In the Bible, there are two types of judgement. One is a judgement that comes from God and it is based on your actions in life, and the other one is when you commit a sin and need to be forgiven.
When it comes to the Bible, there are many types of judgment: judicial, ethical, and theological. While neither is good for any situation, the different types help determine where we are in the overall scope of God’s plan.
You can soon read an article on two types of judgement that were used in the Bible: first, accusing judgement; second and all-sufficient judgement.
2 Types Of Judgement In The Bible
The first type of judgement is when a person has done something wrong or disobedient to God’s commandments. This can be anything from murder to not keeping the Sabbath day holy. When this happens, God will judge them based on their actions. If they have been disobedient, then he will send them to hell for eternity; if they were obedient then he will send them to heaven for eternity.
The second type of judgement happens when a person commits a sin and needs forgiveness from God so that they can go into heaven after death instead of going straight to hell where no one goes because everyone goes there when they die because it’s where bad people go after death because they’ve committed sins against God himself who created us all in his image which means we should all love him more than anything else in life but instead most people don’t even know about him because he doesn’t exist which makes me wonder why anyone would want to believe in something so unrealistic?
To be sure, getting the right information online doesn’t come easy. However, the article below brings you the best and latest information on judgement of believers and unbelievers, examples of god’s judgement in the bible. We are here to guide you to the answers to your questions concerning what are the two judgements after death I would recommend you save time and effort by visiting our website as soon as possible.
Examples Of Gods Judgement In The Old Testament
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
- Psalm 118:6
Don’t worry about the judgment of others. Often, people judge you based on your appearance, but the Lord judges you by your heart. Don’t judge others based on their appearance, either; rather than looking at what a person does or doesn’t have, consider his motives for doing things and try to love him as he is. Finally, don’t judge others before hearing their side of the story – sometimes we make quick judgments because we know how something looks from our perspective, but we haven’t considered the other person’s circumstances or concerns. If you aren’t willing to hear a person out fully before forming an opinion about him, remember that God does not rush to judgment either – and neither should you.
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
- reproach: the feeling of being ashamed or afraid about something bad that you did:
- sin is a reproach to any people: when other nations see the sin of a nation, they are ashamed of that nation, and do not like it
- when a people has a lot of sin, its reproach will affect how other nations view it; this might include things like going to war with it, attacking it economically; this can weaken the nation
- righteousness exalts a nation: when other nations see the righteousness of a nation, they admire it and want to be friends with its people
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
The phrase “chosen people” appears throughout the Bible and is most associated with the Jewish faith. It is often used to refer to God’s covenant with the ancient Hebrews, who were promised a land of their own by God. In this sense, it is believed that the Jews are God’s chosen people because of his promise to them through Abraham. The Jews themselves have also been referred to as “God’s chosen people” in some contexts for their obedience and fidelity toward God.
However, there are many other verses in which individuals or groups of people are called “chosen” or “a chosen generation” or a “chosen race” in reference to either their faithfulness or obedience, including those who call on Christ’s name and those who remain faithful during trials (1 Peter 2:9).
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
The value of a good name cannot be overstated. A good name is more valuable than great riches, more valuable than gold and silver, and more valuable than being liked by many people (Proverbs 22:1).
A good name can take a lifetime to build up but only moments to destroy.
Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.
The Bible is clear that we are not to judge others by their outward appearance.
But how can we apply this to our daily lives? Here’s how:
- We should not judge others by their external accomplishments, but only by their righteousness.
- We should not judge ourselves or others on the basis of our feelings, but only on the basis of faith in Jesus.
The first one puts up banners as if she were escaping; she runs after them, but does not get away from us, for she has been caught in our snare.
The first kind of judgement is a person. They are running away. They are caught in a snare.
We should make judgements based on appearances and we should make judgements based on righteousness
There is a difference between judging someone on the basis of their appearance, and judging their righteousness. The first type of judgement may appear to be the same as judging based on righteousness, but the two are actually quite different. Failing to make this distinction can result in moral downfall or legal persecution, or both.
Let’s say a student at a university is working on a paper for class when another student walks in and accuses her of being lazy because she doesn’t have anything due until next week. This could look like judging her based on appearance, but it’s really about judging her on the wrongness of laziness. The first student is making a judgement about the second student’s righteousness: she’s assuming that not having anything due means that you’re wasting time by not working ahead, and then telling that person what they should do differently (work ahead). If it turns out that this judgment was wrong though—for example, if the second student had already done all her work—then it would be unfair to accuse them of laziness. On top of being unfair, doing so could negatively impact their academic standing or even lead to public humiliation if enough people repeat false accusations about you within your community.
