justice wins

My creative colleague Jeremy Grinnell (Asst. Prof. of Systematic Theology) has not read Rob Bell’s book (though he has agreed to review it for JETS), but he was troubled by the lopsided rhetoric in Rob’s promo video. He noted that the video will persuade many people, not because of its content but because of the power of its narrative. To prove that narrative can be equally used for the opposite view, Jeremy wrote a short piece which, though not his full position (because it’s equally extreme on the other side), illustrates the rhetorically powerful yet easily refutable logic of Rob’s piece.

As Rob might say, 

Here

it

is:

Several years ago I was touring a holocaust museum, and I was deeply moved the images of suffering and inhuman brutality that I saw there. And near the end of the tour on the wall was a picture of Hitler standing in front of the Eifel Tower in Paris. I and many who were with me were struck by the idea of Hitler enjoying the beauties of Paris while at the same moment one of the greatest genocides the world has ever known was being carried out on his orders.

But apparently not everyone saw it exactly the same way

Sometime in the previous few hours, somebody had attached a hand written note to the picture, and on the note they had written, “It’s okay because God forgave Hitler too.”

God forgave Hitler?

He did?

And someone knows this for sure?

And felt the need for the rest of us to know?

Do the most evil and unrepentant people in history, remaining what they are, still make it to heaven?

And what of those who aren’t quite so evil as that—Child molesters, racists, drug lords.

And what of the rest of us who only yell at our children, cut people off on the highway, and cheat on our taxes?

And what makes our evil less and Hitler’s more?

Is it the number of people you hurt? Or how badly? Or whether anyone else knows? Or whether you meant to?

And what if you’re the one who was molested or your loved ones murdered because of their ethnicity?

And then there’s the question behind the question?

The real question… What is God like?

Because millions and millions were taught that the primary message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that God is willing to forgive everybody no matter who they are or what evils they’ve committed against the rest of us.

So what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that God is willing to forgive the perpetrators of evil, regardless of whether or not their victims ever see justice. That God is willing to let slide things that we mustn’t.

But what kind of God is that?

Can a God so uninterested in justice be good?

How can that God ever be trusted?

How could that ever be…good…news?

This is why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith.

They see it as an endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies, and say, “why would I ever want to be a part of that?”

See what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like.

What you discover in the bible is so surprising, and unexpected, and beautiful, that whatever we’ve been told or taught, the good news is even better than that, better than we can ever imagine.

It means pure and perfect justice, no wrong accusations, no punishments that don’t fit the crime, no hidden motives, no unaccounted pains or sorrows. But overflowing compensation for anyone who’s ever been hurt or betrayed.

The good news is that “justice wins.”

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61 thoughts on “justice wins

  1. Pingback: Justice Wins (via Don’t Stop Believing) | mgpcpastor’s blog

  2. Jeremy is brilliant. Also looking forward to reading your response, Dr. Wittmer. Although what I’d really love to hear (from Rob Bell or any of the others who share his view) is why “love” means unqualified forgiveness for those who neither ask for it nor are personally convicted of their wrongdoing. But I guess if you have a low view of sin you can also have a low view of forgiveness.

    I love my wife’s response to Bell’s video, though. She simply asked, “How can he say these things and still reference the Bible?” I guess non-evangelicals can see right through the rhetoric.

  3. Perhaps what’s most frustrating about the video, questions, and book is that Rob will, along with the other leaders in this movement, not interact with any negative responders. It seems to be a pattern of “let’s have a conversation”, drop a few bombs, and sneak out the back door without any sense of accountability or need to interact/read any opposing view. It seems that everyone is welcome except those who hold any conservative view…strange thought.

  4. “See what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like.”

    Whatever our views are they fall short. What I believe about God and what God is like is never the complete picture. Same goes for heaven and hell. Knowing God is not the same thing as knowing a bunch of stuff about God. Why can’t Rob’s view come from the Bible? As if there is only ONE view…geez!

  5. Those who frame the terms of the “conversation” will typically win the…well…debate…

    I am struck by the fact that in this whole ‘conversation’ little is being said of the horrible offense of sin (which helps bring God’s justice into focus). I’ve just printed Kevin DeYoung’s 20-page review of the book, and am hopeful that he will interact with this. It seems to me a crucial point.

