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Cross Examination Q&A

• Bill Doherty, Cedrick Baker, Greg Boyd, Shawna Boren

This panel conversation addresses the practical implications of the teaching on what it means to live in love and forego judgment of others.

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A panel that includes Cedrick Baker, Shawna Boren, Greg Boyd, and Bill Daugherty entertains questions regarding how the teaching about not judging others actually plays out our common lives. Over 30 questions were submitted and most of them were related to the questions that were addressed. These questions included:

  • What is the difference between discernment and judgement?
  • I am a supervisor in a large organizational setting and a big part of my job is judging people’s work performance – including their personal attitudes and behaviors towards others on the job. How do I “not judge people” when most of my job description as a leader is about making judgements about people who work for me?
  • We need to take Jesus’ words “Do not judge” seriously. However, Jesus also says things like: “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” (Luke 12:57). And the Apostle Paul says: “Those who are spiritual judge all things, yet they are themselves judged by no one” (I Cor 2:15). What advice do you have on applying these biblical teachings that say we should make judgments?
  • The no-judgment message of the last few weeks seems to conflict with another message that Woodland Hills has preached on, since the George Floyd murder, that we ARE to judge racism – and racists – as bad. If we “don’t judge” anyone, then doesn’t that lead to putting up with the same racial status quo that led to George Floyd’s death and the millions of other instances of racial injustice?
  • What about other Christians? Can we confront them with their sins and judge them? I have a close friend who claims to be a Jesus follower, but who has some very un-Jesus-like things going on in their life. Whenever I bring these things this up, this person always gives me the same response: “Jesus says not to judge people, so who are you to judge me? God unconditionally loves us just the way we are, so quit being so self-righteous.”
  • I’m in the middle of a relational break-down in my family where we no longer even talk to each other because of many heated arguments over political differences. What do I do?
  • You often speak of God’s unlimited, unconditional, unsurpassable love for us. So, are there no conditions, no limits to God’s love? Does God love the mass murderer? Doesn’t this cheapen, make a mockery of God’s love. If God loves everyone, then what is love?

This conversation will help you work out Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:1 so that you are empowered to live in love in your everyday life.

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Topics: Judgment, Love

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Cross Examination

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14 thoughts on “Cross Examination Q&A

  1. Jerry says:

    Enjoyed your dialog, in listening, this scripture has come to my attention and has puzzled me.

    1 Corinthians 5 (1:5) It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have (PUT OUT) of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already (PASSED JUDGEMENT) in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

    This puzzles me: It appears that if they put him out the SATAN will act with good purposes in destroying his flesh for the salvation of his spirit. Is it safe to assume the day of the Lord is Jesus’ return?

    (9:11) I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people, (NOT AT ALL MEANING) the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone (WHO CLAIMS TO BE) a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

    (12) What business is it of mine (TO JUDGE THOSE OUTSIDE) the church? Are you (NOT TO JUDGE) those inside? (GOD WILL JUDGE) those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.

    Possibly I’m missing something or Paul didn’t get this one right but my take is Paul is saying we are to judge those who claim to be believing, (also part of a group/family you are close to), but for sure NOT the unbelieving folk!

  2. Richard says:

    In digesting the “Sermon on the Mount” it baffles me hearing Christians constantly saying how hard it is to engage in this mindset.
    What and where is the mindset of, fight the good fight of faith (trust) or, endure hardness as a good soldier of the cross?
    The disciplined training we’re receiving is being done behind enemy lines moment by moment. It is a do or die muscle that needs to be exercised!

  3. Matthew says:

    This message is for Dan Kent:

    Dan, thanks for encouraging me to hold on and have some patience. This Q and A was very helpful to me in fleshing out more about not judging vs. righteous judgment. Thanks so much to the panel for helping us as a global community work through these thorny issues.


    1. Cercatore says:

      Your questions & comments seem to have been removed from BZ’s forum? I’m not sure what’s going on, but it seems very strange (?) It makes my long responses seem out of place and as if I’m talking to myself – Ha!

      1. Matthew says:

        I´m so sorry Cercatore. Someone commented on one of my posts called “disqus team”. When I clicked on the their blue link to get some more information about them, inappropriate material came up. I have never in all my time on disqus been commented on by “disqus team”. I probably should have been suspicious when I saw two red exclamation points on either side of their blue link. All this to say, I thought I was hacked so I deleted my disqus account.
        I would like to stay in contact with you, but if you don´t want to offer up your email address, I understand. Have a good day Cercatore.

        1. Cercatore says:

          No worries – there’s always some kind of cyber-intrigue going down. We will definitely be in contact.

  4. Matthew says:

    That is great Cercatore. Thank you.

  5. Jerry says:

    As a follow-up to my prior post I found this in a book I am reading: “Not in it to win it”.

