1) I used to believe like Mars Hill does.
2) I know how Andrew feels.
This teaching shows something about Mars Hill (and neo-fundamentalists in general): in their never-ending quest to be proved right, they have completely perverted the concept of love. I confess, I am no stranger to acting hatefully “out of love.” But such deceitful behavior belies that this sort of teaching divorces love from being loving. They take Matthew 18 (the locus classicus for church discipline) completely out of context and totally ignore how Jesus’ behavior can inform us about his teaching. I thought this comment hit the nail on the head:
So in Matthew 18, Jesus tells us to treat those under church discipline like tax collectors. And he shows us how to treat tax collectors by inviting them to be his disciples, by eating with them, by loving them just the same.
Not to mention that that verses directly following the church discipline verses are about the ones who refuse to forgive. Not the ones who refuse to ask for forgiveness, but those who refuse to GIVE forgiveness.
So if Jesus himself models how we’re to enact church discipline (though, yes, the “don’t eat with the excommunicated” bit they’ve adopted comes from Paul), don’t you think it’s off the mark — that is to say, sinful – to deliberately act contrary to this pattern of behavior? I think Matthew 7:15, ironically enough, sums up their behavior quite neatly:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are vicious wolves.”
These sorts of people are vicious. They will do no good for the church; only evil. We’d be wise to heed Jude’s warning about people just like this:
“Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’ But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars . . .”