Matthew 18:15-17: Who are the Witnesses?

14 September 2008

In the pagan world, when one person wrongs another, the first step is often to involve third parties: friends, a coworker, the boss, a lawyer, etc. In serious cases, the first step may be to take the offender to court. If either party is unsatisfied with the outcome of the court case, then the unsatisfied party can appeal to a higher court, and so on, until the Supreme Court gives a final ruling. In that system at its best, the goal is justice. For offenses among believers, however, Jesus instructs us in a different procedure and a different goal. In Matthew 18, Jesus establishes the pattern for a believer to follow when one of his Christian brothers has sinned against him. He says,

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

The procedure seems clear enough. When some brother Christian offends you, there are four steps. We might think of these as a lower court, an appeals court, the (earthly) supreme court for Christian conflict resolution, and a final judgment. Read the rest here.


Seeing with New Eyes

22 June 2008

For those of you who last checked in with biblical counseling when Jay Adams was in his psychology-skewering heyday, you need to come have another look. The present generation of spokesmen for biblical counseling offers a more well-rounded, richer grasp of Scripture and a much more sober-minded tone. While there certainly was some justification for Adams’ jeremiads, the present generation seems to have rediscovered the value and utility of brotherly kindness, a mode of interaction sadly lacking in the early writings of the movement.

Of the present voices, one of the clearest and most articulate is David Powlison.

Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition through the Lens of Scripture is not a “counseling model” as such. It is to a counseling model what a list of mountaintop elevations is to a topographic map of the entire mountain range: it touches on the high points, and leaves the rest alone. But this seemingly incomplete way of teaching turns out to be surprisingly instructive.

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