Friday, July 16, 2010

Hither and thither 7/16/10

In spite of a sopmewhat harried week, I have a bumper crop for your weekend. Enjoy, check back for possible updates up until noon PT.
  • Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken, say some scientists, offering some ultimately non-falsifiable proof. This time, I think they happen to have hit it, given Genesis' depiction of the creation of functioning creatures and objects. Broken clock, you know. (Reader Matt Kleinhans provided the link.)
  • Justin Taylor has a very cool analysis of Christ's high priestly prayer from John 17, with graphics and charts.
  • Joe Carter has a list of Best Dads in TV and Film, including some fun categories like "Best Conservative Dad," "Best Liberal Dad," "Best Dad to an Alien," and "Best Dead Dad."
  • Unholygram. New idea, bad idea. Because there aren't enough gifted, qualified, burdened, mature, Christ-centered, passionate flesh-and-blood pastors available to preach to sheep? Or because goats just wanna have fun? Pah. (Thanks to reader Gil Sebenste for link.)
  • Now, sit quietly and take in this week's Physical Prowess is Overrated moment:

  • Stop, and reflect. What has your life come to, if the only character-witness you can find for yourself is... Whoopi Goldberg? Oy.
  • Would you guess that a Christian pastor praying in the North Carolina House would be banned for planning to pray in Jesus' name? You would? Cynic. (Thanks to reader Chris.)
  • My FRiend Elliot Silverman pointed me to a very clever essay, in which a critic mentions watching Babylon 5, then the non-credible Doctor Who, and then he gets onto this really ridiculous TV show. It's on the History Channel, and it's called World War II. The plot doesn't make any sense, the main characters are ridiculous, and it involves a lot of absurd leaps and "convenient" Deus ex machina solutions suddenly introduced just to wrap things up.
  • That piece is worth reading and a remembering, for the next time you read critical essays about Biblical narratives. It seems as if the unspoken criterion of many academics is, "If it's unique, it couldn't have happened." On that basis, of course, nothing could ever have happened, because there literally did have to be a first time for everything. And, as the first girl I ever kissed could tell you, just because there is a first time, there won't necessarily ever be a second time.
  • (Thank God, on both of our behalfs.)
  • Reader Mike Pettengill notes that, though science is a "fact," the problem is the facts keep changing.
  • Noms Alert (depending on how you feel about Carl's): a foot-long hamburger! (More, and pix.)
  • 4WD heli. I want one.
  • Ever had a high-risk friendship? Probably. But not like this.
  • Any Kevin Spacey fans? I think he's a good actor — but who knew he can do a truckload of dead-on impersonations? (One bleeped word, and sound a bit out of synch towards end.)
  • Ultra-Obscure Reference of the Week in three... two... one....
  • Evidently it's Dr. Cthulhu now.
  • Isn't It Ironic? alert. Am I the only one who raises an eyebrow when an organization that calls itself the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People calls the Tea Party movement — or, for that matter, any person or movement — "racist"? Where's that dictionary?
  • On the same tone, did you hear about Laura Bush telling that meeting of the People for  White Progress that white people need "to increase our intensity, and to increase our discipline and our focus and keep fighting for a better future for our children and our grandchildren”?
  • And did you hear the howls of outrage in the media over Mrs. Bush inciting violence against blacks?
  • No? You didn't? That's because (A) it wasn't Mrs. Bush, it was Michelle Obama; and (B) it wasn't the (fictional) PWP, it was the NAACP, and (C)... well, it was Michelle Obama to the NAACP! So that makes it okey-doke with the MSM.
  • Seems like the Obama Justice Department is increasing its intensity, and fighting.
  • Panderlock? Obama's Hillary Clinton may find herself in a tight place between her/her administration's twin goals of pandering to Muslims and to one particular sexual perversion. Still waiting for aggrieved rapists, child molestors, practitioners of bestiality and other "other-lovers" to demand (and compel invention of) their "rights."
  • Depressing that (A) Mitt Romney is still considered a presidential possibility, and that (B) his "war chest" is growing. Assuming Obama doesn't resign or get impeached, I'd really like to see a credible, rational, conservative candidate positioning himself to win the presidency. Romney comes short in all three respects.
  • Oh heck, why not? Continuing on the subject of succession, "Reverend" Robert Schuller is retiring, again, leaving his business, er, ministry, this time, to... his daughter (thanks, Julie Garrett). Schuller hasn't let that old Bible-thingie stand in his way for 55 years, isn't going to start now.
  • Did you know? Robert Schuller said he learned to be a "possibility thinker" from Norman Vincent Peale; and Peale said he learned "positive thinking" from Ernest Holmes. Who's Ernest Holmes? Founder of Religious Science, the cult from which the Lord saved me.
  • Archaeologists have unearthed the oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem. It is a fragment in Akkadian, dating from the 1300s BC. This discovery validates the existence and prominence of Jerusalem, later to become the city of King David.

  • This is actually pretty interesting: conversation with a robot. A reporter tries out the attempts at artificial intelligence embodied in Bina48, modeled after the experiences and thoughts of an actual woman. I marvel at the technology in Dragon Dictation; this goes a step further, to enable a sort of conversation. HSAT, however, notice the casual revelation of THE REAL AGENDA at 2:48!!!  (The caps and exclamation points are essential.) Also, note the casual slip at 5:05 (is "garden" a sinister euphemism?)
  • Counter-intuitive Amish story, thanks to reader Paula.
  • Academic Freedom Alert. So, you're hired to teach a class on Roman Catholicism in a university. What do you figure you should teach? I'll take a stab here: oh, I don't  know... maybe Roman Catholic views on things? Evidently not, not at the University of Illinois, where a professor was fired for explaining the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. Assuming the Catholic News Agency is reporting it straight (no pun intended), apparently a complain was lodged by a non-attendant, on behalf of an anonymous attendant, who got his tender little feelings hurt. Now the guy's fired. Whee, freedom in a universe of ideas — well, except that one. And that one. And certainly not that one....
  • Leaving us with these visuals, one of which hails from one of James Kime's idle blogs.








87 comments:

lee n. field said...

Robert Schuller's succession -- worth noting that "church as family owned franchise" is not typical Reformed polity. (Schuller's RCA).

