Is God Just?

Crime and punishment – no not Dostoevsky, just Quentin – who wants to know the answer. And I am asking about God’s decisions.

Straightforward Catholic teaching tells us that if we commit a mortal sin, and die before we have repented, we go straight to Hell. And there we stay forever. It will not be a pleasant stay: as Scripture describes it, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Over the years, the Catholic Church has identified several different types of mortal sin. The range is wide: murder, stealing (above a certain level), missing Mass on a Sunday without good reason, and so on. Sexual sin has its own little section: even to enjoy mental pleasure at the thought of forbidden sexuality is included. It may be that no one (other than me) who reads this blog has ever committed mortal sin, according to the Church’s judgment. But if anyone has, he or she might have been run over by a bus on their way to the confessional.

It is not surprising that committing a sin has a particular importance. For example, stealing may well be damaging to a friend but, bad enough as it may be, that is nothing compared to offending almighty God. Thus, when Cardinal Newman discusses even venial sin he says: ”The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.”

Here, of course, the measure of a sin is described not in terms of the act but in the fact that it is committed towards God. I hesitate to argue against Newman. But certain questions enter my mind. If we look at our civil law we know that certain activities are forbidden. And rightly we are called to justice. If we are found to be guilty, we are punished. The range of punishment is broad – going perhaps from a fine to life imprisonment – although even the latter is rarely, in practice, for life.

However, mortal sinfulness is, we are told again and again, involves punishment for ever. Were we, for example, in the agony Hell for millions of years we would still have not even started: billions of years of further punishment await. And it has all been brought about, perhaps, because we failed to attend Mass on a Sunday.

You see, I am looking at justice. Should our punishment be based on our intention or should it be based on the greatness of God? As far as my judgment goes, I have to say that I prefer human justice rather than what we are told about divine justice.
Or not – as you may tell me

About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Is God Just?

  1. David Smith says:

    Mortal sin does not make sense to the modern mind, and so the institutional Church has done away with it. God changes, sometimes radically, with the mental weather. That the Church firmly resisted meteorological inconsistency for two millennia is what led Newman to it, away from the climate change of theological liberalism.

  2. FZM says:

    You see, I am looking at justice. Should our punishment be based on our intention or should it be based on the greatness of God? As far as my judgment goes, I have to say that I prefer human justice rather than what we are told about divine justice.
    Or not – as you may tell me

    In the context of human justice God could never be justified in allowing humans into heaven or to experience theosis; nothing that humans are or do merits it. So, if God has redeemed Adam and Eve and permits many millions or billions of humans into heaven and gives them eternal life, God’s lack of human justice seems good.

  3. G.D says:

    This begs two questions for me 1. ‘is God just by loving ‘sinners’ unconditionally?’ & 2. ‘is such a thing as a ‘mortal sin’ possible if God loves unconditionally?’. As far as i’m concerned, can firmly answer ‘yes’ to 1. & ‘no’ to 2.
    Said before the idea of … an eternity to repent, is for ever; God never closes the door to forgiveness.
    ….. But that aside just read St. Paul at Mass …
    ” ….. In fact, this seems to be the rule, that every single time I want to do good it is something evil that comes to hand. In my inmost self I dearly love God’s Law, but I can see that my body follows a different law that battles against the law which my reason dictates. This is what makes me a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body.
    What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death?
    Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    If Paul meant what he’d written (and not just used it as a ‘parable’ to teach) that say’s it all really. The ‘body doomed to death’ will die because ‘of that law of sin …’ the rescue, from being a prisoner of that sin, comes after the body has died! (…. ‘A Holy life’ or not, ‘Last rites’ or not ….). We will all die ‘sinners’; no matter what we believe or don’t. … And be offered eternity (or even only the ‘blink of an eye’ as eternity is timeless!) to come to our ‘inmost self’ & CHOOSE Life in God.

