Monday, March 30, 2009

Mike: Response to Rami's March 16 Post

Both Rami and I have been snowed under by a variety of engagements, but we're back now. Over the next few weeks, we hope to post regularly and work our way to the end of the Sermon on the Mount. That being said, I'll launch our writing spree by responding to Rami's previous post.

We're in agreement that Jesus argued against judgmentalism. I want to nuance the point a bit. In the passage, Jesus calls us to healthy self-awareness and humility. The more we become aware of our own sin (or whatever you prefer to call it), the better the chance we may not rush to pass judgment on others. We might even develop empathy and its companion virtue compassion.

As for the role of Holy Spirit in "log removal," I appreciate your point. From my perspective Holy Spirit (Spirit of God, etc.)most often works through others to help us see the log in our own eye. Such a community of friends and advisors keeps us honest. If we listen only to the voice within ourselves, it's all too easy to deceive ourselves. In fact, we have to move beyond our circle of friends and learn to listen well to those with whom we disagree. This provides a safeguard against the kind of "group think" which too often characterizes human communities.

Regarding Jesus, I suspect our faith perspectives place us on different pages. Seeing Jesus through the eyes of the Christian faith, I believe him uniquely qualified to judge others on the basis of their deeds. It seems to me he consistently does so. If I accept the premise of the Incarnation and all it implies, then Jesus has the right and wisdom to judge, forgive sins, and all the rest. In short, Rami, I doubt we will come to agreement on this particular point.

Thanks for the way in which you nuanced my statement: "we're no longer out to remake the world and others in our own image." I strongly agree with your statements. That being said, I want to clarify my own point. When we live without awareness of the log in our own eye or in denial of the image of God within us, we tend to try to shrink the world to fit us comfortably. A racist wants to remake the world into a racist world, and so it goes. The greatest danger we pose to the world and one another rises from this kind of tendency. Your comments point to the opposite side of the coin: the hope we may offer the world insofar as we reclaim the image of God and live accordingly.

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