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Charles Barkley: The Round Mound of Reasoning Unsound


fake christians
by luvnews
In this amazing interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the retired NBA all-star, Charles Barkley, opines on politics, calling conservatives "fake Christians." Once nicknamed the "round mound of rebound," Sir Charles says of these Christians that "they are not supposed to judge other people, but they are the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country." After announcing that he is prochoice and pro-gay marriage, he promises to run for governor of Alabama in 2014. He would have a much better chance running for the Pope of Greenwich Village (see here).

Comments (52)

That's a real dog's breakfast of poor reasoning - all around, too. Poor logic and lousy exegesis, all jumbled together.

Why couldn't Barkley just permit me to remember him as the great Sixers star traded away too early?

He seems to be against "judging others", even as he judges others. Maybe the prohibition applies only to Christians.

Maybe the prohibition applies only to Christians.

If one is not a practicing, and professing Christian (and I have no idea whether Mr. Barkley professes to be one, or not), one is not necessarily commanded to "Judge not that ye be not judged." it doesn't follow from this that the non-Christian can't point out the inconsistent, or hypocritical, behavior of judgemental Christians.

And neither would it follow, then, that one ought not point out the hypocritical behavior of the judgemental Charles Barkley, which is what Mr. Beckwith is doing.

it doesn't follow from this that the non-Christian can't point out, etc.

Sure it does. He obviously considers judging a bad thing. Therefore, he shouldn't do it.

Besides, he didn't point out any "inconsistent, or hypocritical behavior." He just doesn't like the opinions of people who disagree with him.

As a fan of professional basketball, I've listened to Barkley opine on all sorts of things. The man is full of hot air (even when it comes to basketball, which he should know something about). Worse, he is quite full of both himself and illogical nonsense. And, perhaps worst of all, he often engages in talk that, if it came from whites, would be considered racist.

My point, gentlemen, was that Barkley doesn't necessarily believe that judging is a bad thing for anyone whose faith does not proclaim judging to be a bad thing--as Christianity does.
That said, it doesn't matter, anyway. If I catch you being patently hypocritical and point it out, you are still a hypocrite, even though I am one also. Mine does not cancel out yours.

Of course Christianity does not teach that judgment is bad. Such a statement is exactly the kind of absurdity that only Liberalism is really capable of.

Such a statement is exactly the kind of absurdity that only Liberalism is really capable of.

Christianity certainly does teach that "judgement"--in the sense that Barkley was using the word--is bad. "Judge not that ye be not judged" is the same principle as "Let him who is without sin amongst you cast the first stone." And also, "First remove the plank from your own eye so that you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eys." There are others; but that should be sufficient.

Christianity certainly does teach that "judgement"--in the sense that Barkley was using the word--is bad.

Barkley wasn't using the word in that sense - he said that those who believe abortion or gay marriage to be wrong are "judgmental". He made no reference that so-and-so Christian person said Mr. X is going to hell because he is pro-choice. He wasn't attacking them for claiming to know the eternal dispostion of Citizen Barkley's soul, but for disagreeing with Citizen Barkley on abortion and gay "marriage". Being judgmental, as meant in the scripture passages you allude to, means making a determination as to the state of someone's soul. It does not mean refusing to make a determination as to the propriety of someone's actions, and stating those actions are objectively wrong.

In fact, I would go so far as to say Scripture requires us to point out to the person that his actions are objectively wrong when they are.

Being judgmental, as meant in the scripture passages you allude to, means making a determination as to the state of someone's soul. It does not mean refusing to make a determination as to the propriety of someone's actions, and stating those actions are objectively wrong.

Which is evident when one considers the rest of the passage that liberals conveniently chop off, "Go and sin no more." not, "Go, there is no such thing as sin."

Thank you, gentlemen. Neither Barkley nor Rodak really believes what he is saying about judgment. It's not just ready-made cudgel available for use against opponents.

c mat is correct - the sort of judgement that distinguishes between goods and evils is simply necessary. Barkley seems to be ambiguous on this. Is he talking about that sort of judgement, or the sort that is a statement about the eternal destiny of a person's soul? I seriously doubt that Barkley himself knows, or has even considered the distinction. He's just repeating a catch phrase. It's just more grandstanding on his part, the sort of thing he's known for and I think he comes off looking rather dimwitted, to be honest. He's been talking about running for governor of GA since his playing days. It's just a way for him to get some attention. It's a desperate cry for help. Poor Charles Barkley.

