Continuing my discussion with rotsaP loeJ...
I honestly didn't think that the biblical teaching on different levels of, well, badness of sin would be in question.
Jesus Himself made those kinds of comments many times.
21"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. "Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. - Matt 11:21
Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. - Matt 12:31
" Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation - Matt 23:14
"The second is this, ' YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these." - Mark 12:31
who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation." - Mk 12:40
"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." - Lk 7:47
Jesus answered, " You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." - Jn 19:11
There are other NT examples, but hopefully that clarifies what I mean.
And yes, of course, any one sin, even a "small" one, is enough to condemn me to Hell forever. But OTOH, some sin leads to greater condemnation in Hell than others. An unrepentant dead Hitler is in a lower, hotter level of Hell than my grandma will be if she doesn't repent before she dies.
is it that Pilate's authority makes him less culpable for the crucifixion, or that Judas' lack of official status as a minister of secular justice increases his?
That's a good question.
On one side, I think it's irrelevant to our discussion, since obviously the fact that there is a greater sin remains.
My first guess would be that Judas spent no less than 3 years with God Himself incarnate, and yet he still thinks it's worth a mere 30 silver pieces to betray Him. Pilate had just met Jesus and knew little about Him.
But "weightier portions of the law" is a question of letter vs. spirit (the pharisees were using technicalities in order to justify being jerks)
Matt 23: 23"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
24"You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!"
I don't know if I agree with you on this one. Why did God spend so much breath and emphasis all thru the OT and reiterate it several times in the Gospels that "I desire obedience and not sacrifice"? Is it really a wash whether one tithes all his dill but shows no mercy or justice or whether one is very just and merciful and gives only 9% of his dill?
his great point is that 'unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees you are not fit to inherit the kingdom of heaven.'
True, and that's b/c His emphasis was there. It's far more important to preach the Gospel that'll get people saved from their sins, after all, than it is to discuss a finer point of theology.
my view is that the "something" may be anything at all, so long as it creates relational tension.
And I think there is the key! Buried within the first post, I said that, and I think it's key. Maybe I didn't say it or entitle it right, that may be. But just as constantly confronting my brethren for any little offense would rip apart our relations, so would my constant begging for forgiveness do the same. Don't you think?
Repentance is a necessarily selfless and virtuous action.
Which unblvrs CAN perform. Those acts are not meritorious before God, but they are virtuous and selfless.
I must acknowledge the objective basis of my sin
Yes, but people neglect to take things to their logical conclusions all the time. Atheist commenters on this blog are a perfect example.
the status of a sinner is such that he suppresses this knowledge with all his power, for otherwise how could he live with himself?
He can protect himself thru inconsistent thinking.
When he ceases to suppress it he becomes a Christian
you may disagree with my definition of repentance
I guess that is mostly what it comes down to.
On a related point, an excommunicated person must be a Christian. I don't agree that the excommunicant can have been faking.
What of 1 John 2, then?
18Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that (AW)antichrist is coming, (AX)even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
19(AY)They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, (AZ)so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
And 2 Tim 2 and 1 Tim 1:
1 Tim 1:19keeping (BJ)faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to (BK)their faith.
20Among these are (BL)Hymenaeus and (BM)Alexander, whom I have (BN)handed over to Satan, so that they will be (BO)taught not to blaspheme.
2 Tim 2:16But (AM)avoid (AN)worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,
17and their talk will spread like [a]gangrene. Among them are (AO)Hymenaeus and Philetus,
18men who have gone astray from the truth saying that (AP)the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset (AQ)the faith of some.
Or Galatians 2:4But it was because of the (C)false brethren secretly brought in, who (D)had sneaked in to spy out our (E)liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to (F)bring us into bondage.
5But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that (G)the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
Satan wants to destroy the church, no? And so one of the best ways to do that is to rip it apart from within, and to introduce false teachers and false brethren. Ch discipline is for kicking them out once they're revealed, don't you think?
The whole point is that the disciplined person is a brother who will be now treated like a stranger.
Well, he's assumed to be a brother up until the time of excomm. Now we're not so sure, but the way is open for him to come back, if he specifically repents. Much like an unblvr has to repent to join the church.
because non-Christians are not capable of real repentance outside of God's transformative work,
I don't know if I'd agree with that. Definitely I agree that he can't repent BEFORE GOD outside of the Holy Spirit working in him, but truly repenting of having committed evil against another in a totally non-Christian context? I don't know if there's any biblical revelation either way, is there? You think that most of the societies in the world in history have been founded and gone their way w/o ever having experienced true repentance over wrongs? Not that they'd consider those wrongs in any consistent worldview, but people are capable of gross, grand, monumental inconsistency!
so threatening them with excommunication ...makes as much sense as threatening them with violence.
Well, obviously they have some reason for coming to church; otherwise they wouldn't come. Now they've lost access to whatever value they placed on churchgoing. That might be big or small, but that's all one can do. And it's another chance to share the Gospel and also to sanctify the congregation thru the removal of bad leaven and thru teaching the Scr's teaching on ch disc and holiness.
(your idea about withholding forgiveness seems indistinguishable from this to me. Is there a distinction you're making, or would you simply say the one is a more formal version of the other?)
Hmm, yeah, I'd probably call it a more formal version.
1) Fair enough - Simon hadn't specifically wronged Peter.
2) I asked: Shall we be more forgiving than God? So, maybe you could help make progress towards that - are we indeed to be more forgiving than God?
I would say yes, certainly, and of course.
Hmmm, I don't know if I can buy that, you know? God is THE exemplar for our actions and thoughts. Forgiveness is objectively a good action. And yet I can exceed God in a good action? Me?
3) I think it's better to say that my judgment might be shaky as far as extrapolating from withholding forgiveness in the context of ch disc to withholding it for unblvrs in certain circumstances, since I dealt with the part about excommunicating (secret) unblvrs above.
One thing I haven't seen you take into account, and correct me if I'm wrong, is the concept that we withhold forgiveness certain times for the good of the person, for love of them. Since this action would be motivated by pure love of the offender, does that have anythg at all to do with it?