Recently, someone decided to criticize my efforts to call Christian people to Christian behaviors in this weekly column. Upon first glance, it seems odd. After all, why be critical of Christians urging Christians to live up to their own standards? Isn’t that reasonable and expected?
The critic implied my column was a waste of time, but went on to spend much time not only reading it, but picking it apart — or at least he thought he was. What he appeared to be doing was venting more than anything. I don’t know his story, but it seems he has some bitterness in him which was directed at me since I represented these hypocritical Christians he apparently despised. I paused to pray for him.
Navigating past the logical reasoning fallacies, the misuse of words and other problems in his reasoning, I chose to try to presume the best in him. I figured he legitimately thought he was offering some deep insight for others who might be as frustrated with Christians. I told him I had already answered his questions in previous columns, and noted how he was “all over the place,” which makes it hard to answer all his questions. He simply couldn’t focus on his own main issues. I wondered why Christian talk upset him so much.
Even so, I thought I would tackle this one statement again in a different way this time. He stated it was hypocritical that Christians had conflicting standards. He chose not to address the standards I was calling Christians to exemplify (for example, opposing racism and racist language, opposing the objectification of women in modern music, using foul, explicit, and obscene language, etc.). Instead, he decided to oppose something not anyone I know upholds as a Christian standard.
He spoke of wars in the Old Testament, directed by God. He mentioned atrocities of war. He suggested that because God orchestrated some of the horrible acts of war, God had called Christians to do those horrible acts.
War is ugly. Even the wars God orchestrated in the Old Testament are full of horrible things. In some of those wars, innocent women and children were killed by the command of God. In this critic’s mind, that means Christian principles are bad or at least hypocritical.
He even had at least one person enable him to think he was making sense. Obviously, he is not alone in his criticisms. Some think just like him.
However, nowhere in the Bible does God call Christians to engage in the atrocities of war. Nowhere I can find do Christians say we think things like the killing of innocent women and children is a Christian principle. So, his argument is fatally flawed. He is arguing about something no one is saying — especially not me in the column he was criticizing or anywhere else.
It’s easy to be a critic, but hard to be a good and reasonable one. It is not hypocritical for Christians to encourage others to live out their faith, Biblically. Yet, it is hypocritical for a critic to criticize a Christian by attacking something the Christian never said or supported. It’s the old “straw man” logical fallacy. It distracts from the conversation and from the truth.
God has not called Christians to purposely cause casualties to innocent people. He did, however, call people to do horrible things to win physical wars. Christianity and war conquests are not one and the same.
“We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” — 2 Corinthians 10:4 (NLT)
Jeff Adams is pastor for Paramount Christian Church. His column appears weekly in the Nisqually Valley News. Email him at email@example.com