    Without that UNCONDITIONAL OFFER to choose God being a reality, we all die sinners & would remain in that prison of sin – mortally! (…. No matter what we believe or do ….). With the reality of it we can, embrace ‘God’s Law’ (even before death begin to). … And say (as disciples of Jesus) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ….

  4. Martha says:

    A letter to the Catholic Herald some months ago mentioned a response from an angel? to a holy person praying for a friend who had died estranged from the church and belief, that she was wasting her time as she was not forgiven and was in Hell. A further letter 2 or 3 weeks later, said that this was quite well known, and in a standard piece of accepted writing., but did not specify. I did not see any further correspondence on the subject.

    Apart from the fact that I understood no prayer is ever wasted, this has troubled me greatly. The lady in question was described as not having been taught very well, and had lived a reasonably ‘good’ life and looked after her mother, but had refused to respond to suggestions of returning to the church.

    I wonder if anyone know what is the piece of writing for this story.

  5. David Smith says:

    On the face of it, never-ending punishment is torture. Is God a torturer? A sadist?

  6. Nektarios says:

    Is God Just?

    Those who in whatever measure know Him, say and would declare He is perfectly just. It is those who don’t know Him at all, even if they have been attending church for years and subject God to trial by modern-day views of justice.

    To think we are somehow engaged in an honest debate on this, we are in fact judging God by our own petty standards are we not?
    What is God’s justice like? To answer that, we need only ask one central question, how Christlike are we?

  7. David Smith says:

    Here’s a lengthy piece on past thinking in the church about hell. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks promising. Apparently, this isn’t so simple a matter as I’d have thought.

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/richardmurray/2019/07/four-reasons-the-early-church-did-not-believe-hell-lasts-forever/

    Of course, as I think Nektarios’ remark, above, implies, we can know very little about anything. We see through a glass darkly.

    • Quentin says:

      Yes, David Smith’s link (above) is well worth a look. It’s quite lengthy, but the first section investigates how earlier theologians reviewed the concept of ‘everlasting’, as used in Scripture. Made sense to me.

  8. Nektarios says:

    David Smith

    What you think I wrote, you wrote: “Of course, as I think Nektarios’ remark, above, implies, we can know very little about anything. We see through a glass darkly.”

    Your conclusion on what I wrote, That is not what I am saying or implying.

    Richard Murray’s piece you posted, is mistaken about what the early Church believed, that the idea of hell was never mentioned etc, etc. The Old Testament demonstrates that they could not rise and get back to God, caught in the grip of Death. The message of the New Testament is if one has their hope in Christ, are regenerated and believe on Him till the end, they can and will rise from the grave, will rise to heaven and to God as He has said. It is a truth and certainty.

    I get the feeling from his piece, that he was not talking about hell, it is more suitable for the Roman Catholic frame of mind and teaching on purgatory. With that teaching, there is no certainty of heaven on the finished work of Christ, only fear of our future after death.
    This is the basis of Richard Murray’s thinking, therefore, it is essential that hell is not a permanent place, and there is a way out.
    If Hell was not a permanent place, where are the devil and all his cohorts going to go? Where are all those who rejected Christ go for all eternity?

    One last thing, speaking to my Roman Catholic friends, When it comes to the question, is God just, you use the word Justice. When it comes to God and to Scripture, it uses the word Righteous.

    • milliganp says:

      Nektarios, your final paragraph makes an important point. I could never understand the Protestant theology of Justification by faith because of the common usage of the term Justice,; if you say “made righteous by faith” it becomes clearer and easier to reconcile with the fairly unambiguous language of scripture.

      • Nektarios says:

        milliganp

        Thank you.
        The Apostolic teaching on Justification by faith alone Romans 8 is not too difficult to understand if one has faith, incomprehensible almost if one doesn’t.

        Faith is is a gift of God to all His children. What is that faith? It is the faith that Christ alone accomplished everything concerning our Salvation. We ourselves could do nothing towards it, it is all of Him.