Another case in point: Let’s say I’m walking down the street with my friend Jack when we see two men arguing with each other passionately in an alleyway near us; let’s call them Adam and Ethan. Based on their body language (Adam has clenched fists), vocal tone (Ethan seems highly defensive), proximity to us (they’re near us!), and our own experiences with physical altercations (we’ve seen them before) we conclude that there is imminent danger present, and prepare for possible attack from either party involved in the altercation. Our assessment that there may be a fight coming up isn’t based on appearances—it’s based on our understanding that punches are thrown during fights; the appearance just tells us what we should expect will happen next!
What is the difference between the Christian’s judgment and the non-Christian’s judgment? The Judgment Seat of Christ is for the commendation of believers, while the Great White Throne Judgment is for the condemnation of unbelievers. The result of the Judgment Seat of Christ will be eternal rewards, while the result of the Great White Throne Judgment will be God’s eternal punishment. And only those who are saved will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Judgment Seat of Christ is not to determine whether somebody goes to Heaven or Hell. If you are a Christian, that has already been decided by your faith in Jesus. If you wait until after you die to choose whether you are going to Heaven or Hell, you will have waited too long. That is a decision you make now by placing your faith in Jesus Christ. The moment you trust in Jesus as your Savior, you are justified in the sight of God. Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That word “justified” means “to declare to be righteous.” It does not matter what you have done, when you trust in Jesus as Savior, He washes it away, and God declares you “not guilty” before Him. When you become a Christian, God no longer sees your sin; He sees the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. That is what it means to be justified: to be in a right relationship with God. Romans 8:1 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If you are a Christian and have been forgiven by God, then you never have to worry that one day God is going to condemn you.
God’s justification exempts us from God’s condemnation, but it does not exempt us from God’s evaluation. After you become a Christian, you no longer have to worry about God’s condemnation, but you still need to be mindful of His evaluation of your life. That is why 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “We [Christians] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” Every one of us will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ–no exceptions. Paul wrote, “We also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (5:9). Knowing that we will stand before that evaluation, we ought to have as our one aim in life to be pleasing to God.
When does this judgment of Christians take place? It does not happen the moment we die. Although the Bible does not tell us exactly, I believe it happens at the Rapture of the Church, at the beginning of the Tribulation on earth. Revelation 4:10 says before the Tribulation, the 24 elders in Heaven are wearing their crowns and praising God. The 24 elders represent the Church, so apparently Christians have already been rewarded at the beginning of the Tribulation. And Revelation 19:8 says, “It was given to her [the Church] to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Apparently by this time, those of us who are Christians will have received our rewards.
Things You Should Know About The Judgment Of The Believer
The single most explicit biblical text on the judgment that awaits every Christian is found in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10. There Paul writes this: “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
(1) First, who is to be judged? Whereas it is possible that all mankind are included here, the broader context in 2 Corinthians 4-5 suggests that believers only are in view. Murray Harris has also pointed out that wherever Paul speaks of the recompense, according to works, of all people (such as in Romans 2:6), “there is found a description of two mutually exclusive categories of people (Rom. 2:7-10), not a delineation of two types of action [such as “whether good or evil” here in v. 10] which may be predicated of all people” (406).
(2) What is the nature or purpose of the judgment? In one of the most encouraging and liberating texts in the New Testament, Paul wrote: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). In other words, whatever else Paul may have in mind in 2 Corinthians 5, if you are “in Christ Jesus” by faith you need never, ever fear condemnation.
Therefore, the purpose of this particular judgment is not penal or retributive, but is designed to assess the works of Christians in order that the appropriate reward and praise may be assigned to them. We do not read here of a declaration of doom, but an assessment of worth. Eternal destiny is not at issue; eternal reward is (see John 3:18; 5:24; Rom. 5:8-9; and 1 Thess. 1:10). This judgment is an evaluation of faithfulness and service within God’s family. This judgment does not determine entrance into the kingdom, but rather the status of those already admitted. Eternal destiny is not at issue; eternal reward is. This judgment is not designed to determine entrance into the kingdom of God but reward or status or authority within it.
(3) When does this judgment occur: At the moment of physical death? During the intermediate state? At the second coming of Christ? Paul doesn’t seem concerned to specify when. The most that we can be sure of is that it happens after death (see Heb. 9:27). Having said that, I’m inclined to think it happens at the second coming of Christ (cf. Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12), at the close of human history, most likely in conjunction with that larger assize that will include all unbelievers, known to students of the Bible as the Great White Throne judgment (see Revelation 20:11ff.).
(4) We should also take note of the inevitability of judgment for everyone (“we must all appear”). This is not a day that can be set aside as irrelevant or unnecessary. It is essential for God to bring to consummation his redemptive purpose and to fully honor the glory of his name among his people. No one is exempt. Paul himself anticipated standing at this judgment, for it served (at least in part) as the motivation for his grace-energized efforts to “please” the Lord (v. 9).
