Should Christians be shut down when they speak out against people in ministry, movements within the church, or actions of poeple?

There seems to be a move afoot to shut down or censure people who speak about movements within the church, or who speak out against particular individuals, or certain actions by people within the church, or even against certain doctrinal beliefs. Here are two different blog entries on the matter: here and here. Here is the original article concerning an anonymous blogger being de-anonymousized by a police officer on the security force of a prominent pastor. The blogger was writing about the pastor and the church, relaying things that were apparently public knowledge, but sharing his thoughts on the matters. I think the Biblical position of dealing with a problem you have with someone, particularly an elder or pastor, is that people should first go to someone they have a problem with in private, and then with two or three others, and then should go to the church. But even so, I think this country provides for the freedom of expression and privacy (within certain limits).  We should be ale to express ourselves freely, even anonymously.

Dr. James F. McGrath had someone from his Sunday School class speak to his pastor about his beliefs. I have no idea about whether his is a ‘conservtive’, ‘liberal’, ‘evangelical’, or some other position. But I like his statement, “too often, one’s fear and trembling when “working out their salvation” is fear of recrimination, fear of ostracization, fear of other people and their opinion.”

This fear of recrimination is what prevents people from sharing their problems, faults, failures, and sins with others so they can help them with their burdens (Galatians 6:2) and pray for them (James 5:16). This is something we are commanded to do, but so often people are afraid to open up because they will be judged rather than helped.

My wife and I have had the experience of being told by our pastor and his wife that we should not share our pasts because people would not know how to take it, with the understanding being that we would be judged for it. Rather than help their congregation grow, they would rather warn new members to not speak up about their struggles and how God has worked in their lives. This is a sad state for a church to be in – especially a new church plant. But it is a common condition for many churches in the United States – indeed, I am convinced it is common in much of the world.

Rather than shut people down, we need to engage them. We need to help them. We need to teach them, so long as they have a teachable spirit. How can we do that if they wont open up because others have been condemned? We need to show grace to them. We must provide an environment where people are free to share their thoughts and feelings and problems so they will feel free enough to confess their sins and burdens that we could pray and help them with their burdens – this is part of the essence of discipleship.  To do otherwise is to not love them with the love of Christ.

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2 Responses

  1. We should be able to express ourselves freely, even anonymously.

    Great article, Wb.

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