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To Speak Or Not To Speak?

"A wise old owl lived in an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why can't we be like that wise old bird?" English language nursery rhyme

For several weeks I've been thinking of writing a post on people in the Christian community that feel the need to, or as they would express "bring to light" errors in Biblical teaching from certain teacher's and pastor's (I'll refrain from using names). These people probably feel they are being "led" to let us know about these misled Bible teacher's and pastor's. They probably feel it is their Christian duty, often quoting chapter and verse in order to back up their words. Read 1 Timothy.
With some websites and blogs it seems to be their focus to write posts, that will then be spread about throughout blog land, hashing and rehashing the same subjects on these "misled" teachers and pastors.
In America we have freedom of speech, being the author of a blog or website makes us instant publisher's. But, being a Christian sets us apart in how we should speak and live!
Sometimes it is necessary to council with someone who is not understanding the Bible. Sometimes it is necessary to gently rebuke someone who is teaching incorrectly. Read 2 Timothy 4:1-3 and Proverbs 15:1.
But, it is never okay to tear someone apart, nor to cut and paste quotes from various places in order to have "evidence" on that teacher or pastor that is in error. It is never okay to defame them, nor to spread gossip. It is never okay to use nasty or snide remarks. It is never okay to lower ourselves in our own character to the point that we are no different than the carnal world.
Sometimes I am ashamed of the Christian community that I am apart of because of their prejudice and hatefulness, more than that it grieves me.

And on the other side.

I am reading more and more from the secular community about those dogmatic, flagrant, prejudice, holier than thou, don't drink and don't dance, close-minded, Calvinistic Evangelist Christian's. 
I have a sample of a book on my Kindle about the Civil War. The author used the word Evangelist so often it became redundant and twangy.
Interesting how each side accuses the other and yet neither realizes each of them are being dogmatic and prejudice.
I read on another blog that maybe Christian's need to toughen up their skin. Maybe. Or maybe we need to follow Jesus' example.

I studied the Gospel of Mark last week and made notes of every time Jesus was angry, rebuked someone, was bold and direct, passionate, and when He was silent.
Jesus never called anyone derogatory names, He was the perfect listener, when He reproached or rebuked someone He was direct and to the point, He did not belittle anyone, no long speeches. 
He associated with everyone, He gave everyone a chance to come to Him.
And a lesson for me and for us, when someone turned their back on Him, He let their decision lay with them.
He did not take it personally by attacking them back.

Everyone has an opinion it's our human nature. But there is a time to speak and a time to remain silent. Choose your words carefully, choose your battles even more carefully. When we do speak, make sure we do it out of love, not out of proving we are correct in order to elevate our ego. Because if we allow ourselves time to think about it, pray about it, it just might be we were wrong, or that we need to rephrase what we were going to say.

The world is watching, paying closer attention to us than probably we are to them. Take it seriously.
Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 and Hebrews 4:12-13.

For another article on this same subject by Tim Keller, Scoffers, Scorners, and Snark.

Blissful Blogging!
Annette

Comments

Becky said…
If the Bible says something very plainly, and a well-known author or preacher with an online or radio ministry, openly contradicts what the Bible makes plain on an essential matter. Then I don't necessarily have a problem with it if a person feels "led" to speak the truth.

Is the person they're speaking against, a published author or a preacher with an online or radio ministry? Criticism--if biblical and done in a respectful way, is just an aspect of it. Just because the book is Christian, does not mean that the content can't be evaluated or criticized. ANY book published in ANY field or genre is treated the same way.

Is the blogger reading in context? IF the blogger has fully read the book in question, then it is fair to evaluate it. It would be one thing to pull a random quote out of context. It is not fair to ANY book to review it or blog about it if you haven't read it.

Are they preaching a DIFFERENT gospel? (Think Paul in the book of Galatians. He had EVERY reason in the world to get ugly with the truth.) If they are openly contradicting what the Bible clearly teaches, then I think as discerning Christians, we should say something. Discernment is a spiritual gift. Jesus never said believe anything and everything anyone may say about me. No, we're called to test everything, we're called to diligently study the Bible. (Bereans) If an essential truth is being attacked or denied, then there is a problem.

Does discerning mean yelling? No, you can speak the truth without showing anger and attacking a person, There is a difference between pointing out the flaws in someone's teaching, and attacking the person. Stick to the facts without adding drama and insults. You can say the Bible says this--quote--and this is what this teacher is saying in this book--quote. They don't match up and that's the problem I have with this teaching.

Is it done out of concern or love? Are they wanting to speak the truth so that people can be saved? If the person is prayerfully approaching it as an unpleasant but necessary duty, then I don't see a problem with their zeal.

If we're going to open up a discussion and welcome conversation, then we should be willing to LISTEN to what everyone has to say. That doesn't mean we have to compromise where we shouldn't be compromising. But the truth is that other people may just have something to teach us.

8) I think you can be discerning AND gentle and kind. You can be firm in your faith, BUT still be loving, kind, gentle, and patient. You can stand firm in Christ without being mean and nasty and rude. But speaking the truth--firmly, kindly, respectfully--isn't being rude. It isn't unloving to want someone to come to Christ.

So I agree that sometimes these types of posts can seem mean. They may or may not be making a valid point, but their point is being lost inside the snark. I agree that insults won't "help" anyone.

I do think that we should follow Christ and his example. That we should study the Bible to see how Jesus handled people. He didn't handle every situation the same and neither should we. So I think we should definitely be praying more and reading more! We're called to be discerning and wise and hold to sound doctrine, to cling to the truth, to know it, teach it, proclaim it. But we're also called to love one another, be patient, to not fight over little things. So the real issue has to be is it an essential thing I'm "fighting" for?

So I think there are times we need to practice self-control. At least until we're able to calm down and take it to God in prayer. But I do think there are times when someone needs to speak up. I do think there are times when it is necessary.
OI said…
"Interesting how each side accuses the other and yet neither realizes each of them are being dogmatic and prejudice".

This is something that you wrote in your above peice, and I agree completely. It's like people in the gay or even the atheist community say that Christians are infringing on their rights or their freedoms, but it's like who's infringing on who?

I also agree with you about talking about other pastors, evangelists, etc. People just shouldn't do it. I understand freedom of speech, I understand the right to say what you feel, the thing is, we need to respect the office that the person holds. No matter what we may personally think, God Almight in Heaven put them up there. So if we criticize and judge them, we are really criticizing and judging God and what He is doing.

Since God is all knowing, He knows what He is doing. I defy anybody to tell me that He ain't.

Thanks very much for the post.