The Decline of Discipline in Baptist Churches

Contemporary Baptist churches are practically void of church discipline. One is left to wonder the reason of this; therefore, one must research the historicity of church discipline in Baptist churches. This discourse is valuable to all denominations in that, just as the Baptists seem to have lost this practice, so do denominations. Further this concept is essential to every Christian’s view of ecclesiology. If Christ’s bride is unfaithful, regardless of verbal promises, what love does She have for the Bridegroom?
“…Perhaps it is time to see church discipline at the center of Christian faith. Church discipline is part of the gospel (Jeschke 1972, 3).” As church discipline is lacking and needed, this discourse aims to catalyze Baptist concern in this area. This article seeks to briefly review the historical practice of church discipline in Baptist churches in and prior to the 19th Century, and the decline of church discipline in the late 19th and 20th centuries, the discusses the need of church disciple in the contemporary church.

Discipline in Early Baptist Churches

Because Scripture clearly prescribes personal holiness and church discipline, Baptists in early America were devoted to these practices (note Dagg and Mells below). Baptist leaders sought to build their denomination on Scripture alone; it is interesting that the Baptist denomination was primarily a grassroots movement among the poor and uneducated of America (Hammett 2005, 111).
Dagg, as a formidable Baptist leader in his day, focuses on the need strictly for a regenerate church membership,

In order that the church may judge whether a candidate is duly qualified for membership, they should hear his profession of faith. He is bound to let his light shine before all men, to the glory of God; and it is especially needful that they should see it, with whom he is to be associated in fellowship as a child of light. He is bound to be ready always to give an answer to every one that asketh the reason of the hope that is in him; and especially should he be ready to answer, on this point, those who are to receive him into their number, as called in one hope of their calling. He is bound to show forth the praise of him who has called him out of darkness into his marvellous light; and he should rejoice to say, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul (Dagg 1858, 3).”

This reflects the concept that the church is to be pure, in conception, growth, and practice. Sadly, this doctrine lost favor after the Civil War. At this time in history, the church was central to life, therefore believers lived in daily community in and out of the walls of the church. In order to promote church purity, Baptists considered themselves accountable to each other for the sake of purity. There was a concept of true family in the church. As families seek to correct each other; not in punishment, but in growth, so the church is to grow correctly (Hammett 2005,119-19).
The views which are presented in the following pages are such as have been held by the Baptist churches from time immemorial. The Author attempts to do no more than to exhibit the sentiments of our Fathers, and to defend them by showing that they are sustained by the Scriptures. It is not asserted, however, that in no instance have the principles herein set forth been departed from. In times of excitement, when party spirit ran high, or personal resentment swayed men’s minds, revolutionary measures have been resorted to in some few of our churches, and these principles have been trampled under foot. Such irregularities have never failed to be disastrous to those who perpetrated them, and their influence upon the cause of Christ has been only evil, and that continually. One of the unhappy effects is that they are taken as precedents by those who are not well informed and quoted as instances of Baptist usage. (Mell 1860, 1)

Thus, one can see that in the 19th century, Mell “asserts” that church disciple was commonplace in the Baptist church, and in places it is not it is “irregular”. Discipline was the rule, not the exception. In fact, purity of members was so valuable that in Mississippi and Louisiana, some slave owners were disciplined for not treating their “black brother[s]” well (Jeschke 1972, 138). It is clear that Baptist in the 19th century desired purity in the church. It is surprising to some, that while disciple was practiced regularly, this era experienced great growth in the Baptist churches. “Discipline was not one of the lost arts in the [18]50’s (Vedder 1907, 364).” It seems that church discipline was central to church life in days prior to the Civil War. In fact Wills shows that even though Baptist churches disciplined 2% members to the point of excommunication annually, in these years, Baptist churches grew at a rate near twice the population (Wills 1997, 22). It is interesting to note that the historic Baptists documents that were used as a guideline of discipline fall strictly in line with Matthew 18:15-21. This is observed in Mell’s second chapter on corrective discipline. Mell does not support a trial type of discipline, nor does he promote swift church hearing. His does strive to progress as Jesus teaches; to the brother first, then with two or three to the brother, then finally before the church (Mell 1860, Contents).

