Ken Sande wrote a book, Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood, edited by Wayne Grudem and Dennis Rainey (Crossway Publishing, 2003). A reader posted the link on another thread. I originally just glanced at it, but that glance was enough to keep me coming back to read further and deeper. What follows are my mental reflections. (Thanks so much, Dave Harvey. Hugs and kisses)
The excerpts that follow are from the book’s second chapter circulated in PDF form by the Peace Makers organization (click here). I haven’t read the whole book. But since the PDF is being circulated as a self-contained document, I am going to focus my comments on the ominous undercurrents of this chapter.
It is my understanding that Ken Sande is a lawyer. And in light of what follows, I’m curious how good a legal beagle he actually is. I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve watched enough Law & Order to get the gist of a good legal argument. Here is Sande’s first paragraph:
“Redemptive church discipline is one of the most sorely needed yet grievously neglected ministries in the church today. As a result, thousands of marriages that might have been preserved are instead ending in divorce.”
Here is my Sam Waterston imitation:
Objection, your Honor, counsel is offering facts not in evidence. What objective study has linked “church discipline” with “saved marriages?” He cites “thousands”? It is incumbent on him to produce these marriages and demonstrate that the only factor preventing their demise is in fact the absence of this “ministry” called “church discipline.”
Sande goes on to say:
“The marriage-saving potential of discipline is well illustrated by a story related to me by a young pastor.”
Objection, your Honor, hearsay. Anecdotes are not proof. But the most egregious failing is that the anecdote is not on point. The story is about John. The subject of “church discipline” is directed at Max. John was having an affair. The pastor admits John was never subject to church discipline. And had John’s wife chosen to seek divorce, she would have had “biblical” grounds for divorce. John’s repentance or his advocacy is irrelevant to the church discipline. And this is the point, your Honor, this anecdote does not validate the assertion of the efficacy of “church discipline.” In this story there was no such process enforced.
Further, your Honor, Mr. Sande is seeking to defend “potential.” This is the logical fallacy, Appeal to Probability. Just because something could happen, does not mean it is inevitable that it would happen.
“This pastor had been under attack for calling his church to discipline a man who was divorcing his wife without biblical grounds.
Just a note, your Honor, in case it escaped the Court’s attention, but Mr. Sande is openly referring to a group of people enforcing “discipline” against something that is in fact not a crime. We would like the Court to look into the use of social force against private citizens of the United States that have legal sanction.
“The man had hardened his heart, left the church, and proceeded with the divorce. To make matters even worse, since the church’s previous pastor had avoided discipline, the congregation was immature in this area and viewed church discipline as being judgmental and unloving.”
Objection, your Honor. The subsequent divorce is immaterial to the congregational response. To grant that the divorce is in any way related to collective action is by logical extension the same argument that makes all men responsible for the murder of every man.
Mr. Sande’s argument is petitio principii. His statement assumes the initial point. He is presuming that the definition of maturity equals intellectual conformity. Mr. Sande is openly advocating uncritical intellectual subordination as the measure of some “higher” Christian development. Beyond the stunning conceit of a man believing that HIS ideological conclusions are in fact the defining measure of maturity, an alternate theory of the event can be reasonably explained thus: The fact that the congregation resisted pastoral edict could also mean they were sufficiently adult and self-appointed in their rational faculties to resist a blatant overreach of civil force.