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The Life Foundations Nexus

 

 

CRITICISM AND DISCERNMENT

 

 

Copyright August 17, 2005 9:41 AM CST

By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti

 

 

 

It is true that most people have some degree of discernment.  Discernment is “the ability to ‘just know’ that something is good or evil” (“to discern both good and evil” – Hebrews 5:14).  Now, what part does discernment have in criticism?  Discernment is only allowed when one is addressing “that which CAN BE good or evil.”  For example, a mouse is neither good nor evil.  Also, a mouse in your morning cereal is neither good nor evil.  On the other hand, eating your morning cereal with a mouse in it is evil.

 

Good and evil each have a dual nature.  These are the “moral” and the “prudential.”  The moral is the “implicit decree of God.”  In the case of good, it is the “implicit decree of God that a thing MAY be pursued.”  In the case of evil, it is the “implicit decree of God that a thing MUST be avoided.”  The prudential is “knowledge gained from training and/or experience regarding ‘natural promises’ (the ‘promises’ of nature) of help and harm.”  In the case of good, it is “the knowledge of the natural promise of help.”  In the case of evil, it is the “knowledge of the natural promise of harm.”

 

Now, how do we know whether a thing CAN BE good or evil?  The nature of good and evil involves the PRUDENTIAL.  This means that there MUST be training and/or experience underlying the knowledge of good or evil (also see “by reason of use” – Hebrews 5:14).  In a process of criticism, one has “an object of criticism.”  This object of criticism must be compared to PREVIOUS “training and/or experience.”  Here is where many critics go wrong (and this applies to both pro KJV people and anti KJV people).  What training and/or experience is allowed?  Are you allowed to use your experience of other people “in the same category as the person you are evaluating”?  The answer is no.  Such action is called STEREOTYPING.

 

STEREOTYPING IS NEVER ALLOWED IN FAIR AND HONEST DEBATE AND CRITICISM.

 

Ah, but what if you have “a special, divine revelation that allows you to see what no one else can see about someone’s character and motives”?  In this case, are you permitted to express and impose your judgement?  No.  But why, then, would God give you this “special gift of knowledge”?  For your own private use.  While you may not say “That man is a criminal,” you may AVOID that man and you may use NONCRITICAL means to get others to AVOID that man.  This leads to the following maxim:

 

SPECIAL REVELATION IS NEVER ALLOWED IN FAIR AND HONEST DEBATE AND CRITICISM.

Note that this is only a “temporary maxim” that we will quickly modify.

 

Now, there are exceptions to this maxim.  For example, you are free to impose “special revelation” in raising your children.  You are free to impose “special revelation” in managing a department in your company.  IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS, you are free to impose “special revelation” in pastoring your church.  BUT, WHEN IT COMES TO THE FREE AND HONEST DISCUSSION OF ISSUES AMONG PEOPLE OF EQUAL STANDING, SPECIAL REVELATION MAY NOT BE USED.  This means that the above maxim is modified to:

 

SPECIAL REVELATION IS NEVER ALLOWED IN FAIR AND HONEST DEBATE AND CRITICISM AMONG PEOPLE OF EQUAL STANDING.

 

Well, who decides whether people are of equal standing?  The Lord.

 

WHEN THERE ARE NO MORAL AND ETHICAL RESTRAINTS THAT LIMIT THE STANDING OF PEOPLE, ALL PEOPLE ARE OF EQUAL STANDING.

 

 

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Now, one area of ethical and moral restraints is that of “logic.”  A vital principle relating to logic that people need to learn is that:

 

PREMISES AND LOGIC (DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION) ARE NOT INHERENTLY GOOD.

 

Here is an example:

 

PREMISE 1:  All people love yodelling.

 

PREMISE 2:  All yodelling is evil.

 

LOGIC (DEDUCTION IN THIS CASE [CONCLUSION]):  All people love evil.

 

 

Now, common discernment tells us:

 

Premise 1 is NOT good because it is NOT true.

 

Premise 2 is NOT good because it is NOT true.

 

The conclusion is NOT good because it is NOT true.

 

 

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Now, we can construct a “SUPER EXAMPLE” for the maxim that “PREMISES AND LOGIC (DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION) ARE NOT INHERENTLY GOOD.”

 

SUPER PREMISE 1

 

PREMISE 1:  All people love yodelling.

 

PREMISE 2:  All yodelling is evil.

 

LOGIC (DEDUCTION IN THIS CASE [CONCLUSION]):  All people love evil.

 

SUPER PREMISE 2

 

Now, common discernment tells us:

 

Premise 1 is NOT good because it is NOT true.

 

Premise 2 is NOT good because it is NOT true.

 

The conclusion is NOT good because it is NOT true.

 

SUPER LOGIC (SUPER DEDUCTION IN THIS CASE [SUPER CONCLUSION])

 

THERE IS ONE EXAMPLE OF THE INHERENTLY EVIL NATURE OF PREMISES AND LOGIC.

 

 

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SUPER SUPER LOGIC

 

 

Now, I leave it to you to set up a SUPER EXAMPLE for “good.”  You could start out with “All people have a soul.”

 

 

Once you have both an example of INHERENTLY EVIL LOGIC and INHERENTLY GOOD LOGIC, the two examples CANCEL EACH OTHER OUT.  This means that the INHERENCE (“INHERENTNESS”) OF BOTH GOOD AND EVIL disappears.  This means:

 

PREMISES AND LOGIC (DEDUCTION AND INDUCTION) ARE NOT INHERENTLY GOOD.

 

 

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FINALLY, WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS PROVE?

 

GOOD IS GREATER THAN LOGIC.

 

NOW, BE CAREFUL, LEST YOU FALL INTO ERROR; WE HAVE NOT PROVEN:

 

GOOD IS GREATER THAN TRUTH.

 

THE STATEMENT DIRECTLY ABOVE THIS ONE IS FALSE.

 

THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT IS ALSO FALSE.

 

TRUTH IS GREATER THAN GOOD.

 

 

THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT IS TRUE.

 

GOODNESS AND TRUTH SHARE THE SAME THRONE.

 

 (SEE EXODUS 34:6.)