Question: "Why do some preachers write up other preachers in brotherhood publications, and doesn't this violate Bible teaching?"

Answer: This is a difficult question to answer because it pertains to motives, and God has not made us judges of other people's motives. Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7.1-2). However, at the same time we are also commanded to "...Judge with righteous judgment" (John 7.24). Based on experience and observation, we might offer a couple of suggestions.

One reason that some preachers write up other preachers in brotherhood publications could well be due to jealousy and a desire to make a name for themselves at the expense of others. This kind of attitude existed even in the first century. In Philippians 1.15-16 Paul said, "Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will; the former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains." Likely, this attitude still exists among some today, and if this is the reason, then yes, this violates Bible teaching. However, it does not necessarily negate any truth which they might teach. Some people seem to have the idea that they have an acceptable reason to reject the truth just because they do not like the "attitude" of the one presenting it.

On the other hand, another reason that some preachers write up other preachers in brotherhood publications could be that those preachers who are being "written up" just might be guilty of teaching false doctrine! When a person promotes error publicly, then it has to be refuted publicly. If he has printed it in a brotherhood publication, then he might as well expect that it will be answered in a brotherhood publication. Again, this was done in the first century. In Galatians 2.11-14 Paul wrote, "But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he ws to be blamed....when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, 'If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?'" Peter erred publicly and it was corrected publicly.

When this is the motivation, it does not violate Bible teaching. Some would point to Matthew 18.15 where Jesus said, "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother." Of course, in this context, Jesus is dealing with sins committed against private individuals, not false teaching done in public. At the same time, it is true on general principles that many supposed differences could be more easily resolved by personal contact and communication first. If we disagree with something that we read, it is a simple matter to contact the writer by letter, phone, or e-mail if available, and learn exactly what he was trying to say. It may have been simply a misunderstanding.

We should never be interested in a course which unnecessarily alienates people but should care about truth to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. But when false teaching is done in public, it is never wrong to rebuke and correct it in the interest of truth and unity. The old illustration is that if Johnny writes 2+2=5 on his paper at his seat, the teacher can correct it privately, but if Johnny writes 2+2=5 on the chalkboard before all the other pupils, then she will have to correct it publicly so that everyone can know the difference between the right and wrong answers.

"Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear" (1 Timothy 5.20). Brotherly, Wayne S. Walker

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