First, the sub-title, discipline as a gift, came completely out of the blue for me. A gift, really? It had always seemed to be, mainly from the way I had seen it handled before, an odious chore that most completely ignored. But the author makes you see it from a completely different perspective. Discipline defines the church by setting boundaries, something every child psychologist should readily recognize. Children who know the limits are happier children because they have a sense of security. It also helps define who we really are. As Mr. South says, "Any group, religious or otherwise, which claims unique status must have and maintain clearly-demarcated boundaries so all can recognize who is not in the group…No discipline, no church."
He also shows discipline as a command that must be obeyed just like any other if we dare to call ourselves a New Testament Church. "In spite of an abundance of New Testament teaching, churches today are largely negligent in the practice of corrective discipline, which is nothing less than disobedience."
Then we see that our negligence in this is not just disobedience, but a lack of trust in God who has told us to practice it. Presumably, He thinks it works, and who are we to question Him? It also shows a lack of love for those in sin, and a "tendency to accommodate ourselves to our pluralistic society." Okay, now he has my attention.
But in doing these things, he carefully sets forth his arguments with far more scripture about church discipline than I was ever aware of, and with a sense of sorrow for those who are lost and could be saved if we followed God's plan. Covering each passage from every angle, he makes the point that the Bible writers discuss more than one type of discipline which are each dealt with in a different way. "One size fits all" does not work in such a delicate, yet momentous, topic.
I have hardly done this book justice with this review. It should probably be read by every Christian in the country, certainly every elder and preacher. Don't waste any time getting to it!
Church Discipline: God's Gift for a Healthier, Holier Church is published by DeWard Publishing Company.