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Why I Won’t Criticize Another Church Leader

A few weeks ago someone pointed me to a blog that is built upon the premise of tearing down fellow Christians. The entire website seemed dedicated to the proposition of disparaging and destroying people who love God and Christian institutions. You would think this type of thing would be produced by an unbeliever who merely misunderstands Christianity. However, you’d be wrong. The creator of the website and blog claims to be a fellow Christian.

The site made me angry because I personally know some of the people that are being criticized and condemned. I immediately pulled up a word document and began a counterattack. The sarcastic jabs, the backhanded complements, and the accusations of hypocrisy were flowing from my mind and into my critique of their critique. I had been bit! The virus of a critical spirit had jumped right into my bloodstream and I was transforming into a critical person.

I believe a critical spirit is contagious. (I will be writing about this topic in a later blog) This is why we as church leaders need to be extremely careful to guard our hearts in this area. I have made the decision to never again criticize another church leader. Here are my reasons:

1. We’re On the Same Team

If you view Christianity in terms of networks, tribes and denominations then you will likely not agree with this point. Let me be clear. I stand with Christ. All those who stand with Christ, stand with me. Why would I fight, discourage and criticize those who are on my team? I don’t care what denominational name you prefer. I don’t care what tribe you associate with. It matters not what college you graduated from. You could be so conservative that you have a horse and buggy and that horse is a registered gun owner. You could be so progressive that even your dog has a tattoo. Either way, I’m for you not against you.

I believe the inerrant Scriptures teach that the virgin born Jesus Christ, who performed many historical miracles, sacrificed His life upon the cross as the only atonement for sin and rose from the grave in three days. These are the things that are important to me. If you’re on board with these things, I’m on board with you. (Mark 9:38-40)

2. People Follow Our Example

Pastors and other Christian leaders often wonder why so many of their people are so very critical and divisive. It may be that they are simply following our example. If people are used to hearing their pastor tear down another church or another pastor does it not stand to reason that the people will in turn criticize fellow Christians. Many pastors have reaped the whirlwind of a critical spirit as they battle angry member after member. Many parents have seen their critical spirit mirrored back as they look into the eyes of their children. Where did these fine people learn to be so critical of spiritual authority? (I Tim. 4:12)

3. I Don’t Know the Whole Story

We assume we know. We pretend we know. We don’t really know. Years ago Heather and I visited a famous church in So. California. I went into the service skeptical because he didn’t really fit my favorite brand of Christianity. He preached the entire service without walking through the “Roman’s Road.” I walked out of that church convinced that he was not a gospel preacher. I told others. “I’ve been there. He doesn’t even give the gospel.” Now that I’ve been pastoring for nine years I wonder how many sermons I have preached without giving the gospel in the way I expected him to do those many years ago. We judge actions, but we also judge motives. “Oh, I know why they did that. They did that merely to get more people. All they care about is numbers.” Or, “Oh, I know why they did that. All they want to do is control people. All they care about is power.” Or, “Oh, they’re such legalists. They only have those standards to make others feel inadequate or unspiritual.” As if we have the ability or the right to enter the heart and judge another. Here is the truth. If it’s not your ministry, you don’t know the whole story. Leave them alone and go do something for God.

4. I’m Not The Master

One of the greatest things about the book of Romans is chapter fourteen. Romans 14:4 says, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.” Let God be God and you be you. If there is a pastor that is leading others from truth, God will deal with it. If there is an institution that being spiritually abusive, they will answer to God. God gives us this commandment to save us from our own skewed perspectives. Just because you think a place is evil or a preacher is false does not mean God does. Every person in ministry has fans and foes. If your foes, knowing the depths of your incompetence and wickedness, were able to silence you – they would. However, you don’t answer to them, you answer to God. Isn’t it nice to know that you don’t have to be the Christian world’s policeman?

5. It Leaves You Sad & Empty

Negativity drains you! Some of the saddest people I come across are those who are critical of everything. Sadly these dear ones are more critical of themselves than of anyone else. Yes they see the faults in others but they also see their own. Glaring at them, these faults seem all too bright. The only way to get the attention off of themselves is to point out the problems of others. This works temporarily. They are able to find others who are discouraged and obsessed with their own perceived inadequacies and refocus their sadness upon a common enemy. They have forgotten that they are absolutely loved by a gracious heavenly father and accepted in His sight. God holds no ill will toward them or those they despise.

I’m not perfect and I have a lot that can be justly criticized. I’m not afraid of a good critique. It’s through such criticism that I have grown and seen the incremental progress that I have seen in my spiritual walk. What I am afraid of is becoming a critical person who is not known for what I have accomplished but what I have criticized.

How have you seen the spirit of Criticism effect your heart? Do you struggle with this as I do? Have you seen a Critical Spirit hurt a Christian Leader or Christian Ministry?

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114 Comments

  • Reply
    berta lamm
    October 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you Josh. I have been through many ministries that encompass all you discussed, and that criticalness is indeed contagious! Thank you for speaking out on this, I definitely needed to read this. On a side note: it is so cool to see the maturity you are growing into as a pastor and brother in Christ. Thanks for your insight and faithfulness to Christ.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Hey Berta, Great to hear from you. Thanks for reading the post. I’m glad that it was a help to you. Truthfully I struggle with having a critical spirit myself. I’ve learned that that more I get to know Jesus the less critical I want to be.

    • Reply
      B
      November 1, 2013 at 10:24 am

      You look effeminate.

  • Reply
    Michael
    October 22, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Josh, a couple of observations:
    1) I think you are taking a big risk identifying some of these “ministries” as being on the same team. Some people are actively tearing down the gospel by misrepresenting how one comes to enjoy and stays in God’s favor.
    2) Pointing out where abuse and deception thrive is not having a “spirit of criticism,” but identifying unhealthy places so that other Christians can avoid them.

    • Reply
      Dan
      October 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Thank you, Michael…well said. It is not noble to sit silently in the presence of error and give tacit endorsement of a false gospel or an unsound philosophy. We need prophetic voices to call hearers to discernment and sometimes, that requires a bony figure in the face of the kings of our own making while declaring, “Thou art the man” as did Nathan to David.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      Michael,

      Thank you so much for you comment. I think that God’s team is pretty big. We, His disciples, are the ones who are out of the loop on this. Luke 9:49-50 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
      The disciples were likely shocked by this answer for they were used to the “us vs. them” mentality of the pharisees. Do some institutions have issues that they need to work out? NO – 🙂
      ALL institutions, all churches, all christians have such issues. I just don’t want to spend my life tearing them down. I’m too busy getting myself right to worry about everyone else.

      I think a “spirit of criticism” is what is often wrong in all branches of Christianity. Spending our time nitpicking a church, minister or institution we do not agree with is not of the Spirit. Gal. 5:22

      Michael – If I way be so bold, let me challenge your thinking on this. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

      There is no qualifier that this kindness is to only be offered to those within Christianity that we totally agree with. Am I correct?

      This divisiveness is not helping the cause of Christ. For He said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” – John 13:35

      What do you think? Am I off?

      • Reply
        James Pfeiffer
        October 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm

        I think there’s a big difference btw exercising one’s gift of discernment in a loving way versus the public critique and disparagment of an other’s ministry as described in the article.

        • Reply
          Joshua Teis
          October 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

          Great point James – Exercising discernment is not what the article was about. We must exercise spiritual discernment in our own lives. But that’s not an excuse for being cruel to other Christians in the public arena. Great point

      • Reply
        1 L Loyd
        October 23, 2013 at 8:23 pm

        But even Jesus pointed out the error of the Pharisees. Paul rebuked Peter publicly for falling into error. There are times we need to call evil evil.

  • Reply
    Jeremy Lenentine
    October 22, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Very long

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      Sorry Jeremy – I get wordy. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jon Jackson
    October 22, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Great stuff Josh. Well Said.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks Jon. I’m actually surprised this is such a debated issue.

