Polemics Term: Lie, Lying

Many times in our contemporary culture, people are unable to distinguish between a “lie” and something they just don’t agree with.


Often in polemics ministry, reporting factual statements or conveying opinions that people do not like will solicit the charge of “telling lies” or “lying.” Sadly, many act independently of the actual definitions of words and their meaning, to make this accusation.
What they mean is, “I don’t like what you said.” What they actually say is, “You are lying.”
While this is a childish way to respond to material you don’t like merely because you don’t like it, it’s actually a very common response to polemical theology or discernment ministry.


1.a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.
A “lie” is a matter of objective fact. To say something that is objectively, verifiably and demonstrably untrue – if done so with the deliberate intent to deceive – it is a “lie.”
If someone holds to a particular opinion (for example, if a polemicist holds that a disgraced pastor shouldn’t restore himself to ministry) and others disagree with that opinion, it does not mean the person is “lying,” because they are not claiming to make a factual truth-claim. Disagreeing with one’s opinion does not mean they’re “lying.”
Likewise, if a false teacher makes an opinionated, subjective claim about Scripture (for example, Benny Hinn may twist the Scripture when it comes to the “word of faith” spoken of Romans 10:8), it does not mean he is “lying” and polemicists should not accuse him of “lying,” because it is in the realm of interpretation and opinion rather than objective fact. He is merely mistaken, wrong, or perhaps even heretical, but not “lying.”

An Example

A polemicist explains all the various problems with a false teacher, citing their words and sourcing their material, complete with in-context facts and quotations, and comes to the opinionated conclusion that they are, indeed, a false teacher. However, followers of that false teacher disagree with the polemicist’s opinionated conclusion, and accuse the polemicist of “lying,” even though what was presented as objective fact is actually objective fact. In this case, there was no “lie” regarding facts, but only disagreement regarding the conclusion based upon those facts.


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