        Justification is a legal term and simply means, God looks on the believer in His Son Jesus Christ, trusting in His finished work on the Cross and sees us, ‘just as though we had never sinned.’

        Righteousness is what God attributes to all He has Justified. But it gets better than merely what is seen as righteous by men, It is far higher than that, He is attributing to the believer the righteousness of God. Wonderful isn’t it?

  9. ignatius says:

    Nektarios writes:
    “The Old Testament demonstrates that they could not rise and get back to God, caught in the grip of Death. ”
    Yet in Daniel ch12 we find this:

    1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
    The Old testament witness, based upon prophetic literature already had a view of salvation and eternity.This ‘caught in the grip of death’ business belongs more to the recent church. Even the pharisees believed in eternal life and resurrection. As to Richard Murray,a quick scan of Patheos .com shows he is not remotely biased towards Catholicism. The debate about time and eternity he mentions is actually a longstanding bone of theological contention regarding translation and linguistic interpretation, I was versed in it myself long before I even contemplated becoming a Catholic.

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius

      Thank you for that, and in addition to what you wrote, I did not speak concerning Richard Murray, but his view of everlasting separation from God and all that that means, is a modern view concerning everlasting life or punishment. That his view was appealing to Roman Catholic teaching and mind on purgatory as a means of escape from hell.

      The matter of death holding the soul is not new but was the fear of the Jews in particular.
      There was division there, where the Pharisees believed in the Resurrection according to the Prophets and the Sadducees did not.
      This is why the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead was so essential and important proof and also His rising to God in front of many witnesses was essential as proof He had overcome death and the fulfilling of the OT Scriptures.

      I did not have time to do a scan on Richard Murray’s Patheos.com website yet but will have a look at it.

  10. galerimo says:

    When you hear stories from Jesus about the late arrivals being paid as much as those who were hired to start at the beginning of the same shift, there does not appear to be much justice in this new place of Kingdom he came to establish.

    And bringing about the salvation of the world through the mechanisms of manifest injustice and sedition coming from Annas, Caiphas and then Pilate – makes you wonder how God’s power could ever be defined in a terms such as justice.

    And the miracle of the resurrection was actually one that no one witnessed. The foundation of Christian belief can only ever be on something not seen but believed, as Jesus continues to emerge or rise within the community.

    And in terms of Evangelisation the number of people Jesus just sent home and told not to sin again or whom he told directly not to join him at the time, well it feels a bit much – I cant imagine any self-respecting religious advocate letting anyone away like that.

    There has to be some crazy sort of justice there too.

    There has to be a hell, otherwise what is the truth about Jesus going there immediately after his death.

    And I know it is hard to believe but the Lamb of God really did take away the sin of the world and really does take away the sins of the world – so there is not a lot of sense to be made out of that in terms of justice.

    So the pole dancers, ovulating or not, high rolling tax avoiders, and bottom of the pile druggies and miserable manipulators are to be ranked among the first in this Kingdom that is right here and right now.

    I think the only way I can make sense of God’s “Justice” for whoever Quentin is here, is to know that any place in God’s Kingdom is the best place for me and now that he has guaranteed my salvation I will be might grateful for such a place by God’s grace and mercy – and God can make sense of God’s justice.

    I certainly cant.

  11. G.D says:

    Another worthwhile read from the same web as David cited … ‘IS “JUSTICE” AN ESSENTIAL PART OF GOD’S NATURE?’
    . https://www.patheos.com/blogs/richardmurray/2019/09/is-justice-an-essential-part-of-gods-nature/

  12. galerimo says:

    And then there is that story we heard yesterday of the pharisee and the publican.

    The Pharisee is a virtuous man and his practice of religion is not phoney.

    He can say he is not grasping, unjust or adulterous like the rest of humanity. Jesus doesn’t call him a liar for saying so.

