Surprising Offense of Gods Love: Church Membership

Are you excited about the subject of church membership?  I didn’t think so.  Be warned, after you hear this discussion you will probably be eager to buy Jonathan Leeman’s book, The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love.

Jonathan Leeman, Matt Schmucker, John Folmar and Mark Dever gather to talk about this book and the subject of church membership.

The consumeristic mindset, the multiplicity of options, and the worry of buyers remorse, hinders people from making commitments in everything from jobs, to spouses, to restaurants, to houses.  Commitment binds us. And in a culture where the maximization of short term pleasure is  a premium, binding commitments are threatening. Binding commitments are made to prevent individuals from living by caprice and fancy. They are freedom curtailing.  They are pleasure postponing.

Leeman, obviously, is pro church membership, and he, as well as the other participants,  makes a very strong case for church membership independent of church polity.

This is one discussion that is perhaps one of 9 Marks best, in my opinion.  I’ve ordered the book.

Surprising Offense >>>

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2 thoughts on “Surprising Offense of Gods Love: Church Membership

  1. Hi, I’ve listened to the interview and was very worried that it didn’t talk at all about the dangers of heavy shepherding, abuse of authority, going beyond biblical bounds of ‘obey your leaders’ etc.

    My wife and I have seen and experienced first hand the fleshy results of a ‘leave this church and you break covenant with us’ mentality.

    I emailed Jonathan Leeman and received a speedy reply where he acknowledged the matter hadn’t come up in the 9marks discussion, but he did say that he does deal with abuse of authority in Chapter 7 of his book.
    He wrote the following, which I am sure he will not mind me quoting here:

    We didn’t address these matters in the interview, which may have been an oversight. In the American context, we’re responding principally to the other error, that is, a complete rejection of accountability and authority. So sometimes we forget to address its abuses. Your email reminds me that we need to take greater care to consistently acknowledge both errors.

    A very gracious reply and he’s surely right in saying the American context lends itself to this angle. In the UK, we are yet to have the problem of vast swathes of the population ‘raising their hands’ in a gospel meeting and nominally belonging to an evangelical church!

    With regards,

    Allan Clare, Bristol, UK.

  2. Allan, thanks for sharing your communication with Jonathan. I’m sure some will have that concern.

    I can tell you, from my experience in the States and Canada, I’ve not seen very many churches with abusive shepherding. That’s not to say it doesn’t exit. Far more common are church leaders who are afraid of the congregation, afraid of eldership, afraid of membership, afraid of exerting any kind of corrective authority and deathly afraid of church discipline. Then you have to seriously wonder if these leaders are the kind of leaders you want to entrust your spiritual life to.

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