  • Reply
    Michelle Hogue
    October 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Pastor Josh, I agree with you that a critical spirit is easy caught and spread to others. For that reason, I have had to limit some of my Facebook friends. Reading some of the things my so called “Christian Brothers and Sister” write can send me over the edge. Responding to them was causing me to lose my walk with Jesus. I am much more at peace now. Thank you for pointing this out. Maybe other will realize that it is happining to them.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      Michelle,

      Thanks for the thought. Sometimes I can’t help myself and my critical nature gets the best of me. It’s one thing to critique for the purpose of uplifting and edifying and it’s another to simply disparage and denigrate.

  • Reply
    Jaclyn Palmer
    October 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    “I had been bit! The virus of a critical spirit had jumped right into my bloodstream and I was transforming into a critical person.”
    Tsk – Tsk … You sat on the Scary Chair of Psalm 1:1 … 🙂
    Very well said!! It is sad how easy it is to pick up on another’s sour tone/words. But how beautiful the reply when we take the time to simply share a smile!

  • Reply
    Charles Miller
    October 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Josh,

    I would challenge you with this: what does the Bible say about addressing the sin and abuse of other believers, pastors, and institutions? Additionally, what example was set for us by the Old Testament prophets, the Apostles, and Jesus Himself? Jesus went into the Temple and threw tables over–yet He is the sinless Son of God. He called the Jewish leaders hypocrites and whitewashed graves in a public forum–when He was a Rabbi Himself. Stephen called out the same men for their abuses in public and was stoned in public. Paul was not afraid to confront Peter, and made it public knowledge that he had done so. I agree that there is too much criticism in the name of Christ, but on the other hand there may be too little. Perhaps, we should find a biblical understanding of addressing abuse and bullying within Christianity and properly criticize those who have genuinely hurt others in the name of Christ. As uncomfortable as it may be, this is the proper sense of the New Testament.

    • Reply
      Jaclyn Palmer
      October 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Cast the first stone? I know I am not able to. I want to stay busy with my mote and not worry about another’s beam.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Charles,
      Thank you so much for taking time to comment. It challenges my thinking and helps me grow as an individual.
      It is true that there is a lot of confrontation in the Bible as you have mentioned. However, is it not true that when these confrontations took place it was because they were confronting foundational errors.

      The inerrancy of scripture, the miracles of christ, His virgin birth, the blood of christ as the only means of atonement, and His bodily resurrection. These are foundational. These are important. When the apostles, prophets or Jesus confronted individuals they did so to defend these most important truths. We cannot use these as an example of our critical spirit fighting against every issue or teaching that someone disagrees with us on. If they attack these core truths, by all means, defend the faith. But if our criticism is of some other matter of lesser importance than simply move on, find a place you can agree with and allow God to be judge.

      What do you think? Thanks

      • Reply
        Charles Miller
        October 22, 2013 at 4:11 pm

        Josh,

        When Jesus went into the Temple it was because the merchants and money changers were charging outrageous commissions. That does not really fall under your “foundational issue” qualifier. Also, you really glanced over my admonition to go back and re-check the New Testament for clarity on this issue. I know you have read the Bible numerous times, but go back and read and look at how often Jesus confronted the Pharisees. It wasn’t always over the Virgin Birth, His Deity, of Salvation by Grace. He confronted them for adding additional burdens to the people in the name of God (handwashing, Sabbath rules, etc.) None of that is deemed “essential” according to your definition. When there is a case of conflict and abuse in the church–and perhaps even in the context of inter-church relationships–you go and talk alone, then bring another, and finally speak before the assembly. If abuse in the name of God and Christ is occurring, then what should someone do about it?

        • Reply
          Joshua Teis
          October 22, 2013 at 4:21 pm

          Ahh! Great point Charles. You are right. When dealing with a personal “abuse” a person has the responsibility to address the individual face to face. Do you believe this is occurring as it ought?

          I do agree that Jesus confronted over other issues than the top 5 – however, my point is that he was confronting those who rejected the top 5. I have no problem with confronting a mormon over a lesser issue because they deny the foundational issue of the blood atonement as the only means of attaining grace. Jesus never attacked other believers – He only attacked unbelievers. Don’t you see the difference?

          • Charles Miller
            October 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm

            Not all of the Pharisees were unbelievers…for example Nicodemas. Even the NT says that many of the Jewish leaders believed but (John 12:42) but did not openly confess it. Also, you make an assumption that the moneychangers were not believers. I don’t think that assumption can be made. After all, Paul and the other disciples did not see Christianity as distinct from Judaism. That is why they preached in synagogues, observed the feasts, visited the Temple–all well after Christ’s ascension. So you cannot assume that they were unbelievers, because at least some were.

            At any rate, spiritual abuse is as real as anything else. Some don’t know it because it all they know–they have been conditioned to accept it. Others are spiritual abusers themselves, so of course they do not see it. Still others see it, but have relationships with those who spiritually abuse others so they rationalize it for fear they may be rejected or ostracized. It’s real, Jesus confronted it, and he expects His followers to also

          • Michael
            October 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm

            Responsibility to confront face to face? Respectfully, Matthew 18 does not apply to every situation. The context involves a personal offense and local church discipline matter. When a “Christian” creates a public mess, they get public rebuke. When Jack Schaap raped a teenage girl, public rebuke from other independent Baptists was justified. Scandals and cover ups thrive because people look the other way and say , “It ain’t none of my business.” If all of the facts have not been laid out, then reserve judgment until they are, or until the accused refuses to address the concerns.

            I can see several examples of the Apostle Paul mentioning people’s names, with no mention of privately addressing their sin (e.g. Hymaneus, Philetus, Demas)

  • Reply
    Francis Keaton
    October 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    It seems to me there is a large difference between being critical of another to their face and being critical by any other means. What we tend to call public forum when the author is not present is just gossip. I celebrate a true public forum to express support but will go after bad things privately with the author

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      Yes Francis – The internet has given rise to the plague of anonymity.

  • Reply
    Joshua Teis
    October 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    The following is an answer to a question about spiritual abuse & our responsibility to call our error posted to Facebook upon reading this post. I thought it was germane to the conversation…

    You have several questions here that I will try to address. #1 – Spiritual Abuse is subjective. Being a pastor in Las Vegas I have dealt with a lot of real abuse. It’s very sad. There is nothing subjective about physical, verbal or sexual abuse. However, “spiritual abuse” is completely in the eye of the beholder. What one person may call abuse another may call a silly rule. #2 – A pastor leading people away from the truth – I suppose there are many things that I believe to be Biblically true that others do not agree are true. For example, there are Amish Christians who are leading people into believing that electricity is worldly. I feel no “responsibility” to call them out and say they are being spiritually abusive and leading people astray. They are preferences, you see? It’s fine with me that they don’t use the telephone. Are there some things I would criticize a leader or institution for? Sure – When they denied the actual foundational truths of the Bible. The inerrancy of scripture, the miracles of christ, His virgin birth, the blood of christ as the only means of atonement, and His bodily resurrection. Other things? I just don’t have time for that. And I don’t think We’ve been given permission for that either. What do you think?

    • Reply
      Charles Miller
      October 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Josh,

      Spiritual abuse is no more subjective than any other form of abuse. Spiritual abuse is when someone uses God and the Bible to abuse someone. True, many can claim to be spiritually abused when no abuse has occurred, but those who have been know full well what it is and what its effects are on others. Don’t you think a place like Westboro Baptist Church is spiritually abusive and that men of faith should be willing to speak out and point out that what they are doing is abusive and what they are doing is wrong? Also, Amish not having electricity is a lot different than real spiritual abuse–name-calling, public shaming, questioning spirituality based on standards, etc.

      • Reply
        Joshua Teis
        October 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

        Charles,

        I love conversing with you. You seem to be a good guy. The last statement you made did make me chuckle a bit. 🙂
        Again, Spiritual Abuse (as you define it), is subjective. I agree that if someone were using the Bible or the name of God to lead someone into a false sense of salvific security then that would classify as abuse, spiritually. But many places that are accused of “spiritual abuse” are simply good places were people disagree with procedures, rules and implementations. This is why you can have such a variety of anecdotal evidence one way or another. Some true christians don’t like a place and have bad memories, while other true Christians like the place and have good memories. Both are believers. Both had the same experience. Both lived under the same rules, etc. Hence – subjective.

