I read an interesting article today in Christianity Today, called “Attack Dogs of Christendom.” Prominent Atheist Sam Harris wrote a bestseller called The End of Faith in support of his claims, and received some extremely hostile messages. Most unfortunately, but not surprisingly, came from Christians, not Muslims!
Even more unfortunately the article chronicled further scathing rebukes against prominent evangelical leaders. Now I must say, regarding some of the names mentioned, I would have a problem reading their books, or honestly, believing what they teach. But the acidic reviews via websites regarding such leaders really exposes a lack of grace, and frankly, a lack of scriptural understanding. If Peter instructs us to be prepared to give a defense for the hope that we have, but to do it, with “gentleness and respect,” (I Peter 3:15-17), then I believe that is probably what God means.
Now I often struggle with both, but I have to affirm both and repent when I don’t. The goal is that outsiders would see our character and be put to shame. Do they? I think some names mentioned like Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson (those being bashed by the websites referenced in the article) are often wrong in their claims. However, I can respond to them without calling them names like “whitewashed tombs,” and “one of the greatest deceivers in the church world today.” Some campus minister from RUF at USF actually posted a gentle, respectful response to what Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now. The writer disagreed CLEARLY, and gave support for his disagreement, but did not resort to name calling. He even commended that which was commendable, and did that first.
Those who choose the “Attack Dog” route (as the article refers) often inadvertently put themselves to shame, rather than the other way around. If you want to read the article from Christianity Today (and its really short!), here it is. You can also check out what I believe to be an example of a gentle, respectful, but disagreeing critique, and here that is.