Respectable Sins: Judgmentalism

“We equate our opinions with truth.” (Bridges, 141)

Well isn’t that why we blog? After all, I can’t help it if I’m right!

Actually, this very notion of judgmentalism, which Jerry Bridges writes about in chapter 17 of Respectable Sins, is one of the reasons that I was hesitant to start this blog – for fear of revealing my own heart judgments in a way that is dishonoring to God, not edifying to the church, nor attractive to non-Christians. Hopefully, I have not stumbled in this regard, but would I know?

Bridges is right, when he asserts that the sin of judgmentalism is one of the most subtle of the respectable sins “because it is often practiced under the guise of being zealous for what is right” (141).  But we may just be zealous for our own preferences.  Kennedy Smart’s words (one of the fathers of the PCA) stated at the beginning of a presbytery meeting have stuck with over the past ten years or so:  “Men, let’s remember that there is a big difference between preference and principle.”  This is easier said than done and we are much more accusomted to raising our preferences to the sphere of biblical truth or a must-hold conviction.

The problem, as Bridges points out, is that we raising ourselves to the level of God when we become judgmental on issues where Scripture is not clear or allows for freedom (matters of dress, music preference, use of alcohol are some examples given in the book).  “We are arrogating to ourselves a role God has reserved for Himself.”  Arrogating – is that like irrigation without the water (arrogate:  To take or claim for oneself without right; appropriate).  The sin is not in our convictions per se, but the way we hold onto those convictions and express disdain for others or become self-righteous or condemn others inappropriately.

Bridges also deals with the appropriate means of judgment – that is, speaking the truth of God’s Word in love to those who are clearly sinning in lifestyle or conduct.  In that case, Bridges says, “it is the Bible that is judging, not ourselves.”  Unfortunately, we have all gotten screwed up on this issue of judgmentalism.  We judge the things that are trivial and we fail to speak about the deeprer matters of faith or causes for a lack thereof.  Furthermore, non-Christians have learned to use Scripture (wrongly) agianst Christians who would point out areas of sin (often citing “judge not, lest you be judged).  And finally, most Christians have not treated others, especially non-Christians kindly or compassionately.  While Scripture is sharp and painful like a sword when it cuts, it also has the power to restore, and have we become content to only swing in one direction?

Introduction & Schedule for blogging on Respectable Sins

Reflections on Chapters 1 & 2

Reflections on Chapters 3 & 4

Reflections on Chapters 5 & 6

Reflections on Chapters 7 & 8

Reflections on Chapters 9 & 10

Reflections on Chapters 11 & 12

Reflections on Chapters 13 & 14

Reflection on Chapter 15 & 16


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bendecido on June 18, 2008 at 10:49 am

    good stuff…thanks for sharing


  2. Posted by adamtisdale on June 19, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Thanks for stopping by.


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