Although Mr. Barkley did not express himself particularly well in the clip we are discussing, I believe that he meant that those persons he called "fake Christians" are often judgemental in reference to others, when their own private lives give them no moral high ground from which to be so. That is also how I understand the passages I paraphrased, and that is how I interprested Mr. Barkley's admittedly less than fully coherent rhetoric. You are all welcome to your opposing opinions of the matter.

How does the saying go, "hypocrisy is the honor that vice pays to virtue"? Every Christian is a hypocrite if the definition of hypocrite is something like, "a person who does not live up to the moral standards that he endorses." But it doesn't take a Christian to be a hypocrite. The term can apply to anyone who takes a moral or ethical position, even Sir Charles. Whether or not he is a Christian doesn't really get him off the hook on a hypocrisy charge, does it? A moral argument is not about my own "moral high ground", as if it is I that give the law according to my own impeccable character. It is about the moral principle involved.

Sports fans who have followed Barkley from his early days in the NBA and into his broadcasting career have always known that he is a lout. If he wants to be taken seriously as a candidate by the good people of the great state of GA, the very least he could do is to take the next 7 years to clean up his own personal life, and to make amends for a lifetime of irresponsible and offensive public behavior. He's not off to a very good start with this interview. Seeing Barkley waxing moralistic and self-righteous in that interview just made me chuckle and shake my head. That's just Charles, blowing smoke as usual.

Hypocrisy is not really to the point anyway. If Charles has a good argument for his positions, he'd be better off using his airtime to advance these arguments, rather than this pathetic attempt, regardless of how well-articulated it may have been (in this case it wasn't, but again, not to the point) to throw grenades at those who disagree with him.

Sports fans who have followed Barkley from his early days in the NBA and into his broadcasting career have always known that he is a lout.

My purport has never been to defend the character of Charles Barkley.

Every Christian is a hypocrite if the definition of hypocrite is something like, "a person who does not live up to the moral standards that he endorses."

No. Every Christian is only a hypocrite if he fails to live up to those moral standards, but then chides others for the same failure.

No. Every Christian is only a hypocrite if he fails to live up to those moral standards, but then chides others for the same failure.

Don't quite agree. Every Christian is only a hypocrite if he fails to live up to those moral standards, then chides others for the same failure, while claiming he himself IS living up to those moral standards.

If someone holds himself to a particular standard, admits he has failed to meet them, and chides both himself and others for failing to meet them then I son't see him as a hypocrite. Even if he fails to meet one particular standard, and chides others for failing to meet a different standard which he himself happens to meet, I would still hesitate to call him a hypocrite (not particularly persuasive maybe, but not necessarily a hypocrite). But say, for me to claim to be pro-life, but in fact support abortion policies, all the while chiding you for supporting abortion policies - that would be hypocritical.

Every Christian is only a hypocrite if he fails to live up to those moral standards, but then chides others for the same failure.

I don't think that is quite right. "Live up to" and "chide" refer to entirely different kinds of things, and hypocrisy is when one treats the same kind of thing as applying to others and not to himself. X is a hypocrite if he holds that it is wrong when you do bad thing B, but it isn't wrong when he himself does bad thing B. If X chides another for stealing, steals himself, and does not chide himself (perhaps as a precursor to sacramental confession), then he is a hypocrite. But the notion of hypocrisy often loosely employed in these kinds of discussions is all too often an invocation of apples and oranges, perhaps indistinguishable in its intellectual content from simply saying "shut up."

In this case our pal Charles seems to be intolerantly criticizing Christians for engaging in intolerant criticism. That is pretty close to an apples-to-apples case of hypocrisy. The Rodakian form is not a case of apples-to-apples hypocrisy; it is just a rhetorical instrument the apparent purpose of which is to say "Christians should shut up." (Not without irony, given that Rodak is Christian and is apparently basing this criticism on his understanding of Christian principles).

