Some contend that endless punishment for temporal sin is “intuitively and irreconcilably inconsistent with fundamental justice and morality.” Some contend right back that such a theological claim for that reason is arrogance , unsubmissive to God’s Word and rooting theology in our own moral perceptions. OK, I get that… but….
… anyone who claims humans don’t know justice and injustice, at some intuitive level, are standing on morally dangerous turf.
We are looking at Edward Fudge’s Hell: A Final Word, and Fudge (an annihilationist who wants above all to root his ideas in what the Bible teaches) contends that the pushback above fails to deal with some important themes taught in the Bible. What are they?
Here are our questions: Can we comprehend justice well enough to know when something is just or unjust? Is the accusation, rooted in our intuitive senses of justice, that eternal punishment does not square with temporal sin a good argument?
1. God’s laws to Israel assume Israelites and judges can determine the just from the unjust. Read Exodus or Leviticus or Deuteronomy and you will saw laws where God says the Israelite judges ought to know justice. Thus, “Do not injustice in judgment… but judge your neighbor in righteousness” (Lev 19:15).
2. Abraham bargained with God on the basis of God’s own theory of justice: “Far be it from you to slay the righteous with the wicked so that the righteous fare as the wicked!” (Gen 18:25). That is, it would be unfair, unjust, unrighteous. Abraham wins this argument because God is just.
3. Can God do whatever he wants? This is the cry from some today, and I’ve heard this more from the NeoPuritans than anyone else, but this makes God’s will, not God’s goodness or love or holiness or character, the ground of morality. God does not answer to creation; God is God. That God is God is what emerges, too, from Romans 9-11. Fudge admits that Paul’s argument in Romans 9-11 could suggest that God can do what God wants, and there is no one who can answer back — but “could” is not the same as “does.” The Bible, however, tells us that God will judge in righteousness and will do what is just (52; notice Acts 17:30-31).
At the bottom of this post is this question: Can we comprehend justice well enough to know when something is just or unjust? Is the accusation, rooted in our intuitive senses of justice, that eternal punishment does not square with temporal sin a good argument?