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How and When to Answer Your Critics

By Dr. Robert A. Morey   |   November 3, 2006   

  1. Jude 3 clearly states that it is the responsibility of all Christians to defend the faith once and for all of time delivered unto the saints.

  2. 1 Pet. 3:15 tells us we must be ready to give an answer to those who challenge the Gospel.

  3. But we must remember the difference between biblical directives and directions.
    • Biblical Directives: universal ideals: what to do in the abstract
    • Biblical Directions: specific details: how to do it in the concrete

  4. Some Christians do not understand the difference between directives and directions. Thus they fail to understand that the directive “Defend the Faith” does not mean we must do so each and every time the gospel is attacked.

  5. How, when, where, with whom, and on what issues we are to answer our critics is found in the directions of Scriptures.

  6. Since I take the biblical directions seriously, I let Scripture govern when I answer my critics and when I ignore them.

  7. This explains why I respond to people who demand that I answer any and all attacks on me, my books or ministry.
    “Dr. Bob, why haven’t you answered all the attacks on you? When are you going to fight back?”
  8. The first thing that must be pointed out is that those who demand that I answer all my critics assume that I have a moral obligation to answer any and all criticism leveled against me. They assume that I cannot ignore criticism or simply wave it aside as silly. They feel strongly that I must defend myself.

     

This is why some people try so hard to manipulate me into spending my valuable time and energy in answering all attacks on me, my work, or my ministry. They threaten, rebuke, warn, and plead, etc. that I must answer so and so. They call me “chicken” and “coward” and hope that such name calling will make me engage in foolish debates.

They remind me of the loud-mouth kid on the school yard who urges the bigger kids to fight the school yard bully. The loud-mouth is not capable of taking the bully on. Thus he pushes hard to see someone else fight the bully.

The truth is he derives some kind of psychological thrill from seeing fights. He gets excited and empowered by watching fights. And, of course, he must be there to witness the action. If you tell him that you are going to debate the person in private, he will howl and complain that he has to hear the debate.

This psychological insight explains why some people surf the net every day looking for debates. They visit chat rooms and debate people for hours on end. The truth is they have nothing better to do with their time. They have nowhere to go; no friends to visit; no church to attend; no Bible to study. They “live and move and have their being” on the internet.

Sad to say, some people get into apologetics because they like to argue. They are ready to rumble all the time. The hotter the fight, the more they like it.

Those who are guilty of “debate lust” will debate anyone anytime anywhere on any subject. They like wild debates with people interrupting each other. They like the shouting and confusion of open ended debates. To them, a timed debate is a tame debate.

Scripture is clear that arguing for argument’s sake is a sin. Engaging in foolish strife is not becoming a man of God.

Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations (lit. Gk. debates), knowing that they produce quarrels. And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome (ready to debate at the drop of the hat), but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged (2 Timothy 2:23-24)

If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited andunderstands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial debates and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, (1 Timothy 6:4)

But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. (Titus 3:9)

Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6)

Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.  (Pro. 20:3)

The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. (Pro. 17:14)

An elder …must not be pugnacious… must be uncontentious (1 Tim. 3:3)

For the overseer must …not be quick-tempered, not pugnacious (Titus 1:7)

 

This is why I am reluctant to debate. I really don’t like doing debates. Thus I put all kinds of constraints and limits on it to avoid disobeying Scripture.

Each side must have equal time with no interruptions.

No ad hominem attacks are allowed.

The person I debate must have some academic background in the area of debate.

He must have some religious credentials that qualify him as worthy of debate.

They need a letter from their mosque, temple or church stating that they represent them in the debate.

But there is another angle that must be considered. Some people want to debate me because it would give them a psychological thrill if the great Dr. Morey gave them five minutes of his time. It would make them feel important. 

I recently emailed some Muslims who attacked me on their website and asked them to debate me in public. They got so excited that the great Dr. Morey visited their site and emailed them.

They claimed to one and all that I was angry with their attack. I wasn’t angry but only amused at their silly arguments. Of course, they refused to accept my debate request. But the mere fact that I emailed them got them all excited. What pathetic lives they must live!

When I sense that the person is just looking for the psychological thrill of saying, “The great Dr. Morey noticed me!” I refuse the debate. Why should I give them a thrill? Let them pay for a hooker if they want a cheap thrill.

Others feel that if they can get me to debate them, this will give them credibility. Why should I be interested in giving them credibility? If they are not worthy of a debate, then I must ignore them.  

 

More to the point, there are biblical principles that we must follow when deciding who, what, when and where to debate. Taking all the biblical principles in view, the following points govern when and where I debate.

  1. If the attack against my work is a real book with footnotes and a bibliography, and was written by a credible author, I answer it. I have done this for almost 40 yrs.

    If it is just an ad honimen attack on my character and motives, I ignore it. Jesus did not bother to answer those who accused of him of being a drunk and a glutton.

  2. But I am disappointed to report that I can’t find any credible people to debate anymore. My reputation for winning debates is such that I get very few people willing to do a public debate anymore. At this time, a few radio debates are all I can find.

  3. Recently, dozens of attacks on me personally, my books, my family, and my church are found on the internet. I wear them as a badge of honor. If the enemies of Christ ignored me and my work, that would be a great insult. But when the Muslims call me the #1 enemy of Islam today, I am happy.

