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…