Public critique of public Christians

Steve Kryger over on the great blog, Communicate Jesus, posted a critique of phase 1 Jesus All About Life's Sydney campaign.

This received a mixed response, included many who were disappointed with him airing these criticisms in public. What would non-Christians think of this kind of behaviour? Why didn't he contact the Bible Society personally first? How can he sincerely want them to do well, if he doesn't take it upon himself to fix it himself?

Steve has responded to these criticisms in a followup post.
This is something that we are still getting the hang of, in the Christian community, especially in relation to blogs and stuff. It's something I've wrestled with on this blog, not to mention some earlier dramas surrounding a magazine I helped publish here in Tassie.

Here are some of my thoughts and the thoughts of others I have consulted:

  1. Blogs are more than private journals. There needs to be some etiquette/ethics in how we publish news and opinion.
  2. Blogs are opinion pieces. They are almost by definition just representing one point of view and they are at their best when they express this point of view fairly bluntly. To get upset by a blogger's opinion is like getting upset at Jesus telling people to 'gouge out [their] eyes'. Just because I write a negative piece about Christianised Facebook updates doesn't mean I hate you, or you're not allowed to have a different opnion, for example.
  3. Although the church is a spiritual family, we also do need to relate to one another in a range of other roles - as fellow-workers, as staff, as public figures etc. We mustn't over-use the ethics of family relationships to the exclusion of other forms of legitimate relationship.
  4. Just because someone is offended doesn't mean it was wrong to say something in the first place.
  5. When critiquing a public person or a public event, it is perfectly legitimate to do so in public. There is no need to first speak to them in private. If the person can't handle public critique, they shouldn't presume to take on roles as a public figure.
  6. When critiquing a public person or a public event, bear in mind that they are a real life person, with a mum and kids. This may soften your tone(for an example, see Challies' reflections on his past reviews of Rick Warren).
  7. When seriously critiquing a public person with whom you have had some personal dealings it would be best to allow them read the piece in advance and discuss it together.
  8. The Australian Christian scene is still small, and so to some extent we will always relate a little like an extended family. Therefore there are some things that you might not say, becuase you will hurt your 'uncle'.
  9. Christians can tend to respond with their guts, rather than their minds, when it comes to upsetting people. We need to take that into account, sometimes bearing with that weakness, sometimes seeking to educate it.
  10. Love, of course, may also dictate that we might choose to be more gentle than we need to by rights, for the sake of other people.