Re Kenneth Howell -- he was a contributor to the Reformation Study Bible, before swimming the Tiber. Curious to me that he ended up in the "'religious' 'studies'" (multiple nested quotes on purpose) department of the relentlessly secular state university I worked at for a while. I was a little surprised to read that the local Newman Center (RC campus ministry) sacked him too.

The Squirrel said...

I read the History Channel thing through twice. Brilliant!

Squirrel

Fred Butler said...

Amish buying liquor?

anywho...

Speaking of H.P. Lovecraft (the Cthulhu reference for the geek imparied), I picked up a set of audio CDs of several of his short stories as read by a narrator by the name of Wayne June.

June does a lot of commercial voice over work that probably many folks would recognize but didn't necessarily pay attention to.

He must like Lovecraft, because he has narrated several of his short stories that are just outstanding to listen to. If you scroll down that link there are some excerpts available on line.

Yes, I know, I know, it isn't the least bit theological, but if you enjoy sci-fi fantasy and you like it done well, I recommend the CDs.

JackW said...

Satellite church with virtual preachers? Does that mean I can make a video of myself and become a satellite member? How cool would that be? I could be a member of Grace Community Church, Bethlehem Baptist church, Parkside Church, Capitol Hill Baptist Church …
Who’s your pastor?
Oh, I have a plurality of them: MacArthur, Piper, Begg, Dever …
They’re pretty good, how about you?

DJP said...

Don't see why not, Jack. If they can "phone in" their pastoring, you should be able to "phone in" your attendance.

Andreas said...

I'm seriously afraid that such viritual church most likely will result in a viritual salvation for most of the people "attending".

Otherwise, thanks for a nice post. :)

Kay said...

Totally right about Doctor Who. That's why I love it, anything is possible.

Mesa Mike said...

As J. Vernon McGee used to say, "Paul is appealing; Peale is appalling."

Squeeze bacon? Yes Yes Yes! It'll go well on that foot-long burger.

Poor Mel Gibson. I dunno whether he is a racist or just a hothead, but I do know that, like me, the guy is a sinner in need of Grace.

Denis said...

I really don't understand the issue with the multiple campus model. There is still corporate worship and fellowship, local, physical pastors, etc. The only difference is the sermon is video, simulcast, or whatever.

(full disclosure: our church does this, so I'm not coming at this without having a dog in the fight, so to speak)

kateg said...

"I don't think you lose a thing," Young said."... very true words in Mr. Young's case. :) Maybe it is a good sign that there aren't "enough" Ed Youngs out there to go around.

DJP said...

10 comments, no complaints.

So far, better than last week.

:^P

CR said...

There was a poll taken recently (I think Public Policy polling or something to that effect) and it said that 32% of disaffected Obama voters would vote for Romney. Obama voters are going from one bad mistake to another. I'm hoping Jeb Bush will run for the Presidency.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

I'm cracking up over Spacey's impersonations - very funny! Takes a very observant and detailed mind to pull that off.

Sushi popper? Lost my appetite. And that combover... very PeopleOfWalmart.

Bina wants to "build a better future" or is "conspiring to take over the planet", huh? I guess that's "what friends do".

Hey, not only is fishing dangerous, fish are dangerous. We were attacked by a mackinaw trout last week! No kidding.

David said...

Okay, the beard combover is really funny.

There are at least four or five gentlemen with handlebar mustaches at the church where I choir direct.

And the pastor is a Master's guy.

Hmmmm.

Gilbert said...

I HATE "sopmewhat harried weeks". Dan does. Really. You should, too.
There, Dan complaining about no complaints...see the trouble it causes? ;-)

Denis: The problem comes in several forms:

1. Accountability. Can the person be held accountable for his traching/preaching remotely? If the home church does, that's no problem.

2. Here's the main problem: does the local church have a pastor who serves at the church full time, doctrinally sound in belief and in action; serving the Lord and the congregation? Visiting those who are sick, doing church discipline when necessary, rightly handling Scripture? I have no problem with multi-pastor churches; I came from one that also had satellite churches. But is the body being edified and growing in the Lord? Convicted over time by sin? And as for the pastor(s) who are at the main church, knowing that this comes with great responsibility, does great accountability com with it?

DJP said...

I think it's simpler than that.

Do we accept that there is EVER a point at which we should say, "Our church is TOO BIG. We need to plant another church, with another pastor/set of pastors!"

I do accept that.

Having accepted that: what are some of the signs that YOUR CHURCH IS TOO BIG?

I'd say one is: if all your people can't fit under one roof. Or if too many people are coming for one pastor to preach to them.

Then it's time to plant another church, with another set of leaders.

CR said...

Hey, whatya mean the "non-credible" Dr. Who? It's a classic, especially with the older versions like with Tom Baker (I agree the new ones are lame).

I would say on that too big church thing, yep, so true. I won't mention names (John Piper, John MacArthur, oops, sorry, it slipped out), but a lot of the notables preachers, a large number of their flock come for the preacher. How else would explain people watching a sermon on big screen TV or driving an hour and a half to church? It's almost like a cult following. I would say that is especially true for Piper's church. It would be interesting to see what the attendance has been like in his church since his leave of absence (LOA). Anything more than 500 people or so is probably too big of a church.

Sorry, Dan, if I flood your meta with Piper followers. (Just be glad I didn't say anything about Mark Driscoll, oops did it again). LOL.

DJP said...

Riccardi Alert in 3... 2... 1....

Barbara said...

Bina48 sure does seem to have a lot more to say about the one she's modeled after, and just wants to be more like her. Doesn't seem to have much to say about most anything else - so she's been programmed to adore "the real Bina" and to espouse her value system, it seems? Like a false god.

And that definition of friendship - poor woman, if her definition of friendship is nothing more than a task partner. But, that's how she defines it, obviously. That's just sad.

All in all, Bina48 looks like an ego trip or a desire for immortality to me. Not that I can judge hearts...

Denis said...

Dan, this is something our church leadership has openly struggled with. It’s not like they have slick advertising campaigns or get media attention for better sex sermons or anything like that. But yet we grow.

Our pastor’s position has been that we will not shut the doors and tell people to go away because we are full or because we don’t want any new people to join us. I would perhaps go farther and suggest that to do so might simply welcome stagnation and ultimately death.

Instead, they will make every effort to ensure that the church can serve as many who desire to come to her in our city. This has meant multiple services, bigger buildings and, yes, now multiple campuses.

