The Purpose of Church Discipline

In chapter 12 of the Institutes Calvin lays out three specific purposes for church discipline:

In such corrections and excommunication, the church has three ends in view. The first is that they who lead a filthy and infamous life may not be called Christians, to the dishonor of God, as if his holy church were a conspiracy of wicked and abandoned men.

The second purpose is that the good be not corrupted by the constant company of the wicked, as commonly happens. For there is nothing easier than for us to be led away by bad examples from right living.

The third purpose is that those overcome by shame for their baseness begin to repent. They who under gentler treatment would have become more stubborn so profit by the chastisement of their own evil as to be awakened when they feel the rod.

John Calvin, The Institutes (Chapter XII, Section 5)

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