Decline of Discipline in Baptist Churches

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 minimal moral accountability to God, much less to each other (Mohler 2006).
How did the church arrive in such a situation? With such strong beginnings and now for discipline to be taboo among Baptists today is unnerving. Reflecting on the fact that Quaker lives were strictly guided by the church, Vedder criticizes the church’s active voice in spousal and business disputes, “and such offenses as covetousness, slander, and idleness.” He states, “To the Baptists of to-day this kind of discipline seems a meddlesome interference with personal rights and private affairs…” (Vedder, 1907, 236) Considering that Vedder pens only about 45 years after Dagg and Mell, this is a illuminating statement.
With the rising influence of individualism it seems that 20th century Baptists thought the church should “butt-out.” This was likely not aided by Reconstruction, as ‘Yankees’ and carpetbaggers ‘invaded’ the South, surely the privatization of the individual grew. This fostered an “us versus them” mentality, which leads to a “me versus you” idea. Further, Jeschke proposes that in addition to government discipline functions, possibly the “holiness-pentecostal-charismatic movement” experience, while instituting discipline at times, provided a “subconscious substitute for the holy life” (Jescheke 1972, 144-45).
It should be said that there have obviously been abuses of church discipline. This can be traced as far back as A.D. 451 when the Council of Chalcedon would excommunicate any minister who accepted the pastorate of another church, and the Bishop that approved him, without the express permission of the Roman Catholic Church (Hammond 1874, 67). Other examples are equally difficult to understand, such as attending a football game leading to probation of service , marrying outside the church leading to excommunication, missing service leading to public accusation (Cramp 1863, 382). It is no surprise that “One Southern Baptist says, “The overreaction of most Southern Baptist congregations to the abuses in church discipline in the past have made them very slow to return to the spiritual practice”” (Jescheke 1972, 143).
Perhaps the clearest error in all of church history is the conformation to the culture. This is seen clearest in “Christian” celebrations and practices. Christmas trees, the naming of “Easter” and “Sunday”, and Halloween are a few of the places Christianity has accommodated the culture over the faith. Regarding church discipline, the vast rise of Individualism accompanied the decline in discipline. It is clear from Vedder’s statement above that “personal rights and private affairs” are considered more important than the active and open sins of church members. Individualism eventually raises one above all in every matter. This is the bedrock of postmodernism. As the “American Dream” developed, the vitality of Christian community declined (Hammett 2005, 115). Also, Wills states, business methods “replaced the pursuit of purity with the quest for efficiency… No one publicly advocated the demise of discipline… It simply faded away, as if Baptists had grown weary of holding one another accountable (Wills 1997, 9 139-40).”
It seems that with the privatization of religion, Biblical truth has become relative. When people have plumbing problems they call an experienced plumber; with taxes, an educated accountant is consulted; moreover, with terminal illness, only the best medical specialists are sought. It is rather strange that when it comes to the valuable and eternal soul of man, that it is a ‘personal matter’. This is seen best in Vedder’s praise of Baptist “growth” in the early twentieth century, “The denomination statistics show that 4,181,686 … were members of regular Baptist churches…1/18 of the population. If we add “adherents”-those connected with Baptist families, congregations, Sunday-schools-1/7 must be reckoned a Baptist in sentiment….what could be more gratifying to a religious body (Vedder 1907, 366)”? While this is disturbing in many ways, perhaps the most obvious is that this Baptist minister is eager to more than double the number of Baptists simply by association in 1900. Clearly, the ‘explosion’ of Baptists in the twentieth century brought much power to the Baptist denomination. Being “Baptist” was losing a stigma, as were other denominations. As Baptists churches grew, it became more difficult to maintain discipline. Moreover, as every generation progresses, there are cultural taboos to a previous generation, which a younger generation will embrace. With the rise of Individualism and relativism, the ‘old’ practice discipline was seen as judgmental and self righteous (Hammett 2005,115).

Discipline in the Contemporary Church
While it is disheartening that discipline has disappeared in Baptist churches of the last century, it is understandable that it remains absent. The issue is not regarding discipline per se, but rather regarding culture. It has been clear discussed that it was mainly due to the rise Individualism and relativism that church discipline declined.
Fox News recently published an article stating that on average the generation of people between 46-18 is more narcissistic than any before (Associated Press, 2007). It is worth considering how this generation came to this sad state. It is not far fetched to conclude this is due to the influence of the previous generation (their parents). That generation was surely swayed by the previous generation. This rough timeline leads inevitably to the turn of the 19th century. It is apparent that the principles set forth in Scripture and practiced historically be Baptists (and others) for centuries prior to the last two, are superior to the trends in culture.
The culture has taught the church a valuable lesson regarding discipline. This lesson contrary to the opinion of some isn’t that “culture is against Christianity”. What the culture of the 19th century taught Baptist churches as the exploded, was that people are hungry for Biblical truth and community, even if it is uncomfortable. The 20th century taught Baptist churches, that if there is no Biblical leadership, people will follow any leadership, even their own. The church should also learn that if discipline is not Biblical (as in the Counsel of Chalsedon), people will seek Biblical truth elsewhere (Reformation). Wills gives account of a man who was brought before the church for discipline on account of having dancing and fiddle music at his daughters wedding. While is clear from the account the steps set forth in Matthew 18 for church discipline were not followed, one thing is educational. When the man was given the chance to address the church, he points that the church is quick to point the sins of a poor man out, but ignore other sins of rich giver to the church. He contrast judged fiddle music (of the poor) with condoned piano music (of the rich). At the end of the man’s defense the entire church rose in repentance of their double standards and praised God for this event that brought purity (Wills 1997, 27).
It would behoove the contemporary Baptist church to consider her history. Her recent past is seeping with a ministry that conforms to culture; her history is a ministry that transforms lives. In recent years Baptist have strived to be programmatic in approach to ministry, this is a model of a 20th century business model. This model has produced “membership” that is at best nominal. John Hammett, when discussing contemporary Baptists in 2004 states, “…of those more than sixteen million (Baptist church) members only 6, 024,289, or 37 percent were on average present for Sunday morning worship…they remain in good standing at most Baptist churches… Yet they are not living like regenerate believers. (Hammett 2005, 109)” Hammett is correct to correlate regenerate church membership with church discipline. At hearts cry, he is begging to tell nearly ten million people that they are not in the light, they have no fruit.
As regenerate church membership and church discipline are correlated, people must see church disciple for what it is, not what it appears to be to a narcissistic individualistic society. Mark Dever stress that churches must practice disciple for five reasons.
1. For the good of the person disciplined.
2. For the good of other Christians, as they see the danger of sin.
3. For the health of the Church as a whole.
4. For the corporate witness of the church.
5. For the glory of God, as we reflect His holiness (Dever 2000, 174-176).