Maybe I’m simply prejudiced since this is all I’ve known (this is the church I was reborn into), but the desire to reach as many people as practical seems like a pretty good thing.

Halcyon said...

I find it interesting that the reporter "interviewing" the robot didn't bat an eyelash at Bina's casual remark about "taking over the world." She is obviously a spy for the coming robot overlords and needs to be deported to Russia.

Speaking of robotic replacements, that "digital" pastor thing makes we wonder: Do people realize that being a pastor means more than merely speaking in front of people? The technology utilized here may be cool and "practical" on one level, but the whole "being in multiple places at once" logic only works if pastoring simply means preaching and nothing else. If pastoring means more than mere preaching, which (as the comment left by Gilbert suggests) it does, then the whole "multiple places at once" logic is merely an illusion.

Verification word: "purge"

It's a sign; the robots are coming.

DJP said...

Desire to reach people, great.

Desire for more and more people to be attached to one pastor, not so great.

Enabling more pew-warming, star-struck spectators who get a "pass" on the work of church-building and fellowshiping? Not so great.

Deprive more small, struggling works that aren't led by big-name pulpit stars? Letting them languish with no leadership for groups, kids, etc, while the bloated church gets more bloated? Not so great.

Isolate a "pastor" into a "talking head" who's a complete stranger to Jesus' express ideal of what a "good shepherd" is (John 10:14, 27)? Not so great.

Frank Turk said...

Do you have any idea how much I love it that you linked to a youTube of inside the Actor's Studio?

This proves you are a much more complicated man than most people are able to muster. The only question is if you laugh at the right moments.

Denis said...

Dan, I agree that much of what you are describing is quite negative. However, I’d like to re-iterate I point I tried to make earlier: these are very real potential risks with this type of large church but they are not inevitable or unavoidable.

For example, every size & style of church can, and likely does, have pew-warmers. But being big does not automatically mean that most people are doing this (for example, our church recently published that “[a]pproximately 7000 volunteers invested an estimated 395,928 hours serving the Lord as volunteers” .... is that everyone? Of course not, but it hardly fits your characterization of “pew-warming, star-struck spectators”).

Realistically our church views our city as its mission field, reaching people for Jesus in our city is something we ought to be actively engaged in and I think this feeds into the way the Church is growing. That’s not to say we don’t help plant or mentor other churches, it’s just that we don’t do that locally (we have one daughter church in a different city and 24 that we support and mentor internationally).

And while small churches may not draw resources away from other small churches; there are too many that don’t ever extend beyond their own cozy walls to try and reach out to those around them. And even if they do, they will often have very limited resources (money, time, etc).

Worse, there are many small churches that if you did enter their closed-in world that you would be effectively shunned if you didn’t already meet their very specific picture of what a good Christian should be.

All that said, it’s not my intention to knock the small church any more than it is to say that big churches are perfect. All I’m trying to say is that every size & style of church has potential drawbacks and potential benefits. While big churches, like small churches, can be unhealthy it doesn’t mean that they all are.

DJP said...

Ahh, Turk.

I so love it when big-name celebrities drop by!

DJP said...

Denis

...they will often have very limited resources (money, time, etc).

Yeah, I wonder why that is? What bloated high-gravity object is sucking all those resources?

People want a supermarket, where everything's all set up. That's a megachurch.

So: can a church get too big?

What are the signs?

Frank Turk said...

The "talk" "robot" wasn't even half as engaging in conversation as that old UNIX program which pretends to have a counselling session with you. Commander Data and HAL9000 would be deeply hurt that we think that's a breakthrough in AI and artificial conversation.

Let alone hairstyle and makeup.

Frank Turk said...

Also: Google Sharktopus.

DJP already has, but you should, if only for the last 20 seconds.

DJP said...

Turk knows I can't post that link, but gets it in regardless.

Well-played, Frank; well-played.

(c:

Denis said...

Regarding limited resources, it’s simply the economy of scale. For 100 people, keeping one man & his family in food, shelter & clothes and possibly some administrative help plus the upkeep of a building doesn’t leave tonnes of money for other things. It is completely irrelevant if there is a megachurch in the same city if they have committed themselves to being a small church.

It’s the same thing with volunteer time. With 100 people there are only so many hours that can be spent serving each other and those outside the church. Again, whether or not there are other people volunteering with other churches has no overall impact on the number of hours a small church can expect from its people.

Realistically, a small church could be the only church around for hundreds of miles, but when it comes down to it there is only so much 100 people can give of their talent, treasure and time.

Again, not necessarily a bad thing, just a reality. Bigger churches can do different things than smaller churches.

I also object to your characterization of the supermarket; it’s one of those things which may be true for some (especially newcomers), but I, and many people like me, put many hours a week into what you are characterizing as a consumers delight. The way I would put it is that a church this big gives everyone the opportunity to serve the body and our community in the way that best fits their gifts.

Finally, can a church be too big? Maybe.

However, I would be more concerned with determining if a church is healthy rather than ensuring it didn’t fill too many seats on a weekend. A church can be unhealthy whether its small, medium or large. Size simply doesn’t dictate health, so I’d argue that is the wrong way to evaluate whether or not a church is fulfilling its mission.

DJP said...

Bringing us back to the point: if a church is so bloated and massive that a pastor can't even preach to his people eye to eye, it's not healthy. Already. Eo ipso.

Denis said...

Fabricating a random, extra-biblical criterion for what makes a church healthy doesn't prove anything. Period. Ipso facto ;).

RealityCheck said...

Ah... a Latin duel... how about this;

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?


How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

RealityCheck said...

The Whoppi/Gibson thing is very concerning for me because I find myself agreeing with Whoppi (oh my, did I just say that?)… I need to go and lie down for awhile.

Sir Aaron said...

I would take a hard look at the pastoral epistles when looking at a satelite megachurch. Is that really how Paul envisioned the church?

@CR: Come on. Can't we do better than Jeb Bush? And please not Sarah Palin! The woman cannot answer a question with less than fifty words.

@DJP: I can think of worse things than robots taking over the world, especially at this particular moment in time.

RealityCheck said...

Oh Sir Aaron,

How can you not just love Palin considering how she drives just the right people NUTS! ;-)

candy said...

