Friday, September 6, 2019

Question from a skeptic: Part 1 - Is God Fair?

The questions that have been asked in this series are in the realm of philosophy in the subcategory of theology. In any discussion of philosophy, we have presuppositions that we should acknowledge. Not all philosophers do this, and it makes it hard to have good dialog because they may then use the same terms but have different meanings depending on the presuppositions. My most important presuppositions follow:

  • Humans have five basic senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. With these senses we perceive what is physical and form our ideas of reality.
  • God is spirit who lives in a spiritual realm. He doesn’t have a physical body and cannot be perceived by any of our physical senses.
  • There are some things in our physical world that point to God and indicate that he exists. The very existence of our physical world is one of them. People say that the universe has always existed, but logic says that for something to exist (other than God), something had to create it. That something is God.
  • Since we can only detect physical things, any concept of what God must be like is extremely limited. We can only observe nature and guess about the God who created it.
  • The only accurate description of God must come from him revealing himself to us. He has done this through prophets and direct conversation with people of the past who faithfully wrote what he told them. Lastly, he became a man and revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • God’s revelation of himself to us has been recorded in the Bible. Abundant research on the Bible has shown it to be an accurate recreation of the original written texts from before Christ and after.

With these presuppositions the answers to these questions must rely on what God has told us about himself and not what we would like God to be like. 

 Is God Fair?

Fair in this context fair is an adjective and means, “in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate” (Microsoft dictionary). If we are talking about God’s action then fair is an adverb defined as, “without cheating or trying to achieve unjust advantage.”

Whether or not God is fair, you must understand that we believe certain things are fair and certain things are unfair based upon our judgement of what is right and wrong. If we say God is fair or unfair, we are judging God by our standards. it is better to look at the Bible to understand what God believes is fair and adjust our standards to his. The Bible is very clear that everyone has sinned. Because everyone has sinned, they have violated God's perfect law. the Judgment for sin is based upon God's judgement and his standards not on our judgment of our own standards.

You may ask, why does God have the right to set the standards? We must remember that God has created all things. Everything belongs to him and without him nothing would exist. Because he has created all things, he has the right to set the standards for what is right and wrong. Fortunately, God is also perfectly holy. Because he is holy there is no evil or impurity in him. That means any standards that he sets up are also completely pure and right.

Getting back to fairness, since we have sinned and violated God's laws then it is reasonable for us to be punished. If God were 100% fair, then every one of us would be punished and there would be no way for us to escape that punishment because there is nothing we can do to earn our redemption. However, in this sense, God is not fair. This can be seen in that God himself came to the Earth in the person of Jesus Christ and died on the cross to take the punishment of our sins upon himself. That is the demonstration of total unfairness. Jesus did not sin and therefore he should not have died for any reason whatsoever. How can it be fair for Jesus to be punished for the things we have done wrong? Instead of being fair – at least from a human standpoint- God demonstrates his love for us in this while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Rom 5:6).

Because God is not fair in his treatment of his own son, Jesus, we are granted pardon of our sins when we turn to Jesus and have faith that his punishment covers all our sins, past, present and future. This doesn’t sound fair to us and many people do not accept this pardon because in their minds, they believe they must earn forgiveness for it to be fair.

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