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Below is a posting I placed on the NTRO website, I was  wondering if
you would comment on how you view what Mr. Bonhoffer has written.

Let me give you some background info on myself, I was born and raised
Catholic, almost 3 years ago I started attending a Bible believing
Presbyterian church, of which I still attend. In the fall I'll be
confirmed into the Swedenborgian Church in Bridgewater MA.
There are no New Churches within driving distance, so I'll still be
attending the Presbyterian Church.
My Pastors are aware of my Swedenborgian faith, and although they don't
approve, they are listening and have been working through their
beliefs of whether they believe Swedenborgians are Christian.

One of the things that made me look for a new understanding of God as a God
of love, is the level of judgement that is found in Traditional
Christianity.  I've come to realize once you take the focus off
yourself as a sinner, and instead focus on your being saved, it makes
you judge others sins. The day I told my husband he was going to hell
because he wasn't born again, and the day my 4 year old told his
Grandmother she wasn't going to heaven, were both turning points in my
life. It was at that point that I realized just how judgemental I had
become and how it had filtered down to my 3 boys.

Personally, I believe we all have evils we can shun with the help of
the Lord, and I'd prefer to work on that then to focus on others

Thanks for your time,

The following is a quote from a book titled:
The Cost of Discipleship
Author: Dietrich Bonhoffer
Page 185
"Judgement is the forbidden objectivation of the other person which
destroys single-minded love. I am not forbidden to have my own
thoughts about the other person, to realize his shortcomings. but only
to the extent that it offers to me an occasion for forgiveness and
unconditional love, as Jesus proves to me.

Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By
judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace
which others are just as entitled to as we are. If when we judged
others our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for evil
where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own heart."

I thought this quote spoke great volumes.

I think it's important for us to remember we are all sinners, and
before we look outside ourselves at others sins, perhaps we should
look inside ourselves, and work on our own sins.

A saying I've always liked is:
Many people speak of changing the world, but few speak of changing


first response

The Bonhoffer quote is excellent!

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not 
notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your 
brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the 
log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your 
own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your 
brother's eye."  (Matthew 7:3-5)

You will be interested in the book "Authentic Christianity" which my
mentor and friend Ray Stedman wrote. It is on his web site, 

Ray shows how the vast majority of professing Christians settle for a
dull, bland, counterfeit form of Christianity and fail to discover 
the exciting New Testament model. This means we will seldom find 
quality Christian living except in a small remnant within most 

Yes, it is true that if one allows Jesus Christ to change any one of 
us that is sufficient. Any really positive growth in us benefits the 
entire body of Christ (1 Cor. 12-14), just as sin spreads like leaven 
when our lives are less than spiritual.

second response

For my part, I disagree with the idea that it's wrong to point out
others' sins (ie, to judge). I realize this goes against the grain of
what many believe, but let me explain.

I'm an artist. As a teen, I used to show my work to professional
illustrators in order to get their feedback. I was often told that my
work was sub-par and in need of improvement. One artist after another
carefully pointed out mistakes I had made, and suggested ways to
improve my technique. Sometimes this made me angry, but in retrospect,
I see that my work improved greatly as a result of their thoughtful,
honest criticism. By contrast, there were some artists who would look
at my work and merely remark,"Nice, keep it up." This was easy to for
me to hear, and probably easy for them to say, but it didn't help me
at all in my efforts to learn better techniques.  

By the same token, I rely on others to help me recognize my moral
failings. If I'm sinning, I want to hear about it! :) Usually I can
tell whether something I'm doing is a sin, but there are also those
times when I could use another's input to show me I'm doing wrong. All
of us need some correction every now and then.

I believe this is why Paul told his disciple, Timothy, to "correct,
rebuke, and encourage." (2 Tim 4:2) It's never comfortable to be
rebuked by someone, but it's even worse to continue hurting God if no
one's around to set us straight. We need to hear when we're doing
wrong, so that we may change for the better. More importantly, many
need to hear that they will suffer in Hell if they don't accept
Christ. This is a painful thing for them to hear, but it would be
better for them to receive a warning now than to continue living
without Christ, perhaps forever. Jesus encourages us to remove the
logs from our own eyes, so that "you will see clearly to take the
speck out of your brother's eye." He wishes for us to be able to
remove the obstacles to others' vision, and to therefore "make
disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I
commanded you." (Matt 28:19-20)

So pointing out sin (judging sin) is actually more loving than
remaining silent about it. I imagine this is why you wrote to Lambert,
to offer a gentle correction to what you perceived as a fault in
Traditional Christianity. You desired to make it clear that you found
judging others to be wrong. Of course, in doing so, you implicitly
passed judgement on those who judge others. But in passing judgement,
I gather that you didn't mean any harm; on the contrary, you meant to
help. This is the kind of judging that I advocate. (The kind I don't
advocate is judging in hatred, or with a standard we wouldn't apply to
ourselves.) I'm glad that you passed judgement in love; I think this
is what Christ wants. My point is simply that we mustn't condemn every
instance of judging other people. In doing so, we would not only be
inconsistent (judging the act of judging judges one's self), but we
would deprive sinners like us the chance to learn the errors of their

third response

I sometimes offer to shoot my mouth off on an email subject like "judging". 
Pointing out to one's friends that the proper exegesis of the "Do not
judge lest you be judged." passage is not, "Shut up" usually doesn't
work, even though it's fun to do. 

If I awake on the morning of my parade and observe that it is raining
and emotionally express my disappointment by saying, "Drat, it's
raining". I am not violating Jesus' commandment not to judge. Perhaps
I could stretch the point so that Jesus' words encompassed my comment
on the day if, in frustration, I cursed the rainy day and said, "Dam
this day and the rain".