Whoopie Goldberg blasts tea party people as being racist with no real evidence. Mel Gibson rants on, and she gives him a pass. I cannot watch The View to save my life. We got rid of our tv so I am feeling somewhat virtuous...and LOST is over so it doesn't matter.

I was just scrolling down until I saw the obvious "best dad", Atticus Finch. Nuf said. Well...except for Joe Carter saying To Kill a Mockingbird is overated. What's up with that?!?!

The Amish buying alcohol cracked me up...you know they are buying hard cider or Mike's Lemonade or something like that.

They say nowadays that you shouldn't eat food with more than five ingredients that you can actually pronounce. So....squeeze bacon is out of the question. Now real bacon....bacon and nitrates. Two ingredients. A-ok.

bp said...

I just mentioned to my boss today the incongruity of Obama's support of both the LGBT and Muslim communities. How long can he keep that up?

@CR, from my experience, I don't see a sharp drop in attendance at Bethlehem since Piper left. Granted, we go to the later service at merely one campus. Unlike some megapastors (esp. of the emergent type), Piper's preaching attracts those who love great expository preaching of the Word, and we have many pastors who do just that (and our fill-in pastor is doing a fantastic job).

Though, if you count the thoughts of our youngest daughter, she said she was having a harder time listening because she was used to Pastor John's yelling. Hehe, he does have a tendancy to wake up the drifters.

Paula said...

"Reiland said that when he started as a pastor 28 years ago, technology wasn't important for a church's growth....

...He said that many churches now know that it is critical to hire good technical and creative staff...


...They also have a team of video editors, web designers and assorted creative people who know how to promote the church and make Sunday morning worship more appealing, he said."


It's dependency on cultural relevance and lack of faith in the sufficiency of scripture and the holy spirit all rolled into one. Blech.

We have to wonder how the early church managed to muddle through and spread the gospel with out all that fancy technology. Not even a measly hologram of Paul floating above the dead sea.

@ DJP I'd love to see a blog post unpacking the topic of "how big is too big."

On a personal note, in the past year we've witnessed three divorces among our friends and acquaintances from our former mega-church. I believe that being in such a large church made it much easier for these couples to go down that road. Maybe even aided and abetted. There's no real accountability and no real way for the church to exercise church discipline.

When the shepherd - the one who's to keep charge over the souls of the sheep - doesn't even know their names, you've got a serious problem.

RE: Mitt Romney - BLECH again. DS received a free ticket to an event at which he spoke. Apparently he gives a mighty good speech because several of my very conservative friends were extremely impressed by him. DS was also impressed until I filled him in on Romney's history. His defense of MA's Romney-Care is that he had a great idea and the legislature took it and transformed it into socialized medicine. IOW, don't blame him for socialized medicine in MA - he didn't have anything to do with it.

They did give him a copy of Romney's book, which I've not yet read. I'm sure it's a beautiful conservative manifesto that doesn't betray his recent history as a semi-liberal.

Sir Brass said...

Problem with the 4WD Heli: Room for fuel tanks where? Room for avionics where? Also, in ground mode, it better be able to economically sip that AV gas.

A few more years my left toe. There are some serious design hurdles to that....

Not that it wouldn't be incredibly, amazingly AWESOME if they did pull it off.

Sir Brass said...

Problem with the 4WD Heli: Room for fuel tanks where? Room for avionics where? Also, in ground mode, it better be able to economically sip that AV gas.

A few more years my left toe. There are some serious design hurdles to that....

Not that it wouldn't be incredibly, amazingly AWESOME if they did pull it off.

DJP said...

Denis, you think that is John 10:14, 27 form "a random, extra-biblical criterion"?

Hunh.

SolaMommy said...

Great selection this week, Dan :-)

RealityCheck said...

Paula,

I remember hearing Romney talk about how “others” basically messed up what he set out to do on health care in MA. I don’t remember the details but I do remember thinking at the time that it made sense, and that he wasn’t playing some huge blame game, but just pointing out changes that ended up making a negative difference. I’m not saying I don’t have my issues with the guy but compared to what we got… oh my! At least it would be nice to have some people in charge who don’t belong at the kids table. Also, I remember laughing out loud when McCain announced he was running again (on Leno I think) and then I ended up voting for the guy… so I think it’s WAY too early to say what we’ll do in a couple of years.

As far as Whoopi defending Gibson but blasting the tea partiers… no surprise there… she likes Mel and hates the tea partiers, simple as that. It’s along these lines that I made my tongue in cheek remark about Palin making the right people NUTS, Whoppi (and many of those who the View speaks for) would be an example of that. She represents everything they hate.

Paula said...

Reality Check said, " I’m not saying I don’t have my issues with the guy but compared to what we got… oh my! At least it would be nice to have some people in charge who don’t belong at the kids table."

I think we sometimes fall into the trap of believing that there are only 3 or 4 qualified candidates to choose from; usually candidates who have 'paid their dues' to the party. This usually translates into the ability to raise massive amounts of money for the party - thus we have Romney.

To add to Romney's allure, he has the luxury of not having to work at a real job, flitting around the country, making speeches and adding to his war chest. The GOP seems to think this is the proving ground for a legitimate presidential candidate.

Same with Sarah Palin. Bill O'Reily completely embarrassed her the other night by merely asking her pointed questions about what she would do with the millions of illegals already here. She COULD NOT answer the question; rather she kept going back to 'seal the border.' But she makes great speeches and brings in boatloads of cash.

Is that what we want to settle for in a president? Is that going to turn around a country on the verge of utter collapse?

Can we consider that there might be other qualified candidates who don't have private jets in which to fly across the country to make speeches & build war chests?

I kind of like what I've seen from Paul Ryan but he's been working his tail off in Congress, fighting tooth and nail against every bit of nonsense in the House. Should he abandon that work to do what Obama did, eschewing his congressional responsibilities to make a presidential run?

Sir Aaron said...

@Realitycheck: If left hatred is the criteria then I would gladly vote for a Cheney/Palin presidency as that would probably cause most leftists to implode.

@Paula: I'm embarrased for Palin all the time on that program. She can't answer a question. Part of the problem, in her defense, is that there are elements of the right who want zero amnesty. So you can't say, after we seal the border, we'll do x,y,z to give the illegal population some normative residency here.

