Jesus was perhaps the “worst” name caller who ever lived! “Woe unto you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!” “You make him twofold more the child of hell than your-selves.” “You blind guides.” “You fools and blind.” “You blind guides which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” “You blind Pharisee.” “Woe unto you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like unto whited sepulchers which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but are within full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” “You serpents, you generation of vipers.”
If a preacher today referred to religious people as “blind guides,” “hypocrites,” “children of hell,” and as “snakes” and a “generation of vipers,” he would be told that he lacks “the spirit of Christ.” Would Jesus be allowed to preach where you worship if he called names as he did in Matthew 23? When Jesus referred to “Gentiles,” he was identifying his subject in order to emphasize his point (Matt. 6:32). If one speaks of the second coming of Christ, he might say, “For after all these things do the premillenialists seek.” Or he might say that, “like the Methodists, Baptists seek for salvation by faith only.” Does the preacher sin by labeling and identifying the group he is talking about? If so, did Jesus (Matt. 6:32 cf; 21:31)?
In Mark 7:6-13, Jesus called his audience “hypocrites,” said their worship was “in vain,” charged them with rejecting “the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.” Then, he specifically described and defined their particular doctrine and rebuked it. Is this an example of good, sound gospel preaching? May a preacher today refer to “Baptists” and say their worship of God is in vain because they reject the commandments of God that they may keep their own traditions? Then, would it be proper to take a specific doctrine, such as, “faith only” and show how it contradicts Mark 16:16, and rebuke it as a human tradition that makes void the word of God? Would such a sermon lack love? Would it be “filled with hateful `name calling’?” May we do what Jesus did in the way that he did it (1 Cor. 11:1 ff; 1 Pet. 2:21; 4:11; 1 Jn. 2:6)?
Paul was another first rate “name caller.” He named “Hymanaeus and Alexander” as being examples of those who had “made shipwreck” of their faith (1 Tim. 1:19,20). Paul said, “For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10). “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil” (2 Tim. 4:14). “Of whom be you ware also; for he has greatly withstood our words.” Would it be scriptural to tell someone today that there is a certain ironworker in a certain church that will oppose you when you teach the truth about the church and recreation? May we do as Paul did (Phil. 4:9)? May we speak as he spoke (1 Pet. 4:11)?
Note the example, of 2 Timothy 2:16-18. “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as cloth a canker: of whom is Hymanaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”
First, Paul characterized the doctrine in very harsh terms, comparing it to “profane and vain babblings.” Second, he noted its threefold effects: (A) “increase unto more ungodliness,” (B) “eat as doth a canker (gangrene),” (C) “overthrow the faith of some.” Third, he identified the proponents of the doctrine; he called their names,”Hymanaeus and Philetus.” Fourth, he defined the doctrine, “saying that the resurrection is past already.” Did Paul sin? Should he be ridiculed and reviled as a “name caller”?
May a preacher today do as Paul did? Can we obey 1 Timothy 5:20, “Them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear”? May one say that liberal views on benevolent societies and the sponsoring church, as exemplified by the “Herald Of Truth,” are “profane and vain babblings” that have led to “more ungodliness” (church gyms, camps, etc.). May I say that liberal teaching has eaten as a cancerous gangrene in the body of Christ and has overthrown the faith of some? Should one refrain from such characterizations in order to avoid being called “a name caller,” or should he do as Paul did?
Observe the “name calling” that Paul engaged in! He accepted the verdict of uninspired men regarding the character of “the Cretans”; hence, an uninspired man may make such judgments. I believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses are “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers.” May I cite their doctrines and “rebuke them sharply”? May I say that Mormons “subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not”? May I say that televangelists preach “for filthy lucre’s sake,” for money, and that “with feigned words (made) merchandise” of millions of people? If I do so, am I a sinful “name caller”? May elders in the church today do as Paul instructed the elders to do in Titus 1:9-13?
The Pope of Rome claims to be an apostle. Mormons say they have twelve apostles. May we try or test such men and their claims? If they fail the test of Scripture, is it proper to say that we have “found them liars”? If that is “name calling,” then I plead guilty.
Conclusion: Preachers should never call people derogatory names? Calling someone fat, ugly, stupid, crazy, etc. is totally unacceptable. Doing such serves no purpose but to demean and defame someone. This is not what this subject matter concerns. If someone does such, they should be opposed vehemently. There is no place for childish name calling from anyone. That sort of thing does not belong in families, in government, or in the church! If you find someone who does such things, I will join you in rebuking them.
Gospel preachers have four basic missions: to preach the gospel (2 Tim 2:2), prove the gospel (1 Thess 5:21), defend the gospel (Philip 1:15-18) and contend for the faith (Jude 3). We should always be reminded the advice Paul gave a young Timothy about preaching the Word of God: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry:. (2 Tim 4:1-5). Sinners need to know they have sinned, and what their sin or action constitutes. Jesus and his apostles called those who committed sins by their names. They called sins by their rightful names. They called their actions by their rightful names, and so should preachers today!