1. Hmmm . . .
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    08 Jun '09 03:15
    There has been more than one thread recently on the question of the “justness” of eternal torment (or any eternal unpleasant consequence) for either behavior (sins) or thinking (beliefs) during this finite lifetime.

    Now, to conclude that something or someone is “just”, one has to be able to define in practical terms what “just” behavior entails. If I say “George is ‘just’” or “God is ‘just’”, if you don’t know what I mean, behaviorally, by that word “just”, I might as well have said “George (or God) is ergorwort”.

    If someone says something like: “God’s ‘justness’ (unlike the human George’s) is beyond human understanding”—then they are saying nothing more comprehensible than “God is ergorwort”. (Which would seem to me to be a rather flimsy basis for “faith”.)

    So, my question is—

    What exactly, in clear and practical terms, does God’s “justness” entail?

    ___________________________________________________

    This question is not just for Christians, but for anybody who wants to venture in.
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    08 Jun '09 05:02
    Originally posted by vistesd
    There has been more than one thread recently on the question of the “justness” of eternal torment (or any eternal unpleasant consequence) for either behavior (sins) or thinking (beliefs) during this finite lifetime.

    Now, to conclude that something or someone is “just”, one has to be able to define in practical terms what “just” behavior entails. If I say ...[text shortened]... __________

    This question is not just for Christians, but for anybody who wants to venture in.
    Either you can pretend that we know god's personality, then we can discuss qualities like 'just' as well as we can discuss if George is just or not. And we raise ourselves to the level of god.
    Or we cannot pretend that we know god's personality. Then the quality of god, like 'just', is meaningless.

    Does the bible knows god? No, I wouldn't say so. God is depicted differently in various parts of the bible, god is not one and the same from page one to the last page. So the bible doesn't give us any clue of the true nature of god. Unless god is wimsy, schitzo, and psycotic. So we cannot know god better by reading the bible, sorry, but that's the way it is.

    By wondering if god is 'just' or not is futile. Only if you pretend he is of our level, we can. And that would be to belittle him.
  3. Hmmm . . .
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    08 Jun '09 05:32
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    Either you can pretend that we know god's personality, then we can discuss qualities like 'just' as well as we can discuss if George is just or not. And we raise ourselves to the level of god.
    Or we cannot pretend that we know god's personality. Then the quality of god, like 'just', is meaningless.

    Does the bible knows god? No, I wouldn't say so. God ...[text shortened]... e. Only if you pretend he is of our level, we can. And that would be to belittle him.
    Well stated.


    It raises questions about what is our proper attitude toward (or relationship with) a god—assuming for this thread that such a god exists—whose qualities, such as “justness”, we cannot know.


    I won’t belabor that (at least just yet) because I’m sure you already know that, and I’d like to hear from others first, perhaps from some who disagree.
  4. Cape Town
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    08 Jun '09 05:51
    In nature social animals evolve systems that are largely cooperative, but at the same time individuals may seek to cheat the system to their own advantage. As a result there also evolves a tendency to discourage cheating by others. The usual method is to punish those who cheat the system. In human society we call this 'Justice' or 'revenge' depending on the context.
    As societies have grown we have come up with whole institutions to administer this system (the justice system). However we do not just focus on punishment but also use incarceration, eviction or the death penalty to achieve the same result - prevention or deterrent to cheating.
    There is a recognition in most justice systems of the ultimate aim of the system (to prevent or discourage repeat crimes). If a course of action achieves that goal without actually punishing anyone - it may still betaken.
    Many Christians however seem to believe that 'Justice' is a system whereby there is a punishment for each crime as a matter of fact - without any apparent purpose.

    If a 90 year old man is known to have committed murder in his 20s it is recognized that punishing him is unlikely to serve any purpose in terms of prevention and most justice systems will recognize that. However the view of some Christians is that punishment is 'due' whatever the time frame.

    This 'eye for an eye' view of justice also leads to other possibilities such as someone other than the perpetrator receiving the punishment on behalf of the guilty party - it appears to serve no purpose but rather simply 'balances the equation'. This concept is central to the idea of sacrifice - and hence central to Christianity.
  5. Illinois
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    08 Jun '09 06:17
    Originally posted by vistesd
    There has been more than one thread recently on the question of the “justness” of eternal torment (or any eternal unpleasant consequence) for either behavior (sins) or thinking (beliefs) during this finite lifetime.

