Today, former Mars Hill Church executive pastor Sutton Turner extends his Mars Hill reflections in part two of his series on repentance and forgiveness.
I appreciate Turner’s efforts here. These are not brief posts, but rather indicate that he has thought about these matters. He seems to want to make amends in a public sense with his detractors, not by criticizing them but by acknowledging his mistakes. For instance, he tweeted:
I used justification of my actions & lack of time not have great empathy 4 the people whom Jesus gave me to shepherd http://t.co/Ktd0YY1zsX
— Sutton Turner (@suttonturner) June 9, 2015
I don’t want to quarrel much with Mr. Turner as he is taking time to reflect but I will note one area which may generate some additional discussion. To begin point seven, Turner says:
It is very disheartening when you want to sit down with someone and practice Jesus’ instructions given in Matthew 18, but they do not believe they have sinned against you and refuse to meet. What should you do? Forgive them.
This does not seem consistent with Matt. 18 where a different trajectory is envisioned when someone refuses to meet. The Matt. 18 progression is from a private conversation to involving some others to involving the ekklesia. Translated church, my view is that the word should be translated as it was at the time — assembly, particularly an assembly of citizens. The church had not been established when Jesus spoke these words and the context sounds more civic or legal. Two of three witnesses were to establish the truth of the offense as a precursor to presenting the case to the assembly. In practice, the way we do church today can accommodate this teaching but not every offense is a Matt. 18 matter, as I see it.
In any case, this is a matter for honest discussion. There are psychological benefits of letting go of resentment and, if this is what Turner is referring to, I can see benefit in it. Rumination and resentment are not good physically or psychologically. However, when unfinished business is involved, as in the case at Mars Hill Church, one can let go of resentment and still seek justice.
It is hard not to compare Turner and Driscoll on this topic since they are both plowing that ground. Driscoll talks a lot about forgiveness but doesn’t seem to ask for much. Turner, at least, seems to understand that repentance and forgiveness go together.