Judge Not? On (In)tolerance & Judgment(al)

Judge_Not_Intolerance

SERIES INTRO:

Christians are often accused of being pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant.  Often, Christians find their own Scripture being quoted back to them. The most commonly heard verse is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

From those leveling these accusations at Christians, there is truth in what they say, but there is also error.

In this series, we’ve been exploring these accusations, and analyzing humility, tolerance, and related ideas from a biblical worldview, and we will end the series by analyzing the much-used (and over-used) passage of Matthew 7:1.

In the previous articles, we concluded:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth in love.

CONCEPT #4: Like everyone, Christians are imperfect.

As we come near the end of this series, let’s talk about intolerance and judgment…

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On Being Intolerant & Judgmental

Christians are often accused of being judgmental, intolerant, and unloving. We already discussed how Christians, like everyone, are imperfect and things like arrogance and unloving behavior are not a Christian problem – or even a religious problem – but a human problem. On the other hand, I’m by no means letting Christians who do unloving things off the hook. As I said before: they should know better.

Also, we’ve already discussed how all Christians should speak truth in love. This is a matter of tension between Christianity and other worldviews. Simply put, Christians speak what they believe to be true and others don’t like it.  But it’s important to point out that often this conflict between Christianity and others is not just a question of what is true, but what is love.

God is Love. God is Truth.

Christians are not post-modernists or relativists. We believe the all-knowing Creator of the universe has made himself known, and true reality can be known through him and the “renewing of the mind” (Romans 12:2), which only comes through the Holy Spirit. As finite beings, our knowledge is limited, but if an omnipresent, omniscient being reveals truth to us, we can trust that truth. God is love, but God is also the ultimate truth.  Yet often we embrace one and not the other.

For instance, some friends and I were having a friendly on-line debate about traditional vs. untraditional ideas of marriage, and another friend chimed in, simply writing, “God is love,” as if this settled the argument. I replied that his statement wasn’t as simple as it seemed!

What I meant was this: Does love mean indiscriminatingly accepting everything about a person? Let me ask it another way: Is it loving for parents to express disapproval when their children make unwise decisions? Is it loving for a friend to speak up against something harmful a friend is be doing? I would argue that, as parents and friends, often the loving thing to do is to disapprove of harmful choices and point those we care about towards the wiser path.

Speaking truth in love does not mean indiscriminatingly accepting everything another person chooses to do. Likewise, to withhold the truth because of “love” is not being loving at all.

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Lovingly Disagreeing

So, what this comes down to is this: At times, Christians are going to speak truth that others don’t like, but it does not mean it comes from a place of hate. Yes, others have the right to disagree about the truth expressed by Christians, but it’s inaccurate, lazy, and even at times deliberately dishonest to accuse Christians of being unloving for simply speaking what they believe is truth.

The tendency of those who don’t agree with the Christian worldview to accuse Christians of being unloving for simply speaking truth is tiring. Let’s be honest, the Christian worldview is counter-cultural in a lot of ways (at least where I live and compared to the worldview portrayed in popular entertainment and media). So, Christians are going to come into conflict with some popular opinions and beliefs. It’s inevitable.

The question is this:

Can you disagree with a friend and not be arrogant or pompous about it?

Yes.

Can a Christian disagree with a popular opinion and not be arrogant and pompous about it?

Yes.

Can you disagree with a friend and still love that person?

Yes.

Can Christians disagree with a current, popular opinions and still be loving?

Yes.

Let’s put it another way:

Does “I disagree with you” mean “I hate you”?

Of course not.

Disagreement does not equal hate.

If it were the case that disagreement meant hatred, no marriage would have any hope of lasting past the first week. In fact, no relationship would lead to marriage nor would any friendship last!

Yet, this is often how disagreement is portrayed – as hate.

Despite what some want you to believe, disagreement can be because of love, and disagreement can be given in a loving way. (But, chances are, those who don’t want to hear the truth will still not understand it to be loving.)

Intolerant Tolerance

It has been my experience that those screaming the loudest that Christians are judgmental or intolerant don’t really understand what those words mean.

Either that or they’re shrewdly manipulating the meaning of the words because, as George Orwell taught us long ago, if you can manipulate words, you can manipulate minds.

If this is the intention of some, then their efforts have been largely successful.

“Judgmental” is a word nearly universally considered to have negative connotations nowadays. To be labeled judgmental is almost on the same level as being labeled a bigot or racist, implying (once again) that judgment equals hate.

