In my years, I have been called every name in the book: nazi, heretic, communist, ‘hyperdispensationalist” (to name a few). It has become clear to me, in the proportion I become immune to name calling, that those who often call others names are falling prey to projection.
Those who call me a Nazi, march lock-step with the Nazi political platform. Those who call me a heretic, discard the Bible in favor of the ideas of Plato. Those who call me a communist literally endorse expropriation of private property. Those who call me a hyperdispensationalist usually force strange readings on the Bible to make their theology work.
When Jesus called names, he usually backed them up with facts. When he calls the Pharisees “vipers” he explains that they kill the prophets. When he calls people hypocrites, he backs it up with an explanation (sometimes definitional). Here Jesus is in Matthew:
Mat 7:4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
Mat 7:5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
A few things of note: the fact that “hypocrites are judging” is not what is wrong. It is the fact that they do the same thing that they judge. The remedy is not “not judging”, but clearing out your own problems and then judging others. Projection is a form of hypocrisy.
The same individuals who call names using projection are usually the ones attempting the take “the moral high ground”. Noted by referencing to how humble they are, or how much they hate pride, or how much they want to help the poor. Hypocrites are dangerous, because they attempt to manipulate their hearer’s raw emotion rather than using reason.
It is best not to fall prey to their own fallacies. For the most part I try not to use names. Names, if used, should be used to stun the person. Recently I used Facebook to inform a group of hippies that they were fascist thugs. They had probably never been called that before, and it threw them for a loop. If names are used, Jesus should be the example. Defend why the name is fitting. Use names against those who would be deeply offended. And make sure it is public. There is no record that those who are called names by Jesus ever came to repentance. Jesus’ concern was for the hearers, those who still had an open mind.
Also see Nicer than God.
I think Jesus used name calling in the same way as Charles G. Finney used his new measures. To make sinners realise that they are sinners and to bring them to repentance! :-)