Justice Part 2

Who's responsible?

Romans 9:22-24 (NKJV)

What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

But what about justice? Sure, God’s priorities are such that He has the power and the right to do anything He wants, just or unjust.

But that’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says God is just.

This is where things get complicated. The answer derives from the fact that that God isn’t merely more important than a potter. This gets back to the issue of God’s I AM being a higher level of existence.

If God foreordains “whatsoever comes to pass” how can he condemn people for actions that He foreordained? Isn’t God ultimately responsible?

Yes, but that little word “ultimately” is the key. There are often multiple levels of responsibility. We get a partial analogy from business, where multiple levels of responsibility are common.

Suppose something goes wrong with my new car. I expect to have it fixed, for free, by the dealer.

But what about the employee at the factory who made the mistake that caused the problem? Isn’t he or she ultimately responsible?

Well, yes and no. The employee is responsible, but not to me. The manufacturer may track defects and how they occur. If they do this, employees can be held responsible—but to the company, not to me.

I don’t care about that; I just want my car fixed. What matters to me is the warranty and the reputation of the company behind it. It’s the company that’s responsible to me.

So, we see that multiple people or organizations can be responsible for the same thing.

The question of responsibility isn’t a simple either-or question.

This analogy, like all analogies in theology, isn’t perfect. It only teaches a portion of the lesson—that responsibility can exist at multiple levels. An employee’s relationship with his or her employer is very different from our relationship with our creator.

Frankly, we aren’t capable of fully comprehending the God-man relationship; we can only bite off chunks of understanding.

The next lesson will take this a bit further.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.