Christian Living

Don’t Judge Christians for Their Theology

Forgive and be Forgiven

As followers of Jesus, we shouldn’t judge others, but we do. Too often, we judge Christians for their theology. We must stop.

When we evaluate others based on what they believe, we diminish them in the process. And we smugly elevate ourselves over them. When we do this, our egos show through.

Do Not Judge

Jesus clearly teaches that we shouldn’t judge others. If we judge them, we too will be judged in like manner (Matthew 7:1). This judgment can cover anything.

It might be judging what others do or say, how they dress or where they live, but too often it is over what they believe. But we shouldn’t judge Christians for their theology. If we do, we will likewise face judgment.

Luke records it a bit differently. He writes that Jesus says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.” He continues by saying do not condemn and you won’t be condemned. Instead we are to forgive, and we will be forgiven (Luke 6:37).

It’s a simple concept.

A few translations use the word criticize instead of judge. This may help us to better understand what Jesus is saying. If we criticize others, we will likewise be criticized. We must stop criticizing our fellow followers of Jesus.

This includes their theology.

In James’s teaching about judgment, he also uses the word slander (James 4:11-13). To slander means to say something false or malicious about someone.

It’s a sobering thought to consider that when we judge others—that is, when we criticize them—we slander them.

Judgment Is Discrimination

James gives us some practical teaching about judging others. He says that judging others is discrimination, and it’s evil (James 2:2-4).

In his teaching, James addresses judging people over their appearance and their attire. But this is just an example.

Therefore, it’s not wrong to apply this to other forms of evaluation, such as when we judge Christians for their theology. By extension, we can call this evil.

Judge Those Inside the Church

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that they were to judge those on the inside, their brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). Does this mean we are to judge the people we go to church with?

Yes and no.

Paul specifically addresses wrong behavior, not theological differences. He teaches them to not associate with sexually immoral people, as well as the greedy, the swindler, the adulterer, and the slanderer.

These are moral issues, not theological perspectives.

To not associate with people who hold differing views on theology is a misapplication of Paul’s teaching about judging others within the church.

Don’t Allow Others to Judge You

Paul adds to the discussion by telling the Colossians to not let anyone judge them. Jesus is what matters (Colossians 2:16-17).

This includes what they eat and drink. It also includes their religious practices in how they celebrate and regard special days.

These are theology issues. Just as we shouldn’t judge Christians for their theology, we shouldn’t let them judge us for ours.

People sometimes try to do this to me. I understand why, but that doesn’t make it okay. They ask where I stand on various theological issues.

To them it’s a litmus test to decide if I’m in or I’m out, if they’ll read my words or reject them.

Sometimes they approach this indirectly, such as asking what type of church I go to, the style of worship I prefer, or how I regard the Sabbath. Even so, it’s still judgment. Just as Paul teaches the Colossians, I dismiss their attempts to judge me.

If we believe in Jesus and follow him, nothing else matters. Not really. Beyond the foundational truth of Jesus, it’s wrong to judge Christians for their theology.

Let God Judge

God’s judgment is the only judgment that matters (Romans 14:10).

It’s not our place to judge others for where they fall short, be it for their sins or their theology.

Our Lord will judge us (Hebrews 10:30). We must be content with that.

Judge at the Appointed Time

Yet there are also times Scripture talks about judging others. But this is a future-focused perspective. Paul writes that we are to judge nothing before the appointed time, which will be when Jesus comes again (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Then we will judge the world. Then we will even judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). But this only applies after our Savior returns. It doesn’t apply today. And it doesn’t give us permission to judge Christians for their theology.

Stop Judging Others

Until that time when Jesus returns, we should stop judging others.

Instead, we must hold our theological views loosely. After all we might be wrong—and they may be right. Therefore, it’s wrong—and foolish—to judge Christians for their theology.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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