    Moreover, has anyone caught the arrogance that comes off in the promo video? Something about how Christianity has, for thousands of years, taught that God saves a few and the rest are condemned to eternal hell, but thankfully now Bell has come along to save us from this barbaric truth?

  6. Isn’t there a huge problem with that “Justice wins” narrative? Namely that the traditional view of “who gets into heaven” would deny access to Jews who have refused to confess Jesus as Messiah and Lord. In this narrative, Jews who died in gas chambers are awaiting a worse fate after death because of their unbelief. If they are not, then isn’t this the very thing that Rob Bell is trying to promote?

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  13. Re: Dec
    while relevant to the subject matter, your ideas come from (like Bell’s) human logic and are based on emotional arguments rather than Scripture. Nowhere in the Bible do we learn that if you died a horrible death you get off the hook for Hell somehow. Hell is the right and just punnishment for ALL of us, regardless of if we lived great or crap lives, died easy or awful deaths. We have all flipped the God of the universe off and said, ‘i don’t want YOU just Your stuff’ and for that treasonous act we all deserve death. The good news is that, for those who put their faith in the finished work of Christ, He absorbes that punishment for us and we get His righteousness (perfection) applied to us.
    Maybe i’m missing your point but … dying an awful death doesn’t get you into heaven – only JEsus does.

  14. Bell is appealing to the pop culture as a source of authority because as a persona Gandhi is a kind of popular saint. Right or wrong, I think many of the blogs making a counter argument are missing the point when they just dig into the same old doctrinal stuff. I appreciate that this blog is at least attempting a counter argument using the same tools as Bell.

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  16. Wesley:

    My point isn’t that an awful death gets you into heaven. Here’s my point.

    The author of the “justice wins” narrative says that a God who lets Hitler get away with his evil acts done against Jews is not a God to be trusted. But what about a God who consigns Hitler and the Jews he murdered to the exact same fate?

    If you don’t see the unbearable tension in this then I don’t know what else to say. That people seem to be completely ignorant of this is quite something.

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  20. In yourparody of Rob Bell’s questions from the video, you say this early on:

    God forgave Hitler?

    He did?

    And someone knows this for sure?

    And felt the need for the rest of us to know?

    Do the most evil and unrepentant people in history, remaining what they are, still make it to heaven?

    I am not sure of you particular theological views, but doesn’t this fall short of considering our own lives in light of reformed Calvinism and the doctrine of total depravity? What if I inserted my name in place of Hitler’s? What if we each replaced Hitler’s name with our own? How would we handle it in light of the doctrine of total depravity?

    I’m not sure Hitler or me or anyone deserves to have our sins forgiven, right?

  21. Just goes to prove that he hasn’t read the book and he’s made up his mind already. A commendable practice in certain circles these days.

    It must be quite a burden to know who’s in and who’s out. What if Hitler honestly repented those last few days in the bunker and your buddy Grinnel bumps into him, Bonhoeffer and Bell in the New Creation – “Awkward!” eternal moment, no?

  22. Dec Said: “But what about a God who consigns Hitler and the Jews he murdered to the exact same fate?”

    Exactly.

    The Bible’s teaching on hell is not uniform. It isn’t in the Hebrew Scriptures until perhaps very late. The doctrine really evolved during the intertestamental period. In the NT, Gehenna refers literally to the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem, while hades is a term from greek mytholgy. That is enough to give me pause in being dogmatic on what hell is.

    Also, there are verses that seem to hold out a larger hope. 1 Cor.15:22-24: “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive”. Col.1:19-20 suggests that it pleased God to reconcile all things to himself. In Rev.5:13, every creature in the universe joins in singing praise to the lamb.
    That is enough to give me pause in dealing out death and judgment.

    I realize there are other scriptures that seem to deny this hope, and I am not arguing for universalism. I am just saying that things are not so cut and dried to me. Like C.S. Lewis, I do not believe there will be one soul in hell that wanted God. If anyone is there forever, it will only be because they will not have God on any terms.
    Where Hitler fits in this scheme, I do not know. Nor does my faith depend on the ultimate answer to that question.

