Complexity & Judgment by S. M. Hutchens

Mortal Remains

Complexity & Judgment

Amon was two and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Jerusalem. But he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them; And humbled not himself before the Lord, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more. . . . (2 Chr. 33:21f.)

The Chronicler's blunt post-mortems on the kings of Israel and Judah as having done good or evil (often qualified good or qualified evil, but one or the other notwithstanding) is something that has impressed me strongly, particularly since acknowledgement of such judgments is not only a vital part of the faith of both Testaments, but wholly contrary to the temper and habit of those who claim that learned objectivity and appreciation of the complexity of things does not permit them to think in such rude fashion.

These are frequently marked by an aversion to taking sides, for one of the prejudices of their caste is that resolute opinion on complex matters is a mark of ignorance. His hearers noted that Jesus was different, for he taught with authority and not as an intellectual. As a reader and editor, I have found that the error of insufficient knowledge is commonly alleged by members of the intelligentsia in their attacks on opinions they do not like and would rather not risk attempting to argue on the merits, since this always contains the temptation of vulgar lawyering—presenting for some personal profit firm opinions on complex matters.


S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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