Reconciliation within the Church

As brothers and sisters in Christ, I agree, family issues should be settled at home and not out in the streets.

Imagine a court of law. There is a judge  and sometimes a jury.  (a lot of the below references are from the second edition of the Common Law Process of Torts published by Lexis Nexis). In a trial before both judge and jury, issues of law (issues concerning what the law permits or requires) are decided by a judge,  while issues of fact  (issues concerning what happened in the events on which the suit is based) are considered by the jury.

Most can agree that the judge should be impartial, having no stake in the outcome of the suit. If the judge has a personal stake, there is danger that the proceedings would be conducted in favor of one of the parties.  The judge should, therefore, disqualify him/herself. If this does not happen lawyers are entitled to move for disqualification. To do this the lawyer must make a compelling case that the judge has or appears to have a personal interest in the outcome.

Similar to the court of law, church issues may be handled by the board (jury?) under its responsibility for spiritual nurture, and its chairman (judge?) a pastor or if otherwise not able an elder. There is not much procedural detail on the matter. The manual does not explicitly allow for the disqualification of a chairman for reasons of “personal interest”.  There should be such a provision at least in the church operational procedures to promote  fairness or the appearance of it.

In a civil suit, each party (plaintiff and defendant) presents her case in a manner to impress judge and jury of the strength of her position.  Even in mediation both sides are heard. Apologies cannot be said before one know’s what he apologizing for. A matter should not be called for a vote  without the affected party answering for herself.

Furthermore, there should be standard procedures for reconciliation and mediation since it is a common issue for churches. The mediator should be unbiased and allow a chance for both sides to heard. After both sides are heard, the mediator should seek middle ground and suggest ways for both parties to commit to moving forward. The two parties agree to a plan and move forward.

What happens if there is still disagreement?

Matthew 18 :(15-18) requires that the offence be spoken between the affected parties alone. If this doesn’t work try again with a few more persons to be witnesses. If he still refuses to listen, tell it to the church. If still, then he will be as a heathen or a publican. Pretty clear.

What model do we use, however,  if church powers are abused?

maybe  Martin Luther’s experience may shed some light.

 

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