I am an equal opportunity offender. My writing will often irritate people who are on polar opposite ends of an issue. Even those who know me well and call me a friend will at times dislike what I write. But I don't hesitate to say what I feel needs to be said, regardless of how people feel about me saying it. This is a post that may upset more than a few people, particularly those of you who've been injured or hurt by the institutional church.
Matt Chandler and the elders of Village Church have apologized for their actions against Karen Hinkley and others whom they've placed under discipline for violating Village's membership covenant. They've specifically said "In every way that we’ve mishandled this (Karen Hinkley's) situation, along with others in the past, we repent and ask for forgiveness."
I can't speak for anyone else in this matter, including Karen Hinkley. I can only represent myself.
I accept Village elders' apology and statement of repentance.
I may choose to write again in the future about covenant membership in general, but I will not write on Village's mishandling of the Karen Hinkley situation, or write of Village Church for that matter in relation to this situation. I will do anything I can to help Karen Hinkley, including giving her financial support and advice (were she to ever ask). I believe that very few people could ever understand the pain Karen has been through, but I marvel at how she has publicly handled herself in her writings. She has displayed a grace and maturity beyond her years.
Some may not care to understand why I must forgive Village, but for those interested, let me give you my reasoning.
(1). Village elders did exactly what I thought they should do in seeking forgiveness for their actions, reversing their decision regarding Karen's membership and allowing her to "withdraw from membership," and promising not to speak on her behalf again
(2). Jesus said in Luke 17:4, "If your brothers sins against seven times in a day and SAYS (every time) 'I repent...you MUST forgive him." Many Christians--just like the disciples in Jesus day--will say, "We don't have enough FAITH to do that!" Jesus responds, "It's not a matter of enough faith - the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains. It's a matter of obedience. You MUST forgive." I will not play any role in judging the sincerity of Matt Chandler and the elders. They have said they repent, and I must forgive them.
(3). When I forgive others, I think of God's forgiveness of me. I'll not go into a doctrinal discussion on the forgiveness of God for me, but I can guarantee you my forgiveness of Village Church will be modeled after what I see Scripture to teach of God's forgiveness of me.
(4). I do not consider this forgiveness "cheap grace." I consider this forgiveness to be real grace. God's kind of grace. Thank God that He forgives me not based on my sincerity or promise "to never do it again,", but based on my acknowledgement of sin and plea for His mercy.
My thoughts, prayers, and admiration are with both Karen Hinkley and Village Church.
Postscript: I will be unable to respond to any comments on this post until sometime next week.