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May 27, 2011

If you criticize others, there’s something wrong with you.

by juju2112

Pastor Miles McPherson of The Rock Church in San Diego preached recently on how everyone who criticizes has something unhappy in their heart. That’s right, if you point out something wrong that someone said or did, you’re messed up inside. You should probably seek help. The lesson here is to never criticize anything, ever.

Pastor McPherson outlines three observations about critics:

1. Critical mouths come from an overflow of a critical heart.

“The bible says the mouth speaks from an overflow of the heart. People who complain, there’s something here [puts hand on heart]. People who encourage, there’s something here. The bible says adulteries, murderers, lies, all come from the heart. Everything you do comes from your heart. So, a lot of times, people who are critical, there’s something unhappy about their life. Something unsatisfied about their life.”

I don’t agree that criticism is a bad thing or is rooted in evil. A good idea doesn’t just come from nothing. It has to be worked over, its bad parts subjected to the knife of criticism so that they may be shaved off. Sometimes, criticism adds something rather than taking it away. Someone may have a suggestion for a better way to do something. You can take that suggestion and meld it with your original idea, making it even better. Great ideas are often forged in the fires of criticism.

What do you get when you avoid criticism? Bad ideas rot and fester, their bad parts laying undiscovered for decades. It’s hard to notice mistakes all by yourself. Sometimes, you need a second or third set of eyes looking to notice it. Your idea never gains the benefit of being merged with other’s ideas. Seeing criticism as inherently evil robs us of this incredibly powerful engine of improvement.

2. Criticism is defined by the critic.

“In other words, when people critize, they do not define you. What defines you is how you respond. […] Anybody can say anything about anybody, it doesn’t make it true.”

I actually like this advice. Don’t take criticism personally, and don’t let people’s negative views of you redefine your view of yourself. I would add something to this, though: always be careful to evaluate criticism without letting your emotions get in the way. Don’t just ignore it! Just because you don’t like what someone is saying saying doesn’t make them wrong. Learning to separate your ego during the evaluation process is an important skill involved in harnessing the power of criticism.

3. If Jesus is criticized, then as His follower you will be, too.

“The more you walk with Christ, the more you will be criticized. The more good you do, the more you will be criticized. But in the same way Jesus’ critics were exposed by their criticisms, so your critics will be exposed by their criticisms.”

More “criticism is evil” nonsense. It’s no wonder many Christians are so dogmatic in their beliefs. They’re told to not listen to criticism before it even happens! Well, since he’s criticizing criticism itself, does that mean I should ignore his advice? I think so.

For the rest of the sermon, the pastor talks about how the Pharisees tried to dismiss Jesus’ miracles, and how dumb that was since they could see the miracles happening with their own eyes. This is how the pastor backs up his claim that you should ignore criticism: quotes from the bible. Seriously, this is pretty weak stuff. What if you have criticisms of the bible itself? “Oh, well, I have this bible quote right here!”

“Attempts to discredit Jesus’ miracles acknowledges that he actually performed miracles. Think about it! Whenever they try to discredit his miracle, they were at the same time acknowledging that he performed a miracle.”

This is true in the context of the Pharisees in the story, but you can’t extrapolate this to real life. If I don’t believe that Jesus walked on water because of a lack of evidence, that doesn’t prove that he actually did it.

Also, it’s just a story. People in the story can’t be used to prove the story. Why would you even think that?

“You can criticize Jesus all you want, but the problem is, he really did it. He really walked on water. He really raised the dead. He really healed the blind, the mute, and the deaf. The crippled. He really cast out demons.”

I’d like to see multiple lines of evidence for this. One source is not enough. You should be able to validate it other ways.

“If Jesus really rose from the dead… and by the way, his tomb is empty, his body can’t be found, people saw him for 40 days, and he rose, and he ascended into heaven. There’s no evidence that he’s still dead. After 2,000+ years.”

I think it’s much more likely that he’s dead than he magically ascended to another plane of existence. The fact that we don’t have his body doesn’t mean much. Everyone who has ever lived has died. We have no evidence at all of anyone ever going to heaven. There no evidence that Ghengis Khan is still dead, either. So what? I think we can assume he did, based on the fact that everyone else eventually dies.

Church is supposed to be this amazing place that you go to become a better person. But here, you have a pastor in a megachurch telling people to ignore criticism. That’s got to be some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard. Don’t listen to this guy. You’ll be a better person for it.

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