Discernment is the act of recognising the distinction between two categories.
Judgement is the act of recognising a preference between the two categories.
In the Biblical perspective, true and final judgement is God’s work, not ours.
Yet we may and must exercise our discernment, an obligation imposed by the lines of division between two categories which fill every part of the
The Creator and the Creation
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
There is the most fundamental division, right from the start.
On the one hand, the Creator. On the other hand, what was created.
Because creation has no independent existence, the relationship between the two is asymmetrical.
Knowing good and evil
In the story of Adam and Eve, there are two trees in the garden.
Firstly, the Tree of Life is right in the middle of the garden. The right conclusion to draw is that the Tree of Life was at the centre of their
experience of the garden. They were there in the garden for the purpose of eating from that tree. If the images are taken metaphorically, then
“living in the garden” and “eating from the Tree of Life” are two different ways of saying the same thing, viz. that they were maintained in a
close relationship with their Creator.
The second tree is the Tree of “Knowledge of good and evil”.
This announces a further fundamental division.
Beyond the initial distinction between God and the created world, there is a distinction within
the created world between what is, and what is
not, in line with God’s will.
And again this division is asymmetrical. The two sides of the boundary line do not have equal value. What is right (being God’s will) takes
precedence over what is not right, just as the Creator himself takes precedence over his created world..
“Knowing good and evil” does NOT mean “discovering that good and evil exist”. Adam and Eve had been introduced to the category “not God’s
will” when they were commanded to avoid that fruit, so they knew that much already.
The real point of “knowing good and evil” is defining the boundary line between them. And making that judgement is God’s business. Man’s
business is to discern the difference in accordance with God’s judgement.
So when Adam and Eve seized the fruit of “knowing good and evil”, the meaning is they were choosing to make those judgements in their own way,
independently of God’s will.
The symbolism of the story is very neat. In effect, they are choosing a path of disobedience, and that is expressed by an act of disobedience; the
idea of making their own judgements instead of accepting God’s judgement is expressed by the fact they they disagree with God’s judgement about
the value of the fruit.
They have “become like God” in the sense of usurping that part of God’s function.
But the practical effect is that they have chosen evil, because they have departed from God’s will.
The rest of the Bible is about the long project of bringing them, or the people they represent, back into harmony with God’s will.
edit on 17-7-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)