipline. And here is the description:
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” –Hebrews 13:17a
There is a surprising, even dangerous, gap in the literature on the church in the areas of church membership and church discipline. The former sets the boundaries of a leader’s responsibility, and discipline is the last option of a church when members will no longer live in fellowship with their brothers and sisters in the Lord and accept the guidance of their leaders.
And so this book is written first to church leaders, offering guidance on how they should receive and minister to those for whom they will have to give an account according to Scripture. But under the view of the church upheld in these chapters, the receiving of members and discipline of members are both acts of the greater church body, and thus all members of the church share in the accountability for each other. Consequently, Those Who Must Give an Account will be of interest to all believers.
Among this volume’s nine notable contributors are Mark E. Dever (“The Practical Issues of Church Membership”), Thomas R. Schreiner (“The Biblical Basis for Church Discipline”), and Bruce Riley Ashford and Danny Akin (“The Church as God’s Missional People”).
I have not read this book, as it is not out yet, and I would rather have my eyes eaten by ravens then read something so worthless, but there is a lot we can know about it just by this description, and worse yet, there is a lot that we can know about the leaders in the SBC for having written something so horrendous.
We start out with a half a verse taken out of context. This is something we are all taught NOT to do in seminary, but, well I guess it’s just a matter of creative license here. Then we move on to the travesty that is the lack of material about church membership and discipline. You know why there aren’t many books written about the biblical basis for these? Because there is no biblical basis for these! These concepts promote the authority of the pastor, and the banishment of the troublemakers. Don’t believe me? Read their own words: “The former [meaning membership] sets the boundaries of a leader’s responsibility [meaning authority, which is why we quoted that half a verse from Hebrews]” and on the topic of discipline? “the last option of a church when members will no longer live in fellowship with their brothers and sisters in the Lord and accept the guidance of their leaders.” aka, we throw out the people who don’t agree with the pastors.
The scariest part? Look at the end of the description. In case you are fortunate enough not to know who these men are, they are among the top leaders in the SBC today. professors, pastors, seminary presidents. So what? This stuff is being taught to all those seminary students, who in turn become pastors at all those SBC churches, and in turn spread this destructive message of “obey your leaders or we throw you out” to their congregations.
So, am I making up the boogieman now?