Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Humor of Christ insights

This is an excerpt that i would love to hear feed back on from Elton Trueblood's "Humor of Christ"

"The critics... fall back on the strategy of literalism and say that neither they nor anyone else can rightly make a judgment in such matters because Christ said, 'Judge not.' (Matt. 7:1).

It is obvious that men must judge! If we give up judgment we give up almost everything which dignifies human life. We are judging, and rightly so, between different men and the different platforms, every time that we cast a vote. We judge colleges when we help our children to decide where to enroll. To say that one is as good as another would contribute to the complete undermining of the effort to achieve academic excellence. In art, if we do not judge between the authentic and the forged, the artistic effort is destroyed. And it is men who must do the judging, for there is nobody else available. To say that one church is as good as another would be to harm rather than to help the entire Christian movement. After all, some churches are financial rackets, with all assets vested in the name of the pastors. Some mean business and some do not. It is patently absurd to say that there should be not standard because the acceptance of such a practice would mean the complete devaluation of church membership. There is no cutting edge that is not narrow. Judgment may be mistaken and imperfect, but the only alternative to it, the refusal to judge at all, is manifestly worse.

What then can Christ have meant? He is reported to have said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged" (Matt 7:1,2). Here the irony is particularly sharp. "You want to avoid judgment, do you?" He can be understood as saying, "Then be sure that you at least have the consistency to avoid it, yourself.’ It is of the essence of judgment that it is always two-edged. People will apply to you the standard which you apply to others, and so, indeed, they ought to do. "Do you criticize others for advertising their benevolences? Then you had better," says Christ, "examine your own practice, since an ethically honest man will never make an exception of himself. It is instrinsic to any moral order that every judgment is a self-judgment.

If this paraphrase is at all correct, we have here one of the most vivid examples of that kind of irony in which the intended implication is the exact opposite of the literal sense. What we have, in reality, is not the categorical command never to render judgment, a command which if obeyed, would destroy all that is best in human life. What we have, instead, is the warning that if you want to avoid judgment on yourself, you will have to do the impossible, ie. refuse to engage in any judgment at all."
Trueblood, Elton. The Humor of Christ. NY: Harper & Row Publishers, 1964.


B said...

Dude, this just completely changes my interpretation of this passage! it sounds good, but i am still not sure if i completely agree. what do you think?

dan said...

Could it be that maybe Jesus was commenting on the sin in our own lives? Making the point of how can we be critical of people who are sinners when we ourselves are sinners. Obviously we are totally aware of our own faults and downfalls, and maybe that's the point of Jesus teachings.
Historically and culturally Jesus dealt much in his teachings with the hypocracy of the Leaders of the Jewish culture.
I don't think we can say that we need to totally eliminated judging from our lives because it is a necessary part of life. But when it comes to judging other people, I think Jesus is saying when you judge remember you're the same as the person you're judging.

B said...

You are a smart man my friend...

Anonymous said...

Sorry to chime in late, but...anywaze,
i think what it's saying is that we are human and we will be judged because of this simple fact. Do not say that it is unfare that you are judged because you in fact judge other people. I think in a way, Jesus is trying to tell us that life is....for lack of better words....fair. We judge others, others judge us...It's evenly sided. I'm torn in what I truly think about this passage. Is Jesus really telling us a simple truth of life here. Is he saying, "Look, don't be a hipocrite! If you are going to say Don't judge me, then stop judging your fellow man." Jesus tells us many ways in which we should live our lives, many of which can only be achieved when totally sanctified. This is something we should shoot for, a goal we should have. But I for one am not willing to say that I am totally sanctified yet, but I'm getting there slowly but surly. One day I will be able to say Do not judge, and not be a hypocrite about it. Until then, I am living by the grace of Jesus Christ. I believe that this is the larger message that Christ was trying to portray. You simply can't not judge as a human being, so don't be discouraged when you do, that is why Christ has given us grace, mercy, and above all else, forgivness.

B said...

So Chris, does being entirely sanctified mean i won't judge anymore? I feel like this translation gives us the option of "judging" not being a sin as more a fact of human life. So we should live as holy as possible and try and be above repraoch, but the truth of the matter is that we will judge people and be judged. Just make sure you are not being a hypocrite.... this is all mere contemplation, i could be completey heretical right here, but i working through it. Your thought?