(5) Paul emphasizes its individuality (“each one”). As important as it is to stress the corporate and communal nature of our life as the body of Christ, each person will be judged individually (no doubt, at least in part, concerning how faithful each person was to his or her corporate responsibilities!). Paul said it in similar terms in Romans 14:12 – “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
(6) We should observe the mode or manner of this judgment (“we must all appear”). We do not merely “show up” at the judgment seat of Christ but are laid bare before him. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:5, the Lord “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.” Murray Harris is right that “not merely an appearance or self-revelation, but, more significantly, a divine scrutiny and disclosure, is the necessary prelude to the receiving of appropriate recompense” (405).
Is it not sobering to think that every random thought, every righteous impulse, every secret prayer, hidden deed, long-forgotten sin or act of compassion will be brought into the open for us to acknowledge and for the Lord to judge? But don’t forget: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)!
(7) This judgment has an identity all its own (it is the “judgment seat of Christ”). Most Christians are by now familiar with the term used here: bema. The use of this word in v. 10 “would have been particularly evocative for Paul and the Corinthians since it was before Gallio’s tribunal in Corinth that Paul had stood some four years previously (in A.D. 52) when the proconsul dismissed the charge that Paul had contravened Roman law (Acts 18:12-17). Archaeologists have identified this Corinthian bema which stands on the south side of the agora” (Harris, 406).
(8) The judge himself is clearly identified (it is the “judgment seat of Christ”). This is consistent with what we read in John 5:22 where Jesus said that “the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.”
(9) Of critical importance is the standard of judgment (“what he has done in the body, whether good or evil”). Reference to the “body” indicates that the judgment concerns what we do in this life, not what may or may not be done during the time of the intermediate state itself.
According to the ESV, we receive “what is due”. In other words, and somewhat more literally, we will be judged “in accordance with” or perhaps even “in proportion to” deeds done. The deeds are themselves characterized as either “good” (those which “please” Christ, as in v. 9) or “bad” (those which do not please him).
(10) Finally, the result of the judgment is not explicitly stated but is certainly implied. All will “receive” whatever their deeds deserve. There is a reward or recompense involved. Paul is slightly more specific in 1 Corinthians 3:14-15. There he writes: “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” The “reward” is not defined and the likelihood is that the “loss” suffered is the “reward” that he or she would otherwise have received had they obeyed.
Can anything more definitive be said about the nature of this recompense? Jesus mentions a “great” “reward” in heaven, but doesn’t elaborate (Matt. 5:11-12). In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25; cf. Luke 19:12-27) he alludes to “authority” or dominion of some sort (but over whom or what?). Paul says that “whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord” (Eph. 6:8).
According to 1 Corinthians 4:5, following the judgment “each one will receive his commendation from God”. Both Romans 8:17-18 and 2 Corinthians 4:17 refer to a “glory” that is reserved for the saints in heaven. And of course we should consider the many promises in the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3, although it is difficult to know if they are bestowed now, during the intermediate state, or only subsequent to the second coming, and if they are granted in differing degrees depending on service and obedience or are equally distributed among God’s children (see Rev. 2:7, 10, 17, 23; 3:5, 12, 21; cf. also Matt. 18:4; 19:29; Luke 14:11; James 1:12).
Perhaps the differing nature and degree of reward will be manifest in the depths of knowledge and enjoyment of God that each person experiences. People often balk at this notion, but they shouldn’t. Here is how I explained it in my book, One Thing.
“Hardly anything will bring you more joy [in heaven] than to see other saints with greater rewards than you, experiencing greater glory than you, given greater authority than you! There will be no jealousy or pride to fuel your unhealthy competitiveness. There will be no greed to energize your race to get more than everyone else. You will then delight only in delighting in the delight of others. Their achievement will be your greatest joy. Their success will be your highest happiness. You will truly rejoice with those who rejoice. Envy comes from lack. But in heaven there is no lack. Whatever you need, you get. Whatever desires may arise, they are satisfied.
The fact that some are more holy and more happy than others will not diminish the joy of the latter. There will be perfect humility and perfect resignation to God’s will in heaven, hence no resentment or bitterness. Also, those higher in holiness will, precisely because they are holy, be more humble. The essence of holiness is humility! The very vice that might incline them to look condescendingly on those lower than themselves is nowhere present. It is precisely because they are more holy that they are so very humble and thus incapable of arrogance and elitism.
They will not strut or boast or use their higher degrees of glory to humiliate or harm those lower. Those who know more of God will, because of that knowledge, think more lowly and humbly of themselves. They will be more aware of the grace that accounts for their holiness than those who know and experience less of God, hence, they will be more ready to serve and to yield and to go low and to defer.
Some people in heaven will be happier than others. But this is no reason for sadness or anger. In fact, it will serve only to make you happier to see that others are more happy than you! Your happiness will increase when you see that the happiness of others has exceeded your own. Why? Because love dominates in heaven and love is rejoicing in the increase of the happiness of others. To love someone is to desire their greatest joy. As their joy increases, so too does yours in them. If their joy did not increase, neither would yours. We struggle with this because now on earth our thoughts and desires and motives are corrupted by sinful self-seeking, competitiveness, envy, jealousy, and resentment” (180-81).