The wise reader will note that these reasons focus on the good. For Dever, to evaluate the New Testament teaching of church discipline is to see the goodness of God and the Gospel. This should appeal even to the American culture, that God and His Church seek good things for people. Discipline should not be seen as a penal sentence, but rather as a friend who takes cars keys from a drunken friend. It is not judgmental damnation, but concern that is to motivate the church to discipline.

Conclusion

While it is important to understand the historic practice and reasons of decline in church discipline, it is foremost essential to understand that it is Biblical. Baptists should not follow practices simply because they are historic, as shouldn’t any denomination. Baptist churches have long prided themselves on being “Biblical”, as seen in this article. In recent years, it is clear that Baptists have not been Biblical nor historically Baptists in this area.
Church disciple that is practiced in a Biblical manner and a loving heart can transform the contemporary church. This truth is both Scriptural and historic. Christians of all denominations must love Jesus in order to be worthy of the title. If Christians love Jesus, they should follow Him. To turn the cultural driven church to a Christ driven church will be difficult. Jesus calls Christians to difficult tasks, yet He assures final victory.

Reference List
Associated Press. 2007. Study: College Students More Narcissistic Than Ever. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,254904,00.html. (Accessed 04/17/07)

Cramp, J.M. 1863. Baptist History. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society.
Dagg, J.L. 1858. Manual of Theology 2nd Part: A Treatise on Church Order. Charleston: Southern Baptist Publication Society.

Dever, Mark. 2000. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Wheaton: Crossway Books.
Hammett, John S. 2005. Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches. Grand Rapids: Kregel.

Hammond. 1874. Canons of the First Four Councils. Oxford and London: James Parker and Co.

Jeschke, Marlin. 1972. Disciplining in the Church. Scottsdale: Herald Press.
Mell, P.H. 1860. Corrective Church Discipline. Charleston: Southern Baptist Publication Society.

Molher, R. Albert Jr. 2006 Church Discipline: The Missing Mark. http://www.the-highway.com/discipline_Mohler.html. (Accessed 04/01/07)

Vedder, Henry C. 1907. Short History of the Baptists. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society.

Wills, Gregory A. 1997. Democratic Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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About matthewstevens

Matt needs more Jesus...just like you. He writes to encourage thinking and the expansion of the Kingdom
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17 Responses to The Decline of Discipline in Baptist Churches

  1. cd-host says:

    For people who want follow up on what is actually occurring with church discipline today, I run a blog dedicated to the topic (click above link). I think your assessment of why the decline occurred is partially correct. Other reasons were the fact that there was, starting in the mid 19th century, a genuine liberal movement as far as religion. The right (from there perspective) had to fight off heresy and were (and still are) far more focused on people they disagreed with ideologically then non idealogical sinners.

  2. cd-
    Thank you for your comment,

    I must say after reviewing your site, I think your stance on homosexuality is wrong and against Scripture. You views on “tolerance” and the links you provide for disciplined people to simply find a ‘church for them now’ completely usurp the concept of discipline- which exists to promote church purity, and personal holiness I suggest you read Dever’s “9 marks” to understand this better.

    While I agree that liberalism aided in the decline of discipline, I still hold that specifically the exaltation of the individual, secular hedonism, and relativism are some of the specific reasons for thet decline of discipline. I would also contend that the “right” (from their perspective) saw these as sin not liberalism, idealogically would define method of communion, the preexistance of the imortal soul, the ability of Christ to sin or not ie non essentials of sound doctrine. I can’t agree that the right are more focused on the idealogical then or now. to do so one ould have to dismiss the great revivals of the 18-19th centuries and more recently the work of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham (Graham I have significant idealogical and theological differences with, yet I acknowlege God’s work in his ministry). If we see God as pure and His church in need of purity, then believers must cling to Scripture in order to present ourselves pure ie “fight heresy”= church discipline.

