A Plea for Conversational Critique

Maturity always welcomes reasoned critique. That is why I have such a problem with criticism. I lack the maturity to receive it well. That is my sin.

But there is a helpful method of critique, and a destructive method.

A friend passed on this link to me in response to my recent post about the success of our own art show. I believe that our defense of what we have done is adequate and speaks for itself. We know what our goals and intentions were, and what we aimed at, we reached. We were seeking to love the community in which we have been placed. We are trying to learn what it means to love the sinners around us. This was one means to do so spawned by the community we are in and the people God has put in our church.

The post which my friend passed on was not aimed at us, but took a broad brush mocking stance against all efforts to bring the arts and the church together. The stance itself is puzzling to me, but the tone disappoints me.

I sincerely fail to understand how criticism couched in mocking tones is of benefit to anyone. And yet, there is a strata of gifted reformed leadership whose chosen voice is mockery of which this is but one example.

It is a shame. In Christ’s church we have so much to learn if we would only talk to and listen to one another. Mockery and sarcasm, though warm and funny and reassuring to the insiders only shuts down meaningful conversation and slaughters any hope of real communication and growth in the body.

Are we at HPC beyond critique? Absolutely not. We can learn from the thoughtful insight of others. But not when the critique is hateful. And that is the shame.

Joe Bayly was a gifted writer who during his career was able with a whimsical but pointed humor to cause evangelicals to examine their hearts and practices. There is no better example of this than his Gospel Blimp. His sons, and those of this mold, have all the gifts but that of the disarming whimsy. They see much clearly, much that could be of benefit to others. But, I’m sorry that I am not able and, I admit it, not willing to listen to those who pontificate with such broad condescending and critical strokes.

I hesitate to say this because I see my own sin. There have been occasions when I have, in haste, posted to this blog critical posts which were every bit as condescending and graceless as the worst of others. I know the sin of which I am capable.

Critique is necessary, and sometimes that needs to be firm and direct. Love demands that. But love, it seems to me, while calling forth honesty, eschews mockery.