"Come along Madame Hester, and show your scarlet letter in the market place."
The end of church discipline when carried in the wrong direction, is this: "Come let us tell all what you have done you brazen hussy. Tell all that you have sinned; that you are excommunicated."
Many have recently been telling their tales of spiritual abuse. Whether it was a story of church discipline gone terrible wrong, the failures of a pastor to be who he's called to be, or the subjection of the people to the wills of a man and not to God. All bear resemblance to the story of the Scarlet Letter.
My question is this: who is man to judge repentance?
Yes, as church leadership goes there is a desire to know one is truly turning from form sin. But it is also the desire of all in church leadership to know the salvation of all their people, but they (we) do not. These two things are intertwined.
Repentance and salvation go hand in hand. And neither can be formally judged by any man.
Evidences of repentance can be shown, and they can be fake. No evidence can be seen and the repentance can be more real than any before it.
I am a cynic. I disbelieve all shows of emotion. I fight emotion in services. I don't want to be swayed by bland emotionalism; I want to be swayed by reason, sound Scriptural reason.
But that's just it. What I want has no bearing on what actually is.
We want to see repentance as an immediate thing. But it's not. We want evidence of a soul's conversion, but sanctification is a lifelong process and therefore more than anything the exercise of patience should be the primary role of brothers confronting brothers. (1 Cor. 13:4-7, in a book full of parience.)
But a piece of where we live will always look for immediacy. Our culture is the clock.
Repentance is not always fast and sanctification is a lifetime.
God works in mysterious ways. We all agree to this. So why is repentance shoved into a formula?
Yet all sin bears consequences, it's the nature of it. Some are both legal consequence as well as eternal, others eternal consequence and no legal. Where is the church to damn? We've been given the message of reconciliation. We are ambassadors of Jesus. We are not the ones to damn.
Yet sinners judge and damn out of place. We like to play as though we're gods and lend our voice in the government of the universe, casting out here and bringing in there all for the glory of ourselves.
Thus we forgive, as we have needed to be forgiven and love our brothers in repentance.