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September 23, 2009

Comments

Without even listening to Greg's comments....:


Yes..if truth really matters....I should hope so. Its not an option for any of us. We are ALL judgmental whether we admit it or not. Truth will always require making judgments. Some "judgments" are good...some are not so good. The very decision whether the affimration is good or not so good is where we run aground of course. Nevertheless...the judgments still MUST be made if truth matters at all.

Nothing wrong with being judgmental....unless by it you mean.."bigoted". This of course is usually the defintion use when the pagan to refererences comments made by Christians. But there IS a differnce.

Agreed, people are being judgmental when they say Christians are judgmental. But why do our accusers think this? Pointing out their hypocrisy is merely a Teflon coated way to dodge the issue.

If by my free will I choose good and reject evil, I cannot help but acknowledge deep within that I'm better than the person who freely rejects the same good and chooses evil.

I will inevitably become judgmental of all who are less moral than me.

If on the other hand I realize that God produced a nature within me that eventually chooses good over evil, apart from which I would not, I will not consider myself better than those whom God God choose not to impart this nature to.

When we hear these charges, we need to examine ourselves, and not give cover for the self righteous.


Why do nonbelievers think we are judgemental (that is, bigoted and intolerant)?

It is simple. WE believe that truth matters more than simply "getting along".

You say you will "inevitably" become more judgemental if you make the correct choices. Not if you recognize that you made the right choices.....by God's grace and no other reason.

Yes of course we must always examine ("judge") oursleves to see if there is truth to any accusation of bigotry against us.

Here’s a statement:

Some human beings are better people than other human beings.

Anyone agree with that statement?

Enter “judgement”.

Thats' a statement alright. Your point is....?

I think that there is a large difference between judging things and judging people. If someone has poor judgment and makes poor decisions, it is appropriate to point out that that person's judgment is not good as long as we keep in mind that the person in question is not being judged when we do so, only his judgment. The problem arises when the individual in question so closely identifies himself with his capacity to make good judgment that he is unable to make a distinction between self and judgment. Because of this failing in humans, we often take things that we shouldn't...personally and think that we are being judged when in fact it is only one ability that we posses that is being judged. I guess it is a kind of category error...maybe??

Vic,

Do you not see the point? Really? The point should be clear in my statement. We make value judgments every single day. There’s no escaping it. This is not the type of “judgment” that should be avoided. Avoiding value judgments is a very irrational and immoral thing to do.

This whole business about “not judging” is totally ridiculous. How many instances were “judgments” made in the New Testament by people other than Jesus? A million? 2 million?

That’s why it’s important to define judgment for discussions like this.


Hi Louis:

You wrote:

>>”I think that there is a large difference between judging things and judging people. If someone has poor judgment and makes poor decisions, it is appropriate to point out that that person's judgment is not good as long as we keep in mind that the person in question is not being judged when we do so, only his judgment.”

The problem is people can’t separate their actions from their humanity as human beings.

If I said, “What you did was despicable; I don’t care if you think it was okay or not, it was atrocious.” Would most people think, “he’s not judging me, he’s only judging my actions. No worries”? Of course not. It’s perceived as a direct attack on the human being. That’s the problem.

Our world cannot separate our humanity from our actions. The world tells us that our actions make up who we are. We are nothing more than a bunch of “actions” strung together.

That’s why the accusation of “judgment” is flung around so readily as if it has authority behind it. But it doesn’t really. Not in this sense.

Louis....

Perhaps i'm just dense. Perhaps we may be saying the same thing. I'm not sure. When you say ther is a difference between people and "things"...I assume the "things" you are referring to are thier worldview...or thier belief system. Now i don't want to belabor the obvious here....but just who or what is it that espouses these world views??? Its people...right? When I hear a Nazi or socialist espouse thier venom...I most certainly condemn BOTH the person for affirming that view and the view. Do you have a problem with that? Why would any Christian give the benefit of the doubt to such a person??

I think the line between Judging and Condemning gets mixed up when people call christians (or whoever) judgmental. Ive done more than my share of Judging & Condemning, unfortunately which God has really been convicting me of lately. When you realize what God has brought you out of in relation to judgmental thoughts you may have of someone, humility usually follows.

And I think sometimes it may be fair to state an observation about someone, if its done in love, and if you have actually earned the right to say this to your friend. I suppose the important thing to consider is how much you have served this person before you offer your thoughts to someone that may come off as being judgmental. And to remember the grace given you by Jesus.

