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Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  150 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews

An expert defense of how God's holy love is biblically,
theologically, and practically represented to a watching world through the local church practices of membership and discipline.

When the world speaks of "love," it often means unconditional acceptance. Many churches have adopted this mind-set in their practice of membership and discipline-if they have not done away wi

ebook, 0 pages
Published January 8th 2010 by Crossway Books & Bibles (first published December 22nd 2009)
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Oct 11, 2011 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a book this was. I really can’t say enough about Leeman’s book. The book itself is surprising. When one picks up a book subtitled “Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline” one might expect a tract or a booklet, but instead one is met with a book over 350 pages long. What in the world could be so complicated about church membership and doctrine so as to require 350 pages? What sort of intricate minutiae must Leeman get into to fill 350 pages?

But that isn’t at all the
Mark Jr.
Aug 28, 2011 Mark Jr. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, kindle
Love is our response to value, and human value derives from God, so our love for others is not meant to be unconditional in the sense that we let others do whatever they want with no church discipline for sin.
Daniel Baltich
Mar 10, 2017 Daniel Baltich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good Stuff. Leeman articulates well meaningful church discipline and membership.
John Gardner
Aug 16, 2010 John Gardner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the fastest ways to get Christians squirming these days is to bring up the subject of church discipline. The Bible is clear that Christians are to exercise authority and discipline over one another, but everything in our culture tells us that we have no right to do so. How can I — a sinner myself — presume to tell another sinner what to do about his sin? Isn’t this unloving? How do we address such a difficult topic?

Jonathan Leeman certainly chose a weighty subject for his first book, but
Ryan Shelton
Dec 01, 2015 Ryan Shelton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are few areas of theology that interest me as much as ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church, and this is the best book in that category I have encountered. I am not trying to exaggerate or overstate my case by saying that anyone who is responsible for shaping the structure and governance of their church (so, especially any pastors, ministers, or elders) should consider making this book required reading. Most books are not worth the time to read carefully, cover-to-cover, with a pen in h ...more
Mike Phay
Jan 25, 2016 Mike Phay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up after reading Leeman's shorter primers on Church Membership and Church Discipline, specifically as resources in preparation for a class on Church Discipline that I was preparing to teach. I found this book to be several things at the same time: profound, thorough, thoughtful...and honestly, a bit tedious.

Leeman proves himself to be a gifted and intelligent theologian, Bible teacher, and philosopher at the same time - which are all things that I naturally gravitate towards.
Shaun Lee
As a student of theology that leans more toward biblical theology, no wonder I felt that I did not like this book as much as I thought I would - Leeman states he is attempting to lay out a systematic theology! So perhaps the more systematic scholars would find this a more enjoyable read.

Brevity is not one of Leeman's strength. This book makes Dever's original 9marks book look pint sized! As I read through the pages, often I would be wondering to myself, why couldn't he just write more concisely;
Jul 14, 2010 Coyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd give this 4 1/2 stars, except goodreads doesn't have that option.
Basically, all of his thoughts on love are right on (both what our culture gets wrong, and what the Bible gets right). His arguments about the church are fine as well, and written generally enough that most Christians would agree, even those as cantankerous/apathetic as I can be about issues like church government.
I particularly appreciated his point that in the modern world, love has come to be self-centered and focused on wh
Feb 24, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church-ministry
Let me give four reasons why I loved this book:

1 - Its the best book on the love of God since Carson’s The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. That may sound like a ridiculous statement about a book on church membership and discipline, but I don’t think its misguided. Leeman grounds the love of God in a biblical understanding of the Gospel and how Christians should function together as the body of Christ. The love of God is not an etherial concept, but a subject of deep consequence for Chris
I was given a copy of this book while attending a IXMarks conference and was really expecting more from it. Leeman does a good job of looking at the theme and idea of love in the Bible and then demonstrating how it differs from contemporary cultural expressions and definitions and how the present-day Church has gravitated toward the latter. This is helpful. Leeman has a lot of good things to say about Church discipline and the the Church's responsibility to call people to be different from the w ...more
Jul 23, 2011 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leeman provides a very comprehensive and helpful overview of the doctrine of church discipline and church membership and how they represent the "operation of God's love." The local church is God's chosen manifestation of his glory in this age. The foundation of his premise is based on a building block argument from Matt 16, 18, and finally 28. He argues that the "bind and loose" responsibility to separate a people for God is given exclusively to the church (Matt 16, 18). We are then exhorted to ...more
Levi Gill
I would actually rate this a 2.5 stars. It's a little lengthy for what it is, but he has some really great moments in it. The basic premise is that the Gospel shapes the practices and structure of the church. He spends a lot of time defining how our consumer-individulistic culture has shaped our expectations of church, but that as believers we should be committed to a local church. The surprising of offense of God's love is that ultimately God's love is centered on himself but not man, and that ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very insightful and biblical study into church membership and discipleship. This book covers one of the most needed, and unfortunately most forgotten, principles that drives believers towards holiness. That principle being God's love for Himself. From there we are able to see our roles in loving fellow believers. Please read if you want to know what love really is. In truth, there is nothing "new" in this book, rather old truths painted in a beautiful and refreshing light.
Matt Tyler
Jan 23, 2015 Matt Tyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This is a great book. Leeman does a very good job arguing biblically and theologically for the importance of the local church, and specifically for the need for church membership and discipline. He employs both logic and biblical theology.