  3. CD.Host says:

    As for usurping the point of discipline, I’d have to slightly disagree. Its a defendant’s blog. Most everyone else writes about the topic from the minister’s point of view. The blog takes the position that the person being subject to discipline should think through all the plusses and minus and make choices that are consistent with the outcome they desire.

    People like Dever assume the person should desire to live according to Dever’s views on scripture and process. That’s not an unreasonable assumption but I have no trouble imaging why that may not be the case for everyone. Often it is through the discipline process that people discover they are in the wrong sort of church or perhaps they are in the right kind of church but they have created a situation which is is complex and they trust their minister to resolve it successfully. Not all ministers that are theologically correct are good social workers. I offer submission as an option (method 2) and I even recommend it, because all the other ones are likely to pull you away from God (all other things being equal) but I don’t think its the only option. And that’s not from ignorance.

    As for homosexuality… I could debate this but in the end it comes down to culture. Many many passages in scripture are interpreted (and the primary mechanism for this is translation choices) by Christians quite broadly. Many many passages are interpreted quite narrowly. Scripture itself doesn’t provide any useful guides for which ones should be interpreted which way (and yes I am familiar with the 5 solas, and yes I am contradicting them). In the end its easy to make “scriptural” arguments that define anti-biblical homosexuality quite narrowly while still being very faithful to scripture. All you have to do is translate the words literally and apply narrow cultural contexts (say the way all the verses about mixing fabrics, or ethical farming are treated).

    Finally as your comments on liberalism. No I do think that mid 19th century christians of the great revival were not fighting ideological battles within the church. In the 1860s people who denied the resurrection were outside the churches, by the 1940s you had followers of Bultmann categorically rejecting miracles all throughout mainstream American Christianity.

  4. To seek the outcome the one being disciplined desires is rather ironic-no one being disciplined desires it(Heb 12). The point is to be transformed into Christlikeness, not have your “desires” met.

    People like Dever assume that people should live according to Scripture as Scripture defines it. Scripture (not Culture) must interpret Scripture. I agree “Not all ministers that are theologically correct are good social workers” yet they still are to watch for the souls of the people as a (under)sheperd

    As to homosexuality-It is not an issue of Culture. If that were true Scripture wouldn’t mention it. Electric Guitars vs rain sticks are cultural. The primary method of interpretation can’t be translation. as the concept of “lost in translation” is valid. A responsible Christian much less pastor, will seek the original meaning in the original texts. As “Scripture not providing guides on interpretation” that needs to be evaluated when Christ quotes Torah he interprets it (as an absolute interpretation) as does Paul. All you have to do is translate literally and you get-a literal not figurative interpretation. This is what it says literally… Parables are obvious, as is poetry, as is Commands.

    If you struggle with free of law vs slave to law-Galatians says it plainly. Yet I may be tempted to sway to see it your way, save for galatians on the law, Romans 1 (‘NT Grace era’ some may call it ‘church age) on homosexuality ‘men with men commiting indecent acts’ this is clearest of all-even without torah passages. Scripturally speaking- any deviation from 1man/1woman marital sexual relations is sin . any way you slice it homosexuality falls there as does adultery beastiality orgy etc etc

    As to liberalism, the resurrection would surely be counted as a “must” to Christian theology not idealogical. otherwise we don’t have “Christ”ians we have “Yeshua”‘s cult. To doubt the resurrection is to doubt the Scripture, then what is Christianity worth w/o a Christ, wo Scripture. If that were the case my “desires” would be vastly different

  5. CD.Host says:

    OK lets break these apart since there is a lot to respond to. First on homosexuality… sorry you just lost the debate by going for literal. You wanted to go for figurative in this debate. If I get to translate literally then:

    Lev 18:22
    Men may not engage in homosexual sex while on a woman’s bed; it is a ritual impurity.

    Rom 1:26-7
    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged instinctual natural relations for beyond the ordinary and unusual ones. In the same way the men also abandoned instinctual natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another, Men committed pederasty, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

    1Cor 6:9
    We have a problem. No one knows what malakoi arsenokoitai. From the derivation its a metaphor.
    malakoi = soft and fine (with respect to a fabric)
    arsenokoitai = is something done in a temple but we don’t know what it is.

    So if we are taking this literally then it has to with soft temple fabrics?
    Just to prove I’m generous, I’ll agree to take it as a metaphor (which is clearly how it was meant) and then the word was used for boy prostitutes.

    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor men who have sex with them.

    1 Tim 1:9-10
    Another malakoi arsenokoitai

    Jude 1:7
    The sexual immorality and perversion here is completely ambigious. There is no mention of homosexuality. The most likely meaning from context is sex with angels.