    Old-covenant imports of warfare language and conflict imagery into a faith whose central figure surrendered his life rather than defend it and invited others to follow suit explain why some folk feel it their responsibility to rail against evils as did the prophets. However, Paul told Christians in Corinth that the behavior of unbelievers is none of their business assuring them that God would judge those outside the faith.

    Culture-war Christianity is not simply a waste of time; it is diametrically opposed to the teaching of Paul and the example of Jesus. Consider as this relates to the influence of the church, our nation’s challenges do not stem from the church’s inability to convince unbelievers to behave like believers but from the church’s inability to inspire believers to behave like believers.

    1. Matthew says:

      This is so timely for me Jerry. I was thinking about this topic of Paul´s just a few days ago. I think you make a vailid point that neither the example of Jesus nor the teachings of Paul rally around the idea of fighting culture wars … whatever they may be. That said, if it can be argued (by some) that abortion is murder, then doesn´t it make sense to have laws that prohibit such a medical procedure? Hear me … I find myself very much in the middle of this debate. I am pro-life, but I also support freedom of conscience and women´s rights. But where does a personal right end and the breaking of the law begin and how should such a transition be managed?

  6. Jerry says:

    Matt; tough question.

    Consciousness, the way we think, is not available to a child until after six. Until 6 is the programmable state called theta-like imagination. That’s why children between 2 and 6 mix the real world and the imaginary world in their play. The importance is this is a period of enculturation. A child has to learn thousands of facts about how to fit into the family and into society and so God doesn’t give the child consciousness to create new things. God just gives it the brain activity to download facts. The Jesuits say give me a child until 6 years of age and it will belong to the church for the rest of its life.

    Whatever goes in the first six years is the first structure in the subconscious mind. The child is in a state of super learning. A child between zero and six can learn three languages at the same time but after this period if you try to teach a child just one language it’s difficult. This period of our life is where we learn or NOT the fundamentals of relationships, connections, family, and community from our significant others.

    Add to that, epigenetics, the chemistry of emotions the stress hormones, and all the other factors that control the mother’s body also go into the placenta and affect the fetus. If the mother is happy the chemistry of happiness makes the baby happy. If the mother is stressed or angry the baby is stressed and angry. It’s not the baby’s brain that is controlling that; it is the response to the chemistry of the mother’s blood. The baby’s brain is learning halfway through pregnancy so the emotional patterns and behavior of the mother are being learned by the baby before it’s born.

    Angel pointed to Greg discussing using the Kingdom of God approach with abortion: don’t limit ourselves to the options given by the kingdom of the world, but ascribe unsurpassable worth to others (mother and baby) at a cost to ourselves.

    Most of human history had, not abortion, but Infanticide through exposure. It was neither uncommon nor illegal for parents to abandon newborns on the banks of a river, on the edge of a forest, or outside the protective walls of a village. Babies were left to starve, freeze, or be eaten by wild animals.

    Rescuing abandoned babies isn’t commanded or even commended by Jesus or New Testament authors. Food was scarce and homes were small. Babies died all the time. Why would anyone put their own family at risk on the behalf of an abandoned child? Refusing to expose your own children is one thing, but rescuing someone else’s?

    The Christian Scriptures didn’t require it.

    The Hebrew Scriptures didn’t require it.

    Something else required it.

    Love required it.

    Christians were busy rescuing and raising abandoned children with no financial help from the state or local governments.

    It’s one thing to give birth to a child and in the absence of proper nurture after is the fate of a child’s eternal soul at risk?

    As I have loved you; you must love one another.

    What does love require?

    1. Matthew says:

      What does love require? Well … if God is love then love requires that I act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with my God. In terms of judgment, I think love requires judgment that is both merciful and restorative.

  7. Jerry says:

    Matt, well said.

    Jesus refused to fix or even address systemic inequalities but he never missed an opportunity to address the physical and emotional needs of those hurt by the system and left floundering in its wake.

    Likewise, we as Jesus followers must model compassion, generosity, and empathy for those negatively impacted by the consequences of their own decisions as well as those suffering from the unintended consequences of imperfect systems.

    Jesus on his return will deal with the inequities of kingdoms of this world. Rev 22:2 ….on each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

    Matthew 18:3 Jesus said truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

    John 3:3 Jesus declared to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

    I consider Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will; has to do with Greg’s analogy Escaping the Matrix – (kingdom/realm of this world – Self) versus (kingdom/reign of heaven – others oriented).

    We need to enter back into the childlike 0 to 6-year-old theta state and cooperate with God, test and approve, to locate any malware in our subconscious and reconnect to his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    As Greg has said The very now moment starts in our imagination, with the importance of (holding thoughts captive Philippians 4:8) bringing an empty frame, where God then brings the future, His will, to us as wave-like possibilities. However, we also have our own images from the past stored inside us, at a 100 times faster processor speed, which tends to fill the empty frame first.

