Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Religion or Revolution? 5

posted by Scot McKnight

Boyd.jpgGreg Boyd, in his newest book, The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution  summons us to revolt against idols and — in today’s post — against judgment.

How pervasive is judgmentalism? What do you think we can do about it? Would you say it is idolatrous to judge others?
Greg, sitting in a mall watching people, began to listen to his own commentary on the people he was watching and was amazed at how judgmental he was. It made him feel alive to tear others down; it exalted himself. 
We all do this. We need to think about it more. 

What do you think of the following definition?
But judgment is not the same as discernment. Discernment distinguishes the good from the bad while judgment separates myself (whom I consider good) from others (whom I consider bad). Judgment is idolatry because it places us in God’s place.

People do this in nationalism. People do this in petty judgments. Love is to lay down your life for another. And we are called to give the same worth to others that God gives to those same others. They are God’s Eikons.
“Nothing is more central to the Kingdom than agreeing with God about every person’s unsurpassable worth and reflecting this in how we act toward them” (51).
Judgment and Life (and love) are antithetical: To judge is to usurp God’s role and to sit in judgment on others; to love is to give ourselves to them. We are called to choose between the judgment game or the grace game.


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Diane

posted November 12, 2009 at 7:41 am


An interesting post. I had never thought about judgmentalism as idolatry of self but it makes sense in the context in which Boyd defines it.
I have noticed–and perhaps this is judgmental–that very judgmental people seem to have poor self esteem and feel inadequate and thus judge in an attempt to make themselves feel better and more powerful. So is judgmentalism idolatry of self or a misguided and misdirected (fallen) attempt to feel like an EIkon of God?
I like the idea of distinguishing judgment from discernment, with the latter based on finding the worth of the other.



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Steve S

posted November 12, 2009 at 8:31 am


There is a semantical point to be made here…
I agree with the distinctions made between what is here call judgment and discernment, however, we might do better to choose other labels for these attitudes/actions.
After all, in the scriptural framework, judgment is exactly what the world is crying out for! It is the hope we hold out for the future! It is God putting all things right!
Perhaps we might distinguish between God as judge, and me as judge, but even here, aren’t we tasked as the Church to enter into God’s judgment now? Both in terms of allowing him to put things right in us, but also to use us to put things right in the world as a foreshadowing of His great putting things right that is to come?



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Diane

posted November 12, 2009 at 9:10 am


Steve,
Could we say “being scathing” instead of judging? It’s a little more cumbersome but it does sidestep Biblical connotations.



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John W Frye

posted November 12, 2009 at 10:08 am


One person’s “discernment” may be another person’s “judgmentalism.” As in, “I wasn’t being judgmental, only discerning.”



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rebeccat

posted November 12, 2009 at 11:22 am


I think that one of the real features of judgmentalism is that it gives people an “out” from the requirement to actually love other people. We will “love” at a distance, of course. However, when we can pick another human being apart, we quickly find that anyone who is not very much like ourselves is just too dangerous, unstable, uncomfortable, or whatever to take the risk or time to actually enter into relationship with. Instead of looking for ways to overcome obstacles to relationship and loving people, judgmentalism allows us to find all the excuses we need not to do the work that God has given us to do.



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joanne

posted November 12, 2009 at 11:29 am


I think serious judgementalism is a way of reducing people and distancing them–so I don’t have to listen or hear. I struggle most at this time in my life with judging Christians of the religious evangelical culture variety. I do get confused between judging and discerning.



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Paul Vander Klay

posted November 12, 2009 at 12:31 pm


In Luke 14 Jesus labels in a rather un PC way “the poor, the crippled, the lame” but his point is community. The issue isn’t so much that we size people up (discernment) but that we size them up relative to ourselves (pecking order) before God or some imagined audience. The very practical admonition Jesus gives is designed to recalibrate our self-assessment.



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Tim Franklin

posted November 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm


Perhaps we could say that discernment helps me to enter into relationship with a person in an appropriate, empathetic and loving way, while judgement helps me avoid understanding, empathy, and relationship.



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Jeremy Berg

posted November 12, 2009 at 1:41 pm


What do you all make of 1 Cor 5:9-13 in light of the Jesus Creed and the topic of “judging”?
9″I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people? 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. 12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”



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Jeremy Berg

posted November 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm


What do you all make of 1 Cor 5:9-13 in light of the Jesus Creed and the topic of “judging”?
9″I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people? 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. 12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”



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Jeremy Berg

posted November 12, 2009 at 1:43 pm


oops. sorry about the duplication.



