What is that purpose you may ask? It is all summed up in Titus (enter sarcasm here)! Yeah that tiny little book called Titus that, to the detriment of the church, so many have too often forgotten.
According to Titus 1:9 - "He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong."
So there you have it, the entire church has the permission to judge one another and publicly discredit one another for the sake of wholesome Christian teaching. WOW! Please don't feel like I am discrediting Titus in this post, I am simply in disagreement of the exegetical methods some use to define this book.
Why am I feeling so aggravated about all of this?
1) The purpose of the church is defined in the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and the great commandment (Matthew 22:37-40). With that there are certain duties the elders of the church are to adhere to and maintain (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 3:1–7) but the problem comes when elders exchange their duty for their purpose. This changes your target audience from seeking to share the Gospel with the lost to indignantly declaring the Gospel to oneself and thereby becoming a modern day Pharisee. So how do you do your duty of protecting your flock?
A) "Encourage others with wholesome teaching" - I was always told it is better to bring a solution than to simply point out a problem. If you are going to attack a un-wholesome or even false teaching, don't do it in a blatant statement, offer up the right or wholesome teaching first then condemn the false teaching. Do not condemn the person teaching it, that is not encouraging to me or anyone else.
B) "show those who oppose it where they are wrong." - the context here shows two things, one evident and one implied. It is evident that the target of this rebuke is the person who opposes the teaching and not the entire class and especially not the entire world. It is implied that the authority has been given to the elder by this person to perform such duties in their lives and does not extend beyond that authority. In my daily work I would call this scope creep. I am responsible for my flock, you are not, and God alone is responsible for me and the Elders above me to which God has given this authority. Would it be right for me to correct your kids and discipline them in public or even private? No. I don't have the authority over them; that authority was given to the parents by God.
2) Those "leaders" have only helped the cause they are trying to fight. Every time I walk down the mall I see stores like Aéropostale placing their logo on every shirt they sell and people where them around all the time. What a great model. I am going to charge you to advertise for me! Awesome! And it works. With all this hype over whether this pastor subscribes to Universalism and this book will be the answer to it all. I have seen so many blog posts and news articles displaying his promotional video, book cover, and even Amazon links to buy it. Good job! Adding controversy usually only makes people want it more. If you truly believe people should not want to read this book, please stop advertising it.
Note: For my readers who are not avid followers of happenings in the "Christian" media world, there is a pastor in Grand Rapids, Michigan that is in all the news lately and many other Christian "leaders" have chosen to "attack" him so as not to be associated with him themselves. I apologize for this behavior and pray it doesn't turn you off to the Gospel message that is the real center of the Christian Church.
The bottom line: We are all sinners saved by grace through faith in Christ. Salvation is a free gift given to you by God that you can do nothing by yourself to earn. You just have to accept it and allow Jesus to be Lord of your life. Because we are not perfect and can never earn salvation, our sin has been acquitted through Jesus' death on the cross. He took the penalty for our sin upon himself so that we may live with him eternally in Heaven. If you believe on Christ you are counted as righteous before God and can enter in. In the end, no matter what men may say or do, God's love will win out. Sin and death have already been defeated and God's glory will providentially be shown.
If you have questions about this last paragraph, please let me know. This is all that is really important.