GMTA, c matt.

Zippy--
You're making an argument against language that was not mine (i.e. "living up to"). Chide was mine, and chide is fine. "Living up to" came from thebyronicman and I stuck with it because I was responding to his comment. So you work that out with thebyronicman and then get back to me.

the apparent purpose of which is to say "Christians should shut up."

Actually, Zippy, despite your belief in your ability to read my heart and thereafter make your diagnoses of my "apparent" subtextual agenda, my purport in this discussion is that Christians should spend less time pointing fingers and more time worrying about their own sins. Where they see sin in others, they should not judge, but instruct, if possible (as I am doing now.)

...my purport in this discussion is that Christians should spend less time pointing fingers and more time worrying about their own sins.

Right, I get that. IOW, shut up.

Zippy--
You left out this part: "they should not judge, but instruct, if possible".
It is difficult to instruct without speaking. Although one can instruct by setting a good example with one's personal (and perhaps silent) conduct. If one must speak in response to bad behavior, one should try to be in-structive and con-structive, rather than de-structive.
(I think Jesse Jackson said that. But it might have been Johnny Cochran...)

Christians should spend less time pointing fingers and more time worrying about their own sins.

You left out this part: "they should not judge, but instruct, if possible".

How is instruction possible without judgment? How can I teach someone the difference between good and evil if I am unable to distinguish between good and evil for myself or am unable to point out the difference between good and evil to another? How can I direct my pupils attention towards reality if not by pointing it out to them?

Perhaps, to paraphrase Bruce Lee, you are so caught up in concentrating on the fingers that you have lost track of the realities to which they point.

Brendon--
I'm sure that you can see the distinction between being judgemental, on the one hand, and exercising judgement, on the other.

Or, let's go at it the other way around. If I am wrong in my interpretation of the commandment "Judge not that ye be not judged" then what, according to you, did Jesus mean by that? What did he mean by "Let him amongst you who is without sin cast the first stone"? What did he mean by "First remove the plank from your own eye, so that you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye"?
What sort of behavior was Jesus trying to exhort by those sayings?

If I am wrong in my interpretation of the commandment "Judge not that ye be not judged" then what, according to you, did Jesus mean by that?

If I were a betting man I wouldn't put money on "support homosex and abortion".

What did he mean by "Let him amongst you who is without sin cast the first stone"?

And I'll bet he _didn't_ mean, "Let's not ever say something is sin, because that might make somebody feel bad."

Or, let's go at it the other way around. If I am wrong in my interpretation of the commandment "Judge not that ye be not judged" then what, according to you, did Jesus mean by that?

Well, Jesus could not have meant that we cannot judge actions, because if this were so then we would be unable to judge whether or not any given action was in keeping with the love of God and neighbor and would thus be unable to even attempt to live out the whole of the law and the prophets.

Jesus could also not have meant that we cannot judge the guilt or culpability of a person's actions in any way, since this would demand that Christians oppose all types of criminal, civil, and ecclesiastical law. Christian history shows this to be absurd.

This leaves me with the following option: Jesus meant we cannot judge a person's orientation towards God and the final fate of their immortal soul. This is because the state of a person's soul depends first and foremost on grace, which is by definition completely gratuitous. I cannot discern if and when God's grace begins to work in a person, and thus cannot judge their relationship with God.

I would point out that telling someone that they have done something evil can be both judging actions and judging guilt, but it is never judging the state of their soul and their relationship with God. Such a sinful judgment may lie behind telling someone that they have done evil, but it is not the same as telling someone they have done evil.

Let's look at the woman taken in adultery. "Does no one condemn you?" he asked. "No one, sir." "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more."
There is no suggestion here that she was not guilty. According to the law, then, she deserved the stoning that Jesus prevented. But he did not judge her; he instructed her (after instructing the mob.)
He was not saying that her adultery was not sin. But he was not using her sin to beat her over the head with, either. He was saying, "Despite your sin, you are worthy of my love and you are worthy of the life that I have provided you with. Take care not to blow it."
Too many Christians are wearing T-shirts that read "God Hates Fags". Or if they don't have the shirt, they hold the opinion.

