WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN APOSTOLIC FATHER.
An Apostolic Father anchors his words on positive criticism. He draws attention to good or positive aspects of the Church of God at large or of the local assembly of the believers in Christ Jesus which is being ignored, disregarded or overlooked especially of the Suffering Church - those upholding the testimony of Jesus Christ. People may be able to see only the negative side of something, so that it becomes necessary for an Apostolic Father to highlight always the positive side even when rebuking. Please study all the letters of Paul and the other New Testament Apostolic Fathers including John in the Revelation. A positive criticism even though may also be a type of self-justification or self-defense but it must not be the case of these Apostolic Fathers.
The term "positive criticism" is also used in the sense that the criticism is "well-meant" or "well-intentioned" ("I mean it in a positive way") - here, it is emphasized the criticism is intended by an Apostolic Father to serve a purpose which is constructive, or which the targeted person or persons or group would not reject off-hand or shut down communication. But rather, It opens the doors for communication and correction.
For an Apostolic Father, the basic aim of a positive criticism is usually to provide a better orientation, or frame of reference, for behavior. The basic thrust of his criticism is to provide an idea which people can act on to improve their situation, mature their faith and strengthen their character. At the very least, the Apostolic Father by his teachings and instructions, offers his hearers more choices for behavior that conforms to the Word of God, and therefore potentially enlarges behavioral freedom - that freedom that shuns legalism and bondage.
For an Apostolic Father, Negative criticism means voicing an objection to something, only with the purpose of showing that it is wrong, false, mistaken, nonsensical, objectionable, or disreputable without offering a biblically sound alternatives. This is an easy route for anyone to take but not the Apostolic Father. Generally, it is very easy to show disapproval of something, or disagreement with something. For those in Christ Jesus, we must be aware that negative criticism is often interpreted as an attack against a person. That may not have been the intention, but it can be interpreted that way.
Negative criticism can have the effect that the people criticized feel attacked or insulted by it, so that they either do not take it seriously, or they react badly to it. Much often much damage rather than any good is done in the Body of Christ (His Church) depending on how much negative criticism there is, and how much criticism is transmitted at once. People can handle some negative criticism, but they may not be able to handle a whole lot of negative criticism, at least not all at once which is the hallmark of the many so-called modern or present truth 'Apostles.'
The downside of negative criticism is, often, that it tells people what they cannot or should not do or believe, rather than telling them what they can or should do (what possibilities or options there are). So it may be disabling, rather than enabling. People might reply to a negative criticism that "this is all very well, but I cannot do anything with it", or they might say "now what?!". Yet, negative criticism may be very necessary at times if done in and with the LOVE of Christ Jesus, to prevent a course of action which would be harmful to the people concerned. The truth is that we must not be afraid to state a negative criticism wrapped with genuine humility and grace if it might help to make an existing problem (that humanly speaking we can control or personally influence) not to get so much worse. But, for an Apostolic Father, why be so negative in your criticism over something or someone when humanly speaking you cannot control or personally influence that person or that situation. An Apostolic Father is a praying father who understands that the weapon of our warfare is carnal and we do not wrestle with flesh and blood. The Apostolic Father seeks the Lord and waits on Him to intervene and do all that makes Him God over all situations. But this is very hard for many Christians especially the self-styled 'Apostles.'
For an Apostolic Father, the upside of negative criticism is that it can explain what the limitations of an idea, an action or a situation are, for the sake of being realistic. Sometimes it is necessary to say "no" to something (and explain why "no" is "no"). Such negative criticism is not offensive but refreshing. This is what makes it apostolic and divine - for woe unto him or her through whom offense comes or who brings about offenses.
In the modern Church, some folks have made it their ministry (in pretense to be like the Old-Testament prophets) to be fully engrossed in negative criticisms whether through publications or mass media including the cyber space or in their preaching (teachings). But the truth is that they can be easily exploited or manipulated by Satan, vicious wicked people or through demonic activities while they think or believe they are doing God's work and ministry. They just beret the members of the Body of Christ and major in the minors of the Christian Faith. Nevertheless, we must not write off negative critics for all the attention they could being to correcting anomalies in the Body of Christ. I am aware that also in the modern Church, negative criticism has acquired the stigma of "being negative", and so many people now do choose to express their negative criticism simply by not saying anything at all, not paying attention to something crucial to biblical truth or someone who carries an influence in the Church, or by being actively absent.
Yet for an Apostolic Father, Constructive criticism aims to show that the intent or purpose of something is better served by an alternative approach. In this case, making the criticism is not necessarily deemed wrong, and its purpose is respected; rather, it is claimed that the same goal could be better achieved via a different route. It is imperative for all Apostolic Fathers to know that Constructive criticisms are often suggestions for improvement – how things could be done better or more acceptably. They draw attention to how an identified problem could be solved, or how it could be solved better.
Both negative and constructive criticism have their appropriate uses, but often it is considered a requirement of criticism that they are combined. Thus, it is oft en considered that those who find fault with something should also offer an option for putting it right. More generally, any rule for behavior of any kind usually implies both "do's" and "don'ts". Doing something usually also implies not doing something else, and, not doing something, often implies doing something else. To be truly apostolic, there is therefore a conscious choice "to do this, or do that", but not both at the same time.
So, to orient behavior, people need to know both what is "ruled in" and what is "ruled out". If the criticism concerns only one aspect, but not the other, it may supply only incomplete information, which is not really adequate to orient behavior or guide action. One of the most elementary reasons why a rule is ignored, flouted or subverted is, because either the positive or the negative aspect of what it means is unspecified. This is the major problem with many of the so-called modern present sages that qualify themselves as 'Apostles.'
Now, let's face the biggest satanic weapon raving the Church of Christ on earth - Destructive criticism. It is designed or aims to destroy the target of criticism, by making the destructive criticism (e.g. "you should shut up and follow this teaching or this idea or this program"). The aim here is to show that the point of view of someone else has no validity at all, or lacks any merit. Such is only has a monologue and no room for a dialogue. What a pity and a danger.
In some contexts, destructive criticism is regarded as an undesirable nuisance, a threat, or as completely unjustifiable, especially if it involves personal attacks on people. Destructive criticism is often criticized because it has a destructive effect, instead of a positive effect (this may also just be an accusation or allegation, if there is no proof that the effect actually is destructive).
Please note that the context of the Church is not a political or military context where destructive criticisms may be essential to save resources, or to save lives among one's own group. An idea in itself is not dangerous, but an idea proposed in a particular context can be very dangerous, so that people feel that it should be disarmed by mercilessly criticizing it. The ultimate destructive criticism occurs when people and property are physically destroyed simply for not towing along a counter view, opinion or understanding of their perspectives to a truth or a program.
The term "destructive criticism" is also used to mean that the level, scope or intensity of criticism is such, that it becomes mainly destructive. In this context, people believe that the criticism is so great, or there is so much criticism, that it only destroys things. For example, a debate or controversy can get out of control, so that everybody is at war with everybody else, and everybody is opposed to everybody else. In that case, it may well be that the criticism is being overdone ("overkill"). What started out as a structured dialogue to identify conflicting aspects of a situation, ends up as a chaos in which nobody can agree with anyone else anymore.
I remain in prayers for God's mercies on us all that He has called especially those who teach His Word, lead His people and influence souls bound for Heaven. Amen.
In His Righteousness Alone,