Thursday, December 26, 2013
Set Free By, Not From, Judgement
Robert Kolb and Charles Arand wrote an incredibly engaging book called The Genius of Luther's Theology: A Wittenburg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church. I highly, highly recommend it.If I am brutally honest, I do not find that astonishing - it is a pretty classic statement of Reformed theology. But what I do find vitally important is that our freedom comes NOT FROM A LACK OF JUDGEMENT - but from God's unique judgement. This means, in part, that all those little judgements that we are freed from are not inherently bad - there is a place for judgement. Our goal is not to cease judging, but to learn to judge on the same basis as God. We remain subject to judgement.
Kolb and Arand write:
Living on the basis of Christ's righteousness involves the recognition that God's judgement contradicts the judgement that others make about us, as well as the judgement we render on ourselves. Daily life–the home, workplace, community, society–provides the context for an unending series of performance evaluations in which our capabilities and competencies are under constant critique. In these settings and relationships, we are forced to consider how others see us and judge us.
We also have to live with the image that we have of ourselves as we enter the world around us with respect to education, promotions, finances, popularity, and social mobility. Such daily audits of our own self-evaluation and the daily audit of how others evaluate us will continue until death. Nevertheless, the balance sheet does not have the first and last say about my existence.
The passive righteousness of faith ultimately frees us from being determined now and finally by such an audit. It frees me from pronouncing final judgement on myself. The passive righteousness of faith also frees me from what others say about me, for what they say is not the final judgement, but is always provisional.
For faith believes God's gracious judgement despite all empirical evidence to the contrary. In other words, we cling to the promise regardless of how many times instant replays of our weaknesses and failures flash before my eyes.
Too many today thinks Christ's death and resurrection did away with judgement - nothing could be further from the truth. What we really learn here is that judgement is no longer based on the Law, but on God's divine wisdom, only some of which is reflected in the law. Thus our goal becomes to more and more take onthe mind of Christ so that our judgement will align with His.
Too bad we shortcut this so easily.