Romney would be a bit more palatable if he just admitted to pandering to leftist elements in his state to remain in office. Because otherwise, the health care plan is a complete disaster. But of course, any plan will be. There's If you aren't willing to let people suffer the consequences of their own actions (or inaction) then the only thing a health care plan can do is make everyone equally miserable (except the uber wealthy who can just pay for anything they want).

RealityCheck said...

Paula and Sir Aaron,

I need to first say that at this time I’m not too focused on the whole political scene so I’m not losing any sleep over any of this stuff right now.

As far as Palin, I have to admit that I picked her for McCain’s running mate months before he did. I still think it was a good pick and what sunk him wasn’t her but himself, especially that stupid stunt of suspending his campaign and going to Washington.

Do I think Palin is Presidential material… honestly… maybe… but not because she’s such a savvy candidate, but because I think she has a lot of common sense, something much needed in Washington. I also find it ridiculous that a candidate is supposed to be able to answer any question they’re asked. I’d love to hear a candidate say something like, “you know… I have no idea what you’re talking about and if the average person was honest with themselves, they don’t either. I’m not going to fix the world, I’m going to focus on six to eight things, and if I need to know something about something else along the way, I’ll find out about it then”. As far as her driving the right people NUTS, it’s not a good enough reason to vote for her, but it is enough of a reason to root for her and enjoy her being out there. As far as Romney, he was my second choice as McCain’s running mate but I had heard that bad blood between them made that unlikely. I would still consider him depending on who else was running and he and Palin together would be interesting.

Most immediately, the Republicans need to take care of business in November and lame duck Obama, not let it go right to their heads, and then pick the right candidate for 2012. In an ideal world he would meet Reagan’s call for “bold colors, no pale pastels”. Right now that would be someone like Cris Cristie in New Jersey. I think he is very impressive.

All of that said, I have to say one more thing. As much as I can’t stand Obama and I REALLY cannot stand the man, he is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that so many people who shouldn’t have voted for him… did! They not only voted for him, but they were completely bowled over by him. That is some scary stuff in my book. I’m not a guy running around looking at every headline and trying to fit it into some end times scenario, but, when so many people (and not just from this country) are so willing to follow such an unimpressive person, it’s pretty hard not to wonder if Aslan isn’t on the move.

RealityCheck said...

I guess my comment was too big and should have been broken up. Do you handle that Dan or am I supposed to take another crack at it? It says something is waiting for your approval but I don't know if that's all of what I wrote or only part and I don't want to post it twice. I'll wait to hear from you. Sorry about that, I'm a dork.

DJP said...

All comments are moderated.

I basically agree with everything RC wrote.

Palin is the de facto leader of the GOP right now, in that she is Obama's most effective critic. Boehner's been trying, Ryan's been trying; but when Palin says something, it lands like a solid right-hook, and the OWH and MSM reel like drunken sailors, then quack like hysterical ducks. She's helping good folks get elected, and she's affecting the conversation.

That might not be the highest-grade smarts that we could wish, but boy oh boy, I think you have to admit it's leadership -- which the GOP (and nation) sorely, sorely lacks.

DJP said...

(Oh, one exception: I'm not sure suspending his campaign was a huge mistake.)

RealityCheck said...

"(Oh, one exception: I'm not sure suspending his campaign was a huge mistake.)"

I don’t think it would have been such a huge mistake if he had had a plan and had any chance of pulling it off but I don’t believe he had either. I think he somehow thought he could bring the two sides together on something (gang of 14ish)… but there was no way… not with the Presidency on the line. He could have had the greatest plan in the world and the dems wouldn’t have let it off the ground because it would have assured him the election. IOW, McCain should have known THEY wouldn’t let him succeed. That said, if he had had a good plan, and the dems stopped it, he may have been able to cry foul and show the people a “this is what’s wrong with Washington” moment and make the argument that with him in the White House he could change this. However, I don’t remember him making such a plea to anyone. I just remember him on Letterman afterwards being asked why he had to cancel the show and McCain had no better answer than “I screwed up”. I remember it being very difficult to watch.

P.S. I just watched that video again… wow… it’s a terrible moment for John (notice I’m calling him John after watching it) as I really feel for the guy. I do realize that the “I screwed up” remark is meant as an answer to the cancellation of Letterman’s show and not an admission that the entire campaign suspension was a mistake. However, I think it comes across as both. The ratings for that particular show were huge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_HSOSOTc50

DJP said...

No argument about whether McC was a poor candidate. But his campaign was roaring around the time of the DNConvention, and with Palin's addition the race (I think) was McCain's to lose.

And, by golly, he did.

Paula said...

Here's a link to O'Reill's interview with Palin about illegal immigration. It's not like she was blindsided by the question of what to do with the millions already here. It's clear that she has no answer (nor does most of the rest of the GOP).

Sarah needs to be the head of the RNC. The sooner the pro-choice, constant foot-in-his mouth Steele goes the better. Sarah has proven herself to be an A+++ fundraiser. And, as RC said (and DJP has said in the past) she's a constant burr in the saddles of Obama, the MSM, and basically, the entire left. A rare quality indeed. You don't have to be a policy wonk to do that.

Oh that we could combine the brains of Newt Gingrich, the earnestness of Paul Ryan, the charisma of Sarah Palin, and the moral fortitude of....sigh....

Stan McCullars said...

Problem with McCain's campaign in a word: bailout

Mike Riccardi said...

Riccardi Alert in 3... 2... 1....

I must have missed something. Why did I get 'alerted'?

DJP said...

First rule of hermeneutics is...?

Mike Riccardi said...

I read CR's comment, and am still asking.

Denis said...

Dan, my "random, extra-biblical criterion" remark was in direct response to your statement that if a "pastor can't even preach to his people eye to eye, it's not healthy."

DJP said...

Then I believe I have you checkmated. Can a pastor know his sheep, lead them by name, care for them, protect them — individually! — from wolves, if he never even meets them? Can you tell me that you glean from the Pastorals that Paul had in mind pastors sitting at home sending epistles instead of themselves to churches, never meeting with the people over whom they care?

I'd have less objection if people would just stop calling these rock-stars "pastor," and find a name that approximates "talking-head."

But then they'd also have to stop calling their personality cliques "churches," also.

Al said...

I am late to this party... too busy to read my favorite blogs is a good thing I guess.