        • Reply
          Charles Miller
          October 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm

          Josh,

          Do you believe that a person can be emotionally abusive? Do you believe a person can be abusive to another through their authority? Do you believe a person can be verbally abusive?

          What if someone abused others in these forms and when confronted according to Matthew 18 justified their behavior by twisting and misinterpreting the Bible. Would that not constitute spiritual abuse?

          What if, as a pastor, you taught that a person really did not love Jesus or really was not spiritual where they ought to be if they did not attend all church services, dress a specific way, or abide by certain man-made rules? Would that not be an abuse of spiritual authority?

          • James Pfeiffer
            October 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm

            If a pastor was teaching that you must dress a certain way, sing certain songs, attend church, etc in order to be a Christian then he’d be guilty of spreading false doctrine contrary to John 14 where Jesus makes it clear that He is “the way, the truth, and the life…” period…not some dress code or hymn playlist. So, I’d argue that a pastor NOT sticking to foundational truths is likely not a Christian and therefor NOT the subject of Josh’s article.

            I humbly submit that the church leaders he was referring to would be those belonging to Christ’s Church…in order to be part of that church, you have to be a believer in Christ and accept him as your saviour. With that in mind, the only items pastors and other church leaders have to disagree upon are the lesser issues ie dress code, music styles, etc which are not important enough to quibble over…it just distracts from your own walk.

    • Reply
      Adam Yockey
      October 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Thank you, Josh, for your response. I noticed in your reply that you do not classify spiritual abuse as “real abuse,” but something that only exists in the “eye of the beholder” and something that is a result of differing perspectives over a “silly rule.” I’m an elder in my church, and I work with students in city-wide afterschool programs, and I too have seen other types of abuses. I would define spiritual abuse as the use of Scripture to manipulate others to conform to the teachings of a leader or group. I will share part of my story here in hopes that you will simply take a deeper look at what has been a “real” abuse in my life.

      From the ages of 0-13, I attended Fairhaven Baptist Church in Chesterton, Indiana. If you google them, you will find that they and the churches that align themselves with them and their college completely agree with your foundational doctrines. My parents taught at the college there, and as a child I trusted Christ as my Savior. They had a lot of “silly” rules: no tv if you’re really a good Christian, no pants on women, short hair for men, no rock music, no CCM, no books that the pastor didn’t approve of, no music that had beat of any kind, no holding microphones while performing songs, etc… A very fundamental church and proud of it.

      But adherence to these “silly” rules were in their view the “fruit” of true Christianity, and they would shun anyone who did not adhere to these or the other teachings of their leader. In fact, I have childhood friends who now attend other Bible-believing churches whose parents have not spoken to them in over a decade because they stopped going to that church. Though that church would say Christians are saved by grace, they practiced a belief that it is the duty of the believer to maintain his/her righteousness after salvation, and I was introduced to the concept of wearing a mask as I “performed” as a Christian. These teachings warped my view of God. I did not see him as a God of love, but as a God who sought to destroy me if I could not keep up with all the “silly” rules. These teachings separated me from other believers in the same church. We all wore masks and hid our true struggles from each other, because to admit that you couldn’t live up to the expectations meant that you were “backslidden” or even “not really saved.” I found no joy in the Christian life, and did not find it to be abundant as the Bible describes. I feel deep pain for my friends who have rejected God altogether because of their experiences there, experiences so painful that it literally brings them to tears over 20 years later.

      It has taken me years to see God as a loving Father and believe that He loves me no matter what. And it has been tremendously freeing, and joyful, and abundant. I’m thankful for the church I now work in and attend. I used to think that my story was an isolated church in an isolated place and would not share my experience out of embarrassment, but I’ve found as I share my story, that there are many others who have similar experiences in other churches and other denominations. This experience and others has shown me that spiritual abuse is real, and I do believe it is my responsibility to point it out and show others that there is a better way.

      • Reply
        Joshua Teis
        October 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm

        WOW – Adam – I had no idea of your story. Please know that I did not mean to diminish your experience. I could never imagine living under such conditions so for me to judge your experience as if it were not “real” would be wrong. I’ve never had to live in a situation like that. It sounds like a very strange thing to go through and I am genuinely sorry that your were put through this experience. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. It does help me to understand what others have gone through. I will be praying for you. I am especially glad that you have found grace rather than guilt and love rather than the law. To view God as a loving father changes Christianity from a dead religion to a vibrant relationship with God.

        • Reply
          David Horsford
          October 23, 2013 at 2:54 am

          Josh, you know I love you and you know I’ve been through a lot as well. This will benefit you as you peer into the heart of a survivor like me, who is coming full circle in his faith. You choose to be a John Huss, who seeks to change Fundamentalism from the inside; me, one who benefits it from the outside-the battles have made me battle-sick. I’ve stepped out to new havens and am really enjoying serving in a borderline ecumenic rescue mission set, helping the over 10,000 homeless in San Diego-blessings to you. Please don’t neglect those who’ve truly suffered spiritual abuse like me, because others who have no claim to such say they have been spiritually abused; emotional and spiritual abuse are on par with rape and other forms of outright abuse. Emotional abuse is at the heart of many of these forms of outright abuse; after all, the end product of it is blatant physical abuse at times. I’ve suffered what it means to be demeaned, disparaged, and ostracized as a pastor by my senior pastor. Spiritual abuse is real. Pastors who either abuse or condone such abuse need to be held to the same standard as men in other public places. Many times these abusive types use the church as cover to prostitute others emotionally and spiritually. Kingdom builders hurt the kingdom, while staging the appearance of people builders and need exposure for who they are. To give these men the added comfort of insulation gives society the idea that we condone the evil they metasticize through their abuse. Yes, God exposes, but we have a duty at times to protect fellow sheep we know from wolves as Titus indicates. Greetings to you and my fellow Tide fan Heather-forever friends.

          http://paradiserecovered.com/we-are-spiritual-abuse-survivors/

          • Joshua Teis
            October 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm

            Thanks David – I appreciate your friendship and response. Thank you for understanding the spirit in which this post was written.

      • Reply
        Megan
        October 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm

        This too was my experience growing up.

        • Reply
          Joshua Teis
          October 22, 2013 at 5:59 pm

          Oh Megan. I’m so sorry to hear this. Have you found grace? Have you been able to leave the critical spirit in the past? I’m glad you found this post.

      • Reply
        Kreine
        October 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm

        Adam,

        I’m originally a Hoosier, and when I read “Fairhaven,” my blood chilled. That place is infamous for its abuses: spiritual, physical, verbal, & emotional.

        I’m so sorry for what you experienced there, & I pray continued healing, peace, & justice for you & all the other victims.

  • Reply
    Val Smith
    October 22, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I love this. I love you’re “got bit” statement. That is such a wonderful way to state that. I was bitten several years ago and would read several of the blogs where the writers believed they had it all right and everyone had it wrong – them vs. everyone else. In trying to be a more mature Christian and an example, I realized I frankly had more productive things to do with my time. It just seems a lot of the ones who use their platform to bash do not have joy in their everyday lives and any of their problems are everyone else’s fault, and that is just sad.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      I agree Val. That is why we must not fall into the same trap. We need to love and show an example of compassion and acceptance. Remember, perception is reality for many people. Therefore we must show forth the Love of Christ and reach everyone that is wounded or feels wounded.