Unfortunately, there is some truth in this idea, and I see it increasing steadily within our lifetime, I think, because of this dangerous assumption. Many people believe that disagreement with another means that they must hate that person also. Likewise, if someone (X) tells someone else (Z) that he is wrong, then Z assumes X hates him.

What I find most troubling is that this mindset leads many to wrongly think we can’t just disagree; people must go further and condemn the person as a whole for their beliefs. Instead of saying, “I strongly disagree with your views and here’s why…” we say things like “You’re an idiot for thinking that” or other name-calling.

Now, that is the definition of “intolerance.”

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Christian Worldview in Secular Culture

Perhaps in other worldviews, this behavior can be justified, but as we discussed before, Christians must flee from falling into this trap themselves, not just because it’s destructive, but because our Lord commands it.

There is no place for this in the Christian worldview. Reducing someone to below you because they have a different view than you is denying that he or she is an image-bearer of God. It’s dehumanizing, no matter how sure one feels the other person’s views are wrong.

On the other hand, I’ve also witnessed Christians abused by this sort of behavior. Christian values are going to bring them into conflict with popular culture concerning many things, including sex, sexuality, abortion, right-to-life issues, and the exclusivist religious claims of Christianity. And because of this, Christians have been called bigots, close-minded, judgmental, intolerant, stupid, and worse.

“Tolerance” is respecting those you disagree with. That is the very definition of tolerance. Tolerance is not blindly affirming every opinion every person holds. Such mentality only leads to absurdity and chaos because differing opinions contradict each other, and where there are contradictions, everyone cannot be right.

Often when someone starts throwing around the intolerance accusations, what they’re really saying is “I don’t like your opinion,” and instead of respectfully opening a dialogue with the other person, they simply label that person bigoted or stupid.

Disagreement doesn’t make one intolerant. Dehumanizing someone through name-calling and refusing to respectfully consider their views is intolerant.

* * *

In the 6th and final part of this series, we’ll continue from right here and look closely at the famous verse:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

But for now, that brings us to Concept #5:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth with love.

CONCEPT #4: Like everyone, Christians are imperfect.

CONCEPT #5: Disagreement is not intolerance or hate.

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GOD FROM THE MACHINE has published it’s first book! Searching the Bible for Mother God is for educating and evangelizing those in the growing “Mother God cult.” Visit our page here.

**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not? Human Worth” here.**

**Read PART 2 of “Judge Not? Christian Humility” here.**

**Read PART 3 of “Judge Not? Truth in Love” here.**

**Read PART 4 of “Judge Not? On Christian Arrogance” here.**

Judge Not? On Christian Arrogance

Judge_Not_Arrogance

SERIES INTRO:

Christians are often accused of being pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant.  Often, Christians find their own Scripture being quoted back to them. The most commonly heard verse is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

From those leveling these accusations at Christians, there is truth in what they say, but there is also error.

In this series, I will be exploring these accusations, and analyzing humility, tolerance, and related ideas from a biblical worldview, ending the series by analyzing the much-used (and over-used) passage of Matthew 7:1.

In the previous articles, we concluded:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth in love.

Now, let’s talk about Christian (and human) jerkiness…

 

Why are Christians Arrogant?

Considering all we’ve explored so far in the “Judge Not?” series, it appears there are certainly justifiable grounds for calling out Christians as hypocrites when they’re boastful, sinfully prideful, arrogant, unloving, or pompous. (Also, keep in mind, they’re commanded to be truthful, and if someone doesn’t like the truth they’re sharing, it doesn’t immediately mean they’re all or any of the above negative adjectives.)

And there are certainly Christians who deserve to be called out. As I stated before: They should know better. The times Jesus shows anger in the Gospels is primarily towards the corrupt religious leaders for exactly that reason: They should know better.

Always keep that in mind.

On the other hand, do all Christians deserve to be stereotyped as such?

I’m going to propose the answer is “no” for four simple reasons:

 

(1) Fakes Trees & Bad Fruit

Just because someone calls him- or herself a Christian doesn’t mean that person is truly a Christian. I can call myself a goose; it doesn’t make me one. I can call myself a Democrat, but if I voted Republican every election, am I really a Democrat? And being in a church doesn’t make me any more of a Christian than being in a school makes me a straight-A student — or even a student at all.

