Advice on How to Manage a Bad Church Situation

11 (1)I have been deeply grieved for Valens, who once was a presbyter among you, because he so fails to understand the office that was entrusted to him. I warn you, therefore: avoid love of money, and be pure and truthful. “Avoid every kind of evil.” (2) But how can a man who is unable to control himself in these matters preach self-control to someone else? If a man does not avoid love of money, he will be polluted by idolatry, and will be judged as one of the Gentiles, who are ignorant of the Lord’s judgment.60 “Or do we not know that the saints will judge the world,” as Paul teaches? (3) But I have not observed or heard of any such thing among you, in whose midst the blessed Paul labored, and who were his letters of recommendation in the beginning. For he boasts about you in all the churches—those alone, that is, which at that time had come to know the Lord,63 for we had not yet come to know him. (4) Therefore, brothers, I am deeply grieved for him and for his wife; may the Lord grant them true repentance. You, therefore, for your part must be reasonable in this matter, “and do not regard” such people “as enemies,” but, as sick and straying members, restore them, in order that you may save your body in its entirety. For by doing this you build up one another. (Polycarp – Letter to the Philippians)

Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Updated ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 217–219.

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