When the world
speaks of "love," it often means unconditional acceptance. Many churches have
adopted this mind-set in their practice of membership and discipline-if they
have not done away with such structures entirely. "Yet God's love and God's
gospel are different than what the world expects," writes Jonathan Leeman.
They're centered in his character, which draws a clear boundary between what is
holy and what is not. It's this line that the local church should represent in
its member practices, because the careful exercise of such authority "is God's
means for guarding the gospel, marking off a people, and thereby defining his
love for the world."
So how should churches receive and dismiss members? How should Christians view their submission to the church? Are there dangers in such submission? The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love responds with biblical, theological, and practical guidance-from both corporate and individual perspectives. It's a resource that will help pastors and their congregations upend worldly conceptions and recover a biblical understanding and practice of church authority.
"What happens when you
bring together one of the most misunderstood subjects (love) and one of the most
ignored practices (church membership and discipline) in the church today? A book
like this one. Unlike the generation raised on Mr. Spock's child-rearing advice,
the Good Shepherd cares for his flock by loving discipline. There is a lot of
talk these days about radical discipleship, but what we need more today is a lot
more ordinary discipleship, where we realize not only in theory but in practice
what it means to be conformed to Christ's image. This is the best book I've seen
on this subject in a long time."
-Michael S. Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California