Church discipline is a highly controversial, sensitive and important topic in the Church today. Church discipline is controversial because many people question whether it’s biblical or even helpful for local Church’s to discipline other Christians. Due to this view Church discipline is a very sensitive topic that requires an attitude of compassion and care by church officers, because many people inside and outside the Church have been hurt by shepherds who have abused their spiritual authority. Church discipline is an important topic for the church because its biblical and protects the name of Jesus and the integrity of the Church’s mission to seek and save the lost.
In his helpful new book Church Discipline How the Church Protects The Name of Jesus, by Jonathan Leeman, an author, elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC, and editorial director of 9Marks Ministries and editor of its eJournal writes to help his readers understand the biblical-theological foundations of church discipline and to provide a how-to guide for church discipline. Church Discipline How the Church Protects The Name of Jesus is broken up into three parts: part one, establishing a framework, second, applying the framework: case studies, and finally, getting started with church discipline.
Having grown up in the Church and being involved in ministry for many years I’ve seen Church discipline handled biblically and not biblically. When Church discipline is handled in an unbiblical fashion it does tremendous harm not only to the individual but also to the Church. When Church discipline is done biblically, it helps protect the Gospel of Jesus among the nations with the goal of seeing the unrepentant person come to repent of his/her sin.
One of the more interesting parts of this book for me was chapter two where Leeman argues for a Gospel framework for understanding Church discipline. In chapter two, Leeman argues that “church leaders will be better equipped to figure out where the line is for church discipline if they understand their corrective activity within a larger gospel framework. The gospel helps us to gauge when to speak and when to stay silent, when to act and when not to act. Establishing a framework for church discipline requires us to understand 1) the gospel, 2) what a Christian is, 3) what a local church is, and 4) what church membership means” (37).
The framework Leeman provides is helpful because as he notes “viewing church discipline through this gospel framework—a framework driven not by lists of sins but by the question of whether the church and continue to affirm a profession of faith—allows for greater pastoral sensitive in moving from situation to situation. Scripture is always our guide for what counts as a sin, but pastoral care is needed to determine which sins require discipline, and to what extent” (51).
Leeman’s application of his Gospel framework makes his book one of the most helpful treatments I’ve ever read on Church discipline. This book will help those who have been hurt by abuse of spiritual authority to understand the biblical-theological, and Gospel purpose for Church discipline. This book will help Pastors to learn why biblical Church discipline is important through its biblically faithful, Gospel-focused application, along with its real-life case studies that will help them deal with a wide variety of situations in their local Churches. I highly recommend this book for Pastors and elders desiring to build healthy churches.
Author: Jonathan Leeman
Publisher: Crossway (2012)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 10 Publishing book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Dave Jenkins is happily married to his wife, Sarah. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021), The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022), and Contentment: The Journey of a Lifetime (Theology for Life, 2024). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.