God Is Not Just

God Is Not Just May 27, 2010

Definitions of “just” and why God is not that:

1.) merely: and nothing more; “I was merely asking”; “it is simply a matter of time”; “just a scratch”; “he was only a child”; “hopes that last but a moment”

God is not merely anything. God is always the unexpected more.

2.) precisely: indicating exactness or preciseness; “he was doing precisely (or exactly) what she had told him to do”; “it was just as he said–the jewel was gone”; “it has just enough salt”

“Precise” implies the ability of something to be pinned down, scrutinized, and measured, which God most assuredly is not.

3.) only a moment ago; “he has just arrived”; “the sun just now came out”

If God is a moment ago, God is also the next moment; God is both the distant past and the eternal future.

4.) absolutely; “I just can’t take it anymore”; “he was just grand as Romeo”

God’s absoluteness demolishes all absolutes, including God’s own absoluteness.

5.) equitable: fair to all parties as dictated by reason and conscience; “equitable treatment of all citizens”; “an equitable distribution of gifts among the children”

Although we wish God to be, God is not equitable.  The rain does, indeed, fall on the just and the unjust alike, but God’s creation is rife with creatures who are preternaturally endowed with more resources than other creatures.  Humankind’s history is a string of stories about the struggle for limited resources, not to share them equitably, but to hoard them and lord them over others.  And, like it or not, God allows this pattern to continue unabated.  Even the biblical narrative is one of unmerited favor upon some and destruction of others.

6.) barely: only a very short time before; “they could barely hear the speaker”; “just missed being hit”

God may be barely God, but God is also exceedingly God.

7.) fair: free from favoritism or self-interest or bias or deception; conforming with established standards or rules; “a fair referee”; “fair deal”; “on a fair footing”; “a fair fight”; “by fair means or foul”

One word: Israel.

8.) exactly at this moment or the moment described; “we’ve just finished painting the walls, so don’t touch them”

God may be temporal, but God is not able to be pinned down to a moment.

9.) good: of moral excellence; “a genuinely good person”; “a just cause”; “an upright and respectable man”

Here, of course, is the real rub, for this is what Christians most often mean when we say, “God is just.”  But good is by definition a relative descriptor, in the mix of “good, better, best.”  One man’s good is another man’s “not-good-enough.”  You give me a working definition of “good” (or, for that matter, “equitable”), and I’ll give you a half-dozen biblical examples of why God is not good, by your definition.

N.B., This post is part of a series exploring apophatic statements about God.

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