    While it is a great honor to be the #1 enemy of atheism, Islam, the cults, and the occult, these attacks are cheap shots. Why?

    1. They are anonymous. You don’t really know who wrote the article. Even if you try to find out who the author is, there is a problem of fraud. They use fake names. They can claim to be anyone. When someone refuses to tell me who they are, I refuse to debate them. I don’t debate ghosts. If an attacker will not reveal who he is, I ignore him.  

    2. They are filled with deceit. One man set up a website pretending to be me! He even sent out emails filled with profanity and filth to ministries using my name! Thankfully, people had enough sense to ask the fraud questions that revealed he wasn’t the real Robert Morey.

    3. They lie. They claim fake degrees and expect me to be gullible enough to accept their claims at face value. One man claimed to have a Ph.D. from Oxford. We asked Oxford if he really graduated from there. They had no record of the man and no degree was ever granted to him! But stupid Christians got all excited and emailed me in a panic, “A Ph.D. from Oxford has refuted you!” God save us from stupid Christians!

    4. I have always been 100% clear about my degrees. I earned a B.A. in philosophy from Covenant College, a M.Div. and a D.Min. from Westminster Seminary, a Ph.D. from Louisiana Baptist University, and a degree in Culinary Arts and Catering from Thompson. I was also awarded an honorary D.D. from Faith Seminary in Pakistan. The diplomas hang on my wall for all to see.  

      Several years ago Faith Seminary in Pakistan was invaded at gun point and the original Board members who awarded me the D.D. were driven out.

      A Muslim sympathizer by the name of Nasir stole the school and then sent out a mass email to thousands of people claiming that I was never given the D.D. diploma! I took a photo of the diploma and sent it to the people he had emailed. Case closed.

      Then he emailed me demanding that I turn it back in to him. Did you catch the stupidity of his demand? If I never received a diploma, how could I send it back to him? Duh!
      Then he claimed that there was no ceremony in which I was awarded the diploma. But I had pictures of the ceremony and the attack was exposed as bogus.

      Then he claimed that at the ceremony the people who awarded me the diploma were not the proper people and they had stolen the diplomas and were selling them to people like me. 

      But the pictures showed the correct Board members of the seminary awarding me the diploma.

      At every point, Nasir was revealed to be a nut case and a liar. But once again, silly Christians emailed us that I was a fraud with fake degrees.

    5. They are ignorant. I took Classical Greek in college, NT Greek in seminary, and Hebrew in seminary. Because of my proficiency in the biblical languages, I was one of the translators of the ISV and translated the Psalms. But there are people on the internet who claim that they know Greek and Hebrew better than I do and they condemn my work.

      Yet, time after time, when I checked them out, I found out that they never took a single class in Hebrew or Greek! They had no knowledge of either language. Thus their comments on the Hebrew and Greek text are vacuous and offer nothing intelligent for me to refute.

    6. They do not document their claims by copious footnotes.  I am famous for lots of footnotes that contain multiple citations from recognized scholars and reference works. Yet, my critics make all kinds of claims and assert this or that as fact and, when I look for footnotes, there are none. They have no scholars, no reference works, and thus no academic support for their claims.

      For example, some recent Muslim critics made the claim that the idea that Allah was originally the moon-god was invented in 1927.  Do they cite any reference works to document their claim? No. Do they quote any scholars? No. Any history books? No. Yet, gullible Christians swallowed their vacuous claim hook, line, and sinker and emailed to me, “You have been refuted.”

    7. They have threatened to kill me, my wife, and children. But they are the nice ones. Others want to perform certain sexual acts to me in the name of Allah. I do not respond well to threats of rape, violence, and death. Why should I waste time on terrorist critics?

    8. Nehemiah 4 is the biblical model to follow. His critics wanted him to come down off the wall and spend his time arguing with them instead of building the wall. They sent out letters attacking his motives and character. They accused him of many evil deeds. But he refused to waste his time on those who did not want the truth but wanted only to waste his time.

      Note: Satan will always try to divert your attention from doing God’s work by manipulating you into defending yourself. He will appeal to your pride. But don’t fall for that trick. Care only for the reputation of Jesus Christ; His honor, His glory, and His gospel. Defend those to the death. He only is worthy of our love and trust.

      This is why I do not bother answering foolish attacks against me personally. You can’t refute personal attacks anyway because you cannot prove a negative. For example, one critic sent out a mass mailing that I was in the Mafia and laundered money for the Central American drug cartel. Of course he offered no proof for his accusation. He just made the accusation and thought I would spend time and money trying to refute it. I ignored it.

      People wrote to the ministry demanding that I prove that I was not in the Mafia. But how can you disprove something when there is no proof or evidence given? The burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused.

    9. Lastly, I Tim. 5:19 clearly states that an accusation must have two or three credible eyewitnesses to back it up. If not, God commands you to ignore the accusation and to rebuke the gossiper and slander for being in sin.

Slander dies when God’s people submit to the Lordship of Christ and stop listening to it.

 

Conclusion
I am not under any biblical obligation to answer all my critics. The Bible sets forth guidelines limiting me as to whom to debate, on what subjects, etc. In order to obey the God I serve, I must pick and choose my battles with great wisdom and care.

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