Biblical criticism is fair criticism.

Let’s say you have a problem with someone.  They do or say – or neglect to do or say – certain things.  “This is wrong,” you say to yourself, “I need to speak up.”

I’m cool with this.  If you love somebody, you ought to be honest and encouraging to them.  Part of love is occasional questioning or correction.

However, if you decide to make your criticisms public, say preaching about someone’s perceived faults or writing blog posts about them, then your criticisms must be fair.  The minute that folks see you exaggerating or using inflammatory language, thoughtful people will tune you out.

On the other hand, if you are fair and loving the audience can feel that you really care.  Care – not about being right, but about a person’s soul.  If you show heartfelt love,  people will listen.

A few related thoughts:

  • Sermons and blog posts are hardly the place for personal criticism.  If you care about someone, talk to them in person.  I’ve said this before.
  • If you receive criticism, try to find the truth.  Forget how harsh, unfair, or inappropriate the criticism may be.  Your accuser probably wouldn’t have said it without some reason.  Repent and live above reproach.
  • God is your judge, not man.  Do what pleases Him and ignore those who would tear you down.

1 Timothy 3:2  “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…”

1 Peter 2:11-12 “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”


About Brian Phillips

Brian lives in Spain with Kassie and their kids.
This entry was posted in Christian Life, Communication, Love. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Biblical criticism is fair criticism.

  1. Tom Fuerst says:

    Great thoughts, man.

    I wonder, though, what do you do when you don’t know the person. That is, say I have a problem with something John Piper says…. I can’t contact him personally. And no doubt, if I sent him an email, it would be with a million others. Yet, if I truly believe what he has said is wrong, and what he said is influencing people I love, I still have the responsibility of critiquing it, right?

    I guess I would go ahead and critique it publicly. It can be done respectfully. But you’re right, whenever it can be done it person, it is better by far.

  2. Brian Phillips says:

    Thanks, Tom.

    To take your example, let’s say you disagree with Piper. If you think his error is 1) serious, and 2) influential then I think the right thing to do is critique him in order that those who are influenced will see your arguments.

    Certainly, the wrong way to do this would be “straw-manning” his position or using unloving, ungracious, or even arrogant language.

    I assume we’re together on this. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a gracious, humble, passionate, and fair dialogue on issues instead of angry articles?

    God’s children needn’t disagree the way lost people do. We’re true family.

  3. thefuerstshallbelast says:

    I couldn’t agree more, brother. We are certainly together on this. Sometimes I fail, but for the most part I try to be fair and balanced when critiquing others.

    It’s hard sometimes, though, because what I may see as a clear, logical implication of their statements, they may see as me not being fair. But then it just comes down to ‘how’ we say things, not just that we say them….if I just made any sense at all!

    Cheers, brother.

  4. Brian Phillips says:

    Yeah, thanks for that, Tom.

    A few thoughts that have been rolling around in my head when I think about arguments/debates/hurt feelings:

    — “A debate like this [I’d say any debate] is more a collision of lives than it is an exchange of mere views.” -Doug Wilson

    — “When my feelings are hurt, I expect an apology. Instead, I should probably offer one.
    Unless my feelings define what’s right, I’m as likely to be in the wrong by being offended as I am by offending.” -Abraham Piper

    I’ve been helped by pondering those quotes.

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