    So that’s checkmate want to take your move back?

  6. CD.Host says:

    As to liberalism, the resurrection would surely be counted as a “must” to Christian theology not idealogical. otherwise we don’t have “Christ”ians we have “Yeshua”’s cult. To doubt the resurrection is to doubt the Scripture, then what is Christianity worth w/o a Christ, wo Scripture.

    Well that may be your opinion but no. Before evangelicals basically split off you had conservatives and evangelicals in the same denominations with people who denied the resurrection and most certainly those who denied any sort of inerrancy doctrine. And yes that was the difference, and I think you can see why it was a big deal.

  7. CD.Host says:

    Finally on Dever:

    To seek the outcome the one being disciplined desires is rather ironic-no one being disciplined desires it(Heb 12). The point is to be transformed into Christlikeness, not have your “desires” met.

    People like Dever assume that people should live according to Scripture as Scripture defines it. Scripture (not Culture) must interpret Scripture. I agree “Not all ministers that are theologically correct are good social workers” yet they still are to watch for the souls of the people as a (under)sheperd

    You understand you are begging the question here. You are simply asserting what the goal should be and who is responsible when that is precisely the point being debated.

  8. C says:

    To CD:
    I dont understand how you can say “checkmate” to an arguement that is based on stating scripture is not accurate as written. You are using scripture to state that scripture can not be correct. Scripture is accurate even though society finds it difficulty to obey.

    Just because a topic may be hard to grasp or contrary to your desires, CD, doesnt mean it would be a wrong arguement. I encourage you to pray and seek the WILL OF GOD rather thatn “the outcome [you] desire”. The purpose of Christianity is to glorify God, not please man and by pursuing and understanding of scripture that makes life easier does not mean you are pursing holiness. Seek first His Kingdom, (with it comes his rules and legislation). Do not seek to bend his laws and edicts so as to satisfy your own goals and “desires.”

  9. CD.Host says:

    How am I saying that scripture isn’t accurate as written? I was translating scripture literally, as per your original statement. Unless you mean by “accurate as written” you are stating that the english and not the hebrew/greek is authoritative.

    My argument had nothing to do with obedience. It asks the question “what is to be obeyed”, what is the content of His laws in his kingdom…. ? You are arguing that scripture condemns homosexuality. You said to prove this is scripture’s intent you read scripture literally. I merely showed that if you read scripture literally (that is you translate what’s written not what the translator wants to see) you don’t end up with a condemnation of homosexuality.

  10. CD.Host says:

    Sorry Matthew I didn’t see the name change to c before responding. C, most of what I wrote still applies.

  11. That’s fine about the third partymixup,

    However I don’t see how I should choose a figurative interpretation of these passages, the interpretation I choose is the one the author meant when the text was written. Also because i feel that our views on the OT are drastically different I won’t engage you there unless you desire. So in regards to

    1. Lev 18:22-You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.

    Hebrew- -et Zakaar lo Tishkab Mishabeey Ishaah Towee ba ah hiy

    V-et (with) Zakaar (Male/man) lo(no {negative implication}) Tishkab (T-You/ishkab- primitave (lie/lay)) Mishkabeey (verb-bed {not noun}) Ishaah (

    Wife in connection with Ish-husband vs Adam-man) Toweeba ah (root is ta ab {morally disgusting} as a fem act part-is morally disgusting) hiy (it is)

    Frankly I’m not sure where you got “on a womans bed” and “ritual impuity”, perhaps a translator could mistake bed as a noun not a verb, but that is a stretch, but to drop “Toweeba ah” (morally Disgusting) and replace it with “ritual purity” (tahoar) from an attempted literal translation is lazy at best, deception at worst especially when “tahoar” is no found in any variant in this passage.

    __———————————————-

    With Romans 1-

    Rom 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
    Rom 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
    Rom 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper…

    Again I am not sure where you get you greek translation-

    Both the Majority texts ans the Texus Receptus state “arsenes en arsesin” [which you changed/dropped](“es” ending on the first is nomative-“sin” ending on the second is dative (recieve)”men with men” or more literally and vile “men in men” Where you got “pederasty” again I’m not sure as it is not in the text.

    Also note, according to YOUR “translation” you imply people must “abandon” the “instinctual natural” to obtain this “perversion” THESE ARE YOUR WORDS also if you finish the passage you note vs28 you must ‘not see fit to (honestly) acknowledge God’ to reach this “depraved” mind which is “not proper”

    How can you hold to “abandon the instinctual natural” and obtain a “perversion” which is “not proper” by not “acknowledging God” with a “depraved” mind is God Glorifying and a Cultural issue??

    ————————————————————

    With 1 Cor 6:9

    We have discussed “arsenes en arsesin”, and now understand arses=men (as opposed to anthropos=mankind)

    so arsenokoitai means “men-okoitai” from koite (couch/cohabitation from keimai{lie outstreached})
    Arsenokoitai literally meants “men laying outstreched with men” (as ti ending is a plural)

    I am relieved to see some attempt accurate greek with respect to “malakoi” as it is rooted with a concept of soft clothing… yet at this is a list of those who do not enter the Kingdom this can’t be cotton.

