How long will all of you attack others; how long will you tear them down as if they were leaning down walls or broken down fences?
-Psalm 62:3 (CEB)
Personal attacks against people we don’t like is common these days, from Christian to Christian. Sometimes the attacker will doubt the authenticity of the person’s faith they are attacking. But the attacker brings their own legitimacy into question, by their brazen attacks on a child of God.
Nothing is wrong with arguing, debating, and discussing. What is wrong is attacking people. Personal attacks are wrong.
Malicious gossip, slander, and maligning are wrong for the believer. Personal attacks is the style of Satan and when we accuse brothers or sisters, we are joining with Satan. You become just like the ones who attacked Jesus, who thought they were the rightful standard bearers of God, when they were actually attacking the Son of God.
The attacker has the audacity, presumption, and arrogance to self-righteously believe that they are doing God’s work in attacking 'heretics'. After all, false prophets or teachers of heresy are the enemies of God who must be punished, at least through verbal or written attacks. Attacking what you believe is false doctrine, teaching, or prophecy is one thing; when it is done civilly; but personal attacks are wrong.
It is a problem when a person begins there opinion piece or argument with, (this name is fictional) “Ted Smith is wrong”. Then it goes from bad to worse when they say, “Ted Smith is just bad, because of what he teaches, or does”. And then it might even get worse when they say or write, or it is strongly implied that, “God is very angry with Ted Smith!”
It would be more authentic and healthier to say, “What Ted Smith teaches really makes me mad”. We might be a bit uncomfortable with your anger, but at least you are not personally attacking Mr. Smith. We can then ask, “What teaching is it that makes you mad?”, and we have a dialogue or discussion going.
When I was a kid, I heard the phrase, “ongoing theological debate”, and I was intrigued. Ever since, I have seen and heard that there is a debate going on. Debate, discussion, dialogue, and question and answer are all super good. Saying, “I don’t know”, and being a lifelong learner is also a good thing.
Humility, meekness, love, patience, and being a listener are good characteristics. Being able to say that we differ, but we are bound in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace, is a good thing. And unity does not mean uniformity.
Dialogue and debate, from a place of love is the better way.