‘Calling Out’ or Cannibals

Blog posts generally follow a basic format…


[Confessional Story]

[Witty Joke]

[How Blogger Works Through Problem & You Can Too]

Sure some are more creative about it than others, but more times than not all of those elements are there.

But not today folks.

I’m afraid that today I’m the one asking you to tell me how you work through a problem, because I’ve wrestled with this one for a while.

[Problem]photo (10)

Christianity includes a wide range of thoughts and ideas. Yeah there are some core beliefs that we all hold too, but from James Dobson to Al Sharpton, to John Piper to Greg Boyd, we’re all over the place.

Some of these people I vehemently disagree with on SO many issues. In fact I think some of the theology that fellow believers teach and espouse is harmful, dangerous, and does not look anything like Jesus on the cross.

Whenever I hear these theologies on twitter, facebook or a podcast, my first reaction is go into damage control,  to confront the injustice, call it out. Part of me also wants the outside world to know – ‘That’s not who Christ really is, these people are bad representations of a disciple!’

But I wonder, how can I do that without being apart of the same problem I’m trying to fix. If I’m afraid that the outside world will erroneously say “Christians believe X” then would it not be just as bad or worse if the outside world correctly said “Christians constantly attack each other, they’re cannibals.”

[How to Work Through the Problem]

What say you? I have a few thoughts, but like I said, I’m still wrestling with this.

Leave your thoughts in the comment section. I think I may come back to this later in the week after I’ve heard what everyone has to say.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

17 thoughts on “‘Calling Out’ or Cannibals

  1. Appreciate the humility you’re showing in opening this up to the reading audience, Shane. I kind of shy away from this scene instinctively, but I’m wondering if a public critique/private rebuke is a good method? In other words: if the theological stance is disagreeable, but not egregious, we intelligently post a rebuttal that still demonstrates respect for the ministry/witness/character of the public figure who’s presenting it. If it’s plainly bad or harmful doctrine, we take the more personal (and maybe more courageous step) of writing them an email, giving them a phone call, or making an attempt to make direct contact and express concern.
    I think, living in a society that embraces the marketplace of ideas, the world at large will be able to tell the difference between making a critique of a believer’s theological statement and putting that believer themselves on blast. And I think, ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to avoid.

    • @BenHumeniuk I think you’re definitely right about a “case by case” approach. Sometimes we’ll get it wrong but our willingness to apologize will speak volumes.

  2. For me, I typically let the dead dog lie.
    For those particularly egregious posts that might have a wide damage application, I only speak for myself. Something like this: This does not represent my way of living faith. I am sorry for the pain it causes.
    I then follow it with what I believe in positive statements. Within social media, often, rebuttals turn into arguments which in the end have no audience or resolution. Just sides that cheer for one another.

  3. I definitely agree with all of these comments. When it comes to “calling someone out” on their views, it is very easy to confuse our personal angst or desire to challenge another with genuine concern for the truth.  If I am looking for something to “call out,” I can usually find it.  I think the first step on matters of concern is to seek the counsel of those whom we trust.  There is no universal response.
    Nevertheless, there are a few things we might keep at the forefront as we wrestle with these issues.
    First (and this may be more of a personal conviction), we should take into account the forum in which we present our ideas.  A blog (and subsequent comments) communicates in a different way than, say, a public speech or a debate, or even a traditional magazine or journal article.  The reception and the expectation is different.
    Second (and this applies to all these media), a Christian must always dwell in humility.  If I am to argue vehemently for correctness or any sort of orthodoxy, I must be able to admit my limited perspective and ability to be mistaken or misunderstood.  Likewise, I must realize that my goal is not to persuade the world to see everything as I do, but to participate in and engage a discussion which points toward a dynamic and personal fidelity to God, to Scripture, and to one another. In that process, I can only be responsible for my own fidelity, and not that of anyone else.  As soon as I breach my humility, be it in conversation, in the blogosphere, or in teaching, it matters far less what I say, because I have already departed from the Christly example and spirit.
    Also, we must value our language.  By this I mean that we must work to say what we mean and mean what we say. We should avoid superlatives as much as possible, and guard against very much hyperbole.  Also, we must be willing to recognize when no response is merited.  If a conversation is already spinning into name-calling and finger-pointing, it is worthless to join in.
    At the end of the day, the believer can be influenced by their own interpretation of the gospel, can exemplify that gospel in their own life, and can seek to extend that same gospel influence to others.  It is not their place or responsibility to ensure orthodoxy in the lives or ministries of others.  We can teach.  We can discuss.  We cannot control the reception.

