Lord knows there are plenty of issues in the modern church today ripe for criticism, satire and correction. Sometimes they’re not only ripe, they’re even fruitful. However, this is not usually the case. From my own meditations on how to approach criticism on the blogosphere, here’s my list of seven things to consider when blogging about issues. These were originally written by me, to me, so the “you” is meant to include me before it does anyone else. I know I haven’t always kept my own advice, but if I’m going to write in this medium at all, I want to wrestle with out how to do it in a Christ-honoring way. Here are some of my thoughts:
1. Pray for the problem/issue/ministry you have a concern with before doing anything else. If this isn’t your primary response, I can almost guarantee the criticism you’re about to level is just self-congratulation in disguise.
2. Quit trying to prove that everyone you disagree with is a false teacher. The only reason you work so hard to make them sound apostate is that otherwise you’d be accused of being divisive. This is because you are.
3. Make sure you realize that when you criticize the “modern American church”, everyone in the world except you considers you to be part of it. This is because you are.
4. If there is a specific ministry/individual you want to lambast by name, you probably shouldn’t. If you decide to anyway, you ought to e-mail them first in order to try to set up a time for an interview with someone from the organization, at which you can present your concerns to them. If they don’t have time to meet with you, it’s probably because they’re out ministering to people while you’re trying to set up an interview so that you can lambast them on your blog. If your priorities still seem in line with the gospel after all this, then you definitely shouldn’t post the criticism. Otherwise, go ahead.
5. Satire is fantastic, but only if you appreciate being satirized. If you consider beating people over the head with a stick to be an expression of love, you better say “thank you” when someone takes the cudgel to your own skull.
6. If you quote more Scripture on your blog trying to prove people wrong than you do praising God and encouraging people to love him, you might be abusing the Bible. This is kind of a big deal, and is probably grounds for someone to write a nasty blog post about you. Why don’t you beat them to it.
7. The church’s sin is your sin. Evangelicalism’s failings are your failings. “People who don’t understand the gospel” is another way of saying “you and everybody else.” Grace means that Jesus saves, loves and uses people who are doctrinally wrong, sin-sick and prone to wander. Like you. Especially you. Amen.