Witch Hunt


Joan's pyreI’m getting really fatigued. Mad, too. If this is all the Church is in this country, then we’ve lost the whole point.

What I am referring to is the increase in witch hunts that are breaking out in the Christian blogosphere. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t tolerate horrid doctrine. But neither do I tolerate people with perfect doctrine who can merely point fingers and do little else. Anyone (and I’m including myself here) can be a critic, but very few people can be a means of grace that helps people dying for help.

So here’s what I’m saying in a nutshell:

  • If you insist that people must be exactly {miscellaneous Christian necessity}, but you are doing nothing concrete to help them achieve {miscellaneous Christian necessity}, then SHUT UP.
  • If you believe that {miscellaneous Christian ministry/teacher/author/pastor} is doctrinally wrong in some area, take a moment to ask if what he/she/it is saying in another area is something you need to hear before you call him/her/it heretical, or else SHUT UP.

I’m not willing to do the millstone thing. Have I done it in the past? Even on this blog? Probably. But folks, if we are truly going to be the Church, then we have got to start burying the hatchet in something besides each other, especially if we can only point out problems, but have no solutions. That kind of hypocrisy gets us nowhere.

Here’s a case of what I am talking about.

I am no fan of the Emerging Church or Postmodern Christianity, or whatever you want to call it. It’s got profound flaws. But I am not going to rip them up one side and down the other just for existing because they have several points of contention that we should hear. You can point out every single lousy doctrine in the Emerging Church, but what about some of the issues they are raising in areas like Christian stewardship of God’s Creation, justice for the poor, simple living, making people a priority, or making choices to live in places that are not upscale or safe because they would have no Christian presence otherwise? Honestly, has anyone in the Evangelical, Reformed, Mainline, or Whatever Church who has ripped the Emerging Church lately taken one second to say, “You know, they do that a lot better than we do. Perhaps we need to improve in that area,” or is it just one tirade after another, with closed ears and a heart unwilling to take the correction God may be doling out through the equivalent of Balaam’s ass?

A simple pass through the Lord’s chastising of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 shows that He rewarded both good doctrine and good works. He chastised those churches that lacked in either of those two. The lesson is clear: You have to have both good doctrine and good works. I see no lack of good doctrine in the Christian blogosphere, but many of us may be lacking in the works department. Like I’ve said before, Jesus does not call us to be a good apologist or a good servant of others, He calls us to be both. You may be the greatest Web apologist out there, but if you don’t clothed the naked, what good are you? Likewise, you may be out on the street every day doing good works, but if the Christ you’re sharing with someone else isn’t the Christ of the Bible, what good are you?

As for witch hunts, everyone reading this now is a (figurative) witch. Why? Because some Christian out there is going to find something wrong with your Christianity if he or she looks hard enough. Now how many of us want to be under that withering, soul-killing magnifying glass day in and day out? I don’t. I can’t possibly please every single faction or fraction of Christianity out there no matter how bullet-proof my doctrine or actions are.

Can we ease up on the witch hunts for a while? Can we start finding out what is good, perfect, noble, and pure and start emphasizing those things, making them happen in the lives of people who truly need them? Too often we come to those blessed things not for what they are, but for what they are not. If we can only think of “good” as being “not bad” or “pure” as being “not corrupted,” then we have lost the mind of the Lord.

18 thoughts on “Witch Hunt

  1. Good post – Thank you!

    God’s really showing me something today – as this morning I read about making sure we encourage and acknowledge the good things in other people rather than criticise and find fault, then I read your post.

    It always seems so much easier to criticise others than it is to encourage and acknowledge the good things about others, but it can make a huge difference in us if we change our attitude, and try and learn from what other groups or people do well rather than putting them down.

  2. I understand what you are saying but I see another side. First, I don’t attack people personally BUT I do wite “with passion” at times against what some people are teaching. However, where I might be a different type of blogger, is the fact that I welcome debate on my comment section because I often learn that I am tilting to one side too much and at times the commenter brings me into balance. Also, I learn from those who disagree with me. I have never deleted any comment on my blog except for one which had nothing to do with the topic and was very strange.
    I am very concerned about the emergent church and have said so on my blog, but after reading your post above, once again, it has showed me some areas that evangelicals need to perhaps at least start to think about.

