Saturday, January 19, 2008

More On the Pop Media

In one sense it's comforting to know that more churches are taking church discipline seriously. It's not comforting to know that some are not practicing grace. In my church, if an unrepentant sinner is removed from membership, that doesn't preclude them from attending. The thinking is that if they are still willing to show up at church, then they may still hear the truth of their sin, be convicted of it by the Holy Spirit, repent and seek reconciliation. Typically, if someone at my church does something that warrants church discipline, they're going to be too ashamed to come back until they're ready to repent of what they already know we consider sin according to God's revelation in the Bible.

But what can you say when church discipline is reported in the Wall Street Journal? Yesterday, we learned that a 71-year-old woman was ousted for complaining about the new pastor. She wanted him to institute some elders according to the church by-laws. The pastor said the church was too small. Apparently, when he was hired there were only twelve people there anyway. Under him, the church has grown to 70. This woman, a faithful and active member of 50 years, was taken off the roles for her persistence. Afterward, she came to church on Sunday morning. In the middle of the service, the pastor called 911 and had her arrested for trespassing.

From what I've seen, this is the exception rather than the norm. Of course, the norm by definition isn't newsworthy. This normally wouldn't be. I know people who have been fired from their jobs and have lost the privilege of visiting their former workplace except for administrative purposes. This is the exception rather than the norm. Why isn't it ever reported? There's a sense in which perceived vile activities of people who make claims of certain righteousness are sensational at their disclosure. In other words, "those mean Christians just got meaner and here's the proof." It's not slander to report the truth, but the popular news media is never a true picture of the normal world we live in, only a picture of the exceptional items.

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