The chookwatchers have actually referred to scripture in an article.
Yes, it’s true – in the midst of all their recent regurgitation of questionable media beat-ups by commercial station current affairs programs, they have added a few verses to a post.
“If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!” 1 Corinthians 6: 1-6
It’s marvellous that they do use these verses, because, of course, as Jesus has said, we are judged by the very standards by which we judge others, which equally translates to the truth that we are condemned by the very claims by which we condemn others.
Which is why he counsels against judging others – “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” He goes on to advise us to examine the log in our own eye before judging the speck in another’s eye.
Judgment and courts
Judgement, of course, takes place in a court, whether formal or informal.
So, what would you call a court? Are there not variations in courts? There are official courts where legal decisions are taken, under law and oath, in disputes between parties, or as prosecution of criminal or illegal activities, and there are the less formal courts, for instance, where commentators on community affairs make claims about others in public outlets, such as the media, the press, and, of course, discernment blogs.
Where people are being accused, a court is in session.
So to the chookwatchers‘ sites, now numbering five at the last count. Yes, five sites dedicated to judging a very small number of Christian movements, ministers and churches.
And not small sites. These sites contain hundreds of negative posts of great length, mostly regurgitating previous articles, and consisting of innuendo, supposition, opinion and unproven claims, interspersed with some fact, and, more recently, utilising atheist and secular media opinion, that make judgments about people they do not contact for a response to their claims.
We know it is judgment because, many times, the chookwatchers have been challenged on judging others, and have consequently gone to great lengths to defend their right to judge and condemn, regardless of Jesus’ advice and Biblical principles, including the very verses they published above, which tell us that disputes between Christians should be dealt with in-house and not publicly.
And therein lies the problem for the chookwatchers when they publish the verses above. Are they laying down the same principles they claim others are not? Clearly, they have failed miserably to adhere to their own principles, because their sites in their entirety are dedicated to publicly judging Christians.
Now they will often claim that it is OK to judge these target groups because they are not truly Christian, and, indeed, that suggestion has been made over and over again on their sites.
Christian or not?
Which presents the chookwatchers with a dilemma, because, if these are not Christian groups, as they falsely claim, those groups have every right to use the secular law in any way they deem appropriate.
That is why the law is there – for all citizens to use according to the need. Indeed, there is actually no law against a Christian group using the law of the land to defend their right to a fair hearing, and for security against false claims and accusations.
In fact, we are admonished to obey the law of the land. Therefore, using the law of the land as a defence is entirely appropriate, and even, on occasion, expedient, regardless of whether the groups making the false claims profess to being Christian or not.
The point is, are those supposed Christians acting in a Christian manner? Are they demonstrating Christian principles in a godly way should they lay an accusation against another?
The truth is that the chookwatchers‘ target groups are actually Christian, and must be treated as Christians, regardless of the claims of the chookwatchers or their supporters. So should these groups also be held to the scriptures above? Ostensibly, yes, but that is also a matter of conscience and interpretation.
Of course, we should all take heed of what Paul says, and adhere to the teaching as far as possible. But we need to have a good understanding of what Paul is telling us, and not just fire off scriptures as target practice for people we attempt to put down.
On judging Christians
What does Paul say? “If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people?”
Well, right there, the chookwatchers, should we regard them as Christian, are completely confounded. They clearly have a dispute with Hillsong, C3, City Harvest Church and Yoido Full Gospel Church, amongst others, all of whom are universally regarded as Christian groups, whether the chookwatchers deny it or not.
So, let’s say that the chookwatchers are Christians, and their target groups are Christian. Should they be publicly disputing with them? Clearly not. They should be bringing their dispute before the Lord’s people – in other words, before the Church authorities, and not before the world – the ungodly.
But the chookwatchers utilise the world wide web as their courtroom. They make their judgments in a public arena. Their judgments are globally broadcast.
No defence allowed
Not only this, but they make their judgments as the prosecution, and as the judge, and do not allow a defence. Even the most basic court in a just system has a prosecution, a defence, and a magistrate to adjudicate and ensure that true justice is dealt out.
But all defence is disallowed, ridiculed or even silenced by the chookwatcher courts.
Further, they are admonished by Paul not to take their judgment before the ungodly, and yet, they use the ungodly as their chief witnesses against the accused.
They turn to the secular media and to atheists – the ungodly – to bear witness of the accusations they bring against Christians. This is a clear violation of Paul’s admonition.
As Paul says, “Do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church?”
That is a stinging rejection of the chookwatchers‘ methodology.
They use this scripture in defence of a self-professed atheist whose testimony they use as a witness against Christians. This in itself goes against the very scripture they use. The atheist is not a Christian, and, therefore, does not come under the verses quoted. Theirs is not the dispute of a Christian with another Christian. It is an atheist’s opinion of a Christian movement.
If, at the end of the age, Christians will judge the world, and even judge angels, why, then, are we not able to resolve disputes between Christians without going to court, or making accusation in a public forum? Why present the case before the ungodly world and bring Christ into disrepute? Why use the ungodly as chief witnesses?
Of course, we would prefer that atheists had the opportunity to receive Christ, so this article is not a condemnation of any person for being an atheist, but, rather, it is a defence of the Word of God which is clearly being misrepresented in the chookwatcher article.
Atheists have every right, in our secular democracy, to have an opinion about the church they are railing against. It is a free country in that sense. Equally, the church has a right to ask them not to disturb or disrupt their organised meetings. Selah!
So, are the chookwatchers, by publicly judging others, asking ‘for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church’, as Paul points out? Obviously they are.
Clearly, they are rejecting the very verses they claim are being shunned by Hillsong, in this case, and yet Hillsong is not in dispute with another Christian, but with an atheist with a negative opinion of them, who, with a television crew from an anti-Hillsong program, was seeking to disturb a public Christian meeting.
Wisdom to judge a dispute
And so to the sentences the chookwatchers emphasise.
“I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!”
‘In front of unbelievers’. Indeed. Every article and comment chookwatchers write is presented before unbelievers. They are publicly condemning Christians. They have not made a single attempt to resolve their manifold issues with any of the target groups they accuse.
So is it to their shame, or not, according to Paul? Is there no one wise enough amongst them to judge a dispute between believers and bring the dispute to a conclusion by seeking a resolution that is out of the public domain? It seems not. They prefer to keep the company of the ungodly and use their opinions as a mechanism to accuse the brethren and sow discord.
On a positive note, it is good that the chookwatchers have decided to read their Bibles and attempt to apply Biblical principles to their assessment of others, but they will have to learn how to discern what the scripture is actually saying and apply it to themselves before attempting to relate it to a target group erroneously.
The scriptures are not there to be used in a flippant or unwise manner, or as a legalistic means to attempt to prove a wrongly applied point. That, by the way, is called tempting Christ.
The scripture should first be applied to ourselves before we line it up as a witness against others.
Think about it!