Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Did Jesus really teach that it is wrong to judge others?

Great post by Matt at MandM on an often misunderstood verse.

Here’s the passage in question, Matthew 7:1-5:

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Most people only quote the first verse, but they don’t look at the rest of the verses that come after.

Here’s what Matt has to say about those other verses:

The phrase translated in the NIV as, “do not judge, or you too will be judged,” was originally written by Matthew in Koine (a Greek dialect). The Interlinear Bible gives the literal translation here as, “do not judge that you be judged.” In other words, do not judge others in a way that leads one to put oneself under judgement.

[...]One is not to judge in a way that brings judgment on oneself. The reason for this (“for”) is that the standard one uses to judge others is the standard that one’s own behaviour will be measured by. Jesus goes on to illustrate, with a sarcastic example, precisely what he is talking about; a person who nit-picks or censures the minor faults of others (taking the speck out of their brothers eye) who ignores the serious, grave, moral faults in their own life (the log in one’s own eye). His point is that such faults actually blind the person’s ability to be able to make competent moral judgments. This suggests that Jesus is focusing on a certain type of judging and not the making of judgments per se.

In fact, the conclusion that Jesus does not mean to condemn all judging of others is evident from the proceeding sentences in the above quote. Rather than engaging in the kind of judgment Jesus has condemned one should “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In other words one should try to rectify the serious moral flaws in one’s own life precisely so one can assist others with theirs. One needs to avoid hypocrisy in order to make constructive and effective moral judgments about others. This would make no sense if Jesus meant to condemn all judging by this passage.

This is something I actually try to do, and it’s easy. Before you open your mouth to judge someone, you have to look at your own life and make sure that you don’t do the thing you’re condeming.

I try not to say anything about individual people at all, but just talk about behaviors in general that are harmful. I don’t ask people if they do any of those behaviors. If they try to tell me about their bad behaviors, I tell them that their personal lives are not up for discussion, unless they explicitly ask me to comment on their specific case. So, instead of saying “you’re bad!”, I say “this behavior is bad and here’s why”. And I make sure I don’t DO that behavior before I declare it as immoral!

I hear this challenge about Christians being too judgmental all the time from non-Christians. If you do, too, then you should definitely click through to MandM and read the whole thing. There’s a logical element, a common sense element and a hermeneutical element to this problem, and all are discussed by Matt. He’s a sharp guy, you’re bound to learn something new that you can use.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men

I saw that Triablogue quoted this passage from William Lane Craig’s April newsletter, which made me very excited and happy.

Here it is:

One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.

Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ. By presenting rational arguments and historical evidences for the truth of the Gospel, by appealing to the mind as well as the heart, we can bring a great influx of men into the Kingdom. I’m so pleased that the church in Canada seems to be awakening to this challenge! I’m convinced that we have the opportunity to revolutionize Western Christianity by reclaiming our intellectual heritage.

I could tell you many, many stories of what it was like for me being shut down by churches who were overly sensitive to the desires of women. In college, I and the other male students had every attempt to bring in scholars to lecture or debate shut down by female leadership. Every single week it was prayer walks, testimonies, hymn sings… over and over. Eventually, the more manly Christians just quit going. Later on, I witnessed apologetics being shut down in the church from the top down and from the bottom up, as well.

I remember one week an excited male friend invited me to his church because his male pastor was giving sermons using Hugh Ross and Gerald Shroeder books. He was trying to tie in the existence of God to cosmology. Well, I showed up the next Sunday to hear, and was disappointed. I could tell that the pastor wanted to go back to that subject, but he never really did. Later on, we found out that a female parishioner had complained that too much science and evidence had ruined her experience of feeling good and being comforted.

I could go on and on and on telling stories like this. To this day, I cannot stand being in a church unless that church has organized things like apologetic training classes, public lectures, public debates or public conferences. But that’s the minority of churches. The fact is that churches are attended far more by women than by men, and pastors are catering to women more than men. Not only will apologetics not be mentioned, but elements of feminism will creep into doctrine (egalitarianism) and all political issues will be avoided. Church has become a place to have good feelings, and it is far divorced from anything like evidence or politics which might be viewed as judgmental and divisive.