Two closing comments are in order. First, our deeds do not determine our salvation, but demonstrate it. They are not the root of our standing with God but the fruit of it, a standing already attained by faith alone in Christ alone. The visible evidence of an invisible faith are the “good” deeds that will be made known at the judgment seat of Christ.
Second, don’t be afraid that, with the exposure and evaluation of your deeds, regret and remorse will spoil the bliss of heaven. If there be tears of grief for opportunities squandered, or tears of shame for sins committed, he will wipe them away (Rev. 20:4a). The ineffable joy of forgiving grace will swallow up all sorrow, and the beauty of Christ will blind you to anything other than the splendor of who he is and what he has, by grace, accomplished on your behalf.
Judgement Of Believers And Unbelievers
Many Bible interpreters assume there is only one judgment at the end of the age, a judgment that separates believers from unbelievers. This causes major problems in harmonizing some Scriptures. For example, in John 5:24 Jesus says that anyone who believes in Him “shall not come into judgment,” but in 2 Corinthians 5:10 Paul says of believers, “. . . we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” If these speak of the same judgment, they would be in contradiction. How should we view these coming judgments?
Distinguishing between the two judgments
All people face a judgment (Heb. 9:27). The Bible speaks of two great coming judgments (though we also recognize specific judgments for Jews and Gentiles who live in or through the Tribulation; e.g., Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:4-5). Both judgments involve people’s works.
The first is a final judgment of condemnation for only unbelievers. John 5:24 relates to those who believe in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life. They will not have to face the final judgment of Revelation 20:11-15, a judgment of unbelievers after Christ’s return to earth as King. Works are mentioned there as evidence that their condemnation and suffering is deserved.
The Bible also speaks clearly about a judgment facing only believers, called the Judgment Seat of Christ (Greek, bema). In this judgment, believers will not be judged for their faith in Christ as Savior, but for their faithfulness in following Christ as Lord. There, believers will have to give an account for how they used their lives. One’s works determines whether one is rewarded or denied rewards.
These two judgments can be compared in this chart:
|Which Judgment?||Great White Throne||Judgment Seat of Christ|
|Who is judged?||Only Unbelievers||Only believers|
|When is the judgment?||After the Millennium||After the Rapture and before the Marriage Supper of the Lamb|
|What is the witness?||Books and the Book of Life||Each person gives account|
|What is the role of works?||Evidence for condemnation and degree of suffering||Basis for rewards or denial of rewards|
|What is the final result?||Eternal condemnation||Rewards bestowed or withheld|
|What is the issue?||Faith in Christ as Savior||Faithfulness to Christ as Lord|
|What are the main Bible passages?||Dan. 12:1-3; John 5:22-29;Rev. 20:11-15||Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15;4:1-5; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:8|
The difference it makes
If the two coming judgments are confused into one general judgment, then good works become necessary for salvation, because works play a role in both judgments. Of course, this would contradict clear statements of Scripture such as Romans 3:19-4:5; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9, and Titus 3:5. It would be impossible to say that we are saved by grace as a free gift from God. Works are mentioned in both judgments, but never as the basis or condition for salvation.
This would also radically change the motivation for godly conduct. External good works would be sought as evidence of salvation, or conversely, the fear of insufficient works would leave many in doubt of their salvation and in fear of eternal condemnation. The focus on outward conduct can be deceptive and detract from true inner godliness. Living in doubt and fear about one’s salvation is never a good basis for growing in grace.
Confusion of the two judgments would also undermine the accountability of Christians as a motivation for godly conduct. Believers who do not fear condemnation find the freedom to live their lives in light of their final evaluation at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Having their eternal salvation secure should motivate believers to serve God and live godly because of love and gratitude toward God. The fear factor is removed, as far as eternal salvation is concerned.
How Many Types Of Judgement In The Bible
There are at least 19 different kinds of judgment that we should distinguish. I’m sorry I could not find a 20th, to match the number of digits on our fingers and toes. But 19 does match the digits of Frodo Baggins, one of my heroes. (I’m sure you remember Frodo of the Nine Fingers, and Gollum of the Eleven.) The importance of the topic wisely assigned to me—judgment—is obvious. For one thing, making judgments is a privilege of persons only. For another thing it is necessary, both to live well on earth and to enter Heaven.
I will say one thing about each of these 19 kinds of judgments. It may not be the most important or most fundamental thing that can be said about them, but it will be a point I believe is important enough to take two minutes, of a captive audience’s precious time to think about.
The first kind of judgment is judgment as such, judgment in the abstract. By this I mean the logical form of judgments: the affirmation or denial that a predicate belongs to a subject, that some state of affairs is true or is not true. This is “the second act of the mind” in traditional Scholastic logic, and the only one that contains truth. The first act of the mind, simple apprehension or conception, does not contain truth because it merely conceives of concepts, which are neither true nor false, but are the raw material or contents of true or false judgments. Thus neither the concept “apples” nor the concept “fruits” is true or false, but the judgment “Apples are fruits” is true. The third act of the mind, reasoning, moves from the presupposed truth of one or more judgments, as premises, to the truth of another judgment, as the conclusion to be proved. Concepts tell us what, judgments tell us whether, and reasoning tells us why. We understand essences in concepts, existence in judgments, and causes in reasoning.
