I am not writing a First Impressions this week, as I am privileged with a few days leave.
I have listed previous posts on the text, and offer this short excerpt from James Alison, which informed much of my post Pigsty or Paradise from last week.
James Allison on judging
He is speaking of the changes in the perceptions of the disciples after they meet the crucified and risen Jesus.
It is very difficult for us to imagine the huge change of perception underway here, but it could be described as to change from a perception of a god in which the deity has a double face, saying "yes, but…" or "yes, and no," or "yes, if…," to the perception according to which God only and unconditionally says, "yes." Another way of putting it is as a change from a god who is both good and bad, who loves and who punishes, to a perception of God who is only love, in whom there is no darkness at all. Jesus had begun to teach this to his disciples, but it had been incomprehensible to them until after the resurrection. Consider Jesus' teaching that God makes the sun to shine on good and bad alike and causes the rain to fall on both the just and the unjust. This has the effect of removing God completely from the sphere of reference of our human morality, excluding him from any participation in judging and condemning humans. The same thing happens in the parables: we are not to separate the wheat from the tares (Matthew 13:24-30) in this life, because we cannot judge adequately, and God's judgement has nothing to do with our own. (Raising Abel pp42-3)
It is not so much that we will pull out the wrong plants, good seed instead of weeds. Rather, as human beings, we do not perceive God's categories of judgement. We do not know what weed and good seed actually are; our whole enterprise is based on exclusion and personal/group safety underpinned by human violence. We do not know how God sees us. We cannot conceive of a God who is "all yes."
We wish to judge. But "… there is no ambivalence at all in God: God is not "love, but also vengeful justice," but purely and unambiguously love." (pp43)
Alison goes on to note that Paul's comment in Romans 1
they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools… (1:21-22)
and the rhetorical trap of Romans 2:
Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. (2:1)
In some of the posts below, I address how one might keep people safe, but not exclude or judge those who we find difficult, or even evil. I have no concrete answers here, except one: If I exclude you, I have failed the Kingdom into which God invites me. Perhaps failure is the best I can do to keep some who are vulnerable safe, but it is always failure.
Andrew Prior (2017)
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