  23. Dec. + Narnia –
    what you both seem to be arguing for is, in my mind, a very man-centered view of justice viz. someone who has committed the kind of evil that Hitler did should have more punishment than someone who just does a few bad things throughout their life. Many people make statements like, “if there IS a hell, definitely people like Hitlers and Stalins and rapists, etc. are there but not “good people” like Ghandi and Mother Theresa.” It’s this wrong idea that somehow we merit God’s favor by what we do in this life and if you can just do enough good stuff than you and God are cool. Now, i’m not saying Ghandi or Mother Theresa ARE in hell anymore than i’m saying Hitler is, BUT, if any of them are it is NOT b/c they did really bad things or not enough good things, it’s b/c the did not place their hope in the shed blood of Jesus for their sins – NOTHING else.
    Go to a country like North Korea and live, act, and speak loudly in a way that says, ‘i don’t respect you, i’m not going to obey your laws, and i’m going to act like i’m the one in charge and see how quickly you end up in jail or killed. How much more so when we do the same thing to the God of universe?!? Unless you think that fingering the Almighty God who made you isn’t nearly as bad as murdering 6000 people … a lot of people do i think! Our sin is far worse than we imagine – it’s so bad, God had to come and die a brutal, tortuous death. There was only one “good” person who ever lived and deserved heaven and His name is Jesus – true justice for everyone else is hell. It’s only grace that saved us – nothing we do or don’t do.
    I appreciate what Jared Wilson said on this whole issue – at least it’s got us talking out loud about issues we should be discussing. Glad to hash this stuff out with you’all.

  24. Wesley you are getting off topic. I’m not talking about how one gets into heaven. I’m talking about this “Justice wins” piece, which I think is deeply flawed as a critique of Rob Bell. Why I think that should be obvious from my previous two comments.

    Finally, Rob Bell’s main goal is to transform people’s views of God. You have just compared God to the ‘Dear leader’ of North Korea. In fact you’ve made him sound worse! This surely is a view that needs correcting, whether Rob Bell is right or wrong.

  25. Dec. –
    If one doesn’t get into heaven then where do you think they go? Hell has much to do with the concept of justice just as heaven has to do with the concept of grace.
    i also think Bell is trying to transform people’s view of God, i just don’t think it’s the God of the Bible he’s talking about anymore. A God that’s just ‘cool’ with treason is not just or holy, and a God that doesn’t punish sin is not just or holy either. The point of the gospel is that He did punish sin in Jesus, but that atonement doesn’t free someone who rejects it. Bell is arguing that God just ‘overlooks’ our treason and keeps ‘loving’ us even after we die despite the fact that Hebrews is clear that it is appointed unto man once to die and then face the judgement. Apart from being born again in Christ, that judgement goes bad for everyone.
    BTW, i’m not comparing God to Kim Jong anymore than any other leader of any country who actually takes treason seriously. I’m making an argument about scope there, not a direct comparison.

  26. I am concerned about the need of some to overanalyze Bell’s video. He throws out questions dealing with Theodicy and people of faith feel the need to respond intensely. If we can’t criticize his book, because we haven’t read it yet, let’s criticize his “lopsided rhetoric”…whatever that may be, and his “easily refutable logic”. I didn’t find any syllogisms in the video presentation or even any inductive arguments. I saw presentations of possible paradoxes and some cultural critique via sound bites – all via questions. We are mistaken if in this missional age that these are not touchstone issues he is dealing with. Maybe we can let it alone, read the book and offer scholarly critique in a brotherly fashion at the right time.

  27. Yes I agree popular culture trumps scholarly argument for the average person on the street. Like it or not Rob Bell is asking questions that reflect the culture and I suspect is working out his own evangelical baggage in public.