    He fasts far more often than is expected of him according to the law and he pays a tithe on everything he gets, and again that is more than the law requires of him.

    He is very much a virtuous man.

    He feels that he has every right to be in the temple, as a religious person –

    Thanking God for endowing him with goodness. Jesus does not tell us he has trumpets blowing for himself nor does he describe him as wearing ostentatious tassels.

    So, the devout Pharisee seeing this tax collector in the temple asks himself how he could dare be there. What is hypocritical about that?

    The tax collector is a collaborator with the Roman occupying forces in Palestine at that time.

    How could he come to pray in the very temple of the religion that in the outside world he is trying to undermine?

    Here he is praying in the temple while his own job, how he earns his living every day undermines Judaism itself.

    In Jesus’s time, the tax collector is the greatest reprobate.

    By helping impose the Roman system this guy was undermining the Jewish way of life and therefore the practice of the Jewish faith.

    Surely the tax collector must be a complete hypocrite.

    And the tax collector himself must be aware of his unworthiness, because he does not dare raise his eyes towards heaven.

    So when you say “As far as my judgment goes, I have to say that I prefer human justice rather than what we are told about divine justice”

    I think in this case there is not much evidence of Justice, as we would see it, and I have to agree with you.

  13. ignatius says:

    Galerimo,
    Except that the Pharisee is talking to himself where the tax collector flings himself on the mercy of God, nothing to do with worthiness or tassels. The point is that mercy, judgement and justice all go hand in hand. This conversation thread makes such little sense because only one facet is being emphasised and so we neglect the issue that God desires and implements mercy over judgement and therefore that his justice is essentially different than ours.

  14. Nektarios says:

    Quentin

    Is God Just?

    I refer you to a few aspects you have mentioned in your preamble;
    Firstly you wrote: ‘I am asking about God’s decisions.’

    What would God base His judgments on? Would it be the present-day judgments based on the fallen sinful nature and understanding of men? Surely not. God’s judgements are not separate from who and what He is in His holy and righteous character. What He thinks is never separate from Himself. He has revealed that all mankind until the born again, are under God’s wrath. There is no one righteous in His sight, no not one. That places the whole of mankind under the wrath of God on account of sin. Thankfully, that is not all God has revealed, He has also revealed what He has planned and done to rescue mankind from His just and righteous wrath against sin which infects mankind and is indulged in and by all mankind namely God’s Salvation.

    Secondly, you wrote: ….’ who reads this blog has ever committed a mortal sin, according to the Church’s judgment.’
    The Church as far as this worldly world is concerned has only since it took on a global State aspect thinks it has the right to moralize the whole world and pass judgement. We as Christians whatever denomination one is in has no right to judge the world, God has already judged it and it is under His wrath on account of sin. The Church’s interface with this world is to proclaim the Gospel. To believers, the Church’s calling to those who have it is to proclaim the whole counsel of God concerning who we are, what we are in Christ Jesus and the Salvation God has in Christ provided. Nothing more and nothing less. Our judgment of one another God warns us against. ‘Judge not one another less ye be judged’.

    Finally, you wrote: ‘You see, I am looking at justice. Should our punishment be based on our intention or should it be based on the greatness of God? As far as my judgment goes, I have to say that I prefer human justice rather than what we are told about divine justice.
    Or not – as you may tell me.’

    Less we forget, God’s judgment is based in His holy and righteous character. His omnipotence,
    omniscience and His omnipresence. Our limited perspective here can only provide a limited view of the greatness of God. And as I have said many times on the blog, the descriptive can never be the actual.

    When you say, you prefer human justice rather than what you are told about divine justice – or not……
    There is so much encapsulated in what you wrote, too much to go into here. But again, I am not your judge.

  15. Alasdair says:

    “Justification by faith is not too difficult to understand if one has faith, incomprehensible almost if one doesn’t” as Nektarios says. Many aspects of christianity are incomprehensible and ridiculous to non-believers and defy even patient, logical explanation. One first has to believe, then one sees and understands with perfect clarity.

