My Question: Justice vs Grace

Hi everyone,
I attend a prayer meet for an ESL ministry. When we open, one person does a short devotional. This person taught some unusual theology. He read the passage from Leviticus instructing the Israelites to leave the edges of their crops for the gleaners, and said this showed God’s justice. He then said that ESL ministry is a justice ministry; then that sharing the gospel was part of a justice ministry because since we were saved, then it was justice for others to be saved as well.

I said salvation was by God’s grace; it wasn’t justice since we didn’t deserve it. I also said that taking care of the poor and teaching ESL to newcomers was also a ministry of grace.

He said that I was confused because Evangelical Christians didn’t know the meaning of the words grace and justice.

Has anyone heard of this before? How would you respond?

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I’ve never heard of that perspective before. And from what you describe it seems like he didn’t feel willing or able to qualify or clarify where he was coming from in his apparent esoteric interpretation.

If he classified your questioning to be “evangelical ignorance” it’s a pretty weak and flimsy argument. And there’s a name for this. It’s called an ad Hominem Fallaciy)

Before pointing this out to him (and insulting him by articulating how you deserve more than a flim-flam response) It would probably be better to consider what else is going on in the situation. Maybe he got frustrated with your dialog or felt threatened and therefore became unreasonable. Or, maybe if he was inexperienced at leading a devotional, maybe he didn’t feel comfortable with someone opposing his view.

Alternatively, If I was trying to pursue this argument I might say something like " I don’t mean to be combative or argumentative, but I believe I’ve got a very good question, and it seems like you’re not recognizing the question-ability of what you’re saying… So as the questioner that puts me in quite a spot."

When God created us, He created us with the need of Him to be perfect. In other words, according to the design of God, we need God with us always to lead a morally perfect life. But, God also gave us the power to decide whether to go on our own, ignoring Him or to live with His company to lead a perfect life. Going on our own can be paralleled to Eve and Adam eating the forbidden fruit. We also chose the first one: to go on our own after our desires.
Since we cannot make Heaven without His help, God decided to rescue us though we didn’t deserve it. This is what we call ‘grace’. But, God is just. So He wants justice to be fulfilled and us to be redeemed. So, He came down to pay for us.

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@roslynfarmer781 A lot of times when we use the word justice, we automatically think of God’s just wrath against sinners. However, that is not the only way the word is used in Scripture. For example, in Isaiah justice includes helping the oppressed, the orphan, and the widow. God’s justice extends to the way that we treat other people - loving our neighbors.

Learn to do right. See that justice is done — help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows. ( Isaiah 1:17)

I think this individual was just trying to say that teaching ESL is a way of demonstrating God’s justice by helping the poor in the community, which is a perfectly Biblical definition of the word justice.

I am uncertain why they made the jab about evangelicals specifically, but I would not respond to it. I might ask them how they define grace and justice and what they believe Jesus did for us on the cross. And then just listen and love (unless they asked for my opinion).

Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

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Thanks Tim,

Those are good suggestions for how I could have responded. I will try to remember that approach the next time I take exception to something someone says.
The thing is to take exception without meaning to be combative or coming across as such.


Thanks Jathusan,

That was a helpful way of showing the differences between grace and justice. And a reaffirmation that we are saved by grace.
I was worried by what this person had said about salvation being an example of God’s justice. Perhaps he hadn’t meant to say it that way, or hadn’t thought it out. But if salvation was an example of God’s justice, that would be saying that we deserved it.

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Thanks Sean,
That helps clarify where this man was coming from when he said that helping the poor was an example of justice. Hopefully next time I’m in such a situation I will think to ask them for their definitions.

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