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What does the Bible say about being Judgemental?

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by entropy_rising, Aug 12, 2004.

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  1. entropy_rising

    entropy_rising New Member

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    Howdy.

    I've set my self on reading the Bible, and when it comes to being judgemental, I've been getting some mixed messages.

    "Judgemental," as a word chock full of negative connotations, is generally answered with the parable of Jesus and the adulteress in John. Jesus' words, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" echo heavily in any discussion involving judgement. Plainly, the parable tells us to leave judgement to God.

    However, Paul, in Corinthians, very emphatically draws the line between people of the flesh and people of the Spirit. The people who have recieved the gifts of the Spirit through their faith, Paul says, are able to judge everything and is not subject to anyone (Chapter 2:15).

    In my...admittedly non-historical and scantily-educated-in-theology mind, it seems to advocate a case opposing to the one in the adultery parable. Here, those who are of the spirit are capable of judging, and are impervious to being judged themselves - it is easy to imagine that in such an invincible position, people of the spirit, or at least, people who -think- the are of the spirit, with much enthusiasm would exercise the right to judge, with no fear of being judged in return.

    In fact, Paul in some instances, is pretty judgemental. His epistles are peppered with constant reassurances that he speaks of God, not of man, or of himself; be that as it may, Paul calls Peter wrong and essentially calls him a cliquish coward in front of the congregation at Antioch, and he doesn't hesitate a bit to call the Galatians idiots and omit a thanksgiving to God for their Christian community (despite the fact that the community at Corinth seemed much more deprave than the one at Galatia).

    Granted: I fear that I'm most likely pulling a "protestant" and relying solely on the Bible and taking things out of context to boot. That's why I'm here - maybe I'm missing some context or tradition that'll help things make sense. Is there a solidly defined church teaching on something as obviously un-Jesus as being judgemental?

    I'm curious because I sadly encounter alot of Christians, from all denominations, who, despite being armed to the teeth with near-encyclopedic knowledge of their denomination's philosophy, are surprisingly...well...judgemental. It surprises me with what ease I've seen people belt off "The Catholics are such and such" or "The orthodox are so and so" or "The Messianic Jews are such and such." Usually such and such or so and so being something negative and unnecessary. I've ALSO seen an abuse on the OTHER side of the coin, where people say "The (Catholics/Orthodoxes/Protestsants/Jews) are SO intolerant and judgemental - don't even bother talking to them" which is...you guessed it...unnecessarily judgemental in and of itself. The amount of judgements I see over the entirety of CF is...well...profoundly disturbing. And of course, the wonderful coup-de-grace, is that in making all these pronouncements, I too, I suppose, am being judgemental to a degree.

    It just strikes me that such proclamations on any part - me, Orthodox, Catholic, or ANYONE - is inherently unchristian. The adultery story tells me that. However, Paul's actions AND words tell me otherwise... they seem to even imply that judging is the RIGHT of those of the Spirit. For me, everything gets muddy at that point. How do you know if you have the Spirit? How do you know if being judgemental is right, and if it is, WHO among all those who are being judgemental are really right, and who are the false teachers? Or is pronouncing judgements solely God's domain, I'm taking this all out of context, misunderstanding it - and all the judgemental people on CF, including myself, need to back off?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. ukok

    ukok Freaked out, insecure, neurotic and Emotional

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    I suppose that when you think about it, Christ founded One Church, not a couple of hundred thousand and so whilst we should endeavour not to be judgemental of the person, we most certainly can know, with all authority, judge that the Catholic Church IS that one church , founded by our Lord...and hence, we can know that we can differentiate ourselves from non-Catholic denominations and know that we carry the Fullness of Truth..does this mean that we should look upon others, or the multitude of denominationalism with disdain...certainly not....Christ commissioned us to go out to all nations and preach his word. to love and serve other's...and yet, their is almost and possibly what can accurately be described as an inherent tendency of self approval..and for those who go against our particular 'grain'...to stir within us such feelings of pride and scorn and judgement....we must always guard against our humanity.

    there is such a thing as a correct judgement, but ultimately the only judgement that matter's is in the hand's of God Himself.
     
  3. Brother Simon

    Brother Simon And His name shall be called Wonderful...

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    I thought I would add that Mother Theresa once said,

    "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."