    • ignatius says:

      “..One first has to believe, then one sees and understands with perfect clarity..”
      Alas, were it only true… Best thing a man can do if he thinks he has perfect clarity is to have his eyes tested then get his glasses fixed.

      Here is my favourite line from Yeats:

      “The best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity”

      • Alasdair says:

        AKA the case for agnosticism.

      • Nektarios says:

        Ignatius

        What Alasdair wrote is in part quite correct. When we see through and by faith, then life is changing and becoming more Christlike. Up to the measure, what Alasdair is saying, if we are Christians at all, up to the measure of our spiritual growth we see perfectly so correct.
        Are you saying, Ignatius, you don’t see by faith, I don’t believe it, therefore this is a bit of tongue in cheek? If not yours is rather a sad case, but obviously you would not see that and claim the direct opposite.

  16. Alasdair says:

    Fear of punishment for one’s sins is not a healthy preoccupation for christians. Indeed it might even, of itself, be a sin, and a sign that one has not believed God’s promises and is therefore outside the faith.
    “Love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not experienced His perfect love”. 1 John 4:18
    Furthermore, as believing christians we are the sheep of His flock who he will not allow to be lost.
    “My father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my father’s hand”. John 10:29.
    So watch out for the heavy lorries, but not because you fear for your soul.

  17. ignatius says:

    Nektarios says:

    ” if we are Christians at all, up to the measure of our spiritual growth we see perfectly so correct.
    Are you saying, Ignatius, you don’t see by faith, I don’t believe it, therefore this is a bit of tongue in cheek? If not yours is rather a sad case, but obviously you would not see that and claim the direct opposite.”

    1 Corinthians 13:12:
    12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

    Its always a good idea to read up on the saints a bit. Here, for example is St Paul speaking of the darkness of unknowing which is the direct revelation of God. Those that think they know God in detail and with clarity are, generally speaking, worshipping their own selves.

  18. Nektarios says:

    Ignatius

    You jumped in too quickly. I agree totally with Ist Corinthians 13:12. Please read and read it aloud,
    what I said previously: ‘ if we are Christians at all, up to the measure of our spiritual growth we see perfectly so correct.’
    Whatever the clarity or lack of it in a Christian, it is always up to the measure of one’s spiritual growth.

    • ignatius says:

      Nektarios says:
      “…what I said previously: ‘ if we are Christians at all, up to the measure of our spiritual growth we see perfectly so correct.’
      Whatever the clarity or lack of it in a Christian, it is always up to the measure of one’s spiritual growth….”

      I cannot make head or tail of this so, just for the sake of genuine clarity here is a pretty standard exegesis of the verse in question:

      “Paul now describes this partial knowledge of God as seeing a reflection in a dim mirror. Some scholars suggest that he had in mind Corinth’s famous bronze mirrors, known for their imperfect reflections. After the coming of Christ, when the church is fully mature as He is, however, we will see God face to face, knowing Him in person instead of through partial revelation.
      In fact, Paul adds, we will know God and His ways then as He knows us now. God, of course, is never limited in His knowledge. He knows everything there is to know about us, even what we do not see or understand about ourselves. In that day, when God comes to live among us (Revelation 21:1–5), we will know fully, as He knows us fully in this moment”
      bible ref.cm

      Note there is no mention of perfection regarding vision here Our present perception of God is imperfect no matter who we are or where we are in our standing. 1 corinthians 13 v 12 is pretty much universally acknowledged to be a comparison of the way fallen man perceives God now compared with the beatific vision he will have in heaven.
      Interestingly the ‘glass’ in question may also be regarded as Christ who reflects with clarity that which we may only pick up partially.
      So, no, we do not see perfectly at all, in fact those who appear to have advanced the most find themselves unaccountably plunged into total darkness.

