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Berating Christian Leaders, Part II
A few weeks ago I wrote about how my conscience had been stirred by an email I’d received from a reader of my website. He felt that I had unfairly attacked a prominent Australian Christian leader. At the very least, he thought that I should have consulted this leader privately to discuss my concerns, rather than rushing into print (or pixels) on my website.
A few people have responded. Richard Hall wrote about this issue of consultation:
My short answer would be: No. Not if their pronouncements had been made for public consumption. The value of blogging is its immediacy -- also its weakness, but that's another issue -- and that would be lost if private consultation had to occur before comment could be made. Of course, there's no excuse for a lack of charity in our blogging, whether towards leaders or anyone else.
One of Richard’s readers posted a link to this commentary, responding to a rebellious US church leader who has called on his critics to apply Matthew 18:
Matthew 18, however, has no application to a public leader and his public writings. Matthew 18 deals with personal concerns between two individuals - and is usually conducted within the confines of a church.
Bene Diction also posted on this matter (Bene Diction’s archives don’t seem to be working, and I have linked to the post via Google cache):
If Martin's conscience is pricked, I think he needs to do what is best for him. However, my attitude is mixed. If any 'leader' makes a public comment, I think it is up for discussion, especially on blogs.
In the comments section of Bene Diction’s website, The Dane wrote:
We have no difficulty voicing our displeasure with the teaching of Christian ministers like Benny Hinn (who seem completely oblivious to the goal and direction of Scripture), so where is the difference?...Public speech should expect (and indeed, welcome) a public response. Of course, even proper opinion without the temper of love is worthless at best. And there, I think, is the primary rub in all of this. When does stern reprimand and careful warning give way to antagonistic vitriol and bitter hostility?
Also in Bene Diction’s comments section, the Saint wrote:
Each of us is an ambassador of Christ, and…in some sense we always represent each other too. But extending grace to each other does not mean we should never admonish one another either.
As for me, I have decided that, at the very least, I was wrong not to have notified the two Christian leaders whom I have particularly criticized – Archbishop Peter Carnley and Rev Fred Nile – about my comments. I did so belatedly, two weeks ago, affirming:
I am writing to alert you to my article and to emphasise my desire to run my website at all times in a spirit of Christian love and harmony. I would welcome any comments you might have in response.
So far, neither has replied. There the matter rests.
October 6th, 2003