When Righteous Anger Becomes Self-Righteous

Discernment ministry often gets maligned. Sometimes the criticisms overstate the problem, causing people to think discernment is intrinsically wrong. We can overreact to the abuses, allowing ourselves to disdain everyone who dares to call out a false teacher.

Notice the acknowledgment that abuses exist within discernment ministries. Several self-proclaimed discernment ministries have degenerated into portals of gossip and slander, dedicated to ruining the reputations of anyone they deem to be in error. As a result of their sin, some people have learned to view all discernment ministries and bloggers with suspicion.

Usually, the critics of discernment ministries conclude that discernment in and of itself is intrinsically bad. Although they started out rightly challenging discernment bloggers, they now categorically dismiss any blogger who speaks out against false teaching.

Ironically, the critics of discernment ministry can fall into the same self-righteous anger that they despise in discernment ministries. They warn against us just as stridently as we warn against Beth Moore.

In truth, all of us need to do heart checks. All of us blog, tweet or write Facebook posts in anger, assuring ourselves that we exercise righteous indignation.

And perhaps our anger actually starts out being righteous. We see something wrong in what an evangelical celebrity says, writes or does and we want to warn that person’s followers that their “idol” has deviated from godliness.

So we collect screenshots and links, carefully curating them to substantiate whatever point we feel compelled to make. When someone challenges us, we become combative. In turn, we fuel our anger with the resolution to prove our opponents wrong and vindicate ourselves. Before we know it, whatever righteous indignation we started out with devolves into good old-fashioned self-righteousness.

Hey look, I’ve done it in the name of discernment. I’ve hammered away at my attempts to expose Beth Moore, force feeding people with website after website of material documenting her many transgressions. I went past the responsibility to inform people of the dangers in following her; I was out to win an argument!

Lately I’ve seen someone on Twitter expressing anger towards a well-known teacher that I respect. She has evidence against him that I should consider. If her allegations against him are true (and they may well be), I’ll need to stop linking to his blog posts on Saturday Sampler.

But I’ve watched this woman over the last six months, and I’ve seen the same self-righteous anger in her that I was guilty of in the early days of blogging about Beth Moore. It’s one thing to present evidence — even a copious amount of evidence — over a vast amount of time, as Elizabeth Prata does with her research on Beth Moore. It’s quite another to ramrod your point of view with the implicit demand that people agree with you.

When anger so consumes a person that they fill their blogs, tweets and Facebook feeds with little else, maybe we should question the righteousness of their indignation. At the very least, angry people need our prayer.

But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. ~~Galatians 5:15 (NASB)

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