Saturday, June 13, 2015

Christianity and Judgment

The ongoing war that is occurring right now between believing, fundamental, Christians and the unbelieving world is an interesting cultural nuance. It reflects the changing social paradigm within the country from Christian to post-Christian. And while the nuances are almost too numerous to mention, it does bring up an interesting concept that I think the Church ought to take into consideration.

Where is the fuzzy, fine line between being non-judgmental, and calling sin out. Let me give you an example.

Now we all know that when a Christian says we shouldn't judge, they mean one thing entirely. And that is because we are all sinners, with no right to judge. First, we need to understand the usage and meaning of the word "judge" in its Scriptural usage.

The Greek word used in the New Testament is κρίνω, which transliterates into krinō. The definition everyone seems concerned with is the definition that defines "judge" as "to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong". Christians understand that judging is wrong in the sense of declaring moral superiority. The relevant Scriptures are Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37, John 7:24, and 1st Corinthians 4:3. The John reference brings clarity to the command. After telling them to refrain from judging, he then urges them to "righteous judgment", or "right judgement", according to the ESV translation. What is that? It is the ability... seemingly extinct ability... to call out sin while under the full knowledge and realization that everyone is under judgment. As a side, this is an area where it would pay for any Christian to invest serious study time in, in order to get in its proper scope.

But when a prominent, cultural, non-Christian, personality stands up and presumes to remind Christians about our mandate to abstain from judgment, what they mean is tolerance and acceptance. In other words, to allow cultural and social paradigms supercede Biblical definitions and mandates. And that abstaining from judgment entails the cultural acceptance of the sin. In other words, anything less than absolute silence on the sin issue is "unloving" and "judgmental".

How does the Church continue to spread the knowledge that God hates sin, while at the same time not being perceived as "judgmental" by the post-Christian culture we find ourselves in? I know all about the "hate the sin, love the sinner" maxim. But anyone who has had dealings with people knows that the unregenerate world does not make that distinction. All too often, people come to allow their sin to become the defining aspect of their lives. We Christians know this is due to the consuming nature of sin. But non-Christians would hardly call it sin at all. They just see it as part of themselves. An extension, if you will. So if you say, "Hey man, I love you, but your drug habit is bad news.", they will likely grow very defensive, as they don't see it as wrong at all. And if you love them, you have to love and appreciate their sin as well, for it is a part of them, from their point of view.

For example, let's take western Christianity's favorite "pet" sin, homosexual behavior.

This is especially true of homosexuality. One thing about homosexuality is that being homosexual becomes the defining attribute of their whole life. And if you attempt to befriend a homosexual (most I know are quite friendly, in fact), you will soon find that refusing to sanction their lifestyle is no less than a slap in their face, in their opinion. And, guess what. If you don't sanction their sin, you're being "judgmental" and they react as if you already tied them to the burning post.

So, how is this accomplished? How do you refuse to sanction the sin, while not appearing judgmental? And while I am 100% against the idea of incorporating biblical prohibitions against sin into law, it is the Church's responsibility to define what is and isn't sin to the world. It is through the preacher's pulpit, not the congressman's podium, that the world will be changed. The first step in evangelism is to make one aware of their need to be reconciled with God, and that cannot happen until they come to realize their own sinful state. The Church must identify and define what is sin in order for this to happen. When the Church stops doing that, they might as well close up shop and go home.

Here is my prediction as to how this will go. And most of you will be able to see the beginnings of this happening already. The Church will split, yet again. Only this time, the split will be along moral codes, and be most emphatic. On one hand, you will have a Church that is politically correct, that refuses to teach or preach against sin. On the other hand, you will have a Church that maintains some sense of moral integrity. It will not be long before the State steps in, and denounces Christian Fundamentalism and being incongruous with the principles of the nation. It will actually be the Fundamentalists that exacerbate the problem by continuing their asinine quest to infiltrate government with Christian ideals. The ignorance of Fundamentalists has always been their downfall.

The ultimate end will be a Church similar to that in China. Where the true Church is driven underground, meeting in basements and caves, and holding baptism under cover of darkness. There will be a visible Christian Church, one who has compromised principles by agreeing not to teach or preach anything against the State, in exchange for the State's sanction and permission to be allowed to exist.

In fact, this is already happening in the United States, in a de-facto sense. 501(c)(3) status comes with strings. Technically, to be 501(c)(3), the Church has implicitly agreed to not be critical of the State. But let me be perfectly clear when I say this. Most pastors and deacons (or elders) are too ignorant to recognize this. And to suggest that not all is as it seems will only create cognitive dissonance. 

And, as the State becomes increasingly tolerant of aberrant behavior, railing on sin will soon be perceived no differently than railing on the State itself.

It is my opinion that the Church will soon be constrained to make a decision. They can choose to compromise on their beliefs in order to maintain the status quo of meeting in their steepled building and singing their hymns and doing it like they've always done, absent the moral and ethical integrity and preaching against sin that is essential in the propagation of the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. Or, they will shut the doors of their Churches, break into smaller groups, and starting meeting for corporate worship in homes. It happened in Nazi Germany, with the State-Sanctioned Reichskirche who agreed to not say anything against Hitler or the Nazi Regime, and the Confessing Church that Bonhoeffer was part of. It is happening in China, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia as we speak. It will soon be happening in the UK, as they are actually ahead of us in their slide toward political correctness. And eventually, it will be here. We will have to choose. Babylon, or the Kingdom of God? 

The sooner we get out of Babylon (the world with its systems and mechanisms... Revelation 18, Matthew 24:21), the better the Church will fare.

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