Judge – a word filled with impossibilities.

  It is impossible for us to judge fully but it is impossible for us not to judge at all. I take this from my understanding of the word. As I understand, to judge something or someone means to determine what is either…

     1) Correct and incorrect
     2) Good and bad.  With the words “good” and “bad” holding two understandings themselves. The first being either something with good or bad “quality.”  The second being something as being goid or bad in “nature” in which evil could replace the term bad. 

    “Why is it impossible to judge fully,” you ask?  The reason being is we are finite.  We have our limits and since judging is a primarily mental task our focus is on our limited knowledge.  This is especially true when we look to judge a person, their actions, or their situations.  We do not, and cannot, fully know all the details in order to make a pure and fair judgement.  This is why we can only rest assured in God’s judgment being fair.  He alone knows all and therefore alone possess the ability of being a righteous judge.  His judgment is something that we will all face (Romans 14:9-13, Hebrews 9:27).

    “Why, then, is it impossible to not judge at all,” you say?  It’s because we make choices all the time.  If you again refer to my definition it is basically judging between things and making a selection.  Now, it may be a little cut and dry or a bit to much categorizing for you but all in all its about making decisions on things.  Do you agree or do you not agree with me?  You just made a judgment right there. That’s how easy it is to judge.  In fact, you can’t go through life without making judgements on many things.  What to eat, where to go, and what to do are very important actions for life and in life.  

     What about judging people though?  We shouldn’t do that, right?  That’s hard enough not to do either.  We make choices about who we like and who we don’t like even when we are infants.  We start out that way because some things scare us and make us want to protect ourselves.  As we grow older this is reinforced by being taught not to talk to strangers.  Then it is laid on us to decide who is a stranger and what makes them a stranger.  Further development of the idea of judging people then comes very strongly advocated by everybody (that’s a strong assertion) because we always judge people, at least a persons actions or mindset, as a good example or bad example.  Something we should do or something that we should not do.  That’s a judgment.  It’s inescapable.  It even comes down to whether a persons character or nature is judged as evil or a bad example that should not be followed.  In fact, I don’t know very many people that would judge Hitlers of the world as good but rather as being evil or bad.

    So, how do we live in this tension of, “I don’t want to judge but its impossible.”  How can we people that are limited in our knowledge, abilities, and are prone to error and hypocrisy, judge as rightly as we can?  We need a rubric, a ruler, something outside of ourselves.  If we are just heaps of carbon atoms and other various elements that came together by change then it really doesn’t matter what we do. In all seriousness, if there is nothing but physical matter and just what we see then all this talk doesn’t matter.  That would mean in reality no good, no bad, and no evil.  It’s just whatever we make things out to be.  Except we can’t get away, in any society, from making decisions that ultimately say something is either right or wrong and good or evil.  

    How do we make better judgements.  It has to be something outside of us then that isn’t subject to error and is not limited.  C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “All I have got to is a Something which is directing the universe, and which appears in me as a law urging me to do right and making me feel responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong.”  He was describing the fact that man in every society has felt the weight of right and wrong.  Eventually he would bring it out that this is the Christian God, the in every way infinite and self-sustaining being.  The only way we can do better is by God’s help.  The way God helps us in matters of judging is by the written Word of God.

    The Word of God is that rubric by which we are able to make correct judgement in life.  It encourages us judge correctly and with a pure heart. Only by what is contained in its page are we able to make righteous judgments.  For it is the word of God, the mind of God.  It warns us not to judge hypocritically in Matthew 6:1-5, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” meaning with the severeness of our hypocritical judgment we will be judged righteousness.  Yet, that does not mean we are not to judge.  As I finish, look at just a sampling of the scripture on making judgments on things, actions, and yes, sometimes, people.  

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in who land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” -Joshua 24:15
Mark the perfect man, and behold the the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” -Psalms 37:37
Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.” -Proverbs 2:11
“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” -Proverbs 31:9
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” -John 7:24
“Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” -Romans 14:13
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?  And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?  If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.” – 1 Corinthians 6:1-3
Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?” -1 Corinthians 11:13
“And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but as a brother” -2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
Either you have already or will make a judgement on whether this is right or wrong, good or bad, and maybe a thought about me along the way.  
Live the Word, love the Lord.

Lewis, C. S. (2009-05-28). Mere Christianity (p. 25). Harper Collins, Inc..

