Dear Christians: We Aren’t Called to Be Critics

After writing my last article I quickly realized how diverse our views are within the Christian faith. The premise of my article was that we should be less critical and more supportive of those pastors who are blessed with sizable God-given influence.

The article was basically inspired by the whole “love your neighbor” thing in the Bible (Mark 12:31).However, the comments I received from strangers and even close friends ranged from uplifting support to scornful disagreement. Although my article wasn’t centered on Joel Osteen – the comment section quickly filled with accusations about his alleged false teaching and heresy.

I don’t want to make the focus of this article simply about him or about defending his wealth (even though he doesn’t take a salary and is the largest contributor at Lakewood Church) or defending flawed statements he has made (and made public apologies for) or refuting the alleged prosperity gospel he teaches (the one he publicly and specifically denies teaching).

Instead, I want to explain why I do not believe that God has called us to be critics. And I want to actually practice what I will be preaching – which is to address the principle of a concern instead of attacking those I might disagree with.

We Criticize Real People When We Choose to Criticize

We live in a digital era with instant access to an abundance of avenues to voice our opinions. This is the “Catch 22” of the social media age – healthy, respectful online discourse is just as prevalent as damaging, negative discourse. It’s not always wrong to voice criticism, but I have to argue that social media and the comment section of an article is hardly the ideal place for doing it.

My concern is the lack of hesitation that people seem to have when making personal accusations like “heretic” and “false teacher.” My fear is that as we are taking to the online forum we are forgetting to be gentle and respectful in the process (Titus 3:2). Just because a computer screen separates us from someone doesn’t mean we should lack decency in our words toward them…

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Tyler Speegle

Husband, blogger and serious coffee drinker. Passionate about helping others understand how to live relationally with God and escape a life of dry, mechanical religion so that they can live out their God given purpose.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hi Tyler. I hope my comment wasn’t accusatory!? I believe in merely being honest. Sometimes we see genuine open opinion as harsh criticism, merely because we totally disagree with someone else’s POV. I used to be very like that. I’m a left of centre, fairly easy going sort of guy and was very liberal with my opinions, even though nobody particularly asked for them! What I have learnt in life in general and in those who are Christians, is that we all have different POVs, and sometimes POVs that might seem shocking. In the US, for example, people seem naturally to be a little right wing, and that is seen as normal, whereas in the UK we tend to see left wing principles as more normal. Meeting people of very different attitudes and opinions has made me reflect on two things: One is that every person is entitled to whatever opinion they have, irrespective if they are completely different to mine, or even opposing, and two, that as I respect others rights to whatever they believe, they in turn must respect my right to my opinion, too. Respect for others is respect for self.

    Having been a Christian for many years, and hearing the opinions and views and beliefs of many long standing practising Christians, it is obvious that many believe all kinds of things that I don’t particularly hold. This is also reflected in denominational differences. The fact is, I am not interested in denominational issues, I merely wish to know Jesus and have a close and intimate relationship with Him. In that way I can listen and respect another’s views, though off kilter they may be to me at least, and still enjoy their company, friendship and fellowship as Christians. In the end, we shall know them all by their fruits, notwithstanding what they do, or do not, say. And, in the end, I can’t know another person, so I leave it all to God.

    Great blog, by the way! I guessed you were American by your name!!! :~)

    • No, I’ve not taken any of your comments that way. I’m all for respectful, open dialouge – even when we disagree. In this particular post I just felt led to discuss the damage that can occur when criticizing someone publicly or making broad accusations without knowing them personally.

      Thanks for reading and for your thoughts!

  • I agree with you. Love the sinner, hate the sin! I also agree with respect and tolerance, because I feel the same. Anyone can be a keyboard warrior, but would 98% of them say the same thing to a person’s face? I highly doubt it. There is a thin line between severe criticism and trolling.

    I have added your blog to my blogroll, btw, because you seem a very reasonable guy all told, and heaven knows we need a bit of reasonableness here and there! And your blog and writing is of a very high quality, too.

    Tim

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