““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.””
(Matthew 18:15–20 ESV)
The elders of Mars Hill have followed (to a degree) the prescriptions of Holy Scripture as it relates to the sins of Mark Driscoll.
The evidence of multiple witnesses has been weighed and in the face of continued rebellion, the church has been told.
Now, in light of his refusal to submit to the discipline of the church he must be officially and clearly excommunicated.
This means that Driscoll is to be considered out of fellowship with the entire church and he is refused access to both the community and the sacraments.
The passage above promises that if this judgment is reached righteously it is affirmed by Christ Himself.
The purpose is true repentance and restoration.
“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13–15 ESV)
This must be done for three reasons.
One, to save Driscoll from himself. His soul is sick and until he acknowledges this he will not seek the remedy.
Two, to save Driscoll from his famous friends. They will become enablers of his rebellion against Christ and His church by allowing him to evade the process that the local body established. If they participate in such they will find themselves in opposition not only to the local church that sanctioned him, but to God who has affirmed their actions.
Three, it’s the biblical mandate laid out in the Scriptures. To stop short of excommunication at this stage is to make a mockery of the process already completed.
What does it mean to treat someone as a Gentile and a tax collector?
It means that while they are clearly placed outside the church, the church continues to love them and present them with the Gospel.
It means that the “two or more that are gathered ” in prayer are praying for the one under discipline to be reconciled with the church.
God promises that in this context, if these steps have been followed…that He will hear and answer.
This is the loving, forgiving, biblical method of church discipline.
The purpose is always repentance and restoration…God’s discipline of His children is always about rehabilitation and not retribution.
To settle for anything less doesn’t show “love” at all…it shows that Driscoll is not loved enough to care for his soul as the Bible instructs.
For once, the corporation that passes for the church in this country needs to remember it’s in the soul business…