I think you have to be qualified to critique someone. The qualification comes not merely in your knowledge of the subject upon which your critique is based (which is very important), but also in your relationship with the person. I have many “friends” (especially in the blog world) who feel the need to contact me every time they see that I have gone astray. I don’t hear from them at all except when they are going to lower the hammer, “coming to my aid” to show me my error. “Oh, no. Not an email from _________.” I normally just ignore all correspondence I get from these certain people. You know the type because you have them in your life as well. And woe to those when this type of fault finding defines our marriages. It is better to live in the corner of an attic without your iPhone than to live with such a person.
But these people are not really my “friends”. They are simply fault-finders. And it is not just me they attack, they have a track record of fault-finding in everyone. Whether or not their critique is correct, I, personally, don’t listen to them because they have not gained my ear. And neither should you. Well, neither should you if you want to keep your sanity and be productive. The sad fact is that we live in a world where the fault-finders out number the encouragers.
The Proverb, “the wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6) is true. But don’t fail to notice something: I find nowhere in this verse that the wounds are what establishes the friendship. It is encouragement, belief in, and true knowledge of the individual that comes from long fraternity. I often tell people that we need to live by the 10/1 rule. You have to have ten words of encouragement before you are qualified to give one word of correction.
One of my favorite movies this time of year is Christmas Vacation. At the risk of getting one of those emails from my “friends” who will not like me speaking about a secular movie such as this, I think the illustration is appropriate to what is happening in the Mike Licona situation. Watch the following video. The first part represents the publication of Mike’s Resurrection of Jesus. The last part represents the reaction of a fault-finder.
“I dedicate this house to the Griswald family Christmas: 25,000 lights!!!”
“The little lights aren’t twinkling, Clark.”
“I know Art and thanks for noticing.”
“I dedicate this book to the defense of the Christian faith!: 718 pages!!!”
“The little lights are not twinkling, Mike.”
“Thanks for noticing.”
I am not saying that Mike Licona’s little lights are not twinkling in this case. But one thing is for sure: theologically speaking, we all have lots of little lights that don’t twinkle. We will get them fixed in heaven. However, let us notice first all the 25,000 other lights that are shining bright to the glory of the Lord. If some of the”big” lights are out, we do need to draw attention to them most certainly. But we must face the fact that all our lights don’t twinkle as they should. And how rare is it for people’s lights to be on at all?
Destroying people is easy. It is building them up that takes time, patience, tact, serious thought, and the ability to draw attention to the good 10/1 over the not so good.