Sunday, April 10, 2005

Brothers Judd Fallacies

As I often do, I was "Google" searching the Internet. On this particular occasion, I was doing a search for "The Screwtape Letters" (that unique novel by C.S. Lewis) and happened upon a site called BrothersJudd.com, which has a review of the novel. As a preamble to the review, Mr. Judd (I'm not sure which of the brothers is the author) testifies that he is a Christian, depite the fact that he doesn't attend church and likes to swear, along with other (presumably) un-Christian behavior. He thinks it strange that, because of such behavior, people have questioned the integrity of his claim to be Christian, since he doesn't claim to be "pious" but only Christian. Apparently he thinks being Christian means believing a certain set of propositions; he goes on to state what these beliefs are, outlining a personal creed of his Christianity.

I felt I should respond to Brother Judd's statement, lest someone who wants to know what Christianity really is should stumble upon the site, and be led seriously astray.

First I'll address his initial statement: his thought that others should not question his being Christian because he outwardly behaves in ways that seem contrary to his profession of faith. Well, Brother Judd, that is as it should be. According to Scripture, Christians do not merely believe certain doctrines--they are people who have been "born again" of the Spirit, as a result of having placed their faith (belief) in Jesus Christ. In so doing, they become, not what they once were, but "new creations", so that the "old (way of being and acting) has gone, and the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is such changes that authenticate the claim of belief.

Now of course, even Jesus Himself was often negatively judged, according to false standards of piety (e.g., healing on the Sabbath, eating with sinners and tax collectors). Nevertheless the Bible presents clear standards of right behavior for one who calls himself Christian. James 1:26 says: "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless". And there are many more such verses dealing with acceptable behavior for believers.

Now this does not at all mean that a Christian will never sin again, or that once someone becomes a Christian, there is never again a struggle with sinful behavior. On the contrary, the Bible teaches there is no instant maturity and that there is struggle for Christians as they pursue righteous living (see especially Romans 6-8). Yet Christianity is a call to holiness; not merely a matter of believing certain propositions about reality. The Bible maintains that the struggle of the "flesh" continues because Christians have not yet been perfected. So long as we remain in our mortal bodies, Christians are susceptible to the same moral weakness that all humanity inherited through the sin of Adam and Eve.

And speaking of Adam and Eve, the Brothers Judd also have a post on their site which completely misinterprets the truth and message of the biblical account, and blasphemously charges God as the "malefactor" in the story.

According to them, God didn't want the "competition" of the man and woman attempting to become like Him; that's why He banned them from Eden and didn't let them eat from the Tree of Life. While correctly asserting that mankind did not have the moral capacity to use eternal life properly (represented by the Tree of Life), Brother Judd attributes God's banishment of Adam and Eve not to love, but rather to divine egoism. It is not for Adam and Eve's sake that He banished them--it is because He's afraid of the competition. This would be laughable except that is also insulting to God, and that's not funny. So rather than see the story of Adam and Eve as a fall into sin, Brother Judd says we should view it as a testament to man's heroic, on-going quest to become "Gods".

This is about as wrong an interpretation of the story as one could possibly come up with. It was Satan's desire to be like God that got him banished from heaven; infected with this sinful desire, he now comes to tempt Adam and Eve to believe the worst about their God. It is ironic that Brother Judd's twisted view of Adam and Eve's original sin comes in the context of a review of the book "The Screwtape Letters". For the theme of Lewis' Screwtape Letters is how unseen demonic powers subtly pervert truth to lead souls away from God, and ultimately, to their doom.

I know exactly where Brother Judd's interpretation of this passage comes from. It comes from the one who in his pride long ago decided he could not stand being just a created angel, and sought to exalt himself as a god. Now, as I read the Bible's tale of creation and the fall of man, Brother Judd would like me to think more highly of man and satan and less highly of God. Hmmm, sounds familiar. Maybe Brother Judd should read Screwtape Letters again, and take its message more to heart. It sounds like a screwtape has got into his head somehow.

No, Brother Judd, Christ doesn't call us to become "Gods" through accumulation of knowledge and the extension of life. Rather we are "blessed" when we are "poor in spirit" and "meek" in attitude, and recognize our lostness and utter estrangement from God, due to our own sinful choices. Then individually we cry out to the Lord, "God be merciful to me, a sinner". Whatever God makes us of after that, all the glory will go to Him.

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