Matthew 18:15-20 Does Not Always Apply

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  1. Shane says:

    Ryan. Great article. I very much appreciate these topics that you are discussing. They make for good talks around the coffee table. I agree that Matthew 18 is over used and wonder how many people also use it to get out of dealing with issues in the proper way. All the best.

  2. Ted Van Raalte says:

    Ryan, thank-you!

    I have encountered within the CanRCs the same sentiments that you are correcting here. In my experience, these views are quite uncommon, but when they’re wrongly levelled at you, they usually succeed in silencing you and making you feel guilty. At first, at least. Unfortunately, these assertions can quite conveniently be used to keep criticism of one’s public sins contained, silencing opposition privately and allowing false teaching or other public sins to remain publicly unopposed.

    If I may, I would further suggest that repentance of public sins should occur at the same level of publicity as was the case in the committing of the sin. Example: if brother x of a hockey team of Christian men took God’s name in vain in the hockey arena dressing room one Saturday, he ought to ask forgiveness of all the brothers there the next Saturday. If you were present and didn’t rebuke him immediately in front of everyone, you could go to him privately later the next week, but you shouldn’t be satisfied with him saying, “Sorry, let’s just keep this between us now.” For God’s honour and the removal of scandal from among his brothers, he ought to seek forgiveness in the same public setting. Of course, we live in an imperfect world and thus sometimes (often?) the scandal of public sin is not resolved in a biblical way and we find ourselves at a loss for a solution to a difficult situation. But I hope we won’t let go of the ideal.

    By the way, your explanation fully accords with the CanRC Church Order, end of article 67, “or that the sin committed is of a public character,” beginning of article 68, “or who has committed a public sin,” and beginning of article 69, “When someone repents of a public sin or . . .”