The last (hopefully) iteration of the Indiana Jones franchise, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” has spawned a slightly more modern version of the widely-used term, “jumped the shark.” That term refers to a point at which a TV program’s popularity peaks and it begins its downhill slide; a referenced based on the “Happy Days” episode in which Fonzie ski-jumped over a pit of hungry sharks.
In Crystal Skull, Indiana Jones hides in a lead-lined refrigerator to protect himself from a nuclear blast. The lead fridge not only protected him, but the blast propelled him to safety. The idea that a lead-lined refrigerator could protect someone at ground zero of a nuclear blast, and that he could survive the blast, the heat and the tossing of the fridge strained all credibility. When we watch TV shows or movies, we suspend our disbelief and ignore the implausibility of what we are watching.
But there comes a point when a show just goes too far and no one is going to buy it. That is called “nuking the fridge” in honor of ol’ Indy. It refers to the point at which someone just goes too far and cannot be taken seriously any longer.
It is a danger among critics of the Southern Baptist Convention, its entities and its leaders. There is a lot wrong with our convention and I think that constructive, biblically-based criticism is helpful. No leader or entity should be above that criticism.
But we have a responsibility when we make those criticisms. Our criticisms must be honest, factual, and helpful. Ephesians 4:29 must govern every word that we speak.
It begins, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth.” That refers to words that tear down and destroy. We must resist the flesh’s fascination with nuking our opponents. The verse goes on to say that we must only speak those words which are “good for building up.” Every word we speak must be constructive – even our criticism. It must “give grace to those who hear.”
Blogging has been a haven of criticism. I think it has been healthy, at least at times. Though some have complained about the progress of openness, my experience has been that many of the leaders of the convention have taken a much more open attitude towards conversation with and even criticism from bloggers. They listen. I’m sure that sometimes they get annoyed with what we say, as we do with their actions. But I am encouraged at the fact that many of our leaders no longer see themselves as above criticism.
But we must make sure that our criticism is in line with Ephesians 4:29 and other verses.
- Our criticism must be designed to build up and strengthen others, not just to settle scores or “get it off my chest.”
- Our criticism must be truthful and fair.
- Our criticism must be bathed in prayer and softened with kindness – always keeping in mind we are talking with fellow-believers.
- Our criticism must be balanced, humble and free from condemnation.
I fear that it is far too often that we let our criticism stray over the line and “nuke the fridge.” One who does that causes hurt to those he criticizes, but he does one other thing – he costs himself credibility. There are bloggers out there who I want to read, even when I disagree with them. They state their case boldly, but with grace. But there are other bloggers who have demonstrated to me a lack of grace, a desire to tear down and a willingness to stray from truth to do so. I do not attempt to “straighten them out.” Once a blogger has nuked the fridge, I tend to just ignore them. I don’t read their posts. I don’t interact with their comments. None of us can read every blog. We have to pick and choose. I choose blogs that have credibility, not the flame-throwers and bomb-lobbers.
Why? Because in my eyes, they have nuked the fridge and I no longer am interested in what they have to say.
- Some have nuked the fridge by wild accusations of conspiracies and intentional shenanigans.
- Some have nuked the fridge with personal and unnecessary attacks.
- Some have nuked the fridge by campaigns of personal destruction against leaders and others.
- Some have nuked the fridge with an incessant barrage of good-guy/bad-guy constructions.
- Some have nuked the fridge by parsing every word a leader says, drawing far more meaning out of their words than is warranted
- Some have nuked the fridge by treating their friends one way and their opponents another.
But, there are some that have nuked the fridge, at least in my eyes.
It is not my intention to name names here. The problem is general, not specific. In fact, if anyone does names names in the comments, I will delete it. My intent is simple. Be careful and guarded in your criticism. If it is needed to build up the body, wrap your words in a kind boldness and say what needs to be said. But be wary of becoming a belittling basher of other believing brothers. Beware of savaging the saints or of leveling our leaders with unfair and destructive criticism. It is a fine line, but each of us must walk it to do our job as bloggers while maintaining our credibility.
There is a way to make needed criticism without nuking the fridge.
PS. One simple hint. Read your last 10 or 20 posts (or comments). If they are almost all “contra” posts, in which you are opposing, criticizing or confronting someone or something, you may need to examine your perspective. There is too much good in God’s word to spend all your time battling. Just an extra, middle of the night thought.