Defense, Not Defensiveness

In a fallen world like ours, every community must have defenses. Every flock of sheep must have shepherds willing to fight. Every nation must have an army and navy. Every town needs a police force. A church that never disciplines has AIDS. It has no functioning immune system. Churches without discipline cannot fight off the leprosy of heresy or the cancer of immorality.

So when a church disciplines, it is responding to immorality or false teaching within the ranks. But there are also times when the opposition tries to seize the high ground, and when this happens the elders and pastors find themselves accused. The trick is to defend the ministry without becoming personally defensive.

Have you ever wondered why the apostle Paul had to defend himself so much? He did this, not because he had an extraordinarily prickly personality, but rather because he was faithful to the message of free grace, which means that he was attacked all the time. And when he was attacked in this way, he never hesitated to defend his ministry through defending himself. To give a complete list of examples would be overwhelming, but the combative apostle does give us a model to follow.

Jesus tells us that when we are struck on one cheek, we are to turn the other. The apostle Paul teaches us to punch back twice as hard. Furthermore, there is no contradiction. If there is apparent contradiction, we are not to try to resolve it through ignoring half of the evidence.

“And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just” (Rom. 3:8). “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works” (2 Tim. 4:14). “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13).

Given the corruption of the times, it is not surprising that some churches are being attacked. The marvel is why more are not being attacked. Another marvel is why more churches are not responding the way the Scriptures instruct.

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insanitybytes22
Member

I wonder however, do you see the tangled nature of it all, the symbiosis at play? Feminism and militant atheism for example, not something that just sprung out of a vacuum, but an emotional response to what was often unjust church discipline. The way all those beautiful scriptures about marriage and submission, were perverted and used against women to justify abuse. All those who preached chastity from the pulpit on Sunday morning…. and yet raped our children. Those who continue to this day to shriek about whores and Jezebels and rebellion….but cannot even see their own. I don’t know how… Read more »

adad0
Member

Jeremiah 17 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Mimi, your comments seem consistently good. They do not swing from one extreme to the other. We don’t “fix it all”, our real, living and True God searches the heart, and “fixes it all”. As “sevants” we often serve (minister / administer) the “fix”, which is not the same as making the fix. Seems like you are standing… Read more »

Felicia Simon
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Felicia Simon

You will have to be part of the church, not just be near by, when He returns :). If the church is a dangerous place, what about being outside of it? Is there a better alternative than the biblical model?

This was supposed to be in response to ME.

Laura
Guest
Laura

To be part of the Church, you need only be a Christian. That’s not what ME is talking about.

Felicia Simon
Guest
Felicia Simon

But, can you be a Christian and not be part of a local church? I understand this can happen if there are not any Christian church around, but otherwise how could somebody live in constant disobedience?

Laura
Guest
Laura

If your local churches are in egregious error, you are better off reading your Bible at home.

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

Is there a legitimate but alternate take on “turn the other cheek?” Something about a slave having to be back-handed, so that the first blow would land on the slave’s right cheek. “Turning the cheek” meant the left cheek would have to be punched with the master’s right hand, as by a fist. That was a mark of equality. Equals punched with fists; slaves were to be back-handed. So, turning the other cheek to the slapper would require him to treat you as an equal if he wished to hit you a second time. Sorry, can’t recall where I read… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

I have heard that, too. It is only one piece of scripture however, and often misused to imply we should never stand up for ourselves, never fight back. I often think of Peter lopping of a guy’s ear, a perfectly reasonable response in my opinion, but not what the situation called for at the time.

That is a challenging thing, knowing when to fight and when to forgive and let it go. I like this post because he speaks of defense versus defensiveness. When I become defensive, usually it is an emotional response.

Laura
Guest
Laura

I don’t believe the text supports that. 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40 and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who begs from you, and do… Read more »

Kelly M. Haggar
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Kelly M. Haggar

The “one mile/two mile” was a Roman military reference which HIs audience at the time would have instantly understood. Nowadays we need footnotes to understand that reference. That’s my Q about cheek-turning. At least one other poster has seen a modern explanation along the lines of what I recall reading.

Laura
Guest
Laura

But the “do not resist evil” thing sheds light on the rest of the passage. It doesn’t say “make sure nobody treats you like a slave.”

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

Maybe it’s just my twisted sense of humor, but let’s try this:

See if you can persuade ashv, timothy, or RFB that if the local derivative secular ruler tries to do something they believe to be evil, that they are required by Scripture to NOT resist it.

Laura
Guest
Laura

I don’t believe that’s what this is talking about at all. I think it means don’t be quick to defend yourself if someone attacks you. Don’t be quick to assert your rights. We don’t like that, of course, so we try to find reasons why the text can’t mean that. You really do have to flesh this out. If you let someone walk over you all the time, you are robbing them of valuable peer correction. Asserting your legal rights to the government keeps the government in check, which benefits other citizens. And so forth. It would probably be a… Read more »

Kelly M. Haggar
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Kelly M. Haggar

Have you ever read “Boundaries?” Check out:

http://www.christianbook.com/boundaries-softcover-henry-cloud/9780310247456/pd/247454?gclid=CLjaqoWg8MgCFRMjgQod5DkIDQ

P.S. Don’t forget the reply by a Brit trapped on the beach at Dunkirk. When asked for a status report, his answer was simply, “But if not.” Evil was most definitely being resisted.

