Pushing Back the Bullies


Every now and then I receive, either directly or indirectly, word of someone on the warpath about some issue within a local church. I use the term “warpath” because this kind of person is absolutely determined to win a conflict (which, by the way, is usually of his own making). The pattern is somewhat predictable. The upset party tries to correct those with whom he disagrees, but when his complaints are not heeded, he broadens the conflict by sending out letters or emails to a large portion, if not all, of the church’s membership. Often he or she is not content to limit the efforts to the church itself, but let it spill out further in hopes of bringing as much pressure as possible to achieve a victory in the dispute.

I received one of these emails from out of the blue this past weekend. Apparently a pastor made the mistake of quoting a pagan with an immoral lifestyle and this caused a great bit of consternation for a man with a keyboard and access to email. Since the pastor did not immediately admit his error, the man with the keyboard decided to share his complaint with a bunch of other people, including me (even though I live quite some distance away and am not really connected to the problem or solution).

Because, sadly, this kind of thing happens more than it ought, I decided to share my response to his email in the hopes that it might encourage others to respond in similar fashion to this kind of tactic if they encounter it. Ignoring it is often an acceptable option, but sometimes it is appropriate to push back in order to defend someone who has been unjustly attacked. People who send out these emails are seldom teachable because they are usually self-deceived enough to think that they are the only ones who see the truth, but perhaps God will use a careful rebuke to prick their conscience. Anyway, here’s my reply.

I am not sure what your aim was in sending me this email, but I really don’t appreciate what you’ve done here. In fact, I think it is an unbiblical attempt to hurt the reputation of another believer.

Further, you seem to have adopted a position which would call into question the integrity of the Apostle Paul since he quoted pagans in his sermon in Acts 17 (v. 28 “as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children’”) and in his letter to Titus (1:12 “One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons’”). As a general and important principle, I have found it wise to never make criticisms of other people which also become a de facto criticism of the Bible itself. It is a dangerous place to be when one considers himself more spiritual than the Bible.

The Bible is clear that if you have an issue with another believer that you are to go to him and seek reconciliation. There is no justification for your spreading your complaint about Pastor Doe to me. You have sinned and should acknowledge that before God and those to whom you have spread your accusations. Don’t let pride cause you to hunker down in a defensive posture. If you have lost confidence in Pastor Doe as a shepherd, there is a right way to address that and this is not it. Angry words stir up strife, not resolve problems.

For the sake of His name,
David M. Doran

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