So why did Kullberg and Landon Jr. wait until now to take legal action? According to their complaint, they have been trying repeatedly to practice the road to reconciliation laid out in Matthew 18:15-17.
Here are some thoughts, coming from a preacher/pastor who has both studied, taught, and sought to live by our Lord’s command in Matthew 18:15-17:
- The Lord’s command specifically mentions “the church”—with an implication that both of the affected worshippers are mutually accountable to the same leadership. His command seems to address a case in which a trespass is occurring between believers who attend the same local assembly. Beyond that, it could include a mutually-shared structure in which both parties are accountable to the same oversight body. More on that below.
- The “final remedy” offered by our Lord in this passage requires that the body of oversight (before which both parties have appeared) has the authority to strip away the title of “brother” from the unrepentant, trespassing defendant. Absent this type of overarching power to excommunicate the trespasser, in which his incorrect status of “believer” is seen as a mistake and is corrected to instead be “heathen and publican” (aka unbeliever), then there is no accessible remedy present in the command.
- No one religious body has the ability to refer to a gainfully employed “company” of people as a singular “brother,” and likewise no one religious body has the authority to “excommunicate” a company as such. This type of remedy is obviously intended by the Lord to be literal in its application, and can only be applied to individual believers as human beings.
- It is quite possible for a trespass to occur in which the trespasser is beyond the jurisdiction of any religious body to suffer the offered remedy. In such a case, it is hopeful that both parties will remember that a lack of “church jurisdiction” and a presence of “secular jurisdiction” does not invalidate the Bible’s teaching that believers are not to sue each other in a court of law (1 Corinthians 6), which also is given in a context of a local assembly yet has the ability to be stretched into a broader jurisdiction by both parties agreeing to mutually-binding, third-party, Christian ARBITRATION. (Such arbitration groups exist for the very type of case happening here.) In agreeing in advance to be bound to the final judgment of third-party, Christian arbitration, both groups are in effect demonstrating their willingness to suffer themselves to be defrauded (in the event the judgment should not go their way).
“The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7).