REASONS TO BELIEVE:
by Dan Arsenault
By Dan Arsenault
Would the Biblical System of Justice
Make the World a Better Place?
Atheist writers accurately cite many
examples of injustice and oppression that
are connected to religion, some in the
name of Christ. They have actually only
made the case that humans with power
tend to be unjust. In history, the powerless
have suffered the most.
But there is an obvious discrepancy between the injustices of the “church” and
the teachings of Christianity, and Judaism
as well. What if the governments of the
world followed the teachings of Jesus?
Let’s look at the civil laws of Israel in
the Old Testament. There are two Hebrew
words often connected. Both are found in
Micah 6:8, where we are told that the Lord
requires of us mercy (chesedh) and justice
(mishpat). Both the golden rule and the
“royal law” in the New Testament are
based on these two words. We call them
“human rights.” The basis of the idea of
human rights is that we are all made in the
image of God and have intrinsic worth.
In the Old Testament, justice “looked
like” taking care of the poor, the immigrant, the widows, and the orphans, i.e.
powerless people. Periodically, all debts
were to be cancelled. High interest rates
were forbidden, and interest free loans
were given to the poor who could work
to pay them back. Landowners were to reputting a limit on the greed of capitalism,
and a responsibility on those who could
Had these instructions been followed,
along with others, God said in Deuteronomy 15 that there would be no poverty
in the land. Jeremiah Wright was offensive
and way over the top, but he wasn’t all
wrong either. God judges nations by their
justice, which includes their treatment of
Whereas Israel was a theocracy, the
early church had no political power. They
existed in many cultures and under various
governments. But the principles of Israel’s
justice system were practiced by the early
church. Jesus was poor. He was known
as the friend of social and economic
outcasts. He fed the poor, and told a rich
man to sell his goods and give to the poor.
Many believers in the Jerusalem church
Jesus took a strong stand against racism,
and honored women (a 1st century Rabbi
did not even speak to his wife in public).
hospitals, orphanages, and help for the
mentally handicapped. It is clearly not
Biblical teaching that has caused human
suffering, but the lack of its practice.
There is much more to be said.