KWM

"The problem is people can’t separate their actions from their humanity as human beings. "

I understand your point and I think I know what you are getting at here. It is an issue of responsibility. We are responsible for our actions because we are free moral agents. I think that it is possible to separate the transgressor from his transgressions and if that is possible, the two are not one and the same.

"If I said, “What you did was despicable; I don’t care if you think it was okay or not, it was atrocious.” Would most people think, “he’s not judging me, he’s only judging my actions. No worries”? Of course not. It’s perceived as a direct attack on the human being. That’s the problem."

I think your point here is very perceptive and it states pretty much what I also said. So, thank you for adding your voice to mine. If we look closely, I think we will find that it is a problem with perception that does not correspond to reality.

"Our world cannot separate our humanity from our actions. The world tells us that our actions make up who we are. We are nothing more than a bunch of “actions” strung together."

At this point we diverge. I think we are much more than just actions strung together. We can initiate actions that are strung together. They start with us. That means we can make free will choices that initiate actions...actions that we transcend. So, I think we are more than actions...we are beings who can justifiably be called causation agents.

"That’s why the accusation of “judgment” is flung around so readily as if it has authority behind it. But it doesn’t really. Not in this sense."

I'm not convinced yet that being judgmental is bad in the broad sense of the definition. We make judgments every day that keep us healthy and safe in that sense. I think that where the problem comes in is when the judgments are not properly justified. Then the one who judges is in the wrong and needs to have it pointed out. It is this second, more narrow definition, that I think is the problem.

Vic

""Perhaps i'm just dense. Perhaps we may be saying the same thing. I'm not sure. When you say ther is a difference between people and "things"...I assume the "things" you are referring to are thier worldview...or thier belief system."

A person's world view can certainly impact their decision making. If it is a mistaken idea of how the world is, then they will base their decision making on something that is a mistake to start with. I guess that is how your idea of worldview would tie into what I said. BTW-I don't think you're dense. ;)

"Now i don't want to belabor the obvious here....but just who or what is it that espouses these world views??? Its people...right?"

That is true, they make a decision to, for whatever reason, accept the available worldview. Naturally, they could either be mistaken or right as to that worldview's legitimacy.

" When I hear a Nazi or socialist espouse thier venom...I most certainly condemn BOTH the person for affirming that view and the view."

I agree with you that they are responsible for the decisions they make. In particular, when it is fairly obvious to most folks with a normally functioning conscience that what they are engaging in is just morally reprehensible. They are also responsible for the actions they make on the basis of those decisions. However, going back to my original point, they are strictly speaking not their actions...they are simply responsible for them because they were the ones who freely initiated them and in that way transcend them.

"Do you have a problem with that?"

I don't think that for the most part I have a problem with it as you stated it and I think that if you reflect on what I posted here, you will probably come to the same reasonable conclusion.

"Why would any Christian give the benefit of the doubt to such a person?? "

One would expect,for example, a hardened Nazi to want to exterminate Jews. I think you have, as you said, a reasonable expectation of not giving him the benefit of the doubt that he will likely do otherwise. I think it actually shows wisdom to dismiss protestation to the contrary by the Nazi as it has been chronicled in history books that they had a tendency to engage in deception and outright lies to achieve their goals. So, if you mean by "giving the benefit of the doubt" expecting someone to behave contrary to what they believe in, it is not very likely that this will happen. Just the same, it does not follow that because you can sometimes predict the actions of an individual based on their particular ideological commitments, that the person and his actions are one and the same.

Please understand that I can sympathize with a difficulty of making such a fine distinction. It is not an easy thing to do since we all have been trained by our society to think of people as being so tightly tied to their actions as to be indistinguishable. Luckily, we can transcend our training it just takes a bit of work. I'm sure you understand.

Louis...

Let me ask you...if a nazi is responsible for his actions..lets say....for doing all in his power to eliminate the Jewish race...then why are you suggesting they should not really be considered his actions?? Whose actions would you say they are??

"Let me ask you...if a nazi is responsible for his actions..lets say....for doing all in his power to eliminate the Jewish race...then why are you suggesting they should not really be considered his actions?? Whose actions would you say they are??"

Of course they are his actions. I realize that your moral intuition is telling you that quite clearly. The questions you are asking reflect that fact.
I am merely pointing out that if no Nazi would ever be able to abandon their views and perhaps even become a Christian, then I would be more willing to admit the possibility of the two being identical. However, I am not convinced that someone who embraces evil cannot abandon it for good. If it can be abandoned, it is not a part of that person's very being.
For goodness sakes, Christians in the next life will no longer be doing that which is evil and yet, they will be the same people as in this life. Evil is not essential to being human and is therefore not the same thing.

