Saturday, October 27, 2007

Judging, Creating, and Activists

One of the things that I find annoys me most about our political setup as it is currently practiced in the presence of Activist Judges. A Judge is supposed to judge - look at a situation and see how it applies to the stated, written law - and then apply that law to the situation. Did the person violate the law? If so, what punishment does the law prescribe a violation if there is one.

The problem is that with the advent of Judicial Review in the US we have established a tradition of allowing judges to de facto create laws if they declare a current law to be "unconstitutional" - like Miranda rights. You have to be read your rights - everyone who has ever watched a cop show or a cop movie knows this. There was no law passed by congress on this - rather it was a result of the case Miranda vs. Arizona in 1966 - where it was determined that if a policeman did not inform a suspect of their right to remain silent, the police were violating the suspects 5th amendment right to avoid self incrimination. What? Where did that come from? Yet - that's the way it is, and we shrug.

I find it disgusting. Is have Miranda rights nice - sure - but let the Congress do that - making Law is their job. I despise it when judges try to "fix" things - their job is simply to judge the current law - not create the law. Even if Miranda rights are a good idea - it's not the courts job to create - but simply to judge.

Now, why all this here on a theological blog? There are many people who cringe when they hear certain folks talk about the Congregation's right or the Individual's right to "judge" doctrine. And why? Because just as there are activists judges who forget what judging is to be - there are Christians and Congregations who used this language to justify anything they do - they are just exercising their right to judge doctrine.

Judging has nothing to do with whether or not you "like" something in doctrine and want it taught. Frankly, I hate the idea of hell - I know people probably headed that way and I dislike it - but I am bound to preach and teach it - because it is what Scripture teaches. I must go by what Scripture teaches. This is also what every Christian and every Congregation must do - go by what Scripture says. To judge doctrine doesn't mean to give an opinion on whether or not people like a doctrine, rather, to judge doctrine describes the idea that a Christian or Congregation is to search the Scriptures and to test the Spirits, as it were - on any theological idea - show it from Scripture.

This is vital - and we ought not let the abuse of an idea sour us on the right and proper use of an idea. In this country, do activist judges annoy me? Yes. Does that mean we should get rid of all judges? No, we need them. Likewise - do some people or groups misuse the language of the "right to judge doctrine" in a way that is horrid? Yes. Does that mean we should get rid of it - no.

Rather - we need to teach as Pastors (you know, those who are Pastor and Teachers) - and constantly point to Scripture. What does the Word say, what does the Word say - behold our constant refrain. Indeed, we need to avoid the idea of "this is what I say" but emphasize this - "Behold what the Word says - and we are bound to this, and we abandon it only at the risk of eternal damnation." Don't lament that people abuse the "right to judge doctrine" - teach them what it actually is - and as a result the importance of the clear statements of Scripture.

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