Monday, February 14, 2011
God's Judgment Is Just That - His
However, one comment my friend made was something like: "We really don't know why we believe what we believe- our beliefs are really due to influences and factors way beyond our control. Things work on us and take us places and we don't even know that they are doing it... So the idea that anyone would hold us responsible for what we BELIEVE is silly."Reasonable as far as it goes, but such a simple analysis. What about people that do good things from bad beliefs. Atheists, for example, are usually the first to line up behind civil rights. How will God hold them accountable? That is just one of uncountable unanswered ethical questions left by this post.
I suspect that at the heart of this comment was a desire to move away from the idea that there's anything I have to believe in order to be made right with God- that God would judge us by what we believe.
And there's really the rub of the whole thing for me- actions are nothing more than beliefs acted on. You don't lynch someone without first being a racist in thought and heart or sexually harass someone without harboring sexist and chauvinistic thoughts. So, if I'm not culpable for my racist or sexist thoughts and beliefs, does that mean I'm not culpable for my racist or sexist actions that are simply those beliefs acted out?
Far from God NOT holding us culpable for our beliefs, the biblical picture is that our beliefs are EXACTLY what God will hold us culpable for- do we root our existence and choices in the belief that I am the most important thing in the universe, that I am my own God? Do I make something else (money, sex, my race, my philosophy) my god? Or do I turn my heart and mind towards God Himself, the only thing I can give myself to that will ultimately bring me and this world life? Because at heart- all our actions are just extensions of THAT question. If I'm IT, my heart will find great warrant for all kinds of selfishness, sexism, racism, hatred, theft... But when God and His character become the ground for my beliefs and actions, when His love fills me with a love for all those made in His image, then my actions become very different.
Second beef - what about theology? Catholics and Protestants believe quite differently - is one to be condemned and the other not? Where is the line?
Want me to go one?
I have two bottoms lines on all this. One the only reasonable response to these questions is humility - I cannot answer all of the questions - I cannot possibly understand God's judgment. That does not mean I am not obligated to try, but it does mean I must do so with an understanding and tone that says, overtly, there is no certainty.
Secondly, I must conclude God's accountability structures include belief, but move beyond it. Where I don't know, but there is more to it than that.
Here's the best way I can put it. When judging us God is forced to choose between wrong things. We are ALL wrong - everyone of us. Some are better in some areas, some in others. He has to weigh that in His judgment. There are so many components parts to defining our humanity that the multi-variate model is way too complex for me to fathom. Like balancing the fuel-air ratio for a carburetor - there is, from our perspective, some guess work involved (God does not guess, but we have to).
SO, I do my best to draw lines, but I will never set them in stone.