    So we focus on the “oi” ending we note “oi” is Macsuline Nomitive plural. so literallly malakoi means “soft men”. as it preceeds arsenokoitai I may accept “male prostitutes” but the concept rivals the nomitive with arsernokoitai, the idea is both he who “receives” and he who “pitches”-Simular to modern prison convicts concept that if you don’t “receive” then you aren’t “gay” Paul clarifies this idea and notes both guilty.
    ————————————-

    As 1 Timothy 1:9-10 uses the same word “Arsenokoitai” I won’t repeat myself
    by the way… “Malakoi” isn’t in that passage as you stated
    _———————————–

    With Jude- it is not unclear the city thought these angels were men see Genisis 19:5 “bring the MEN” so we may “know” them, to which Lot replies “don’t act WICKED”
    Agian per a previous post ANY DEVIATION from 1 man 1 woman in marriage relations is sin. This is obvious in the Creation account and Matt 19:4-6 when Christ gives his full answer as “male and Female as 1 flesh”
    —————————–

    With you comment on liberalism- so what that the church screwed up and allowed liberalism to seep in. In the beginning it wasn’t so. To determine what the Church is to be we turn to Scripture not recent history.
    ————————

    In conclusion, I will confess that my flesh yearns to act sinfully mocking with your treatment of God’s Word. But, my heart aches deeply that you have been decieved to hold that which you do concerning homosexuality. I don’t know where you came across those “translations” that convieniently skip words and add words that aren’t there, or where you recieved the definitions you posted; but you are misled. With your checkmates comments and over confident tone

    I am prayerful the exposition I gave will cause you to struggle with this issue and dig deep in the Biblical languages to “test” my statements. I have only studied Biblical languages for 5 years and am not an expert, but I do have a working knowledge. This is no debate, debates seek truth between two parties. I have sought to expound on the foundational truth of Scripture, of which if we both claim belief.

    What I mean is: after reviewing these texts is is an oxymoron to be a “homosexual Bible Following person” just as much as a liar, glutton, drunk, thief, adulterer or any unrightious…and a “Bible Following Person” Scripture must change us or we must change our beliefs because we can’t change Scripture.

    Literally, Scripture calls these lifestyles unaccepable, and demanding repentance. I was a great sinner of many sins, and God changed me in salvation through repentance, for example I was given to porn (which is literally in the list in 1 Cor 6:9 “poroi” -fornicators) but Praise Jesus for 1 Cor 6:11

    Such WERE some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

    Through the Washing, Sanctification and Justification (SALVATION) I as a “pornoi” can have eternal life if I am washed. I do not oppose homosexuality because it is “taboo” or a “worse sin” I oppose homosexuality because Scripture does, and It opposed this old “pornoi” too. In realizing that, I realized I needed salvation, Not primarily because “God hates me as a”poroi”” but because he loved this one so much to tell me if I don’t repent I will not inherit the Kingdom, and neither will anyone else in the list, not just homosexuals, all sinners need salvation.

    So coming from someone who was on the list I will shout from the rooftops “Get off the list!! Inherit the Kingdom!! be Washed! Be Saved! ” If one makes it off the list, they won’t hold a “private matter” faith. Nor will they hold a “don’t ask don’t tell” concept of (any) sin. They will seek to see people “Washed”. Never mind if some say “It’s rude to tell people they need a washing”. From a Guy who was as dirty as me, I’ll say “the Wash is great! You can never imagine how bad you need one till you get it!, It’s amazing it’s a whole new person! literally”.

    Cultural? Personal? Bahumbug! Attention Everyone, I was dirtier than you (probably) You need to be washed, not trying to hurt your feelings here, but boy you stink (almost as bad as I did!!) Com’on Get Washed by Jesus!

  12. cd-host says:

    On liberalism. I think either you or I may have lost the flow of the conversation. The responses (from my perspective seem to be going in circles). Here is the conversation from my perspective:
    ___________________________________________

    Matt: It has been clear discussed that it was mainly due to the rise Individualism and relativism that church discipline declined.

    CD: I think your assessment of why the decline occurred is partially correct. Other reasons were the fact that there was, starting in the mid 19th century, a genuine liberal movement as far as religion. The right (from there perspective) had to fight off heresy and were (and still are) far more focused on people they disagreed with ideologically then non idealogical sinners.

