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Apr 01 2012

Clamping Down: Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood by Ken Sande

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.

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    1. 36
      John Immel

      Hmm… Well… I know I have said that this is the Wild West of ideas…

      And I tend to let pretty much any idea be discussed in the public forum… However, this is the third or fourth post where this Hell conversation has reemerged and dominated. This conversation happens to be FWIW’s one and only hot button pet doctrine that seeps into pretty much every sub-comment.

      My assumption has been that FWIW would say his piece, people would see the reiteration, and let it be a metaphysical given. However … I now realize that an increasing number of new readers are tuning in and haven’t waded through all the threads. So it will never achieve the status of “pet” doctrine because for each new wave of readers, this is a unique event. They get drawn into this conversation over and over because Hell and all the traditions around it are so embedded within our Christian consciousness that they can’t help but defend what they consider to be inarguable.

      In FWIW’s defense, there is enough evidence available. From the emergence of Higher Critical methodology, that should inspire Christians to rethink the historic doctrine of Hell and its specific implications. I don’t really think that will happen because as a rule, Christians are loathe to self-evaluate traditions. As a rule, we presume that traditions are merely the ‘biblical’ truth condensed into orthodox decree. And in this instance, the tradition could not be more central to prevailing Orthodox doctrine. The doctrine of Hell is so implicitly tied to the hellfire and brimstone afterlife judgment that we are terrified to challenge some of the core presumptions.

      But having said that, this blog is not and will not be dedicated to unraveling what that means.

      FWIW … I am glad that you are here, but you really need to start your own blog and attract your own readership. If you want to offer something new to THIS conversation, then we’ll all respond accordingly. If you must respond to some “Hell does not exist” element here on this blog, refer people to previous installments. You have made your case a number of times. Refer them to those specific posts.

    2. 37
      FWIW

      I am sorry for the distraction John. I did not mean to dominate this thread with my pet peeve doctrine (or maybe I did). At any rate, thanks for allowing my 2 cents. Now back to regular programming.

    3. 38
      Faith

      I apologize for hijacking the original topic- I will have to say one thing though.  There are so many verses in Scripture that connect heaven with believers and hell with unbelievers.  We cannot go on and on allegorizing and dissecting every point of Scripture without seeing what is plainly stated. Also, the Bible was not written for us to have a doctorates in Theology for us to be able to understand it.  For instance,  Abraham was credited with salvation because of his faith- why was not his whole extended family?  Why?  Because he believed. 
      Also, in Romans it states from God that those who live by the law and do not come to faith will perish by the law and incur God’s wrath.  When does that wrath occur- here or after? Well if you were going to say Rob Bells version of hell is here on earth- why is it that good people suffer and bad people get away scott free many times (most of the time)?  Take the life of Job- who by the way went through enormous suffering and was a godly man and even stated that the wicked lived in enjoyment and luxury.  I am not rich by any means, but I know some really wealthy wicked people who are really enjoying life right now.  So where is the justice for the oppressed and orphans? 
      The Bible is full of connections of heaven and hell; wrath and justice; His love and mercy for those who come to saving grace of Christ.  To start dissecting Scripture we get into a boatload of trouble.
      That is all I will comment on this.

    4. 39
      Patti

      “You might, as well, give up the whole Word of God, although, I think God would disagree.”
      “…….we are to trust that and keep to it……”
      Faith, with all due respect because I don’t know if you intended to be condescending with the above comments. It just has a little ‘tyranese’ accent to it and since you read here I’m thinking maybe you don’t mean it that way?

    5. 40
      FWIW

      When I started to read books about the canon, it really rattled me. I too was very passionate about “the inerrant word of God.” It troubles me still. I was asked if I accept the 66 books of the Protestant canon. It troubles me to say that I do not. I do not even like to discuss it. Who am I to say which books are canon and which are not? Well, someone had to! Was it the Catholics who came up with the original canon? They have some different books in their OT canon than the Protestant Bibles have. So who makes the final decision on which books are included and which books get excluded?
       
      Anyway, I had to stop reading books about how the canon was put together.  I did not like hearing that some books were not accepted by everyone, or that some may have been written pseudonymous.

      I understand Faith’s concern, and I was not offended at all by her comment. It is very hard to think about “God’s word” having any problems. Is God not sovereign in protecting His word? I understand that question and I do not have an answer.

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