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Is church discipline outdated?

Is church discipline outdated?
Jeremy Walker
Jeremy Walker Jeremy is the pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church in Crawley.
04 July, 2024 3 min read

Isn’t church discipline outdated because it’s coercive control?

When people speak of coercive control, they usually mean controlling or manipulative behaviour – typically assaulting, threatening, humiliating, or intimidating – used by someone with the deliberate intention of dominating through harm, punishment, and fear, characteristic of an abusive relationship.

Our society tends to think of discipline as something necessarily and invariably aggressive and negative. That is not the way God intends it. While there may be abuses of discipline in various relationships, including in a church, true discipline, in itself, is a function of love out of a desire for the true well-being of others.

So, where discipline exists, it is usually functioning all the time. Families, armies, schools, and sports teams are under discipline all the time – it makes and keeps them harmonious and effective, bringing each person into their proper place to perform their proper role for the good of the whole. In the church, we call this formative or regulative discipline, providing the rails on which the church runs under normal circumstances, in spiritual health and happiness, for holiness. It is the natural expression of our loving fellowship together.

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