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Baptist Church Discipline.

Baptist Church Discipline. By James Leo Garrett, Jr. Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 2004. 60 pp.

First published by Broadman Press in 1962, James Leo Garrett's revision of Baptist Church Discipline is as timely in 2005 as it was forty-three years ago. Garrett gives several examples of how the world and Christianity have changed since 1962 (i.e., Vatican II and divisions within the Southern Baptist Convention) and in doing so demonstrates how church discipline is needed more than ever in the twenty-first century. By providing the Baptist community with a copy of the 1774 Charleston (South Carolina) Baptist Church's Summary of Church Discipline, Garrett hopes to encourage "the renewal of a proper church discipline through study of an important document in the history of Baptist church discipline" (p. 27).

This book is divided into two sections, Garrett's "Introduction" and the Charleston Summary of Church Discipline. In the "Introduction," Garrett discusses several of the key books and articles written on church discipline since 1962. The sheer body of work demonstrates the concern many have over a current lack of discipline in Baptist churches. Garrett then points to key scriptures in both the Old and the New Testaments that demonstrate the importance, necessity, and manner of biblical church discipline.

Garrett examines church discipline in the confessions of the Radical Reformers, English Baptists, and American Baptists. The strength of the Radical section is Garrett's description of the Mennonite "shun" and the English Baptists' desire not to abuse their fight to discipline members. The "Introduction" concludes with an examination of the 1774 Charleston Baptist Church's Summary of Church Discipline.

The second half of the work reproduces the Charleston Summary. Although several aspects of the Charleston statement are antiquated, the heart of the Summary still rings true. Church discipline should be performed out of a desire to preserve the sanctity of the church and to reform the derelict member.

In an age when few Baptist churches perform church discipline and those who do often are of an almost pharisaical mindset, Garrett's work calls Baptists back to a biblical model. In Baptist life, Garrett contends that the Charleston Summary of Church Discipline is an adequate model and should be emulated. Garrett is correct: the Charleston Summary is an important document, but the strength of Baptist Church Discipline is Garrett's well-researched "Introduction." Although brief when compared to other works concerning church discipline, Garrett's history and interpretation are concise, readable, and easily applicable in the twenty-first century. This book belongs in the library of every Baptist pastor.--Reviewed by Joe Early, Jr., assistant professor of religion, University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, Kentucky.
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Author:Early, Joe, Jr.
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 2005
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