Laura
Guest
Laura

I haven’t read it. I’ve run across a lot of people who think I have, though.

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

You’ll find it well worth your time.

drewnchick
Member

Interesting thoughts, Laura. It might also be insightful to collect the sermon notes of a wide variety of pastors on these verses–as well as renown commentaries–to see what our Church leaders say the verses mean. The disparate interpretations might have as much to say about our current cultural/theological quagmire as they do with our own confusion of the text.
…just a thought.

Laura
Guest
Laura

Yep.

ashv
Guest
ashv

How do you feel about George Washington?

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

The traitor who led an armed rebellion against Good King George III? That guy?

P.S. Ever read Clavell’s “Shogun?” Recall the scene where Toranaga tells Blackthorne there’s never any justification for disobeying or rebelling against one’s master? What was Blackthorne’s answer?

P.P.S. I’m just having a little fun with “2+2=4” being insufficient for atheists . . . . ;).

ashv
Guest
ashv

hey, just askin’.

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

Blackthorne’s answer was “Unless you win.” Toranaga was momentarily taken aback, then roars with laughter. “Yes, there IS one time when rebellion is justified.” That’s when he made up his mind that the barbarian was worth keeping alive. BTW, if you have not read that book, you really ought to. You would see K2 in a different light. (You’d also likely be uncomfortable at the intra-Christian warfare, as well as the mixed motives of the rival Spanish captain.) Each side thinks very poorly of the other. Murderous nut jobs with no sense of honor and so on. But as time… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

A church that never disciplines has AIDS. It has no functioning immune system. Churches without discipline cannot fight off the leprosy of heresy or the cancer of immorality. And if the members aren’t engaging in public immorality or heresy? This reminds me of grading on a curve in a small classroom. Somebody has to get an F, so the lowest grade is assigned an F even if the student’s work is satisfactory and he’d get a C in a larger class. If the church has to go on a witchhunt or otherwise not be disciplining anyone, then the church needs… Read more »

ZYX
Guest
ZYX

This article is in the context of the meeting Wilson held Tuesday, just like the “Why do it, then?” article. “The other evening our elders had a special meeting with our parishioners to go over some of the details of the recent controversies. The meeting was fantastic, but my point is not to get into all that.” Rumor has it that Wilson talked about a former member who was under church discipline for abusive mistreatment of his family. The family, however, claims NOT to have been abused. I think Wilson would be wise to take your advice above, rather than… Read more »

RFB
Guest
RFB

“Rumor has it…”

That has zero credibility, and instantly impeaches yours.

ZYX
Guest
ZYX

My apologies for not spelling this out. Natalie Greenfield has been posting articles opposing Wilson on her Naptime Journal blog. Wilson has commented right in these comments that her father treated his family abusively. Just what the abuse was, he hasn’t specified. On Friday, Natalie posted an article where she claims Wilson talked in Tuesday’s meeting about her father having been put under church discipline for abusive mistreatment of his family. She was told this by a friend, and I suppose either she or the friend may be mistaken or lying– but she seems credible in this. She checked with… Read more »

drewnchick
Member

So…let’s see what you’ve done here: you have weighed in one hand the blog posts of a seasoned pastor, his reticence on a confidential matters, and his continued support of and prayers for Natalie Greenfield. In the other hand, you have weighed the blog posts of a young woman, her unrestrained divulging of confidential matters, and her continued opposition to Doug Wilson. And your conclusion is that Wilson is making unsubstantiated accusations, based on the claims of an article Natalie posted, which accusations were perhaps also made in a meeting you weren’t at…and this impeaches Wilson’s credibility? Just who are… Read more »

RandMan
Guest
RandMan

Churches without a ‘fighting shepherd’ and an inability to discipline have AIDS- the gay plague. Got it. Wilson doesn’t specify who it is okay to discipline but the next phrase seems to imply the answer: anyone but him. “…there are also times when the opposition tries to seize the high ground, and when this happens the elders and pastors find themselves accused.” So, apparently the trick is not to ‘defend the ministry without becoming personally defensive’, it is actually to confuse the two enough so that one’s personal failures become the ministry’s problem. Then you can piously defend the ministry… Read more »

whatdidJesusdo
Guest
whatdidJesusdo

Trolling trolling trolling, RandMan’s always trolling… rawhide! :-D

RandMan
Guest
RandMan

You may not like it, but I addressed the post. What are you doing right now?

whatdidJesusdo
Guest
whatdidJesusdo

You didn’t REALLY address the post, you trolled it (like usual.) And what am I doing? I’m mocking you for being a troll! :-) “Trolling, trolling, trolling on the river!” :-D

RandMan
Guest
RandMan

Ah.