When should critics of bad pastoral methods, teaching, and theology stop using Matthew 18 as their guidelines for resolving an issue of possible abuse or heresy (this is not your average church quarrel) and start addressing the issue like a serious academic argument? When should the gloves of nice church behavior come off and the intellectual machine guns be pulled out?

I’m reading A Matter of Basic Principles by Don Veinot and I’m also half-heartedly following the dispute between Sovereign Grace Ministries and their critics and  former pastors. Everyone in these situations wastes so much breath explaining how they are justified in what they’re doing (publishing denunciations against other Christians) because of [insert years of relational details here] which obviously show how they followed Matthew 18 to the letter and are now moving on to the last step of “tell it to the Church”… by publishing their arguments.

It’s wearying to read, honestly. Isn’t there a way to biblically shortcut this system when issues are this huge?


  • Convert to Eastern Orthodoxy! (No, I don’t actually approve of this way of avoiding church problems.)

  • Bike bubba

    Maybe better to turn the question upside down; when the spiritual machine guns come out–I am referring here to personal attacks and the kind of thing I’ve seen in many “denunciation blogs” and the like–then you know that regrettably, those spiritual leaders are not willing to work according to Matthew 18. I had such an experience when I left a church which had quietly become “King James Only”, and after exchanging a few letters regarding the (lack of) evidence for that position and seeing a horrendous number of genetic fallacies, I came to the conclusion that Biblical pleas were not going to deter my former pastor. And so I stopped calling him “Pastor” and started calling him “Mr.”
    Maybe I’m wrong, but I almost think that sometimes it’s better to simply walk away from a situation if the alternative is bringing out the machine guns. Now–I’m going to assume there is a kernel of truth to SGM’s detractors here–I think there IS a place for scholarly refutations of doctrine. For example, I reject KJVO because there is no evidence for it, and the arguments for it always seem to revolve around personal attacks–“I have a picture of the professor with a cigar in his hand” (real example). However, I will not allow myself to stoop to saying “these guys are loons.” or such.