I hope this clears things up just a hair.

The claim that Christians are judgmental isn’t a challenge, it is merely a bald assertion. I would think that the first place to start when dealing with someone making this charge is to require them to actually develop a train of thought worth responding to. The following are questions entirely appropriate when dealing with such an interlocutor: why believe your claim is true? What do you even mean by your claim? What follows from your claim? Is your claim meant to challenge only the Christian community or the Christian position itself? There’s no need to treat the intellectually lazy as though they have successfully accomplished the task of articulating an objection to Christian belief. On the contrary, asking questions that invite them to engage the issue with more sophistication seems more appropriate than whipping out the well-worn “self-defeating” ploy so celebrated by apologists.

Louis....

I feel my quarter is about to run out but I will make one more attempt to understand where you are coming from.

Why would you suggest that a Nazi may not be able "abandon" his worldview and convert to Chrsitianity? I did. But I now know it was not me who caused the turning. (Like much of modern evangleicalism..for many years...I THOUGHT I dun the deed ). Thank God for ministies like STR.

I believe you are correct when you say evil is not essential to our humanness. The human race was certainly perfect in the beginning but evil is de facto for us now.

In one respect (opening another can of worms) God's intent is clear. He ordained evil to enter the world...along with the cure for it. Why? Not sure. Perhaps the only way to have truely volitional creatures is to allow for the possiblity of failure and deal with cleaning up the mess that is certain to occur by sending your only begotten son.

Ok...beginning ramble here. I think I see where you are coming from. Take care.

Zadok...

"There is no need to treat the intellectually lazy as if they had successfully accomplished the task of articulating an objection to Christainity".

Think I will put that in the bank. Thanks.

Hi Louis:

I wrote:

>>”"Our world cannot separate our humanity from our actions. The world tells us that our actions make up who we are. We are nothing more than a bunch of “actions” strung together."

You responded:

>>”At this point we diverge. I think we are much more than just actions strung together.”

I think you may have misunderstood me. I agree with you. I believe we are more as well. I just mentioned our world doesn’t recognize this. Just wanted to clear that up.

Thanks for your response.

KWM:

One form of judgment is being self-judgmental, and it is an easy step from being self-judgmental to comparing oneself to other people; so at least in regard to oneself, one can say that some people are better or worse than other people.

I think this self-judgement comes up with regard to tragic events that have wide impact. You may have heard someone ask, or have asked, or have been asked, "What were you doing when you heard about [Pearl Harbor / Kennedy Assassination / Challenger Disaster / 9-11]?" Obviously, for most people the event was more significant than what they were doing when they heard about it. So why is the question asked? I think the real motivation is this:

"I think that you are better than me, or you think that you are better than me, but in the face of such a serious event, the trivial things you and I were doing pale in comparison, therefore, I AM JUST AS GOOD AS YOU."

To test this hypothesis, review all the instances when you have heard the question being asked. Then compare the status of the asker and the askee.

Vic
"I feel my quarter is about to run out but I will make one more attempt to understand where you are coming from.

"Why would you suggest that a Nazi may not be able "abandon" his worldview and convert to Chrsitianity?"


Sorry...I think that the way I phrased that did not accurately convey my intended meaning. You are right. There is no reason and that was the point I was trying to make and missed a bit.

"I did. But I now know it was not me who caused the turning. (Like much of modern evangleicalism..for many years...I THOUGHT I dun the deed ). Thank God for ministies like STR."

Right...Great! The thing is that I was trying to make the point that you are actually supporting here and that is that one's wrong ideology is not essential to his humanity(i.e. is essential to being a human being).


"I believe you are correct when you say evil is not essential to our humanness. The human race was certainly perfect in the beginning but evil is de facto for us now."

Again, we are in lock-step agreement on this.


"In one respect (opening another can of worms) God's intent is clear. He ordained evil to enter the world...along with the cure for it. Why? Not sure. Perhaps the only way to have truely volitional creatures is to allow for the possiblity of failure and deal with cleaning up the mess that is certain to occur by sending your only begotten son."


I think you make some good points here. Along with them I think I would add that the evil that exists presents us with an opportunity to develop virtues. The kind of creatures that we are, makes this method the most effective toward such a development.

"Ok...beginning ramble here. I think I see where you are coming from. Take care."

I think you get it quite nicely. I don't mind rambling as long as it makes sense and what you are pointing out, does just that. I think we both understand this well enough, but your _rambling_ could be something that one of the readers of this blog never heard of before and may well benefit from...so, rambling can be a good thing.