    Now, to conclude that something or someone is “just”, one has to be able to define in practical terms what “just” behavior entails. If I say ...[text shortened]... __________

    This question is not just for Christians, but for anybody who wants to venture in.
    The "justness" of God is strictly a matter of faith. For instance, Deuteronomy 32:4 reads, "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he." The dictionary definition of "just" reads, "acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good." Therefore, Deuteronomy 32:4 is saying God acts in conformity with what is morally upright or good. We may not understand God's ways, but that does not mean that God is not acting justly; we have faith that He is. Take for example, Abraham: God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham did not understand what God was up to, but nevertheless trusted that God was just. God, who knows the beginning from the end of all things, is in a far more advantageous position than we are to understand his own ways and why they are, ultimately, just. From earlier discussions, I've come to the conclusion that God's "goodness" or "justness" is entirely a matter of faith; i.e., without God revealing that He is just and good, etc., we would not be able to discover that about him on our own.

    As an aside, I'm starting to think that this whole issue of whether God is just or not goes right to the heart of the Christian faith. It's an issue of trust, essentially. Satan's first accomplishment was to cause Eve to distrust God. He said you will die, but you won't die; He's hiding something from you, something good called, wisdom (paraphrase). Satan insinuated that God did not have Adam and Eve's best interests in mind and they bought it. Humankind has wrestled with unbelief and distrust of God ever since. It is no wonder, then, that the Savior of the human race, sent to reconcile men with their Creator, should call the world to believe in and trust in him, as a requisite for salvation. God is so just, in fact, that only those who believe in and trust in him can be considered "just" themselves: "the just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). Can we find it in ourselves to trust that God is just without his revealing it to us? I daresay not.

    Anyway, to answer your question, I think God's justness entails the following:

    (1) He is trustworthy
    (2) He is merciful
    (3) He executes righteous judgment

    All three of these are exhibited in Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God.
  6. Hmmm . . .
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    08 Jun '09 06:39
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    The "justness" of God is strictly a matter of faith. For instance, Deuteronomy 32:4 reads, "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he." The dictionary definition of "just" reads, "acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good." Therefore, Deuteronomy ...[text shortened]... f these are exhibited in Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God.
    Hi Epi. Hope all is well with you and yours.

    I’ll take your (1). There is a line about “faithful and just” in, I think, 2nd Peter that bears on that (can’t recall it offhand, and I’m too tired to go look it up).

    The reason I asked for a “clear and practical” definition of just behavior was to avoid the kind of tautological statements that I think your (3) represents (and which dictionary definitions sometimes seem to be prone to).

    With regard to your (2), is trustworthiness part of justness, or do we trust someone because of their perceived justness? (Again, the 2nd Peter line about “faithful” and “just” might imply some distinction between trustworthiness and justness.)

    If one has faith that God is just, one still needs to know what that justness means that one has faith in.

    I did not intend by my George/God example that the definition of “just” for George must be the same as for God—sorry for any confusion—only that it needs equally to be defined if one is to know what one is talking about.

    Also, I am not inquiring into whether any particular conception of God entails “justness”, without contradiction, or not; that, it seems, is being explored in other threads. I am interested here in only in what such “justness” means.

    Got to pack it in for tonight now; got some demands tomorrow.
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    08 Jun '09 07:341 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd

    So, my question is—

    What exactly, in clear and practical terms, does God’s “justness” entail?
    For the sake of brevity, 'balance'.

    I won't be going into detail, but I'm thinking of the idea of debt as imbalance; weighing your heart in the scales of Ma'at.
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    08 Jun '09 07:55
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    (2) He is merciful
    What is 'mercy' if not 'the giving of less than the just punishment'?
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    08 Jun '09 08:36
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    What is 'mercy' if not 'the giving of less than the just punishment'?
    Isn't repentance, and therefore mercy, really the desired end of justice?

    If God was incapable of seeing the sincerity of a person's repentance, he could not be just, even though he were capable of imposing a sentence.

    Having mercy on someone is therefore an act of justice.
  10. Cape Town
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    08 Jun '09 09:08
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    Isn't repentance, and therefore mercy, really the desired end of justice?

    If God was incapable of seeing the sincerity of a person's repentance, he could not be just, even though he were capable of imposing a sentence.

    Having mercy on someone is therefore an act of justice.
    What is the 'justice' whose desired end is repentance and therefore mercy? Is it a different concept from being 'just'? Remember that 'just' was "acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good."

    If God imposes a sentence on someone, he is presumably applying some sort of rule that requires a sentence for a crime. Is that rule not justice? If he is then merciful and does not carry out the sentence, he is not following the rule and is therefore not applying justice and is surely not just.

