It's not for us to judge
It’s not for us to judge
A recent letter cited the first chapter of the book of Isaiah as representing a picture of America today. Without noting anything specific, she concluded that liberals have removed biblical principles from American life.
Such a superficial draping of oneself with the Bible as a means of judging others is not a biblical principle, and is part of the reason the Bible is one of the most divisive instruments in our culture. It poisons respectful dialogue.
The first chapter contains the words, “Come now let us reason together…” famously quoted by Lyndon Johnson. The writer does anything but.
If we are going to compare our culture with that indicted by Isaiah, we should look at the whole book. Its primary indictments are: 1. material and economic disparities marked by stark contrasts of odious wealth with unwelcoming indifference to the plight of powerless poor minorities; 2. dishonesty and dishonest practices in the market place and public square; 3. smug confidence in weapons and militarism; and 4. pious slogans and individual practices rendered hypocritical by simultaneous breeches of distributive societal justice.
Judged against these indictments (especially chapters 5,7,10,31,58,59), Americans have plenty of blame to go around.
The writer cites hope in Isaiah. But by chapter 6, Isaiah was no longer asked to preach repentance. That opportunity had passed. His task then was only to announce a coming judgment at the hands Assyria, Babylon and Persia — powers representing other creeds! Isaiah’s culture was judged capable of seeing the light regarding their failings only from a perspective of deep darkness.
For decades some theologians have argued that modern theologies of glory have similarly blinded American religion, making future darkness also a prerequisite to see the light — not popular theology. But if true, we may also be losing control.