      • Nektarios says:

        Ignatius

        I won’t quibble about what you say for it is simply self-evident.
        Is God’s grace towards us perfect? Was Christ’s work of Salvation for us perfect? Is the faith we have received of God perfect? Is Regeneration by God perfect? Is the work of the Holy Spirit perfect? We have to say yes, don’t we?
        Then it is clear and follows, yes, we see through a glass darkly, but what we have received of God will for those who have truly received and come to see it bit by bit in this life receive that which has come from God is always perfect, bringing us to glory then we shall glorify Him who has given us a perfect spiritual life with a perfect Saviour, will lead to seeing Him perfectly for we shall be like Him.
        You see, it is not we of ourselves who are perfect in anything yet, but He is Perfect and what we have received from Him is perfect and He will make us perfect, in sight and understanding forever.

  19. galerimo says:

    And now tomorrow we have Zacchaeus – another little shit who doesnt get what he deserves!

    Is there no end to the mercy of God?

    • ignatius says:

      Ha ha…I was preaching in the prison about zacchaeus today..along roughly the same lines. ‘Little shit’ was a little too colourfully succinct for the ambo so I tried describing him as a cross between Del Boy and The God father…But you know that story is one of utter beauty..makes a great guided meditation too -work through it imaginatively ad put yourself in Zacchaeus’ shoes. The lectionary really has it right this weekend.

  20. Nektarios says:

    galerimo

    Jesus said, ” I have not come to condemn, but to seek and to save that which was lost.”
    None of us has received what we deserve. I was lost but Jesus found me…..

    I suspect the limit of God’s mercy with anyone, is their seeing their need of God’s mercy.
    For some that offer of God’s mercy comes many times for some, and others they get that offer of God’s mercy once only and they pass away.

    We also receive God’s mercy every moment of our lives as far as keeping us alive and supplying for our needs.

    • ignatius says:

      Nektarios,
      “..I won’t quibble about what you say for it is simply self-evident.
      Is God’s grace towards us perfect? Was Christ’s work of Salvation for us perfect? Is the faith we have received of God perfect? Is Regeneration by God perfect? Is the work of the Holy Spirit perfect? We have to say yes, don’t we?
      Then it is clear and follows, yes, we see through a glass darkly, but what we have received of God will for those who have truly received and come to see it bit by bit in this life receive that which has come from God is always perfect, bringing us to glory then we shall glorify Him who has given us a perfect spiritual life with a perfect Saviour, will lead to seeing Him perfectly for we shall be like Him.
      You see, it is not we of ourselves who are perfect in anything yet, but He is Perfect and what we have received from Him is perfect and He will make us perfect, in sight and understanding forever….”

      Prancing on the pin head of folly as usual I see….Try if you can to say what you mean in one or two simple sentences which are plain English and straightforward to the understanding …bet you can’t 🙂

      • Nektarios says:

        Ignatius

        I love a challenge now and then. so in one or two sentences.

        God is perfect and the Salvation he has provided for mankind is a finished and perfect work.
        Those who believe in Christ alone for their Salvation are already perfect in God’s eyes and they will inherit eternal life.
        We have only foretastes of the glory that is ours in Christ in the here and now.
        Will that do you, Ignatius?

      • milliganp says:

        Nektarios, it’s interesting how a change of sequence of words can make such a difference. I’ve always struggled with the Protestant “Sola Scriptura, Sola Fides” doctrines but if you say “faith in Christ alone” rather than “faith alone in Christ” then I have to agree, and once I’ve agreed I have to admit that any works that I have do not effect my salvation but do, in an imperfect way, affirm my faith.

