Vol.XVII No.XII Pg.3
February 1981

The Anti "Antl" Spirit

Dan S. Shipley

The term "anti" as used by some Christians to identify and vilify certain other Christians appears to have become increasingly popular in recent years. It may be because those to whom it has been applied have not "dried up" and decreased as some had prophesied. Whatever the reason for its continued employment, it is an unfortunate, misunderstood, and misapplied epithet that has contributed much to the trouble among brethren.

The term "anti" is unfortunate because of its very nature. It is a term of ridicule and derision used by one Christian in reference to another. It is evil speaking such as God condemns in Jas. 4:11. It is a term that always promotes hurting, never healing; division, never unity; ill will, never love. It is an uncomplimentary and demeaning term of reproach and few would deny they ever intended it to be understood otherwise. Truly good, conscientious, sincere and godly men and women have suffered the besmirchment and dishonoring of both character and reputation in being labeled "anti" — and, usually, by someone not even understanding what is being opposed and why.

Thus, we have said "anti" is largely a misunderstood term. It is used more out of prejudice than knowledge. Precious few who would use this term have made any sort of serious, personal and objective study into the differences dividing brethren. Many are warned to avoid the "antis" but few really know why — including those who sound such warnings. Ironically, many who have pleaded for open minds and open Bibles in times past will open neither to a study of this subject and thus fall victim to the prejudice so lamented in others. Such a study "won't do any good" as many have told me. Imagine a Christian concluding it to be better NOT to investigate the Scriptures on any subject — but especially those things that have divided and alienated God's people! Personally, I find it discomfiting to know that there are certain brethren who KNOW that they are not supposed to like me, hear me preach or have anything to do with me before they even make my acquaintance or know my convictions about anything! Brethren, can't we see that just such prejudice sent Jesus to the cross? It is bad enough that one would call his brethren "anti," but it is far worse to remain willfully ignorant on such vital issues affecting our unity in the body of Christ. Ignoring the study of such problems, whether individually or from the pulpit only encourages prejudice and misunderstanding and refutes what God says about the truth making men free (Jn. 8:32).

We have also said that the term "anti" has been misapplied. That is so because it leaves the impression that these Christians oppose what they should endorse and practice, even though called "expedients." It makes them appear to be against benevolence, cooperation between churches, and certain evangelistic efforts when, in fact, they only oppose unscriptural practices in these areas. "Anti" expresses a bad attitude toward mostly good people — not perfect, but trying to abide in truth and sincerely wanting to be right with God. Let's all try harder!