Should we answer critics or ignore them? Though critics should not be lumped in with fools too hastily, Proverbs 26:4-5 might be of some help in answering this question. Apparently, sometimes we should not answer fools, but sometimes we should. Given the number of leadership experts who say, “Never answer the critics because…” as well as the number who say, “You have to answer your critics because…,” I’m guessing that what’s true of fools is also true of critics in this case: sometimes we shouldn’t answer them, but sometimes we should.
Of course, we should listen to our critics first and weigh their criticism. But when listening to a critic reveals a consistent pattern of factual error (and more than a little evidence of malice), further listening is poor stewardship of our time. That narrows the options to “tuning out” or responding.
Public criticism over an extended period of time narrows the options even further. The likelihood increases that people unfamiliar with the facts will encounter accusations and believe them. Actual damage could occur.
Eventually the question is no longer if we should answer the critics but how to answer them without further empowering them—or perhaps, how to answer them in a way that empowers them less than not answering them! One good way might be to target falsehoods without specifically targeting their source.