I am not a "get back to pure the NT Church" kinda guy. I believe that God continues to mature the Church and worship, bringing us all to greater unity (Soon dear Lord, soon), but when I look at the character of the meetings in the NT I wonder if folks realize what they are doing to the Church.

ACTS 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

There seems to be an emphasis on fellowship around the table in this small section of Scripture, breaking bread was mentioned twice, while “the Apostles’ teaching” garnered a single mention.

This misunderstanding of "church life" goes deeper than the video pastor phenomena. In most evangelical Churches the Sermon is the focal point of fellowship and the internalizing of an idea about scripture binds believers.

There are many advantages to this model of fellowship… First, getting people to rally around an idea is a relatively quick way to agreement. Bread is all yeasty and takes a long time work itself out in the life of the Church. Second, modern sermons are often directed at individuals (so long as God spoke to one person in the sermon we pastors are pleased), there is a private response to sin (which no one need know about), and there is no messy relationship stuff to clean up afterword.

Fellowship around a table ain’t so… The guy next to you chews with his mouth open, there are dishes to clean up and the man who has his father’s wife is not so distant from your table that the wine tastes bitter.

al sends

Sir Aaron said...

@RealityCheck:

I agree with much of what you say. Don't get me wrong, I like Palin and I think she's mostly doing a good job. McCain ran a horrible campaign. Picking Palin was brilliant, but then their advisors just totally blew it. What her advisors need to tell her is that public speaking is a skill. You can have natural talent, but like any skill, you still need lots and lots of practice (and I spent years practicing and still do so before each and every time I speak now). In her case, I think the problem is not that she doesn't have the answers, it's that she hasn't prepared her responses in advance. She should have advisors who do nothing but predict the questions/topics she'll be asked and work with her on responses. And part of that work, should be to make her memorized responses appear as if they weren't. (Additionally, "off the cuff" speaking is also a skill which requires practice but being prepared reduces error and allows you to spend more time thinking about unanticipated questions rather than all of the questions.)

@Paula: Two words. Michelle Bachman (sp?). The GOP has a response on illegal immigration. It's just that part of the base doesn't like it so they avoid giving any answer other than closing the border. Like a chess game, the Democrats immediately counter by asking "what about everyone already here." They know part of the GOP base wants to ship everybody out of here.

Denis said...

Dan:Frankly, it is a caricature to describe men like Spurgeon, MacArthur, Piper and many other less notable men as "pastors sitting at home sending epistles instead of themselves to churches, never meeting with the people over whom they care."

You maybe arguing against some form of worst case situation, but you aren't arguing against a real situation I am familiar with.

Rather, I see the large church pastor as one who has people he is directly involved with on a regular and personal basis which includes (but not to the exclusion of) other leaders who are in turn directly involved on a regular basis with people including other leaders and so on.

The lead pastor must ensure all his people are looked after, but this is not the same as requiring that one man to be personally and intimately involved with every man women and child under his care.

If however, you are correct that a pastor must have a close personal relationship with everyone in the church, what then would you suggest is the maximum size of a church? Personally, along with the requirements of teaching, preaching and keeping other more mundane things in check, how many people can a man be expected to individually care for, a couple dozen maybe?

Al:I think the idea of small groups within a church best fits the concept of fellowship you are describing, at least it is the closest I've experienced.

We meet weekly, share a meal, have fellowship and study God's word. But more to that, it forges real relationships ... one where the people become a regular part of your life, outside of the weekly meeting. You become a part of each other's life during the good, the bad, and the ugly. You become a true community.

DJP said...

Ideal size: 217

Frankly, it tells me all I need to know that you won't answer the simple question, "When is a church too big?" It's created a generation of churches whose single real goal is BIGGER. That's greed, not godliness.

There are a host of Biblical imperatives for churches that aren't met by small cities passing for churches. Plus, it's the rare man keep pastoral reality when he has been isolated by layers of men who "do people," while they sit read and compose and deliver lectures, and not lose pastoral reality.

Then the great name dies or moves on and leaves an empty building as an embarrassing monument to the departed rock star.

Denis said...

Dan, to answer "[w]hen is a church too big?"

A church with 200 people and only one man willing to provide any kind of leadership is likely too big.

A church with 2000 people and a hundred men willing to provide leadership, both at the "official clergy" and lay levels is likely doing just fine.

This is, in part, what I was trying to get at earlier when I stated that I do not see size alone being a good indicator of how healthy a church is.

You also said, "Plus, it's the rare man keep pastoral reality when he has been isolated by layers of men who "do people," while they sit read and compose and deliver lectures, and not lose pastoral reality."

Again, this seems to be another example of you applying a worst case scenario to every situation.

There was a reason I said that the large church pastor would be one who is "directly involved with [people] on a regular and personal basis which includes (but not to the exclusion of) other leaders."

The large church pastor does not need to be isolated or disconnected from pastoral reality. He can still be a part of a small group, he can still minister to individuals in need, he can still have a coffee group with friends who are sceptics, he can still perform all forms of pastoral duty (I know, because my pastor does these things). What he cannot do is be involved at this level with absolutely everyone, thats where other leaders come in.

So, while you raise a valid risk the large church pastor must guard against, the simple existence of risk does mean the worst case consequence will inevitably occur.

Al said...

Denis,
The idea that we break up into small groups to meet the requirements of biblical fellowship strikes me as a bit silly. The Church had all things in common, not just the folks who lived on your side of town.

Also, do you see any correlation between the breaking of bread and the Lord's Supper? Tough to be one loaf via video (or once a quarter, in the evening service for that matter).

al sends

Denis said...

Al,

I was talking about building the type of relationships where I can call them at 3 am when I need to take my wife to the hospital and need someone to watch the kids. The type of people I call for a games night at my house or a day out at the lake during the summer. Getting to know people and what their struggles are and how I can help them strengthen their faith or help them heal after they loose a baby. A group of people I can truly get to know and love practically.

I don't know about you, but I cannot be in this type of relationship with more than a handful of families. Even in a church of 50 families I can't be in this type of relationship with the whole body.

Also, even if the entire church gathers together as one body to take part in the communion every Sunday, it takes much more than spending Sunday morning's worship service together to grow the type of relationships I am referring to. I would argue this type of relationship is an important part of the community described in Acts 2.

Breaking off into small groups is not be the be-all-and-end-all of Christian community and biblical fellowship, but I would argue it is an important aspect for churches of any size (this may not be a formal aspect of the church, but it happens none the less).

