Name Calling


James E. Farley

Have you ever been called a name? I am sure all have experienced name calling. It is almost a rite of childhood to be called names, and, then, to say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." The problem is, names often do hurt, and especially when the name is intended to imply that one is not truly walking as he or she should. Even adults, if they are not careful, can get involved in such hurtful "games." Too often, members of the church do these things.

I have personally had three different Baptist preachers call me a "water dog" and a "water-logged" preacher. They did this because of my teaching concerning the necessity of baptism for salvation. In two of the instances I had opportunity to answer: once on the radio and another time in a newspaper article. The third time I accepted a man's challenge to debate the issue. We met several times with witnesses and signed propositions for debate. A date was set, but he moved to Oklahoma and wrote me from there informing me that he would not debate me. Their purpose in leveling these names at me was, of course, to divert attention from the fact that they cannot answer the truth of such passages as Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:20-21; etc. When one lowers himself to the level of calling others by such names, he is already defeated.

Another time, a member of the church tried to "give me a handle" that I did not deserve nor want. This time it was a woman who knew very little about me but had evidently read something that I had written. She wrote a letter to a mutual friend and sent me a copy of her letter to him without any explanation. Her purpose seems to have been to warn him about me, for she wrote, "Be careful of him ... he seems to be a legalist and a modern-day Pharisee."

This is a charge leveled at some today who teach that obedience to God's law is necessary to one's salvation. Some of these folks may mean well, but, as I told this sister in a letter, the Pharisees were never condemned for keeping God's law but were condemned for stressing their man-made traditions above the law. They usurped God's law. (Compare Matthew 7:1-14). If any of our age resemble the Pharisees it may be those who are stressing additions to the worship and calling for a "new hermeneutic." It is true that the Pharisees of Jesus' day were "legalists" because they often stressed keeping the law for the law's sake. This should never be our position. We should stress obeying God's law for the Lord's sake! There is a difference.

One is acceptable to God only when he or she gladly and meekly receives the Word. (Acts 2:41; James 1:21-25). One must humbly and meekly submit to God's Way as right and not seek to establish one's own righteousness. (Romans 10:1-3). A person who stresses such obedience to God is neither a legalist nor a Pharisee, and it is hurtful and resentful to hear members of the church refer to faithful ones after this fashion. The sad thing is we are hearing more and more such references these days.

Let us be careful about how we refer to our fellow humans, for we will be held accountable for the words we use. "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37). "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:21-22).

Think on these things. P.O. Box 287, Crum, WV 25669.


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