I enjoyed this book, but it isn't an easy read. It is long and requires time and effort. But, it also helpfully frames and speaks into an important conversation that will have a profound impact in making a church more biblical if followed.
Allen Tsai
May 25, 2014 Allen Tsai rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ministry
An excellent read. This book blew away my expectations. Leeman encompasses the much needed topic of church membership and discipline in biblical love and authority. He not only makes a convincing case for why these structures are necessary, but beneficial for any true Christian. I also greatly benefited from his pastoral perspicuity on how these principles shaped church life and practice in the last two chapters.
Matt Pitts
Apr 26, 2012 Matt Pitts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this at Together for the Gospel '10 and (if I remember rightly) read it soon after. It was a little 'heady', maybe even philosophical, but well worth working through. If you are interested in matters of church membership and discipline and willing to think hard about them, this is a great book.
Mar 23, 2012 Keri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me a lot to think about. Ultimately it didn't completely change my decision about whether or not church membership is a necessity, but it did make me think about what I believe, why I believe and it did help to deepen my faith. I really appreciated the outline of the book given in the back as it neatly summed up what was included.
This book was not a light read, but a well-reasoned defense of church membership and discipline. The author's first chapter on love is excellent. "We have made love into an idol that serves us, and so redefined love into something that never imposes judgments, conditions, or binding attachments.". This is a great book, and one that all church members would do well to read and heed.
Feb 02, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leeman challenges the current paradigm of what love is. He then goes on to explain why the church needs lines drawn for its membership and why membership and discipline are ultimately loving things. Yeah, I know it goes contrary to most of what we have been taught and believed, but he is correct in his conclusions. Be stretched and read it!
Noel Burke
Apr 08, 2014 Noel Burke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a hard copy of this one over several months. This was by far the best book I have read on the church. It's a longer book at 350 pages, but well worth the time invested. If you lack a deeper understanding of the church, membership, discipline, love, and God's purpose across all of that then you really ought to consider this book. I highly recommend this book!
Allen Baldwin
Oct 11, 2011 Allen Baldwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful enlightening exposition on the Love of God that explains why church discipline not only makes sense but is essential to the health of the body. Easy to read. A bit too pushy of congregationalism in the context but great in every other way.
David West
Overall a good book. It treated the subject of church membership and discipline thoroughly. It could have been a little shorter and still got all the points across.
Sep 30, 2012 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomonal book, every Christian needs to read this.
David Rathel
Jun 29, 2011 David Rathel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, one of the best books on ecclesiology that I have ever read. ESSENTIAL reading for pastors/church leaders!
Justin Heck
Jul 09, 2011 Justin Heck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book on church discipline/membership.
Aaron Choi
Jul 27, 2010 Aaron Choi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church
I'd like to call it as close to "essential" reading as there is on the subject of ecclesiology. Theological and practical dimensions explored. Read it.
Sean Crowe
Great material, although Leeman could have said what he wanted to say in half the amount of words.
Aug 01, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly biblical book on membership and church discipline.
Eric rated it really liked it
Oct 26, 2010
Chris Young
Chris Young rated it it was amazing
Jun 09, 2016
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Jonathan Leeman (Ph.D., University of Wales), an elder at the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, is the editorial director at 9Marks and is the author, most recently, of Don’t Fire Your Church Members: The Case for Congregationalism (B&H, 2015).
More about Jonathan Leeman...

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“Missing local church membership is like missing the fact that Christians are called to pursue good works, or love their neighbors, or care for the poor, or pray to God, or follow in the way of Christ.” 0 likes
“Insofar as the gospel presents the world with the most vivid picture of God’s love, and insofar as church membership and discipline are an implication of the gospel, local church membership and discipline in fact define God’s love for the world.” 0 likes
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