  21. ignatius says:

    Ah.. thats better. Now lets try and marry that up with the original statement made by Alisdair:

    ” One first has to believe, then one sees and understands with perfect clarity.” Nov1st 9:16 am

    Hmmm, since we have only a foretaste of glory we cannot say, any of us, that we see and understand with perfect clarity. This seeing and understanding with perfect clarity can only come when we know as we are truly known. This means when we come-face to face with him who sits on the throne -in other words the beatific vision of heaven. Till then we fight on as best we can aware of our weaknesses, failings and poor eyesight, celebrating not what we already are but what, through grace, we hope to become but do not pretend to have laid hold of yet…so, dearest friend, we do indeed see through a glass darkly do we not?

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius

      Yes. I would only add we are not saying anything of substance that is different from each other.
      However, we have our journey in faith to live and practice. The only difference I detect I have an assurance of the things I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. Press on!

  22. ignatius says:

    Yes. Augustine’s famous line:
    “Console thyself, you would not seek me if you had not already found me..”
    One of the most beautiful lines of all the saints I think.

    Catholicism is very big on hope and what we call ‘certitude’ Certitude differs from ‘certainty’ only in humility and precision. Humility because we recognise that the source of our hope lies in God and precision in that ‘certitude’ means being certain in matters of faith which we can neither see nor ‘prove’
    Broadly speaking you are right, once it is accepted that our human view is neccesarily a limited one then we are speaking from the same page. I like certitude best because it implies an active trust and a faith in what ultimately is a Holy Mystery shrouded from our sight but that we perceive dimly through revelation. When we accept that truth comes through gift and not by calculation then life can become again an adventure into the presence of God.

    • David Smith says:

      ignatius writes:

      // Broadly speaking you are right, once it is accepted that our human view is neccesarily a limited one then we are speaking from the same page. I like certitude best because it implies an active trust and a faith in what ultimately is a Holy Mystery shrouded from our sight but that we perceive dimly through revelation. //

      If God can be perceived only dimly and individually, at what point do two millennia of Catholic teachings cease to matter and become correctly understood as antiquated and mistaken? When does ecumenism become the warm and fuzzy and endlessly changeable replacement for doctrine?

      • ignatius says:

        David,
        //If God can be perceived only dimly and individually, at what point do two millennia of Catholic teachings cease to matter and become correctly understood as antiquated and mistaken? When does ecumenism become the warm and fuzzy and endlessly changeable replacement for doctrine?//
        I’m sorry but I can’t make any sense of this. You seem to have conjured up a banshee. God dwells in unapproachable light and yet lies hidden in all of our lives, somehow accessible through the mystery of sacrament. This is central to Catholic thinking. What exactly are you trying to get at here David, or is this post of yours simply a kind of quip?

      • David Smith says:

        ignatius writes:

        // I’m sorry but I can’t make any sense of this. //

        My apologies, then. It makes sense to me. I may try again. Or not. There was nothing new in it. Just the usual low-energy despair :o)

    • galerimo says:

      This is a beautiful quote (I think it is from Pascal?), I find it very inspiring and yes indeed one of the most beautiful lines in spiritual writing.

  23. Nektarios says:

    Ignatius

    When I speak of certainty, I cannot see the difference between that and according to your definition of certitude, to me, they are the same.

    Faith gives us the grace of God to see and accept the truth, that is Scripturally following the teachings of Christ, the Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice. I do not divorce God/Christ from His word. That is why like your last sentence, as well as your well known first sentence. Great!

  24. Nektarios says:

    Let’s take a different tack to see if one can definitively say God is Just?

    Let us look at our inalienable right and sense of what is Just. Where did that come from?
    It is within us, not something learned or taught, it’s innate. In other words, God created that sense of right and what is Just within us.
    This would mean that our Creator God is Himself Just?

  25. ignatius says:

    “Far be it from You to do such a thing— to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Will not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”” Genesis ch18 v25

  26. G.D says:

    Today’s gospel Luke 14:15-24 might have some bearing on the above conversations …

  27. Nektarios says:

    Is God Just? Let us expand a little more from what I said earlier. We have an inalienable right and a sense of what is Just. It is innate meaning God Created in us something that is true of Him.

