Myopic Justice

I spent yesterday afternoon in prison.

My daughter Julie and I were patted down and admitted to the Sterling Correctional Facility to see a friend doing life for murder. He grew up in terrible circumstances and in a fit of teenage rage killed his abusive mother. Only sixteen, he was convicted as an adult and given life without the possibility of parole.

That was a fourteen years ago and he’s a changed man. He has developed his musical and artistic talents and is working on a college degree. He meditates, writes poetry and handles legal matters for other inmates. He isn’t the same angry youth who struck out so violently at his tormentor.

His appeals for a retrial have been consistently denied. Lady Justice once ruled on his crime and she refuses to reconsider. In her blind eyes, once guilty, always guilty. Never mind that the adolescent brain is a cauldron of volatile emotions. Ignore the mature man for who he is today. The sentence is inviolable.

My heart aches for my friend. I want a wise and compassionate judge to see him for who he is today—not who he was—and extend clemency. Unlike a pardon, clemency doesn’t ignore the wrong or nullify the conviction, it just reduces the penalty.

His story illustrates a problem with the traditional doctrine of hell. It mandates eternal punishment for finite sins done by fallible humans without regard for the possibility of postmortem repentance or reformation (Luke 16:19-31).

Are heavenly grace, mercy, forgiveness, justification, sanctification and reconciliation only available in the eye-blink between cradle and grave? Is physical death an impermeable barrier to forever love?

Most Christians would answer a reluctant “yes” based on a literal reading of passages like Hebrews 9:27 and Matthew 25:31-46. But thinking Christians are torn between these troublesome verses and God’s transcendent character.

We desperately hope Divine Justice isn’t as myopic as we are.


3 thoughts on “Myopic Justice

  1. Mike,

    Hell makes perfect sense to me: ! I used to not like the fact that I would be existing forever in heaven or hell, regardless, but to ignore hell is to ignore the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I used to have all kinds of questions and doubts about God’s Word: now I know that God’s Word is perfect: !

    Mike, remember that the last theological conversation that Susan heard was between you and I, debating the doctrine of a literal hell: this is an issue that you need to deal with. The Biblical evidence for a literal hell is overwhelming, Susan believed in a literal hell. I know because she told me her beliefs throughout the two and a half decades that I knew her as my Aunt! Do you think that the abortion “doctors” that your late wife fought against are not going to the literal lake of fire, for ever and ever, if they don’t believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?

    Mike, if only you had a perfect Bible with no mistakes in it: I wonder, would you bother reading it? Or are you having way too much fun doubting and teaching others to do likewise? If you do want a perfect Bible, with no mistakes in it, let me know and I’ll make sure that you get one! Then you can be sure that if you find a mistake, it is your own, because God’s Word is forever perfect, God doesn’t mutter, stutter or say things that he doesn’t mean to say and he cannot lie and you will never catch him pretending that hell isn’t a real place, with a real location, with real fire and real brimstone and real torment, and real damnation, in a real for ever and ever, in the real presence of the real KING OF KNGS AND LORD OF LORDS!

    I love you Mike and I hope that you will long to have a perfect Bible, with NO mistakes in it and I’d be happy to give one to you, anytime!


    Andrew Daniel

  2. Good News! It isn’t!!
    God is just, holy, righteous AND forgiving, merciful and compassionate – all at the same time!
    He said He’d save us – and I believe Him!!

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