    Peace be with you,
    Simon
     
  4. entropy_rising

    entropy_rising New Member

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    Many other Christian churches think the exact same things of themselves. They think they are a true Church of God and that everyone else is wrong. And from that position, they are judgemental of everyone else. I'm not saying that they're right in this opinion, but taking whoever really is "true" out of this picture, we're all judging each other, we're all pronouncing each other wrong. Is that Christian?

    Isn't there a quote in Corinthians that warns the factions of devouring each other?
     
  5. BroIgnatius

    BroIgnatius Spiritual Warrior

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    Hi:

    Contrary to popular opinion, the bible specifically tells us to make judgments. Admonishing a sinner and instructing the ignorant are two of the Spiritua Works of Mercy. One has to make a judgment that a sinner is a sinner in need of admonishing or a person is in need of instruction to be able to offer those works of love.

    Love demands judgment, not a judgment of condemnation or hypocrisy, but a judgment of recognizing Truth and error. We are to judge ideas, philosophies, behavior, and actions. We are never to judge a person's heart or judge a person to hell.

    Archbishop Beuchklin of Indianapolis identifies plausibility (the desire to never judge even at the expense of truth) as the major reason why catechesis in the United States is nearly zero. We are so concerned about not stepping on toes and not offending anyone that we are allowing people to live in error that risks their souls.

    Even this Christian Forum appears to have more concern for not stepping on toes and not offending anyone than it does about truth. Most BBS's and Chatrooms do. Some of the rules of this forum would lead to St. Paul, for certain, to be banned. Cardinal Ratzinger would have a tough time here too ;)

    Jesus said that he did not come for peace, but for division, speaking to the fact that if we tell the Truth some people will be offended.

    Truth is more important than peace.

    This essay, "Three Secret Strategies of Satan" explains all this in detail and supports its points in Scripture:
    http://www.saint-mike.org/library/BroJP/secret.asp
     
  6. alucardr

    alucardr Veteran

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    True and final judgement is left to God, but we can give judgement based on what the scriptures say. If someone is doing something that goes against the word of God, then it is our duty to tell them so so that they might repent. This isn't a "holier than thou" attitude, but just using the knowledge God gave us to inform others, whether they choose to accept it or not.
     
  7. Dominus Fidelis

    Dominus Fidelis ScottBot is Stalking Me!

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    The difference is subtle and its a matter of degree.

    For example, you observe someone lying. You can point out that they are lying, but its wrong to declare them to be a liar, because that is too strong of a judgement.
     
  8. BroIgnatius

    BroIgnatius Spiritual Warrior

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    Hi:

    Where does this standard and distinction come from? Certainly not the Bible. Jesus was pretty blunt. St. James called the people he was arguing with ignoramouses. Many of the saints were also blunt.

    Two examples of saints:

    The pacific St. Thomas of Aquinas forgets the calm of his cold syllogisms when he hurls his violent apostrophe against William of St. Amour and his disciples: "Enemies of God," he cries out, "ministers of the Devil, members of AntiChrist, ignorami, perverts, reprobates!"

    The seraphic St. Bonaventure, so full of sweetness, overwhelms his adversary Gerard with such epithets as "impudent, calumniator, spirit of malice, impious, shameless, ignorant, impostor, malefactor, perfidious, ingrate!"

    The distinction you are trying to make is a false distinction for the sake of plausibility. There is nothing wrong with your approach as long as you properly make note of the lie and not try to obfuscate it. But it is equally okay to use the term liar. A person who lies is a liar. That is not only the definition of the word, but is a kind of word Jesus, the Apostles, and the Saints have used and modelled to us.

    Both ways are equally as good as the other, objectively, although yours and my personal preferences my lean one or to the other.
     
  9. PeterPaul

    PeterPaul New Member

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    But certainly, we can discern between one personality or another. We can know the effects certain chastisement can bring according to the person receiving it. Approach is everything.
     
  10. BroIgnatius

    BroIgnatius Spiritual Warrior

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    Hi:

    Well actually, truth is everything. Approach cannot be made a higher priority then truth. That leads to the plausibility that is attacking our Church.

    Jesus did not hold back, but he also handled situations according to the needs of the person, which I think is what you are saying. With that I agree completely. Some people respond to a gentler approach and some need to be slapped upside the head.

    The original statement on this was to suggest that the 'harsher' approach was not appropriate as being "too judgmental". That is what I am saying is a false distinction. BOTH approaches are proper and good, and both approaches need to be used in circumstances that warrant them.

