What is Biblical Justice?

Justice flows from God’s heart and character. As true and good, God seeks to make the object of his holy love whole. This is what motivates God throughout the Old and New Testaments in his judgments on sin and injustice. These judgments are both individual and corporate in scope.

Be sure to check out Dr. Metzger’s article What is Biblical Justice, which originally was featured in Leadership Journal. In it, Dr. Metzger explores what the biblical call to justice is.

5 Responses to “What is Biblical Justice?”

  1. Kelsi Shelton Says:

    Thank you for this article. My challenge is to seek to overturn oppressive structures in a loving and humble way–without being “in your face” or prideful, as in, “I’ve got it right and you don’t”. Of course this is what only further ostracizes the church and divides us.

    The way you started out with this article is key– Biblical justice is a holistic concept. The church too often puts emphasis on an individual, revenge-oriented justice, rather than a justice that flows out of love and humility and readily engages injustice on a structural level (business practices, political endeavors, public and private policies, etc..).

    Somewhere along the line it’s as if a message has been sent out that it is not a Christian’s duty to face these injustices head on with the confidence and heart of Jesus, and that instead we should focus solely on individual-focused endeavors.

    I think this is why “justice” has become such a loaded term– especially as non-Christians view the way Christians understand “justice”.

    I hope as Christians we can re-build a community that understands this deep Biblical call for cosmic, corporate and individual justice. I pray that we can become a community marked by our confidence in a Christ who boldly challenged oppressive systems. But I think the key is to constantly seek to overturn injustice in a redemptive–not a power seeking–way.

    Dr. Metzger, I am wondering if you can expand on the statement, “While morality and immorality are birthed in the human heart (James 3:10-18), justice is centered in God’s heart.” I’m not sure what you mean that morality and immorality are birthed in the human heart. Maybe I’ve just been out of Seminary too long…

    Thank you!

  2. Paul Louis Metzger Says:

    Hello Kelsi,

    I appreciate your reflections. Further to what you say, it is vitally important that we approach justice concerns from the standpoint of our own personal brokenness rather than self-righteousness. Being salt and light in the world flows from our identification and union with Christ and is bound up with being poor in spirit (Matthew 5:1-16). A personal sense of our own spiritual poverty will safeguard us against a power-brokering and prideful spirit.

    In answer to your question, I believe that the human heart is the source of moral and immoral actions. Regarding immoral actions, James writes in 3:16: “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” The practice flows from the passion/affection.

    Justice ultimately flows from God’s being, heart, and character.

    I trust this helps.

    Blessings my Friend,

    Paul

  3. Kelsi Shelton Says:

    Yes, that helps. Thank you and amen to what you wrote about approaching justice concerns from our own personal brokenness. Thank you again.

  4. chris laird Says:

    Paul,

    You son of a gun – you keep pushing me to read this justice business. Now I feel like King Aggripa who said to another Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” You know that I can’t take the petty moralism of church but I never considered that the overkill on “personal morality” was somehow correlated to the “downplay (of) social justice.” You also know that I have a concern to see the church centered in Christ and sharing life together and that I believe that the Church is a community that “extists for others.” But somehow, believing these things, I failed to extend that “being for others” far enough – all the way to include the “non-Christian” world. “After all, how can we be salt and light if we practice justice among our own but do not extend it to those outside the believing community?” You knew I’d be vulnerable to this message and I’m tempted to say, “I don’t care where you shove this kind of show, but just keep it zipped around me.” I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying . . . you did it again, you son of a gun!

    Resistantly yours,

    Melvin

  5. Paul Louis Metzger Says:

    Dear “Melvin”,

    You truly are as “good as it gets” (just like in the movie by that name)! As ever, thanks for your open, honest remarks. We all struggle in this way–except Christ. As Bonhoeffer remarked, Christ was/is truly the man for others. It is as the God who became human that he is for others. Isn’t it unbelievably amazing that God Almighty in all his holiness and purity is the most open of all toward engaging those outside the family fold? No doubt, it is because God is loving in his holiness–always reaching out where the rest of us fear to tread.

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