Critical thinking and evaluation of what goes for “Christian” has always been a part of the Christian faith. This past Sunday my pastor preached on Colossians 2:13-19 and in the midst of the sermon he made this brief remark about Paul’s list of characteristics of those who have “false ideas about ‘righteousness’ and salvation”–in other words, those who use their critical evaluation skills to destroy others (rather than build up) or to build their own kingdoms.
Based on Paul’s list, he said these leaders tend to (a) be quick to pass judgment about the views of others, (b) equally quick to dismiss their opponents, (c) and likely to claim a vision or something special on which to base their own beliefs. He added that these leaders commonly hide their views under a veneer of humility.
In the counseling world, we have had many of these thought “leaders.” These are those who have a grain of truth as they point out the flaws in the views of others, who refuse to accept any critique of their own position and claim to have a purer view of the Bible (though never once really articulating it as a positive position).
But is there a place for critiquing others’ models? If so, how do you tell the difference between a false critique and a necessary critique? Try some of these questions:
- Are the critique overly personal? Does the writer give the benefit of the doubt or choose to read the one being critiqued in the worst possible light? If you finish a critique and it seems like the author was making fun of their opponent or making outlandish statements about the intentions or consequences of ideas–then they probably fail the test of constructive criticism and love for all.
- Does the one doing the critique identify where the author has spoken truthfully? If not, then the critique is not balanced.
- Does the critic offer an alternative after making statements of judgment? If not, then it is likely that the critic isn’t really looking for solutions but merely wants to be destructive.