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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

He Did It!

By Louis Rushmore

Just a little reflection on biblical passages should dispel the notion that we should never "call names" when teaching, preaching and defending the Gospel. First, numerous names of Bible characters whose names are included throughout Holy Writ only appear with commendation. What a wonderful tribute to these souls!

However, the Bible is also replete with the names of both sinners and saints who were deserving of divine condemnation. The mother and father of the human race first share this dubious distinction. Their first two children also represent both classes and their names are indelibly recorded in Scripture. Noah, Abraham, King David, the apostles and a host of others have their names recorded in the Bible and are associated with their successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses.

Especially germane to our present theme is the resounding fact that the Bible clearly teaches in principle, by example and implication, that identification of infamous individuals and congregations: (1) is appropriate and necessary for the protection of the Lord's church, and (2) represents the hopeful reclamation of erring brethren. Just what could Romans 16:17-18 possibly mean otherwise?

Consistent with this passage: (1) a certain man was disfellowshipped in 1 Corinthians 5:5 (though we do not know his name, they knew his name as surely as he had a name). (2) The Corinthian church itself and five churches of Asia were named and condemned. (3) John the Baptist rebuked King Herod (Matt. 14:3-4). (4) Paul condemned, by name, Bar-Jesus (Acts 13:6), Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20), Demas (2 Tim. 4:10) and Alexander (2 Tim. 4:14-15); (5) John likewise condemned Diotrephes (3 John 9-10).

Therefore, when it benefits the Lord's church by protecting or edifying the church, it is scripturally appropriate and biblically correct to name denominations, false teachers even out of the church, erring brethren and unfaithful congregations. However, the repugnant element of the implementation of so-called "name calling," is when well-meaning brethren do so caustically and make personal attacks, too.

Facts that prove the departures for which persons and churches are named is sufficient ammunition toward that end. Inflammatory language (e.g., "stupid," "lower than pond scum," etc.) is unnecessary and counterproductive to both edification of Christians and reclamation of the lost. Such verbal slamming of anyone sometimes creates the opposite affect from what was intended (sympathy among Christians for false teachers and instant alienation among the subjects toward whom insults are hurled). Impugning the motives of others (in cases where only omniscience could reveal those motives) and personal attacks (e.g., "bald as a cue ball," "as misguided as brother so-and-so is in his doctrine, though wrong, he may be safe along with all other idiots," etc.) are no more productive or biblically defensible.

So, call the names of false teachers, denominations, unfaithful congregations, unsound schools, etc. according to the biblical prescription, hoping all along that only good will occur among faithful brethren and the subjects of righteous condemnation. However, may we clearly 'speak the truth in love' (Eph. 4:15).

H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email:
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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