Greg Bahnsen and the scriptural view of justice

The binding force and authority of any particular commandment always lies in its penal threat; if no punishment is to follow the violation of a law, then the law is merely a suggestion…

The main underlying principle of scriptural penology (whether civic or eternal) is not reformation or deterrence, but justice.

My two cents

That last sentence is important to me.

The question arises as to how one defines justice; it has been revealed by God upon his creation. Where it hasn’t been explicitly defined, then let us use Biblical principles (read: Old Testament as well, not just the feel-good parts of the New Testament). I’d have more respect for politicians if they did this, rather than the make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach that’s common in democracies.

I’ve heard some people say that Biblical punishments are wrong, but I didn’t realise that such people could appoint themselves to be the arbiters of right and wrong. I’ve also heard people introduce red herrings relating to the effect on crime rates, and the supposed need for the state to focus on rehabilitation—but I don’t recall that being revealed as a duty of the state. Let the church take care of that as part if its prison ministries. If humanistic people look to the state to fill the void, then they’re looking to the state as their saviour.

The point of penology is to punish the criminal—not the victim—yet some people don’t like it that way. Justice and punishment are reduced to existentialist concepts, and I’m expected to fold like a deck of cards. As if I would do that.

Quote source

Bahnsen, G.L. (1979). Theonomy in Christian Ethics. 1st. ed. Nutley: Craig Press, pp. 435, 437


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