Speaking GOD’s truth is not passing (human) “judgment” on our fellows. GOD has given us both truth in natural law and intelligence for ease of discernment as part of his masterful design. How many times do you hear these words, “Don’t judge me” or “it’s wrong to judge?” Judging others while applying one’s own human opinion or deontological or consequentialist ethic may, indeed, be just awful. My opinion on this aside, what about GOD’s truth? The Bible tells us that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). But how can we even begin to understand that truth?
Love and tolerance are, firstly, NOT the same thing. Tolerance in itself is not love. It is more a characteristic of apathy. If a baby reaches for a paring knife, indeed, tolerance may mean death. Love is decisive and relentless, as assuredly as saving the litter of puppies from a burning building is not an act of tolerance.
Modern progressive thought is largely devoid of truth (and oddly, love) in its pursuit of so-called tolerance and social justice. Its underlying theme is the oft-used term “political correctness” and all of the dispassionate moderation it prescribes of our behavior towards others. The hypocrisy, however, is that this “tolerance” in practice only ever seemingly extends to ideas friendly to self-perpetuating progressive thought. Insofar as progressivism begets progressivism, well then, tolerance is the word. The standard bearers of “Peace and Love” who occupy parks and campuses seemingly have little regard for objective truths in the natural realm, while avoiding entirely the subjective truths given through GOD’s revelation to man. But, of course, through all of our “progress” and modern wisdom, we know better (claim the architects of successful societies nowhere).
The left’s hostility toward discourse that challenges their subjective “truth” is widely displayed for all to see in the pervasive and shameless “ideological fascism” on college campuses (more on that later).
So, where is the truth to be found, by which we can honestly judge right from wrong? Truth certainly can be found in Natural Law, which St. Thomas Acquinas defended–as do I–that man’s innate capability to reason and discern (i.e., morality) is as immutable as the other observable and indisputable physical and metaphysical facts conferred through GOD’s creation. Science is often viewed as the enemy of Christianity, whereas, it can and must be understood as wholly compatible (*unlike the “young-earth” Christian view that GOD must certainly be testing our faith through scientific evidence that contradicts scripture).
Acquinas makes a case for this synergy in his Summa Theologiae, and often as filtered through the School of Salamanca. This view was also delineated by Anglcan C.S. Lewis in his works Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man.
Those in the church who hold these truths to be self-evident understand human beings to consist of body and mind, the physical and the non-physical (i.e., soul), and that the two are inextricably linked. Humans are capable of discerning the difference between good and evil because they have a conscience. This is not randomly “evolved” through synthesis of chemical and cellular reactions, but is fundamental to GOD’s ontological design.
There are many manifestations of the good that we can pursue. Some, like procreation, are common to other animals, while others, like the pursuit of truth, are inclinations peculiar to the capacities of human beings.
To know what is right, one must use one’s reason and apply it to Aquinas’ precepts. This reason is believed to be embodied, in its most abstract form, in the concept of a primary precept: “Good is to be sought, evil avoided.”
St. Thomas explains that:
“there belongs to the natural law, first, certain most general precepts, that are known to all; and secondly, certain secondary and more detailed precepts, which are, as it were, conclusions following closely from first principles. As to those general principles, the natural law, in the abstract, can nowise be blotted out from men’s hearts. But it is blotted out in the case of a particular action, insofar as reason is hindered from applying the general principle to a particular point of practice, on account of concupiscence or some other passion, as stated above (77, 2). But as to the other, i.e., the secondary precepts, the natural law can be blotted out from the human heart, either by evil persuasions, just as in speculative matters errors occur in respect of necessary conclusions; or by vicious customs and corrupt habits, as among some men, theft, and even unnatural vices, as the Apostle states (Rm. i), were not esteemed sinful.”
Many of the seemingly obvious precepts Acquinas references are suddenly out of favor now, many thousands of years into the human experience. And, the ideological left has made more than a few sweeping revisions to these precepts in recent history, calling it all “truth” and vowing to discredit anyone who presumes to challenge them.
Even Kirsten Powers–a self-described liberal–is brave enough to recognize and call out the intolerance of the “tolerant left.” In 2015, she authored The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech, published by Regenery Press. While I would argue that her case is easily made by any intellectually honest person, this is tantamount to high treason in her ideological tribe, and it must have taken fortitude to stand up to the “tolerance” bullies.
Ideological facism is practiced where avoidance of uncomfortable ideas (through healthy debate) becomes a protected entitlement, or worse, ensured by way of demagoguery, public humiliation, “hate” legislation and academic enforcement (i.e., simply call it “hate speech” and assassinate the character of the perpetrator with names like racist, sexist, bigot). Free thought, a long-held pillar of secularism, is now aggressively suppressed by hostile, whiny and self-entitled voices favoring arbitrary, yet, perhaps, popular “human law” inventions and Pragmatic Ethics at the expense of discernment, let alone truth.
No one has made the case for this better than Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, when he weighed in with a letter to the campus community back in November 2015:
“This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love! In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.
I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic! Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims! Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”
I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience! An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad! It is supposed to make you feel guilty! The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins — not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization!
So here’s my advice:
If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.
If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.
At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.
Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up!
This is not a day care. This is a university!”
Kudos to Dr. Piper. Christians are often accused of “judging” or intolerance when they speak out against sin. But opposing sin is not wrong. Holding aloft the standard of righteousness naturally defines unrighteousness and draws the slings and arrows of those who choose sin over godliness. John the Baptist incurred the ire of Herodias when he spoke out against her adultery with Herod (Mark 6:18–19). She eventually silenced John, but she could not silence the truth (Isaiah 40:8).
Believers are warned against judging others unfairly or unrighteously, but Jesus commends “right judgment” (John 7:24, ESV). We are to be discerning (Colossians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). We are to preach the whole counsel of God, including the Bible’s teaching on sin (Acts 20:27; 2 Timothy 4:2). We are to gently confront erring brothers or sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:1). We are to practice church discipline (Matthew 18:15–17). We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).