Just GodJune 21, 2017
The ancient concept of “justice” has, for the most part, been swallowed whole by the modern notion of “fairness.” The word “justice’ seems only to live on in the phrase “social justice,” which generally means equal amounts of money for everyone, just to be "fair." The commonly-held concept of how to achieve this specific sort of fairness is for the government to use its powers of taxation to take away wealth from the wealthy, and to hand that wealth out to the unwealthy—in the name of “social justice." Politicians seem to enjoy promising such hand-outs to voters, and voters seem to enjoy hearing them do so. So one political party gets swept out of office by another party, which perhaps will prove as bad at keeping its promises as the previous one proved to be.
So familiar and enamoured are we with the merits of "fairness" that the current crop of popular atheists find great fault with the God of the Bible for his obvious "unfairness." But the God of the Bible has never claimed to be fair. He claims to be just. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Psalm 97:2).
God's justice has a close relationship to God's love, since God's love was supremely expressed by sending his Son into the world--and to the cross--to meet the demands of his justice. As the Apostle Paul wrapped up his definitive explanation of the glorious gospel of Christ, he wrote, "Note then the kindness and the severity of God..." (Romans 11:22).
Some angry atheists believe that God is obligated to be “fair.” Judging that he is not, they emphatically withdraw their support. Richard Dawkins is a notable example. “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction," he writes in his hot-tempered book The God Delusion. He goes on, theologically speaking, to describe God as "jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak …”
Being an atheist, Dawkins’ idea of justice is, by necessity, an ill-defined, flexible thing. (Such are the philosophical problems of people who do not believe in moral absolutes--or in divine law-givers.) At the same time, charging God with being a “control-freak” is problematic, since the continuing existence of the whole world--and all of us who live in it--depends entirely on the good will and sustaining power of God. (Our hearts and lungs don't pump and oxygenate blood because they just think they should.) It is by the direct involvement of God that we humans "live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). In contrast to Dr. Dawkins, the Apostle Paul, in presenting his majestic explanation of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, poured out his praise for God’s love (Romans 8:38,39) and for God's deep wisdom and knowledge and his unsearchable justice and ways (Romans 11:33).
So then what about all the cruelty and pain and death and destruction involved in human history? Is all of that suffering, or even some of it, "fair"? The Apostle's claim is that it will take all of the accomplishments of the gospel in all of the world, and in all of human history, to fully realize the full dimensions of "the kindness AND the severity of God." As Mr. Berra once said, "It ain't over till it's over."