Because concepts attain only essences while existence is attained only in judgments, this essential logical structure of thought implies the distinction between essence and existence, one of the most important principles of metaphysics and the basis for Aquinas’ best proof for the existence of God: the proof from contingent beings to a necessary being—that is, from the premise of the existence of beings whose essence is not existence to the conclusion of the existence of a being whose essence is existence, as the only adequate answer to the question of why these other existing things exist. If their existence does not come from within their own essence, it must come from outside, from a cause. Only a Being whose essence is existence can explain the existence of beings whose essence is not existence, as their cause. Only a Being that explains itself can explain the beings that do not explain themselves.
The distinction between essence and existence, and between concepts and judgments, also explains why St. Anselm’s famous “ontological argument” is invalid: it confuses essence and existence, treating existence as an essence, a “what”, or a property. My point here is how centrally important it is that only judgments attain ontological existence and logical truth. When we investigate concrete particular judgments rather than the universal, abstract, logical form of judgments, we find that they are made either by humans, or angels, or God, who are the only three kinds of personal beings we know, except for lawyers and Deconstructionists.
Section I: Human Judgments
Let’s look at human judgments first, for obvious reasons. Within human judgments, the most fundamental distinction is between theoretical and practical judgments, i.e. judgments of truth and judgments of goodness. All judgments are made by the intellect but theoretical judgments regulate thought while practical judgments regulate practice, or life, or action.
Our second kind of judgment is the theoretical judgment. It is very significant, and the primary cause of the decline in the popularity of classical education, that the words “theoretical,” “speculative,” and “contemplative,” have all lost their honorable connotations in our culture. Instead of referring to truth, the words “theoretical” and “speculative” both now connote “uncertainty.” And “contemplative” is limited to monks and mystics. This is a symptom of deep cultural decay, and stems largely from Francis Bacon, who announced a radically new Summum bonum (greatest good) for our culture: the conquest of nature by applied science. In other words not truth but power; not conforming the human mind to reality but conforming reality to the human will.
An icon of this cultural decadence can be seen near my home town, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is supremely ironic that Veritas (Truth), the official motto of the flagship educational institution of America, Harvard University, is a word that is never uttered inside most of the humanities courses on that campus without ironic quotation marks around it. In a Baconian civilization, our art forms, especially movies, get by telling limitless lies about life while infallibly improving their special effects. In other words, technology trumps truth.
Practical Judgments About Goodness
But enough about the twelfth kind of judgment, theoretical judgments of truth. My next eleven kinds of judgment will all be practical judgments about goodness. This group of eleven begins with the third kind of judgment—a judgment about practical judgments—namely, the judgment on the part of most modern philosophers that there is an absolute gap between theoretical judgments of fact and practical judgments of value. This dogma of the absolute fact-value distinction is the justification for moral relativism, the idea that values are relative to our subjective feelings and choices rather than to objective truth. Moral relativism is the disease that C.S. Lewis, a sophisticated and polite Oxonian, said “will certainly damn our souls and end our species.”
It will damn our souls because salvation requires repentance, which in turn requires admission of sin, which in turn requires a real, objective moral law to sin against, which requires objective values. It will end our species because it amounts to a consciencectomy, as in Brave New World. Those people are not humans, they are yuppies. Their bodies look human but their souls look like puppies. If and only if values and facts are not absolutely distinct, if values are a special kind of facts, can moral values can be objectively real and can there be a natural moral law. (Notice how much more uncomfortable and demanding the word “law” is than the word “values.”) But if not, not. If the fundamental principle of morality is that “Good is to be done and evil is to be avoided,” then ought depends on is, ethics depends on metaphysics and reason. If, instead, morality is simply the command of the will that makes the rules of the game, then moral law is a dictate of will, not of reason—which is the philosophy of Nominalists, Asharites, fundamentalists, Euthyuphro, Ockham, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, Hitler, and Satan. God says “Come let us reason together.” Satan does not. God appeals to reason, Caesar appeals to force.
That is, unless our Caesars are classically educated, in the tradition of Plato and Aristotle. On the very first page of Plato’s Republic there is a little scene that sets the fateful choice for Western civilization. Socrates, with a few companions, meets a larger group of friends and there is a contest of wills. The larger group wants Socrates to change his plans and come with them, and their spokesman says to Socrates, “You see how many we are, so either dig in your heels and stay here or else fight us.” And Socrates replies, “Surely there is a third alternative: that we persuade you that you ought to let us go.” Rational moral persuasion—the key to the good society for Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and medieval Christendom. And we? Are we Platonists or Machiavellians?