"First remove the plank from your own eye, so that you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye"?
What sort of behavior was Jesus trying to exhort by those sayings?

It was rhetorical, of course, since Jesus clearly knew that we would always have planks in our eyes, and therefore would never be in a position to help our brother with his speck. Jesus was, in a funny roundabout way, just telling us to shut up. I wish it had occurred to Jesus, however, that if everyone has planks, then no one has specks, and therefore no one has a brother with a speck to whom he should offer aid. The whole thing kinda breaks down when you analyze it logically, but then again, first century Jewish rabbis weren't known for being logical.

Or maybe it means this: Although we all have various proverbial planks of some sort or other in our proverbial eyes, and they keep us from seeing many things clearly, we may be able to see something clearly, by virtue of the fact that we have previously seen to the removal of the particular plank that fits that particular obscured truth. If that is the case, and if that thing we see clearly is a thing our brother cannot see clearly, (due to either a speck or plank, as the case may be), then we are the ones perfectly positioned to help our brother in this instance. So perhaps it was not a standard issue gag order after all.

Being judgmental: Joe is doing X. I'm going to tell Joe in no uncertain terms exactly what I think of a person who would do X.

Excercising judgment: Joe is doing X. He needs help and guidance. I must try to win his confidence and show him why X is bad for him and for others.

Too many Christians are wearing T-shirts that read "God Hates Fags". Or if they don't have the shirt, they hold the opinion.


Indeed. One is too many. But do we really think that this is the biggest problem we face? I think perhaps it might be the other way around. Too many Christians are reluctant to express and share their faith for fear of being labeled a bigot, intolerant, and a hate monger. And that's just by their fellow Christians. Or worse, far too many Christians don't really believe much of anything Christian at all. Rodak, have some sense of proportion.

Excercising judgment: Joe is doing X. He needs help and guidance. I must try to win his confidence and show him why X is bad for him and for others.

Agreed.

Let's look at the woman taken in adultery. "Does no one condemn you?" he asked. "No one, sir." "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more."
There is no suggestion here that she was not guilty. According to the law, then, she deserved the stoning that Jesus prevented. But he did not judge her; he instructed her (after instructing the mob.)

The very act of recognizing that she had done evil and sinned is an act of judgment. Preventing her stoning was an act of mercy. There is nothing in the act of judgment that precludes an act of mercy.

Too many Christians are wearing T-shirts that read "God Hates Fags". Or if they don't have the shirt, they hold the opinion.

I agree. But I am not going to let the actions of fools make me a fool in return; I am not going to let their error cause me to make the opposite error. To put it bluntly: God loves 'fags'; God hates sodomy.

But do we really think that this is the biggest problem we face?

Yes. The problem there is failure to love, and that is the biggest problem we face. Ultimately, it is our only problem.

The problem there is failure to love, and that is the biggest problem we face. Ultimately, it is our only problem.

I would point out that Christianity has traditionally had two short lists of actions that we can do so as to exercise love: the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Two of the spiritual works of mercy are to instruct the ignorant and to admonish the sinner.

The very act of recognizing that she had done evil and sinned is an act of judgment. Preventing her stoning was an act of mercy. There is nothing in the act of judgment that precludes an act of mercy.

Is that not the very point I've been making? He could have publicly rebuked her. He could have forced her to confess all of her sins in front of the others. He could have held her up as a negative example, and then had mercy on her by letting her go away with her life. He didn't do that. The way he handled things is the way we should handle things.

He didn't do that. The way he handled things is the way we should handle things.

Rodak,

There's a difference between hating the sinner and hating the sin.

Hating the sinner -- we should never do.

Hating the sin -- well, this is evident in St. Paul's teaching as well as in Christ's.

Where is it in Christian teaching that we were told that it's okay to commit adultery once in a while or, if you prefer, perhaps murder an unborn John the Baptist in the womb of an Elizabeth?