On Saturday night, ECM (a male deist) and I were talking about the Gosnell scandal, and he was asking me why churches don’t mention things like this. And I told him that the feminization of the church means that Christianity can only be cashed out in subjective terms. I told him about the church-attending women I know who are 100% Democrat because it’s more “tolerant”. And I told him about my difficulties getting the church and campus groups to take up apologetics. Is it any wonder that non-Christian men view Christianity as weak, because we can’t even talk about politics and current events in church?

Commenters on Triablogue think that Dr. Craig will draw flak for his comment, but he’s not going to draw flak from mature Christians. What he said is correct. Mature Christians are right behind him on this point. Christian men who have tried to act to defend God’s reputation in public know that there is something wrong in the churches. And eventually, men just tune out of church because we know that there is nothing there for us. If women want men to come back to church, then they have to change the church away from what it is now.

UPDATE: Lydia read this post and reminded me that pre-suppositionalism is very popular with men and is a kind of fideist approach to Christianity that’s nowhere found in the Bible. I totally forgot to mention that. Presuppositionalism, in my experience, is very popular with men. I take a strong view on it, that it’s basically fideism, but I have been disagreed with on that by many people. In my mind, the only right way to do apologetics is by addressing presuppositions like naturalism, universalism, pluralism, etc. and using scientific and historical evidence as well. So there is an area where men are working against effective apologetics by embracing an unBiblical approach to apologetics that tries to minimize the use of evidence.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Luka Rocco Magnotta’s murder victim was his gay lover

The UK Daily Mail reports that Luka Rocco Magnotta is now on the run in France. (WARNING: Graphic details of murder)

Excerpt:

Yesterday, as 190 countries joined in an Interpol manhunt for  Magnotta, his victim was identified as Lin Jun, a Chinese student who was studying in Montreal.

Police said Mr Lin, 33, was in a relationship with Magnotta, 29.

[...]Police say Mr Lin had been in Montreal since July last year and was studying at Concordia University.

His family lost contact with him on May 24.

Days later a janitor found his limbless body in a suitcase near Magnotta’s apartment in the city. Other body parts were found in the  flat. The video of the killing is called ‘1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick’ and shows a man tied to a bed frame being hacked with a kitchen knife and the ice pick.

The victim’s throat is slashed and he is stabbed before being decapitated and dismembered.

The killer also appears to eat some of the flesh.

Here is my previous post on Luka Rocco Magnotta in which I explain how Canada’s war on the free exercise of religion and the free expression of moral judgments makes outcomes like this unsurprising, especially in secular leftist Quebec.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gay porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta wanted by police for murder

Here’s the National Post. (WARNING: Graphic details of murder)

Excerpt:

The hunt for Luka Rocco Magnotta has gone worldwide, with INTERPOL issuing an international warrant for the arrest of the Canadian man accused in a Montreal murder that saw a torso left in a suitcase and a hand and foot mailed to the Ottawa offices of the Liberal and Conservative parties.

The global bulletin follows a Canada-wide warrant issued by Montreal police hours after officers first entered the 29-year-old suspect’s apartment — the scene of one of the most gruesome killings in Montreal in recent memory.

The police had finished their work inside and Apartment 208 was pretty much stripped bare, but the stomach-turning stench and darkened red stain on the mattress left little doubt that something terrible had happened there.

“The smell of death is not funny,” Eric Schorer, the building’s superintendent, said as he opened the door Wednesday afternoon. “If you look at the bed, that’s where it happened.”

Not only was the unidentified victim dismembered, not only were two body parts apparently mailed to political parties in Ottawa, but it has emerged that the killer filmed his crime and posted it on the Internet. The snuff film titled 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick, depicting the dismemberment of an Asian male body and various indignities to the remains, has provoked online debate about its veracity since it was posted last week. Police have confirmed the video depicts the actual crime.

[...]Mr. Magnotta, who has also been known as Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov, has left abundant traces on the Internet. A Toronto native, he had worked in gay porn and as a model, but more recently he attracted attention after being linked to a 2010 online video showing kittens being suffocated with the aid of a vacuum cleaner.

A blog attributed to him and titled “Necrophilia Serial Killer Luka Magnotta” included this March 2012 post:

“It’s not cool to the world being a necrophiliac. It’s bloody lonely. But I dont (sic) really care, I have never cared what people thought of me, most people are judgemental idiots. I’m unable to talk to anybody about it and there’s always the knowledge that 99% of people would be repulsed by me if they found out about my feelings. Some people would even want to harm me.”