If we believe in a real natural moral law, a fourth kind of judgment becomes possible: the judgment about these real moral goods. The word “good” has three basic meanings, says Aristotle, the master of common sense: the moral good, the pleasant good, and the useful good. Judgments about pleasure and utility can still be made without a natural moral law, but real moral judgments cannot. Aquinas sees these judgments as most fundamentally about ends. Like Aristotle, he is teleological. Kant sees them as most fundamentally about duties. But both believe reason can make moral judgments because reason knows the moral absolute, whether it is the ultimate rational end of Eudaimonia (blessedness, true happiness) or the ultimate rational duty of the Categorical Imperative. It is not feeling or desire or passion that makes moral judgments, but reason—reason in the old, honorable, broad, ancient sense rather than in the narrowed, modern, computerlike sense. Philosophers who thought that moral judgments are made by the latter type of reason, philosophers like Hobbes, Rousseau, Hume, Mill, Marx, and Russell, do not have an incomplete moral philosophy, they have none at all, just as a primitive who makes up fantastic stories about the constellations does not have a primitive astronomical science but no science at all.
A fifth kind of judgment concerns how we can rightly make these moral judgments. How can we judge how to judge morally? And the answer comes from our two paragons of common sense, Aristotle and Christ. Aristotle says we must be good in order to make good moral judgments; that we must cultivate moral habits, and thus moral character, by repeated right choices of the will, if we are to be morally wise and perceive moral good and evil rightly with the intellect. The will should obey the intellect but the intellect also needs to be educated by the moral will. The good will tames the intellect as a woman tames a man. It’s like the classic line from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding: “The man is the head of the woman, but the woman is the neck that turns the head.” Christ appeals to this same psychological principle when speaking of the religious good, when he answers the Pharisees’ question “How can we understand your teaching, and whether it is from God?” by saying that “If your will were to do the will of God, you would understand my teaching, and that it is from Him.” That is the basic principle of Biblical hermeneutics in one sentence.
A sixth kind of judgment is the prudential judgment about how to attain pleasure, happiness, or joy, three ever-deepening levels of the same thing, though we do not have a single generic word for it. This is the that which desirable for its own sake rather than as a means to some further end, not because it is our moral duty, but just because it satisfies our restless heart. Some fools judge pleasure to be enough, and some misjudge even what things will give them pleasure (money, power, and drugs are obvious examples). But pleasure and even happiness gets boring; only joy satisfies us. So if we are wise we will not compromise this goal nor settle for anything less. In other words we will give Aquinas’ answer to God’s question to him, “You have written well of me, Thomas; what will you have as a reward?” Thomas’ answer was: “Only Yourself, Lord.” Have three wiser words ever been spoken?
A seventh kind of practical judgment is judgment of utility: what means will best attain our end, whether pleasure or morality? Experience is the only answer to how to judge what to do to attain pleasure. On the other hand, commandments, both externally revealed to Moses and internally known by conscience, are the answer to how to judge what to do and what not to do to attain moral goodness. These commandments are very easy to know and hard to obey, so our sophists have cleverly solved that problem by making them harder to know and easier to obey, or at least harder to disobey; in fact sophists making them harder to disobey precisely by making them harder to know, i.e. by nuancing them and juggling them and doing fancy little dances around them. The first sophist was the devil, in Eden: “Did God really say that?”
An eighth kind of judgment is not the judgment of natural law or natural good, but positive law and positive goods, such as man-made laws, human laws. This is the kind of judgment made by professional lawmakers, professional law-enforcers, and professional law-interpreters, i.e. congressmen, policemen and judges. I have little to say about judging what laws to make, or how to enforce them better, but I have something to say about judging what the motive for sanctions and punishments must be, because it is an answer most intellectuals in our society now deny. The essential motive for punishment should not be rehabilitation or deterrence but justice. Even though charity is the highest motive, and your personal motive for rehabilitation is charity to the criminal whom you want to rehabilitate, and even though your personal motive for deterrence is also charity to possible future victims that you want to protect, while the personal motive for justice, even when it is not confused with vengeance and hatred, is not this personal charity, it is essential that justice be the first motive and the absolute standard. Otherwise, we will give unjust, undeserved punishments just because we think they will work better to rehabilitate or deter. Judgments as to what will rehabilitate or deter are uncertain because they depend on our very fallible predictions of the future and our very fallible understanding of the criminal’s character. Judgments of positive-law justice, on the other hand, do not depend on these two uncertainties and thus can be much clearer. And so are judgments about natural-law justice, to everyone but a sophist.