What I am not saying it to start accusing Christians who exhibit some poor behavior as not being a true Christian, because no one is perfect and Christians are still sinners. But I am saying that the writers of the Bible clearly teach that a tree is known by its fruit. If there is no fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), one has to wonder if that person truly understands and accepts the good news of Jesus Christ.

After all, Jesus asks plainly in Luke 6:46,

 

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

 

John writes in 1 John 2:4:

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”

 

And Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21-23 should cause all of us to pause and consider our lives:

 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

 

So, Jesus confirms there are people who call themselves Christians that really are not Christians, and Scripture does teach us that actions speak louder than words.

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(2) All Stereotyping is Unfair

I figured out pretty early in life that stereotyping any group of people is illogical. In fact, most people would say it’s downright wrong. So, then, how is it acceptable to stereotype Christians?

I come from an atheistic/agnostic worldview and a mindset that did stereotype Christians. But in the past 9 years since I’ve started following Christ, I’ve seen that Christians come in all styles and models, just like we find in any other large group of image-bearers. Further, it’s been my personal experience that Christians don’t live up to the typical negative stereotypes of Christians at all.  Yes, there are certainly jerky Christians out there, but this has not been the vast majority of my personal experience.

(Perhaps part of the reason is because I live in a part of the country where being an evangelical Christian is not a cultural or political norm. I find those who profess the Christian faith in the largely secular north, east coast are true followers of Jesus.)

I also know most of the assumptions about Christians I had in my head when I was atheist/agnostic were primarily based on the portrayal of Christians on TV and movies. It has been my experience that Christians are usually portrayed in TV shows and movies as “bad guys” of some sort, whether crazy or all-out evil. Likewise, in the media, the only Christians I ever hear about are the hate-filled Westboro (so-called) Baptist (so-called) Church or child-molesting priests.

 

(3) All people are Jerks

Moreover, Christians by no means have a monopoly on being boastful, arrogant, unloving, or pompous jerks. These things aren’t a Christian problem; they’re a human problem. In fact, this is the whole point of the good news of Jesus: we’re all imperfect, sinful jerks, so only a perfectly good and loving God can help us.

Again, in the 9 years since I’ve become a Christian, the Christians I’ve met are the most loving, open-minded, generous, and compassionate people I’ve ever known. On the other hand, when I was heavily involved in the underground punk scene, a scene full of self-proclaimed non-conformists and “free-thinkers,” I encountered some of the most self-righteously judgmental and hostile people I’ve ever known.

As Mark Twain said, “Man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to.” Being a jerk isn’t a Christian problem. It’s a human problem.

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(4) Christians are Still Going to be Jerks, for the Bible Tells Us So

Likewise, the Bible confirms that even true Christians are still going to be jerks, even after being saved by Christ.

Let me explain what I mean.

True repentance means a turning away from sin and a turning towards God.  Someone is not a “good” person and, thus, goes to heaven for being “good.” This is not what the writers of the Bible teach, nor is this the Gospel of Christ. Sinners, changed by the Holy Spirit, are saved through accepting the free gift of salvation through Christ’s perfect sacrifice. Once they repent of their sins, they start working towards Jesus’ perfect example. But perfection will not be reached in this lifetime.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and this includes saved Christians.

A person doesn’t become “good” and then becomes saved. God’s forgiveness can’t be earned, and it’s deserved by no one. Godly behavior is not the cause of forgiveness; godly behavior is the result of forgiveness. Because of the love God showed us, Christians work to follow the perfect model of Jesus Christ.

Yet the Christian is still imperfect. Christians are still going to mess up, lose their cool, be rude, be unreasonable, or be outright sinful at times.

It was eye-opening to me when I first read the Bible for myself and realized how flawed the great “heroes” of the faith were: Abraham, Noah, Moses, Solomon, Paul. King David committed adultery, and when he couldn’t cover up the woman’s pregnancy, he sent her husband to the front lines of war to be killed. The Apostle Peter, Jesus’ most prominent disciple, had great flaws; he was impulsive and he denied knowing Jesus three times when challenged. The New Testament even tells us about a time when Paul had beef with Peter because Peter was treating the Jewish Christians better than the Gentile Christians! (Galatians 2:11-14)

But God can use all of us flawed people to do his work. What is important is a Christian’s response to these “slip ups.” When we sin, do we repent and ask for forgiveness from both God and others we offended? Do we work to improve and make any necessary reparations?

Anyhow, my main point here is though Christians are saved by God’s mercy and goodness, Christians are still imperfect, so they deserve the same grace and “second-chances” that anyone else does. No biblical writer ever taught that becoming a Christian makes anyone a Teflon saint.

