by J. Gerald Harris

Should the Church Discipline Sinning Saints?
Dr. J. Gerald Harris
I Corinthians 5:1-13

I think there must be a great antagonism toward church discipline among Americans today. We have a deep commitment to individualism. Everybody does his own thing. We think we can do anything we please. We think we have the right to criticize and to tell other people what to do. But we are reluctant to be criticized or to have other people tell us what to do. And commentators in our society say that we have gone through a period in our history where we are very heavy on rights and rather light on responsibility.

My guess is that if we were to take a popular survey of the people in the United States and ask whether it is an appropriate thing for churches to discipline their members that most people would shrink in horror at the thought of such a thing.

But, you know, I remember when I was a little boy that our pastor, Fred Mauney, would call kids' names if they cut up in church. I remember one time there were some girls giggling and passing notes in church, and the pastor stopped his sermon. He looked at those girls. And when he stopped speaking, they looked up. He addressed them, and said, "Ann, Sarah, this is God's house and you need to sit up and listen and have reverence for the Lord."

I remember one time we had an evangelist by the name of Tom Hearn come to our church. And I do not remember a thing he said in his sermon. But I remember one night he interrupted his sermon and addressed a lady in the congregation, and said to her, "Ma'am, is that your husband?"

And she said, "Yes it is."

And the preacher said, "Well, will you please wake him up. He needs to hear what I'm about to say." We're told that one time Billy Sunday, who was a flamboyant evangelist during the first third of this century, once left the pulpit and walked down the aisle in the middle of his sermon and tapped a man on the shoulder and woke him up. And in a loud voice that everyone could ...

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