Junior Ganymede
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How important is justice to God? An Easter meditation

March 21st, 2016 by Bruce Charlton

My situation as a Christian is (and please don’t ask me to explain or justify this!) that I fully believe in the truth of the CJCLDS and all of its claims – but I attend a conservative evangelical Anglican church.

The best thing about this church, for me personally, are the twenty-minute teaching sermons – at present these are going-through the ‘Thirty Nine Articles’ of the Church of England explaining and justifying them. This week we had a very good, clear sermon on the subject of number fifteen (XV) concerning the sinlessness of Jesus Christ:


The focus was to explain the workings of what Mormons call The Atonement – and I found myself in full agreement until the last five minutes of the sermon which was about the reason why Christ had to be sacrificed – in a fashion analogous with the Passover Lamb (which, aside, could apparently also be a goat-lamb – i.e. a kid – instead of a sheep) – because the sacrifice of a sinless Man was necessary to fulfil God’s demand for justice for the sins of the world, and to enable forgiveness of all sins.

Reference was made to the objection to this explanation and justification of God’s demand for a human sacrifice (and this sacrifice being his son) *not* being easy to square with God being our loving Father (because this demand for a sacrifice of an innocent human is not the kind of demand an earthly loving Father would be likely to make) – and it was specifically stated that the description of God as loving Father was true – but not completely true, and should not be taken to apply fully.

The argument was also mentioned that surely God could have achieved forgiveness without such an extreme demand.

Instead – implicitly – the preacher argued that God’s demand for justice for sins was put *above* (more important than) our understanding of the description of God as being a loving Heavenly Father.

The preacher did not state that justice was actually more important than love – rather he said that God’s love was beyond human-type love, and in this way not explicable in terms of human-type love.

But it was hard to avoid the simple inference that, in reality, Justice was being put above the lovingness of God – at least in this crucially and centrally-important instance of the crucifixion.

This matter of Justice-above-Love seems to be a very hazardous doctrine, which threatens the core truth of God as Love – but it seemed to me that Protestants (and indeed most other mainstream Christians) are more-or-less forced into this extreme argument by their conceptual understanding of the nature of God.

Because God is being conceptualized as total in power, and therefore apparently capable of achieving forgiveness of all sin *without* the extremity of blood-sacrificing his sinless son; the fact that he did not do this seems to compel the assumption that ‘therefore’ justice (ie. commensurate punishment for all sins as a condition of forgiveness) is so absolutely important to God that it – in effect – ‘trumps’ God’s status as loving Heavenly Father.

This led me to reflect how crucially important was Joseph Smith’s insight into the nature of God as being unconditionally a loving Father – and that the traditional philosophical definition of God’s omnipotence must ultimately yield to the primacy of love.

(As I understand matters) Mormon theology does not see it as a condition of the atonement that Christ’s death must be of the nature of a human sacrifice – Rather it was necessary that Jesus take to himself the sins of the world so that they may be taken-away, and Jesus must die (in order to be resurrected) — but Christ’s agonizing lamb-like sacrificial death was not a ‘theologically’-necessary part of the forgiveness of sins – instead these are understood as a consequence of the sinfulness of Men and a fulfilment of prophecies.

I have noticed that there are few sermons which go past without mention of the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice as a condition of forgiveness – for serious Protestants this is clearly a deeply uncomfortable truth, because otherwise they would not feel the need to keep justifying it.

But I wonder how many of Protestants realize that it is ‘merely’ a downstream consequence of their philosophical (and not necessarily Christian) understanding of the nature of God — and that when the nature of God is understood in a more common sense, matter of fact, and simple way; then this rather horrible, and ultimately dissonant, way of interpreting the working of the Atonement becomes no longer necessary.

Comments (22)
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March 21st, 2016 05:17:18

March 21, 2016

Bruce C.,
I’m not sure, but I think the distinction you are trying to make is between Christ dying and Christ being killed.
I have never heard or read that we teach that Christ had to die but not to be killed. Maybe I just overlooked something, but the teaching I seem to recall is that Christ came to earth where he did because it was one of the few areas that would have slain him.
But in any case, to my mind there is just too much scriptural support to Christ as the sacrificial lamb to dismiss his killing as an accident instead of an essence. It may not be because God demands sacrifice–that is an explanation for *why* Christ would be sacrificed, and not the only possible one. I expect that Christ was sacrificed because part of his atonement required being alone, being rejected by his own. I see the apostle’s failure to watch with him in the garden, and Peter’s denial of him, and his cry ‘my god, my god, why hast thou forsaken me,’ ” as of a piece with his people killing him.