A ninth, and closely related kind of judgment that is often made by federal judges or supreme court judges in our society today, in interpreting the law, is often called “dynamic” or “creative” or “progressive” or ” flexible” interpretations. These are what allow “judicial activism.” It is exactly parallel to “dynamic” or “creative” or “progressive” or “flexible” interpretations of the Bible, by which you can make the Bible to teach pretty much anything you want, from flat earth science to Communist revolution. The same judicial philosophy which, in Dred Scott, found that black slaves were only semi-human property rather than persons, found the privacy rights in the Constitution’s “penumbra” that justified the murder of a baby in the womb. It might find anything else there tomorrow; anything at all. The philosophical principle here is simple: we do not discover and obey truth, we create it with our judgments. Truth is not the subordination of thought to reality but to our will. In the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy in Casey vs. Planned Parenthood, “at the heart of liberty is the right to define for oneself the meaning of life and the mystery of existence.” In other words, “God, you have to get out; you’re sitting in my seat.”
Still another kind of positive judgment—this is our tenth kind—is made not by individual judges but by a public community as a whole. This used to mean representational democracy, in which important issues were decided by the judgment of concrete individual persons, by popular vote, either directly, by referendum, or indirectly, by electing representatives. Today it is the unelected media and climate of opinion they create that determines the most important issues. It is what de Tocqueville prophetically called “soft totalitarianism.” The most influential philosopher who defended this is Rousseau, with his notion of the infallibility of “the general will.” It is “the general will,” or the Zeitgeist, that influences the judgments of our unelected judiciary on such momentous issues as redefining marriage. The issues judged by the judiciary are typically much more culturally, morally, and personally important than the largely economic issues determined by Congress or the President.
Judgments about Persons
Another way of classifying judgments is in terms of their personal objects. We can judge God, ourselves, and others. Let these be our eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth kinds of judgments.
Regarding judging God, I already mentioned one way this is now done, by a “creative” interpretation of the law. A creator, as distinct from an interpreter, has no data and no bounds, so that his judgments are never wrong. Moose are large and geckos are small only because the real world limits our creativity, but elves can be either large, as in Tolkien, or small, as in Shakespeare, whatever we desire. How do we do this to God? George Bernard Shaw tells us: “They say God created us in his own image, but we’ve been returning the compliment to Him ever since.”
Careful, though. Because there are many gods on the market, we must judge among the various candidates, and in that sense judge God. Otherwise we simply arbitrarily decree which god is God. And the two standards are truth and goodness, rationality and morality. We must judge any logically self-contradictory God and any evil God to be false and unworthy of belief, because we have these two absolute standards in our own souls that are absolute, indubitable, and self-justifying. We literally cannot believe anything that is so irrational as to be self-contradictory, and therefore literally meaningless, even if we call it God; and we literally cannot accept what is intrinsically unacceptable because it is logically self-contradictory, or love what is really, literally unlovable. God Himself has placed these two prophets in our conscience, and when we use them honestly and in submission to objective truth and goodness rather than our own will, we judge with divine authority. A meaningless self-contradiction does not suddenly become meaningful and believable, and an intrinsic evil does not suddenly become good, when someone says “God can do it.” God can do what is physically impossible but not what is logically or morally impossible. That is why Christ had to die: because God could not simply pretend we had not sinned, or say “Justice? Forget about it.”
Our twelfth kind of judgment is judging ourselves. This is subject to a cruel trilemma. If we judge ourselves, we must find ourselves either morally good, or morally wicked, or halfway in between. If we judge ourselves as morally good, we become self-satisfied Pharisees. If we judge ourselves as morally wicked, we become self-loathing worms who cannot love our neighbors as we love ourselves because we cannot love ourselves. And if we judge ourselves as halfway between, as mediocre, as wishy-washy, we are lukewarm Laodiceans who deserve the shocking divine word of judgment in Revelation. The word is: “vomit.” Look it up. The solution is simple: we should judge our sins but not our selves. If we habitually look at God instead of ourselves, we will not succumb to anyone of the three horns of the trilemma, for in the light of His face we cannot judge ourselves to be worthy, or worthless, or waffling.
Our thirteenth kind of judgment, judging other individuals, is, as we all know, dangerous and forbidden by Christ Himself because judging persons as distinct from actions is God’s prerogative. Of course that does not forbid us to judge actions, for to do that would undermine all morality. Today there is only one class of people who always deny this distinction, between sins and sinners, actions and persons; who say that their whole personal identity is what they do and therefore if we reject what they do we reject what they are; that to hate their lifestyle is to hate them, the whole, the person, the I. That is a religious judgment, to identify something with the whole self. These people who support this new religion now rule the media, in fact so well that I would probably be prosecuted for “hate speech” if I dared to identify them, though we all know who they are. They are the only people in the world, other than Muslim terrorists, who are obeying Churchill’s formula for winning a war, whether a military war or a culture war: “Never, never, never, never, never give up.”