  • Reply
    Heather
    October 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Great blog and interesting comments. I know that I can easily fall into being critical…it’s in my nature. The Lords been working on this a lot with me. Public criticism has rarely been an edifier to my Christian life- whether I was dishing it out myself or reading it online. More often than not, I’m afraid it takes the focus off the very One we should be lifting up. This world is in desperate need of Christ. Tearing down other believers presents Christians as an angry group who can’t even get along with each other. And often when another pastor or ministry is doing something I believe is not helpful to the cause of Christ, the last thing I want to do is draw more attention to it. I wonder sometimes how much more we talk, text, post, blog about others need for correction vs. praising God for all that He is. (Btw- that last remark was for this gal.) 🙂

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks Heather – Best comment of the day. And I’m not just saying that because your my wife and I’ll be home for dinner soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    Aaron Carpenter
    October 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Good stuff here, Josh. I especially like the point you made about the reproductive nature of criticism. If the pulpit is filled with unbiblical criticism, then why shouldn’t the pews be? And when the flesh is holding the gun, there’s no telling who’s going to get shot!
    Still, I’m thinking hard about whether or not there might be times for faithful shepherds to point out the erroneous doctrines / practices of other prominent Christian leaders. My reason is that what people claim to believe, what they actually teach, and what they actually do, don’t always correspond, and the public nature of their influence may require intervention of some kind.
    And spiritual abuse is another interesting topic. 🙂
    Man, I wish I lived closer!

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      Aaron – Thanks for the thought. You make a great point about faithful shepherds pointing out those who are presenting false doctrine. I too need to think more on the subject. Jesus said that false teachers (wolves) would arise to take advantage of the flock. I suppose it is our responsibility to point out the false gospel. But where, do you suppose, is the line? When do we cross over from pointing out doctrinal error that leads to damnation to a bitter spirit that likes to grip about minor disagreements and hurt feelings?

      • Reply
        Aaron Carpenter
        October 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

        I’m not sure if we can pinpoint a line exactly, but your use of Romans 14 is a great place to begin. Also, I think intent is an important element. Am I griping? Am I venting? Is it personal? Have I forgiven? Am I seeking to draw attention to myself? Do I care about the person I’m criticizing? Have I taken the time to uncover all the facts? Is this person and their teaching a real threat to the flock Christ has entrusted to me?
        Or we could just stick to your main point – proclaim Christ – and only draw swords when something arises that conflicts or confuses that simple task.

        • Reply
          Joshua Teis
          October 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm

          Yes to both of your thoughts. I think you are right.

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    October 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks for this post and blog. I found your blog and church through Matt Cretzman and Josh Cox. It is good to see God working out West and especially in Las Vegas of all places.. I am glad to see the blessings of God here at home in Maryland and throughout the country by the good use of the internet, blogs, and podcasts. Praise the Lord for servants that serve and please Him!

  • Reply
    Scotton Roberts
    October 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Sorry, forgot to put my name. The above anonymous is not really anonymous anymore. Scott Roberts serving at Salisbury Baptist Temple in Maryland.

  • Reply
    Viny Burns
    October 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Excellently said! We’ve personally been on the side of being trashed in the ministry and every point you mentioned could have played out in our lives. And yes, it hurts! It hurts because people are led astray with untruths and yes, there is another side to the story! When you are unjustly accused and others believe, you feel like your ministry is at an end, but our God always knows the truth and His righteousness and Truth prevails! I agree with you Pastor – always be careful of what you say about a fellow believer – especially a minister of the Gospel. #1 you may have to eat your words and #2, we are family and should stick together so the world witnesses Godly unity in Christ.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 23, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks Viny. We miss having you and Jim here in Vegas. So very thankful for your many years of support and friendship.

  • Reply
    Taylor Hershberger
    October 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks for this. A decision to make the Gospel and salvation the dividing point would definitely appear to be the most biblical approach.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 23, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      I’m glad you saw the dividing point clearly in the post Taylor.

  • Reply
    Daniel Hester
    October 22, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Josh, very well stated. It amazes me that so many Christians love to kick fellow brothers and sisters in Christ when they are down. Whether they have truly sinned or whether it is simply a difference in opinions or standards, somehow they have decided that a public forum is the proper medium to settle a score. Unfortunately, Matthew 18 and Galatians 6.1 are not considered in their responses. What a poor testimony to the lost world around us.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Daniel. – My biggest concern is for the testimony of Christianity. I agree with you on this point.

      • Reply
        Anonymous
        October 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm

        I find it interesting that very often the warning to not criticize really means keep it quiet. The testimony of Christianity is that we all sin and need salvation. Sin is sin before or after salvation. Many seem to feel that sin after salvation if exposed is harmful to the testimony of Christianity. When in fact exposure of all sin gives testimony to the greatness of Christianity. No we don’t sin that grace may abound. But how will anyone outside of Christianity know of God’s abounding grace if all sins are after salvation are hid from exposure. I personally am not impressed with Christianity when a person does not admit to doing any sin. Exposure of sin of any kind may bring repentance.
        Spiritual abuse tires to impose my beliefs on another if a believer or not. When I do that I am spiritually abusing. I am also going contrary to the doctrine that it is God who saves and the Holy Spirit who convicts. When I force my beliefs on another I am sinning and that is spiritual abuse. I have great freedom in allowing God and the Holy Spirit to do their job. I enjoy my part of just loving people and answer their questions when they ask about my beliefs. And yes loving can mean exposing sin and showing God’s grace.

  • Reply
    Joel
    October 23, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I take your point but too often issues, in fundamentalist circles for example, are never addressed until someone speaks out. Then when they do my personal experience has been that the critic is dismissed as “bitter” or divisive or uninformed and things roll merrily along status quo.
    I’ve also seen organizations proclaim loudly that there is no problem then wait a suitable period of time and then address the issue with assurances that their actions are by no means a result of the attention brought by the critic.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks Joel for your thoughts. You make some valid points.

  • Reply
    Kreine
    October 23, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I’m not sure a critical spirit is something you can catch. You almost make it sound as if it’s a living thing, though I don’t think you mean to directly contrast criticism with the living Spirit of God.

    Christians are to follow Christ’s example, correct? How to you explain your reticence to call out bad leadership when Christ himself rebuked the Pharisees?

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 24, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Kreine – thank you so much for your question. I don’t mean to contrast the Spirit of God with a critical spirit. That was just my poor communicative skills at work.

      I think the answer to your question is in the last comment I made on this thread.

  • Reply
    Barb Orlowski
    October 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Hey Josh, Enjoyed your topic which stimulated lots of good discussion. There have been many good comments which give a fuller view of how to approach things. I like to use the term “critique” since it means “a detailed analysis and assessment of something.” It speaks to me of a fair assessment, yet also includes the calling out and naming of things that are negative, harmful, and require awareness and action.

    You might be interested in my doctoral research on the topic of spiritual abuse and recovery. This was an in-depth investigation into what exactly is ‘spiritual abuse’ in the local church. This is one of those issues that needs to be talked about, people need to be made aware of, and people need to have resources from which to make a valid assessment.

    As many have stated, the biblical accounts give many places where issues and behaviors were called out. It is important to have a good understanding of the Scriptures and be able to speak the truth in love or just plain rebuke, as one is motivated by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Often the fear of being critical is not balanced with the need to warn and rebuke for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

    I hope that you will check out my website: http://www.ChurchExiters.com
    My book is: Spiritual Abuse Recovery.

    All the best!
    Barb

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 24, 2013 at 8:37 am

      Thank you Barb – I’ll check it out.

  • Reply
    Daniel
    October 23, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Bro. Josh,

    It is my belief that your blog errs against several fundamental points:

    1. The historic Baptist position has been that we are neither a tribe or a denomination but the heirs of New Testament Christianity, both in faith and practice. We are neither Puritans nor Protestants, never existing within the established church. If you believe that another tribe more closely resembles that heritage, you ought to follow in that sect. There are Baptists whose allegiance is to the truth, not personalities or circles of men.

    2. You leave no room to fulfill the requirements of Jude 3. We are commanded to earnestly contend for the faith. In His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ was a contender. The Son of God purged the Temple, castigated the Pharisees and preached a divisive message.

    John described the spirit of antichrist that was already in the world and that which grows stronger unto the day of the coming of the Son of Perdition.

    Paul withstood Peter to the face, exposed Alexander’s treachery, and attacked the church at Corinth for their carnality. New Testament Christianity IS contending.

    3. It is possible to contend graciously. Your blog assumes that each reproof is full of anger and malice. That is untrue. Our Lord was full of grace and truth, yet He contended. He was loving, yet loyal to the truth. He being our example, we ought not to let the nature of some who are contentious keep us from contending for the faith. In Galatians Paul both reproved Peter and encouraged believers to restore fallen brethren.