March 21, 2016

Interesting insight. The traditional way of stating the problem is that God must be either all powerful or good, but cannot be both. But your insight here is that the traditional Christian understanding is that God cannot be all powerful and be perfectly loving, so love or goodness is redefined as justice, which is then defined as a higher value–and thus a more accurate embodiement of goodness–than love. In contrast to that is the LDS view that subordinates God’s omnipotence to his love. In that view, the problem is solved by redefining omnipotence as essentially a relative term rather than an absolute term–that is, God is called omnipotent, because for all practical purposes, for us, there is nothing that he cannot do, but he is not all powerful in an absolute sense.

Of course there are other strains of thought within LDS teaching, and this view (what I call the Brigham Young/Gene England view) that God is not truly omnipotent in an absolute sense does not exclusively represent Mormonism. But you are right that this view offers a solution that avoids the problem of subordinating God’s love to justice and/or omnipotence.

In addition to what you have said, here’s another critique of the protestant view that justifies God’s apparent decision to require the sacrifice of his son as a condition for forgiveness of sin: is is even just? If justice is defined as nothing more than requiring punishment for sin, then I suppose you could say it is just, but even the youngest child with a sense of justice knows that demanding punishment from an innocent party is anything but just.

For this reason, Amulek’s critique of the substitutionary atonement in the Book of Mormon has always been persuasive to me: “Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay. But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered.” Usually the response basically to say that God can do whatever he wants and who are we to question the means he has chosen to effect salvation–basically, falling back on the protestant emphasis of sovereignty above all else.

Amulek’s solution, “therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world,” is, I think, not very well understood. Many read it as nothing more than substitutionism, but justified by the fact that Jesus’ blood is better (infinite) and therefore does have the ability to take away sin, while the blood of other victims did not. But I wonder if it isn’t something more like this: the infinite atonement is, most fundamentally, a cosmic reconciliation of God and man. God, in the incarnation of Christ, became fully human, and that meant that he became a full participant in all that it means to be human. The infinite atonement meant that he would descend below all, and his agonizing suffering and death on the cross was not necessary to satisfy some divine blood lust masquerading as justice, but not caring whether the offender and the victim correspond, but was necessary to enable him to perfectly know human suffering in the flesh, not just in the spirit. In a way that I don’t fully understand, the act of condescending to take upon him human flesh, and subordinating the flesh to the spirit–something no other human has ever fully done–enables Jesus to offer grace and forgiveness of sins to all those who will come to him through repentance and faith. (If it isn’t clear, I’m relying heavily on Nephi’s vision of the incarnation and the atonement and on Abinadi’s preaching on the father and the son in Mosiah 15.)

I suppose this also subordinates omnipotence to love, because it essentially suggests that God could not have chosen to exercise grace without experiencing suffering and death in the flesh. But I could see an argument the other way: that it does not require that God lack the ability to forgive sin without experiencing suffering and death in the flesh, but only that God, in his wisdom decided that this was the best way to effect reconciliation–that he would come down to our level first, then lift us with him.

Either way, it’s model of the atonement that is less about philosophical ideas of justice as law and penalty and more about justice as an idea of reconciliation and equity

March 21, 2016

Here is my attempt at saving the appearances of substitutionary atonement:


March 21, 2016

On the psychological aspects of this, do not forget that some of us have a psychological need for a Father who is just as much as we do a Father who is loving.

March 21, 2016

I like your attempt. I’m not sure that it is necessarily a substitutionary theory. I think it can work under a number of models that may not necessarily be substitutionary.

Although I think the psychological aspects are largely beside the point, your point that the need for a just God may be as important for many as the need for a loving God is well taken.

Sometimes I think the whole justice vs. mercy problem is overstated. It only makes sense if we take a legalistic view of justice as law and penalty, and make justice blind to whether the victim of the penalty is even guilty of the broken law that requires the penalty. That’s my point above: you can say that absolute substitutionism prioritizes justice over mercy, but does it really? How is it just to punish a third party? It’s not an insuperable obstacle, but I confess I don’t see much justice in that model. Jesus’ suffering may be necessary (in fact I think it was necessary, and not just in some squisky exemplary theory way, but truky and really cosmically necessary), but I think its for some reason other than that justice demands a penalty and doesn’t care who pays it.

