The Speaking Truth
by S. M. Hutchens
It is worth noting that the Lord was not the slightest bit averse to using ad hominem attacks on his enemies (his friends, too, come to think of it)—something that is taboo in the Culture of Niceness and that too many Christians, in step with that culture, refuse to recognize, giving themselves an excuse for retreating in places where they should advance aggressively into the hostile world of vipers, dead men's tombs, and sons of the devil.
The problem with ad hominem arguments is that they tend to take the place of logic where logic is required, to identify their users as hotheads (that is, as irrational), and to stale quickly. They also invite examination of the people who use such arguments to the end of returning fire, and there aren't too many who can stand up to that: the biter is bit, things balance out, and the truth remains unserved.
The reason the Lord succeeds in this arena is not simply because his accusations are true, but also because examining him for his own faults can yield—because he himself is Truth—no creditable return indictment. The same cannot be said for any of us, so we need to be very careful in imitating Christ in this respect.
S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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