I am told that if someone ‘loves God’ and ‘loves their neighbor’ that they are nice Christians and I mustn’t judge.
But how do I know if they ‘love God’ and ‘love their neighbor’? What sort of objective criteria do we have for such judgements? Those who love God keep his commandments. So we avoid sentimental or subjective judgements and see if the person keeps God’s commandments. If they formally allow for divorce and remarriage, homosexual ‘marriage’, abortion and contraception, if beneath the surface they are greedy, liars who manipulate and control others for power, then even if they are nice, prayerful, respectable, intellectual and seemingly pious, well mannered people then they don’t love God. They are, in fact, in rebellion against God.
Secondly, people can be said to love God if they love the Truth that he has revealed to humanity. Therefore, if a person who calls himself ‘Christian’ actually formally denies miracles, denies the historicity of the incarnation and virgin birth, denies the historicity of the resurrection and the reality of heaven and hell. If they deny the simple and honest interpretation of the historic creeds of Christendom, then it would be inconsistent to say that they ‘love God’. They cannot love God if they deny the light and truth that he has revealed to his people, and no amount of religiosity, piety and good works can change that fact.
Do they love their neighbor? Now the question becomes very interesting, because I would argue that one cannot truly love one’s neighbor in the Christian sense if one does not wish for the salvation of their eternal soul. Oh yes, we can give food and clothing and shelter to our neighbor, and this is always a good and noble thing, but does it count as ‘loving one’s neighbor’ in the fullest Christian sense? I think not.
Therefore, can a person who denies God’s revealed moral law and denies the doctrines that are revealed by God and affirmed by his Holy Church actually truly and fully ‘love his neighbor’? No, because without a full understanding and participation in God’s moral law and doctrinal revelation they cannot love God fully, not can they love their neighbor fully for they cannot assist their neighbor to the greatest blessing of all–which is their soul’s salvation.
I am not loving my neighbor therefore if I condone and bless their sinful lifestyle. Neither can I say that I love my neighbor is I communicate to him a version of the Christian gospel which is–in fact–heretical.
This sounds harsh, and I am not on a campaign to judge other individuals. However, I do wish to avoid the sentimentality and mushy subjectivism that pretends that just because a person seems nice, respectable, religious, pious and socially involved that they are ‘good Christians’. Fact is, we don’t know if they are or not, but we can see what they believe and how they behave and make some tentative judgements.
And that’s okay if you begin the judgment with the person in the mirror.
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