The church today and the Jewish religious leaders of the OT were predisposed to view their judgments of others as the very judgment of God. Armed with a supposedly divine, inerrant text, they made routine assessments of the spiritual status of others and then claimed to speak for God.
Human judgment is not divine, no matter the judge or their appeal to a divine standard. The very fallacy of the OT law system was the idea that somehow the human administrators of that system would always be right in their decisions, reflecting the very will of God. If one wants to assume that OT priests, judges, and leaders were divinely guided into perfect decisions which coincided with those of God, the entire biblical story destroys that assumption. Nothing is clearer in the Bible than the fact that Israel under its human leadership was generally at odds with God. Only occasionally, do we read that they did was divinely approved.
As I have noted before, under the law system of Judaism, Jesus was definitely a sinner. Because the religious leaders who managed that system declared him to be. Their judgments were declared unchallengeable by the OT scriptures. So as far as the law was concerned, there could be no difference between divine judgment and the judgment of God’s earthy agents. There is little wonder that the same thinking has carried over into present day Christianity, with its claim of called ministers and anointed leaders.
No one should ever accept the idea that human frailty, ignorance, and fallibility are somehow set aside when, in the name of religion, the self proclaimed righteous reference a sacred text and then declare that they speak the very judgment of God. This is nothing more than outrageous arrogance. No human being on the planet speaks the will of God to anyone else.
I suspect we all fall victim to this basic fallacy, however. Any attempt to speak about God, His divine plan, and our place in that plan involves some degree of presumption about one’s own rightness. Therefore every personal pronouncement should include this caveat- in my opinion or in my current understanding. As in all else, humility is a prerequisite to meaningful religious dialogue. This is what I believe now; it may be true and I may think differently tomorrow. Rigid certainty may be comforting but it is also stultifying.
Whatever the purpose of the law in advancing God’s plan and humanity’s spiritual evolution it never meant that human judgment was the same as God’s. Human limitations necessarily contaminated the entire law system- from interpretation, to judgment, to punishment. The law was an inevitable shipwreck from the get go.
We often conclude that the law and its exclusiveness was a designed lesson in ineffectiveness to assist in introducing the idea of a “new and better way”. If one is serious about the lessons of history being important to our spiritual development, one easily concludes that the our past is marked by continuous moral failure. As any student of history knows, the favorite subject and focus of any nation’s history is its wars and internal conflicts. If one removed all notice of such from the history books, little else would remain.
If there is a more pervasive and significant a lesson of history than the futility of human conflict, I cannot imagine it. But even when we claim the lessons of history as our guide, that generally means we have noted the necessity to engage in judgment and conflict sooner rather than later. We somehow turn the lessons upside down and inside out to support the very thing that original sin initiated. In so doing we turn Jesus upside down and inside out to correspond with the human tendency we inherited from Adam, the dualistic thinking which promotes human judgment to the level of God’s.