Thursday, October 02, 2008

What really is finger pointing?

The postmodern mindset found in emergents and others says that "modern" Christianity is unworthy of consideration because it points fingers at sin and sinners. Now in the mind of many postmoderns, the Christianity of the Bible and the Christianity of "modern" (not postmodern) America are radically different. Their excuse for fostering the emergence of a new church arises from their utter rejection and questioning of everything in the "modern" church.

Oddly, those who put down "modern" Christianity use Matthew 7:1 to do so. They believe that the rational "moderns" have sinned against the global society by unfairly labeling sin and sinners.

Matthew 23 is not "modern" belief; this chapter contains the words of LORD Jesus. In verse after verse he is there judging the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites. Note these labels that point fingers and judge from Matthew 23: blind, blind guides, blind fools, children of hell, whitewashed tombs, full of lawlessness, sons of murderers, serpents, and brood of vipers. He asked them how they will escape being sentenced to hell?

If you read Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 23, you see two sides to the concept of judging. Jesus didn't want people to judge according to appearances but to judge with righteous judgment. His rule was needed in the day when Pharisees judged others as sinful for breaking their human traditions (Matthew 15:1-14), and it is needed today.

People who read Matthew 7:1-5 and then judge people for righteous judging don't realize their blind self-contradiction. They are as blind as the fellow with a log in his eye. To condemn others for judging righteously is a not what Jesus is teaching in Matthew 7:1-5 but a popular, human reinvention of the passage. Merely repeating Matthew 7:1 in response to everything right or wrong is is both blind and ignorant. It is not inappropriate judging to call sin what God calls sin.

Now if the problem of sin is real, and the consequences of such sin is hell, one can understand the passion Jesus showed in denouncing the hypocrites. He did not do it angrily or self-righteously. I believe Jesus denounced them with a broken heart, honestly (because there is a real problem) and lovingly (because he had hopes of redeeming even them).

Physicians are not castigated because they tell us of a disease. Teachers correct the errors of their students in order to teach them properly. Parents discipline their children so they can endure and prosper. All this is done for our good (Heb. 12:1-11). Why then is preaching the truth about sin so hateful to postmoderns?

Could it be that emergents and postmoderns have fallen into an old error, when they reject all finger-pointing?

Solomon frequently recognized that fools spurn instruction and correction. Perhaps the problem is not in "moderns" finger-pointing to the ANCIENT, premodern, Bible laws but in postmoderns rejecting the ANCIENT, premodern, all-culture, Bible instruction of God. Consider the inspired, ancient words of Solomon:

Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 1:22 "How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?"
Proverbs 8:13 "The fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate."
Proverbs 8:35-36 [Wisdom speaking] "For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death."
Proverbs 10:8 "The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin."
Proverbs 12:15 "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice."
Proverbs 13:1 "A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke."
Proverbs 17:15 "He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord."

It is loving and virtuous to restore the fallen and to bring back those who have been captured in sin (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19-20). One does this by being honest about sin and speaking of repentance, which is a good thing. One shows no love to the lost by refusing to call sin what it is or to gloss it over with human opinions. Leaving sinful people in sin by justifying their sin is an abomination to God and soul-threatening.

God is not impressed by the legislation of human opinions; He has not needed to ask our postmodern advice. Jesus thrice told the devil, "It is written," to solve some "right-wrong" issues. Perhaps we should follow suit without fear that we are finger-pointing in doing so. The words of Jesus stand and do not need editing.

I have no desire to promote unwarranted finger-pointing and judging; but the false relabeling of sin (such as homosexuality and abortion) as finger-pointing is actually "scoffing." Scoffing is simply the showing of contempt. When people scoff at sin, they are showing their contempt for God not their piety. They point fingers at God; they judge God.

Scoffing at God is postmodern, but it is not new. It was abominable in Solomon's day, and it still is. Scoffing at sin is no advancement over moderninsm.

I am truly amazed that people would rather hate, dismiss, or judge God than they would admit to their friends they believe sin leads to hell. But such is characteristic of our culture.

O Lord God, help us to return to you.



Matthew said...

John the Baptist pointed out the need to repent to the Pharisees (Matt. 3:4-10). I guess he would not have made a good emergent. There is nothing wrong in pointing out a sin when there is a attitude to help with the noting of the problem. It is a sign of love, not so much judgment.

Terry said...

Good post, Phil. Matthew made an excellent comment, too. I would like to bring to your attention an article from my local newspaper a few months ago. I goes along well with your comments about sin. It can be found on my blog at I wrote about it in July. (You don't need to publish my comment, if you do not want to do so, but I would like for you to read the article. I think you will appreciate it.)