RealityCheck said...

Sir Aaron and Paula,

I watched the clip Paula linked to on Palin and quite frankly I think she did fine. She was specific about the big picture; secure the border, no amnesty, no reward for breaking the law, deport… while being unspecific about details much past building the fence and using the National Guard. Maybe this is because she has no greater plan or maybe this is the way the game has to be played on this side of the election. Tell your voting block what they want to hear right up to the point where you try not to push any fence sitters away. IOW, I don’t think she had trouble answering any question because she was unprepared but answered only as far as she felt she should.

Oh, and one more thing, Aaron, while I agree in principal with what you said about being prepared for public speaking and answering questions, I do think there was something there a little self-contradictory that you missed. You said up front that the McCain/Palin advisors blew it. You then proceeded to say that Palin should be more prepared for answering questions. Did it ever dawn on you that it was such preparedness that the advisors blew? IOW, in an effort to make sure that Palin could answer any and all questions did she become something other than who she really is and now has decided to trust her own extinct instead. I’m pretty sure how Palin would answer this question.

Al said...

Denis,
If I had 50 families in my Church I could make it into everyone's home at least once a year for a pastoral visit and still have 26 weeks left over. They could each serve me brownies and coffee and I would be able to ask them about their sin and see how a wife glances at the kids when I ask the husband about his anger issues. I could look a man in the eye, again over brownies, and ask if pornography is keeping him from his wife (or vice versa in this weird age).

Here is the thing... you are called to pastor a flock and to pursue them to the edges of the fold and beyond if required. This is done best in community and to have a flock so large that you don't even know how many sheep you have is dangerous at best.

al sends

DJP said...

Thank you, Al, and God bless you.

So well said.

Denis said...

Al,

My response to you had nothing to do with the role or abilities of a pastor.

I was talking about the ability of me, a member of the body, to be in real relationship with others (we were, I thought, talking about small groups and how they help grow biblical community, not specifically the role of the pastor).

If you thought I was talking about what a pastor could or could not do in such a situation you missed my point entirely; perhaps I wasn't entirely clear.

Denis said...

I realize this meta is coming to an end, but I do have a closing question, if I could.

Dan, would you say that, without exception, any pastor who leads a church which is, or becomes, a large church is committing a very serious and significant error?

For this question I will define a large church as one who has more members than one pastor can personally and individually minister to on a regular and consistent basis.

Also, for the record, this isn't some kind of setup or attempted trick; I have no clever response planned. I just want to make sure I leave here with a correct understanding of what you believe and are teaching.

Thanks.

Rupert said...

I think your methodology is very real and very effective Al. (For those who are a part of it of course.) I have observed this as being especially successful during my own time in the church.

I do get a little perturbed about the whole 'sheep' analogy thing though, given my knowledge of sheep (no, I'm not a Kiwi!).

DJP said...

I don't see the authority for being that cut-and-dried about it, Denis. So I would not go that far.

What I would say is that huge churches concern me; I'd say that the yearning for a single body just to get bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger is not a healthy one; I'd say that anyone calling himself a "pastor" had better continue in pastoral work (which involves a lot more than standing up and talking to groups), or he should find another title for himself and for his organization; and I cannot for the life of me think of one Biblical, God-honoring reason why projection of an image to multiple campuses honors or best serves anyone but the speaker.

DJP said...

Absolutely right, Rupert. The label "sheep" is cautionary, not complimentary.

Al said...

Denis,
As you said, end of the meta.

I would just say that as the pastor goes, so does the church. We should all be having brownies and confessing sin with/to one another. The need for "small groups" is real I just think we need to have pastors over such small groups.

You asked if pastors of large churches were committing serious error. Wisdom is, in part, the ability to see consequences for one's actions. The ability to look at the ant and see the benefits of hard, steady labor is the business of the wise man.

I think pastors should be able to see the consequences of a one man, many campus ministry. Perhaps they do see it and have addressed it, but man it seems dangerous to me.

al sends

Denis said...

Hi Al,

In closing, I just thought I'd add that I agree with 2 important things you just said.

First, you said: The need for "small groups" is real I just think we need to have pastors over such small groups.

I completely agree; the church ought to provide personal and intentional leadership from outside of the small group itself.

Second, you said: I think pastors should be able to see the consequences of a one man, many campus ministry. Perhaps they do see it and have addressed it, but man it seems dangerous to me.

I do agree there is some significant risk involved and that those who are in these situations must seriously understand the risks and work diligently to mitigate them. I can definitely see the potential for serious problems with such an arrangement, I just don't think they are inevitable.

Thanks.

Denis said...

Dan,

Thank you for the additional explanation of your position, I appreciate that.

Paula said...

It occurs to me that nearly everyone involved in a mega-church or multi-site church believes their church is the exception that is able to rise above the dangers and problems associated with such churches.

One aspect people don't like to talk about is the large numbers of people who attend these churches and never attend a small group. They're simply spectators, there for the show. In what version of the Bible does that constitute a biblical model for a church?

Oh, and church discipline. How do you do Matthew 18 in a multi-site? When it says, "If he refuses to listen to them [two or three witnesses], tell it to the church," does that mean you chronicle Joe-adulterer's sin up on the big screen on Sunday morning? Or do you just tweet it to all the members?

I'm being slightly snarky, but it's a serious issue that I don't think can be seriously (biblically) addressed in a mega/multi-site setting.

Denis said...

It also occurs to me that in these discussions that members of small churches all assume they are small because they are the ultimate embodiment of Jesus' church and ignore the fact that maybe the reason they remain so small isn't because they are too faithful, but rather because they are atrophied and inward focused. Many are a part of a small local church which is effectively dead, they just don't know it yet.

In many cases, it would seem that small churches don't remain small because they are continually spinning off new churches with new leadership on a regular basis to accommodate the friends, family members and coworkers of the church members who now need to join the church family and receive proper discipleship. They remain small because there are so very few being added to the flock outside of birth and marriage.

Just saying.

DJP said...

I have yet to attend (or pastor) a small church that didn't want to grow, that didn't regularly attempt to reach out in any way they could think. I think that's a straw man.

And I see there the implication that small = bad, a sign that God's not blessing. False implication.