[...]The online video shows a naked male, tied to a bed frame, being attacked with both an ice pick and a kitchen knife, according to the description on a website called Best Gore. The victim is stabbed, has his throat slashed and is later decapitated and dismembered. The video was posted on Best Gore on May 25, but it is unclear when, or where, it was filmed.

There seems to be a lot of people who excuse their actions by saying they were “born that way” and they need to be true to their feelings – there’s even a Lady Gaga song about it. Basically, the idea is that people have a right to be happy, and to act out their feelings, and they should not have to care about what anyone else (especially God) thinks about it. Anyone who tells them that what they are doing wrong is just called names, like “intolerant” or “bigot”. The public schools in Quebec have a mandatory curriculum that is designed to affirm all points of view on moral questions as equally valid, and to undermine the influence of religion so that moral judgments are not grounded in any sort of objective moral hierarchy. It is even forced on homeschoolers.

Are the crimes of this gay porn actor the result of the marginalization of morality by the secular left? Is the antagonism of being judged so strong in society that people like this feel empowered to act on their feelings? I think that the lesson of this story is that we need to rethink what it means to tell young people that “anything goes” and that moral judgments and moral disagreement are essentially bigotry that offends people. That’s the message of the Human Rights Commissions in Canada. The HRCs think that it’s a criminal offense to make people feel bad by making moral judgments about whatever they are doing. They’ve prosecuted people for expressing their opinions on moral issues many times – often over many years and with huge legal costs.

I think that Canada needs to return to their free speech roots and turn away from these speech-censoring HRCs and pro-relativism education standards in Quebec schools. Canada needs to reaffirm that it’s OK to say that someone is wrong on moral issues. Not everything that every person feels like doing is equally good. Sometimes, it’s better to just say to someone early on in their lives “I think that what you are doing is wrong” even if they feel badly, so that a line is drawn before it turns into murder. Just expressing an opinion on moral boundaries early on might stop someone like this from carrying out the crimes that he has now committed. There are worse things in the world than hurt feelings. Some things are wrong, and people should be able to say so.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Who are you to judge? Answering the challenge of moral relativism

Brett Kunkle explains. (H/T Apologetics 315)

Excerpt:

So how should Christians think about judging?  First, we must ask what one means by “judge.”  The dictionary distinguishes several definitions.  To judge can mean to pass legal judgment, like a judge sentencing a criminal at the conclusion of a courtroom trial.  Nothing wrong with this kind of judging.

To judge can also mean to form an opinion or conclusion about someone or something.  These are assessments or evaluations.  A coach judges the skill level of a player trying to make the team.  A mom judges the nutritional value of food she serves her family.  A plumber judges a clogged sink to fix it.  Such judgments or assessments are made all the time, everyday.  Again, nothing wrong with this kind of judging.

But Jesus definitely suggests some sort of judging is wrong, so what was He talking about?  Well, if you really want to know, never read a Bible verse.  To determine the meaning of a single verse, you must read the surrounding verses.  Context is king.  When we look at the rest of Matthew 7, we actually discover Jesus doing the very thing most Christians think He has forbidden.

In verse 6, He warns, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine…”  He calls out “false prophets” (v. 15) and says there will come a day when he will say to some, “depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (v. 23).  Ouch, those are harsh moral judgments.  So clearly, not all judging is out-of-bounds for Jesus.

The context makes clear Jesus is after a particular kind of judgment:

For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (vv. 2-5).

When Jesus warns “do not judge,” He doesn’t mean we should never assess moral behavior.  Rather, he warns against self-righteous and hypocritical judgments.  When you judge, take the log out of your own eye first.  This is something we Christians need to work on.  But notice that Jesus is not saying it is never right to judge, He is explaining how we are to judge rightly.

Now I don’t see why everyone seems to be so proud of not judging these days. I love to make moral judgments. My moral judgments aren’t arbitrary. I’m not trying to force anyone to agree with me if they don’t want to. But I do like to set out moral boundaries and then explain with evidence why those boundaries are there. And those boundaries are not arbitrary, they are there to protect myself and others from harm. It’s wrong to tell people that it’s fine for them to do whatever they want in order to feel “happy”. It is often in the pursuit of happiness that people break the rules and then cause the most harm to themselves and others.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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