Should Christians Attack Other Christians By Name?
ecause of the lateness of the hour, and the prophesied wholesale departure from the historic Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is much dissension within the ranks of the Christian church in America. This conflict may be boiled down to two basic camps: those that focus on unity in an attempt to reconcile doctrinal differences at virtually any cost, and those that are intensely criticizing the ecumenicism of the former group.
As a writer and communicator identified with the second group, I have been soundly criticized for naming individuals that I strongly believe are leading the church in the wrong direction. Some say that it is unscriptural and unloving to attack individuals by recounting their specific deeds and statements -- or by referring to them with derogatory terms. Others say it is judgmental, and cite scriptures such as "judge not that ye be judged" (Matthew 7:1) and "he that is without sin let him first cast a stone" (John 8:7).
The scriptures however, repeatedly show that the Apostles did judge in certain circumstances where the criticism was warranted. This judgment occurs both within and without the church. Indeed, beginning with John the Baptist's reproof of King Herod for having his brother's wife (Luke 3: 19), we see a consistent pattern wherein the believer is firmly admonished to stand up and confront the evil before us.
Ephesians tells us to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11). The dictionary tells us the word reproof is "an expression of censure or blame: rebuke, reprimand." The word reprove is even stronger: "to disapprove, condemn" (Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary).
Paul states in II Timothy that this reproof is to "be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Timothy 4:2). The idea of "out of season" means to do it even when its inconvenient or seemingly inappropriate; yet the term "longsuffering" modifies this confrontational judgment by tempering it with patience and wisdom. A tall order indeed.
I Corinthians enumerates the acts that will send someone to Hell: "Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9). The preceding covers quite a bit of territory.
The parallel to this rather vivid description of which sins will bar entrance to the kingdom of God is found in Galatians: "...Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21).
In addition to pronouncing judgment on all "which do such things," Paul says the church is qualified to judge among themselves. He writes that "...he that is spiritual judgeth all things" (I Corinthians 2:15). Three chapters later, he writes concerning his judgment relative to a certain matter among the believers in Corinth: "For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed..." (I Corinthians 5:3). He confirms that the Corinthian Christians were authorized to "...judge them that are within" 9 verses later (I Corinthians 5:12).
the next chapter he points out that because "...the saints shall
judge the world," we are certainly authorized to judge among the
church when someone has transgressed against the doctrine of Christ.
Paul even rebukes the Corinthians for not judging when
he writes "If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this
life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church" (I
While my opponents have said it's wrong to say a specific person is unsaved, Philippians says that the Apostle Paul frequently told the church at Philippi about specific individuals that had departed from the faith. He wrote "For many walk, of whom I have told you of and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philippians 3: 18). Paul is doing precisely what Jude wrote about when he said we should -- "...earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1 :3). .
Ultimately, we see the offenders are named. The earlier mention of Herod (Luke 3:19) is confirmed by Paul's public rebuke of Demetrius (Acts 19:24), Hymenaeus and Alexander (I Timothy 1 :20), and other parties that are known to the church but are unrecorded in scripture (Romans 16:17). In one instance, Paul even names Peter as having been at fault (Galatians 2:11) in a theological dispute.
We see the apostates called a "generation of vipers" in Luke 3:7, "hypocrites" in Luke 11 :44, "spots in your feasts" in Jude 1: 12, and "whited sepulchres" in Matthew 23 :27 - all extremely derisive terms. How singularly strange then, that some have publicly claimed this writer demon possessed for calling several contemporary reprobates cultists! (Matthew 12:31)
Clearly, the scriptures provide ample justification for pronouncing a righteous judgment on all who would lead others away from the historic gospel of Jesus Christ. "Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." (Romans 16:17).
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