Under a masquerade of holiness, forgiveness without confrontation is often the mission practiced both by churches and individuals today. So concerned about personal comfort, confrontation is a neglected function of the body of Christ. As the lack of interest in the seriousness of church discipline, there has also come a lack of teaching on its seriousness. Seeking to address the lack of biblical understanding, Stephen Davey who is the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary, provides for us a concise book addressing the topic.
The author’s conciseness combined with his biblical framework creates for us a book that warrants our attention on the subject of church discipline. In fact the basic outline of the book is straightforward and simplistic as he simply lays down church discipline from a biblical and historical foundation before going into the parameters, process, and product of church discipline.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of this writing is that Davey addresses several notions from the culture that have infiltrated the church. He rightly provides the following:
- definitions of the appropriate and inappropriate times to judge,
- differences in discipline for believers and unbelievers,
- a definition of love without tolerating sin, and
- distinctions between temporary remorse and genuine repentance.
Told to be more loving and less judgmental, he has brought forth Scripture to identify the biblical parameters of what exactly that means for believers today.
It can also be appreciated that Stephen Davey does not merely address discipline as a form of punishment, but instead rightly sets the foundation that discipline within the body of Christ is means to be a restorative function. Rightly understanding that discipline is a loving act is crucial to the follow through, and recognizing this, Davey recapitulates discipline as restorative and loving throughout the book. Through this he teaches readers the importance and activity of loving others without tolerating sin . . . a clear distinction from the cultural motivations found in our churches today.
As a personal preference, I would prefer definitions that were more precise, they are not untrue nor are they unbiblical. Therefore, they do not take away from the value of the book.
With the misconceptions about church discipline that prevail so much today, I would suggest that this book is a great tool to incorporate into church membership. At a mere 83 pages and six chapters the book is set apart as an easy resource to utilize without overwhelming readers. Rightly used, this book has the opportunity to be instrumental to you and your church body.
To order In Pursuit of Prodigals I would suggest ordering it directly from Kress Biblical Resources by clicking here.