Applying Matthew 18 Appropriately
A while ago, someone took umbrage at my reviewing the Jonathan Park Audio Adventure Series put out by Vision Forum Ministries. She asked me if I had approached Vision Forum privately, suggesting that it is the right and proper thing to do as outlined in Matthew 18.
Let’s take a closer look at Matthew 18.
The verses which are relevant are 15-17 which talk about how to go about confronting someone about some sin they have committed:
15 “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (New Revised Standard Version)
Note that the person must be another member of the church, ie a fellow Christian. Secondly, and this is very important, it has to be a private matter between two people.
In this particular case, the Jonathan Park series is a multi-volume set of CDs that have been sold and distributed to thousands of people. The stories are broadcast on hundreds of radio stations worldwide. Vision Forum Ministries is spouting out its anti-evolution teachings publicly. This is most certainly NOT a private matter. Therefore, the approach outlined in Matthew 18 does not and cannot apply.
In Galatians 2, we come across Paul’s account of Peter’s hyprocrisy; Peter had been exercising his freedom in Christ to hang out with Gentiles, but when certain Jews joined their company, he withdrew his association. Here is how Paul dealt with the situation:
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; 12 for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. 13 And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
We see Paul opposing Peter/Cephas publicly. Furthermore, he decided to write about it in a letter to the Galatians, which was subsequently copied and re-copied and translated many times over and we can read about it today. Either Paul didn’t know the Matthew 18 protocol and acted poorly, or he felt that Peter’s behaviour fell under a different category and hence required a different approach: open and public rebuke.
Finally, the hypocrisy of the whole situation. Did anyone ever ask Vision Forum whether they exercised Matthew 18 before they went about producing a series that criticises Evolution? No, of course not. NO sources is provided AT ALL for the information presented in the series. The voice actors are not given any credit anywhere. But that doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Based on the reviews on Amazon.com, people are so glad to have a fun, educational program from a Creationist worldview. Dare to challenge the integrity of the program and be prepared to have your faith questioned. Write reviews pointing out the errors and get asked whether you followed Matthew 18.