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Monday, April 11, 2016

"Who Are You To Judge?" (Erwin W. Lutzer)

TITLE: Who Are You to Judge?: Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies
AUTHOR: Erwin W. Lutzer
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016, (240 pages).

When Jesus said that we are not to judge, it does not mean that we cannot judge. It is just that by the way we judge, we shall be judge. In this book, renowned pastor and author, Erwin Lutzer shows us the way to discern between judging and being judgmental. On the topic of judging, Christians are called to stand for justice and to defend the weak in a just manner. How can they do that if they are to absolutely refrain from any manner of judging? Is the question, "Who are you to judge?" to be treated as an absolute prohibition from even speaking out? If not, what are the principles we can adopt to ensure that we judge fairly and do not fall into judgmentalism?

This book deals with this important topic in a manner that is biblical and practical. Essentially, it is about discernment. It is about sharpening the uniqueness we have as a body of Christ with truth and holiness as the differentiating characteristics of our existence. Our task is to stand up for the truth, to make wise judgments in a non-judgmental way.

After setting forth some basic biblical principles, Lutzer uses the rest of the book to apply them to eight different contexts. He begins by addressing the common reasons why Christians are afraid of judging. They are too comfortable minding their own businesses. They have become too comfortable with the existing culture around them. They prefer not to stand up for truth, especially when it is inconvenient. Postmodernism has penetrated the Church where fairness seems to be more important than truth; where truth is secondary to sensuality; where mysticism is preferred over truth. Christians have also forgotten that true unity is always in the truth. When such a unity is present, Jesus' prayer in John 17 has shown that the body of Christ will be visible, credible, and supernatural. The Holy Spirit at Pentecost had united all believers. Unity is undergirded and sustained by truth. Simply put, when the Christian community is doing the will of God, their love for one another will attract the world. The holiness within the Church will convict the world.

Principles for believers include humility rather than projecting superiority; dealing with facts rather than presumptions; using proper words rather than dealing with intentions; using biblical principles rather than personal preferences; and having an eye on the eternal more than the temporal. With these in the bag, Lutzer deals with the nine areas of interest.

First, on doctrine, good teaching is essential. Christians need to know and to regularly affirm the basic tenets of faith. Second, we need to judge false prophets who do lots of harm to the body of Christ. We learn to recognize the two kinds of false prophets. Third, we need to judge miracles so as to discern whether they are from God or from the devil. Fourth, we need to judge the type of entertainment coming at us from everywhere. Fifth, we need to judge appearances, to ensure that we respect our bodies as God had created them to be. Beware of the fleeting nature of charm and beauty. Six, we need to judge neo-paganism that seems to be bringing fantasy into reality. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of darkness. Seven, we need to discern the spirit world, and to tell the difference between good and evil. Eight, we judge right and wrong conduct. Nine, we judge character so that we can determine the marks of integrity.

This is an important book that deals with a very essential topic. Far too often, Christians have become unsure about how to respond to a world that is full of half-truths, compromise, and liberal principles. With the increased presence of postmodernism all over us and in many cases, inside our churches, it is getting more and more difficult to call a spade a spade. Those who call out will often be accused of being judgmental. It is not an easy thing for a Christian to speak up. The risks of ostracism are real. If one wants to be popular, it is definitely taboo to confront people about their decisions, their lifestyles, or their dalliance with the dark side. Those who stand up for Christ will be persecuted. This is a stated consequence of being light and salt of the world. Christians are not called to make things comfortable. They are called to afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted. Love must always be in the truth. If there is one take home from this book, it is not about speaking out against other people. It is about making sure that we ourselves are on firm footing first. Like stretching out our hand to rescue those in the deep waters, if our boats are not anchored, there is a risk of our boats and ourselves falling into the waters. If we really want to help, make sure we are on solid ground. This book is a great reminder to do just that.

Erwin Lutzer has been a pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago for over 35 years.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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