    As to the harsher approach, that is needed far more often than people think. In fact the bio-chemistry of the brain proves that the harsher approach is often needed to wake someone up. The old cliche, "He has made up his mind do not confuse him with the facts", reflects the way the bio-chemistry works in the brain concerning our beliefs and idea. The other cliche, "He will not come to his sense until he hits bottom", reflects what is needed for the brain to accept the facts that were previously rejected.

    If interested, I can go into some details about how the brain works on this.

    I quick example of the results of tough love is that I cannot tell you how many times I have received emails from people who said something like this: Brother, two weeks ago you insulted me and offended me to no end, but after I calmed down I realized that you were right and it changed my life."

    To not use the tough love approach when needed is to tacitly encourage the person to continue in their sin or dysfuncational behavior. Those who have experiences with alcholics know this co-dependent trap. Sometimes the most loving thing one can do is to slap a person upside the head to wake them up to the facts and realities of what they are doing. And in nearly all cases, trying to beat around the bush is rarely effective.
     
  11. Rising_Suns

    Rising_Suns 'Christ's desolate heart is in need of comfort'

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    good posts Brother Ignatius.
     
  12. Dominus Fidelis

    Dominus Fidelis ScottBot is Stalking Me!

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    BroIgnatius-

    My point being that we can't read people's hearts in order to state that they are liars, but we can observe that they lie. The person lying is sinning but they are not the sin.
     
  13. Ampmonster

    Ampmonster Swords to plowshares

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    dont be judgemental of people. but you can tell them what they're doing is wrong.
     
  14. BroIgnatius

    BroIgnatius Spiritual Warrior

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    Dear Defendor:

    You are assigning a definition to the word "liar" that is something that it is not.

    Perhaps we need to give a dictionary definition:

    li-ar (lir) n. One that tells lies.
    Source: American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd Edition

    li-ar n. a person who tells lies
    Source: Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd Edition, Unabridged

    A person who lies is a liar by definition. This is known not by reading hearts but by objective observation of behavior. This is not a statement of some condition of heart or state of soul.


    The term "liar" is not the term for the sin, it is a term for someone who commits the sin of lying. Just as the term murderer is a term for someone who commits the sin of murder; fornicator is a term for someone who commits the sin of fornication; adulterer is a term for someone who commits the sin of adultery; sodomite is the term for someone who commits the sin of homosexual sex; child molester is a term for somone who molests children; speeder is a term for someone who drives faster than the speed limit; abortionist is a term for someone who performs abortion.

    The bible uses terms like this. These terms are not "looking into the heart", and make no presumption of the person's heart, they are, rather, objective descriptions of people who observably behave in certain ways.

    In like manner the term "truthful person" is a phrase for someone who is truthful. If the term "liar" is improper, then so is "truthful person" for both describe the character of truthfulness of the person. If "liar" presumes upon the heart of a person, then so does calling a person "truthful".

    Bottomline: these terms are terms that describe a person by his behavior. A liar is a person who lies. Lying is the sin, the person being a liar is merely an identification of what the person has done. There is no presumption of heart or soul in this.


     
  15. geocajun

    geocajun Priest of the holy smackrament

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    Sorry if this has already been said, I honestly havent read everything in the thread -
    Essentially, we and are called to judge right and wrong actions, however we cannot judge a persons culpability for those actions.
    You can tell someone its wrong to murder, but to establish their personal culpability (ie your cookin) for it is God's job alone.
     
  16. Dominus Fidelis

    Dominus Fidelis ScottBot is Stalking Me!

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    Ok. I see it a little differently than you, BroIgnatius.
     
  17. Preachers12

    Preachers12 Unworthy

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    Entropy Rising, God give you Peace.

    There is an important distinction here.

    In the parable of the adultress (which, btw, does not appear in the original Greek manuscripts of St. John, but was nonetheless accepted by the Council of Trent and appears in the Latin Vulgate - what does this say about Protestant acceptance of Church authority?) Jesus is reminding us that we must take care to look at ourselves and our sins more than others. He is also dealing with a situation involving death. In the wonderfully deep and spiritual sense so inherent in St. John's Gospel, we can relate this not to physical death, but the second death, eternal death. And God's right alone to Judge. This woman had, after all, broken the law (the Covenant) and was subject to the penalties of it (Lev 20:10 and Dt 22:22ff). But Who was really the One Who could enforce those penalties?