Let's not forget that the main post clearly shows this in a political context. The short version is that it's being "judgemental" not to endorse gay marriage and the legality of abortion. Anybody who wants to use any of Jesus' words in the service of that agenda is abusing them, period. We can talk all day about exactly what you should say when speaking with an individual to show him that you love the sinner even though you cannot condone his actions. But all the platitudes in the world, and even all the profundities, in that discussion will not change the fact that Charles Barkley is abusing Christian concepts like love, forgiveness, and "not judging" in the service of an identified political agenda that is rankly non-Christian and anti-Christian. I frankly couldn't care less what Rodak thinks of me, but so is he. I'll have none of it.

But all the platitudes in the world, and even all the profundities, in that discussion will not change the fact that Charles Barkley is abusing Christian concepts like love, forgiveness, and "not judging" in the service of an identified political agenda that is rankly non-Christian and anti-Christian.

truer words...

It's a funny thing how people never think that Jesus's words apply to them. He's always talking about the other guy. We stand safely behind Him and shake our pom-poms and yell, Right-on, Jesus!
That's the way it was then, and it's no different now.

Rodak says:
It's a funny thing how people never think that Jesus's words apply to them. He's always talking about the other guy. We stand safely behind Him and shake our pom-poms and yell, Right-on, Jesus!
That's the way it was then, and it's no different now.


I say:
All four of your sentences are flatly false.

Contrary to sentence 1: People, perhaps many millions of them, frequently believe, and deeply feel, that Jesus' words apply directly and profoundly to them. They have done so literally for centuries. They do so now. If they "never" do so, then "never" would include you. That would make you a hypocrite for pointing it out --which is hypocrisy even on your own and Barkley's twsited basis.

Contrary to sentence 2: I honestly do not know anyone -- anyone -- who reads Jesus in this way. I'll take your word for it that you do. But as a general description of the attitudes of the followers of Christ in any century --including ours -- I, as a professional church historian, say that your depiction is utterly false.

Contrary to sentence 3: See the response to sentence 2. Sentence 3 is simply a different way of uttering the same falsehood

Contrary to sentence 4: See the response to sentence 1. Sentence 4 is simply another way of uttering the same falsehood.

Michael Bauman


I, as a professional church historian, say that your depiction is utterly false.

Well, that being the case, there should be a plurality of saints walking amongst us. I see a lot of cars with fish symbols on the trunks, or "Honk If You Love Jesus" bumperstickers. But I don't see the corresponding saints. Nor do I see the teachings of Jesus reflected in the values of our society. Yet a majority of Americans call themselves Christians. Maybe I'm working with a different definition of "utterly" than yours?

Does the judge not passage (Matthew 7:1-2) really call for refraining from judging, either people or their actions? Here's the passage, according to the Good News Bible: "Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you/for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others." This passage seems to me to be saying that if you judge that someone x is bad because he does action y, then if you do action y, then you must admit that you are also bad.

Of course, that's pretty thin gruel--it seems to mean simply that reasons are universal, so if a judgment applies to someone in situation S, then someone else in the same kind of situation gets the same judgment applied to him.

The passage from Luke 6:37 seems more exacting: "Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you." This passage seems much more strongly to inveigh against judging people (in some sense), for just as you're not supposed to judge people, you're also not supposed to condemn people. It seems that judging people is just as bad as condemning, and the latter is clearly bad. This still leaves room for judging actions, of course.

Regardless, though, it seems to me that a Christian has to admit that judging people in the sense of assessing their moral character can sometimes be permissible. After all, Christians say that all of us need God's grace; but why would that be? One explanation is that the Fall renders us "morally challenged" or in some sense defective, such that we need God's assistance. And Matthew 7:16-20, counseling that we should judge a tree by its fruits, seems to permit coming to conclusions about people's moral character on the basis of their actions. So, unless you think that the Bible is just obviously inconsistent and that Jesus and his disciples didn't notice these things, I think we have to go with Rodak's reading that Christians are particularly not supposed to be judgmental, though they can exercise judgment, both about the sinner and the sin.

Wait a minute, Bobcat, how does your reasoning lead us to "going with Rodak's reading"? If anything, you've just pointed out that we are allowed to judge people's character to be bad.

