DON’T MENTION IT

T. Pierce Brown

There are certain sins that are being practiced by members of the church which are especially dangerous, deceptive and destructive. The attitude that we find in many preachers today is, “I will not mention them for fear that someone might think I am getting personal.”

There are institutions of higher learning among us that allow false teachers on their faculty and in their lecture programs. They are destroying the faith of our young people and leading us into apostasy. Some think, “It would be improper for me to specify which ones, for it would imply a judgmental or hypercritical attitude, and might cause unnecessary controversy.”

There are false teachers among us who are leading the church into apostasy. However, since we deplore personal attacks and the destructive effects of vituperative language, we do not mention them, but feel that the general warning should make all persons alert to the dangers and able to take whatever action is deemed adequate.

The false doctrines on such things as divorce and re-marriage are destroying families, but it seems improper to point out exactly what they are and who is teaching it in what publication or forum. For one to do that would be to depart from the irenic spirit that should characterize every Christian.

How does that grab you (if I may use the language of the younger generation)? If you did not get so sick you had to stop reading before you got this far, do you not realize that much writing and preaching that is done is an exercise in futility because of the attitudes expressed above?

I am aware that many of us may be “turned off” by excessive bellicose verbosity, slashing sarcasm and unnecessarily hateful remarks. This does not lessen the responsibility for those of us who know of specific false doctrines or ungodly practices being carried on by specific persons or institutions to specify what they are, and how, when, and where they were done.

This does not deny the advisability of acting like a Christian and making sure you have understood what is being taught or done before you make some scathing denunciation of it. Communication is a very difficult process, and it is true that a statement may be misconstrued. But that is no excuse for soft-soaping, beating around the bush when a specific false doctrine is being taught by a specific person or at a specific institution.

What I hope for my own writings or preaching is that when I make a statement that seems to imply or teach something that is untrue, improper or questionable, those who care about truth and righteousness point it out to me personally for two reasons. If they simply blast it in some publication, they may be blasting something they thought I said or some mistake of an editor or typist. Also, if I have made a mistake I need to know what it is so I can correct it. If I am not personally contacted, I may never see the publication in which it is being criticized and thus may never correct my error. The “Golden Rule” is always appropriate in these situations, as in all others. However, the practice of the Golden Rule and the practice Jesus enjoined in Matthew 18:15-17 do not prevent us from publicly refuting any false doctrine that has been presented publicly. It does mean that we should be sure we do not misrepresent the person whose doctrine we are refuting.

It is also my conviction that if we must err, it is better to err on the side of gentleness and being slow to condemn that which we think to be wrong than it is to hastily make accusations without double checking to see if we have understood properly.

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