    Matt: While I agree that liberalism aided in the decline of discipline, I still hold that specifically the exaltation of the individual, secular hedonism, and relativism are some of the specific reasons for thet decline of discipline. I would also contend that the “right” (from their perspective) saw these as sin not liberalism, idealogically would define method of communion, the preexistance of the imortal soul, the ability of Christ to sin or not ie non essentials of sound doctrine. I can’t agree that the right are more focused on the idealogical then or now. to do so one ould have to dismiss the great revivals of the 18-19th centuries and more recently the work of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham (Graham I have significant idealogical and theological differences with, yet I acknowlege God’s work in his ministry). If we see God as pure and His church in need of purity, then believers must cling to Scripture in order to present ourselves pure ie “fight heresy”= church discipline.

    CD: Finally as your comments on liberalism. No I do think that mid 19th century christians of the great revival were not fighting ideological battles within the church. In the 1860s people who denied the resurrection were outside the churches, by the 1940s you had followers of Bultmann categorically rejecting miracles all throughout mainstream American Christianity.

    Matt: As to liberalism, the resurrection would surely be counted as a “must” to Christian theology not idealogical. otherwise we don’t have “Christ”ians we have “Yeshua”’s cult. To doubt the resurrection is to doubt the Scripture, then what is Christianity worth w/o a Christ, wo Scripture. If that were the case my “desires” would be vastly different

    CD: Well that may be your opinion but no. Before evangelicals basically split off you had conservatives and evangelicals in the same denominations with people who denied the resurrection and most certainly those who denied any sort of inerrancy doctrine. And yes that was the difference, and I think you can see why it was a big deal.

    Matt: With you comment on liberalism- so what that the church screwed up and allowed liberalism to seep in. In the beginning it wasn’t so. To determine what the Church is to be we turn to Scripture not recent history.

    ___________________

    So I’m lost. I’m not sure what exactly you are responding to.

  13. As far as the prespectives on the decline of Discipline you synopsis is very accurate, my last post responded specifically to the literal exegesis of the passages you mentioned.

    Then I concluded with a summary of my view on homosexuality accord to a strict literal reading of the valid passages discussed(presented by you)-yielding logical reason for conservative evangelicals (Christians) to confront such sin (and any sin) in church and the world. I was building a concept that evangelism to homosexuals (and others in the list-who are not Christians ie followers of the Bible) is the loving thing -as is church disciple (again to any unrepentent sin)( to confessing Bible followers) . This was in response to a statement about your blog being for the “defendant”. It is loving to disciple wayward members (including pastors) for sin. That is why I expounded my own sin journey to salvation. Attemping to stress sin confrontation is love not damnation.

    my point there was, though…

    The specific sin discussed thusfar being homosexuality, yet reclaiming Discipline according Scripture(the axiom of this post) is not “targeting homosexuals” persay-It is pleading with people to evaluate their beliefs-specifically, “If I believe the Bible is the Word of God that means I believe….”.

    This idea is where we launched with homosexuality per my statement,” Thank you for your comment, I must say after reviewing your site, I think your stance on homosexuality is wrong and against Scripture.” To made this statement is loving church discipline-not to the third step of excommunication in Matt 18, but the first step “Go to the brother… if he repents you have won a brother”

    —————————

    let me know if you are still unclear about my response

  14. Visitor says:

    Great analysis of scripture Mr Stevens!

    That is a very good translation of the original texts. I am glad you really took the time to analyze what was actually spoken and recorded. This allows us to learn and grow without mistake in english associations with certain vocabulary. Many people attempt to make scripture apply to cultural notions but this is an excellent demonstration of how, as Christians, we are to see what scripture states even if it may be hard to swollow, as some of it is.

    If you look at Christ’s perspective on wealth, the role of women in our culture, and our society’s priorities, you see that culture and scripture do no always connect. The same is true for this topic of homosexuality. If only the local churches would take a firm stand on the issues of scripture and be willing to offend for the sake of the gospel, then perhaps our society wouldnt be struggling as it does. Perhaps then the unchurched would be able to see a difference between “society” and the norms within the Church Body. As it often is presented, culture rules and guides the church rather than the opposite and this hinders that spread of the gospel. We are to be set apart and not of this world. Christ told us how and on which topics, if only we would obey.

    Lack of discipline in the church is another example of how the church is lead by society rather than chosing to follow and obey Christ. Because of society, we no longer condemn drunks for being sinful, we merely state they are geneticlly predispose to “alcoholism,” we no longer discipline unruly children for defying their parents, we state they have “oppositional defiant disorder,” we no longer spank our children when they are too loud and inappropriate, they have “Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD),” we no longer state that people should not save sex for marriage, they merely have “a need to express themselves physically”and we no longer reprimand people for vanity by paying thousands of dollars for clothing and not eating for days to obtain the perfect body, we merely state “they have self esteem problems”.

    The church refuses to stand on these issues, that is a lack of discipline which transends homes, businesses, hospitals, the media, and our court systems. If Christians wont exercise discipline in their homes, their businesses, or our government, why would they do so in Church? The Christian culture is no longer set apart from the world, but taking notes and becoming “one” with the world. Some “Christians” live, walk, and act no different from the unchurched, the lost!!