    God created that innate sense of what is Just within everyman. This sense of what is right and what is Just is not only personal but expands outward to our own family, to our neighbours, to other nations and their peoples. Were Man to have followed that innate sense, life would have been very different from what we have seen over millenniums today.

    The Fall did not change that innate sense of what is Just God created in us, but Man acts against himself and that of his family, neighbours, nations and their peoples.
    We see this quite clearly played out around the world. in the home, in the workplace, in relationships, in politics and religion too

    The reason for this is a skewered way of looking at what being Just means. It means it is justice for me, my way of thinking and what I want. Being Just is inclusive of all, as God is and has created in every one of us.

  28. David Smith says:

    Thought. Does it make sense to ask whether the monarch is just? Doesn’t that word apply to democracies? When there is no alternative, what is, is. Isn’t asking whether God is just judging God?

    • milliganp says:

      I think that is the central theme of Job. I ended up slightly confused by Ignatius’ exploration of certainty vs certitude and was thinking of Job’s perfect certainty “I know that my redeemer liveth”.

  29. milliganp says:

    Although this piece is titled “Is God Just”, the real question is “How is the perfect justice, love and mercy of God reflected in the Catholic doctrine of mortal sin”.

    • ignatius says:

      A) “Iam certain this road is tarmac because I am walking on it right now”
      B) “I am certain God loves me, I believe the Christian story with all my heart”

      A is certain
      B) Has certitude

  30. Nektarios says:

    Is God Just?

    I said in my last posting when Man fails to do right and act Justly, “Man acts against himself and that of his family, neighbours, nations and their peoples.
    We see this quite clearly played out around the world. in the home, in the workplace, in relationships, in politics and religion too.’ That is what happens when one forgets to do right and to be Just.
    To answer DS, monarchs in the past were guilty of forgetting to do that which was right and to be Just and walk humbly with God and became very destructive.

    This brings me to another point, to forget to do right and to be Just, has in the past and is now so destructive, leading to the deaths of millions of men, women and children and mass poverty, mass starvation, corruption at every level,

    It is quite clear today that the modern Man, generally speaking, has forgotten to do right and be Just. They see what is right and Just only pertains to themselves or little political or religious groups. Such people are toxic, full of deceit and lies and scaremongering people with the likes of climate change, the worlds going to end in anything from 4-12 years. And dare I say it, Brexit?

    Let us remind ourselves, to do right and be just, God has created to be innate in us and we act against our self-interest, and that of our neighbour when we fail with destructive consequences.

    At the back of all this, forgetting to do what is right and to be Just we have our arch-enemy, Satan himself going about like a roaring lion. It is not therefore surprising that the elites, the powerful, so many of that ilk are engaged in Satanism, with paedophilia, toxic and destructive, black masses and such people are not only endangering others, they are also carrying within them their own eternal destruction.

    It is therefore in our interest especially as Christians to do that which is right, act justly and walk humbly with our God.

  31. milliganp says:

    A quote from Pope Francis in an about to be published book;
    ‘Reflecting on evangelization, the pope said that to evangelize means to deliver Christ’s teachings “in simple and precise words like the apostles did” without the need to “invent persuasive discourses.” ‘
    I’m going to take some time out from disputation and debate and to try and simplify my faith.

  32. ignatius says:

    Good idea.

  33. Nektarios says:

    Have we answered the question is God Just? I think we have barely scratched the surface but we have said enough to begin exploring the question.

    milliganp says he wants to take some time out from disputation and debate and to try and simplify
    my faith.
    Complexity only exists when we don’t know, but when we truly see, then complexity disappears. So you will know when you have simplified enough and to see clearly.

    Similarly when we see that innate sense of what God has created in us by way of being Just,
    then we will need to simplify our faith from all its mental complexities, then we will see in truth see
    what this innate nature of what this being Just is exactly. You will have discovered something of God within in all His attributes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s