  28. Mark –
    you said, “popular culture trumps scholarly argument for the average person on the street.” Sadly, i think you’re right,which is why i think the evangelical community is reacting so strongly to Bell’s book – Jesus doesn’t refer to us as sheep for no reason and it’s not a compliment exactly ;) So, in a culture where emotional presentations and ‘spin’ prevail over logic and reasoned argument, people are concerned that Bell’s arguments barely veiled in questions will deceive many and confuse un-believers.
    To be sure, this is nothing new and God’s plan will prevail in the end. Just troubling to see such a large platform for the gospel wasted.

  29. Wesley, I do very much appreciate you sharing your interpretation of the gospel message with me repeatedly. But you are still side-stepping the issues raised by the original blog post.

    Bell is challenging the dominant view of hell by asking whether Gandhi is really in hell.

    The author of “justice wins” is challenging Rob Bell’s view of heaven by asking if Hitler really is in heaven. He goes on to say that in Bell’s view, “what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that God is willing to forgive the perpetrators of evil, regardless of whether or not their victims ever see justice.”

    This quote is where the issue arrises – what sort of justice will those who suffered the tragedies of the holocaust see according to the dominant view of heaven/hell? If the view of heaven/hell that Bell is critiquing is to be believed, the only justice the victims of the holocaust will receive is an eternity of torture spent in the company of their great adversary, because like Hitler they have sinned against God and have not put their faith in Jesus.

    You don’t have to tell me what you think again, Wesley. Given your criticism of my posts, I understand that you speak neither as “human” nor as an “emotional” being. But I would very much like to hear what the person who wrote “justice wins” thinks. He seems to suggest that the Jewish victims of the holocaust will receive eschatological resrorative justice, yet he appears to be criticising Rob Bell for articulating that very thing.

  30. Wesley,

    Since I have not read Bell’s book, I really can’t critique or defend his particular views. I would say, though, that I cannot believe that everyone gets the same treatment no matter what they do or do not do. This, to me, is not justice at all. Verses that say God judges us also say God does so according to our works. I do not think that God looks upon the man who helps the old lady across the street and the man who robs the old lady and throws her under the bus in the same way.

  31. Dec. –
    i’m not sure why you’re getting all ‘ad hominem’ on me. I certainly am a human with emotions and compassion for others; i simply try not to allow those things to make me look for ways around what the Bible teaches (not saying you’re doing that either).
    The logic of your argument about Jews who died in the holocaust doesn’t take into account the whole teaching Scripture. Firstly, the view of heaven/hell that Bell is critiquing is, largely, a straw-man and, thus, a false dichotomy, but he sets it up as what the bulk of evangelicals believe. the justice God promises in the end is not about punishing every time someone got killed or a bully pushed you down in the school yard, it’s about punishing sin and making all that is broken in the world right again. Basically, His bringing about justice will benefit His children, not everyone who ever lived. As Jesus Himself said, those who reject Him are still under God’s wrath and thus, will be on the losing end when God makes all things right again. Therefore, our hope for justice comes by placing our faith in Christ. Your analogy about Jews who died in the holocaust doesn’t work b/c you seem to imply that their fundamental position is innocence. Now, to be sure, the Jews/Polls etc who died at Nazi Germany’s hand were innocent before Hitler – they did not deserve that injustice – but each man and woman, Jew or not, will still stand before a holy God and answer for their own sin; not someone else’s.

    Narnia –
    i see what you’re saying but any argument that begins with “I think” is always going to raise flags b/c the bible is clear that our hearts are deceptive and desperately wicked. This is why i put a high view on Scripture b/c it tells me how God feels about it which i can trust is not skewed or mis-guided in any way.
    So the verses that say we will be judged according to our works are NOT speaking about our salvation but our degree of reward in heaven. Ephesians 2, for example, is one of the clearest places we see that salvation is by grace alone through faith; not of works, lest anyone should boast. So God looks on us all the same: guilty sinners which is why we need a Saviour. That’s why Jesus is such good news.

  32. Wesley, no personal attack intended, though I admit I was being a bit snide in order to make the following point: The implication of one of your previous comments was that I’m reading the situation merely through human eyes and emotional impulses, whereas you’ve bypassed those and gone straight to Scripture. You haven’t, and if you have then you are not reading the Bible rightly.

