“If we love God, people, and false teachers, we will name names as if eternity depended on it. Because it does. Not naming names has to stop.” – Todd Friel
Arguably, the most misconstrued axiom in all Christendom is that which is born of Matthew 7:1 which reads, ““Judge not, that you be not judged.” While one might expect an unbeliever to foolishly extricate this verse from its context in order to bludgeon Christians, which happens regularly, one might not expect professing Christians to wield this foolhardy hammer so regularly and zealously against their brethren. Tragically, as the American church has grown increasingly nonsensical and irreverent, Biblical illiteracy has increased in lock-step with the silliness.
Poor exegesis and deceptive teachings have emboldened a breed of Christian who deem growing in intellectual sanctification something to be derided rather than desired (Rom 12:2). Sadly, with this group growing exponentially, destructive error has crept into the church and those espousing the need to “just love on people” often turn out to be the most unloving… to other Christians. It is safe to say that Chris Rosebrough will not soon be running short on material.
Enter Todd Friel’s latest offering: Judge Not: How a lack of discernment led to drunken pastors, peanut butter armpits, and the fall of a nation.
In this latest book, Friel employs his trademark “snark” to accurately and whimsically address the silliness taking place in American Evangelical churches. In the process, no toe is left un-bruised. That is to say, in this 40-chapter read, Friel plows head-on into a number of theological and ecclesiological trends with the subtlety of a hand-grenade.
If you read this book and think to yourself, “Todd is just too negative…” – or – “He focuses too much on what he’s against instead of what he’s for…” – or better yet – “This book is too legalistic and doesn’t represent what Jesus’ message really was, which was to just ‘love on’ people and not be so judgy…”; well, congratulations, you’ve had your toes bruised. And as Friel mentions in his interview on the Fire Away podcast, if you read this book and at least one chapter doesn’t bruise your toes, you’re likely not being honest with yourself. Further, if the entire book offends you, it’s time to reevaluate your Christian walk and test it through the lens of Scripture.
This book is not short, weighing in at over 300 pages divided into 40 chapters, which are then divided into seven “parts”. While this may sound initially daunting, few chapters exceed eight pages thus making this book an easy daily read.
Though one would think the premise elementary, rarely have I read a book in which I considered the first chapter to be as critically important as in Judge
Not. Friel concludes each chapter with some variation of the phrase, “____ has to stop.” In chapter 1, “Judging Christians for Judging Christians”, that formula is employed thusly: “Judging Christians for judging Christians has to stop.” This simple phrase packs a large punch as it would be considered hate speech in, dare I say, the majority of American Evangelical churches. He goes on to make the obvious point that, “Never judging is entirely impractical. You could not order food from a menu if all judging is a sin.”
It is this kind of easily understood illustration and candor in delivery which permeates throughout the book and is, in large part, the reason why many will be offended; and that is not a bad thing. As John MacArthur once wrote, “If the truth offends, then let it offend. People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; let them be offended for a while.” The truth is that the poor exegesis of Matthew 7:1 has offended God and shamed sanctifying Christians for far too long. This is why Friel starting the book with this topic is of utmost importance, it lays the groundwork for addressing the utter foolishness taking place int he American Evangelical church as parodied in the Wretched #weNameNames campaign here, here, here, here, here, and here.
The rest of the book works through 38 more chapters of pointing out much of the rampant nonsense taking place in our churches before being exhorted to have a high view of Scripture in the final chapter. To get an idea of the issues addressed, here are some of the chapters:
- Chapter 3: Circular Firing Squads (Discernment Ministries)
- Chapter 6: Happy-Clappy Church
- Chapter 13: Twisting Scripture
- Chapter 19: Compromising on Creation
- Chapter 29: Embracing Christian Celebrities
- Chapter 32: Purity Ring Obsession
While Jesus Unmasked was a solid foray into authorship for Friel, Judge Not feels more personal, as if one is simply chatting with the author. I highly recommend this book to anyone concerned with the silliness taking place in our churches and as a gift for those about whom you are concerned. Prepare to have your “toes bruised” as you work through 39 chapters of learning about the desperately sad state of our churches before being brought back to the beauty of the inerrant Word of God in Chapter 40.
Go purchase this book and learn how to heed the command of scripture and judge rightly (John 7:24).
Title: Judge Not: How a Lack of Discernment Led to Drunken Pastors, Peanut Butter Armpits, & The Fall of a Nation
Author: Todd Friel
Publisher: Burning Bush Communications, 2015.