When Christians Eat Their Own

philippians4-5

We didn’t know the guinea pig was a girl, much less a pregnant female, when we carried her home from the pet store.

The pet store left out all that info.

I remember my mom instructing us kids not to look into our new guinea pig’s cage one morning because our new pet had given birth in the night.

And she had started to eat her own young before we discovered it and could rescue all of them.

It’s a harsh truth for a child: Nature can be cruel.

It’s not any easier as an adult.  We civilized adult human beings—Christians even—are sometimes just as cruel.

Because we Christians sometimes eat our own, too.

About ten years ago, I sat at a dinner table with new acquaintances, Christian women gathered for an evening out.  One woman casually mentioned that it was her husband’s ‘hobby’ to be a sort of doctrinal police for all of Christianity.  He scouted out mis-steps by any and every Christian pastor or teacher and then publicly and scathingly denounced them on his website.  Apparently, it was ‘fun’ for him.

Look up any current public Christian figure and you’ll see the accusations fly: Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, Rick Warren, Priscilla Shirer.  They’ve all taken a beating.

Some pastors and teachers do distort Scripture.  They are false teachers.

But not all of them.  Probably not even most of them.

Yet, there are some who use their own pulpits and blogs to mock and condemn as many others as possible.

I’ve seen it myself.  I’ve read a book and then heard the author denounced for things he didn’t say, for quotes lifted entirely out of context and twisted to take on deformed misrepresentations of the author’s intent.

The author hadn’t said that, didn’t mean that, never even implied that.  But he was condemned anyway.

When in doubt, read the book yourself.  Listen to the sermon yourself.  Check the context.

Does it mean when there is real un-truth, real manipulation of Scripture, real abuse that we should just let it go?

Not at all.

But it shouldn’t be ‘fun.’

It should break our hearts to see Scripture mangled, God’s character misrepresented and His people deceived.  And we should hold ourselves to the highest standard of Biblical obedience by actually obeying God’s Word ourselves.

Respond with gentleness. 

The Bible is unmistakable about how we should defend truth:

  • Galatians 6:1 ESV
    Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
  • Ephesians 4:15 ESV
    Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
  • 2 Timothy 2:24-25 ESV
     And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness.
  • Titus 3:2 NIV
    to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
  • 1 Peter 3:15 NIV
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

Show gentleness, respect, patience, and love, particularly when confronting opposition.  Do not be quarrelsome.  Do not slander.

So, when that preacher mocks another Bible teacher from the pulpit or that blogger rails with unconcealed anger and rampant name-calling against another author, we can ask:

Are they correcting with gentleness, respect, humility and with a broken heart? 

If not, then aren’t they also abusing Scripture and their platform under the guise of protecting their followers from deception?

We Christians eat our own.

We mob-attack best-selling authors.  We categorize any preacher with a large church and a podcast audience as tainted.

Yet, in the book of Acts when Priscilla and Aquilla heard the popular preacher Apollos speak, they realized he was missing part of the truth.  He was teaching in error (Acts 18).

Did they take to the streets of Athens to make fun of his latest book?

Did they rip him apart in an Amazon review or blog-attack his message and question his own personal faith?

Did they put him on some spiritual blacklist, mock him, call him names, and shame anyone who ever listened to one of his sermons?

No, they brought him into their home.  They cooked him dinner and shared truth somewhere between the main course and dessert.

Apollos humbly embraced their instruction because they talked to him with gentleness and respect instead of using it as a platform for division and judgment within the church.

Paul said,

Let your gentleness be evident to all (Philippians 4:5 NIV).

It should be a sign of our faith.  People should not look at Christians and see spiritual cannibals waiting to devour the next poor victim who publishes a book or grows his church.

They should see Christ’s gentleness—strength with restraint, truth with humility, always driven by love.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

 

13 thoughts on “When Christians Eat Their Own

  1. Wally Fry says:

    “But it shouldn’t be ‘fun.’”

