Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Justice and an Eternal Perspective

Last night after work I watched the end of a police-suspense film [I'll leave the movie nameless as I talk about a big 'spoiler' for the movie below]. One reason I enjoy such crime dramas is because they prompt the viewer to think through issues of justice.

Near the end of the movie I watched last night, it was revealed that- previous to the story-line depicted in the movie- the chief protagonist of the film had planted evidence to make sure that a suspect who had tortured and killed a young child was found guilty for his crimes. The policeman was absolutely certain that the suspect was a child molester/murderer, but could not find enough forensic evidence to make sure that a jury would convict the suspect, so he took some blood from the child's corpse and put it in the suspect's home.

Crimes against children like the one just mentioned have (of course) always been disturbing to me, but now that I have a child of my own, I can barely stand to hear about them. Even though the crime mentioned above was fictional, I almost cried when thinking about the suffering of the boy, which the policeman described in graphic detail in order to make his friend understand why he was willing to plant the evidence.

After the movie I began to think of what I would do if I were in the policeman's shoes. At first, his actions seemed justified to me; if he was sure that the suspect was guilty of so heinous a crime, why not do everything possible to make sure that the criminal paid for his crime?

The question is: is planting evidence ever justified?

The answer is: NO.

The fact that we may sometimes tend to think "YES" points to the innate sense of justice within each of our hearts; this, I would argue, is part of the "image of God" within us (Gen 1:26), which has been radically corrupted by sin, but not entirely destroyed. We all know, deep down, that the guilty should pay for their crimes, and we may tend to think, on occasion, that those who are charged with seeing that they pay- the police and prosecutors- are justified in bending or breaking the rules to see that criminals are taken off the streets. 'If rules are not occasionally broken,' we may think, 'then no one will pay for the crime.'

But this line of thinking fails to take into account the justice of God. By faith, we know that God, the just judge of all the earth, will leave no crime unpunished. If a person escapes punishment in this life, then he or she will yet face the judgment of God. If a person is wrongfully punished in this life, then he or she will be vindicated before God.

In fact, there is a sense in which no one faces true justice before he or she faces God. For what is the just payment for a crime like the one mentioned above: child molestation and murder? What human court can administer a punishment that will fulfill justice in such a case? Will a lifetime in jail or a quick death truly make payment for such a crime? Only God has the wisdom and power to properly judge and punish lawbreakers; human justice, though absolutely necessary, is but a pale reflection of God's ultimate justice.

It is only when those who are responsible for justice in our society are firmly convinced of God's justice that they have the freedom to follow the rules in pursuing justice. A policeman never needs to plant evidence, and thus take a risk (however unlikely he deems it) of punishing an innocent suspect, because he will be sure that there is no chance that the guilty will escape punishment.



Blogger Rick Lannoye said...

Well, I can think of one person who would say that, even a child killer should not be punished for his horrific crime--Jesus!

Yeah, I know, I myself would have trouble following through on Jesus' teaching to return good for evil, instead of an eye for an eye! But it's our nature, our FALLEN nature, that is so inclined to hurt those whom we feel have hurt us!

But Jesus called us to a higher standard--his own! He told us that God is just not that into hurting people, even when our lizard brain instincts want to "give 'em what they got comin!"

To say, "Well, at least that guy will burn in Hell!" is to miss Jesus' point altogether! We might not like it when we're contemplating what OTHER people deserve, but the problem is that we are ALL sinners! The only reason someone appears to be righteous is due mostly to pure luck! Having been born into a good family, having never been abused as a child, orphaned or abandoned to live on the streets, etc. Most who commit aweful crimes began as victims themselves...and God takes all this into consideration, and that's why he forgives, and that's why Jesus did not believe in Hell! That's right, he didn't, nor could he have.

I've actually written an entire book on this topic--Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at, but if I may, let me share one of the many points I make in it to explain why.

If one is willing to look, there's substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. For example, in Luke 9:51-56, is a story about his great disappointment with his disciples when they actually suggested imploring God to rain FIRE on a village just because they had rejected him. His response: "You don't know what spirit is inspiring this kind of talk!" Presumably, it was NOT the Holy Spirit. He went on, trying to explain how he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering, not be the CAUSE of it.

So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn BILLIONS of people for an ETERNITY!

True, there are a few statements that made their way into the copies of copies of copies of the gospel texts which place “Hell” on Jesus’ lips, but these adulterations came along many decades after his death, most likely due to the Church filling up with Greeks who imported their belief in Hades with them when they converted.

Bear in mind that the historical Protestant doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures applies only to the original autographs, not the copies. But sadly, the interpolations that made their way into those copies have provided a convenient excuse for a lot of people to get around following Jesus’ real message.

2:00 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

It seems like you're assuming a priori that the many statements Jesus made affirming Hell must be "interpolations" because you do not like them.

Every crime is punished. There may be some child molesters who are not punished for their crimes either in this life or in the next, but that is not because the Holy Judge of all the earth has overlooked their offenses, but because He Himself has paid their penalty in the death of Christ on the Cross.

11:11 AM  

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