The Biblical and Virtuous Practice of Name-calling

pharisees

John W. Robbins:

“Name-calling, accurately done, is not only not a sin, it is a virtue. It is identifying a person for what he is, and this cannot be done except by doing it. Anyone who studies the examples quoted here or any of the many other examples in the Bible will find that the name is used in conjunction with stated reasons for using it. The reasons constitute an argument, and the name is a conclusion. Those who deny that Jesus came in the flesh are antichrists and liars. Those who deny the resurrection are fools, and so on. The reluctance to call names is a type of reluctance to draw valid conclusions from the evidence; it is an attempt to “curb logic,” to use the neo-orthodox phrase. As such, it is but another example of the anti-rationalism of our age.

Separation of One’s Theology from His Person Is Unbiblical

Such a separation is foreign to the Scriptures. The reason one is not to call a brother Raca or Fool is that his theology is basically correct: He is a brother and has been regenerated by God. His theology is his person; as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. Not only are we not to make a separation between a person’s theology and his person, we are commanded to judge another person by his theology. John, in 2 John, does not say that the theology of certain people is antichristian (though it is) nor does he say they speak lies (though they do). He calls the people antichrists and liars. He judges their persons by their theologies, and he commands the elect lady and her children to do the same. Worse still, from the point of view of the twentieth century—the bloodiest and most polite century in history—John commands the elect lady and her children not to show any hospitality to such liars and antichrists. It is not without significance that John first gives his reasons, then calls names, and then gives the command. Accurate identification is necessary to appropriate action. Unless that identification is made, the appropriate action will not follow.

Witness the reluctance of denominations and institutions in twentieth-century America to dismiss employees and officers who deny the faith.”

– John W. Robbins, The Virtue of Name Calling

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