    Sin is an offense against God, thereby making it something which only God can Judge, punish, forgive and absolve. God reads the hearts of all man and Judgement is His alone. So Jesus speaks of Judgement in the sense of sin being between God and the sinner, the two parties to a covenant.

    While I detest using the example of a contract when speaking of covenants, it serves as a good example here. When two parties enter a contract, it is between those two parties to live up to the terms of that contract and determine if they have done so. It is not for us to determine it for them. We can make judgments about it based on what we see and know about their contract. We might even provide advice about it to them. But since we are not party to their contract, it is not our place to impose ourselves upon their contract.

    Now, our Church leaders, those who bear the duties and responsibilities of the Church, must exercise judgment (lowercase "j"). While they are not judging in the same sense as God Judges, they must exercise judgement to carry out those duties.

    Look at the grace and authority left to a Priest in the Sacrament of Confession. The Priest MUST judge the sinner and the sins in order to carry out his duty. Actually, we see this in all the Sacraments.

    This same sense of judgement is seen over and over in the Epistles and Church history, where our Church leaders must exercise judgement in order to teach, reproach, guide, spread the Word, administer Sacraments, etc....

    In Acts, St. Peter called upon the Holy Spirit to strike dead two people who had sinned. But even there, it was not St. Peter who truly Judged, it was God. St. Peter, though, used this as an example to teach others and to build the Church. His judgement was that a grave sin was committed. And ultimately, he did not damn them. Where those two people ended up in terms of eternal life, only God knows. Perhaps He showed great mercy to them since their physical deaths were used by Him to teach and further His Church and they were not given the opportunity in life to repent.

    We too, as lay-person "priests" as a result of our Baptism, must also exercise judgement. We too, like our Church leaders, have an obligation and a role in building up the Church. Just raising children in accordance with our Baptismal promises sworn during their Baptism shows the necessity to judge in order to guide, teach, reproach, etc... our children in the Faith. If we do not judge, how can we correct and guide?

    For those of us who are married, we must exercise judgement as part of our marital covenant in living out that oath, which ultimately is aimed at the two married persons, with the help of the Holy Spirit, assisting and guiding each other and their children towards attaining eternal life.

    The Sacrament of Confession has wonderful similarities with this parable of the adultress. In this Sacrament, we must judge ourselves in the form of an examination of conscience in order to make a proper confession. We must also focus on ourselves, not others, in doing so. We appeal, through God's representative, to God's mercy for breaching our Covenant with Him. Like those whom Jesus rebuked in the parable of the adultress, we too must focus on our sins, not those of others when it comes to Judgement and our relationship to God. In this Sacrament, there is a LOT of judging going on!

    When we see something that is wrong, it is fine (even necessary) to use judgement in order to recognize that wrong. It is something completely different to turn our judgement into a Judgement, which belongs exclusively to God.

    Look at the process of discernment. That is completely a judgemental process. We ask God to guide us, but we and often others must make judgements during that process. God gave us the gifts of intellect and free will. One we use to judge all things which we are exposed to. The other we use to choose, hopefully, not to take upon ourselves that which is reserved to God alone - Judgement.

    There is Judgement and there is judgement. The parable and the epistles.

    God Bless,
    P12

    PS - This parable is about much more than Judgement and judgement and I did not intend here to try a full study of it. Though that would be a wonderful undertaking!
     
  18. DivineFiliation

    DivineFiliation Dyslexics of the world untie!

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    Judge not lest ye be judged.
     
  19. BroIgnatius

    BroIgnatius Spiritual Warrior

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    Well, Shakkai, that partial quote taken out of context is meaningless unless it is understood in its context.

    See http://www.saint-mike.org/library/BroJP/secret.asp for a bible study on this.

    By the way, if one were to see a person being "judgmental" and thus repeat to that person the above passage, that, in itself, is a judgment -- a judgment that the person is judgmental.
     
  20. DivineFiliation

    DivineFiliation Dyslexics of the world untie!

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    Well, all I'm saying is that for me (me not being a lawyer, judge, officer of the law or in any upper management position), I really have not need in looking out at others in comparison to the laws of God. it's not my job, it's God's. Internally, I can look out at others and maybe recognize some wrongs that they have committed and look at my own life and see that I do not do the same, but, you know, we are all on different walks with God.
    Good point verbalizing the words as well... I also know that that is a judgement (and have caught myself saying that to my husband as well :blush: ).
     
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