My criteria for publishing public criticism about local churches

It is usually wrong for Christians to be “tattle-tales.” That is to say, we should not be going around spreading gossip about each other. You should not necessarily tell everyone in your church if you find out that someone is struggling with an addiction or other sin. Rather tell those whom it is necessary to tell, and keep it largely a secret as long as possible. Remember, dealing with a sinning brother begins with a private conversations between you and him alone (Matthew 18:15).

However, we are permitted to “tell on” and rebuke others openly for significant public disturbances, since they are not done in private (see Galatians 2:11). The household of Chloe told on others in the church of Corinth, and Paul does not criticize them for it. Instead, he openly references their report in an open letter to the entire Church:

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”;another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” (I Corinthians 1:11-12)

Paul does not accuse Chloe and her family of being a “gossip” or a “trouble-maker,” for telling him what is happening in the church of Corinth. She is not creating trouble, she is simply reporting it because it has gotten to such levels that it has become public knowledge. Paul references her household by name, because the church has a right to know who Paul’s source is, but he does not criticize her at all. Rather, he criticizes those who are behaving in an ungodly manner.

Sometimes we do need to openly criticize the way that a church is behaving, although we need to be careful about how and when we do it. I have sometimes criticized churches openly on my blog, but I have always named my source. Usually, my source is the church’s own website, or an interview I had with their pastor. I will generally criticize a church for publicly posting doctrine on their website that is ant-gospel. For instance, I have publicly criticised First Congregational UCC in sheboygan because their pastor posted an audio sermon where he openly rejects the bodily ressurrection of Christ. However there are many dark stories and rumors that I hear about that I never repeat on my blog. I do not talk about pastors who commit adultery, or are fired, and I even steer clear of mentioning financial disputes. I don’t want to be constantly rehashing every church’s mistakes. However, every once in awhile I find out about something that I feel morally responsible to share, and then I share it, when I feel that there are false teachers in this community that need to be quickly and publicly refuted.

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