You become worse than the sinner if you fail to correct him - Augustine of HippoI'd never considered that exact perspective, even though many Scriptures direct us to confront sin in each other. The Lord Himself even provided us with step-by-step instructions on how to deal with an erring brother (or sister) within the context of a local church.
— Dutch Calvinist (@DutchCalvinist) February 2, 2015
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” ~~Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV)The apostle Paul gave different (though not contradictory) directions to Timothy in regard to those who sin in defiance.
As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. ~~1 Timothy 5:20 (ESV)Yes, I understand that Paul specifically gave this counsel to Timothy as part of a letter dealing with Timothy's duties as the pastor of the church at Ephesus, and I don't want to take it out of context. At the same time, I've seen many discernment bloggers apply this verse when they (dare I include myself in their company by saying "we?") call out public figures like Beth Moore and Rick Warren (among others) for their sin of false teaching. Such bloggers also boldly address popular, but sinful, trends like Holy Yoga and the Gay Christian Movement. If they (we) misapply this verse, may the Lord both correct us and give us the humility to receive correction with repentant attitudes.
Since some of the elders from my church read my blog, and one of them thanked me just last week for challenging false converts, I tend to think that I haven't violated the parameters of Scripture. I trust that my church's leadership would tell me if something I wrote crossed a line. Thus, I believe I have applied 1 Timothy 5:20 in an appropriate manner.
Many current teachings and trends in the 21st Century church need to be rebuked. Augustine of Hippo would, I believe, support bloggers who risk unpopularity and suffered ridicule in order to correct those who sin.