Wade Burleson has produced a thought-provoking article about character assassination that comes as a result of fear. Wade writes:
It is almost an axiom of human nature that when you disagree with one’s positions, are fearful of the effect your opponent may have on altering the big picture, you attack the character of the person you wish to defeat. Unfortunately, the art of character assassination in Christian circles is alive and well.
…when other people are being influenced to take a different position than your’s, it is tempting to attack the character of your opponent…
May all of us involved with political processess, whether they be national and secular, or denominational and religious, focus on the issues and leave the character attacks at home.
I agree whole-heartedly with what Wade is saying. There is just too much focus on ad hominem (attacking the man) rather than addressing the argument. Attacking the person and name calling are a sign of a weak argument.
How is this played out regarding women in ministry? Those who are fearful of having women teaching doctrine in the church often use loaded language to put down the opposition. While they refuse to call a brother in Christ who is a Calvinist or an Arminian, a heretic (and good for them for not dividing over this secondary issue), they have no qualms about calling a sister in Christ a heretic for merely believing that women can use their God-given gifts for the benefit of all. Many others are calling into question the salvation of those who advocate women using their gifts for the common good. Is this godly?
I look forward to seeing a generation of women who have been freed to go forth preaching the gospel with boldness and without prejudice. CBMW (the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) has already announced that complementarians are losing this battle. Churches one by one are freeing women to serve in the gifts that God has given them. Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas is just one of the long list of churches who have changed their view of women in ministry. They are another example of godly men looking into God’s word and seeing it in context as not holding back God’s gifts given through women. God uses women for his own purposes and he gifts those he wants to use for his glory. When we fight our sisters in Christ and instead of addressing their concerns and their arguments, we call them heretics and we separate from them, we should stop and think whether we are fighting against God himself. We are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We grieve Him when we try to control and stop His gifts from being used without prejudice and we grieve Him when we separate over secondary issues of faith.
In my search on the world wide web, I have yet to come across egalitarians calling complementarians heretics merely for believing differently on this secondary issue of faith. I trust that it is rare for such name calling. However it is not rare for complementarians to call egalitarians heretics. This should never be. When one part of the body of Christ hurts, we all are hurt because we are all baptized into this one body. Those who mock and attack the character of a fellow Christian because they disagree on a secondary issue of faith need to repent lest they find themselves fighting against God Himself. This is the time when God’s judgment comes to the church first and then the world. Will we be found loving our brothers in Christ as we are commanded to by Jesus Himself, or will we be found ripping at the sheep using personal attacks instead of reasoning through why our arguments are so weak that we must resort to attacking the man? If we are fearful because of someone else’s position on a secondary issue of faith, may we resort to studying the word of God to show ourselves approved unto God a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rather than resorting to personal attacks. Passion is godly. Mocking and personal attacks is a tool of the enemy. Whose side will you be on?