    4. Our people do follow us, therefore, we must show them the way in defending the faith of our fathers. As the mantle of truth has been handed to us, we must become increasingly able and willing to stand against the world, the flesh, the Devil and brethren that err against the faith.

    I have decided to not allow the extremism of a few keep me from following Christ and effectively defending the faith purchased by Jesus’ blood and preserved by the blood of my fathers.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 24, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Daniel,
      Your comments were very appropriate to the conversation and I appreciate the feedback. I especially appreciate your tone. I guess I’m a sensitive soul but I think its important in this type of discussion. You mention 3 examples of contending. Let’s talk about each.
      When Paul confronted Peter he did this face to face, correct? When we see a brother fall into carnality or into legalism should not this be our example? Yet sometimes this can be used as an excuse to publicly rebuke another believer with accusations of liberalism or legalism.
      Was not Alexander an unbeliever who actively opposed Christianity? If so, I agree that we ought call those out who actively oppose the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (See my final comment at the end of the thread)
      Lastly, I don’t believe Paul was attacking the church at Corinth but attempting to lead them and pastor them. Though he did use harsh words, he was doing so in love for the purpose of helping a church in which he had direct influence.

    • Reply
      Guest
      October 30, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Interesting studying. Look up the word contend in the Greek. Normally, we think of a boxer or a fighter on the offensive attack for the faith. What if Jude wanted us to put the focus on ourselves? Think of a gymnast competing in the Olympics. He must be disciplined. He must be balanced. He must be focused. He must guard his own steps and keep himself pure. Look at verses 20,21, and 24: build up yourselves, keep yourselves, and present you faultless. Vs 14 speaks of Enoch and his prophesying that the Lord would execute the judgment. Just a thought.

  • Reply
    RobM
    October 23, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I think a significant problem with the modern pastorate is the inability to know the difference between actual criticism that needs to be done both internally & externally. It makes a lot of sense why churches have no ability to define & fight actual evil in the world (as opposed to political hobby horses, and spinning disapproved morally neutral activities) Lumping all criticism into one giant morally equivalent “bad” status neuters the church to hold the world (and just as importantly the church) accountable to fulfill the mission Christ has given.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 24, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Rob – Thanks for your feedback. You know – I agree with your statement. You are correct. We cannot lump all criticism into the “bad” category. Some criticism is important and necessary. Thank you for your thoughts. Read my final comment on the thread and tell me if I got it right this time. Glad for your friendship Rob.

  • Reply
    Josh
    October 23, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Hi there Josh,

    I ran across your article and upon seeing your name I recognized you from my days at PCC. I won’t rehash what many others have already said here, but I would like to add a little food for thought from the perspective of someone who also has worked in ministry

    A serious danger within Christendom is a double standard class division between the laity and those who call themselves a part of the ministry. There are ministers who would heap burden after burden upon their flock, with harsh consequences for even minor failures. Yet, when a church leader is guilty of some crime, we are supposed to forgive, forget, bury the victim in blame, pretend the crime never happened, and ostracize those who call for justice.

    I think you’re underestimating what years upon years of unnecessary guilt will do to a person, particularly children who grow up in those conditions and are told to stay away from anyone who thinks otherwise. In the past few years I understand that the Bob Jones network of churches has been rocked with scandal over a girl who by law was determined to be statutorily raped by a church leader. A similar issue more recently also happened at Hyles Anderson with near identical cries to blame the victim, forgive the offender, and silence the critics. When an entire collection of churches plus a Bible college protects the offenders involved and blames the victim as the greater culprit, I believe we’ve stepped beyond the point where you can go to a brother in private for correction.
    I believe it is unwise to dismiss criticism without thoughtfully considering it. Criticism is not to be confused with slander or insults, as criticism is ultimately meant to be constructive and therefore helpful. When you dismiss criticism as the mere rantings of the bitter and the gossips, you throw away an opportunity to improve. You also run the risk of throwing out a person who cares about the impact of your ministry in favor of people who tell you only what you want to hear.

    I hope these words bear useful fruit for you and others. Peace and wisdom to you and yours.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 24, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Hey – another Josh! Very cool. I think my final comment at the end of this thread might clarify my thoughts on the subject. Thanks for the feedback. BTW – Which Josh is this from PCC days?

      • Reply
        Josh
        October 25, 2013 at 12:33 am

        Hi Josh,

        I am of the Benson variety 🙂

        Your comment at the end of the thread was a welcome clarification. Allow me to build onto that.

        Take for example the recent news that the new Pope just disciplined a Bishop who had been abusing his position for greed and power. I know of many unbelievers who are happy to see this. Not only are they happy to see hypocrisy punished, they are happy to see that this new leader is operating with a new level of transparency and vulnerability. These should be staples in a Christian ministry per 1 Timothy.

        1 Timothy 5:19-20
        19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
        20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

        I suggest that the primary source of many believers’ criticisms and bitter spirits begins with a ministry’s failure to obey this specific passage. An accusation against a minister is to be taken with a grain of salt, but those condemned by multiple witnesses and satisfactory evidence are to be publicly punished. Note that this type of discipline is specifically prescribed only for elders. I don’t know of any passage that ever recommends this course of action for the laity. Yet what we have seen in Fundamentalist Christianity is a pattern of publicly punished victims while offenders are often rabidly defended even after being put behind bars.

        The world needs to see that we value justice and integrity just as much as it needs to see that we value mercy and unity.

        I would like to add another piece to the puzzle. One of the strongest condemnations in all of Scripture is directed towards legalism. Perhaps you may recall 1 Timothy 4.

        1 Timothy 4:1-5
        1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
        2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
        3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
        4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
        5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

        Notice the formula. These departers of the faith prophesied about are guilty of commanding people to abstain from what God has declared good. They replace God’s goodness with a checklist that in effect labels some part of God’s Creation to be evil. I’m suggesting that there is a very real possibility that Protestant Fundamentalism may be a portion of this demonically influenced group condemned by this prophecy.

        I do not buy the redefinition of legalism given by Fundamentalists–that legalism is nothing more than adding works to the Gospel. Legalism is the idea that obedience to asceticism produces spiritual maturity and/or favor with God.

        Let that marinate for a while in your mind and let me know what you think.

  • Reply
    Larry Hobbs
    October 23, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Josh,
    You keep reciting the fundamentals of the faith as if they are the only things we should separate on and, as long as one is not teaching adversely to them, we should be for them, and not criticize them. That is rediculous. The pope holds to the 5 fundamentals yet he is preaching a false gospel that is sending folks to hell. Does this mean I can no longer preach against him and his heretical doctrines? Many religions, who also hold to the 5 fundamentals, also preach a works based salvation or a baptismal regeneration. Does this mean I should not preach against them or criticize what they are doing? They too are sending people to hell. As soon as Paul found out Peter was adding works to grace he withstood him to the face. Are you ready to rebuke the Apostle Paul for criticizing Peter? Jude teaches us to earnestly contend for the faith. Are you ready to rebuke The Lord for recording this in Scripture? How can I in good conscience hold hands with those who preach another Bible, another gospel, and another Jesus? Will you not criticize Joel Osteen for preaching a prosperity gospel and giving folks a false sense of Heaven? Where does it end? What we need today is a revival of manly men who, like Paul, are not afraid to call out sin, false doctrines and false prophets.
    I’ve been to your church and I really enjoyed it but this was several years ago. After reading your blog on music which you stated your new liberal slant, I instructed my wife not to go to your church while she was there visiting her grandparents. She went to your dad’s church instead and really enjoyed it. Josh, we young preachers really need to consider what our children’s fundamentalism is going to look like if we continue this emergent church direction. What we do in moderation they will do in excess. God did not speak to you and tell you contemporary music is ok just like He didn’t tell the children of Israel that it was ok to bring the songs of Egypt into the Promised Land.
    By the way, the smoke screen for scorners is “I was spiritually abused”. Certainly there are some genuine cases where a man took advantage of his influence for evil but this is few and far between. As a man who was horribly abused as a child, I kind of find this phraseology offensive.
    We must stand before true New Testiment Christianity before it is diluted into some humanistic social club.
    -Larry

    • Reply
      RobM
      October 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Larry, for example. is a prime candidate for some criticism including spelling, and the obvious lacking theological training.

