Project Documents

Date of Award

2000

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Ricardo Norton

Second Advisor

J. H. Denis Forton

Third Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Abstract

Problem. Local churches are in general confusion about the meaning, importance, and function of church discipline. Hence, this biblical task is mostly ignored, or even opposed by many as being judgmentalism. As a result, baptismal candidates are poorly prepared and sometimes members are allowed to continue in sinful habits. This study sought to research and present material about why and how the church ought to work with sinning believers.

Method. Based on a search of the Holy Scripture, the writings of Ellen G. White, and other theological literature, material for a seminar about church discipline and grace was produced. A shortened version was used for the seminar conducted in the Show Low, Arizona, Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Results. The findings of the research, confirmed by long-time pastoral experience, are available to be popularized through similar seminars and in periodicals published by the church. Such an initiative can improve the general awareness about God's expectations regarding proper church discipline, which is designed to grow healthy congregations that are more successful in their witnessing.

Conclusions. This research has discovered a widespread decline in practicing discipline in the Christian world, due, perhaps, to the contemporary societal trend against order and authority. Personal freedom is interpreted as unlimited permissiveness. As a result, church members falling in sin or committing acts of injustice are simply abandoned to their practices. Yet preaching the gospel is an insufficient work if it lacks serious followup for growing spiritual church members and successful evangelists. At the same time the research recorded a positive cry from many writers of various religious orientations and affiliations pleading for the reinstatement of this vital work in the Christian church. Church discipline is first justified by the fact that Christ and His disciples promoted it as essential for the health, influence, credibility, and development of the church. Discipline was obviously practiced in primitive Christianity and is indispensable for the church living prior to the return of Jesus Christ in glory.

Subject Area

Church discipline--Biblical teaching

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