From Wrong Forms of Critical Judgement to Right Forms of Critical Judgement
So then, on the basis of Jesus’ teaching, it seems to me that self-designated church ‘traditionalists’ should be trying to be self-critical before pouring judgement on any view they oppose. Conversely, they also should be trying to be self-critical before pouring judgement on the self-designated traditionalists.
When any debate polarises in the way the debate on the church and say, homosexuality, or any other divisive issue has, then it is a sure sign that both sides are ignoring Matthew 7:1-6. When this happens, there is a prevalence of pre-critical judgmentalism (the blind claiming to see), squabbling over trifles (straining out gnats and swallowing camels), self-deception (legitimising our own sinful interests), finger-pointing (evading self-criticism and categorising the other as ‘worse’), and refusing to be confronted (attacking one’s critics whatever they say).
Jesus’ response, however, by implication, is surely to call us to the opposite of these things: critical awareness through education, focusing on the most important things, rigorous self-criticism to unmask our own self-deceptions and sinful interests, refusal to scapegoat the other as a ‘worse’ category of ‘sinner’, and welcoming wise confrontations.
Jesus says, ‘once you’re doing these things then, by all means, make a judgement, because it will probably be a good one – though not to pigs and dogs!’ Matthew 7:1-6 does not align with the person who says it is wrong to make judgements of any kind, since this is usually a strategic manipulative technique in itself in order to close down or control a potentially healthy conversation. However, it does say that we should begin with self-criticism. So, I must begin with a critique of my own perspective and church tradition.
Once again, Jesus is correct!