Tag Archive | social justice

Does the concept of justice even make sense today?

Does the concept of justice even make sense today?

Humans, I believe, want justice. I believe that is a natural and good desire that is innate within us. Where, however, does the concept of justice come from? How do we know what is right and what is not right? Does the concept of justice even make sense today?

The theme of the day is, “Have it your way,” “Do what’s right for you.” It’s, “You be you.” It’s, “You be happy.” It’s, “Free yourself from the oppressive shackles of society, family, and really any expectation at all.”

Don’t discard what’s valuable

Now, to use a disturbing and fitting analogy, we often sadly throw the baby out with the bathwater. No matter what the baby or the bathwater is. We throw them both out. I don’t think we should completely throw out the baby (of course!). I think there’s some definite truth to “doing what’s right for you,” “being yourself,” “being free from oppressive shackles,” “being happy,” and even “having it your way.”

But, does that mean that there’s not an actual right way to live? Does that mean that the actual best version of yourself might not require humility and the admitting of wrong? Do all restrictions have to be considered oppressive shackles (perhaps a train is most free on the tracks!)?

If there is actual truth and justice it might not just convict the bigoted and intolerant, it might convict me of wrong. If there is such thing as actual wrong, I’m not immune from justice’s scale. I myself could be found and wanting. Perhaps it could be found out that me “having my own way,” is not the way, is not right?

What if there is no actual truth or justice?

If, however, “moral truths” are nothing more than opinions of an individual and are thus infallible then what grounds is there for justice? If we believe in “truth” by majority—truth by popular consensus, then which majority, on which continent, at which time in history? And how is this actually very different than Nazism and “might makes right” morality?

People’s cry for justice would then be nothing more than mere power grabs, people asserting themselves over others. Crying out for justice would be nothing more than enforcing one’s own or a group’s preference on others. That does not seem very tolerant. “Who are you or who are y’all to enforce your opinion on me?”

When we say we can’t actually know what is truly right or wrong it undermines the concept of justice.[1] If we can’t truly know what is just how then can we have justice? If we can know what is just, how? Where do we get this concept of justice from?

So, is there actual truth and justice?

Can we know? Or, are we left in the dark to grope our way?

I believe our flourishing as a society is bound up with the truth. Our happiness is collectively tied to knowing how to live and living that way.

If the majority collectively says there is no actual truth then we will walk in epistemological darkness. And in the darkness, we will fall. We will trip into a thousand blunders.

If we say we cannot know what is truly just, then justice will wane. If there is no just, there is no justice. If there is no conviction that we are at least sometimes wrong, there will be no conviction that anyone is wrong. But, if there is the conviction that we are sometimes wrong, there must be a confession that there is actual truth.

There is a price to moral “freedom.” That cost is to shut the lights off and to walk in darkness.

I believe the concept of truth and justice makes sense today

I believe truth is precious. Although truth at times has rough edges. And at times I collide into it’s jagged ends.

“The modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything” (G.K. Chesterton).

“If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see” (C.S. Lewis).

“Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis on which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights” (Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny).

So, truth sometimes tears into us and sometimes hurts because it’s actually there. We get hurt when we act like it’s not. Because it is. We intuitively know this, because we care about justice. We care about people “getting what’s coming to them.” Because the concept of justice makes sense even today?

How, however, can we know the truth? And what hope is there for us who have been measured and found wanting on the scales of justice?

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[1] Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford, Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives, 95.

Justice and the Just One

I was considering the word and concept of justice today so I looked up the definition of “justice.” The search returned a few definitions that stuck to me: “moral rightness,” “the quality of being just,” and “moral principle determining just conduct.” To understand or seek justice then, we need to have an idea of what it means to be “just” or “moral.” We have to have a “moral principle” whereby we can measure “just conduct.”

In America today we have calls for justice. Justice is right and good. Christians especially are called to do justice and love mercy (Micah 6:8). Do the majority of Americans, however, know what “moral principle” we are basing our measurements of “just conduct” on? Do most Americans believe that there is a “moral principle” that guides us? If so, can most Americans articulate where our “moral principle” comes from?

It seems to me if the foundation for “moral principle” has eroded then justice does not have a foundation upon which to stand. Thus, I say this not because I am not for justice, I say this because I am for justice.

Perhaps with our calls for justice in America, we should also consider the foundation of justice: moral principle. Perhaps we should consider if justice can have a steady place on which to perch.

Perhaps we should also hear calls to return to moral principle and the bedrock of truth. Without truth, calls for justice ring empty.

I believe there is a basis for justice. Because I believe there is truth.

Jesus Himself actually said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is truth made tangible. He lived and walked justice. He is in reality what everyone should be and live.

I believe in justice and that we have a “moral principle determining just conduct” because the LORD has given it to us. Because He is righteous and “He loves righteous deeds” (Psalm 11:7) and “hates the wicked and the one who loves violence” (Psalm 11:5).

“O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; You will strengthen their heart; You will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”(Psalm 10:17-18).

