The Baptist Pillar © Brandon Bible Baptist Church 1992-Present www.baptistpillar.com
"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Dr. Thomas Cassidy, Pastor
First Baptist Church, 8758 Troy Street, Spring Valley, CA 91977 (619)462-9019
COPYRIGHT 1995 BY THE AUTHOR
This work is copyrighted only to preserve the author's ownership of his work. Any part of this work may be used without the author's permission. All that he asks is that proper credit be given. (All quotations are from the Authorized Version)
I'm a Baptist. Not just a run-of-the-mill Baptist, but an Independent, Militant, Fundamental, Unaffiliated, Separated, Soulwinning, King James, Hell Fire and Brimstone Preaching, Local Church, Landmark, Faithful Bride believer! By taking a strong stand on any, or all, of the above positions, I find myself called on to defend my doctrinal position on a regular basis.
My many articles published in various periodicals have created so much hate mail that the editors have requested your letters be sent directly to me, and not to them. I have received dozens of letters, some positive, many negative. In many of the letters, and in Baptist circles in general, I have noticed a tendency that bothers me greatly. In the letters I receive, both for and against my position, and in many of the articles I read in the varied publications I subscribe to, there is a disturbing tendency on the part of many writers to engage in name calling and mean spirited bickering, bashing, and branding. I find this attitude very distressing.
In a letter I received recently I was called "stupid," "ignorant," "small-minded," "feeble-minded," "cracked," "radical," a "fogy," "cowardly," a "heretic," "non-fundamental," "less fundamental," and many other names too numerous (and some too vulgar) to mention. To the best of my knowledge, I am none of these things. The men calling me by these names do not know me, have never met me, but presume to judge me on the basis of one or two articles which I have written concerning sincerely held beliefs and practices.
Generally speaking, name calling is carnal. One of my seminary professors used to say "If a man is incapable of arguing the issue, he argues the semantics, and if he is incapable of arguing the semantics, he attacks the personality." I fear this is very true today in our Baptist circles. We are commanded to be "speaking the truth in love," in Ephesians 4:15. In 1 Timothy 5:17 we are told to "labour in the word and doctrine," not in personalities, attacks, and name-calling. 2 Timothy 2:4 tells us to "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove; rebuke; exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."
The focus of our writing ought to be doctrine. If you don't know any doctrine, learn some. If you can't support your position without name-calling, study some more, learn more doctrine, and learn to defend the issue, not attack the man.
The news media is very busy these days defaming all Christians, linking us to right-wing radicals and terrorists. We do nothing to counter that false perception when we talk and write like right- wing radicals and engage in verbal terrorism. An honest, well thought out defense of our doctrine will do much more to further the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the true New Testament Church, and the Biblical doctrines for which it has stood for the past two thousand years, then all the bickering, bashing, and branding that is currently going on today.
Calling a man names such as "coward," "stupid," "cracked," and "feeble-minded," is not only unloving, but is an ambush not intended to deal with doctrinal issues, but intended to slander the person with whom we disagree. Disagreeing is one thing, slander is another.
I believe we ought to defend our faith. We ought to tell others what we believe. We ought to expose false teaching. We ought to write letters to authors with whom we disagree (and to those with whom we agree, as an encouragement to continue). We ought to write letters to the editors of the various publications we read. But we must, first of all, remember who we represent, and who we belong to. My Bible teaches me, in Ephesians 6:20, that I am an Ambassador for Christ. When I speak, my words reflect on the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I write a letter, my words reflect on the Lord Jesus Christ. When my words reveal a mean and caustic spirit, those mean and caustic words damage the reputation of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we, as Christians, fail to demonstrate a Christ-like spirit, how will the world ever see Jesus in us? If we, as Christians, engage in childish name calling, how can we ever expect to be treated as mature, knowledgeable, men of God? I am, by nature, a very aggressive man. I served in the military during the Vietnam war. I was a pilot. My aggressiveness may have helped me to stay alive. But when I came to Christ as my Saviour, I humbled myself before Him. He then instructed me to humble myself before men (1 Peter 5:5).
Humility is a slippery thing. Just when we think we are humble, we find out we really are not. After much prayer and sacrifice, we finely get a handle on humility. Pretty soon, we get so humble, we become proud of our humility! Name calling is proud. Name calling is arrogant. We sometimes forget, even Christians we disagree with are still our brothers in Christ. We must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. When we call those who differ with us "cowards," "stupid," "feeble-minded," we are attacking the man, not the doctrine. Christ died for that man. Attack the false doctrine, not the man who believes it.
Before I learned better, I believed some of the false doctrines these men believe. If a fine, loving, Christ-like man had not sat down with me and showed me where my doctrine was in error, I would still believe most of those false doctrines. If that man had called me names I would not have been willing to listen to him.
Name calling drives people away. If we want people to listen to us, we must be meek, humble, and use Godly reason (Isaiah 1:18) to persuade those who have an incorrect understanding of the things of the Lord. Galatians 6:1, tells us, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Ephesians 4:15 tells us that our position is important, "But speaking the truth in love," but it also tells us our disposition is important "...speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ." Think about it.