Moses Model

Why write under a pseudonym?

At times a pseudonym can prove useful.  In my case, I fear repercussions from people that live in my general area and uphold my faith tradition.  My family lives in an area where people believe that God has told them things and they have disdain for those that question the things that they believe God has told them.  There are real threats to employment if one speaks out against certain points of view.

Why Moses Model?

Moses Model was chosen to satire a version of episcopal form of church government that is credited to Moses.  In Exodus 18, Jethro, father in-law to Moses, noticed that Moses made judgements relative to the Law of God from dawn to dusk.  Jethro noticing the fatigue this placed on his son-in-law proposed a solution.

Now listen to me, I will give you advice, and may God be with you: You be a representative for the people to God, and you bring their disputes to God; warn them of the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. But you choose from the people capable men, God-fearing, men of truth, those who hate bribes, and put them over the people as rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. They will judge the people under normal circumstances, and every difficult case they will bring to you, but every small case they themselves will judge, so that you may make it easier for yourself, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will be able to go home satisfied." ~ Exodus 18:19-23
 Jethro's solution was to delegate authority and set up a chain of command.  This arguably was not the first hierarchy in the world, nor was it the last.  A top down organizational structure is not necessarily made more sacred by attributing it to Moses.  Also there are practical differences. One of the decisions that Moses made and delegated was executions.  Moses enforced this hierarchy with actual brute force.  Moses was not a pastor, he was the lawgiver and Moses laid down God's Law. 

What about Matthew 18?

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector. ~ Matthew 18:15-17
Jesus gives four steps for dealing with sin in the church.
  1. Go alone to the person you believed sinned.
  2. If that does not resolve the issue take one or two witnesses with you.
  3. If that does not resolve the issue bring the issue before the church.
  4. If that does not resolve the issue treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector (expel them from the church)
One can argue whether or not this applies in an internet age. When Jesus spoke those words there were only about 300 million people around the globe.  There were no churches.  Today there are several churches in about every major city.  There are billions of people who profess to be Christians.

Obviously, it is ridiculous to say that one must visit everyone of the thousands of Christians they believe have sinned against them.   Even most pastors today will avoid step one, because of legal issues.  If a pastor or layperson accuses someone alone, it quickly becomes a "he said, she said" situation.   There are even laws throughout the United States that require that you report particular sins to the authorities completely bypassing Matthew 18.

Most ministers that I know skip down to step number two. When accusing someone they always bring a witness or two.  However even if one completes steps one and two, they will find that most Christians are not members of their church.  Their church is powerless to do anything about a Christian who goes to another congregation.

For these reasons many have interpreted the passage to only apply to the local church body.  Matthew 18 only can be completely carried out on a local level.  Still, the first two steps might be good ideas, even though they are not able to be part of a completed Matthew 18 process.  

Not only is a full Matthew 18 process impossible for most of the Christians that I may criticize, most of their sins are already made public record by the tools of the modern age.  Pastors more and more are putting their sermons online for the world to see.  If I have heard about a distant Christian's sin, it is likely that this sin has already been proclaimed by the media or reported on by a professed Christian.  The point of step one would seem to be not to spread false allegations, however by the time that I have heard about it, it has likely spread around the world.  Since most news stories are secular, we almost never know if we are being critical of a professed Christian anyway.

In conclusion, I agree that Matthew 18 can only realistically apply on a local church level.  Step one and step two may serve as great recommendations, but they cannot be carried to fruition for most professed Christians.   Matthew 18 cannot mean that we cannot warn people about threats to others from professed believers.  Matthew 18 cannot mean that we cannot report crimes to the police.