      • Reply
        Daniel
        October 23, 2013 at 9:10 pm

        ROBM,
        If you are going to fight theological battles with grammar faux pas, you need to proofread your comment before you reply. Try, “Larry, for example, is a prime candidate for some criticism including spelling and the obvious lack of theological training.”
        He is obviously lacking theological training? It is ironic that you did not use your Bible when accusing Larry of using his Bible inappropriately.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 24, 2013 at 8:58 am

      Larry,
      I’m sorry that you have been offended with some of my posts. This was not my intention. I feel badly that Southern Hills is not a place that you feel like you or your family would be able to worship. However, I do think that is the reason there are so many variety of churches who still hold to the foundational truths of Scripture. Not every church fits every person. As to the topic of Contending for the faith – I think my final comment on this thread might help clarify my position on the subject. Read it and let me know what you think. Thanks again my friend.

    • Reply
      Josh
      October 25, 2013 at 12:54 am

      Larry,

      I couldn’t help but notice your turmoil. I understand that you must have gone through some horrible things as a child. It angers and saddens me to see that you went through such pain. But friend, do not turn your wrath towards others who also have suffered greatly. There are many spiritually abused people who show the same symptoms of PTSD that victims of physical and sexual abuse experience. Trauma of the mind and heart is nothing to be dismissed just because you can’t see the scars.

      I wish you blessing upon blessing and healing, that you would be made whole. God bless.

  • Reply
    Will Dudding
    October 24, 2013 at 12:12 am

    So, was it wrong for John MacArthur to hold a conference exposing the errors of the Charismatic movement as well as naming names?

  • Reply
    Joshua
    October 24, 2013 at 6:30 am

    If a man takes two words out of Isaiah, lets his imagination run wild with it, and uses it to tell his embellished life story, presents God as someone just looking for a chance to squash you, simulates an ahem, “private act”, and then proceeds to guilt folks into making a promise, never really does actually deliver what God intended His words to mean, and then performs that same lecture repeatedly as the one he wants to be most known for, you aren’t going to call that out? The same man writes a book where he inexplicably teaches that our union with Christ is a sexual one, you are just going to smile and give tacit approval? You aren’t going to let the people that God has entrusted to you know that man is a charlatan? Then you will be there in the aftermath like Jim Binney saying I knew something was wrong but didn’t say anything. You will be in the aftermath a lot apologizing for letting Christ’s sheep wander off into the lair of wolves in sheeps clothing. Good luck with all that.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 24, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Joshua – I think my final comment on this thread may bring more clarity to the discussion. Check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks for taking the time to interact with us.

  • Reply
    Brian McLaughlin
    October 24, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Hey Josh,
    Good post. I think after reading the article and scouring through the comments that one of the dangers of coming out of a “Pharisaical movement” is becoming a “pharisee” of the “pharisees.” We become critical of those who were/are critical. We are doing nothing better when we turn the criticism around and become overly critical of them. I really believe that pride is at the root of all of these masks and ultimately, Romans 14:4 will come to fulfillment in the last day. A great book that has really impacted my thinking in this area over the last year is the book “Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith.” Honestly, I don’t have time to be critical of other brothers over petty stuff. As a pastor, I have to choose the battles that we fight as a church wisely. There is too much fighting and dying on the wrong hills today. God help us! I think there is a time to “earnestly contend” for the faith, but so many today think they are “contenders” but in reality that are “pretenders” and they are not fighting the right battle. God grant us wisdom and grace to know when and how to fight the good fight of faith. Just my 2 pennies for the conversation. God bless you.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 24, 2013 at 9:01 am

      Brian,

      A Pharisee of the pharisee. An interesting phrase indeed. Thanks for your comment and your unique insight and positive spirit. I’m excited with what God is doing in your church.

    • Reply
      Aaron Carpenter
      October 24, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Ironic, isn’t it, that those who criticize fundamentalists for hyper-separtism are the quickest to separate from fundamentalists?

      • Reply
        David Horsford
        October 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm

        That was the premise of some of my study in seminary. The separating and condemning tendencies of many non-separatists from separatists. It makes for a good point, but the separation to me is more a fruit of misunderstanding between separatists and non-separatists, or inexperience/ inordinate condemnation among Separatists, who’ve either never been out there or choose not to truly interface with elements of the church universal, what a beautiful concept, in a way that is mature and loving. This whole hypercritical thing to me is cover for a misconstrued concept that there’s always a right way with no room for grey. Being able to handle gray and difference is fundamental to our interaction as believers. If you’re dealing with someone, who speaks from a desire to prove he’s right, it makes for conversation, which isn’t mature or real-two must be agreed on the reality that’ll they’ll disagree.

  • Reply
    Joshua Teis
    October 24, 2013 at 8:29 am

    There are 3 Groups of People who have taken offense to this post. I will attempt to address your concerns here:

    1. Those who insist on attacking Conservative Brethren
    Look, I get it. You have been hurt by leaders who claimed to be men of God. It saddens me to know that there are those who would use the name of Christ to advance their own agenda and harm the sheep. These men and institutions ought be held accountable and they will be. I have pointed out those like Westboro Baptist Church who have damaged the cause of Christ immeasurably through their hate and vitriol. However, just because an institution is more conservative than the Lord has led you to be, does not mean they are evil and legalistic. I have good friends who don’t own a television, won’t go to the movies and would not enjoy a Steve Green song. But this doesn’t mean that they are evil. This doesn’t mean they are spiritually abused or abusive. It just means that they have a different standard on a minor issue. I’m thankful for these friends because they are leading people to Jesus Christ and actual salvations are actually occurring. How could I condemn them in the public forum and abuse their reputations as they seek to please God and lead the unbeliever to faith in Christ? Sure we can discuss our differences privately and debate the merits of this preference vs. that. However, I have decided to not be among those who castigate others for being more conservative than I.

    2. Those who insist on attacking Progressive Brethren
    Look, I get it. There are those who seem to be abusing their liberty in Christ. (Which is a thing – Gal. 5:13) These men and institutions ought be held accountable and they will be. However, just because an institution is more progressive than the Lord has led you to be, does not mean they are evil and liberal. I have good friends who own a television, go to the movies and have a band in every service. But this doesn’t mean that they are evil. This doesn’t mean they are worldly and ungodly. It just means that they have a different standard on a minor issue. I’m thankful for these friends because they are leading people to Jesus Christ and actual salvations are actually occurring. How could I condemn them in the public forum and abuse their reputations as they seek to please God and lead the unbeliever to faith in Christ? Sure we can discuss our differences privately and debate the merits of this preference vs. that. However, I have decided to not be among those who castigate others for being more progressive than I.

    3. Those who misunderstood my point
    Due to my lack of clear communicative skills I may come off to some as one unwilling to stand against any “preacher” or “denomination” that presents a false gospel. Let me be clear. I WILL CONTEND FOR THE FAITH. As Jude, the brother of our Lord, commends us to do in his small yet important epistle. As a good pastor friend of mine is known to say, “I will contend for the the faith but I don’t have to be contentious.” I will stand against the false gospel of the Roman Catholic Church and other false churches that teach works righteousness vs. grace righteousness. As I mentioned in the original post, anyone who teaches another way to salvation other than the blood atonement is truly evil. I will also stand against phariseeism that teaches we must earn our acceptance before God through outward conformity. In fact I have a sermon on the subject that I will be preaching at SHBC on Nov. 17th. I will defend the Gospel with my life, but not everything is the gospel. I will contend for the faith but I will not be contentious. I want to be nice.

    I know that I’m young and perhaps come across as a little idealistic. I just wish the Christian community could get along. It might please Jesus.

    The World needs to see a united Christian front. Christians who are not obsessed with criticizing the intricate details of another’s convictions and preferences. A Christian community that is loving, welcoming and kind is what we must be. They need to see us as the Victors in Christ not as Victims of circumstance.

