Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Christians and judgmentalism

On a post last week, I got the following anonymous comment:


"I believe that you have unwittingly touched upon one of the most significant evils within the Christian culture today - the idea that we can judge whether a person we have never met will or will not go to heaven.  I wonder how many people gave the proper answer of "I have no idea. That's for God to decide and not me"?"


I've been thinking about this comment, and I absolutely agree that it's a bad idea for Christians to think that they know who is or isn't going to heaven. Some things God is just better at than us, and this is one of them.


While the comment didn't make this comparison, it got me wondering if Christians are more judgmental than others. It seems that we have that reputation, but I'm not sure it's correct. For one, we're warned in scripture not to judge others (e.g., Matthew 7). Also, we spend a lot of time confronting our failures (called sin), so it makes us perhaps more hesitant to think we've got it all together. Finally, non-Christians can show moral judgmentalism as well. For a rather sad example.


What do you think?

13 comments:

Jim said...

I just posted on my own opinion of this, not meaning to sound as if I find no value in these charts you continue to share here. I seldom comment, but stop here almost daily and greatly appreciate your input....

http://anchoredinhim.blogspot.com

Jay Livingston said...

I think your example about who's going to heaven gets at the heart of the issue. It's not that Christians make more judgments. Hitchens, for example, is a political commentator, and his business is to make judgments. But when Christians frame their judgments as Christians, they imply or state outright that their opinion is also that of God. This presumption that they know what God thinks about specfic people or political issues is what makes their judgments seem so much more judgmental.

Brad Wright said...

Hello Jim,

I'm having trouble accessing your site... Is the URL correct?

Jay, I suppose that speaking for God makes things feel more judgmental, but most unneeded judgments appeal to a higher authority. Hitchens, for example, appeals to truth and rationality.

Josh R said...

I think that Christians are called to be discerning, and the culture tends to look at our discernment and label it as judgment -- But there should be a difference..

We don't know weather anyone person is going to heaven because we don't know what God is going to do in their lives, how they are going to be molded, shaped and transformed by the trials and tribulations that he might bring into their lives... We also don't know what is real and what is facade when we look at another person.

But that doesn't mean that if we see somebody engaging in self destructive behavior, we can't lovingly invite them to repent.. We SHOULD invite them to repent. If not, we would not be loving. It should be don in a loving manner however, and some Christians suck at that.

Anonymous said...

Josh R said...
"I think that Christians are
called to be discerning, and
the culture tends to look at
our discernment and label it
as judgment -- But there
should be a difference.."

Every time I read about a Christian who loves to practice "discernment" over others I just have to laugh.

One of many funny stories I have to tell is about a Christian couple that invited me out to dinner. They said they would pay for it. The restaurant they choose for me also sold alcoholic beverages. I ordered on with my meal. My two Christian friends quickly and loudly announced that their Christian "discernment" doesn't allow them to pay for alcoholic beverages which left me in quit an awkward situation.

So in essence these two wholesome and Godly Christians lied to me when inviting me to dinner by not stipulating up front all of their restrictions that would be placed on the evening.

There is nothing more disgusting than a Christian who thinks he has cornered the market on "discernment"

Now whenever some Christian invites me out to dinner I tell them "No thanks. I don't need the hassle"

Also, I don't believe that Christians are any more judgmental than the average population but they are not less judgmental either. But the problem is that if the Christian culture is no better behaving than the average population, what's the point of practicing Christianity? Its just a waste of time and money.

Brad Wright said...

"But the problem is that if the Christian culture is no better behaving than the average population, what's the point of practicing Christianity? Its just a waste of time and money."

Hey... I just wrote a book about that, coming July 1st.

Jay Livingston said...

Anon’s story about the drink might be an example of what I was talking about. The host might have said, “I’m sorry, but I have strong personal sentiments against drinking; my principles don’t allow me to pay for alcohol. I know that might seem rigid to you, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to you to pay for your own beer.”

Or he might have said, “I’m not paying for that beer because God tells us that drinking is wrong. And I do what God says.” (And besides, that lite beer crap you ordered has no taste and is a waste of money.)

Brad Wright said...

I think that the Biblical response for anon would have been to buy him the best beer on the menu... See John 2:1-11.

Jim said...

Sorry about the link, Brad. At my age, such moments of "drifting" are becoming more and more frequent. the link should read: http://anchoredonhigh.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

When the "discerning Christian" invited me out to dinner but then later reneged on paying for part of the meal, was that lying? Did that Christian break one of the ten commandments?

How ironic it would be for a discerning Christian to break one of God's ten commandments over a beer which is not prohibited by the Ten Commandments.

I love that story because its such a great example of how Christians should only apply "discernment" to themselves and their own behavior. practicing "discernment" over others invites disaster and just makes a fool of the so-called Christian.

Perhaps a more modern translation of God's word should be: "Do not judge others because it will only make you look like an idiot"

EagleDriver22 said...

Brad this is one of the great posts and questions presented to modern-day religious Christians. Having left the church, fought with God, then humbly returned to God, now attending church and re-entering seminary I would have to say Josh R's attitude and Anonymous' response is perfectly on target. The manipulation of "discernment" in "lovingly invitation" is a perfect Pharisee behavior and so very destructive to "outsiders" as well as insiders. Ken Wilber, in his book "A Brief History of Everything" said "...concern are extended to believers in the same mythology, the same ideology, the same race, the same creed, the same culture - but no further. If you are a member of the myth, you are my brother, my sister. If not, you go to hell."

For the Josh R's out there, I have never read Jesus "harping" on the common folk. No, instead I read of love, care, and compassion. I do remember reading about a "plank" verses a "speck". If you are on the "discernment" plank, I would suggest that there might be a better use of one's energies, and it is amazing the number of people you hit with that plank (it's tough to walk around with that plank hanging out of one's eye telling everyone THEY have a problem).

Having left the church I can tell you the untold carnage to the soul that "discerning" Christian who "lovingly" have inflicted - especially on those they determine who are "lost" or "in error". Be careful out there as the plank in your eye can wreck a china shop real quick.

Those that did minister to me during my "dark night of the soul" were caring and compassionate. Upon returning to the church I tearfully thanked them for the kindness demonstrated. They let the Holy Spirit convict while they gave me "their coat". Speaking as one on the receiving end of "loving discernment" from Christians, I side with Anonymous - "Christians should only apply 'discernment' to themselves and their own behavior. practicing "discernment" over others invites disaster and just makes a fool of the so-called Christian."

Food for Thought
If you are Hungry

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have witnessed some pretty outrageous judgements...on whose going to hell in a handbasket. But, more astounding judgements by Christians, this past year (2010) comes by questioning a Christian's patriotism as an American, just because they aren't Republicans.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I'm happy that Christianity has evolved to the point where, "I think you're going to hell" is now, "I can't say whether or not you're going to hell." Makes for a slightly better class of Christian neighbor I think.