But in any event, sticking to the original political context, I must draw attention again to the fact that Rodak appears to _insist_ that this somehow does apply to the political issues of being pro-choice and being pro-gay-marriage. I take this in part from the fact that when I pointed out that Charlces Barkley is still totally wrong and that this whole business about how "judgemental" Christians are allowed to be is irrelevant to the political issues in question, Rodak implied that my comment was an example of "refusing to take Jesus' words to apply to oneself." Again: some sort of "not being judgemental while exercising judgement in some other sense" does _nothing_ to support the conclusion that Christians should be in favor of "abortion choice" or should endorse legal status for gay marriage! Nothing whatsoever.

Lydia--
First of all, I don't recall that I ever said a word about gay marriage, pro or con. Secondly, I never said that Christians should be pro-choice. What I said was that secular law should not be based upon religious doctrine. This includes abortion law, unless and until the constitution is amended to define the unborn as persons with legal rights. Thirdly, I never validated the whole of Mr. Barkley's nearly incoherent ramblings; I merely indicated that insofar as he was pointing out that some Christians are judgmental, he had a point. Much of the invective directed at my comments above has supported Mr. Barkley's contention.
Finally, Bobcat accurately restates my position on judging others, with reference to my understanding of Christian teaching. Bobcat has understood what I was getting at, which may be evidence that it has not been as completely incoherent as has been suggested by some commenters above, whether it is an accurate interpretation, or an errant one.

Let me amend my above comment slightly: secular law should not be based upon sectarian religious doctrine. (I don't want to have it explained to me one more time that both religious doctrine and secular law prohibit murder and theft. I'm aware of that.)

Rodak says: "It's a funny thing how people never think that Jesus's words apply to them."

Rodak,
Did you not notice, as some have already alluded to in their posts, that the un-Christian judgmental attitudes you've complained about in others are particularly apparent in your character, made evident by several of your remarks; only one of many samples being, "I see a lot of cars with fish symbols on the trunks, or "Honk If You Love Jesus" bumperstickers. But I don't see the corresponding saints. Nor do I see the teachings of Jesus reflected in the values of our society. Yet a majority of Americans call themselves Christians."?

I take it that, as the initial quote I have of you above stated, you are also one of those who actually think Jesus' words don't apply to them.


"Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?" Matthew 7:4

Or, let's go at it the other way around. If I am wrong in my interpretation of the commandment "Judge not that ye be not judged" then what, according to you, did Jesus mean by that?

Rodak,

There is one section of the passage that I do not think has been posted and I think it is very important to what Jesus meant. In fact, I think it is something Zippy already alluded to. After "Judge not, that ye be not judged" Jesus says "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." It appears to me that Jesus is suggesting not that one should not judge, but that one should judge consistently. If one wishes to stone homosexuals for their sexual sins, then he should also be willing to be stoned for his sexual sins and hence he should not cast the first stone. As Jesus often did, he was condemning hypocrisy, which is in this case judging others by one standard and expecting others to judge you by a different standard (or judging yourself by a different standard).

The words of Christ in this passage of Matthew has greatly to do with the primacy of self-knowledge as the path to wisdom. If we do not know well our own sins and the blindness it causes in our persons, we will not see clearly to help our brother with his sins and blindness. The greater our self-knowledge, the greater service we can be to our brothers.

Shorter version of how I understand the "judge not" passage: you can judge a person's character as good or bad, and you can judge a person's actions as good or bad, but it is extremely important, when you do so, (1) to be aware, as much as you can, of your motivations when you judge; (2) to be aware, as much as possible, that what you condemn in others might be present in yourself; (3) to not use your judgment as an excuse to puff yourself; and (4) to judge in a way that is sensitive/pastoral. I took that to be Rodak's position, and Rodak claimed it as his own. I suppose there's been some bravado from him (just as there has been from others on this thread), but I could be wrong in my apprehension of this. And anyway, I have no idea whether Rodak is a Christian.

However, I'm not sure that I see anything illicit or immoral or whatever about making laws on the basis of sectarian religious principles. What am I missing?

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