    For Southern Hills Baptist Church members – this is the type of church we need to strive to be.

    • Reply
      Sarah Case
      October 24, 2013 at 11:55 am

      I appreciate your reasoned, biblical appeal. I think what many are searching for is balance. We will never get “it” (whatever “it” happens to be) right if we run blindly in the opposite direction every time we spot error. This is particularly true with criticism, slander, and evil speaking. We have to respond with hurt feelings, and that’s the hardest time to keep balance. The only way to keep our spirit and actions right is to remain focused on Christ and His gospel.

      While it is true that Paul rebuked a church leader in front of everyone, and then mentioned it later in a letter where that incident was relevant, we find in 2 Peter that there is respect for Paul, and their relationship is restored. I often see no effort for reconciliation in ministries that call themselves “watchmen”. Paul did not hesitate to call out those who attacked the gospel or God’s church, but he took nothing personally, and that is the sticking part for me. It’s one thing to call out a heretic, and quite another to rejoice when God’s people are only preaching the gospel out of spite in order to add affliction to the imprisonment of God’s servant. (Phil. 1) While their motives were rotten to the core, Paul rejoiced that Christ was preached. He had the right focus, and that is the only way to keep balanced in these times. I’m still learning the ropes on that key point…

      • Reply
        Joshua Teis
        October 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm

        Wow Sarah – very insightful and well written. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      Kreine
      October 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Josh – I appreciate you readdressing this!

      What I think (I hope!) you’re saying is that Christians shouldn’t criticize & nitpick each other over inconsequential things, like music choices, Bible translations, or dress codes.

      I want to be nice, too. Honestly, it’s not in my personality to be intentionally mean or antagonistic. I do play devil’s advocate sometimes in order to spark ideas & thought processes, but that’s about as far as it goes.

      What I’m struggling with (& what I assume a lot of Conservative Evangelicals of our generation are struggling with) is how to hold the tension of conviction and compassion, of mercy and justice.

      Sometimes, in order to show love to the least among us, we need to speak truth & seek justice against the church leaders who are causing more damage to the body of Christ than all the criticism raised against them ever could.

      • Reply
        Joshua Teis
        October 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm

        Absolutely – Great thought Kreine.

  • Reply
    Paul Oatsvall
    October 24, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Josh –

    I am always encouraged when I read your posts. This one is no different. Thanks

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      October 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      Thanks Paul. Appreciate your friendship. Glad to have you and Katie as friends.

  • Reply
    Tony
    October 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Excellent article! I did not read the entire thread, and maybe this has already been addressed. I just saw your original post and really liked what I read. However, I see that some have and will re-post/tweet an article like this to defend their position that some can stay in the ministry without rebuke even though that “church leader” (be he a pastor, evangelist, or missionary) disqualifies himself through immorality and cover-up. It is then time for a Nathan, Elijah, Moses, etc. to rise up and boldly warn the Church of a “wolf” among our ranks.

  • Reply
    Chris
    October 25, 2013 at 2:46 am

    Joshua

    You rather shoot yourself in the foot with this: “I’m not perfect and I have a lot that can be justly criticized. I’m not afraid of a good critique. It’s through such criticism that I have grown and seen the incremental progress that I have seen in my spiritual walk.”

    Sounds like you are encouraging people to sin against you (if criticism is sin) and that your growth is dependent on such behaviour!
    Could it be that, in your heart, you understand that not all criticism is wrong?

    I have recently left an environment in which I was spiritually manipulated and abused. Should I warn others of the dangers they face if they commit to such a group?
    Would you warn a friend that he is about to enter a dangerous cult? How would you do that without ‘criticizing’?

    There is a definition problem here, as RobM points out:
    “Lumping all criticism into one giant morally equivalent “bad” status neuters the church to hold the world (and just as importantly the church) accountable to fulfill the mission Christ has given.”

  • Reply
    Pamela Eschner
    October 25, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Dear Pastor Teis, Thanks so much for the post. You have been a real encouragement to me and I appreciate your faithfulness and humbleness. I remember a
    pastor of ours a long time ago telling us that when we point fingers at others, there are also three pointing back at us! I haven’t always heeded that but the Lord does know how to reprove and correct me. Again thank you for standing in the gap.

    Your sister in Christ…may He come quickly!

  • Reply
    Doug King
    October 25, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Josh, appreciate your thoughts on this issue. As a pastor, have you ever found times when your zeal for Christ becomes disconnected from our love for Christ, which may result in a self-righteous critical spirit? If that makes sense? As a pastor in rural northern NY your article and the some of the comments reminded me that my ministry is just a very small corner of God’s great work on earth. Thank you

    • Reply
      Mary
      October 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      What an interesting accumulation of responses. All are informative and stimulating.” Here is a quote I heard not too long ago. Maybe it does not exactly apply to your discussion, but is food for thought. “You teach what your know, You reproduce what you are., ” May we all respond with the mind of Christ.

  • Reply
    Ahmet Hernandez
    October 26, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    As a missionary on deputation, it can be easy to have a critical spirit, I appreciate the article!

  • Reply
    Raquel Wallace
    October 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I’m drawn to the words of the First Epistle of Clement who noted that in the Scriptures, “the righteous were not cast off by men who themselves were holy. The righteous were indeed persecuted, but only by the wicked…the unholy…by transgressors.” And in the midst of such suffering, “they endured them gloriously.” As the Body of Christ, we are called to admonish one another to fulfill the will of God; Clement upheld this belief as uniting us and not dividing us. As far as the blog goes, it appears to have a self seeking and self edifying theme not upholding the purpose of glorifying God, but rather making a name for himself.

    • Reply
      David Horsford
      October 28, 2013 at 4:57 am

      Quite the opposite, the blogger I believe you refer to has helped countless including me recover faith. Many of us, who were helped were dealt legalism in our homes and church-the type that emphasizes our love for Christ to the disservice of His great love for us, a Love which alone is our boasting and strength to serve. Our support group has nurtured in us courage to stand up, to expose hypocrisy, whether in colleges or in churches who use form fit their students/congregants into thinking and living their way rather them leading them down the fundamentals as Josh said and allowing self-discovery of the values they’ll lead in life. To encourage men and women to be persuaded in their own minds regarding right belief as they study Scripture in context is the goal. Unity is paramount but uniformity is not necessary; individuals must be free to grow in their priesthood, to learn how to relish and responsibly use freedom for the benefit of the kingdom. The church police, who seek to silence voices like mine are the least intimidating. There’s no power play by our help blogger or support group people. We’re just simple people relearning God, using the minds and hearts He’s given us and promulgating a Christianity, which is our own. No longer do we choose to be shadow images of overbearing Christianity. No longer do we lose our selves in the glow of someone, who either wittingly or unwittingly shapes our Christianity into the frame of their own. Discipleship can prove to be brainwashing. God has a beautiful self he desires to make anew in each of us. So glad my walk starts and ends with God as a believer priest. So thankful for the recovery and support I’ve gotten from the blog, which by the way provides so many other helpful resources. It’s foundation is apologetics, it’s speaks to life and many of the varied challenges to our faith in society; it’s heavily intellectual, yet simple and spiritual in its outlook. Praise the Lord for loading my life with good influences. I hope you’re slow to judge intentions on reading this-that’s much better reserved for God.

