Monday, January 22, 2007

Is God Just? - A Christian Universalist View

Universalism is the belief that all humans will be saved. That no human will suffer for eternity, because God -the creator- loves us and will save us. Christian Universalism is a belief that encompasses both Christianity and Universalism. Christian Universalism states that God is all-loving, that Jesus is the son of God, that Jesus is a spiritual leader, and finally that all humans will be saved by the greatest sacrifice in history: The crucifixion of Jesus.

According to Christian Universalism, Jesus has a deeper understanding of the nature of God. Some interpretations of the New Testament reveal that Jesus, through his understanding of God, revealed to humans that God is not Just, but rather Generous. Generosity and Justice are contradicting terms. Justice is to give each exactly what he deserves. Generosity is to give each more than he deserves. Some argue that Jesus through his teachings revealed a generous God rather than a just one.

To inquire the validity of those blatant interpretations, those Christian Universalists provide biblical stories from the New Testament.

One such story is the parable of the "prodigal son" (Luke 15:11-32). A man had two sons. The younger asked his father to divide his father's fortune between the two of them. The man divided his fortune between his two sons. The elder son stayed with his father, helped his father, and was very obedient. On the other hand, the younger son took the fortune and moved out of his father's mansion and started spending the money on luxury. The day came when that youngster lost all his money and was in dire need. He thought to himself that he'd better get back to his father's mansion. He thought that working as a servant at his father's mansion was better than how he is living now. The youngster headed back home, and when his father saw him from a distance, he ordered his servants to make a feast. The father joyfully welcomed his returning son and asked him to join the feast to celebrate the return of his son. The elder son was confused, he asked his father: "I have been always by your side. I have been always your obedient son. You never made a feast in my honor.". The father answered: "You have been always with me, and all I have is you. But your brother was dead and now alive, he was lost and now found."

The injustice in the parable of the "prodigal son" is evident. The elder son was surprised by the obvious injustice, and reported to his father. The father in that story is being generous to his youngster. He didn't deserve his father's compassion, but the father gave it anyways. So if Jesus wanted to teach humans something by that parable, it would be that God is generous, not just.

I believe Jesus had a greater understanding of God than perhaps any other man. In turning to his parables, I believe that Jesus teaches us that God is not just. In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20: 1-16) the landowner (God) is not just, he is generous. In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) the elder brother is quick to point out the injustice of his younger brother’s being welcomed back home. But the father’s love and compassion for both his sons outweighs any concerns for justice. When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus (John 8:1-11) he came to her defense, even though the just law of Moses would have had her stoned. And as Jesus hung on the cross, he did not call down justice upon his persecutors, but forgiveness (Luke 23: 34).

Justice would have us say, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But Jesus said, “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” (Matthew 5: 39) Justice would have us do to others as they have done to us. But Jesus said, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) He also said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven: for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5: 44-45) Justice must have its roots in judgment. But Jesus said, “Do not Judge.” (Matthew 7: 1) All this indicates to me a God of love and mercy; not justice. (source)

PS: Inspired by this article [recommended-read]
PS: For biblical references, download the New Testament (PDF)


The Observer said...

I like what I read. Being raised as a christian, this has always been in my mind. I think that I have been a universalist christian myself. I did understand God's love and grace. I never believed that a God who is willing to put himself on the cross for us would ever condemn us to hell. I never believed in hell.

But I also wanted to believe that God is a Just. There is another parable in the bible that shows that he is. In Christian terms God sets the rules, we don't have to compare between each others. I mean if I gone astray and he forgave me and granted me heaven, that doesn't mean that someone who has been good and been granted heaven has been subjected to unjust because his agreement with God is the same of mine. God is gracious, and just, in that term.

Bo said...

This is interesting, but not necessarily true. God is just and there are many examples of his just character in the Bible. In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, the landowner gave the same wage to the workers regardless of how long they worked. It is an allegory for the fact that all who turn to Christ as their Savior will be rewarded, regardless of how long they believed. If someone converts on his/her death bed, that person goes to heaven, just a person whom might have converted at the age of 15 and lived to 100.
God is generous. Yes! However, we can't only look at the qualities of Him that make us "feel good". He is just and the Bible even says that he is a "jealous God". Paul also says in Romans that He won't spare all of his chosen Israel who don't believe in Christ, so why should we Gentiles expect special favor as well (Romans 9-11)?
We have to look at all of God's qualities to get a true picture of His character.

kinzi said...

DM, I haven't been able to comment on your blog for some time; it never went through! This is a test, as you brought up a fav subject!

Tala said...

"Generosity and Justice are contradicting terms. Justice is to give each exactly what he deserves. Generosity is to give each more than he deserves."

well Zaid, i don't think the two terms are contradicting.

from a 3rd Angle viewer, you judge generosity and justice based on quantifying the amount of reward to distinguish between both & based on the measure of deservance according to the amont of work practiced by us, humans.

i would see it from another angle, the angle of why give??

If i want to describe Justice: i would say it would be a reaction to an action which should be equal in a sense to the amount of action invoked, i.e the deal parties, the content and nature.

for Generosity: its an ACTION and not a reaction for making an unintended step from the second party, and has no purpose, and its not a reward. because he doesn't want something in return, its when you spiritually touch someone. and thats when its considered a reaction. but for the first party its seen an action.

but really,, before that, we should ask this is question, give what, and on what basis? and when?

maybe God doesn't judge us by how good we can be, rather than how Happy we can make him through our practices?

maybe God feels. i donno. maybe we feel injustice because we get jealous, but if you take every case individually, he was just. he didnt break a promise. he didnt promise the elderly with more.
he reacted to the love of his missing son. why would that make him unjust?

the question that comes to my head is what is the relationship with God that we have?

Qwaider قويدر said...

Why aren't you onQwaider Planet?? hmm, well, welcome to Qwaider Planet Then

Devil's Mind said...

Thank you Qwaider for adding me to your respectable aggregator.

I think a generous act is at its heart an unjustified act - A non-reasoned act.

If we act nicely to others for no good reason then we are defying the rules of justice. Kind of bending the rules.

He never broke a promise. Maybe. But this doesn't imply justice. In fact providing something that is not promised can be considered as injustice!

Tala said...

"providing something that is not promised can be considered as injustice!"

its called progress :D

or something you neglected its chances to happen!