The Believer and Sin

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation of our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” -1 John 1:8-2:2
           John starts a short discourse on the confession of our sins.  This is not dealing with a nature that is just bent towards sin but in dealing with certain acts that are sinful.  John is going through a list of conditional statements (if, then) concerning the believers life.  The second part of the list deals with the individual sins of believers who fall into the entrapments of moral and spiritual failure.  John makes sure that people do not weasel their way out of confession by acting as though they have a sinless perfection.  John reminds us that we have constant need of God’s grace in this life even though He has given us the power to live above sin.  We do sometimes find ourselves sinking back into a previous lifestyle and habits.  The devil can make snares that entrap even the most seasoned disciple.

            There are two things that can take place when a believer has the opportunity to confess their fall.  They can either deny it or they can confess it and receive forgiveness.  To deny a moral failure, a sin, a lapse of judgment, is to boast of arrogance of a sinless perfection.  Only Christ lived a life of sinless perfection that did not contain any failures of any sort.  We on the other hand are prone to wander.  Christ gives us strength and the Spirit indwells so this should not be commonplace.  John even explains that the reason he writes is, “that ye sin not” (1 Jn. 2:1).  So in the instances of sin, hidden and public, we are to confess our sin and need of forgiveness.  Jesus is our “advocate,” (2:1) our supporter, the one we can lean on.  He is “faithful” (1:9) to forgive us because He is our “propitiation” (2:2) for sins, our peacemaker.

Biblical Creation

Within the last few weeks there was released a poll done by the Pew Forum on American adherence to the theory of evolution, theistic evolution, and creationism.  It is disappointing to hear that only roughly one out of every three Americans still believe in creationism.  Let me define these for you…

Evolution – Life as we know it has come to be through natural process over a time span of what is now estimated to about 14 billion years.

Theistic Evolution (old earth creation) – Life as we know it has come through natural process guided by God according to the same time period that evolutionary scientists point to.

Creationism (young-earth creation) – Life as we know it has only been within the last six thousand years and that God created the universe in six literal days.

The real issue for myself is not whether science and faith have a place together.  Of course they do.  Reason and faith really do go hand in hand.  The Christian faith is a reasonable faith, not blind.  Blind faith means there is no reasons for believing.  Christianity has a rich archive of reasons for a person’s faith in God and His Word.  So, I am not arguing over the Christian and evolutionist interpretation of scientific facts in this blog.

The issue that I tackle is that of theistic evolution.  That a self-proclaimed believer in Christ could adhere to evolution as God’s method of creation has always confused me.  The only explanation I could think of was that they pick and choose their scriptures and perverted the rest (which has serious implications on a person have true faith and salvation).  The first experience I had with someone from this camp of thought was with the teacher of a class on reasonable faith.  The course description was that proofs of God’s word through science and prophetic fulfillment in ancient and modern history.  The course description was never fulfilled.

The course ended up being this teachers opportunity to propagate evolutionary theory among creationist under the disguise of Biblical teaching.  In the end of the course he walked people through the evolutionary line.  The ending conversation of the class is this…

Teacher: Evolution is God’s method of creation.  We see that with the day-age theory of Genesis 1.
Me: So, God didn’t create Adam straight from the dust of the earth?  You mean it is only a metaphor that he shares the common elements?  That man is evolved from ape-like ancestors?
Teacher:  Yes, that is correct.
Me:  Your saying that God took some ape like creature then and put a soul in them?
Teacher: Yes.
Class then ended very quietly.
   That was my introduction to theistic evolution and it was closer to home than I would of ever imagined.  Since then I have come across it in college and seminary.  My question still remains the same.  How could a believer say they believe the Bible and evolution?  I know there are entire seminars given on how to make a harmony between the two.  I read blogs by Craig Adams and Scot McKnight that are scholars on the subject but still never find that harmony or my questions answered.   It could be that my questions are more theological than scientific.  Which is the heart of the blog.  Evolution not only causes problem for science but more inevitably for theology.  Here are my questions.
1. What of the soul of man compared to any other animal if he evolved from them?
2.  If there is more value on man because of an eternal soul then when did man receive it in the evolutionary line?
3.  Is there any real meaning to the scriptural teaching of man being made in the image of God?
4.  If evolution is how God created than when did the ape-like ancestry of man become the image of God?
5.  If we are no different than animals metaphysically than can animals sin?  Do they repent?  Does God forgive them?
6.  If Adam is only metaphorical than when does sin come into the picture?
7.  Is the book of Romans treatment of sin coming by one man to be understood metaphorical?  Therefore, disrupting the understanding of the origin of sin and how each person is born into sin?
8.  Is the Bible trustworthy when it makes statements about the natural world?
    Depending on how those questions are answered one can change the whole framework of Christian doctrine.