Justice makes a lot more sense to me as restoration, law of the harvest, and equity, restoring good for good and evil for evil, than as a demand for a penalty without regard to the payer’s guilt.

One interesting point about mercy vs. justice: we often quote Alma saying that mercy cannot rob justice. But we basically ignore Amulek saying the “intent” of Jesus’ sacrifice was “to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.”

So mercy can’t “rob” justice, but apparently, through the atonement it “overcomes” justice. I confess I don’t really know what to make of the apparent contradiction. Mercy doesn’t sneak in and rob justice, sneaking away before it gets caught, it completely overpowers justice and sends it packing? Mercy overpowers justice by satisfying its demands and leaving it with no more claim? I don’t know.

But I do think its interesting that we privilege the one so heavily over the other.

March 21, 2016

“I like your attempt. I’m not sure that it is necessarily a substitutionary theory. I think it can work under a number of models that may not necessarily be substitutionary. ”


March 21, 2016

“It only makes sense if we take a legalistic view of justice as law and penalty, and make justice blind to whether the victim of the penalty is even guilty of the broken law that requires the penalty.”

I can recall having one discussion about this (somewhen, don’t remember when…) where things got a bit heated and I pointed out that the most recent historical justice system that seemed satisfied with an innocent person being punished for crimes and ills caused by someone completely different would have been under Stalinism.

Bruce Charlton
March 22, 2016

Thanks to all for the comments.

I don’t know that any new theory or old, or explanation, can address the problem here. The problem is the gut feeling.

I suppose a longer explanation has the advantage of introducing some distance and abstraction, but perhaps that’s all it does to address the problem.

There are a few similarities and also many significant differences between Christ and the Passover Lamb. One difference is in the depiction of the nature of God, and the idea of defending one’s family against a venegful tyrant who will murder everybody who does not correctly perform the bloody ritual. That set-up, that context, is extremely different.

I think we must be simple and honest and say thay the Hebrews were often wrong in their understanding of God’s nature and motivations; they were a very aggressive and warlike people, and they were ‘projecting’ their own bad attributes onto God – mixed with, sometimes dominating, the inferred goodness – you can see this at work in the Psalms: wondrous insights and appreciations, grotesque and ridiculous projections, side by side.

It is that question of ‘how should we read The Bible’ again – and my brief answer that different parts of the book were valuable, and intended for, different times in history – some parts are apparently obsolete (once useful now maybe edifying for some people at some points in their lives, but not essential for anybody) – perhaps some parts have not yet found their time.

(In The Descent of the Dove Charles Williams described the historical church as having been on the side of good – but only when taken overall, and sometimes only by (as it were) 51 percent versus 49 percent, with an awful lot of bad/ terrible stuff mixed in, and in some places and among come people – the bad stuff dominating, and the church being net-bad. But the church was needful.

I think scripture is in the same situation – the balance of good is higher because God has preserved these books for us, inspired some of the translations, inspires us to understand what we need to understand – and so forth. But the books are products of inspired Men – and we would be fooolish to expect them to be more perfect than the most inspired Man.

The New Testament, and especially the Gospels, are obviously the most important parts of the Bible – they are coherent and short enough that we can get an overall message from them; and I don’t believe it has in general been at all helpful to treat the Bible as a collection of equally true sentences which can be taken apart and examined for meaning, and which when reassembled like a mosaic make a sigle picture. And insofar as this is true, the picture that emerges is not one that Christians ought to endorse.

It is a sorry sight to see Christians making serious errors in interpretation in order to avoid much less serious risks of ‘inconsistency’ – or making errors here and now for fear of the problems that might, they fear, arise from letting go of rigid principles of the nature of scripture.

Christianity is like a message, a relatively simple message, which need to be gotten across to people. Once that message has been gotten across and a person has understood it – then of course there will creep in all kinds of self-justifications and corruptions. We seek some kind of formula which we hope will defend against such corruptions – but nothing ever works, and most make matters worse – because the formula becomes the corruption.

I find it interesting and instructive that a depiction of the death and resurrection of Christ – drawn from the gospels and with the minimum of interpretation and explanation – seems extremely effective as a communication; whereas the explanations so often do more harm than good.