    You nailed that one, Heather. Sometimes when we call ourselves confronting “untruth” we are really just trying to make ourselves look and/or feel better. We act like we are God’s personal truth police sometimes. I am all for confronting lies, but there is a right way to do it. Although, some might need to be confronted publicly, as when Paul confronted Peter to his face in Antioch. Peter’s error had been public, so maybe the correction had to be as well..dunno. At any rate we should do what the Holy Spirit would have us do in these situations, and not what WE want to to. Nice post.

    • Heather C. King says:

      It’s so sad to say it, but I agree with you, we sometimes correct others in order to look and/or feel better/more right ourselves. I was thinking about Paul correcting Peter also. I think it’s interesting to note how often it’s Paul telling the church to practice gentleness. I wonder if it’s because he personally needed the reminder to be gentle. Somehow, I think it wasn’t his natural bent 🙂 But I do see how Peter had really sinned publicly with the particular church Paul was writing to by practicing hypocrisy in their midst. In that case, I do think Paul correcting Peter privately wouldn’t have been enough to address the behavior they’d already witnessed with Peter. Great example that we need that Holy Spirit discernment to know how to handle each scenario we encounter. Thanks for chiming in!

  2. leithunique says:

    Take the plank out of your own eyes before seeking to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Sometimes when you are so passionate about a subject, very often for me, poverty or something that looks, on the surface, like abuse you can easily get caught up in the moment and say or do the wrong thing, judge without seeing the whole facts. On other occasions, and I suffer from this myself, this is my failing, fear caused by past abuse can lead you to the wrong conclusion, and again, you can judge without knowing the whole circumstances. I am not perfect but I have a duty to be aware to the best of my ability and not to judge the book by its cover. By the grace of God I was taught this lesson again just yesterday and I thank Jesus for the reminder. God bless I hope you have a very good weekend.

  3. Arkenaten says:

    ….how we should act towards other Christians even when they might be wrong.

    How does one define a ”wrong” Christian?
    Are Young Earth Creationists wrong?
    Is a Christian wrong even though they may be quoting from spurious biblical text?

    Or are they simply mistaken?
    And how does one then determine what is right?

    If the foundational tenets of Christianity are built upon faith, how does one deal with a christian who is genuinely ignorant of the scientific evidence where it refutes such belief?

  4. realchange4u says:

    I try my best to stay within the word of God when commenting on subjects that can create division or hurt. That being said we do have a lot of faults as Christians, however we are living in a fallen world and battling principalities that most folks either don’t believe in or know anything about. We also have a mind of our own and free will to make hurtful choices if we desire and can suffer the consequences for these bad choices we make. Everything aside we still as christians are at different places in our walk with God and he is not judging us at this time and neither should we. I always say its best to keep our eyes totally on Jesus at all times and practice the fruits of the spirit of God when working with difficult situations with sinner and saint alike. Forgiveness and restoration creates relationships. This is what it is all about. Thanks Brother Wally for letting me share my thoughts tonight.

    much love tom

  5. Titus2Homemaker says:

    It is pretty tough to call the public addressing of false teachers/teaching inherently lacking in Christlikeness, when Jesus Himself called the Pharisees out publicly — regularly, and sometimes with a good deal of sarcasm. He didn’t invite them one at a time to dinner and have a quiet conversation with them.

    You are absolutely right that attitude matters — a LOT. “It shouldn’t be ‘fun’.” Well said! But calling out false teachers — and warning unwitting believers of false teaching — is vastly important in the Church, and I’m less concerned about possibly hurting someone’s feelings (especially if I believe he knows full well what he’s doing) than I am about allowing someone to be led away from the Truth.

    One way I think we can be better about this is to focus more on the teachING than the teachER. “This person is a false teacher, so he’s evil and you shouldn’t listen to him…because I said so,” is generally not very helpful. “This person is teaching xyz, and here’s why that doesn’t mesh with Scripture,” on the other hand, acknowledges the teacher as questionable, but more than that, it warns of the error of what is being taught, and it helps people learn discernment.

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