    Most justice systems in society do not have repentance (and therefore mercy) as their desired ends. Their desired ends are the prevention of further crime. It is true that repentance is an indicator that further crime by the individual is less likely - and thus mercy may be given, but justice systems do not specifically push for repentance and are often just as content with other solutions - such as incarceration or the death penalty.
  11. Illinois
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    08 Jun '09 10:38
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    What is the 'justice' whose desired end is repentance and therefore mercy? Is it a different concept from being 'just'? Remember that 'just' was "acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good."

    If God imposes a sentence on someone, he is presumably applying some sort of rule that requires a sentence for a crime. Is that rule not ju ...[text shortened]... often just as content with other solutions - such as incarceration or the death penalty.
    If God imposes a sentence on someone, he is presumably applying some sort of rule that requires a sentence for a crime. Is that rule not justice? If he is then merciful and does not carry out the sentence, he is not following the rule and is therefore not applying justice and is surely not just.

    Yes, God is applying a rule that requires a sentence for a crime, but that rule is Himself. God is not a cold and heartless institution, nor an imperfect justice system like we are familiar with in our respective countries; applying the rule of law without respect to persons, yes, but not to the detriment of His capacity to exercise compassion. Christ chewed out the Scribes and Pharisees for neglecting the "weightier matters" of God's law, i.e., "justice and mercy and faith" (Matthew 23:23). Although God's laws are good, and his sentences just, God's heart is also full of mercy and loving-kindness. That's why God told Abraham, "I will provide for Myself a Lamb," in order that He might have mercy on evildoers and forgive sinners of all stripes. The law leads to mercy; i.e., it's the law's purpose to bring sinners to repentance in order that God may forgive them.

    I'm probably not explaining well enough... I'm tired and need to sleep. More later.
  12. Cape Town
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    08 Jun '09 11:271 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    Yes, God is applying a rule that requires a sentence for a crime, but that rule is Himself. God is not a cold and heartless institution, nor an imperfect justice system like we are familiar with in our respective countries; applying the rule of law without respect to persons, yes, but not to the detriment of His capacity to exercise compassion. Christ probably not explaining well enough... I'm tired and need to sleep. More later.
    For those who do not repent, does justice have a purpose? I don't know if you believe in hell, but if hell existed, would it ever be just for anyone to end up there as a punishment?
    Are mercy and compassion wrong without repentance?
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    09 Jun '09 06:172 edits
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    Either you can pretend that we know god's personality, then we can discuss qualities like 'just' as well as we can discuss if George is just or not. And we raise ourselves to the level of god.
    Or we cannot pretend that we know god's personality. Then the quality of god, like 'just', is meaningless.

    Does the bible knows god? No, I wouldn't say so. God e. Only if you pretend he is of our level, we can. And that would be to belittle him.
    Whimsy? Schitzo? Psycotic? To be fair, the God of the Bible is opposed to one thing which is "sin". Of course, he has demonstrated a great number of ways to combat it and perhaps the best way is through grace via Christ. No doubt, it is a better route than the old one in the OT.

    It is my understanding that God's ultimate goal is to erradicate ALL sinfulness. So if sin equals suffering, should he not do so? The only question is should people be allowed to suffer eternally or even temporally for choosing sin over God? Should they even be allowed to choose sin?
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    09 Jun '09 06:251 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    Whimsy? Schitzo? Psycotic? To be fair, ...
    Perhaps I have to explain that part...:

    He is described in different part of the bible different qualities of his character. He is revengeful, jalous, loving, caring, missmurdering, bloodthirsty, caring, non-caring, etc etc. If a human being is described in every way god is described he would be catagorized as whimsy, schitzo, or even psycotic. That is what I meant with this passage.

    What what if he is all that? Isn't he right to be that? He is god for heavens sake, does a god really have to be sane? Does he have to be explainable? Hell, no! He is god!

    God cannot ever be explainable. Is it even a sin to try to understand him? To understand him is to level with him. Does an ant try to level a human? No. This ant would be a megalomaniac, of the same reason a human would be a megalomaniac if he says he understand god.

    So, back to the original question: Is god just? And I say: Does a god have to be just? Who are you to judge god?
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    09 Jun '09 06:30
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    That's why God told Abraham, "I will provide for Myself a Lamb," in order that He might have mercy on evildoers and forgive sinners of all stripes. The law leads to mercy; i.e., it's the law's purpose to bring sinners to repentance in order that God may forgive them.
    How does the concept of sacrifice fit into your understanding of justice and mercy?

    When I have asked Christians about sacrifice, especially Jesus' death a common answer is that a punishment is required in Gods justice system and Jesus somehow takes that punishment on himself. Do you agree with that? If so, do you have an explanation as to why the punishment is required?
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