Is God Fair? A YouTube Response to the Question

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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16 Responses to Is God Fair? A YouTube Response to the Question

  1. rich constant says:

    3:1 Therefore what advantage does the Jew have, or what is the value of circumcision? 3:2 Actually, there are many advantages.1 First of all,2 the Jews3 were entrusted with the oracles of God.4 3:3 What then? If some did not believe, does their unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God? 3:4 Absolutely not! Let God be proven true, and every human being5 shown up as a liar,6 just as it is written: “so that you will be justified7 in your words and will prevail when you are judged.”8

    3:5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates9 the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is he?10 (I am speaking in human terms.)11 3:6 Absolutely not! For otherwise how could God judge the world? 3:7 For if by my lie the truth of God enhances12 his glory, why am I still actually being judged as a sinner? 3:8 And why not say, “Let us do evil so that good may come of it”? – as some who slander us allege that we say.13 (Their14 condemnation is deserved!)

    The Condemnation of the World

    3:9 What then? Are we better off? Certainly not, for we have already charged that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin, 3:10 just as it is written:

    “There is no one righteous, not even one,

    3:11 there is no one who understands,

    there is no one who seeks God.

    3:12 All have turned away,

    together they have become worthless;

    there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.”15

    3:13 “Their throats are open graves,16

    they deceive with their tongues,

    the poison of asps is under their lips.”17

    3:14 “Their mouths are18 full of cursing and bitterness.”19

    3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,

    3:16 ruin and misery are in their paths,

    3:17 and the way of peace they have not known.”20

    3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”21

  2. Randall says:

    “We’re LUCKY that God is not fair.” I wonder if blessed might be a more appropriate word to use instead of luck.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  3. Randall says:

    Hey Rich,
    Did you notice how many times the questions of the imaginary interlocuter are used in the passage you quoted above – from Romans. Understanding Paul’s use of the genre is both interesting and helpful.
    Blessings,
    Randall

  4. rich constant says:

    hey randall. you are you know better than to use words like that, on me.
    imaginary enterlocuter

    randall you’re gonna hafta dumb that word down :-)
    it sounds like it’s a good thing so thanks

  5. Randall says:

    Hi Rich,
    The imaginary interlocuter is the imaginary debating partner in a diatribe. He is the guy that Paul answers questions for. Paul makes an argument and then presents the “logical” objection to his argument through his imaginary debating partner – could be based on a real debating partner and he deals with the objections. See the text below from the ESV Bible Online:

    What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, [2] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

    The guy that Paul refers to when he writes:
    1) You will say to me then
    2) But who are you, O man

    That guy is the imaginary interlocuter. Sometimes he is referred to as O man and sometimes the questions is simply posed as – What shall we say then, or something like, Shall we sin all the more than grace may abound?

    These questions are the “logical” objections to Paul’s arguments. If you think the question/objection is logical then it may mean you understood the argument.

    The guy objects to finding fault with Pharaoh for having a hardened heart b/c it was God who hardened it and no one can resist God. In other words, how could we blame Pharaoh?

    Paul says God has the right to harden who he will and have mercy on who he will just as the potter has the right to make something for honorable or dishonorable use from the same lump of clay. We are not to back talk God. He is the potter and we are merely clay.

    The diatribe was a genre of literature from the ancient world in which both the argument as well as the logical objections were presented. The genre was frequently used with the less well educated – that may fit in well with descriptions of the early Christians indicating that not many were wise etc.

    Hope this helps a little. Please forgive me for throwing around 50 cent words. I’ll try to be more careful in the future. I do think you would find the genre interesting and enjoying seeing how Paul employs it in Romans and even a little bit in Galatians.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  6. rich constant says:

    Randall
    do you remember the post by J.M.
    on how god in Christ has given us all new names.

    beggar:
    almost but not quite gave me a knee jerk answer and response to that word.

    boy oh boy
    BY THE WAY
    you gonna make ME look up an ENGLISH GRAMMAR TERM.. :-)
    THAT’S NOT FAIR :-)
    Randall
    SHARE-IN TIME IS A HAPPY TIME… :-)

  7. rich constant says:

    LORD A MERCY
    AS MY MOM WOULD SAY
    right after i posted

    some things just are hard to change for me RANDALL

    ya know same train but about three cars back…

    thank you bro

  8. rich constant says:

    now then
    Randall…lets’ see if i can use that word right…
    i will just add a little to your scripture….
    now i am trying to be a little funny here…
    a statement that in a funny kinda perverse way, the Spirit could a used.

    17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    “THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES”

    GOD KNOWS SOMETIMES I JUST CAN’T HELP MYSELF…
    :-)

    THERE IS ALWAYS A LITTLE TRUTH IN EVERY IDEA…BROUGHT FORWARD

  9. abasnar says:

    Definition of fairness from the clip:

    Fair:
    Being ethically in accordance with relative merit, eliminating prejudices, and desires for the provision of impartial and just treatment

    Definitions of righteous(ness) from Strong:

    ?????
    dike?
    dee’-kay
    Probably from G1166; right (as self evident), that is, justice (the principle, a decision, or its execution): – judgment, punish, vengeance.

    ????????
    dikaios
    dik’-ah-yos
    equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): – just, meet, right (-eous).

    ???????????
    dikaiosune?
    dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay
    equity (of character or act); specifically (Christian) justification: – righteousness.

    Definition of fair (in Col 4:1 and 2Co 8:14) from Strong:

    ????????
    isote?s
    ee-sot’-ace
    likeness (in condition or proportion); by implication equity: – equal (-ity).

    I see no substantial difference between these definitions. OK, so now two texts:

    Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it
    Rom 3:22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
    Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    Rom 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

    So, God is righteous by NOT treating us according to what we deserve.