    Certainly the disciples knew the sacrifices associated with being different, with being followers of Christ. IN other nations around the world even today, people pay the price of being “set apart” with their lives. Yes, they are killed and tortured around the world but still willing to pay the price in order to serve their King, King Jesus. Why arent we? Why arent we willing to loose….what is it we would loose? Would we hear a chuckle behind our backs? Would people look at us as different? And yet…we are not willing…for the one who gave his life….

  15. cd-host says:

    Matt –

    I haven’t had time to fully respond to your posts as I am about to travel, and have things to wrap up. You wrote a lot regarding my comments and the greek and that deserve a full response. It will get one. Mainly this is going to turn into a discussion of dictionaries.

    The discussion is going to focus I think on your assumptions regarding malakoi arsenokoitai, given that it often appears in non biblical literature in lists discussing economic issues and not sexual issues. That is a sexual act with an economic component. Your translation doesn’t appear to allow for that. While I disagree with the translation of “trader in homosexual slaves” you must admit your translation does not fit the list of known uses.

    http://www.jeramyt.org/gay/arsenok.htm

    I’ll will attempt to his the rest later. Have a very good 2 weeks if I do not get back to you until late July

  16. I do appreciate the time taken to develop a full response far more than a immediate respone, in doing so please offer exegesis of these words (malakoi and arsenokoitai), I did explore the formentioned site and case, it offers no exegesis of the word arsenokoitai-simply a translation and a poor one at that…

    My contention is that “trader” nor “merchant” (poleo in the Greek) nor slave (dulos) is found in any derived or primary form in the word “arsenokoitai” moreover “homosexual” has not a proper greek word at all, The proper word for trader in homosexual slaves would yield a word (roughly) simular to “arsendulopoleo” for ‘”man slave’ trader”

    You are correct I will not allow for any economic uses for “arsenokoitai”. You previously stated no one knows this word, now jeremyt read Martin’s article and he knows the meaning? This is odd as dale Martin himself acknowledges that if “arsenokoitai” means what it means literally it is refering to homosexuality, yet he contends the meaning cannot be known (because surely it can’t mean what it literally means).

    His article actually states, “The etymology of a word is its history, not its meaning”. but the question is what is the meaning, but in reference to meaning he states,”The word “means” according to its function” -Martin doesn’t offer one a meaning-only citing Sibylline Oracle in this “economic” list (which include “steal” and “murder” hardly economic) and the Acts of John ‘s economic list (include such economical issues as poisoner, sorcerer, robber)

    No, no economics in the word “arsenokoitai”
    as previously posted:

    We have discussed “arsenes en arsesin”, and now understand arses=men (as opposed to anthropos=mankind)

    so arsenokoitai means “men-okoitai” from koite from keimai{lie outstreached})
    Arsenokoitai literally meants “men laying outstreched with men” (as ti ending is a plural)

    Please offer scholarly work on the greek

    “Arsen” as something other than “men”
    “koite” if you submit it means something other than (couch/cohabitation) as these are the only uses I am aware in all of Koinaic Greek, and am interested to discover otherwise use as economic/trader/slave etc. (Dale Martin failed greatly in his attempt of a relative meaning, and fled the literal.) I sum this word “means” what it literally (the focus of this discussion) means or it means ‘whatever I say it means.'(Martin’s “meaning”
    ————
    with malakoi

    Ive already submitted the literal meaning is “soft man”, even Dale Martin states’ “As I mentioned, a man could, by submitting to penetration, leave himself open to charges of malakia.”

    and

    “There is no question, then, about what malakos referred to in the ancient world. In moral contexts it always referred either obviously or obliquely to the feminine.”

    (except with a masculine ending!!) my previous post/definition stands

    Also please address the other passages we discussed as I did, if you contest that this discussion only hangs on the two words “malakoi & arsenokoitai”, explaining why Rom 1 and Lev 18, and Jude are to be dismissed as validly authoritative in the literal meaning and these two words be focused on henceforth.

    Have a good trip.

    p.s. Dale Martin’s non literal, relative meaning, no solution, self conflicting, article may be found here.

    http://clgs.org/5/5_4_3.html

    But in dealing with “literal” or “meaning” is of no use- as “meaning” cannot be known (only etymology) and the “literal” compound words must be discarded because “understand” and “chairman” are english words that don’t literally mean to “stand under” or a “man made of chair”, so this ‘logicially concludes’ ancient Greek compound words must submit to English standards of Martins interpretation, says Martin,” all definitions … that derive its meaning from its components are naive and indefensible.”

    like “bluebird”, “popcorn”, and “handgun” ??????

    – Oh naive reader this is not a real bird, nor corn that pops, nor a gun of the hand-We can never know what these words really “mean” ( Martin would submit)

  17. Pingback: “Church is shallow and boring, so I didn’t go back…” « reflections of Matt Stevens

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