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How to tell a bad tree

Simple logic:

Jesus said “by their fruits ye shall know them.” We take this to mean that a tree is bad because its fruit is bad, but in fact it’s not a statement about what determines the objective condition of the tree. It’s a statement about the empirical basis for our knowledge of its condition. If the tree bears bad fruit, it’s a bad tree. Any fruit that comes from it is bad, since a bad tree cannot (does not have the power to) bear good fruit.

Christ’s assertion seems contrary to possible human experience. Don’t we find bad cherries growing side by side with good ones? If we remember the story of Adam’s fall from Grace, however, we can easily understand Christ’s instruction. Eve looked at the fruit of the tree of knowledge and judged it to be good based on her (human) faculties of perception and understanding (it looked ripe and luscious and good for food.) But according to the word of God, the tree was bad. Eating its fruit meant death. God’s word reflected the objective nature of the tree with respect to Adam and Eve. For them, it was a tree of death. The badness of the tree was not caused by the fruit. Rather, the objective nature of the tree gave rise to the badness of the fruit.

So how can we know that a tree is bad; by judging its fruit in light of God’s word rather than relying on information derived exclusively from our own faculties. Using Obama as an example, one of his fruits appears to be making sure that abortion and infanticide are sanctioned as right and lawful. God’s will for us condemns the taking of innocent human life. Obama’s fruit is contrary to God’s will, and therefore bad. But a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. Therefore Obama is a bad tree. This means that all his fruit is objectively bad; however it may look to us. We cannot cherry pick the fruit of a bad tree once we have determined its objective condition. This puts the lie to the actions of those so-called Christian leaders who think we can support Obama when he does what is good, and oppose him when he does wrong. According to Christ’s criterion, no fruit that he produces can be good. Though it looks good, and may produce what seem to us to be good results, according to Christ’s rule of moral reasoning, his fruit is bad because he is bad.

If we had the time to step back and take in the whole picture, we would better understand the sense of this. Back in the 1930s Adolf Hitler helped revive the German economy, reduce unemployment, improve the infrastructure, encourage scientific research and development and many other “good” things. Each such “good” policy increased his popularity and expanded his support, contributing to the cult of adulation that empowered him to implement policies of holocaust and aggression. Those policies morally depraved the German nation, and plunged the world into total war. Objectively speaking, the elements of German society that accepted what they saw as good results from the Fuhrer made Eve’s mistake. Of course, they didn’t realize the truth until Germany lay in ruins, defeated and literally demoralized.

I think the difference between God’s knowledge and ours lies in this: he has intrinsic knowledge of the objective condition of each tree at every moment, even before its fruit appears. Our objective knowledge depends on our experience. In his word he tries to share the fruits of his intrinsic knowledge with us. But since his guidance arises from a way of knowing that transcends the preconditions and categories of our understanding, we cannot know with certainty that his guidance is correct until our experience verifies it. Of course, if the experience involves our destruction, the satisfaction of certainty won’t last for long. Is this one reason the Psalmist declares:

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes

(Psalm 118:8-9)

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Conservative Poet Tom Zart August 4, 2009, 4:10 pm


    Preachers, teachers and politicians
    Too many times turn out the same.
    Forecasting predictions of what lay ahead
    Confused by self-love, ego and shame.

    Forewarning of judgment and our own unawareness
    Blaming others for corruption and the mayhem of war
    They seek our endowment of revenue and support
    As volunteers e-mail or beat on our door.

    Thank God for each and every individual
    That prays for wisdom, repentance and grace.
    Not perfect though remorseful, repentant when wrong
    As their devotion radiates from their face.

    Listen and watch carefully the shepherds of man
    Judging them by what they practice not preach.
    Do they make you wonder about their purpose?
    As they communicate, inspire and teach.

    By Conservative Poet
    Tom Zart
    Most Published Poet
    On The Web

  • guitar_man February 20, 2009, 6:47 am

    Alan’s test of simple logic is a wise one; straight, pragmatic, moral thinking to discerning every day matters is vanishing.
    These days, Objective morality is a small fish in this ocean of moral relative sharks. Obama is the latest of these sharks. However, when Alan referred to “the objective nature of the tree”, I was surprised by that comment. The bible is the written code of all our morality. Only God, not man, is capable of creating our moral compass. The bible makes very clear that all that God had made was very good. Keys was correct in that, eating of the tree meant death; there’s no mistaking that. The issue was the free will choice to obey, or NOT to obey the voice of God. The tree was designed, built by the Lord Himself. The “object nature” wasn’t pre-loaded with a bad fruit gene. There fore, the tree wasn’t “bad”. It couldn’t have been; God made it.
    The parable in scripture Jesus makes of bad trees yielding bad fruit speaks about our sin nature. Our wicked choices indicates bad fruit.
    Obama, like the rest of us; rather, ALL of us, face choices. The remedy for bad fruit is a NEW nature. One outside of ourselves.
    Obama’s America, AKA socialism, is the promised land of Liberals and their Elites; where humanism is the god they worship. That pretty much accounts for their fruit, and the direction they’re heading this country that once had an abundant fruit that was very good.
    John C.

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