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Kate

posted November 12, 2009 at 4:04 pm


I can relate to this experience of listening to my own internal commentary and being shocked at my judgmentalism. For me it happened recently when driving in chaotic African traffic. It’s not just frustration at bad driving, but I noticed how I constantly applied the worst motives to the “idiots” in cars around me, while congratulating myself on my good driving. No mercy in my judgment, and no discernment either. The others are all evil, stupid,selfish etc. etc. and I alone am good… Hmmm.



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Ted M. Gossard

posted November 12, 2009 at 5:09 pm


We do need to judge ourselves. And then we can help others with their faults. This seems to turn the tables on judgmentalism. Because we are dealing with sin in our own lives and finding God’s mercy, it’s all about helping others to find that same mercy.
At the same time it’s not like we arrive and don’t have to pinch ourselves when we do cross the line and think badly of another. While at the same time we need to stop ourselves in our tracks when the judgment from our lips on us is also not according to God’s revealed will concerning us. As I seek to think rightly of myself, I can better think rightly of others, with sober judgment.
Interesting post.



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Dana Ames

posted November 12, 2009 at 5:52 pm


Boyd seems to come to conclusions that are echoes of Fr. Meletios Weber’s discussion of the whole topic of differentiation in order to make sure of one’s existence. A wonderful journal article he wrote was expanded into the first few chapters of “Bread, Water, Wine and Oil”. Sounds positively patristic!
Dana



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rebeccat

posted November 12, 2009 at 7:21 pm


Jeremy, I think pretty clearly that the Corinthians passage means that we should not tolerate those who are notorious sinners to continue in fellowship in the body of Christ as if they were doing nothing wrong. This seems to be an instruction for a particular sort of situation, but not really an approach for dealing with people in general. We do need to keep sight on what is right and wrong, moral and immoral. Those things do matter. But there is a difference between allowing someone who is openly and notoriously engaged in scandalous behavior to continue in fellowship as if they are A-OK and pulling out our scales to render judgment on the worth of each human being we pass.
I don’t think anyone is saying that not being judgmental means we should turn a blind eye towards things which are clearly beyond the pale – adultery, theft, addictions, etc. But more often, we are guilty of judging people as not people we should be expected to associate with based on good faith differences of belief (ie creationist vs evolution), whether the person is attractive and easy to get along with or if they are rough and uncomfortable. And the simple fact is that this is a danger because we humans are capable of coming up with rationals for just about anything we want to do or think. Pretty quickly, we go from the biblical injunction not to associate with a man involved in incest to feeling quite justified in refusing to deal with the woman you think is dressed inappropriately who smokes and talks too loud. Even worse, in today’s world we seem to find ourselves too often in a place where we don’t feel we can say anything to the couple living together who attends church every week and wants to lead a small group, but feel quite justified in shunning people who violate one of our sacred cows (manners, dress, opinions, etc) in the name of judging rightly.
I also think that we need to be careful even in dealing with those whose sins are quite clear. The 1 Corinthians passage you quote specifically says that such people should be turned away “so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” IOW, it’s for a purpose greater than being able to say, “I judged rightly.” In Paul’s day, being turned out of the church would mean being turned out of a tight community. And given that it was a community that was not very well accepted, the person being turned out must have seriously wanted to be there, so being turned out would be quite jarring. It would be much more like the Amish shunning someone who left the faith than what most people would experience at the local church. So, I think it is legitimate to ask if simply turning someone away because they are sinning will actually serve the same purpose that Paul is talking about here. Unfortunately, there are no good pat answers to that one. For example, I have known pastors who refused to perform wedding ceremonies for couples living together, others who perform them without hardly saying a word. And one wise pastor who would only marry couples who agreed to live apart for 6 months while going through pre-cana classes and would even help make arrangements. It seems to me that often the church places too high a premium on rendering right judgment while pretty much refusing to consider how to best achieve the larger goal of bringing the person to repentance. The simple fact is that in our culture today, there are very, very, very, very, very, very, very few people who will be brought to repentance because they feel judged by the church or a Christian. At which point, our judgment, while perhaps correct, is likely to be completely counter-productive.



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TomK

posted November 12, 2009 at 10:23 pm


I think we need to judge those within the body of Christ much more than those outside. Somehow we have gotten this backward and we judge everyone outside and give a pass to those sins that are closer to home. We judge the gay community much more harsh than we judge the divorced person inside our church walls. We judge the doubting person more than we judge the “christian” that is treating his employees badley.
We seem to judge each other using the wrong set of rules so our judgement seems to be all messed up somehow.



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