Friday, March 18, 2011

How "Love Wins" Makes Justice Lose: What Happens When You Asks Different Questions About Justice

Michael Wittmer recently posted a piece of theological satire that is both comical and thought provoking. Jeremy Grinnell takes Rob Bell's question-asking video on Love Wins and asks a series of provocative questions on the role of justice.

It illustrates, rather profoundly, the other side - the really important side - of the issue of love and justice. It shows us that equally troubling questions can be asked such that "love wins" seems to make "justice lose."

You can listen to the audio version here.

And here is the actual text:

Several years ago I was touring a holocaust museum, and I was deeply moved the images of suffering and inhuman brutality that I saw there. And near the end of the tour on the wall was a picture of Hitler standing in front of the Eifel Tower in Paris. I and many who were with me were struck by the idea of Hitler enjoying the beauties of Paris while at the same moment one of the greatest genocides the world has ever known was being carried out on his orders.

But apparently not everyone saw it exactly the same way

Sometime in the previous few hours, somebody had attached a hand written note to the picture, and on the note they had written, “It’s okay because God forgave Hitler too.”

God forgave Hitler?

He did?

And someone knows this for sure?

And felt the need for the rest of us to know?

Do the most evil and unrepentant people in history, remaining what they are, still make it to heaven?

And what of those who aren’t quite so evil as that—Child molesters, racists, drug lords.

And what of the rest of us who only yell at our children, cut people off on the highway, and cheat on our taxes?

And what makes our evil less and Hitler’s more?

Is it the number of people you hurt? Or how badly? Or whether anyone else knows? Or whether you meant to?

And what if you’re the one who was molested or your loved ones murdered because of their ethnicity?

And then there’s the question behind the question?

The real question… What is God like?

Because millions and millions were taught that the primary message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that God is willing to forgive everybody no matter who they are or what evils they’ve committed against the rest of us.

So what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that God is willing to forgive the perpetrators of evil, regardless of whether or not their victims ever see justice. That God is willing to let slide things that we mustn’t.

But what kind of God is that?

Can a God so uninterested in justice be good?

How can that God ever be trusted?

How could that ever be…good…news?

This is why lots of people want nothing to do with the Christian faith.

They see it as an endless list of absurdities and inconsistencies, and say, “why would I ever want to be a part of that?”

See what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like.

What you discover in the bible is so surprising, and unexpected, and beautiful, that whatever we’ve been told or taught, the good news is even better than that, better than we can ever imagine.

It means pure and perfect justice, no wrong accusations, no punishments that don’t fit the crime, no hidden motives, no unaccounted pains or sorrows. But overflowing compensation for anyone who’s ever been hurt or betrayed.

The good news is that “justice wins.”


Matt Brown said...

Dude, I have to say that I'm pleased as punch to see you actually USING and WRITING IN this little blog of yours. I still plan to pop in to see you unannounced one Sunday morning. Perhaps this year?

gary said...

just hope and pray that no one misunderstands the link to Emergent Church leader Rob Bell's video as anything approaching an endorsement of his blasphemous teachings, without going deeper into the blog. his video also even advertises another of his new books.

Bill said...

Thank you for this post and for your blog!

Dennis Swender said...

Thank you for your posts. When you were a candidate at College Park I remember at one of the dessert nights the issue of the emergent church came up. I was so thankful for your perspective that you knew of Rob and knew he was reaching people, but you still had questions on things (which so do I). Your level response and attitude of grace gave me confidence that you were the guy for CPC. I've been a fan of Rob Bell's for years! Mainly because his writings kept me on the Christian path. I was about to throw the towel in on the church thing until I read Velvet Elvis. I would have been much like Frankie Shaeffer; I was saved in college with a ministry and quickly adapted to their values and norms. When I started asking questions is when I got in trouble (meaning fellow students just got angry and wanted to argue.) Years later I was rather frustrated with everything I was hearing and seeing and it didn't seem right. I found great comfort in Velvet Elvis, and Sex God helped strengthen my new (at the time) marriage. Anyway, I've not read Love Wins and probably won't for a very long time... I just wanted to say that I appreciate your perspective but more so your attitude (love/grace/firmness) towards situations like these.
Today's (3/20) sermon just might have been life changing for me.