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I Can't Think Of A Better Word, Sorry

In a world where Christians, in the name of holiness, arrogantly distance themselves from everything "secular"......and like the Pharisees, can't figure out what it means to be "in" the world but not "of" it........

In a world where Christians, in the name of holiness, arrogantly stand back and bash non-Christians for living like, well, non-Christians......

We need to check these actions and attitudes with the scriptures.  I have a word I sometimes use to describe this type of activity.  But I want to warn you, this could be bad.  I only use this word in conversations where people know my heart and theological convictions.  Posting it publicly like this could get me in trouble.  I don't mean to be rash by using this word, but I honestly cannot think of one that better describes this type of activity by the very people that are supposed to be following the example of Christ.

Before I say the word, let me (very briefly) explain why I don't think the attitude toward non-Christians I explained at the top is appropriate.  Paul clearly states that it's not the right of a Christian to judge outsiders - we are not they're judge, God is (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).  We clearly cannot expect non-Christians to live in God-honoring ways.  We are in a broken world.  We don't have to publicly condemn their actions to prove they are wrong or to make sure we're not viewed as condoning them.  In fact, Peter states that we are to simply continue doing good when others do wrong and by this alone their foolishness would be silenced (in other words, we don't need words).  He says to treat everyone with respect and honor - even those that are unjust and to even honor an emperor that was killing Christians at the time (1Peter 2:13-18).  We are told that this graciousness is being mindful of God (2:19).  And, he points back to Christ as the example of these things in the verses that follow.

Instead of following this example, however, we have people publicly standing out against wrong with only words, picketing, arrogantly standing back.....not doing good and respectfully honoring all people, but instead speaking against them and their actions.

But what Paul and Peter are saying gives a completely different perspective of what Christ followers should be doing.  It's very different than arrogantly separating from or publicly bashing everyone that is doing wrong or opposing God in their actions.  Christians are doing both of these things in the name of "holiness."  But they're not holy.  They're actually (oh boy, here's the word) "ass-holy."   

I told you.  I don’t mean to be rash, but I honestly can't think of another word that better fits this attitude. Jesus did bash people.....but if you read the gospels it was the people that I described above that he spoke up against.  I think we should take that into consideration before we outwardly and publicly bash the name of holiness.  Jesus treated these people very differently.  He hung out with those "secular" people.  He actually ate and reclined with them.  He didn't arrogantly separate, nor did he flip their tables over.  He lived among them and served them.  He didn't have to constantly point out their wrongdoings.  Yes, he confronted people in their sin.  But it was with humble connection, not arrogant separation.  He gave us an example of what it means to live in the name of holiness.  I think we should get that straight and be careful of our ass-holy attitudes.

Oh, if we would actually follow Christ's example and actually be known for our holiness in our every day lives, in our humility, in our heart for people to be reconciled...... 


The word does catch us off guard, eh! From the Scriptures you shared and the contexts of modern tensions between legalism and grace, though, it seems uncannily fitting. Thanks for being honest here, Chuck, and saying what most probably wouldn't.

Chuck, I agree that there are plenty examples of Christians who do a poor job representing Christ to this world. Arrogant bashing has no place in our public discourse. But I think your argument may inadvertently go too far. You say we are not to "judge outsiders," which you characterize as a public condemnation of actions. In addition, you suggest we shouldn't use any words but just live our lives in a certain kind of way. But do you really think Christians are suppose to remain silent on every moral issue in the culture? If so, then Christians like Wilberforce were wrong to speak out against slavery, Bonhoeffer was wrong to condemn Hitler, Martin Luther King Jr. was wrong to speak out against racism, etc., etc. But I can't imagine that would be your position.

So maybe some clarification is in order:

(1) What does it mean to "judge" and if there are different senses of judging, might there be legitimate circumstances in which Christians can make public judgments?

(2) Maybe the real issue you take exception with isn't merely the judgments made by Christians but rather, the manner in which they're often communicated to the culture (e.g. arrogant, bashing). Unfortunately, by conflating the two you may inadvertently silence Christians from standing up for the oppressed and exploited among us.

I like your word because it's got enough punch to it to help us sit up and take notice. In our house we refer to the same attitudes your describing as being "dead right." As Christians, we're often "right" but we are so ugly about it that there's nothing life-giving about it.

The Mat 7:1's “judge” uses“krinó” and one must “judge” whether that means to condemn or damn, or to think and decide. I can't, in good conscious, or with good theology, argue the premise that Christians are not to judge, or rather to not think and make decisions accordingly. Like all of Jesus' teaching, it goes to the attitude and the driving factor. Either we are driven to act out of love or we aren't. If one were to “judge” Hitler to the point of action, is one acting out of love for those being abused, or committing an act of hateful revenge? Did Wilberforce speak words of hate against slave owners and the system, or did he act out of his compassion for those enslaved? Are we judging “for” ways of mercy and justice, or judging “against” and condemning people with who we disagree?

It saddens me to see people who consider themselves ambassadors of Christ and holding up venom-spewing signs proclaiming that God hates certain people. Because Jesus made a distinction between religious snobbery and living out his love in community, I know that I should do the same if I am to be a faithful Christ follower. I choose to judge, or make decisions about representing Christ's love and offering unconditional love to those around me, even those with whom I have serious differences. In that decision making, I must be careful on how to act “for” those needing mercy, without condemning myself as one who pridefully returns hate for hate.

Christ's clear example teaches that separating ourselves from those who need Christ the most, the least, the last and the lost, is simply ridiculous. So what I see is that I'm to be a Christ-follower, who follows his footsteps, even if they lead into a bar, a drug-ridden neighborhood, a baseball park, or even a church.

Bret said exactly what I was thinking. Some clarification is needed. It would be helpful if Chuck would respond.

So, are you saying that too many pastors have moved from the rectory to the rectum and it's wrecked 'em?

Steve, you are truly the master of the well-placed pun. Or is it a limerick? Whatever, it's clever. And coming from a pastor no less!

Chuck, This post is awesome!!! Call the ass-holy attitudes what they are! A lot of ass-holy attitudes are responsible for the huge exodus of youth from the faith.

Don't forget that a lot of ass-holy attitudes are portrayed quietly too. They're not all for public display. I used to have silent ass-holy attitudes. God convicted me of every ounce of spiritual pride. I used to "think" that I was better etc...

Thanks for speaking the truth in love.

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Thank for your thoughts. I honestly admire you for being so frank yet very cool. - BentleyForbes

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