Seaborn Hall, 2/14/20
Various places and times on our site, CS has critiqued and even criticized various articles or dreams and dream interpretations that have been made public.
For example, we critiqued a dream that was published in a book on prophecy about America (see this link). In this link and this link we critiqued dreams that appeared online. In this link we critiqued in a largely positive fashion a dream that appeared on YouTube. We have also recently attempted to ‘judge’ between the voices and opinions relative to the Todd Bentley controversy.
In Part 1, we deal with whether and why we should or should not critique publicly. As many read, they will have objections: what about this passage or that one? In Part 2 we address problem passages in the Bible relative to judgment or judging and answer objections.
Should CS Critique Public Opinions, Dreams And Interpretations?
Some will complain or criticize CS for critiquing those who have gone public with their views, dreams or those who have written on Dream Interpretation.
So, should public dreams and interpretations – or teachings – be critiqued? Our answer is ‘Yes.’
There are many reasons for offering a constructive critique of public information. If you put yourself up on a platform you put yourself in a position to be criticized or attacked. Some times you will even be mis-quoted and mis-represented. This site and publisher are not an exception.
Public views and interpretations should be appraised and critiqued, but constructively and, if possible, with kindness and humility. Why? There are a number of good reasons.
1 – Public Appraisal Offers Positive Rewards
Those who offer their ideas in public imply that they have something that others can learn. They put themselves in a position to profit from offering such advice either through celebrity, donations, salary, or book or video sales or commissions (You Tube or other venues).
Whether we like it or not, anything that we say publicly will be appraised, critiqued and even criticized. This has the positive effect of refining our views, our arguments, and our character. It also alerts those who might be influenced by what is said to weaknesses or inconsistencies in our arguments or character.
2 – Teachers Have Higher Accountability
According to the New Testament, any one who is a teacher brings judgment on others if his or her teaching is in error. According to James, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1 NAS95).”
The Didache, an extra-Biblical early church circular seems to suggests that genuine prophetic or apostolic ministry will never be accompanied by requests for money or any profit motive (pun intended). Teachers and leaders have higher accountability.
3 – The Bible Exhorts Us To Have Counselors And Receive Counsel
Proverbs exhorts us in general to have and receive counsel.
For example, regarding wisdom, it says, “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings (Prov. 4:20 NAS95).” And, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory (Prov. 11:14 NAS95).” And, “Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel (Prov. 13:10 NAS95).”
4 – The Bible Affirms Constructive Criticism And Confrontation
In general, the Bible seems to affirm constructive criticism and confrontation to bring growth in the body as a whole.
Leviticus seems to equate confrontation with ‘speaking the truth in love.’ According to Leviticus, “Lev. 19:17 You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD [emphasis ours].”
Proverbs 27:17 counsels that ‘iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.’ Proverbs 27:5 declares that open rebuke is better than hidden love. Proverbs 24:26 says that whoever gives an honest answer ‘kisses the lips.’
Zechariah 13 may suggest, among other things, that a true friend ‘wounds’ other friends. According to Zechariah 13:6, “And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends’ (Zech. 13:6 NAS95).” Proverbs also confirms this notion, saying that the wounds of a friend are faithful.
Malachi 3 implies that the body of believers should speak correction to each other: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name (Mal. 3:16 NAS95).”
According to Corinthians, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment (1 Cor. 14:29 NAS95).” “But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent (1 Cor. 14:30 NAS95).” If one prophet is speaking – in a public setting – another prophet should be able to interrupt and ‘judge’ what is being said.
In Galatians 2:11-14 the Apostle Paul confronted Peter face to face, in public. Publicly offered advice, counsel and teaching demands public critique and correction, at least, at times.
According to Ephesians, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another (Eph. 4:25 NAS95).” A few verses later the text counsels that no ‘unwholesome’ word proceed from our mouths, but only words that cause ‘building.’ This is an admonition that we don’t give out ‘rotten’ words that tear people down. It is important to address the idea or teaching, and, if possible, not the person.
