Friday, January 08, 2010

Mt 7 for Jan 8

"Because I said so, that's why!"

The argument from authority. One of the reasons people hate Christianity, or morality ("do's and don'ts") in general, is because they think that the only way to support it is by the argument from authority. Certainly there are people do that, using that argument. In contrast, and judging by how Christianity is often packaged, some church people reacting against that, sometimes are just as averse to being directly told what to do, or sometimes just as averse to telling others what to do as anybody, in various movements; so you have the seeker-"sensitive" movement, the "inclusive" movement, the postmodern anti-assertions movement, etc. One of the great geniuses of reform movements is to give people another reason to do things besides 'the Boss says, that's why,' or to go off on a pendulum swing reacting to that type of religion.

In this sense, Jesus was and is a reformer too. He contrasted righteousness with that advocated by the Pharisees, who used God merely as an authority. Not that He was postmodern and didn't think anything could be said about God (Jn 4:24). Not that He was inclusive and didn't say anything that could send someone away (Mt 19:21-22). Not that he was seeker-"sensitive" and accepted everyone who applied on their own terms (Lk 9:57-62). But the Lord, here in Mt 7:1-5, gives a different way of looking at do's and don't's. He does so here with one word, "for," in 7:2, plus He elaborates on this kind of angle in the next three verses.

The "don't" here is of course verse 1. "Do not judge." Instead of "because I said so" (in this case), Jesus says "so that you will not be judged." If He had left it there, we would go off thinking that Jesus was saying that all morality has self-interest at its base, and become some kind of me-first Christian, the kind that says "I serve God because I'm out for my own best interest." That has its appeal a lot nowadays.

Instead, Jesus gives a reason for the "don't." "For ... " -- i.e., because, "in the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."

Hmm. But why isn't this the counsel of prudence, in other words, if you want to be judged fairly, judge others fairly? Well, that's not what it says! How many things could be resolved, by pointing out simply, "that's not what it says!"

Remember the conclusion: "Do not judge." The Lord doesn't say 'Judge fairly (since you will be judged by the standard you use, and you don't want to be judged unfairly).' He does not say 'judge fairly.' He says "DON'T judge, the reason being, SINCE, you will be judged by the standard you use...." In otherwords, the standard we are using is bad, flawed, etc., so as a PROCEDURAL issue, don't judge (yet! ...)."

Our guns are dirty! They will backfire!

To use his words, actually, our eyes are blocked, obstructed bigtime! That's a very different reason than "because I say so," first of all. Second, this extremely poor "vision," i.e., moral vision, the kind you need to see clearly what other people are doing wrong, should be the reason to not do the judging at that point. The most eager and zealous person trying to correct something would pause at this kind of argument: the procedure is flawed!

In 7:5 he supplies the correct procedure, and the go-ahead for correcting others. The Lord wants accurate corrections, not faulty ones.

And so, in this small example, we see the zealous person who wants to correct something is given something to go by other than "don't do it because I said not to, that's why." The Lord wants accurate corrections, not faulty ones. That criterion is a pretty good one.

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