We Can’t Judge and Love Simultaneously

By | October 6, 2015

I love Greg Boyd’s proposition that we can’t judge (condemn) and love people at the same time. Obviously many Christians feel a very strong compulsion to condemn sin. Where does this come from? Probably two places. First, much of the Old Testament stresses holiness in the form of outward signs and actions. If people don’t understand how to view scripture in light of Jesus and instead see the Bible as our rule book / manual / encyclopedia, then there’s a higher probability of mis-applying this first portion of the Bible. In this article, Greg points out a second reason people look at the Bible this way. At some point we received the simplified gospel that Jesus came to deliver us from our sins. I believe this became popular among evangelicals because it is simple to quickly communicate. And while this gospel is true, I believe it is significantly reduced to the point which it has created some significant problems. (I’ll save exploring these problems for another occasion.)

Many Christians love to say “Love the sinner, hate the sin” yet haven’t fleshed out how this actually works. (See my article “Evangelicalism’s PR Problem: Private Love, Public Condemnation” for more on this subject.) With the added influence of fundamentalism, many Christians have fallen into the trap of thinking that other people are the enemy. The enemy becomes the liberals or the gays or fundamentalists or the ACLU or Planned Parenthood or the “religious right” or the Catholics or the Baptists. We think that Jesus would win if only this other group would lose. So we spend our time fighting against people, often times fighting against other followers of Christ! I’m certainly not the first one to point this out. But it is still an issue and therefore still needs to be addressed. Christians have often forgotten that our call is to love others. Paul is clear that “we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.” (Ephesians 6:12)

photo credit: ruSSeLL hiGGs via photopin cc

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