Greg advises that if a Christian is accused of being 'judgemental' he should answer this way: It's wrong to be judgemental is a judgement and therefore self-refuting.

Simple, Right?

No. When the non-Christian complains of Christian 'judgement' it's probably not a rejection of all judgement. It's more likely a shorthand way of pointing out to the Christian that not everyone shares the premise of Christianity.

It might be that some people reject all judgement but I doubt that's what people usually mean when they say Christians are judgemental. And, unless they are rejecting all judgement, 'tis a strawman to accuse them of it.

Many (Christian or not) first learn of the concept of a self-refuting statement when they are charged making one. So they are totally unprepared to deal with it. That might explain why Christian apologists love to make such charges but it doesn't make all such charges true.

RonH

Ron...

I think you have missed the ball on a couple of things. (or is it just me feeling challenged??:-))

Greg's point about Christians being called judgmental simply for expressing scriptural mandates is spot on. Is is never being judgmental to simply express any view.

We all know (or ought to by now) that relativstic worldviews are at the root of almost all complaints about Christian ethics and morals. ("Who are you to say?" is the most frequent expression I hear from atheists. Yes anyone can disagree with a truth claim...but it has to have more behind it than.."Who are you to say?".

Ron..what the heck does "having to be prepared" have to do with an affimration being true or false???? Sounds like whinning to me. We are concerned not so much with simply being able to "persuade"...as we are nailing down truth.....aren;t we??

RonH,

You wrote:

>>“When the non-Christian complains of Christian 'judgment' it's probably not a rejection of all judgment.”

You’re exactly right. It’s the rejection of ‘Christian judgment’. You see, the “complainer” doesn’t like that Christians can “judge” actions just as they do. They feel Christians should be restricted in this area. So you’re correct, it’s not a rejection of all judgment, just Christian “judgment”.

Vic,

By 'being prepared', I mean you have heard of self-refuting statements and you know how to correctly identify them so you don't crumble even though you have the truth on your side.

KWM,

And lets further qualify the judgement. It's not just 'Christian judgement' it is a particular view of Christian judgement.

RonH

Ron...

not to belabor the point...I don't expect "Anyone" to be prepared...if they are hearing it for the first time....

RonH,

Call it what you like. Call it a ‘particular view of Christian judgment’, call it a ‘Christian judgment unapproved by RonH’, I don’t think it matters. It’s, by definition, a judgment that the “complainer” doesn’t agree with. Right? If not, there’s no point to the discussion.

After disagreement, then it’s safe to accuse the Christian (a particular view or not) of being judgmental. Again, the Christian is expected to sit quietly. The Christian is not allowed to espouse views that could be viewed as “judgmental” by others. This standard doesn't apply to the "complainer".

KWM,

a judgment that the “complainer” doesn’t agree with.

Yes, but there's more. It's a judgement based on a premise the complainer doesn't accept and has no obligation to accept. In fact it's a premise he has a right not to accept.

RonH

RonH,

You wrote:

>>”Yes, but there's more. It's a judgment based on a premise the complainer doesn't accept and has no obligation to accept. In fact it's a premise he has a right not to accept.”

I have no idea what you mean here. I think it needs clarification. Are you simply saying the “complainer” does not have to accept the Christian's position? Of course that’s true. Just as the Christian doesn’t have to accept the “complainer’s” position. This much is obvious. Where does the accusation of judgment (as a bad thing) fit in?

Ever wonder makes any form of art so good (including art, music, and theatre)? Well, simply put - judgment. We all judge things in our lives on a daily basis - and in fact - this helps us seperate with we like and dislike about life - giving us the ability to sharpen ou choices.

KWM,
What I mean is something like this: The premise the judgement rests on is Christianity. The complainer has a right not to accept Christianity. It's a constitutional right here in the USA. If you accept a right of conscience, on whatever basis, it flows from that too. Once the complainer has the right not to accept Christianity, he's justified in asking for other reasons for judgements against him or his actions.

RonH

RonH

"he's justified in asking for other reasons for judgements against him or his actions."


I think you have a point and a Christian certainly can provide an answer. The reason is to offer a warning, born of genuine concern for the individual, of the consequences for the actions in question. It is not just a selfish reason of one-upmanship or a "look at me, I'm better than you" kind of attitude. That someone might think of it as being more of the latter than the former may say more about that someone than the individual who is issuing a warning of consequences to come.

Louis,

If I understand you correctly the consequences you are talking about stem solely from Christian belief.

By 'other reasons', I mean something independent of Christian belief. That doesn't include a concern for someone who God plans on torturing forever and what not.