    2Co 8:13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness
    2Co 8:14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.
    2Co 8:15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

    So it is NOT unfair that those who gather less receive the same share.

    Please, Jay, don’t call unfair what God calls fair! The last passage contains actually a parallel thought to the parable of the workers in the vineyard – When the Bible calls such “a matter of fairness”, then we MUST NOT call it “unfair”. Instead we MUST change our definitions of fairness if need be to bring our mind in accordance with God’s BLAMELESS character. Please note: If we call God “unfair” we basically say: He is not all the way good.

    This is unfitting, Jay, and I wish you’d step back from this.

    Alexander

  10. rich constant says:

    alix
    this is a ? for you
    there is only one answer to this question,

    A simple, YES
    OR
    A simple NO

    if Jesus is righteous by is LAW?
    HOW
    IS GOD righteous to curse his righteous Son?

    Question is
    1.
    Is GOD righteous?
    Y/N
    is Jesus Righteous under law.
    Y/N

  11. abasnar says:

    The answer is not a YES or NO since you first ask HOW.
    If I’d simply answer questions 1 and 2 with YES I suppose it would leave you dissatisfied.

    Well, a little more on that:

    I answer with YES to both questions, because the scriptures say so:

    God’s righteousness is revealed when He gave His own son as an atonement for our sin, That’s clear from express words from the scriptures.

    It is equally clear from other passages that Christ was righteous according to the Law, not only that: He was completely without sin.

    Where, pray, where is the problem? The problem is that WE (!!!) feel this is unfair, but we miss some very important points:

    a) There was an agreement between the Father and the Son to solve the sin-problem this way:

    Heb 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
    Heb 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
    Heb 10:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

    b) This way was chosen even before the creation!

    1Pe 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,
    1Pe 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
    1Pe 1:20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world …

    So this was part of God’s redemptive plan.

    If this included that God had to curse His son, then so be it – this is not unjust, because the Son agreed to this for our sake. But I say “If” on purpose:

    Isa 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God,

    and afflicted.

    Note: WE esteemed him smitten by God – i.e. we think God treated Him unjustly, but then there is a BUT that follows:

    Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

    In other words it is not about how God treated Jesus, that#s not the issue at all. It’s about how He is treating us.

    And because of that, God even had “joy” in this, He was pleased with Christ’s crucifixion! Because of its outcome.

    Isa 53:10 (KJV) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

    We are unable to understand this as long as we don’t grasp the gospel and the resurrection. As long as we look at the bruises, we say: UNFAIR, we scream: UNJUST! But as soon as we meet the risen Lord, we fall on our knees and worship the Lord whose rightousness has been revealed in a seemingly unrighteous act.

    I say it once more, and then I’ll stop with that, because the more I engage in this the more “surprized” I get about the gall to call our blessed Lord “unfair”.

    We accuse God of being unjust and evil when calling this “unfair”. This is totally against every scripture that deals with the cross, suffering and death, or with mercy and grace. Totally. Therefore it is unfitting and should be corrected. We must not speak of a blameless God this way.

    Alexander

  12. rich constant says:

    alix
    would u mind
    if i showed u through scripture just how theological ontology has
    skewed our vision of what the trinity accomplished, because of the cross.
    To CAUSE THE EFFECT OF ATONEMENT.
    would you be willing to engage in a little open discussion here if jay would allow it. any one would be welcome to join in if they like,of coarse.
    although this should be a no brainer for anyone to see as i would be objecting to your point of view.

    and also i really don’t mind being not right. so this might be fun.serious fun and you could teach me.
    yes?

  13. rich constant says:

    ALSO
    I PROMISE
    YOU
    IN NO WAY WILL THIS(MY SIDE OF THIS) DO ANYTHING IN ANY WAY
    TO DISHONOR THE SALVATION THAT IS EXPRESSED THROUGH.
    Ephesians
    2:7 to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 2:9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.
    blessings

  14. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,

    The fact that, for example, that the word translated “righteous” might also be translated “fair” hardly means that Paul uses the word in that sense in Romans or anywhere else. Words often carry several possible meanings.

    If I call my wife “fair,” I might mean that she characterized by fairness, that she is fair-complected, that she is pretty, or that she doing okay. How’s she doing? Fair. How does she look? Fair. What color is her skin? Fair. How does she treat people when asked to decide between two sides? Fair. Does she cheat on tests? No, she’s fair. How well is she paid? She has a fair income.

    The MacMillan Dictionary (http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/fair) gets the definition right in terms of conversational English. It gives as the primary meaning:

    if a situation is fair, everyone is treated equally and in a reasonable way

    In conversational English, when someone asks whether God is fair, they are asking whether he treats everyone the same. (If you doubt me, Google “Is God Fair” and see how other authors wrestle with the same question.) It’s the same question a child asks when one gets a prize and the other does not. “Is that fair?” And God is manifestly not fair. Well, sometimes he’s fair, but not always.

    Does that make him evil? Of course, not. It just means that he doesn’t treat everyone the same, which is obvious from even a cursory reading of the scriptures.

    But we often refuse to admit this fact, and that refusal causes us to reach some false conclusions about God.

    I’ll be dealing in some detail with the meaning of “the righteousness of God” in Romans 3 later in the series. I don’t think it means “the fairness of God” — and if you try to read Romans with that definition, you get some very strange results.

  15. abasnar says:

    The funny thing in English is that “fair” can mean anything between “right” or “just” to “haircolor”. WE don’t have that in German. Even if we borrow the word fair from English we use it only in the sense of “just”.

    And in your proposed question you also used it in the sense of “just”. And that’s my point.

    Alexander

  16. Brian B. says:

    YouTube says that the clip is no longer available because the user’s account has been closed. Can you give a summary of the video?

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