Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Oh Yeah??? Who says???

Making judgments is not a clearly defined science. There is no “judgment table” that we can learn as we did the “multiplication tables” in elementary school (or 11th grade depending on your school district). There is no “Table of Judgments” with all the key information laid out like the “Table of Elements.”

No, making judgments is the result of careful learning and careful thinking. It is not an emotive process (“Well, bless God, I really feel that …”). It not a combative process (“Oh yeah??? Well listen to this …”). It is a reflective process: Reflect on what others have learned before, and reflect on how it applies to the situation at hand.

We learn to make judgments by learning and thinking. Before we do both, we have no right to make judgments.

Think of it this way. When your knee hurts, who do you go to? You probably go to your doctor, because you know he has some training in the field. You know he has interacted with the various information available on knee problems. He has seen the studies. He has probably even treated them before.

You probably do not go to your mechanic. He is well-trained for what he does. But what he does has nothing to do with knees (unless your broken tilt steering wheel is the cause of those big bruises on your knees).

When you go to your doctor to get information about your knee, you are not disrespecting your mechanic, or calling into question his abilities. You are not consigning him to hell for all eternity. You are not even saying he is a bad guy. You are simply recognizing that some people are better qualified to make judgments about certain issues than other people are.

Why is this true? It is mostly because of training. A doctor goes to medical school. He (or she) does an internship. He does his residency. He passes board examinations. And if he does not do all that, you will probably find another doctor. Why? Because you recognize the value of training in the process of making judgments.

You are also more inclined to trust your doctor’s thoughts because of his training. A while back, I had a horrible pain in my back. I could not figure it out. I put lotion on it. I sat in the hot tub at the YMCA at 5:30 a.m. I stretched. I took aspirin (lots of it). Nothing worked. So I gave up. I sprang for the $20 co-pay and I went to the doctor. Thirty seconds after lifting my shirt he says, “I think it’s shingles.” I was aghast. Surely, he should take some more time, shouldn’t he? At least a test or two? Nope. Just “I think it’s shingles.” And he was right.

What’s the point? We need to realize that some people are more qualified than others to make judgments about things. They have better training. They have better thought processes. And they know how to put the two together.

What about everybody else? Are we saying they do not have the Holy Spirit? Of course not. Are we saying they are unspiritual? Of course not. Are we saying that they should not be able to ask questions? Of course not. (I asked a lot about shingles. I made no assertions about it whatsoever.)

What are we saying? We are saying they should learn.

Here’s a grace we all need to develop: Learn when you are out of league. And stop talking and start learning.


Michael Riley said...


Thanks for this, and for your work defending this at SI; you have far more patience than I.

Joel Tetreau said...


Your post here is well thought out. I would agree with your analogy as you've written it as long as you include the fact that there will be times after hearing the verdict of a doctor, that one might want to seek out a second opinion.

Let's say for a moment that something about the doctors assesment of your shingles (And Larry I pray you are doing better with that - I understand that is extremely painful), didn't set well with would be perfectly legit for you to try another option.....a second opinion....As a matter of fact you have a whole spectrum of options from other doctors, alternative medicine, etc....

Again, good article....helpful to the various discussions at hand.

Straight Ahead!

Joel Tetreau

PS - Have a Merry Christmas men!