    My “analogy about Jews who died in the Holocaust” was no analogy. This is a real, social, pastoral, ethical concern.

    You seem to be ignoring most of the Bible, which speaks of God’s special care for the oppressed and vulnerable, and for his desire to give them “justice”. This doesn’t mean that they are without sin or that they “deserve” anything. It simply means that God is the kind of God who liberates captives, gives sight to the blind, heals the sick and raises the dead.

    How all this relates to the things you’ve said (and which I can agree with to some degree) remains open for discussion, which is why I think you ought to be a lot less settled than you are.

  33. Maybe i’ve got my history wrong then too: i thought the prisoners WERE liberated when we won WWII. God can sovereignly provide justice even through human means of government and military: Hitler was defeated and the prisoners were set free. God’s common grace is all around us in the courts and policing etc. and so justice is, to a certain degree, upheld. The attrocities of Nazi Germany were exposed and the country has still never fully recovered. That doesn’t bring people back from the dead or wipe away genocide, but it is justice to a certain degree. Maybe we’re just talking about justice on different levels? Still not sure where i’m missing you.

  34. Hi Wesley,

    Regarding “I think”… I think (haha) that God wants us to think. There should be no wedge put between “I think” and “the Bible says” because “the Bible says” is really “I think the Bible says”. For example, you think that the Bible teaching regarding judgment based upon works has to do with rewards for believers. I think Rev.20:12-13 is not about rewards for believers but is a judgment based on works for all the dead (I believe salvation is by grace, btw).

    That God looks on us all the same (as sinners) is true and is not true. Paul uses that argument to insist that Gentile as well as Jew has access to forgiveness on exactly the same terms. This is a main thrust in Romans. However, to extend that specific argument about the inclusion of the Gentiles to the place where righteous and unrighteous acts become meaningless (back to the helping the old lady vs robbing her and throwing her under the bus) is, in my opinion, to go far beyond the scope of Paul’s argument.

    Just my thoughts.

  35. Narnia –
    i see your point and agree to a certain degree. I’m referring to people who say, ‘i don’t think God’s like this’ [insert non-pc subject i.e. wrathful, jealous, etc.] when the Bible clearly says He is. What we “think” about who God is can often just be a projection of who we want Him to be. To be sure though, one can say ‘i think’ and still be speaking Biblically.
    I’m not saying that our actions are meaningless to God – the Bible is clear that we will give an account for every deed whether good or bad viz. our deeds will be weighed. As to the old lady analogy, God says, for instance, that He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, so He is not indifferent to our actions. But the blessing or with-holding of blessing based on our actions is not the same as meriting our salvation; our eternal destiny is by grace alone … or not, depending on where you end up i guess.
    Appreciate your thoughts. Hope mine aren;t too heavy handed.

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  38. Hi Wesley and Narnia_Dweller

    What do you make of Psalm 1: 4-6:

    4 The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
    5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
    6 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish. (NRSV)

    Is it possible that the wicked will not have any judgement but simply cease to exist? As someone says earlier in the comments, the narrative of hell enters into the bible later on. I’m not sold on my views of hell or heaven and tend towards a ‘new creation’ narrative which began with Jesus’ resurrection and will be consummated when he comes again. I don’t know how heaven and hell fit into the picture exactly, but I tend towards an understanding that where God is, heaven is, and where God is not, hell is. Since God will be all in all, that leaves the potential for the only place for hell to be, to be a non existent place. Hence those who do not stand in the congregation of the righteous (imagery of resurrection here) cease to exist.

    So that we are clear, and I imagine don’t need to discuss as I think we agree on this judging from your comments above, it is by grace through faith that we even get to stand in the congregation of the righteous.

    Grace and peace.

