Should We Criticise Other Churches?
NCW 14, December 1994
Q. I have noticed in your publications that you sometimes cite and criticize other Christian churches and their beliefs. Don't you think that this is an unloving attitude?
The apostle Paul considered it an important evidence of true love to warn against those who would "overthrow the faith of some" (2 Tim.2:17-18, NIV) realising that generalities would be useless.
Not only did Hymenaeus and Philetus make Paul's list, but so did Demas (2 Tim.4:10), Alexander the coppersmith (2 Tim.4:14), the Cretians (Titus 1:12), another Alexander (1 Tim.1:20), and even Peter (Gal.2:11-14) when he began to teach legalism. Likewise, the apostle John warned against Diotrephes (3 John 9) and the Nicolaitians (Rev.2:6).
On the other hand, Paul was much more generous with name recognition when he was giving out commendations (e.g. Rom.16:1-15; Col.4:7-17). We undoubtedly need to follow his example in appreciating by name those who are faithful in teaching and living the truth, and that we have tried to do with other Christians and churches who often receive our praises in this magazine and other publications.
We need to be ready and willing to name those individuals, churches, schools, and other organisations that are denying Biblical truth by compromising fundamental doctrine with secular philosophy. We obviously need to be sure of our facts when we do this and also to bring such charges only if motivated by genuine concern for those about to be led astray if we don't speak out. But we must, indeed, "watch out for those who cause divisions and upset people's faith and so go against the teaching which you have received. Keep away from them!" (Rom.16:17, TEV).
It is our sacred duty to expose error, especially amongst those who claim to be Christians but who are in fact denying the faith and bringing a bad reputation upon the Name of Christ. We are explicity commanded to judge those inside the Church -- those who claim to be Christians -- but leave judgment of those outside the Church to God (1 Cor.5). By the same token, we should be expected to be judged by other Christians. Whatever our judgment may be, we must take responsibility for what we say.
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Last updated on 24 April 1998
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