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Why Do You Criticize Ann Voskamp?

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Lucia and I recently read a blog article that was mocking Ann Voskamp. It’s more accurate to say they were insulting Ann Voskamp.

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Read my follow-up article called, How to Rebuke Ann Voskamp and Other People Not Like You

I’ll not link the article or identify the person(s) who did this. My purpose is not to draw attention to any individual who devalues human beings but highlight the problem of devaluing fellow image bearers and fellow believers.

THIS BLOG POST IS NOT ABOUT WHAT ANN VOSKAMP BELIEVES; THAT’S ANOTHER TOPIC.

No, I’m not an Ann Voskamp homer. I have never read anything from her, and only after reading the sarcastic article did I go on her site to learn more about her. I seriously doubt I will ever read any of her books or hear her speak because it’s not my cup of tea. And I’m somewhat confident that I’m not her cup of tea either. That’s fine with both of us, I assume.

And this from Tim Challies: In Which I Ask Ann Voskamp’s Forgiveness…

I did poorly here and I can see that I need to grow in my ability to critique the ideas in a book even while being kind and loving to its author. There was reason for the shame I felt when I saw that name in my inbox. I had put effort into reading the book and understanding and critiquing it, but no real effort into showing love and respect for the author. I had assumed poor motives and in arrogance and thoughtlessness had squelched useful discussion of the book’s strengths and weaknesses.

There is value in engaging the ideas in any book, and especially a book about this Christian life, but the desire to uphold truth has no business coming into conflict with love for another person. Truth and love are to be held together as friends, not separated as if they are enemies. In my desire to say what was true, I failed to love. I ask Ann’s forgiveness for this. – Tim Challies

The issue I have with criticizing her is not whether I’m a fanboy or if she’s my fangirl. The issue is that she may be my sister in Christ, and how it’s utterly despicable to devalue a person the way they did. It is one thing to critique her theology and ideas but a wholly other matter to publicly body slam her as a person, regardless of whether or not she’s born again.

  1. If she is born again, she is your sister in Christ.
  2. If she is not born again, she is your fellow image bearer.

With (the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. – James 3:9-1o

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Devaluing Human Image Bearers

It is profoundly irritating to me when people criticize people that way. There is no biblical warrant for it, though some would reference the Lord mocking individuals in the Old Testament. That is a hermeneutical stretch, as well as an eisegetical license to relieve the conscience so you can devalue fellow image bearers.

Demeaning others happens too often within Christianity, especially within Reformed circles. While I most closely align theologically with Reformed teaching, some of the folks in this group can be so arrogant about their “rightness” that sometimes I’m ashamed to be part of them.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29

A couple of years ago another national Reformed leader sent out a mocking meme about Joel Osteen. I deplored it then, and nothing has changed. And, no, I’m not an Osteen homer either. I’ve never read any of his books or listened to his sermons. I’m not interested.

However, as stated, there is a world of difference between civil theological disagreement and discussion about ideas or lifestyles versus mocking a fellow image bearer. Devalue a person’s theology but not the person.

Respecting others also applies to how you think about any person, including whichever president you despise the most. Disagree with his politics, but don’t devalue the person. Christians talk about this all the time when they say, “We love sinner; it’s your lifestyle in which we struggle.”

Okay, that’s great. It’s a good thing to say, but is it true for you? I do not agree with the gay lifestyle but refuse to mock or make fun of a gay person. It’s ungodly, plain and straightforward.

What’s Your Point?

Suppose Ann VosKamp’s husband or children were reading that awkward and embarrassing blog post. Is the point to infuriate them or win them to your theological way of thinking?

Do you want to win anyone in Joel Osteen’s camp to your “holy rightness” or alienate them? Do you want to irritate the gay person or compassionately come alongside him because you learned a long time ago to stop throwing those stones, after you finally understood you’re no different from them, apart from the grace of God?

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? – 1 Corinthians 4:6-7

What’s your point? There is no way that article helped anyone move closer to Christ. If anything, it pandered to weak Christians who are susceptible to criticizing people while alienating those who need their Jesus.

Cut the Devalued

The word sarcasm means to cut the flesh. The idea is that of a meat cutter who cuts away the less valuable parts of the meat. The meat cutter saves the good stuff and gets rid of the bad things.

That’s sarcasm, and that is what that blog post accomplished. It was a clear signal that we don’t value you, Ann Voskamp, and to prove it, we’re going to ridicule you to the world. That is not the way of Christ (Matthew 22:36-40).

Now, if the goal was to make sure her “followers” dug a little deeper in their followership, the blog post did its job. If the mockers wanted to alienate a large following, they did well.

I have an idealistic pipe dream that Christians will stop ridiculing fellow image bearers or fellow believers. I don’t expect the culture to act like Christ. I expect them to hate both me and my ideas, but it seems like some Christians should give a better effort.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. – James 3:6, 8

Call to Action

Making fun of or poking fun at those with whom you have a relationship with is common among friends. This blog post is not about a close knit community of friends who love each other and joke around for fun.

This post is about dehumanizing someone with whom you don’t have a relationship. It’s the person you don’t like or don’t agree with or you’re just a self-righteous person with no moral or social filter when it comes to devaluing image bearers.

  1. Do you know how to engage a person’s beliefs while not devaluing the person?
  2. Is it okay for you to laugh when someone devalues a fellow image bearer or fellow believer? How would you support that view with Scripture?
  3. Do you think it was harmless fun? What if they made your mother look like a baffoon? How about your daughter? Would that draw you closer to Christ while increasing your affection for His body (Christians)?
  4. The title of this article asked a question, Why Do You Criticize Ann Voskamp? If you do, why do you? Do you critique her views or her person?

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