Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Does God Punish Sin?

January 21, 2009

Wes White provides an excellent and thorough answer to the question, “Does God Punish Sin?” in this recent post (link). The answer, of course, is yes.

God punishes every sin. Either he punishes you, or he punishes Christ. Put your trust in Christ and He will bear the burden of your sins for you.


Just Criminal Laws

September 21, 2008

How can we determine whether a penalty is just, excessively lax, or excessively severe? Considered Biblically, such a question falls into the theological category of “theonomy” – a term that sets off all sorts of red flags in folks’ minds these days. As one who adheres to Sola Scriptura as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith, I can think of two options to answer the question:

1) Special Revelation (which at the present time is limited to the Bible, though that was not always the case); and

2) General Revelation.

The light provided by special revelation on this issue is often quite clear: the just punishment for murder is death, for example (Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.).FN! Other times, the light is less clear – is the punishment for theft in the Mosaic economy the only just punishment or simply one just punishment out of several or perhaps the just punishment in that particular culture?

The light provided by general revelation is even less clear. Men’s consciences are generally bothered by the idea of putting a simple thief (one who steals to feed his family) to death for his crime, and men are generally pricked in their conscience that it would not be proper to permit a rapist to escape with a fine amounting to less than the price of a postage stamp.

Nevertheless, we interpret the less clear by the more clear.

This is all old news, at least to me. Recently, however, I came across a most peculiar argument, and one that I thought I should address (argument by Ron Henzel found here):

[You] seem to be implying that any punishment for rape other than that prescribed by Moses would be arbitrary, and that for a Christian to support it would be inconsistent. I assume you would apply this reasoning to other criminal penalties as well.

But when Paul wrote, “Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God” (Rom. 13:2), he was referring primarily to the Roman government, which had a different set of punishments than those prescribed by Moses. Even so, he referred to their authority as “the ordinance of God.”

I found this line of argument most surprising.

Certainly, the laws of the Romans were to be honored by the people of the Roman empire. That is what Paul meant. But to convert such honor into an endorsement of the justice of the laws of the Roman empire would seem bizarre to me. The only rational justification would seem to be either that there is no objective standard of justice or that God providentially provides that every human government always is just. But Scripture – at least in the case of murder – seems to insist that there is an objective standard of justice. Furthermore, Paul himself notes that at least the Corinthian government was unjust (1 Corinthians 6:1) and Jesus in Luke 18 makes reference to an unjust judge.

So it would seem that the position that Mr. Henzel has presented lacks foundation.

In fact, if I had to guess at what was going on, I’d say that Mr. Henzel was overreacting to the label “theonomy,” without considering (and accounting for) the undeniable facts that:

a) Justice is objective;
b) the Mosiac law was just both in identifying crimes as such and specifically in punishing them (Heb 2:2);
c) there is no other clear standard of justice; and
d) although Christians are to honor the king, that does not mean calling the unjust just, for we should be like the Proverbs 8:7 person: “For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.”

Zechariah the prophet declared the following, which I think applies not only to Jerusalem of his day, but also to Christian democracies (and democratic republics):

Zechariah 8:15-17
15So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not. 16These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: 17And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.


FN1 It is important to note that capital punishment for murder preceded the Mosaic economy, and consequently cannot reasonably be thought to be a law that was intended to be limited to the Jewish nation.

The Indispensible Nature of the Justice of God

July 27, 2008

“This avenging justice belongs to God as a judge, and he can no more dispense with it than he can cease to be a judge, or deny himself; though at the same time he exercises it freely. It does not consist in the exercise of a gratuitous power, like mercy, by which (whether it be exercised or not) injustice is done to no one. It is that attribute by which God gives to every one his due, and from the exercise of which, when proper objects are presented, he can no more abstain, than he can do what is unjust. This justice is the constant will of punishing sinners, which in God cannot be inefficient, as his majesty is supreme and his power infinite ” (Turretin’s Atonement, Translated by Wilson. New York, 1859).

“So long as he is holy he must be just; he must repel sin, which is the highest idea we can form of punishment” (Hodge’s Essays and Reviews, p. 137).

“For whatever else God may be, or may not be, he must be just. It is not optional with him to exercise this attribute, or not to exercise it, as it is in the instance of that class of attributes which are antithetic to it. We can say: “God may be merciful or not as he pleases,” but we cannot say: “God may be just or not, as he pleases.” It cannot be asserted that God is inexorably obligated to show pity; but it can be categorically affirmed that God is inexorably obligated to do justly” (Bib. Sacra, Vol. XVI., p. 738).

These quotations were brought to my attention by Pastor Daniel Fisk in his article “The Necessity of the Atonement,” in Biblia Sacra, from April 1861 (link).

Justice and Mercy Compared

June 18, 2008

It is sometimes stated that permitting a criminal to go unpunished is wrong, and is actually worse than the crime the criminal did.

I distinguish.

a) It is worse when done by a judge.
b) It is not worse when done by a victim.

We can see this by considering that it is mercy not to drag everyone who has wronged us before a judge. On the other hand, it is injustice for a judge to fail to apply the law to the guilty.

We can also see this in the work of God. Christ shows us mercy. The Father shows Christ justice. Thus, God as victim shows mercy, while God as judge shows justice.
Furthermore, God as king shows mercy by permitting a substitute, but that mercy in no way diminishes justice, because he still demands satisfaction.


Psalm 103

April 26, 2008

For those who enjoy music – for those who are merry – for who simply wish to worship God – here’s a beautiful rendition of Psalm 103 – feel free to sing along:

Bless God and don’t forget his grace!


Thoughts on Abortion

January 29, 2008

By abortion I mean intentional unjustified termination of the life of an unborn child.

Abortion is wrong. It is a sin, and a violation of the 6th commandment. It is a particularly heinous sin when committed by a child’s father or mother. It ought to be crime, and governments who refuse to treat it as a crime risk God’s judgment for failing to act justly.

Abortion is properly classifed as murder, because an unborn child is a person. An unborn child is a human being. An unborn child has a separate physical existence from its parents, even though it is totally reliant on its mother for nutrition, support, protection, and so forth.

That the child’s father committed rape or incest is not ordinarily a justification for termination of the life of the child, whether or not the child was conceived as a result of that sinful action by the child’s father.

That a child’s mother committed a capital offense (and rape or incest might qualify as such an offense) may justify the termination of the life of the child, as collateral to the just judgment of death on the mother.

That a child is going to kill its mother may be a justification for terminating the life of the child, under a self-defense principle. That is to say, a mother (or a father acting as head of the family) may be justified in killing her child if the child is going to kill her, and if killing the child is the only way (back to the wall limitation) to stop the child from killing her.

Criminal law is not the sphere of authority of every government. Some politcal structures, like America or the European Union, have many spheres of authority. While it is the duty of the magistrate generally to protect life, it may not be, for example, for either the highest or lowest spheres of government to be enacing criminalization of abortion laws, if such laws do not fall within the proper scope of their authority.

Likewise, it is not the Christian’s duty to become abortion vigilantes, hunting down and executing justice on those who commit unjustified abortions.

That a child is very small is not a justification for killing a child.
That a child is not likely to have an enjoyable life is not justification for killing a child.
That a child is very ill is not a justification for killing a child.
That a child might endanger the life of its mother is not a justification for killing a child.

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The point of this post is not to judge sinners. Judgment is the responsibility of God and the kings of the earth. Nor is the point of this post to judge kings who are sinners.

Instead, the point of this post is to entreat the kings and rulers of this world to enact just laws that protect the lives of innocent children, and justly punish those who take their lives.

May God bless this world with more nations that protect the lives of the unborn,


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