Hello, friends. I’ve been thinking a lot about justice. This is because there are certain people in my life that I am annoyed with, because they have been behaving in a way that I find to be really inconsiderate and unkind. But don’t worry, I’m not here to bore you with a sob story, I’m here to share a few reflections on the philosophy of justice as it relates to the existence of a sovereign and personal God.
Actually, the title of this blog post is fairly self-explanatory. God decides what is just and what is unjust, because He is all-powerful and in control of everything that happens. God is not beholden to anyone or anything; He does as He pleases and we are merely puppets of His sovereign will.
If what I’m saying about God’s sovereignty is true, it means justice is actually quite a strange concept. The idea of justice is pretty much bound up with the idea of free will, which I have argued extensively on this blog and in my books doesn’t exist. God’s omnipresence, I have argued, eliminates the possibility of free will — it is logically contradictory to argue both that God is everywhere and that we have freedom from God.
In terms of justice, there is often a perception that God has laid down laws in the Bible, and that we are responsible for obeying them. If we don’t, we rightly face judgment. However, I don’t believe the matter is this simple. If God is in control of all things, then when God judges, He is really judging actions that He has brought about Himself. Also, He has absolutely no restrictions; He can consider one thing to be just one day, and another thing to be just another day.
The Christian may argue that this is exactly why Scripture is important; because it gives us the rules that we are to follow. But the fact is that the words of Scripture do not in reality dictate good and evil in this way, for several reasons. One reason is that words on a page do not embody meaning inherently; their meaning only comes about through God creating emotion and thought impressions in human bodies and minds as people read and reflect. And God can do this in an infinite number of ways.
Secondly, God is under no obligation at any time to adhere to any precept which we may believe is taught in the Bible. God is entirely free to do as He pleases. A Christian may believe he or she is doing the will of God, but they should be very careful if they profess such a thing, because the will of God is not something which is necessarily objective or unchanging.
This is the point I wish to make in this article; that there is no objective morality. What is just and unjust is always subjective. God may choose to do certain things with regularity, but He is not in any way obliged to do so. Justice is subject to the subjectivity of God.
This is a liberating thought in one sense, because it allows us to understand that the future is always open to infinite possibilities. It may, however, be a distressing thought for some religious people who get their sense of self-esteem and authority from believing that they hold to a correct interpretation of Scripture.
We consider something to be subjective when it reflects the opinion or inclinations of a particular person. God is a person, and He dictates what is just and unjust without any obligation. Justice is therefore entirely subjective, because it depends on the will of God, who is the one and only free agent, and this is true whether we like it or not.
For a deep-dive into the divine sovereignty vs human free will problem, I recommend checking out my book God’s Grand Game, which is currently available for free. For further information and to get your copy, visit the Books page.