How about that they're small because, in spite of faithful preaching, folks visit (if they even visit) and find the music isn't top notch? That there isn't a youth group, already, for their kids? That there isn't already a support group for divorced albino hunchbacks? That there isn't a handbell choir?

That it isn't a supermarket already stocked with full shelves, ready for them just to reach out and take?

That it isn't attached to a Big Name?

You're not going to get me to budge on this one. I saw it twenty-five years ago at Biola, as everyone took buses to go to Swindoll's church, while small churches around campus languished for lack of attendance and workers.

Denis said...

I don't think this is a strawman, I've spoken with people who either have been or are in churches which have some of the very problems I described. It’s not healthy, but it exists.

And, no, it isn't my intention to say that small = bad or that it is somehow indicative of God's judgment on the church. As I said earlier on, I just think that there are strengths and weakness that need to be understood for both the small and the large.

I do, however, have a hard time understanding how the "supermarket" scenario you described has bearing on bringing unbelievers come new-born Christians, into the fold; I can see how it might affect existing Christians who are in a "shopping" mode, but perhaps I am just missing something. That said, I know several people (good friends) who, in choosing churches for their family, have not chosen our church so I'm guessing we aren't everything to everyone.

Also, while having a diverse set of ministries seems to be a big drawback in your books, please grant us some benefit of the doubt in at least some of these areas. For example, we are (as far as I understand) the only churches in our area which can offer real ministry and care to people with significant physical and mental disabilities and their families; something often overlooked by most of the church at large. I grant you, we aren't perfect in all our attempts, but we are trying to support people based on their needs.

You see a church full of people who walk in and "reach and take", I experience a church full of people who reach out and give.

I get that you think large churches are a bad idea, but talking like we are somehow actively destroying Jesus' real churches seems like quite the hyperbolic stretch.

Finally, I have no such delusion that I would budge you on anything. I just wanted to flesh out the arguments here so I can understand them better and, perhaps, soften some of the attacks directed against my church, my pastors and my fellow believers and servants whom I all love.

Denis said...

I don't think this is a strawman, I've spoken with people who either have been or are in churches which have some of the very problems I described. It’s not healthy, but it exists.

And, no, it isn't my intention to say that small = bad or that it is somehow indicative of God's judgment on the church. As I said earlier on, I just think that there are strengths and weakness that need to be understood for both the small and the large.

I do, however, have a hard time understanding how the "supermarket" scenario you described has bearing on bringing unbelievers come new-born Christians, into the fold; I can see how it might affect existing Christians who are in a "shopping" mode, but perhaps I am just missing something. That said, I know several people (good friends) who, in choosing churches for their family, have not chosen our church so I'm guessing we aren't everything to everyone.

Also, while having a diverse set of ministries seems to be a big drawback in your books, please grant us some benefit of the doubt in at least some of these areas. For example, we are (as far as I understand) the only churches in our area which can offer real ministry and care to people with significant physical and mental disabilities and their families; something often overlooked by most of the church at large. I grant you, we aren't perfect in all our attempts, but we are trying to support people based on their needs.

You see a church full of people who walk in and "reach and take", I experience a church full of people who reach out and give.

I get that you think large churches are a bad idea, but talking like we are somehow actively destroying Jesus' real churches seems like quite the hyperbolic stretch.

Finally, I have no such delusion that I would budge you on anything. I just wanted to flesh out the arguments here so I can understand them better and, perhaps, soften some of the attacks directed against my church, my pastors and my fellow believers and servants whom I all love.

Denis said...

I don't think this is a strawman, I've spoken with people who either have been or are in churches which have some of the very problems I described. It’s not healthy, but it exists.

And, no, it isn't my intention to say that small = bad or that it is somehow indicative of God's judgment on the church. As I said earlier on, I just think that there are strengths and weakness that need to be understood for both the small and the large.

I do, however, have a hard time understanding how the "supermarket" scenario you described has bearing on bringing unbelievers come new-born Christians, into the fold; I can see how it might affect existing Christians who are in a "shopping" mode, but perhaps I am just missing something. That said, I know several people (good friends) who, in choosing churches for their family, have not chosen our church so I'm guessing we aren't everything to everyone.

Also, while having a diverse set of ministries seems to be a big drawback in your books, please grant us some benefit of the doubt in at least some of these areas. For example, we are (as far as I understand) the only churches in our area which can offer real ministry and care to people with significant physical and mental disabilities and their families; something often overlooked by most of the church at large. I grant you, we aren't perfect in all our attempts, but we are trying to support people based on their needs.

You see a church full of people who walk in and "reach and take", I experience a church full of people who reach out and give.

I get that you think large churches are a bad idea, but talking like we are somehow actively destroying Jesus' real churches seems like quite the hyperbolic stretch.

Finally, I have no such delusion that I would budge you on anything. I just wanted to flesh out the arguments here so I can understand them better and, perhaps, soften some of the attacks directed against my church, my pastors and my fellow believers and servants whom I all love.

DJP said...

Absolutely, preach the Gospel, bring folks in. Then when you start getting too big (as it sounds happened long ago in your church), tap one of the dozens of men longing to pastor a church, send them off together and fund a plant.

Denis said...

Sorry for going back to a previous point, but did we firmly establish how to identify when a church was getting to big?

Was I correct in my summarization earlier that a church becomes too large when it "has more members than one pastor can personally and individually minister to on a regular and consistent basis"?

Paula said...

@ Denis....I'd still love to hear what you do about church discipline and how you handle all the attenders who are merely spectators and have no real connection with the church (though they may be out in the community representing themselves as being connected with the church).

(full disclosure: I was a member of a 7000+ member multi-site church for almost 20 years)

Denis said...

Hi Paula,

Unconnected and uninvolved people are consistently exhorted to get connected and to get involved.

Regarding discipline, the process basically comes from Matthew 18. One difference, perhaps, in what you are thinking of is that "tell it to the church" doesn't necessitate taking the process before the entire body. This is more in-line with John Wesley's notes on the Matthew 18:17 which says, "Tell it to the elders of the Church - Lay the whole matter open before those who watch over yours and his soul."

A quick search reveals such an interpretation can be supported by Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, and John Calvin (the latter suggesting the model of the Jewish Sanhedrim was the proper understanding of "the church" in this context).

I'm not saying this is the definitive way to implement Matthew 18's guidelines, just that it isn't a new or unique concept.