Friday, March 14, 2008

Greg Boyd - Power Under Justice

Greg Boyd's second fundamental point is that the Polis is dominated “power over” methods. I agree that this is true of the modern polis. I also agree that “power over” methods do not belong in the Kingdom of God. My difference with Greg is that I believe we can have a system of justice that is based on the “power under” principle.

The system of justice established in the Old Testament was a “power under” system. God gave his law. He demonstrated his power on the mountain, but he invited the people to accept the law. Anyone who did not want to remain in the Israelite community and live under God’s law was free to go back to Egypt. The people were free to reject God’s law and often did. God gave his law in a “power under” way.

God raised up wise judges to apply the law. They did not have a police force to enforce their decisions. All they could do was listen to the testimonies of the people before them and give their verdict. They could announce the amount of restitution that should be made when a crime had occurred. They had no power to enforce their decisions.

Every person belonged to a family and tribe. They had agreed to submit to the leaders of their family. Wise family leaders would compel the guilty person to comply with the judge’s decision, for the sake of justice. They would realise that the shoe might be on the other foot in the future and they might be the ones seeking justice.

However, if the criminal’s family did not support his verdict, the judge would be powerless to do anything. The criminal could escape justice and nothing could be done. This is justice by “power under”, because it is justice that only works if innocent and guilty people freely submit to it.

This is just a brief sketch of “power under” justice. Elsewhere, I have described a voluntary system of defence. My point here is to show that these things are possible. Much of the work is still to be done, but I believe that we can develop a process for justice that is consistent with the Kingdom of God.

I agree that most of the modern Polis cannot be part of the Kingdom of God. I believe that as the Kingdom of God advances in its beautiful way, God will sweep much of the Polis away (the book of Revelation is describes this). That does not mean that there will be no law and no justice. No! God will raise up his perfect civil law and justice and teach us to function live under it in a “power under” way. God has provided a system of voluntary justice. I cannot understand why we are so reluctant to live under it.

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