God's Justice (was Re: George's reply to Howard)

From: Terry M. Gray (grayt@lamar.colostate.edu)
Date: Sat Dec 07 2002 - 13:21:41 EST

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    Here are some brief responses to some who responded to my post:

    Wayne wrote:
    >Terry Gray wrote:
    >> have. As has been put by others much more eloquent than I, the
    >> mystery is not why God judges sinners, but why God is merciful toward
    >> any.
    >> God's judgment upon the Amelekites was perfectly just--their cup was full.
    >You may have a point here. These passages have always
    >been difficult for me to stomach, but one of the things
    >I found that I had to remind myself as I struggled
    >through them was that they can only be justified if
    >_God_ had made that judgement. So at some point, I
    >really am forced to accept this on faith.

    And by what the Bible says. See Genesis 15:13-16. The delay in
    entering the land was due in part to the fact that "the iniquity of
    the Amorites is not yet complete"

    >Although this is not a very satisfying, one aspect
    >that we should remember is that members of a family
    >did not tend as much to be independent agents, but
    >colaborated as a group. So, I don't say this is good,
    >but this is one of the real problems that occurred in
    >Viet Nam for example where the Viet Cong surreptitiously employed
    >"civilians" to do some of
    >the "military" type work...

    I hope it is clear that from previous posts that I have made on this
    subject that my defending the practice in the Old Testament and God's
    and Israel's justice in doing it there does not mean that such
    genocide transfers to our modern situation in any fashion whatsoever.
    No modern political entity has (or will have) the theocratic status
    that OT Israel had. Nothing of this sort will take place again under
    the direct command and approval of God until the final judgment. The
    ethics of warfare are extradinarily complicated and I'm not
    necessarily commenting on them here other than to say that the Old
    Testament approval of such genocide should not be used to defend a
    present day warfare practice.

    And to Jim who wrote:

    >Terry, you've left the science out of your religion. That leaves you
    >with dogma. Not very attractive. Science says human suffering is a
    >result of imperfect evolution. You say that "God made us to suffer"
    >(unless you've changed your stance to believe in a literal Adam, Eve,
    >the garden and talking snake). I assume that you consider yourself
    >an ethical person. How do you justify promoting this hateful,
    >judgmental God? Note: you can't say "because the Bible says so"
    >because you believe in evolution and the Bible clearly does not.

    If accepting divine revelation is accepting dogma, then I'm guilty as
    charged. So what? If there is such a thing as divine revelation, then
    it is just as much a source of knowledge as science. Say what you
    will about the "scientific" basis of suffering. I don't accept that.
    I believe it is due to sin. And, no, God didn't make us to
    suffer--the first humans were created without sin and the accompaning
    consequences. And, yes, my Adam and Eve probably look pretty literal
    to you, although I suspect my position is much more nuanced than
    what's implied in your parentheses above. As to God's character and
    my ethics. Good and righteous character carries along with it hatred
    of evil and judgment of it. No apologies there! The judge who lets
    the criminal off is a wicked judge and most ethical folks would be

    The amazing thing about the gospel is that God's took on the
    punishment of our sin upon himself in His Son. Notice that God does
    not let sin go unpunished. He *can't* if He is a holy, righteous, and
    just God. Burgy, it's not that God is any less judging and wrathful
    toward sin today in the "gospel era" than He was toward the
    Amelekites. But that wrath is taken on by Himself in Jesus Christ
    when he became man, suffered, and died on the cross. Apparently,
    though I don't think God has revealed all the details concerning how
    this work, the atonement was efficacious for Israel (part of the
    point the animal sacrifices) and not for the Amelekites. Although I'm
    sure some will be quick to point out some of the universalist
    sounding passages in the Bible, it seems clear to me that the scope
    of the atonement is limited, i.e. not everyone is saved by it (thus
    the Amelekites and other Canaanite nations destroyed in the
    conquest). But the bottom line point is that God's love and mercy and
    wisdom was demonstrated in a way that did not compromise his justice
    (Rom. 3:21-26).

    At 11:46 AM -0500 12/7/02, RFaussette@aol.com wrote:
    > It is hard. I have witnesssed the death of an innocent. It is very hard.

    First of all, my exact point is that there are no innocents in God's sight.

    Secondly, I'm not suggesting that it's not hard in the sense that you
    seem to be speaking. It is not hard, in my opinion, to see that
    sinners deserve God's wrath justly. When he executes it we should not
    be surprised, offended, or outraged (and we shouldn't call it
    murder--capital punishment is killing but it's not murder).

    Extremely thankful for the atoning work of Jesus Christ knowing my
    own sinfulness,


    Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
    Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
    grayt@lamar.colostate.edu  http://www.chm.colostate.edu/~grayt/
    phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801

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