Labels, labels, labels"I never call Christians or others 'anti's,' 'digressives, ' mossbacks,' 'tackies,' or 'trash.' I concede to all, and accord to all, the same sincerity and courtesy I claim for myself, as the Golden Rule demands…" T.B. Larimore
As I’ve taken another look at Restoration History the last few years, I’ve become a fan of T. B Larimore. I’d love to be known as a man who refuses to take sides and who refuses to label others. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that the church where I grew up in San Angelo, Texas, was basically started through a one-month gospel meeting by T. B. Larimore. I guess some of his views were imparted to me from very young. One of those views is a deep-set distrust of labels.
Conservative. Liberal. Change agent. Anti. Progressive. Digressive… who wears what label depends on who is speaking. It’s rare that someone applies a label to himself. I’ve been called sectarian. I’ve been called liberal. I’ve been called a legalist. I’ve even been called evil (I’m sure that e-mail was sent in Christian love!). And all for expressing basically the same ideas. It just depends on where the other person is standing. In the big scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter what others say:“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Cor 4:3-4) Still, I hate to see people resort to labels. There are several reasons why:
- When we resort to labels, we’ve stopped viewing the other person as an individual. We judge them in terms of other people, not according to what they actually think and believe.
- When we resort to labels, we stop listening. “Everything you’ve got to say, I’ve heard before from others just like you.”
- When we resort to labels, we tend to fall back on preset ways of reacting. “Post-modernists think this way, and here’s what I always say to them.” If I were to accept anything that a “post-modernist” says, I’d be accepting everyone else to whom I’ve given that label.
So here’s one suggestion for preserving the integrity of our Lord’s church: stop the labeling!
If you want to heal wounds in the Lord’s Church today,
Gather all of your labels and put them away.
If you have to use labels, I suggest these and few others:
Christians, fellow saints, disciples and brothers.