Better News Than Politics

How does the good news of Jesus speak to politics?

First, I think it’s important that we see and agree that the good news that Jesus brings is better news than politics has ever or could ever bring. Let’s look at a simple outline of some forms of government that God’s people have been under in the Bible:

  1. Government by God (in Eden)
  2. Oppression and Slavery (in Egypt)
  3. Tribal Leadership
  4. Monarchy
  5. Exile
  6. Roman Rule

Out of the six forms of government only one was perfect: Government by God. And even that got messed up because of human sin. Representative democracy as good as it is, is not perfect and never will be. It has worked well. But it is important that we realize that it will never be perfect.

Jesus brings better news than politics can ever bring. Jesus gets us back to perfect government by God. And He does so by giving His very own life. Jesus will make things forever right (Rev. 21).

Let’s not put our hope in any political promise. Let’s hope in Jesus and in His Kingdom. Jesus is the true King and Savior.

Second, the gospel tells us our ultimate citizenship is somewhere else. As Christians, we live knowing that we don’t have a permanent home here. We’re looking for the forever and perfect home that is to come (Heb.13:14 cf. 10:34; 11:10, 16; 2 Cor. 5:4), a home prepared for us by Jesus Himself (Jn. 14:2).

Read More…

The Coronavirus and the Christian

How should Christians think about and respond to the coronavirus? Here are some initial thoughts…

Plague and the Problem of Evil

Christians see the world in a way that makes sense of the world. We have an understanding of why plagues and the problem of evil exist.

That leads us to acknowledge something else that’s super important to focus on: Jesus. Jesus did not leave us to our problems. He did not leave us to simply wallow in plagues. Instead, He Himself plunged headlong into our sorrow.

“The God of The Bible becomes completely human and hurts in every way that we do—from physical pain to social rejection, misunderstanding, hatred, violence, and death. He endures it all. And because he suffers all of this with us, he can empathize with our sorrow and pain. Even more amazingly, Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection are the avenues through which he overcomes all evil, pain, and misery and is able to offer us the promise that disappointment will give way to joy, brokenness to eternal healing, and evil to good. Because of Christ’s agony, death will die and life will live on forever.”[1]

Therefore, even in the midst of plague and the problem of evil we can point people to Jesus. We can point people to hope, no matter what happens. Therefore, Christian, continue to worship Christ as Lord and always be ready to tell everyone the reason you have hope even in the midst of the chaos of the curse and the coronavirus (1 Pet. 3:15).

Read More…

The Gospel Ripple

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28).

How does the good news of Jesus impact individuals, families, neighborhoods, and cities? Does the gospel make people prideful begets? Does it make people unloving and judgmental? 

Ephesians 4:28 gives us a case study of what the impact of the good news of Jesus is supposed to have. It should change individuals. If they steal, it should change them so that they no longer do so.  In the same way, the employer who is a jerk and does not treat people well is to change and instead be kind and care for their employees. The employee is also addressed, they are to do honest work and work as unto the Lord Jesus Himself.

So, we see the thief, the employer, the employee, the soldier (Lk. 3:14), and all types of people in all sorts of positions, are exhorted to not take part in wrong and destructive practices. That is the negative command. That is the, “Don’t do…” But there is also a positive command. Something we are told we must do. And that is labor. Whoever we are and whatever we do, there is something we must do. We must engage in labor, we must do the work before us in honesty. So the Christian is to work their best whether someone is watching or no one is watching. 

Read More…

An Imprecatory Prayer

God, You are good and You do all things well.
You are a God of justice and power.
Bring justice, we ask.
This land is full of evil.
People disregard people made in Your image.
People capture other people
and use them and abuse them.
O’ LORD, may that not be!
People plot and carry out senseless acts of violence
O’ God, bring justice!
Destroy the destroyers of the earth,
Destroy those who destroy Your good creation.
Pour out Your anger on those who have no regard for You and Your law.
Why should they escape?!
O’ Lord, regard and repay their wrongs!
This world cries out for justice!
And Father, Your sons and daughters,
whom You purchased with the blood of Your precious Son,
are disregarded
and slaughtered like lambs.
O’ God, regard Your servants, Your sons, Your daughters.
Protect, we plea!
For Your glory!
You deserve the nations crying out Your praise!
Bring that about, we plead.
Father, may all who refuse the salvation offered through Jesus,
who is the wrath-absorbing-sacrifice,
receive Your right and holy wrath.
And Father, we thank You for Christ!
Without Him we would be damned.
We are not better than those for whom we ask for justice.
It is but by Your grace and mercy that you have made us righteous and new.
Yet, even while we have Your grace and even Your Spirit,
we struggle with sin.
So, even as we call out for justice, Lord grant us grace and mercy for those who wrong us.
You are the Judge, vengeance is Yours.
And so, we trust You.
We trust that all those who do not receive Your grace through Jesus Your Son
will receive Your wrath from His hand.
So, Father, make us merciful and forgiving, even as we trust in Your justice.
It is through Jesus our Great High Priest that we come and bring these requests.
Amen.