So, let’s add our 4th biblical truth…

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth with love.

CONCEPT #4: Like everyone, Christians are imperfect.

NEXT: #5 – On Being Intolerant & Judgmental

 Judge_Not_Intolerance

GOD FROM THE MACHINE has published it’s first book! Searching the Bible for Mother God is for educating and evangelizing those in the growing “Mother God cult.” Visit our page here.

**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not? Human Worth” here.**

**Read PART 2 of “Judge Not? Christian Humility” here.**

**Read PART 3 of “Judge Not? Truth in Love” here.**

Judge Not? Speaking Truth in Love

Judge_Not_Truth

SERIES INTRO:

Christians are often accused of being pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant.  Often, Christians find their own Scripture being quoted back to them. The most commonly heard verse is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

From those leveling these accusations at Christians, there is truth in what they say, but there is also error.

In this series, I will be exploring these accusations, and analyzing humility, tolerance, and related ideas from a Christian, biblical worldview, ending the series by analyzing the much-used (and over-used) passage of Matthew 7:1.

In the previous articles, we concluded:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

Now, we will explore an extremely important biblical concept…

Speaking Truth in Love

In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul teaches that Jesus Christ, God the Son, has provided teachers to instruct Christians to equip them for ministry. In doing so, Paul uses the term “the saints” not how modern Catholics use the phrase, but to refer to all believers in Christ:

 

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (4:11-12)

 

Thus, all Christians, without exception, are ministers of God’s truth as revealed through his divine Scripture. Further, all believers are to grow in maturity in their faith (4:13), so they’re no longer led astray by false teachings (4:14), and…

 

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (4:15)

 

What we’re going to focus on here is this beautiful phrase:

“Speaking the truth in love”

Christians are the bearers of truth, but unfortunately many Christians have done poorly in sharing God’s truth because it often lacks love. The implication of 4:15 is if we deliver God’s truth without love, God’s truth will fall on deaf ears.

Elsewhere, in 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul writes,

 

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

 

The lesson is clear: Christians can speak all the truth they possibly can, but if that truth isn’t motivated by love all their efforts are for nothing. Without love, truth is just a bunch of noise.

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Further, Christians are to “speak” truth not just in words but also in actions. Living a life of truth encompasses all we do – not just our words, but everything we partake in needs to speak God’s unending, grace-filled truth and love.

With this, Jesus Christ is our perfect model. Jesus tells us he “came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). At the Passover meal before his arrest, Jesus removed his outer garments, put on the apron of a servant, and washed his disciples’ feet, a task only done by the lowest servant or slave in that day. He said,

 

“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you”          (John 13:15).

 

Jesus’ earthly life is one of self-sacrificial love and humble service. But he also wasn’t a passive wimp without convictions. For example, in Matthew 22, Jesus says to the Sadducees concerning their disbelief of the resurrection of the dead:

 

“You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (22:29)

 

Jesus always spoke truth – sometimes quite bluntly!  But his actions spoke the truth of his love – and the love of his truth – louder than any words ever could.

Of course, the ultimate example of Jesus’ love is his willing death on the cross for the good of all humankind.

So, Christians, with both their speech and actions, must always speak truth with love.

LOVE WITHOUT TRUTH IS NOT LOVE

Craig Blomberg, while commenting on Ephesians 4:11-16 in his book From Pentecost to Patmos, writes, “Without truth, all the love in the world can save no one. Without love, few people are likely to listen to the truth!”

Thus, keep in mind, speaking truth means you don’t suppress truth either. Speaking truth sometimes means saying things others will not like.

Notice Blomberg stresses both truth and love as equally important. We cannot do only one – or even emphasize or favor one over the other.  As pointed out above, Jesus always spoke truth, even when his audience wouldn’t like the truth, but this did not mean he was being unloving.

Without love, truth falls on deaf ears. Without truth, love can do no good.

Love needs truth, and truth needs love.

Whether others respond to your loving truth with the same love as you showed is another matter.

Thus, we coming to our third concept…

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth in love.

NEXT: #4 – On Christian Arrogance

Judge_Not_Arrogance

GOD FROM THE MACHINE has published it’s first book! Searching the Bible for Mother God is for educating and evangelizing those in the growing “Mother God cult.” Visit our page here.

**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not?” here.**

**Read PART 2 of “Judge Not?” here.**