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My wife, Di, and I like having a dog around the house. For years we had a gentle Huskie, named Bozwick, and his best friend– a feisty Shitzu-with-an-attitude named, Jake. The little guy joined us in grieving the passing of his big friend a couple of years ago.

Both let us know when someone or something was approaching our door. We liked the barking security system.

The thing I’ve noticed about our “watchdogs”, though, is that they don’t just bark at the approach of an intruder. They’ll bark at friends, or even us when we pull in the driveway.

I’ve seen the same thing happen with “watchdogs of the faith.” Sometimes those of us who see ourselves as guardians of orthodoxy bark–maybe just to hear ourselves bark–before we get our facts straight.

The problem doesn’t bother us too much when we are the ones making the noise and passing along misleading information about others. But when the barks are about us, it hurts.

It happened to me recently as a result of an article I wrote last summer called “Missing Prophecies.” Someone used another website to say that I accused the Gospel writer, Matthew, of being wrong in the way he quoted the Old Testament. The misinformation confused some of our friends who hadn’t seen the article themselves.

Now, if I had said Matthew made a mistake, somebody should have sounded the alarm. I actually wrote the article because others have accused Matthew of misusing the Old Testament to claim fulfillments where none exist. I wanted to show what an inspired Matthew was seeing. (You can find the original article in our June, 2007 archive link.)

A few weeks later I wrote another article called “The Urge to Jump” (November, 2007 archive link). By then I was a little more aware of how dangerous it is to jump to conclusions before checking out our facts.

Maybe it wasn’t just about me. Maybe having felt the pain, I’ll think twice before I pass along an unfounded rumor about someone else. I hope so.

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