The truth is in the story, not the explanation.

Bruce Charlton
March 22, 2016

The level at which the question is put is the level which demands an answer.

Interlocutor asks a Christian about the Passover Lamb story: “Do you believe that is what your God is like? Do you believe that slaughtering a perfect lamb or inoocent man is a good way of dealing with sin? ”

Any prevarication, any ‘havering’ (as the Scots say) is fatal – the questions demand a clear answer of No.

Of course there will be a follow-up along the lines of; “So you believe the Bible is false?” or “But then you are just picking and choosing the bits you like from the Bible” etc – but these are much less devastating than the original question – and they have fairly straightforward answers.

If we are Christians we know what Christianity is, and we know when something (including bits of the Bible) is *not* Christianity.

How we explain this is a secondary matter – and there are hard cases and grey areas – but with something as stark as his, we know the right answer, and we should give the right answer – how well we justify this answer is another and less important matter.

We may not justify our answer very well. But we should give the right answer, the one which we know, simply and clearly.

March 22, 2016

“I find it interesting and instructive that a depiction of the death and resurrection of Christ – drawn from the gospels and with the minimum of interpretation and explanation – seems extremely effective as a communication; whereas the explanations so often do more harm than good.

The truth is in the story, not the explanation.”

This is so true and so important. Along the same lines, I like to point out that, if you accept the scriptures as God’s word, that means that when he decided to give us his word, he gave us a narrative, rather than a theological treatise, a catechism, or a creed.

Bruce Charlton
March 22, 2016

@JKC – I think we both feel the force of this idea of *the story*.

To put my point (in the post) simply – the men involved in crucifying Christ were agents who chose to behave the way they did; and if they had been better men who made better choices, Christ could have died at a different time in a different fashion (presumably, while still sufficiently fulfilling the prophecies).

I see a distinction between on the one hand the absolutely neccessity that Christ died to take away our sins (and sacrificed himself for this purpose and was resurrected; and this is what God wanted to happen) – and on the other hand, the specific contingency (not necessity) that Jesus was tortured to death for our sins in a particular time, place and manner – and the interpretation that *this* was what God wanted to happen or made to happen (for reasons of justice).

The crucifixion happened and should be remembered and has many lessons to teach.

But at a cosmic level it was the death and resurrection of Jesus that were necessary, not the crucifixion.

March 23, 2016

I can see the good reasons for saying that the OT accounts are probably mistakes, or for not insisting on the scriptures that talk about Christ needing to be slaughtered, or for talking about how mercy overcomes justice–but I don’t believe any of that myself.

I lack the feeling or the pre-reasoned intuition that these things are incompatible with love. When I run across people with different feelings or intuitions, instead of arguing with them I try to reach common ground by going back to the Christian basics. I think that is what you are advocating here.

Bruce Charlton
March 23, 2016


March 23, 2016

@BC, the answers are in the scriptures.

After you read through all the Standard Works (OT/NT, BoM, D&C, PoGP) about 3 or 4 times, the picture will start to coalesce. To me, the _cyclic nature_ of reading them is important because it is after reading the BoM/DC/PoGP, that one then picks up previously unnoticed implications in the OT/NT. With each cycle, the OT syncs up better with the NT, and the “old” scriptures sync up better with the “new” scriptures. Talmage’s “Jesus the Christ” should probably be in the cycle at least once. McConkie’s three part Messiah series is also good.

It probably was part of the plan for Christ to die the most painful death physically possible as part of “descending below all things.” (I don’t have the scriptural reference for that handy.)

Another factor, the atonement was not just for the sins on the part of sinners, but for all suffering/wounds on the part of all sufferers/wounded. Not just for the victims of sinners, but for all the natural sufferings of a mortal life in a fallen world. Christ had to suffer _all things_ in order to draw all men to him and bring resurrection and immortality to all. (That process began in Gethsemane and finished on the cross.) Again, there is scripture that explains that, which I can’t put my finger on at the moment.

Both the OT and NT have had “plain and precious parts” removed from them. Many of those missing truths have been revealed in the “new” scriptures. Without those truths in the new scriptures, preachers in other religions will never be able to reconcile the inconsistencies due to the holes in the old scriptures. Then, add in nearly 2000 years of creeds, uninspired interpretations and mental gymnastics. They’ll never get the big picture. They can’t because they don’t have the necessary scriptures. And what they do have has been misunderstood due to 2000 years of convoluted uninspired reasoning.