Section II: Non-Human Judgments
All thirteen kinds of judgment so far are made by humans. There is a fourteenth kind of judgment because there exist, in addition to humans, one other known species of created persons: angels. Their judgment, according to “The Angelic Doctor,” Thomas Aquinas, is more like that of a woman than that of a man: intuitive rather than ratiocinative, “big picture” synthetic rather than step-by-step analytic. Therefore they are good instruments of divine providence, being closer to the mind of the Author of our human drama than we are. We should cultivate their friendship and pray for their inspirations, and trust them when they come, because their judgments are by nature wiser than ours. (This is also true of women, by the way, if I may speak as a man to other men and pretend that women are not listening and giving us that “I told you so” look that makes us feel and look like deflated tires.)
Finally, God judges, in at least five ways: to create, to identify, to provide, to incarnate, and to consummate. He gives us our universe, our personal identity, our lifelong provision, our salvation, and our glorification.
He created the universe freely, not necessarily, so He judged that it was good to create, both before and after He created. That is the fourteenth kind of judgment, the kind employed by angels. “Good, good, good,” he muttered, judgmentally, after each day’s work of creation. The answer to the atheist’s strongest argument, the problem of evil, is here, in this judgment: that it was better to create a large family of mankind even foreseeing that they would be severely retarded delinquents, than not to create us at all, or even not to create anything at all, and to keep everything safe and perfect, like a yuppie couple who refuse children. Thank God, God is a little crazy. As my grandmother once said, “having fits is more rational than having children.” But we cannot rationally justify God’s judgment that it was better to create than not to create, for there is no higher standard, no premise, from which we can deduce that conclusion. If the universe were necessary, we could be sure of it; but since it is contingent, we can only be thankful for it.That is judgment fifteen, and divine judgment one.
Judgment sixteen (divine judgment two), is the judgment that it was not only good but “very good” to create us in His image. Since God’s own eternal essence, revealed only once, to Moses in the Burning Bush, is Person as well as Being, I as well as AM, He shared that image, that I-ness, that personhood, that subjectivity, that spiritual self-consciousness, with us. And since He is the Author of our very existence, we have no identity apart from Him any more than Hamlet has identity apart from Shakespeare. When He said “Let there be Peter Kreeft,” He judged this confused, fearful ball of animal string that rolls down the world’s gravity slopes unraveling the strands of its identity with every turn, to be something good to create. And even though that is crazy, it is sacrilege for me to disagree with Him, to judge contrary to His judgment.
Our judgment seventeen, and divine judgment three, is divine providence. The three presuppositions of divine providence are the three most non-negotiable premises of theism, that God is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-benevolent. To judge all three as true logically entail the astonishing conclusion of Romans 8:28, that He works all things, even evils, together for our ultimate good if only we let Him by trusting Him and loving Him and entering into the bloodstream or life-stream of His will, which directs all the growth of our souls and bodies by what He judges best for us in the end. It is certainly difficult to believe this, and to trust Him that much, as Job discovered in his own experience, but it is as necessary as it is difficult. For the alternative is to deny either His omnipotence, or His omniscience, or His omnibelevolence, or the laws of logic-all of which are non-negotiable. He is our perfect guru, and every event He brings into our life is a move on His chessboard against the devil and the devil’s pawns, which are the world and the flesh. God does not make any wrong moves or lose any games. His judgment is perfect.
Judgment eighteen, and divine judgment four, is His judgment that it was best to incarnate His Son to give His body and blood—all twelve quarts of it—for our salvation. This too is a judgment we cannot understand or prove by any prior premises that are available to the human mind, and therefore one that we can only accept with gratitude and wonder, as we accept creation and providence. Gabriel Marcel made famous the distinction between problems and mysteries: problems can be solved because they are outside us; mysteries cannot because the solver is himself the problem. In Marcel’s words, a mystery is a problem that encroaches upon its own data. God judged the problem of human life to be a mystery and solved it by becoming it. “He became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” C.S. Lewis said that if the theologians only completely understood that little word “in” they would have no questions left.
Judgment nineteen, and divine judgment five, is “the last judgment.” To consummate our creation, providential preservation, identity and redemption, God gives us our perfect ion, our sanctification and glorification. If we saw, in our present condition, the perfected saint that we are destined to be in Heaven, we would probably fall down on our faces in worship. It is His mercy that keeps us in ignorance of our own future glory. But He gives us hints. In the Song of Songs, the divine bridegroom says to His human bride, “Behold, you are all fair, my love; there is not a spot or a wrinkle in you.” That is the last judgment. What is usually called the last judgment is preliminary to that: the separation of the sheep and the goats, the saved and the damned, the ones who say to God “Thy will be done” and the ones to whom God says “Thy will be done” (to quote Lewis again). All get what they want: the damned get justice and the saved get mercy. The next-to-last judgment is justice, but the last judgment is mercy.
Since this talk is to an audience, a twentieth type of judgment arises after all—your judgment on it now, on nineteen points of my judgments about judgment. I can only say to you what I will say to God at the Last Judgment: I am not such a fool as to ask for His justice, only for his mercy.
This is the revised text of the address presented to the CiRCE Institute Annual Conference given July 19, 2013 and is published here by permission of the author.