  • Reply
    Karen Rice
    October 28, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Someone above mentioned the example of Peter and Paul involving reconciliation and how “modern watchmen” do not allow for that. In order for there to be reconciliation, there must be repentance on the part of the one being rebuked. Peter was repentant. Most of the fundamentalist offenders today are not repentant – they deny, their followers deny, and they point fingers of blame at the people calling out their sins. I am sick and tired of the corrupt leaders making a mockery of Christ with their false teachings and immoral behavior and am even more sickened by the people who support them. Calls to mind this passage from Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

    • Reply
      Sarah Case
      October 28, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      Our home church pastor preaches from that passage often. We are old path as you can get, Karen. I also am deeply saddened by the fact that so many have forsaken the traditions of their elders, often for minor offenses, assuming judgmentally that all who hold the same standards are legalists. That is wrong. I feel they are missing out. I am on the conservative end of that spectrum, so I’ve been on the receiving end of criticism from those who assume I have standards just to please my elders.
      My beef with the bloggers (and let me say, I don’t know to whom this person is referring, but I’ve known a few) who consider themselves watchmen is that many of them (not all) are willing to set up a railing accusation for minor things that are not at all clear in the Bible. The issues they pick are not issues you can say, “Thus saith the Lord” on. One such blogger, in response to a challenge on whether or not he had talked even once to the pastor he was blasting (for a minor thing) on his blog said something very telling. The main jist of it was, I could do that, but it wouldn’t be effective. He would just change to make peace with me, but continue on with the same direction. Tell, me, what spirit is that of? Every committed gossip I’ve ever talked to has said, “That doesn’t work!” when confronted with Matt. 18. I won’t talk to him because he will try to be gracious, even though he doesn’t agree, and what I want is for others to disagree with him too! If we are willing to contend for the faith (amen), we should also be willing to talk to people before publicly accusing them, or at least speak to their face, so they can respond. This is biblical, in fact, it’s the only biblical way to bring an accusation against a pastor. So no, I do not see that in many (not all) of these ministries. I’ve seen some warning of dangerous trends, and against heresies and corruption, and that’s wonderful, if it’s done in the Spirit of Christ, but some of them just throw out accusations, literally spending vast amounts of time watching the services of other IFB churches, their music, the color of their chairs, etc, just to find something to put on their blog. What spirit is that of? Sister, the pastors I’ve had have been criticized for where they put a painting, having stringed instruments that are strummed with the fingers instead of scraped with a bow, having youth groups, not having youth groups, having a Patch the Pirate club (Pirates are thieves), yes-the color of their chairs, kettle drums in the orchestra, women playing in the orchestra, letting the little boys and girls play together, letting the men and women shake hands, and I could go on. I’m not including the false accusations, all those were guilty as charged. What spirit is that of?

  • Reply
    Chris
    October 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    So… the only thing which is wrong is to say that something is wrong? The only thing which is allowed to be criticized is being critical? Exactly where are the boundaries of where you are going to say something is wrong? Would you say that Westboro Baptist Church, from Kansas, is doing a good job? Are you on their team? Are you on the team of child molesters who hide behind this kind of “don’t say anything” attitude?

    We are to earnestly contend for the faith. Certainly we are not to have a negative, critical spirit, but there is a tremendous difference between earnestly contending for the faith, and being a petty critic. If you do not warn your people about false teachers, you will be responsible for the error they fall into.

  • Reply
    Karen Rice
    October 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Sarah, the criticism isn’t about carpet colors or Pirate characters. We are talking about very real spiritual and sexual abuse. The kind of stuff that was swept under the rug by the very same people who have Pirate characters for their children’s ministries but have super strict and oppressive rules that come with harsh penalties if broken – unless of course you are a spiritual leader and you decide you want some young girl for entertainment. Unless of course you are crushing the spirit of your people with spiritual abuse and bullying. Hanging paintings? Really? Nobody is seriously getting riled up about that (except to be satirical). Your comment is offensive to the very real victims of these “pastors.”

  • Reply
    Sarah Case
    October 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Karen, please forgive me for making certain assumptions about your statements. Thank you for clarifying! I believe we are not talking of the same kinds of criticisms. If you read the explanations the author puts forth in the comments, you will find that he is not talking about criticizing abusive “pastors”. (Excellent use of quotation marks.) Open sin, hidden sin, and illegal behavior are repugnant. I was not talking about those either. (Wolves)Please re-read the posts. I am talking about people who are willing to levy an attack against a servant of God for something minor. It’s a serious thing to launch an accusation against someone in authority, but there is a biblical procedure to do so. I Tim. 5 goes in depth. You must take these things seriously, and only make serious accusations, with evidence. (That’s the legal standard too. (The painting was a real incident, you can’t make these things up.) I will agree with you on this point you made. These attacks diminish real complaints. ) Often real abuse goes unnoticed because so many ridiculous frivolities are flying around, and as a movement, we need to step back from those things and focus on the basics. I said Paul didn’t hesitate to expose and publicly renounce when someone attacked God’s church or the gospel. The situations you describe are examples of attacks on God’s church, so if they are true, they should always be given due attention. I’m just saying that if we wish to be taken seriously, we should not give much credence to people who focus on the silly things. They make it harder for a real victim to be heard.

    • Reply
      Sarah Case
      October 29, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      I went a little crazy with the parenthesis. wow.

  • Reply
    The New Fundamentalists: Unlikely Separatists | Blueprints
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    Jason McGrath
    November 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks Josh. I’ve thought long and hard about this kind of thing as I’m sure you have. I think you are on the right track when you step back and ask “what would Jesus be pleased with?” Or the Holy Spirit for that matter, who fosters unity. Separation within the body is better viewed as a sign of corporate sickness not health. Certainly not something to celebrate or wear as a badge of honor (perhaps a Nehemiah-like spirit of repentance if anything). It cannot be the goal, and it shouldn’t be easy. Like a severance with the physical body, it should bring pain (and weeping), not pleasure and pride. I think this perspective serves to regulate our evaluation of others, our spirit and our response as we desire to remain faithful to Christ. And yes, I’m with Aaron that this sort of thing can go both ways (censorious separation from the separatists).

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    March 21, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Well said Josh, I have been concerned about the negative spirit in the chruch for a while now. We have more important things to do than point our fingers at each other. There is a lost a dying world to minister to.

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      March 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks Anonymous. I couldn’t agree more

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    Brian Humek
    December 27, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Serious Josh, I have enough trouble trying to not be negative about my own church leaders than to be negative about other church leaders. But I understand there are those who just want to look at every other church on the crowded religious landscape simply to criticize. That’s definitely not me, but I’m sure I could be tempted to take part in such criticism if Satan so wanted to tempt me. I’m a weak brother, but I hope not that weak.

  • Reply
    Italo La Posta
    January 17, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Good morning brother Josh,

    I completely agree with your stance on Christianity. We all believe in, and follow the same Jesus Christ and I whole heartedly believe that the different denominations only serve to duvide the body. Its as if the finger is telling the hand they dont need one another and that is just wrong.

    I love Jesus, I try every day to live by His commands and to be an example ao others might see yhenchange He made in me and want to do the same. I dont assaciate as baptist, catholic, prodestant, or any so called denomination. I stand yall and proud as a Christian and when people ask I say I believe in Jesus Christ. If you do the same you are my brother/sister is Christ and as such you are my family, and if you dont believe I will do what ever I can to bring you yo the gates before it too late.

    As for the rest of this blog post I have yo tell you that you are absolutely right. For a group of people who are not to be judgemental of others by direct order of our Lord it seems as tho thats the major difining characteristic non believers associate with Christians. It should not be that way. When you love someone you dont judge them, when you love someone you accept them and then can speak to them honestly about your issue. If they dont listen you go to the church and handle it that way and they still dont listen then its all on them. If you judge then you dont love and as such you dont follow the Lords commands.

    Im not saying im perfect, I stumble and fall but i rurn to Jesus and He picks me up and helps me get back pn the path.

    Thank you for posting this and thank you for exposing this truth to those who need to read it.

    God bless and may the grace of our Lord be with you always.

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    March 6, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    I found your article recently and now I copy and paste it to everyone I see who criticizes other pastors, like Joel Osteen, especially on YouTube. We need an army of people going all through the internet posting this article. They need say nothing else. I hope at least the people reading this will do so.

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 19, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for the article. It helps confirm my position/thoughts. I have attended a Church of God for over 20 years. I adopted the church when I got married.
    I have hit my limit of denomination bashing from the pulpit…more evangelist guests than home pastor.
    Time to make the break and hope it doesn’t damage marriage and relationship with in laws.
    Thanks.

  • Reply
    WHY MANY ARE NOT LEAVING – Tribune.org
    June 18, 2019 at 5:55 pm

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