  39. Phillip –
    i dunno bro.
    First thing i’d say is that most who believe in eternal conscious torment of those who have not placed their faith in Christ believe such a horrible thing, not b/c we like it or smile at the idea of wicked people being punished – we’re all wicked and all deserve this punishment – but b/c we believe the Bible teaches it.
    Second, if Psalm 1 was all we had to go i suppose you could try to make an argument for anihilationism from that text. However, there are many other texts that speak to the eternality of the soul either to reward or punishment so you have to ignore a lot and isegete a lot to make your interpretation fit.
    I think the easiest and most common understanding of “will not stand in the judgement” is that they will not be found innocent b/c their sin is not covered by Christ’s death. “Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” doesn’t have to mean at all that they don’t exist, only that they don;t dwell in heaven. I agree that Hell is certainly where God is not and that would mean the unbridled release of all evil that is – even now- currently restrained. However, based on the whole teaching of the Bible, we cannot conclude that this means the unrighteous no longer exist, b/c Jesus tells us repeatedly that there is a literal place of punishment where those whom the Father does not “know” will go (not Gehena itself but only described in terms and imagery like this so we’ll know what it’s like and flee). Also, don’t be deceived by the argument that hell is not spoken of in the OT; there are plenty of references to the idea of eternal reward for the faithful and eternal punishment for the wicked (Dn. 12:2 and Is. 66:22-24 for instance). Just because the word “hell” is not used doesn’t mean the concept is not there.
    So, in short, i don’t think we can argue for anihilation from any Biblical text (including Ps. 1) unless we pull it completely from the Bible and try to make it say that; the Bible as a whole will not allow us to come to that conclusion.

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  45. Not even getting into the fact that you’ve not bothered to define what sort of justice you’re talking about (restorative or retributive, for instance), one sentence in your post illustrated the crux of your misunderstanding of Bell’s position:

    You wrote: “Do the most evil and unrepentant people in history, remaining what they are, still make it to heaven?”

    Now, what makes a person a universalist is if they hold to that statement.

    But Bell doesn’t. At no point in “Love Wins” (yes, I’ve read it!) does he say God drags everyone into Heaven kicking and screaming.

    In fact, he says quite the opposite. He affirms the reality of Hell and then points out that anyone who refuses to come to God through Jesus will be in Hell. Starting now and continuing for as long as they continue in their rebellion.

    But he is confident that God’s love is so powerful (one could almost say ‘all-powerful’) that ultimately, God will win over even the Hitlers and drug-lords and child-abusers.

    That is not Universalism. That’s not what you have (mis)represented in this post.

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  49. Rather than attack the “false gospel” of Rob Bell, I think all the puritans out there trying to protect presuppositional orthodoxy should do the mature thing, and say “thanks Rob Bell for your perspective, but we disagree” rather than use pejorative language and slamming him for ignoring you.

    I think one reason he might be ignoring you, although this is purely speculative, is because you justice wins types have had the floor for a couple of thousand years. So you have nothing new to say. We’ve heard it all. We’re highly literate in how wretched we all are. Low view of sin? No. High view of sanity, yes.

  50. The thing that is confusing about the justice of God is this. When one reads scriptures such as, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all that are oppressed.” It appears to be a present tense statement. It does not say will work, meaning in the after life. However, we see so many who in the midst of their horrendous situations, receive no justice or salvation in their life time, but die either in the midst of injustice or having lived an entire lifetime without ever seeing it. Well then, will there be justice after death at the judgement seat of Christ? This is the part that is very confusing to me. Since, salvation is ” by grace through faith.”
    all one needs to do is simply receive Christ as Lord and savior, repent of sin and mean it and they don’t receive judgement for their sins in the after life. This is an easy out wouldn’t you say? Dare we say unjust ending for those victims of the crimes? It leaves the victims of their crimes on earth with no justice in the end. It leaves us in the place of Jonah. Where God says to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry?” It says God saw Ninevah’s works that they they turned away from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. Then in the end of the story God says, ” And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city” So in the end God had pity on Ninevah, because they repented and stopped sinning. This says something about God’s heart in this story. That he relents and does not give judgement to those who repent and stop sinnnig. So then, there would be no actual justice for the victims of crimes, as long as the perpetrator repents and turns away from the evil they once did? This shows the mercy of God for the criminal, but what about justice for the victims. They still go without justice. Some might say well, they will receive a reward in heaven for all they had to go through. That is still not justice for the crimes committed against them. Some may say as well, that God says he will wipe every tear from their eyes. So maybe he takes the pain out of what happened to them or even removes it from their memory. This is still not justice. So in the end God will have mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy and will judge those he chooses to judge. We as humans just have to live with whatever he decides and not be angry about it.

