Discernment

“Judge Not” – Matthew 7:1 is one of the most needed and one of the most abused statements in the Bible

"First, 'judge not' means that we should measure others the way that we would want to be measured. No one wants weighted scales to be used against them, or an unfair measuring stick that is too short or too long. We all want to be evaluated fairly and consistently." - Kevin DeYoung

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“It appears that nuance is the latest concept to come under fire by political and theological conservatives.”

"To some, this is seen simply as a lack of moral courage, an unwillingness to take a stand for Jesus. They want an unequivocal judgment of right or wrong. Anything less, and you’re just a 'nuance bro.'" - Kainos

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Conspiracy and the Christian

by Bob Stevenson

I was in college when I encountered my first real conspiracy theory from a real person who really believed it. It was during a street evangelism session at Moody Bible Institute. After the session, I approached a bystander and asked what he thought of the presentation. Ten minutes later my head was reeling. The fellow had lots of thoughts about the Bible that sounded like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Bart Ehrman’s writings, and a few tabloids thrown in a blender. As a Bible student studying textual transmission, I knew this guy was off his rocker, and I tried to engage rationally. But he was a believer. He had it all worked out. Nothing I could say would change his mind.

What struck me about the exchange was the impenetrability of this man’s theories. No matter what I said, he always had a rebuttal. How did I know that my sources were stronger than his sources, that my evidence was more robust than his? Especially when his own theory felt so coherent to him.

Conspiracy theories have been around a long time. But they have surfaced with a vengeance in recent years, serving up a counter narrative to the official explanations for all sorts of things. Conspiracy theories are fringe beliefs but have become increasingly popularized and believed by average voters, citizens, and—important for our purposes—church members.

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From the Archives – Can We Be Discerning Without Being Judgmental?

Good judgment is a function of wisdom, and exercising it—in the form of discernment—is a Christian duty. The Psalmist prays for discernment (Psalm 19:12), Proverbs exalts it (Prov. 14:8), and Paul prays that believers will abound in it (Phil. 1:9).

Tim Challies’ definition of discernment is as good as any I’ve seen (I have not yet read the book):

Discernment is the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong.

But sometimes when we think we’re exercising discernment, we’re really just being judgmental. We’ve taken a noble and nurturing love for truth and turned it into something ugly, harmful, and infectious. Those who are most zealous for truth and discernment may well be the quickest to stumble into judgmentalism.

So how do we tell the difference? How do we actively practice discernment (Heb. 5:14) without becoming one of those frowning, finger-pointing, spirit-crushing, accusers of the brethren?

Five Features of Judgmentalism

I believe five distinguishing features of judgmentalism can help us identify and avoid it.

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Combating End-Times Disinformation

The strangely ill-advised notion of a federal Disinformation Governance Board came to a merciful end this week—thankfully, at least for now.

As Americans, we cherish our First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech and the press, and tend to oppose anything that even vaguely appears to threaten them. Furthermore, as has been expressed far and wide in response to this oddly-timed proposal, we rightly view it as our role as citizens to critique the government of this Republic—not vice versa.

My purpose here, however, is to introduce a greater dilemma. Specifically, how are we as Christians to Biblically combat doctrinal, especially prophetic, disinformation?

Drawing further upon our heritage in the United States, we would never want to outlaw or silence anyone—even if they are actually heretical—lest the force of government, or big tech, also be used to cancel our ability to communicate. In fact, there have been numerous examples in recent months which make such a frightening proposition hit all-too-close to home. So, what are we to do?

It’s my observation that the Internet is breathing new life into various heresies and isms, along with so-called theological oddities of various stripes, allowing previously debunked positions to thrive once again. The spiritually “untaught and unstable” (2 Pet. 3:16) may thus be drawn in, thinking they’ve found someone who knows a heavenly secret—uncovering something that no one else has seen or taught before.

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