/ Nathan Eshelman

Reforming Church Discipline

From his "exile" in Cambridge, England, Martin Bucer (1491-1551) wrote a letter to the Reformed pastors of Strasbourg. In that letter he commended the traditional three marks of the church, with a specific emphasis on Christian discipline. The three marks of the church, simply speaking are the pure preaching of the Word, the pure administration of the sacraments, and faithfulness in church discipline.

For Bucer, church discipline was not merely the formal rebukes, admonishments, and excommunications that we might go to in our considerations of discipline. Discipline begins with Christian discipline, that discipline of being a follower of Jesus Christ and living in such a way that one's obedience to Christ is demonstrated before a watching world.

Bucer, in part, said:

That all the members of Christ recognize and embrace each other most intimately and lovingly, and that they build one another up in the knowledge of and obedience to the Son of God most zealously and efficaciously, and that the ministers of the churches know, care for and tend the individual sheep of Christ, as the chief pastor Christ set the example. True Care of Souls (1538), xvii.

Intimately embracing one another.
Lovingly embracing one another.
Building up in zealous and efficacious knowledge.
Building up in zealous and efficacious obedience.
Ministers that know their sheep.
Ministers that care for their sheep.
Ministers that tend their sheep.
Christ as the chief example.

Meditating here--with practical application--would not only reform church discipline, but it might even reform our churches.

Nathan Eshelman

Nathan Eshelman

Pastor in Orlando, studied at Puritan Reformed Theological & Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminaries. One of the chambermen on the podcast The Jerusalem Chamber. Married to Lydia with 5 children.

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