Observations are not the judgements Jesus told us not to make. A man
can certainly come home and find a man in bed with his wife and
observe that a whole lot of adultery is going on. Your friend sounds
like he expects the husband to say, "Excuse me, please continue".

Below is what Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words has
to say about the word judge as Jesus used it in (Mat 7:1) "Do not
judge lest you be judged."

krino - verb, primarily denotes, to separate, select, choose;" hence,
to determine, and so "to judge, pronounce judgment. The uses of this
verb in the NT may be analyzed as follows: (a) to assume the office
of a judge, Matt. 7:1; John 3:17; (b) to undergo process of trial,
John 3:18; 16:11; 18:31; Jas. 2:12; (c) to give sentence, Acts 15:19;
16:4; 21:25; (d) to condemn, John 12:48; Acts 13:27; Rom. 2:27; (e) to
execute judgment upon, 2 Thess. 2:12; Acts 7:7; (f) to be involved in
a lawsuit, whether as plaintiff, Matt. 5:40; 1 Cor. 6:1; or as
defendant, Acts 23:6; (g) to administer affairs, to govern,
Matt. 19:28; cp. Judg. 3:10; (h) to form an opinion, Luke 7:43; John
7:24; Acts 4:19; Rom. 14:5; (i) to make a resolve, Acts 3:13; 20:16; 1
Cor. 2:2"

fourth response

The exhortation to not judge others is in the Sermon on the Mount
which is actually an intensification of the Law of Moses. The purpose
of Jesus is to show that the Law goes much deeper than externals in
life--motives matter. In the kind of judging which Jesus refers to in
this sermon, one person is building himself up at the expense of
another. "I am better than you because I don't do such and such." This
dishonors the other person, who is made in the image of God, and it
elevates the guilty party by causing him to increase in pride and
self-righteousness. So Jesus is saying that we will be treated the
same way we treat others.

There is the wonderful lesson in Romans 14 about our common tendency
to put down what we think is a "weaker brother." "Who are you to pass
judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that
he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to
make him stand...None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to
himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the
Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the
Lord's...For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be
Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on
your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall
all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, "As I
live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue
shall give praise to God."  So each of us shall give account of
himself to God. Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but
rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way
of a brother."

This is clearly the same sort of thing, i.e., judging a person by
placing ourselves in a higher moral position than we think our brother
is in.

We are to rid ourselves of this negative form of self-righteously
judging others by examining ourselves before the Lord, "But if we
judge ourselves truly, we will not be judged. But when we are judged
by the Lord [periodically], we are chastened so that we may not be
condemned along with the world."

As another posting has mentioned judging and judgment apply to a wide
spectrum of things in the New Testament.

Consider the man at Corinth who was sleeping with his is stepmother in
an adulterous affair, (1 Cor. 5-6)

"It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a
kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his
father's wife.  And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?
Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent
in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already
pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has
done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present,
with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan
for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the
day of the Lord Jesus.  Your boasting is not good. Do you not know
that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?  Cleanse out the old
leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For
Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore,
celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice
and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I
wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men;  not at
all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or
idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But
rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name
of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater,
reviler, drunkard, or robber -- not even to eat with such a one.   For
what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the
church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. 'Drive out
the wicked person from among you.'"

Clearly, the Christian family is to evaluate, to judge, and to take
action against any professing fellow Christian whose life-style is
contrary to the guidelines of Scripture.

Paul goes on to rebuke the Corinthians for not dealing with internal
matters by arbitration instead in the pagan courts. He reminds them
that we are now being trained to judge the world and to judge
angels. These are most formidable tasks that we will be given when
Christ returns.

"When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to
law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?   Do you not know
that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged
by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that
we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this
life! If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those
who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame. Can it
be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between
members of the brotherhood,  but brother goes to law against brother,
and that before unbelievers?  To have lawsuits at all with one another
is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be
defrauded?  But you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that even your
own brethren."

Your correspondent is probably not a Christian, so God is His judge,
not the church, not you, and not me. He can continue in his pagan ways
and he will be judged fairly by God at the end of his life according
to the books God keeps on all men. As the church we offer hope, love,
compassion--and the gospel--to these outsiders. Jesus said in Matthew
12, "I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for
every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be
justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

As the previous response also mentions, we are to "speak the truth in
love" to those whose behavior is out of order. All we have to do is
observe the wrong behavior and gently make it known. This does not
constitute judging the offending party at all! It is a simple
observation which is intended to bring about change for the better,
and not condemnation. All of us BEGIN from a state of being already
condemned! "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that
whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For
God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that
the world might be saved through him.  He who believes in him is not
condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he
has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the
judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved
darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every
one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light,
lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does what is true comes
to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been
wrought in God."

The rules of the game are very different for those of us who name the
name of Jesus as Lord. We are under the authority of Christ, the
authority of the Apostles and of the Word of God. So it is up to us to
take responsibility for the management of  our internal family

Yes, Christians may seem at times arrogant--true righteousness enrages
people. If we are arrogant, by what standard are we to be measured
against? As Christians we are dealing with moral absolutes, not with
the cultural relativism of our age. The offense of the cross is

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to
us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, "I
will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever
I will thwart." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is
the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the
world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God
through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to
save those who believe.   For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek
wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and
folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of
God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than
men. For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise
according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were
of noble birth;  but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame
the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God
chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not,
to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might
boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor. 1)

Finally God will judge the very motives of every man's hearts when
Christ returns and that is a potentially frightening thing to
contemplate indeed:

"This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards
of the mysteries of God.   Moreover it is required of stewards that
they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I
should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge
myself.  I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not
thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not
pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will
bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the
purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation
from God."