- Nature of the church – What might a serious study of “eccleisiology” or the basic nature of church contribute to our understanding of forgiveness and discipline or censure? What components of church would be helpful to keep in mind? What dynamics of church life?
- community of faith – what makes a church this?
- community of forgiveness – what does it take for a church to become this?
- community of standards – how does one balance our understanding of the church as a source of forgiveness and of standards? Why does it matter? Is reputation a consideration? How much of a role should it play?
- What stories of churches and relationships to people behaving badly could we tell? What can we learn from these in retrospect?
- Are there cultural differences from a global perspective which might affect how a church responds to offenses among its members?
Relevant Biblical Passages
- Galatians 6:1-5 – Paul’s admonition regarding hubris (pride or arrogance) and how to treat others who have gone astray – with humility, gentleness and introspection.
- 1 Corinthians 5 – Treatment of the immense problems plaguing the church at Corinth – situation involving immorality; deliverance of the man responsible into the hands of Satan (for the destruction of the flesh and rescue of the spirit!); cleansing out the problematic leaven; avoiding associations with immoral people; driving out the wicked from among you.
- 2 Corinthians 2:1-11 – Response of Paul to ongoing problems in the church at Corinth – painfulness of dealing with the problems in the church; punishment of offending parties; forgiveness of offending parties.
- Matthew 18 – The classic treatment by Jesus of how to relate to those who offend others – becoming like the “little ones” (are these children or newcomers to the faith?); rewards of receiving well the little ones; punishment of those mistreating them; God’s wishes and hopes for the little ones; the process for dealing with offenses between people (conversation, communication, confrontation, resolution).
Contributions to the Study of Forgiveness
- Do the biblical passages we study this week allow for (encourage?) shunning? Is this a good idea?
Lessons for Life
- How do we create a positive church community and avoid a negative one? What role in this process will Matthew 18 play? What happens when we forget about this passage?