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The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline (IX Marks) Paperback – January 8, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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  • The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline (IX Marks)
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  • Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus (9marks: Building Healthy Churches)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"What happens when you bring together one of the most misunderstood subjects (love) and one of the most ignored practices (church membership and discipline) in the church today? A book like this one. Unlike the generation raised on Mr. Spock's child-rearing advice, the Good Shepherd cares for his flock by loving discipline. There is a lot of talk these days about radical discipleship, but what we need more today is a lot more ordinary discipleship, where we realize not only in theory but in practice what it means to be conformed to Christ's image. This is the best book I've seen on this subject in a long time."
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God's Story

About the Author

Jonathan Leeman (MDiv, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist in Washington, DC. He serves as director of communications for 9Marks and is the editor of its eJournal. Leeman is the author of The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love and has been published in several major newspapers and Christian periodicals. He is currently a PhD candidate in theology at the University of Wales.

Mark Dever (PhD, Cambridge University) is senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and pastor of 9Marks Ministries. Dever has authored over a dozen books and speaks at conferences nationwide. 

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Product Details

  • Series: IX Marks
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (January 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433509059
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433509056
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #476,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A. Morgan on March 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is SUCH a timely and needy book. Jonathan Leeman has written a wonderful book which will be a great encouragement and help to pastors.

Rediscovering the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline is about discovering exactly WHAT the love of God is all in the context of why it is important to be a part of a church fellowship. His primary thesis is that we (the world and many Christians) have made love into an idol that serves us and so redefined love into something that never imposes judgments, conditions or binding attachments. Such a love is NOT the love which God shows and gives. God's love brings BOTH salvation and judgment. In other words, God's love creates and affirms us, but it's purpose is so that we can glorify God. And t is this model which we MUST take into our Church structures.

Leeman expresses it brilliantly on pg122. He writes:

God's love is a boomerang that natural man loves and despises. We love the embrace of the boomerang as it flies outward; we despise the demand of the boomerang as it calls us back to loving him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We also despise the suggestion that his love will cause him to judge.... God's gospel is a boomerang that natural man loves and despises. We love the announcement of forgiveness and love through no merit of our own; e despise the call to repent, forsake everything and follow Jesus....God's church is a boomerang that natural man loves and despises. We love the idea of a warm fellowship that will embrace us; we despise the fellowship's requirement that we abandon the familiar blandishments of family and friends and submit to its oversight and disciplines.
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Format: Paperback
When is the last time you read a book on church discipline? Worse yet, when is the last time you saw church discipline in operation? The concept and the practice have both become almost extinct in Christendom today. Certainly in the evangelical churches the very idea of church discipline seems almost unheard of.

In my library I have three older books on the topic: two from the 80s and one from the 90s. That's it. Thus it is good news indeed that Leeman has addressed this issue, and in substantial fashion: this volume is nearly 400 pages in length.

Church discipline has become a lost art partly because the church has slavishly imitated the world and bought into its distorted concepts of acceptance, tolerance, and so on. Are Christians and Christian churches supposed to be loving? Absolutely. But the biblical concept of love is a far cry from modern trendy notions of love.

Leeman reminds us that Christian love is intimately connected with holiness and righteousness. The church is not some social club where people can come and go as they please, but is a holy assembly of God's people, and there are entrance conditions as well as ongoing membership requirements.

Indeed, the subtitle of this book is: "Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline". Both practices are nearly extinct in many churches today. But as Leeman rightly shows, there is a proper place for boundaries, for regulations, and even for institutions.

Of course to speak of such things today is to risk being theologically incorrect. We have had a huge pendulum swing against one extreme, only to go to another unhelpful and unbiblical extreme. Much of the emerging church movement is an over-reaction to a legalistic, rigid and overly-institutionalised church.
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Jonathan Leeman's book The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline (IX Marks) is a passionate and convincing defense of church membership and discipline, rooted in an invigorating theological discussion of the love of God.

"Membership and discipline are not artificially erected structures," Leeman writes. "They are not legalistic impositions upon new-covenant grace. They are an organic and inevitable outgrowth of Christ's redemptive work and the gospel call to repentance and faith. Missing local church membership is like missing the fact that Christians are called to pursue good works, or love their neighbors, or care for the poor, or pray to God, or follow in the way of Christ. Submitting oneself to a local church is what a true believer does, just like a true believer pursues good works, loves his or her neighbor, and so forth. Someone who refuses to join--or better, to submit to--a local church is like someone who refuses to pursue a life of righteousness. It calls into question the authenticity of his or her faith (16)."

Surprisingly broad in scope (375 pages, with footnotes on about half the pages), Leeman's book impressed me with the depth of its scholarship, critiquing and synthesizing the ideas of thinkers as old and current as Jay Adams, Augustine, Karl Barth, George Barna, Jacques Barzun, Craig Blomberg, John Calvin, D. A. Carson, Rene Déscarte, Jonathan Edwards, Michel Foucault, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Paul Hiebert, Søren Kierkegaard, Dan Kimball, Martin Luther, Brian McLaren, Leon Morris, Mark Noll, Karl Popper, Ayn Rand, William P.
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