The admonition prior to this at Ephesians 4:15 ‘but speaking the truth in love’ should more properly be translated – because of the context and the Greek word used – ‘but holding to the truth in love.’ This is what we are meant to do when we appraise and/or respond to someone’s teaching – we hold to the truth and we do not allow ourselves to be led astray, or tossed here and there by every teaching or doctrine. This is possible, at least partially, because we confront and speak the truth to each other.
This last point may be the most important. We can not hold to the truth, which the writer of Ephesians implies is essential, without ‘speaking the truth.’ If we don’t speak the truth then not only do we become confused, but those around us also lose their way.
5 – We Are Not To ‘Judge’, But It Is Important To Be Able To ‘Discern’
The problem here is that ‘speaking the truth’ or discernment can also be a type of ‘judging.’ To ‘discern’ you must be able to ‘judge.’ Yet, the Bible speaks against judging, doesn’t it?
According to Colossians 2:16 there are certain things that we are not to ‘judge’ – things that are a mere shadow of what is to come. We are not to ‘religiously’ judge others.
According to James 2:4 we become judges with evil motives when we exercise partiality relative to social standing or wealth. James 4:11f warns us not to ‘judge’, seemingly equating this with complaining against each other (expanded below).
Various passages seem to equate ‘judging’ with ‘discerning.’ In 1 Corinthians 5:9 we are instructed not to ‘judge’ outsiders, but to ‘judge’ those within the church and reminded that we will ‘judge’ the world and angels. In 1 Corinthians 10:14 Paul admonishes the readers to ‘judge’ what he has said, and again in 11:13. According to 1 Corinthians 11:31, “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged (1 Cor. 11:31 NAS95).”
According to Hebrews 5:14 our senses are to be trained to ‘discern’ good and evil. In order to exercise discernment we must participate in a type or kind of ‘judging.’ In the 1 Corinthians 14 passage quoted above prophets were to judge and yield to each other in a public, church setting.
Some forms of judging are prohibited, but other forms are encouraged. Other problem passages in the Bible will be addressed in Part 2. For the time being, we believe that we can affirm that there is a place for ‘judging-discerning’ and for constructive criticism in public.
There Is One Important Exception To Public Criticism
One caveat to this is that direct revelation from a ‘face to face’ encounter should never be contradicted or challenged, especially not publicly (For more, see Evaluating Prophets And Prophecy). We have some examples of what happens in this case in Numbers, and in Daniel, and in the Gospels in the story of John The Baptist’s father.
In Numbers 12 Miriam is struck with leprosy for opposing Moses and attempting to put herself on his level. In Daniel Nebuchadnezzar was exiled from his kingdom in insanity for disobeying Daniel’s interpretation of his heavenly vision. Earlier in Israel’s story, Korah and others were killed for challenging Moses. And, in Luke 1, Zacharias was struck mute for questioning the visitation and words of an angel.
Lastly, Annanias and Saphira drop dead when they attempt to deceive the Apostle Peter in the book of Acts. The issue here was attempting to ambitiously seize a leadership position through manipulation and deception. Public criticism should never be used to divide churches or manipulatively raise ourselves up above someone for our own ambitions sake.
Face to face encounters and the information that comes from them can, at times, be respectfully questioned in private or limited public settings, but they should never be opposed or contradicted in general public, for one’s own ambition or advancement, or because of unbelief.
Contrarily, interpretive authority is not bulletproof and is always open or susceptible to error. It is not on the same level as ‘face to face’ revelation or interpretation. What about other apparent Biblical contradictions?
Summary Of Part 1
Other apparent Biblical contradictions will be addressed in Part 2.
Here we have introduced the questions surrounding public critiquing of someone’s views and suggested some Biblical reasons why public confrontation and criticism is both justified and a positive activity.
In Part 2 we will address objections to these views by explaining problem passages and other passages that have incorrectly been used to justify silencing dissenting opinions.