About Calling Names

Often the cry is heard, “Stop calling names,” or “It’s not right to call names.” It is said that “calling names” from the pulpit, or putting them into print, turns people off (usually it is our brethren who are most turned off). Typically, by “calling names” people mean naming a certain individual, like Billy Graham, or a group, like the Baptists, and noting their error — this means “calling names.” While naming individuals or groups and commending them is showing appreciation and respect. Does that make sense to you? Anyway, what does the Bible say about “calling names”?

Jesus, the Perfect One, specifically named the scribes and Pharisees and even called them “hypocrites” (Matt. 23:14). He also said they were “blind guides,” “fools,” and “serpents” (Matt. 23:16, 19, 33). On one occasion, Jesus said to those who believed Him, “And if I say, ‘I do not know Him [God],’ I shall be a liar like you” (Jn. 8:55).

People upbraid preachers today to be “more like Jesus,” but rant and rave when a preacher is more like Jesus! You can’t have it both ways!

Can we follow the example of our Lord? Is it right to publicly say the Pentecostals are false teachers and fake healers? May we point out that Pat Robertson and Oral Roberts are servants of Satan (cp. Jn. 8:44)? Is it proper to name erring brethren as well? To the faithful this is acceptable, but to the weak and ignorant it is an abomination. Which are you?

Steven F. Deaton

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