LDS teenagers who have read the BoM/DC/PoGP literally know more “mysteries” of God than the learned preachers.

March 23, 2016

While I don’t necessarily endorse everything Books has said (for one thing, Jesus the Christ is now badly dated, and I found McConkie’s works unreadable), he touches on an important point — the Atonement brought about a power of Restoration that is not just about forgiving sins; it is also about healing all who suffer because of sin, even innocently.

I cannot articulate it well, yet, but my gut tells me this is an important part of the solution to the problem of evil.

March 23, 2016

Re: mercy not robbing, but overpowering justice, I think refers to this imaginary situation:

“Pay me my debt!” crowed Shylock, fully aware of the import of the situation. “Oh, you can’t? Then a pound of flesh it is, according to the contract. I’ll take the heart.” And truthfully, this was what he had wanted all along.

But then the rich man arrived.

“Here is the money to pay off your debt, in full. And go thy way.”

Thus was Shylock not robbed, but nonetheless overpowered.


I highly recommend to everyone Scott Alexander’s essay “Meditations on Moloch,” in which he argues that the effects that emerge from complex phenomena—elections, markets, evolution—are usually bad, for the same reason that most genetic mutations are bad. What is terrifying is that they are 1)in charge and 2)not sentient, and so cannot be reasoned with, bribed, or pled with.

The upside is that neither are they malicious. It may be folly to breed dinosaurs in an amusement park, but once someone figures out how to do it, Chaos won’t hold a grudge and actively screw it up—in the same way that the clouds don’t rain retributive thunderbolts on us for our offence of taming electricity.

When I think of Justice, I think of Moloch, of Gnon, of Consequences, of The Gods of the Copybook Headings. We need them, and we need them unrobbable, or nothing makes sense—at the same time, we cannot pay the toll they demand.

Thank God, I think, for Jesus Christ.

Bruce Charlton
March 24, 2016

Thanks to all for the excellent comments – maybe this is the most commented post I have contributed?

But I am still not sure whether I managed to convey the sense of horror and outrage many non-Christians feel about the way the Atonement is explained, and how it relates to the omnipoetnce of God – I’ll make one more attempt.

What seems horrible, is that it is being said God deliberately created the world, in all its smallest details, such that the *only* way that Men could be saved was by God’s Son being tortured to death as a human sacrifice. The suffering of Christ (and indeed all suffering) was pre-planned and then built-into creation.

THAT is the horror about this type of Christian explanation – which is a consequence of the asserted nature of God in Classical theology.

And Mormons are, becuase of their different conceptualization of the nature of God, and if they choose, exempt from the requirement to believe the above paragraph.

[Note: I have never seen the natural horror and outrage at the crucifixion better expressed than by Charles Williams in his What The Cross means to me, as summarized here:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/charles-williams-takes-classical.html ]

March 26, 2016

“But I am still not sure whether I managed to convey the sense of horror and outrage many non-Christians feel about the way the Atonement is explained, and how it relates to the omnipoetnce of God – I’ll make one more attempt.

What seems horrible, is that it is being said God deliberately …

THAT is the horror about this type of Christian explanation – which is a consequence of the asserted nature of God in Classical theology.”

Well, yeah. But the necessity of the Atonement is still a mystery, even to non-lds christians and especially to atheists because they don’t know the meaning of life/plan of salvation/why we are here in the first place.

Modern athiests who are not schooled in Christianity are pretty much in the same situation of ignorance as pagans who had no christian contact. “Doesn’t sound like much of a god if he had to die, or allowed himself to be killed.”

The Atonement is not the place to start when teaching someone with no previous christian knowlege about the Plan of Salvation/meaning of life/why we’re here. Even starting at the Garden of Eden bible story makes it sound like a setup. Obvious questions aren’t answered in the Bible. We have to have the PoGP and BoM.

In the West, we’ve now had three generations of “unchurched”. Atheists raised by atheists raised by back-sliders. Without religious teachings from the cradle or true spiritual conversions, a non-believer has no basis upon which to integrate the concept of the Atonement. Modern atheists don’t even have simple overviews of Christianity any more, that previous generations picked up by osmosis through media and culture, because Christianity has been written out of all media, education, and public discourse.