A Few Thoughts On Genetic Engineering (part two)

Types of Genetic Engineering

As you read this, remember, “The best insurance against possible abuse is a well-informed public.”[1] So, with that in mind, let’s look at four types of genetic engineering.

First, and lest controversial, is somatic gene therapy.[2] The way I remember what somatic refers to is by remembering that soma is the Greek word for “body.” Somatic gene therapy involves the manipulation of gene cells within the body that are non-reproductive.[3] So somatic genes that are edited do not get passed on to future generations.

Second, germline gene therapy involves the genetic modification of the germline cells (eggs or sperm). So germline therapy changes the genetic make up of the individual and is thus carried on to future generations. That is one of the reasons that “No aspect of gene therapy is more highly charged than that of germline or germ-cell therapy.”[4] One of the questions that is important to ask regarding germline gene therapy is: “Will a ‘deleterious’ gene of today be considered a ‘deleterious’ gene tomorrow?”[5]

This discussion, I must remind you, is not some sci-fi dream, “Many assure that within our decade, depending upon the family and the circumstances, height, weight and even eye color will become elective.”[6]

Read More…

A Few Thoughts On Genetic Engineering (part one)

Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 10.26.23 PMThe topic of genetic engineering makes me think of the movie Universal Soldier where the soldiers were genetically engineered to have superior strength and heal quickly. The Boys from Brazil is another movie that has genetic engineering as part of the plot. In this movie there are ninety-four clones made of Adolf Hitler and sent to different parts of the world. Examples of plot twists and possible plot twists could be multiplied. Those examples are all fictious.

What is not fictious, however, is the reality of genetic engineering. So we  must realistically consider genetic engineering and its ethical implications. Specialists from varied backgrounds agree. Take these examples:

Megan Best has said: “Genetics will have an important role in shaping society in the future because it increases our understanding of how disease occurs and how treatments work differently between individuals. It promises new ways to improve the health of the population.”[1] “Full of promise, full of challenges—we will all be involved in the genetic revolution before we know it.”[2]

George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, said in 2016 regarding genetic engineering that “It is urgent that citizens around the world inform themselves and participate in this rapidly moving set of decisions.”[3]

“Prominent voices in the genetic technology field believe that mankind is destined for a genetic divide that will yield a superior race or species to exercise dominion over an inferior subset of humanity. They speak of ‘self-directed evolution’ in which genetic technology is harnessed to immeasurably correct humanity—and then immeasurably enhance it. Correction is already underway. So much is possible: genetic therapies, embryo screening in cases of inherited disease and even modification of the genes responsible for adverse behaviors.”[4]

The way we think deeply matters. Adam S. Cohen says this in his essay, “Harvard’s Eugenics Era”: “There are… forward-looking reasons to revisit this dark moment in [Harvard’s] past. Biotechnical science has advanced to the brink of a new era of genetic possibilities. In the next few years, the headlines will be full of stories about gene-editing technology, genetic ‘solutions’ for a variety of human afflictions and frailties, and even ‘designer babies.”[5]

Read More…

The Dignity of Human Life

Philemon: A Case Study of New Life in Christ (Part 2)

What do we learn about Onesimus?
Paul calls Onesimus his child, as he often does with converts, especially, it seems, those whom he had a special connection with through discipleship (cf. 1 Cor. 4:14-15; 2 Cor. 6:13; Gal. 4:19; Phil. 2:22; 1 Tim. 1:2).

Onesimus, had a common slave name, his name meant “useful.” Paul makes a pun here. He basically says, Useful was useless to you Philemon but now he is useful to both you and me (v. 11).

So, how was “Useful” previously useless? What did he do that explains the remark from Paul? He ran away from his master Philemon and likely stole money from him to pay for his voyage and new life. He used to be useless but not now, now Paul says, he is indeed useful.

We have already seen that Paul used a term of endearment by saying Onesimus was Paul’s child. However, Paul does not stop there. Paul says, in sending Onesimus back to Philemon, he is sending his very heart (v. 12). Paul has a deep bond with Onesimus, he has been helpful to Paul (the old man!) in prison. As Paul says, “I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel” (v. 13). So, Paul is making the case that Onesimus, though once deemed useless, is indeed useful both to Paul and Philemon.

Onesimus, proves his new usefulness, as we’ve seen, by helping Paul. But not only that, he is repentant. He is willing to go back to Philemon his master, a bold step. In that day, slaves could be branded with the letter “F” for fugitive or “T” for thief (if they had a “gracious” master). Other masters may have their slave executed, perhaps even on a cross. There was a near contemporary of Philemon, a very wealthy slave owner, that was killed by a slave so in order to punish the slave and make an example all of the man’s slaves were killed; all four hundred of them (Hughes, p. 161-62). In fact, in Martin Hengel’s book Crucifixion there is a chapter titled “the ‘slaves’ punishment,” and in this chapter he tells about one occasion after a slave rebellion where there were six thousand slaves crucified (p. 55). Read More…

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