Critical Thinking Christians Aren’t So Quick to Slap Labels on People


Be alert and of sober mind. 1 Peter 5:8

In very general terms I’d say that we Christians tend to be lazy in our thinking. We’re not the only lazy thinkers on the planet, but we might be some of the laziest around. Maybe it’s because we’ve found the Truth and feel no need to seek further? Since we’ve found our soul’s rest in Jesus, maybe we believe that we have no more to reason to keep learning. It’s ironic though, since “disciple” means “learner.” “Paul was a seeker and a finder and a seeker still,” said A.W. Tozer. “Some people seek and find and seek no more.”

Anyway, we’re identifying a few typical practices of Critical-thinking Christians. Last time we said that Critical Thinking Christians Don’t Rush to Judgment,” that is we assume that we know all there is to know about something and spout off our theories before hearing out those with whom we disagree, or at least think we do. Someone from the “other camp” uses a certain phrase or watchword in their argument, and before we comprehend the larger context of their thinking we pound out our keyboard rebuttal. (As the world’s “heresy finders” we Christians are particularly adept at this.)

Next, I’d like to propose that Critical Thinking Christians Aren’t So Quick to Slap Labels on People.

In any ideological debate it saves all kinds of time and mental energy to just call our opponent a name. It’s easier to caricature someone than take the time to understand them.

“Ah, she’s just a liberal… He’s nothing but an alt-righter… a snowflake… a heathen…” You name it, we’ve got a name for it. You can sling as much sling mud as possible with as broad a brush as you can buy by just calling them a name. The labeler doesn’t recognize nuance in their black and white world. To them you’re either one of these or one of those––one of us or one of them.

When you call someone “stupid” it’s as though you’re saying that’s all they are. They can’t be smart or perceptive or wise about anything at all. They’re just stupid. That’s their sum total. Though we’ve come to expect this sort of juvenile behavior from some politicians (not naming any names), what’s up with supposed followers of Jesus engaging in such libelous labeling?

Check out Phil Keaggy’s song: “Something, Somewhere” (1997)

Take my picture, steal my soul

Put me somewhere you’re in control

Call me something you understand

But you cannot hammer down and journey man


I am neither this nor that

I’m not here or there

I am in between something, something, and somewhere


Well, I would like to say

Everything works just one way

Well I’m sorry but I can’t

‘cuz all the answers are not at my command

So I’ll fly with what I know

But I’ll step lightly where I land


A pilgrim in progress

A wish that’s on the way

Hidden for the moment

But this is where I am today


I am neither this nor that

I’m not here or there

I am in between something, something, and somewhere

I’ve seen this lazy love of labeling work in a number of ways. One particularly pernicious pattern is when those who think differently from us use certain catchphrases, and before giving them a full hearing, we slap a label them. Though they most likely can’t be so easily reduced to one camp or another, we shove them into the slot that we suspect befits them. In our rush to categorize people we brand them like cattle. They might not be the “communist” or “heretic” or “liberal” that we assume they are, but it’s too late, we’ve already brought out the rack and laid them on it. That’s the way of the lazy thinker.

Read also: The Libel of Labels

For instance, someone uses the word “environmental” in conversation, then to us they’re just a “tree hugger.” The mere mention of “climate change” and you’re “Snowflake liberal.” Extol the virtues of Gandhi’s non-violent civil resistance and you’re deemed a “Universalist.” You object to many, if not most, of the president’s policies and they call you a “Trump hater.”

It goes both ways. You call yourself an Evangelical and it’s assumed you’re “a gay-hating, misogynistic, racist!” We don’t like being labeled any more than “they” do, so stop it.

“Do unto others…” comes to mind here.

So, lay off the name-calling, you nothin’ but lazy thinking labelers!

Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 1 Corinthians 8:2

Till next time when we talk about how Critical Thinking Christian Think For Themselves


In my book, Reaching Rahab: Joining God In His Quest For Friends, I make a point of how we Christians are perceived by pre-christians. And it’s not so good, one reason being that we do as much categorizing and labeling as anyone, if not more, and it’s off-putting to those we would love to bring to Jesus. Check out the book and see if it doesn’t help you be a more authentic witness for Christ.

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