Modern athesists truely are in a state of ignorance of Christianity as much as primitive pagans/heathen were before the arrival of western missionaries.

Even the LDS church had dismal conversions among non-christian cultures in Asia, Africa, south america. Lds missionary success has been largely limited to areas that were “prepared” by Catholics and Evangelicals, wherein the lds missionaries play off the previous churches/missionaries by contrast. Iow, we don’t start at square zero either.

The new Preach My Gospel missionary manual of 2002 was the first lds systemized attempt at teaching “pagans” (ie, no previous christian contact/understanding.)

Prior to the atonement, lds missionaries teach answers to the 3 big questions: where do we come from, why are we here, where are we going?

Sensible answers to those questions, which don’t contradict plain bible teachings (though they do contradict non-biblical interpolations) seem to contribute to lds missionary success.

One problem is that most people don’t understand the difference between what is in the Bible versus classical protestant/catholic interpretation and added doctrine. Even many devout Christians spend many times as much time listening to sermons than actually reading the bible. So they pick up theological takes/interpretations rather than scriptures.

Mark Clifford
March 28, 2016

Bruce (and all you all):
I am a perpetual reader but rare comment maker; however, I have meditated on this Easter meditation daily since reading it. You have good thoughts.
This is what I came up with.

“…remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved” (2 Nephi 10:24)

If Jesus is, Himself, God
Then who is the God
To whom Jesus offers Himself?

I am. And you. And all of us.
You and I (and we) are the Gods who require this act of supreme faithfulness
Before we would surrender ourselves in faith to Him.
We demand justice until love breaks us of justice

He said:
“Fear not, I have overcome the world”
And He has overcome me.
My soul is satisfied.

This could be expanded into a Mormon-y atonement theory, particularly as our anthropology takes seriously Christ’s quotation of the psalm “Ye are Gods”. Lest anyone out there in reader land freak out, I am aware that Jesus has a Father (He tells us that He has, which is reason enough to believe it) but I take for granted – as you seem to, Bruce – that God the Father could have no need of such an offering.

I also take for granted that we seem to have every need of it. I seem to have every need of it.

Me and my mormon-y friends have made it a core belief that human souls are existentially real – that is, ontologically real – and so we are a fact of the universe, a problem with which God has to deal. And dealing with our demands is not easy even for God, witness the suffering He endures comprehending our wickedness in the Garden, it is infinite. But He does it; He embraces us while we are running every other direction. And He will not let go even unto death.

I am hip to the conjecture that there might have been some other way, but likely not for us because, if I am any indication, we always choose the hardest way for God. We demand a lot from Him.

I am glad He gives Himself to us despite the cost.

Good news indeed.

Thank you Bruce.

Mark Clifford

March 28, 2016

I look at the way I have disappointed myself, and I think that no one can loathe me as much as I loathe me.

But Christ in His perfection loathes me much more than I could ever loathe myself; yet loves me more than I could ever love myself, and offers to make me no longer loathsome.

I wonder why it is so hard to let go of my loathsomeness.

March 28, 2016

Not sure how much I can add here, but one POV that I come back to, is a kind of justice, where Christ gives justice (and often more) to everything, from us to the lowliest dust speck. In a way, he is balancing the equations where something is in default, or there is a fault.

This is a fallen world, and subject to death in all forms. The very universe itself is headed towards a Heat Death, or Big Rip, almost certainly.

Thus, the Atonement is not just about my sins, big or small. It is about things temporal, and spiritual, from me to the rest of the universe.

I love the words of Isaiah, how the Savior will give “beauty for ashes”.

March 29, 2016

This might have been mentioned in G’s “You NEED justice” post….

We need the justice or “payment” of the Atonement in order to forgive those who have trespassed/sinned against us.

Without the Atonement, I wouldn’t be able to forgive those who harmed me, especially grievous offenses where my soul seems to cry out “Someone must pay!”

Perhaps God feels something similar when the _blood_ of innocents “cries from the dust.” In those scriptural passages there seems to be some demand for justice that God cannot ignore.

Tangentially related… Some say that the death penalty disrespects life. On the contrary. To not execute the murderer is to disrespect the life of the victim.

I think I’m with G on this. Justice is some kind of truism that is part of existence, specifically or especially when agency is involved.

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