  4. I too find it incredibly frustrating.
    I didn’t grow up in the church, so I know my experience is different than many, but it seems to me that some Christians are so used to “defending” their faith against the culture through debate that it sort of becomes an active part of their faith. Like, they see it as proof that they’re taking their faith seriously by seeking out competing ideologies to discredit. And unfortunately, they often end up using the same tactic within the broader body of Christ.
    And though my first inclination is often similar to yours – dive in and demonstrate the contrast to the examples Christ set – I’m often reminded (not always…I still enter my share of arguments) of how Christ never really engaged with people that way.
    I wonder how much different things could be if we all made a conscious effort whenever we’re inclined to debate something, to instead actually do something that tangibly demonstrates the truth we’re so concerned with defending.

  5. Thinking about this with a fresh morning brain, I recall a verse that tethers my reaction to this kind of thing:
    Proverbs 26:4-5 “Don’t answer a fool in terms of his folly or you will be descending to his level. but answer a fool as his folly deserves, so that he won’t think he is wise.”

  6. I’m guilty of jumping on the apologetics bandwagon literally all the time. If you find a way to cope with it please share it with me because I really need it.

  7. so…what first comes to mind is when Jesus tells a story about the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13: the field is planted, an enemy comes in the night and sows weeds, the wheat and the weeds grow up together and the servants want to tear up the weeds.  But the Master says that they should leave the weeds amongst the wheat, to grow together and that it’s at the harvest time when the weeds and the wheat will be separated.

    • You know what this makes me think of? All of these people kicking others out of Christianity ie – Piper’s tweet to Rob Bell “Farewell Rob Bell”

  8. CANNIBALS or CALLING OUT: Of course there is a lot to consider when approaching someone whether in leadership or relationship about a concern, or a rebuke. FIRST and foremost you should feel a sense of unease and deep concern about whether you should or should not. It should not be cake walk to talk to someone about their actions… if it is, examine your motives…maybe your secretly a Cannibal. SECONDLY, is this a battle or a war… sometimes it is better to just suck it up. Now if it is concerning a doctrinal issue, GO!!! Learn together and question why they said it… don’t take at face value. If a relationship concern, then consider if it is something that is harmful to them, to others or to your relationship. THIRDLY, recognize that in a “rebuke” it is a 2 way street. Our church culture teaches heavily on the one side of giving a rebuke, but there is a great responsibility in receiving a rebuke as well, whether the one receiving agrees with it or not. Be prepared that the individual may not be well versed or experienced in how to receive a rebuke, so choosing your words carefully is important. FOURTHLY, be prepared to lose the relationship… if the concern is something that is an absolute “must” to address, then always be aware that you may not be well received and it could potentially ruin the relationship or if a leader, your ability to respect them and sit under their teaching.  Giving a rebuke does not always mean a happy ending…. be an example of how to receive one!!! A huge topic, but those are my quick thoughts.

  9. Great post and good question. I constantly think about this because I live in East Dearborn, a prodimently Muslim community. And, sadly, a lot of Christian groups do tons of damage: how they evangelize, “sell” Jesus, talk down on Muslims. My approach (and a way I try to undo the negative mark on believers) is just try to be there frend. No strings attached; no “agenda.” Many people in my community have met Christians; but few have a true, authentic Christ-following friend.

  10. An interesting article re: Cannibalism vs. Calling Out: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/december-online-only/going-to-hell-with-ted-haggard.html?start=3

  11. I was really hoping you’d do a blog on this topic– I’ve been milling it over ever since visiting your blog for the first time to listen to Jamie (the very worst missionary). I’d like to hear more. I think you’re on to something here– but I think its important to note (at least my belief) is that as Christians we are too busy calling out the areas in each other that we disagree with. Granted, there are things that are anti-Truth (Jesus & Scripture), but some things just grate against our preferences, our comfort zones, and our traditions. And when we lash out at those who come from different (church) backgrounds just because they do things differently than I think we need to deal with some pride in our hearts. No ONE denomination/church/pastor/Christian has the real estate (or monopoly, as you will) on how to do this “Kingdom of Heaven” stuff perfectly. I don’t think there’s this cookie cutter format to being a Christian and how each church needs to look. We’ve been made unique and diverse. And one of the things that Christian cannibalism is doing to us, as a Body, is causing severe disunity. And I guess more than ever, I feel this need for us, or DESIRE, to be united.

  12. (heavy sigh). Having tried to deal with this through many different ways I realized that I’m not responsible for changing, refuting, or “calling out” every error I see, especially when I don’t know any of the parties involved. I try and live out Christ to those that I come in contact with in big and small ways. I hope that drowns out any of the other idiocy out there, and sometimes it does. 

    People who hold tightly to a particular opinion or perspective will rarely give any leeway to another, even when confronted with information to the contrary. They’d rather feel right than be right.

    And also follow Murphy’s Law of Argumentation: Never argue with a fool; people might not know the difference.

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