Pope Francis has said this week that US President-hopeful Donald Trump is not a Christian because of his tough stance on border protection. In response, Trump has said that, “for a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”
Regardless of whether Trump’s policies are right or wrong, his statement about the disgracefulness of passing judgement is telling.
It is certainly the case that judgmentalism is frowned upon by Jesus in his famous words from the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1).
But at the same time, we are regularly called to make judgements on others in order to show love for them and protection for others.
So, if I judge that a fellow believer is committing a particular sin, then it is right and loving for me to draw that to their attention and to lead them to repentance. As Jesus said, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault…” (Matthew 18:15)
Likewise, we are called to judge whether or not a person is suitable to become an overseer in the church. For example, we are told to judge whether a potential elder is “able to manage his own family well” and whether or not he has “a good reputation with outsiders.” (1 Timothy 3:4, 7).
So, it is right for any Christian leader to judge another person in order to bring about repentance or to protect others from false teaching and poor leadership.
So, was it right for Pope Francis to make this statement about the faith of Trump? You be the judge!