Q: We often hear other Christians (esp those on TV) made fun of during sermon. Is this acceptable? Where is the line to unacceptable?
A: Great question! Jesus, Peter and Paul all warned against false teaching, wolves in sheep’s clothing etc. (2 Peter 2:1-3, 2 Tim 3:16, Matthew 7:15,16.) Specifically, Jesus stated in Matt 7:15,16
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
God warns us to beware of false teachers and to identify them by their fruit: by what they say and what they do. Sadly, history has often been full of people speaking in the name of God who are not representing God in any way at all. By doing this, they lead good people astray and turn off seeking people to the true message of Jesus.
Once in a while, Discovery will name a specific individual who does this, and often times that individual is on television. Certainly, not all television preachers are false teachers, but sadly plenty of them are. Three quick examples of excellent television preachers: Andy Stanley who is one of the finest Bible teachers alive today. Andy’s father, Charles Stanley still preaches on television, as does David Jeremiah and of course Billy Graham. All of these are examples of people of God who teach scripture well and in an orthodox way and use television to do so. (And of course, this is not an exhaustive list!)
Unfortunately, a great many television preachers distort the truth for various reasons and should be ignored. Some are misguided, some are heretical, some are malevolent. Also, tragically, many skeptics who think that church people are nuts or charlatans, are emboldened in their opinion by some of these teachers. Calling them out is an attempt to show that they are not orthodox or a good representation of true Christianity.
The question of the line to unacceptable is an excellent one and of course requires wisdom and discernment, but broadly speaking, if a preacher is orthodox, they ought not be called out due to difference in preference, for example. But if they are not orthodox, but presenting false teaching, they can be called out, as Paul did when he wrote guidance to churches in New Testament times.