Recently, I have heard people at what seems like every turn profusely praising a particularly public pastor (like my alliteration there? :) ). Their praise is often presented in ways that indicate they assume everyone else would agree that this man is holy.
However, I disagree. And many people I know disagree. Yet they are in different circles than those singing his praises. I've had an urge to send a Tweet or a blog post or something voicing my passionate disagreement with this individual. But I'm not sure that's wise.
Frankly, most of the time, public criticisms of others (by name) just turn out badly. People misinterpret the criticism, and there's rarely an opportunity to clarify what we mean.
And honestly, how often does such criticism change someone's mind? I've talked a lot recently about how we need to be less worried about changing people's minds and more focused on celebrating Christ.
Here's some of my thoughts as to why it could be good to voice disagreement:
1. I don't like others assuming what I do and don't believe. It's good to clarify one's own perspective and remind people not to assume. At the same time, this again doesn't always really do a whole lot of good.
2. It could be an opportunity to remind everyone that not everyone agrees, even when it comes to "biblical" ideas. People can honestly and biblically disagree.
3. It could provide validation to others who are surrounded by supporters of that individual (or concept) who disagree, but feel like they're alone.
4. It could provide an opportunity to expose people on the fence of ideas to alternative perspectives. So often, ideas (especially religious ones) are presented as THE one and only viewpoint. I think it's really important to inform people of other faithful interpretations.
5. In my opinion, this person's ideas are more damaging than helpful, and frankly unbiblical, in my opinion. It's frustrating to see so many people mindlessly following him. Could voicing disagreement maybe make a couple of people take a second look?
While these may be my motivations (and assuming they're generally good motivations), I'm not sure it would be wise to publicly criticize an individual, even if they have a very public persona. In addition to the points raised above, doing so can damage relationships, making supporters of that person feel personally criticized or attacked.
So what do you think? Is it ever wise to criticize a pastor (or anyone frankly) publicly? I've done so in my book reviews, but try to refrain from it in other contexts (I'm not always successful :) ). Those contexts seem different...