proper criticism

I read an article in Christianity Today, Leadership Journal section, that is somewhat short-sighted and is somewhat misleading.  The author claims to be on the side of one group and then calls that group mean-spirited and so negative.  The article is titled “The Church Needs More Creative Christians and Better Critics” by Karl Vaters (http://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2016/january/church-needs-more-creative-christians-and-better-critics.html).  In it he refers to four blogs he had read but does not source-link any of them, just gives a general idea of what the article is about.

I will talk about the first one, “10 Biblical reasons any (a new Christian book)”. Well, the Christian book the article is talking about is not new and is not something any Christian should read.  (This is the article he referred to:   http://www.challies.com/articles/10-serious-problems-with-jesus-calling). Jesus Calling is not a book any Christian should read.  My former pastor loved the book.  He read it a few times on our Wednesday night bible study time and something didn’t seem right.  I did not read the book myself but also did not read anything said about it, good or bad, at the time.  I generally do not read daily devotional reading books.  I don’t know why I just don’t have the desire to.

Since then, I have read a lot of criticisms of the book. The articles quoted the book, sourced the quote and then compared it with scripture.  It is a dangerous book.  Emptying one’s mind opens it up for some other entity to enter in and it is not from God.  We as Christians already have the Holy Spirit living within us, why do we need to open our emptied minds to God?  As far as understand what scripture says He wants to fully engaged with Him with all our faculties, not just our hearts (that is another blog post soon to come).

Vaters’ issue is with the critics, citing them for being mean-spirited in their criticism.  These criticisms have been around for years.  The updated printing of Jesus Calling removed the overt New Age verbiage and added Christianese so the book would be more palatable to the Christian community.  The problem is that the book still promotes a New Age tilted way of experiencing God.  If the criticism was presented in sincere manner there is still no guarantee it will be received with humility.

My biggest problem with Vaters point was that it is the critics who are in the wrong. What if the criticism was presented to the person and they did not receive it?  How many times do people in ministry who have a big spotlight shining on them believe they are above reproof and rebuke?  How many times to they cite that they are doing is being done for the glory of God?  How many times is that statement said with false humility and pompous piety?  We do not know if privately these critics already raised their concerns to the person to no avail and now are sharing those concerns publicly because they need to warn unsuspecting Christians of the danger.  It is called discernment.

Most creative people create to draw attention to only one entity, themselves. They pretend to deflect the praise and acclaim in public but who really knows what is going on in the heart and mind except for God.  I know.  I write these blogs and wonder if someone will appreciate it so I can good inside.  I don’t want to write them for that reason.  I want to write them so that they turn people’s vision from the horizontal plane or inward direction towards the God who sacrificed His only Son for the sake of His creation.

Vaters immediately calls it criticism, a word usually received with a negative connotation. Why not name it discernment, concern for the orthodox doctrine of the church, contending for the faith as Jude tells us to do?  The ones creating are not challenged of the method or vehicle used in the creative process, they are criticized for the substance or content of their message.  It is called discernment and we as Christians are told to contend for the faith in the book of Jude.

I think creative Christians should continue to be creative but they cannot hold themselves above criticism. They cannot believe that the music or poem or prose or painting or whatever vehicle or method they use is more important than the message remaining true to the written word of God.  And when the message strays and teaches a different gospel than the one preached in the bible, critics should express concern and call the creative Christians for what is not biblical.

It is the health of the church that is of more importance than the hurt feelings of an individual.

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