    Greg did a series on a rider on an elephant. Reason and emotion must both work together to create intelligent behavior but emotion, a major part of the elephant, does most of the work. The neocortex made the rider, controlled processes, possible but it also made the elephant, automatic processes, much smarter (100 times) faster. We are creatures of subconscious habit (98%) with some degree of consciousness (2%) some of the time.

    Love is the language for access but as Greg says TIC for TAC strategies are not the kingdom.

    We are all Pharisee’s self-righteous hypocrites. The truth is we are all very good a judging others however we are called to judge/hate the sin but not the sinner. Passing Judgements on sinners is above our pay grade as Greg considers the original sin.

    We can only deal with our own planks and only with God’s help. Given any wrongs, we encounter at least a small portion (plank) of, let’s say 10% maybe, our piece. If we don’t resolve our part, as small as it may appear, we take it and the other 90% into our future and that will play havoc with the empty frame in our imagination.

    If you don’t deal with your demons they’ll go into the cellars of your soul and they will lift weights.

    Ephesians 4:26-27 “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

    People’s debts, their pieces, become your ongoing baggage. Tell your demons I’m closing the gym.

    Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

    So rather than demonizing folk, we need to learn to speak the truth in love.

    Romans 12:20 If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

    I consider the burning coals are that they might have a conscious moment of remorse or embarrassment, a feed check to their subconscious mind, where God can whisper possibilities and hopefully they begin the transformation process of their mind.

  8. Matthew says:

    Thanks so much Jerry. I´m not sure, though, I agree with you regarding systemic injustice. Are you implying that because Jesus didn´t seem to address systemic injustice (or systemic sin) during his earthly ministry, that means we as believers shouldn´t either? From my perspective, even if the Gospel accounts do not directly illustrate Jesus dealing with systemic injustice or systemic sin, Jesus does clearly deal with sin and equips the Church to do so as well, so I don´t think it´s altogether wrong for the Church to also help fight systemic injustice or systemic sin. Also, if we as believers are truly resurrection people, I think it is incumbent upon us to bring resurrection life into everything, be it a person´s individual life or into systemic spaces that are sinful and unjust. The future kingdom will not contain such systems, so I feel it is our duty and obligation as followers of Jesus Christ to bring that future beauty into the world and its painful and unjust systems … now. I hope others might weigh in on this topic too. I admit I might have missed something.

  9. Jerry says:

    Matt, actually Jesus does address systemic injustice only he goes to the heart of the matter.

    In Greg and Kent’s podcast today “Why Don’t We See More Miracles today?” Greg paint’s this incredible analogy. “We are living in a fallen world oppressed by the principalities and powers that are like a dark cloud and God is like the sun that is shining. Some days are cloudier than others and our job as Jesus followers is to punch holes through.

    Ephesians 6:12: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    In other words, the fight is not against governments or people or companies or circumstances. The real battle—the unseen battle is for the hearts of those around us as we fight for them in prayer, and we battle, Romans 12:2, for ourselves as we bring opinions and arguments in line with the knowledge of God.

    From Walter Wink: Like the proponents of the new physics, who have now gone beyond materialism to a world of spirit-matter, we too can see the entire social enterprise of the human species under the dual aspects of spirit and matter. If we want to change institutions and structures, we have to address not only their outer forms but their inner spirit as well. Spiritual reality is at the heart of everything, from photons to supernovas, from a Little League baseball team to a Boeing Aircraft.

    A worldview provides a picture of the nature of things: where is heaven, where is earth, what is visible and invisible, what is real and unreal.

    “Satan” is the world-encompassing spirit of the Domination System. When an entire network of Powers becomes integrated around idolatrous values, we get what can be called the Domination System characterized by unjust economic relations, oppressive political relations, biased race relations, patriarchal gender relations, hierarchical power relations, and the use of violence to maintain them all.

    Greg is not sure Walt gets it exactly right concerning “the Satan” but for sure we as well as agencies are accountable for a good chunk of the demonizing going on.

    As Greg said concerning the rider and the elephant; the elephant (98%) is driven by emotions. Consider then the top hierarchies of realms of power are emotional examples: the spirit of fear, anger, slander, false testimony, etc. …. (Ones that cast clouds) versus a spirit of compassion, generosity, empathy, etc. …. (Ones the punch holes).

    As Greg says we are in a cosmic dance in the every now moment with the patterns of this world versus a renewing of the mind in line with the knowledge of God. These emotional realms of chaos and kingdom trickle down through everything even down to little league baseball teams.

    So rather than demonizing, (the global polarization we are experiencing), those we disagree with (incoherent emotions that cast clouds) we should speak the truth in love (coherent emotions that punch holes through the clouds).

    I don´t think it´s altogether wrong for the Church to help fight systemic injustice as long as they speak the truth in love. I do think though they are more addressing the surface than the heart of the matter. You need both but the second will have far more effect.

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