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The Problem of Justice

By Wertbag ~

The Problem of Justice

There is not agreement on salvation or hell within Christianity, but there is the classic and most common view, which is that salvation is via faith in Jesus only and hell is a place of eternal fire, torture and torment. Due to a system that only has one requirement for innocence and one punishment regardless of crime being unjust, some Christians have begun preferring either hell being a separation from God (how do you separate from a God who is everywhere and everything?) or annihilation (removes the torture element but still leaves the punishment). One of the immediate problems this raises is that God is declared as the judge, and it will be Him that you stand before for judgement. Yet if there is only one way to get to Him, then your actions do not matter and there is nothing for Him to judge. He is little more than an usher pointing the way to heaven.

Perhaps the most common objection to the classic view is the idea of eternal punishment for finite crimes. No matter what the crimes, from a victimless crime like lust, to a genocidal dictator, they are all due eternal punishment. There are no degrees, no lesser punishments and no consideration of any good that you may have done. You, for your lack of faith, are to be punished equally to the most horrific mass murderers in history.

Another big problem with faith only salvation is that there is no justice for crimes on Earth. If Hitler returned to his Catholic upbringing, and before he died repented and declared his faith in Jesus, then that would be all it takes for Hitler to reach heaven and spend an eternity in paradise. Meanwhile the 6 million Jews he horrifically killed all get sent to hell for failing to believe in Jesus. Christians will say there is no justice without God, but then extoll a faith only salvation message that removes all justice if there is a God.

One of the most publicised examples of this was Jeffrey Dahmer, the necrophiliac cannibal serial killer, who murdered and ate 7 people before being caught. While in prison Jeffrey converted to Christianity and did what he could to get right with God. Based on a faith only salvation position Christians have to celebrate Jeffrey getting eternal happiness in heaven, while the people he murdered get sent to hell.

There is also the contradiction in the biblical account of what justice should be. Both in saying the children should not suffer the punishment for their parents and the famous eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, verse which commands punishment to be equal with the crime committed. While we would agree that punishing children for their parents' crimes is unjust, we see that very thing happen many times in the bible text, from the capturing of various cities where the population is put to the sword, God killing everyone in Sodom for crimes the children couldn't have done or wiping out the first born of Egypt for the crimes of their parents. The bible sets the moral standard then goes about repeatedly breaking it.

As for punishments being equal to the crime, this standard is also repeatedly ignored in the bible stories. The death penalty for a victimless crime like picking up sticks on the sabbath or striking dead the man who tried to save the Ark from falling.

Why did God need blood sacrifices to forgive sin? How does killing an innocent animal and burning its corpse please God? Why did God not kill Cain for Abel's murder when He clearly states death is the right punishment for that crime? Why does He demand the children of the Caninities be killed when the justification for the attack on them was that they were sacrificing children? Why set bears to maul children for the victimless crime of name calling?

The problems with biblical justice are wide ranging and open up many rabbit holes of questions.

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net