This article is from Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason.
Today I was thinking about a concept that came up in conversation, a challenge raised to Christians who offer their point of view. The challenge is: “Who are you to say?”
This question it comes up in one of two contexts. The first one is secular. You’ll hear it quite frequently when another person disagrees with your point of view, especially a moral one. They immediately challenge you with, “Who are you to say?”
Taken at face value this is an attack on you . It’s a response that focuses on the person, not the argument. Instead of dealing with a person’s point, you attack the individual in some way. This is called an ad hominem , a type of informal fallacy. An ad hominem might be when you say, “You jerk. You’re just stupid,” or, “What do you know?” or something of that order. It’s a form of name calling.
There are lots of sophisticated ways people use ad hominem that slip by us in addition to the obvious ones just mentioned. “Who are you to say?” is one of them. It’s a challenge addressed to the person and not the argument.
The challenge comes up in a second context, when Christians with positions of visibility challenge those inside the church who disagree with them. They sometimes refer to their attackers as “heresy hunters” to disparage them. (Some, I guess, might have called me that, though I don’t know specifically if I’ve been labeled in that way.) This is the same kind of comment as, “Who are you to say? Who made you in charge? What right do you have to challenge my doctrine?”
This question is completely irrelevant. Here’s why.
I had an answer to this question before I read his article, and now I have a much better understanding of this objection. That’s what you get from Greg Koukl – clear thinking Christianity.