Vol.XIX No.II Pg.6
April 1982

Discipline Won't Work

Robert F. Turner

"Discipline won't work." For years I denied it. After all, the scripture plainly commands it (2 Thes. 3:6; 1 Cor. 5:1-). But I now concede. It will not work and I will tell you why.

Discipline will not work because our congregational relationship is faulty. "...with such a one, no, not to eat" (1 Cor. 5:11). But we are not eating with one another anyway! "...I have written unto you not to keep company..." But we are not doing that either! Our association is limited to a greeting nod or an occasional chat after an assembly. It is announced that brother Smith is sick. "Who is he?" We have no abiding and close tie (company) to sever. "...after the first and second admonition, reject." (Tit. 3:10). A man "joins" (Act. 9:26) the disciples, and they "receive" him with an announcement, a handshake, and an entry into the directory. If nothing more develops, "rejecting" him is nothing more than an announcement and a directory mark out. It has little impact. Such a distant and shallow relationship leaves nothing meaningful to "withdraw." It does not work. OF COURSE, WE COULD CHANGE THE CONGREGATIONAL RELATIONSHIP.

Discipline will not work because the whole scope of discipline is not employed. Discipline is defined with words like training, education, instruction, correction, as well as punishment. It includes encouragement in struggle, praise in victory, comfort in distress, instruction for the ignorant, support for the timid, scolding for some, a harsh rebuke for others, and even the final effort of withdrawing self from the obstinately rebellious. All is discipline — aimed at saving souls. If discipline means only an occasional withdrawal, it does not work. OF COURSE, WE COULD DO ALL THE WORK OF DISCIPLINE.

Discipline will not work because it is not done in love of souls. The Father chastens those he loves (Heb. 12:6); we often chasten those who embarrass or anger us. We ignore "sin in the camp" — especially among our friends — until something scandalous happens. Suddenly discipline is in order. Did a love of souls call for this action? — will it continue? Nice sins are as damning as the shameful. Such hypocrisy thwarts the work of discipline. OF COURSE, WE COULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER WITH A PURE HEART.

Discipline will not work because we do not work. Many brethren do not know where to start. Past neglect has left a littered house, and our first house cleaning is a distressing mess. Some throw up their hands in despair. Many, many brethren simply want nothing to do with any discipline. They plainly say discipline is a bad idea. No matter that God commanded it. They dislike it, and will not do it. They would rather see a brother go to hell quietly than have any unpleasantness. "It won't work" and "It does more harm than good" is their faithless cry. How do they know? Have they ever tried it? Thus, for one excuse or another, brethren do not work God's plan of discipline -- and therefore, the plan does not work. OF COURSE, WE COULD BOLSTER OUR FAITH IN GOD AND DO WHAT HE SAYS.

Joe Fitch; 6326 Peacepipe; San Antonio, TX.