Religion: Can We Know God?-Day Nine-Justice and Mercy

   God's existence is often argued through two venues; Creation and Miracles. In this series we spend a little time with Creation and less with Miracles, though we reserve the right to return to either of those subject at the drop of a New Testament.

   I intend today to begin to argue the existence of God from the venues of justice and mercy (love). The two subjects have union, I think, because one (justice) is cruel without the other (love) and the other (love) is formless without justice. When justice and mercy maturely perform their designated functions it is, I think, under the aegis of a Holy God, who infuses justice and mercy with His own perfect understanding.

   The Muscular, Evangelical, Post-Modern Atheist who posits the absence of purpose (including morals and ethics) as co-extant with the absence of God only takes the next logical step in unbelief. That which begins with the absence of God cannot end with the presence of God. Furthermore, that which begins with the end of life at the grave cannot end with some grand purpose for living that makes man part of a greater Being.

   Lest anyone think I now hope to "snow" everyone with the technical terminology of religion, ethics and philosophy, let me stop instead and just say, God is the source of ethics because God acts justly and with love.

    Immanuel Kant was technically correct about the inability of man to understand truth without reference to his (man's) own needs and perceptive abilities. Kant was wrong to depreciate the place of God in morality/ethics'philosophy. Kan't personal need may have been to out-Hume Hume. Regardless, the man who insists all men act out of their personal needs and perceptive abilities cannot call time-out when history comes calling to peruse his needs and abilities.

   In short, the philosophical, ethical or religious system that removes God from its core impoverishes itself needlessly. Man can still strive to do his best, as best he understands the subject before him and without recourse to self-aggrandizement but all of this seems unlikely if man does not see a greater truth before him. 

   We would expect some to rejoin with us thusly, "It is odd to read a fellow arguing for man to find greater justice and mercy in God when religious persons have so often been the source of injustice and cruelty". I want to answer in some detail but let me say this up front. When  it is necessary to deny the existence of God based on the iniquities of man, you have only proven God's justice and mercy are necessary, for man is more able to do wrong than even his surroundings would suggest.

   Or, let me say it like this. When you see a person able to assimilate religious teachings humbly for the worship of God and the good of man, the testimony of that person will be the wide mercy of God and not the merit of the individual. 

   In fact, the presence of one such person in the world negates "the Evil Religionist proves the Absence of God" argument. One Mother Teresa trumps ten Ted Haggards.

   The vulgarity of religionists in the world is never solely the result of religion, no matter how misapplied. Commercial interests, political considerations and ethnic (or religious) prejudices influence men and women to do evil in the name of their religion. Religion could be blamed solely for the evil acts of men if men existed in a purely religious sphere without contact with other forces. Religion is called in to "bless" the armies of the world order. Religion needs courage to hold the other forces of man to some higher standard. If religion can be found guilty  of collusion with evil, the actual charges would have to read "Intellectual Laziness" and "Lack of Courage."

   None of the major religions of history (at least not the ones extant today, the ones that  stood the test of time) have to be interpreted as destructive. When the Saudi Arabian Mullah sends a woman out to martyr herself or when  a tiny baptist gathering from Kansas makes its way around the nation spewing the most inane hate messages, there are non-religious forces at work. When religion is used to advocate the most egregious causes, Religionists need to be Pharisees, who functioned as purifiers of the Old Covenant Jewish religion while under the domination of Roman paganism. That is, Religionists need to say, "No. This is not what we are, not in any way."

   Then, religion can evolve but should not change to place its ritual/doctrine on the Throne of the Living God. God is the Source of justice and mercy. Religionists interpret the justice and mercy of God, correcting themselves from one historical era to another as the mercy of God becomes transparent to them. Christian religionists do not have to let the Bible force them to defend the indefensible, any more than the mujahadeen have to accept the Koran as an apology for race hatred.

   And, frankly, Christianity in many of its manifestations, has shown the ability to evolve beyond its Dark Age errors more than other major faiths. Each of us ought to let a religion select us. When we open our pysche to the wide mercy of God, we ought not to close down our cognitive processes. If religion (God revealed) is the Source of justice and mercy, if that is how we sense God in the world, then it follows we should be adopted by the faith that promises to do the greatest good for the planet's burgeoning population.

   No religions says, or ought (ethics) to say "everyone is ok (with God)." When Ben Rogers and Richard Dawkins say they do not suffer from holding that nothing is sacred or holy, humility might force them to add the disclaimer 'as far as we know now." Humility is  not the watchword of the anti-God forces in the world but all should remember we live in a world where humility will become more and more important. 

   In the next forty years the population of the world is projected to grow from 6.7 billion to 9.4 billion. If every one of those teeming billions to be added wish to live as well as the average American the world might become an  unsustainable eco-system. We may not be able to afford governments and armies and churches and mosques and temples while we try to feed the billions without becoming the locust plague of the earth. We will need God, the real God, the God of justice and mercy, more than ever. 

   God is Histtory's Greater Truth and so He is the Future's Greater Need. The Great Truth of God visible to mankind is the bright image of God's presence, Jesus the Christ. 

Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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