For example, during the Prop 8 debate in CA, I heard Christian apologists making arguments against same-sex marriage that were independent of Christianity. In this case I didn't find them convincing but if I had I would have sided with those apologists or at least felt more ambivalent about my position.

RonH

RonH,

I think we’re getting into the weeds.

>>” The complainer has a right not to accept Christianity. It's a constitutional right here in the USA.”

Thanks for the constitutional refresher. Seriously, the Christian, likewise, has a right not to accept the complainer’s “premise” (perhaps it is nothing or a “right of conscience”).

>>”he's justified in asking for other reasons for judgements against him or his actions.”

Of course he is, and the Christian should be happy to provide reasons. But remember, the Christian is also justified in asking.

What I’ve been saying is both the Christian and the complainer should be held to the same standard, yet you rarely hear the Christian call the complainer “judgmental”.

KWM,

the Christian, likewise, has a right not to accept the complainer’s “premise”

If you make a truth claim you have the burden of proof. Analogously, if you propose to curtail someone's freedom you have the burden of proof.

When the Christian proposes to curtail the complainer's freedom the Christian takes up the burden of proof. He needs to make a moral argument.

If premises in that moral argument aren't shared the complainer is likely to blow raspberries at the argument. The complainer doesn't need to offer any argument to keep his freedom - freedom is the default. So there is no premise for the Christian to reject.

I don't call Christians 'judgmental'. I just say I don't accept the Bible as a moral authority.

RonH

RonH

"If I understand you correctly the consequences you are talking about stem solely from Christian belief."

Actually, I can see how you might think so and it is perfectly reasonable for you to think that. However, just because something is reasonable, doesn't make it correct. The consequences come in many forms. If one is to make foolish decisions on the basis of a wrong world view or just faulty information, then there will be consequences regardless of any consideration of Christian belief. It is a broad and general principle that encompasses every area of decision making.


"By 'other reasons', I mean something independent of Christian belief."

Sound choices can be made apart from Christian belief, but not from good reasoning. The same good reasoning that leads one to accept the Christian worldview.


"That doesn't include a concern for someone who God plans on torturing forever and what not."

I was not aware that God had it planned to force people into heaven against their will and against their nature. Each must go to the environment best suited for the kind of human being he is. Doing otherwise is like depriving fish of water in which to live.

"For example, during the Prop 8 debate in CA, I heard Christian apologists making arguments against same-sex marriage that were independent of Christianity. In this case I didn't find them convincing but if I had I would have sided with those apologists or at least felt more ambivalent about my position."

All I was saying is that decisions have consequences that are in place ,for good reasons. What does it matter if those reasons are painted in colors you don't like. The only thing that matters is that they are good reasons.

Yes I have this problem. My in-laws are big drinkers. And holidays with them are unbearable. I don't drink and don't like the nastiness and bad behaviour that results from these binge holidays. And I'm looked on with suspicion as being square, Christian and judgmental. It's very hard to take part in the socialising and even harder to keep away from it. But I think a person has to be judgemental to a degree – I guess the better mindset is discerning.

Do you think that it's unrealistic for Christians to expect better behaviour out of people who don't have the holy spirit's influence on their lives?

What are my options in this situation

... off to hear what Greg says in his podcast...

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” – Ephesians 5:1

Wow, a hard saying.

Hi Kim:

I realize this is off topic, but I know people that become incredibly nice and warm-hearted when drinking too – just to note.

First point: Some people are better than others. Everyone is equally valuable. There is a distinction between moral goodness and moral value.

RonH,

In a pluralistic society we all champion varying definitions of what constitutes moral behavior. That's a given. The problem is not so much trying to prevent people from making their own moral choices. There will always be a struggle when people group A's expression of their freedom comes up against people group B's expression of their moral convictions. The tactic of crying foul by labeling Group B as "merely judgmental" is an unfair charge. Both sides are rendering a moral position. If the issue happens to be the personal behaviors of Group A, then we ought not to expect Group B to stifle their convictions. The "freedom group" is not just asking to be free, they are asking any who disagree not to act on their convictions. Moral freedom, and the freedom to express moral views, trumps any desire for social impunity.

Granted, I tend to operate in a libertarian way among others, that is, I'm generally not going to go out of my way to confront someone with an apparent immorality. I respect their responsibility. But when I say Group A is acting immorally, then my view is not out of bounds just because it offers restrictions to their freedom. If I'm right, then they should stop their immorality! It's a disingenuous dodge to just say we shouldn't judge.

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