For the Bride: The Hypocrisy of Judgment

The early Christians linked judgmentalism and hypocrisy.  They did so because they observed that those who became judgmental became increasingly less self-aware.  They could fancy themselves as being righteous while pointing out another’s unrighteousness.  It is the attitude we have come today to call being “holier than thou.”

For the early Christians that was the essence of judgmentalism, the false notion that they were “less sinful” than someone else.  They took Paul’s words in Romans 2 with dead seriousness.  How could they pass judgment on another when they were doing similar things themselves?

Abba Theodote was once asked how he could possibly refrain from judging a fellow monk who had committed fornication.  His answer was disarmingly simple: because he too had transgressed the law.  That put Abba Theodote and his fellow monk on level ground.

It was this disposition not to judge which created the environment where confessions could be made and forgiveness extended.  Non-judgment was the soil where mercy grew.  And that is exactly what the early Christians wanted to create, lives and communities of mercy, where the Beatitude was incarnated that those who are merciful will themselves receive mercy.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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