The apostle Paul was aware of public criticism and wrote these things:
One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, (Titus 1:12-13 ESV)
But working together, we also call on you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (For He says, “In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation, I helped you;” Behold, now is the accepted time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.) We are in nothing giving cause of stumbling, in no way, so that the ministry may not be blamed, (2 Corinthians 6:1-3 MKJV)
We see from these quotes from the apostle Paul that he had an awareness of public opinion. Concerning the Cretans he was aware of their reputation to lie, sin, and to be gluttonous. In the above verse he is charging Titus to sharply rebuke the Cretans to stop this behavior.
From the book of second Corinthians we see that the apostle Paul gave a general admonition about how all the ministry, that is, the believers in particular and as a group, should act so that this ministry, the Church of Jesus Christ, should not be blamed. To be blamed means that people are seeing faults in what the ministry is doing.
If we look at other sections in Paul’s life we will also note that Paul acted as an apologist (defender) when the ministry was criticized unfairly. The same can be said for Christian leaders from that time on. For example, at one point Christians were criticized as being gluttonous because of their “love feasts”. Christians responded that these were not gluttonous affairs, but rather pious ones. Similarly, there are also charged with having orgies because of this name the “love feasts”, and again responded that they were the farthest thing from being an orgy.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that Paul did not just refute all criticism of Christianity as being invalid. When the criticism was just, he responded as such, and that is our example. If we are to follow Paul’s example, then we too will take a good, long, honest look at outside criticism of the church. And, if the criticism is true, then, like Paul, we will address it. With this example of Paul’s in mind, I am creating on this website a category called Outside Criticism of Christianity.
©copyright 2012 Mark W. Smith, all rights reserved.