  3. Jessica

    Oh my! I so agree with you!For several months I have been thinking about that same problem also. While I love good doctrine, anyone who is just pointing fingers has a huge pride problem and that def. cancels out any of “good” doctrine they have effectiveness! What an absolute turn off to see a proud person try to teach someone about the most Humble and awesome God!!

    Good post!

  4. “Because some Christian out there is going to find something wrong with your Christianity if he or she looks hard enough.”

    Boy is that true.

    Good post, something we should all think about.

  5. “If you believe that {miscellaneous Christian ministry/teacher/author/pastor} is doctrinally wrong in some area, take a moment to ask if what he/she/it is saying in another area is something you need to hear before you call him/her/it heretical, or else SHUT UP.”

    I agree and disagree. I do not see too many Biblical examples of Jesus or the apostles first identifying points of commonality with the Pharisees or Judaizers and then (and only then) criticizing them. When people tamper with the Gospel, I don’t think we need to go much further and examine what they say about other things. Blast ’em and hunt them like witches. Do it in love, but feel free to be harsh, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Now if we’re talking about lesser points of doctrine, I agree with you. But not when we’re talking about the Gospel. It is too precious, too important, to allow people to mess with it.

  6. Tim (and others),

    You’re right in that if someone is denying a major point of doctrine (divinity of Christ, the Trinity— big ones like that), you’re wise just to go the other direction because everything else they say is going to have that taint. I’m not advocating panning for gold in fields of manure. Case in point, the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have much to teach any of us doctrinally.

    But even then, the JWs are more driven in evangelism than we are and they go to remarkable lengths to give their people a strong grounding in their doctrines, so I guess even a cult like that has a little we can take away. They still deserve to be outed in a gracious way, but our acknowledgement that there are things they do better than us should be humbling for us Christians.

    I don’t always agree with Christians like Tom Sine, Jim Wallis, or Richard Foster, but before I criticize them, I’m going to make a greater effort to see my plank before I see their speck. I took Wallis to task for his silence on the Terri Schiavo case, but I realized later on that there are some issues that Sojourners tackles that aren’t on my radar screen and maybe they should be. I think if I confront them and correct them, I need to say something about what they do that is right as well as what they do wrong. I don’t think there is enough of that going on right now in the Christian blogosphere; I hope that I can start challenging those of us who have become comfortable in our positions while still tackling error in other parts of the North American Church.

    I guess what I would like to see is if a ministry that has some doctrinal issues says that we all need to do a better job of sharing Christ with our next-door neighbors, I need to ask myself if I am doing a good job of that before I attack the errors I see in that ministry’s doctrine. I don’t think enough of that is happening. We end up attacking but never learning or acknowledging our own lacks in our walk with Christ.

    Thanks for forcing a clarification out of me!

  7. Anonymous

    what is a big point of doctrine? One person’s big point of doctrine is trivial and peripheral to another. How do you arbitrate what is the real core of Christianity?

    The answer to that question is authority. As far as I can tell, the kind of thing you’re talking about is simply what happens when you carry on “Church” without any identifiable structures of authority outside individual, private interpretation of the bible. The answer? Be Catholic or some other form of historical christianity that has maintained an identifiable hierarchy of authority.

    Then the question of who is heretical and who isn’t is really quite easy to solve. It comes down to two simple questions: are they in communion with the bishop of Rome?; are they in agreement with official teaching?

  8. Seriously, Dan, your comments and clarifications here are right on the money. These blogs are out in the open for the world to see, and do we really want them to see us bickering over issues that look very small outside our little theological stomping grounds (and may, in fact, be even smaller). As you and Tim point out, there are times to point out gross errors. Most of the time, however, should we not be encouraging one another with love? Even correction can be encouragement if done with the love of Christ.

  9. Pingback: Sliced Laodicea » Witch Hunt

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