Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Judge not!

I’ve been asked to comment on Mt 7:1.

1.People usually quote this out of context. They only quote Mt 7:1. But that’s part of a larger literary unit or pericope, consisting of 7:1-6. What is more, it must also be supplemented by other passages in Matthew to get a balanced picture of Jesus’ teaching.

2.In context, this passage is not a prohibition against judging others, per se. Indeed, Christians are commanded to evaluate the conduct of others, such as church discipline (18:15-20), or false teachers (7:15-20; 24:23-26).

3.Rather, the passage is dealing with the sin of hypocrisy. An incapacity for self-criticism. The sort of thing which the Pharisees were often guilty of.

We have the same balanced position in Paul. On the one hand, avoid hypocritical judgmentalism (Rom 2:1f.), but on the other hand, exercise church discipline (1 Cor 5:9-13).

4.Apropos (3), the Pharisees were also guilty of legalism. Of inventing man-made prescriptions and proscriptions, then condemning fellow Jews for failing to live up to these unscriptural scruples.

Throughout church history, the church has of succumbed to the same error.

5.Paul draws another important distinction. On the one hand, he admonishes believers to avoid worldly entanglements (2 Cor 6:14-7:1). That clearly involves a value-judgment regarding pagan morality.

On the other hand, we are to hold believers to a higher standard than unbelievers (1 Cor 5:12-13). We expect unbelievers to act like unbelievers. To some extent, that’s none of our business—except when it intrudes into the community of faith.

6.Ironically, unbelievers are hypersensitive to what Christians think of them. They accuse us of being intolerant, judgmental, self-righteous, moralistic, and so on.

For unbelievers, it’s inconceivable that you could disapprove of someone without looking down on someone. Without feeling morally superior. Better than they are.

7.Another irony is that unbelievers can be quite judgmental and intolerant of fellow unbelievers. We see this in the cult of celebrity. The scandal-mongering. The love/hate cycle.

The world has a way of turning certain people into stars, then turning against them and tearing them down. Think of Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or Paris Hilton. Just now we see the same phenomenon with Barack Obama. Build him up, then tear him down. First they play favorites, then they go on the attack.

The world loves its own, but the world also loves to pick on certain people. You can also see this in school, with its pecking order. The boy who’s bullied by other boys. The girl who’s shunned by other girls. Pick them apart. Make their life a living hell.


  1. "Ironically, unbelievers are hypersensitive to what Christians think of them. They accuse us of being intolerant, judgmental, self-righteous, moralistic, and so on.

    For unbelievers, it’s inconceivable that you could disapprove of someone without looking down on someone. Without feeling morally superior. Better than they are."

    Thnuhthnuh, John Loftus, other atheists et al, would you agree with the statements above? Be honest.

  2. Dear bothers,

    Completely off topic here so please forgive me, but I have a question on LFW. I have been going back and forth with some Arminians about this very thing and it has come to this. I say that if we are the sole cause for our choices and no antecedent conditions or natural laws determine our choices then how can God know our choice before we make them? The answer I get is that God is not constrained in temporal time therefore he knows. Now to me it seems while God is not constrained in time we are and if our choices cannot be based on antecedent conditions or natural laws then there is nothing for God to know until we actualize our choice. So while God is not constrained by time he is contingent on us making a choice because we are constrained in time. What has been granted is that God is not contingent on man, just that God works contingently with man.

    I really want to see their point, but it escapes me at the moment. I wonder if any of you have written on this very thing and if you would be so kind to point me to it so that I could get a better handle on this.

    Praise be to God

  3. Mitch,

    Look at for posts on Free Will.

    In any case, almost the exact objections you're encountering were raised by Thibby. Check this post, for instance: The Boethian solution.

    In fact, doing a search for Thibodaux might help out too:


    Keep up the good brothers, and I mean keep up the good work!


  5. Dear brother,

    Thank you for those posts, there truly is nothing new under the sun.

    Praise be to God

  6. "Ironically, unbelievers are hypersensitive to what Christians think of them. They accuse us of being intolerant, judgmental, self-righteous, moralistic, and so on."

    TUAD, speaking for myself this is false. It probably only caught your eye since it applies with more accuracy to the liberal Episcopals, who are technically speaking not atheists.

    Of course there are atheists who throw hissies like this "how DARE you imply I'm not moral!", but I'm not like that. Silliness like that just confirms Christians in their mistaken beliefs, which is itself irrational. "X is an atheist. X is irrational about something. Therefore atheism is false."

    Of course I can conceive of disapproving of someone without looking down on them, that's a ridiculous caricature. "Looking down" may often occur along with disapproval, but it's a separate thing- (ex. a parent may disapprove of his kid smoking pot without "looking down"). Not every atheist is a moron like -Vicky Gene who tries to turn the one into the other.

  7. oh great now I'll probably get banned for calling him vicky.

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