Thursday, August 27, 2020

What Is Justice without the Bible?


A professional athlete recently asked (publicly and rhetorically) why it's so hard to do something unified for just one day.

He asked the question because the professional sports world has been responding in a variety of ways in response to the recent ordeal in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Some teams are boycotting games, some players are sitting out while the rest of their team plays, and some athletes are going about business as usual. The athlete referenced at the start was one of those players who sat out while his team played their scheduled game. Apparently he was looking for a full-on boycott league-wide.

His question is deeper than he probably realizes. Why is it just so darn difficult for this collection of unique individuals with varied backgrounds and beliefs to come together to do something that seems so obviously right?

The obviously right thing in his eyes, of course, is to advocate for justice with the platform they've been given as famous Americans. But there's an even more important question behind that idea.

What is justice, anyway?

Consider all of the protests and riots taking place right now in the name of justice. And consider what would the results would be if a large portion of the participants were surveyed, being asked the following questions:

  • What is justice?
  • Why do human lives deserve justice?
  • Where does the moral obligation to establish justice come from?
The answers to these questions would cover a wide spectrum of worldviews. There would be Christian answers from Christians, Christian answers from non-Christians, and a great deal of nonsense responses because many people have never thought through these things. But these are the essential questions to ask in the face of so many demands. If we don't have an established and consistent worldview, then all of the stomping and yelling is balderdash. 

Take a look at this clip:

What is the foundation of the worldview of these protesters? What are their beliefs about God, humanity, and justice? These questions must be asked. What will be discovered in such an endeavor is that they have no foundation and that there is no justice without the Bible.

Thinking back to the professional athlete I mentioned at the beginning and his bewilderment at the lack of unity in the sports world, the answer to his rhetorical question must be that we can't have unity for a single day if we are not basing our unity on the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. Justice itself cannot be justified without the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. 

In the current day and age, it's generally considered controversial and bigoted to assert that justice cannot be defended without the Bible. But it's true. If there is no God, from whom all objective standards of righteousness flow; if there is no revelation, from which His image bearers learn wisdom and understanding; if there is no judgment, by which all evils are truly punished; then, what is justice?

Without the axioms about God, revelation, and judgment found in the Christian worldview, all people are living in a random, chaotic, purposeless existence. Human life has no true intrinsic and objective value regardless of skin color or social class. There is no possibility defining the what or why of justice.

However, when the Christian worldview is embraced, based on the authority of the Bible alone, there can be true unity rooted and grounded in love. With grace and humility, Christians can come together and reason from the Scriptures about how to respond to sin and establish justice. There can be unity for more than just a day -- there can be eternal unity. 

Consider Ephesians 3:11-19:

Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Is this truly possible? Can individuals come together and be strengthened by the riches of God's glory so that Christ would dwell in their hearts? Can individuals, through love, comprehend the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge? Would it make a difference?

Yes and yes. And yes and yes.

The triune God exists. The Bible is His word -- the special revelation given to His creatures. The only name under heaven by which we can be saved from our sin is Jesus Christ. 

Equipped with these ultimate realities from which all other realities flow, all people are able to justify the concept of justice.

God exists as the perfect Judge and there will be a great Day of judgment. This basic truth is why justice matters. Christians don't believe in justice for justice's sake. Christians believe in justice for God's sake -- to reflect His love and care for those whom He has created because Christians are the hands and feet of Jesus.

Take away the Christian foundation and you will find utter absurdity. Justice has no meaning. Without Jesus, the people are deluded, not understanding what they are doing. They are enemies of the King, not servants. They are "lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God," (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

This declaration applies to all of the non-Christian counter-protesters as well. No matter what "side" people are on, if they are not on God's side, they are lost in their sin. By God's common grace, He will still use certain individuals for the cause of justice, but His reason is purely one of grace, not of merit. Thus, as Scripture says, "But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe," (Galatians 3:22).

So what's the point of all of this? What am I getting at?

As protests and riots take place, worldviews are being put on display. Those worldviews must be examined and not mindlessly embraced. Calls for justice sound nice (and, in many cases, are necessary), but they are empty calls if they are not filled with God's truth. A unified establishment of true justice is impossible if the starting point is not the Christian worldview.

The Christian message today needs to be what it has been for 2,000 years: Repent and believe. All sinners need to bow at the cross, recognizing what God Himself has done to take care of the justice we deserve. Understanding this divine mercy, we can all call upon His grace found in Jesus, the risen Savior, who declares sinners innocent based on His work alone.

From there, justice can be properly understood.

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