  51. Tamara –
    i think i understand your question, but i don’t think we necessarily have to just ‘grin and bear it’ when it comes to God’s justice as you conclude. I would also caution anyone against taking a verse on it’s own – apart from it’s context – and drawing any universal conclusion about doctrine or the nature and character of God.
    It may seem unjust to you that someone needs only accept God’s gift of salvation by faith and be forgiven for their sins, but if we rightly understand penal substitution (think passover lamb in Exodus) then we see this free gift to us was not ultimately free at all – Christ was slaughtered on the cross to purchase that free gift for us. So justice is being served but the penalty is paid by Christ and not us. It’s also important i think to emphasize that suffering in this life does not merit any favour or special treatment from God. We are all sinners and deserving of God’s just wrath, but in mercy He chooses to redeem those He has chosen by no personal merit of our own. In the end, we don’t want justice, we want grace – humanly though we often want justice for those who have wronged us or those we love, forgetting that there is likely a list of people we have wronged who would want that same justice for us!

  52. When you say, “I don’t think we necessarily have to just “grin and bear it” when it comes to God’s justice, you are not giving any other solution either. What do you think then? Other than the fact that you proved my point. Yes, Jesus took the penalty, however the perpetrator still gets vindicated and the victim still gets no justice. I agree with you about what Christ did, paying the penalty for sin. In the end however, there can be no justice for the victim. Take a recent situation for instance, where a child was raped and then let go by the court system. This was do to not enough evidence to convict. The perpetrator is a Christian and says that he has repented to God and received His salvation. The child is also a Christian by the way and old enough to be severely scared by this. So now we have a child who will have to live out the rest of her life in fear. Fear not only of him returning to do it again, but night terrors and extreme PTSD. Not to mention extremely emotionally troubled and may have to be institutionalized from it. Now here is a great example of how God forgives the perpetrator and the victim gets pain, suffering and no justice. Neither in this life or the next.
    You sound like a person who has not had to suffer devastating things such as rape, kidnapping, murder, torture etc. You sound like a very shallow, Christian. Who’s answers are “Oh, just have enough faith,pray more, don’t question, don’t be angry at God and then everything will be ok. Someone who absolutely wouldn’t even consider the possibility that God would allow Christians to suffer with no justice.
    If I understand your argument, its that justice is being served by Christ taking the penalty of death on himself, this is true. Again you are missing the point though. A penalty being paid for someone else by a loving God is justice for the perpetrator, not the victim.
    Your ‘ justice wins’ declaration, sounds really nice, but we live in an evil word, with reality all around us. Even in the next life you are describing justice for the perpetrators of this world, not the innocent victims of horrendous crimes. You must live in a Christianity bubble, because we live in a world where evil runs ramped and unchecked most of the time.
    This is a world where pat, nice Christian easy , answers don’t really work any more.
    Nor do I believe even Christ would have been so trite as you.

  53. Tamara –
    i’m a little shocked by your response. Knowing nothing more about me than what i’ve written you make make many unfair assumptions about me personally and theologically. Did what i wrote offend you in some way? Where was I trite? Where did I say anything like, ‘just have more faith and pray’? You sound like you’re putting bad teaching you’ve been hurt by in the past on me – not sure what I did to deserve that other than respond to your posting.
    So you tell me then – I want to understand your thinking: what would justice look like for the child in your story who was raped? Should the man get life in prison (the child will certainly have a ‘life sentence’ from what they experienced)? Should the man be executed? Exiled from society? Beaten? Perhaps raped himself? Please believe, i’m not defending the perpetrator of this crime in any way, just trying to understand your understanding of justice and what you feel would serve it for this man. I’ll wait for your reply before i say anymore. Please, however, remember you know nothing about me – what i have or have not suffered, etc – so just respond to the question and avoid making anymore judgments about me.

  54. Pingback: Responding to a Video Trailer the Right Way « Words With Nate

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