Saturday, April 12, 2008

Voluntary Justice (7) Christian Community

We need a system of justice that does not depend on force or require coercion from above. God’s way is voluntary justice. The key to voluntary justice is free submission to the leaders of a community, in return to their promise of care. Thus, submission to church leaders can also provide a foundation for voluntary justice. This is why Paul described judges emerging out of churches (1 Cor 6:1-4).

If a Christian is accused of a crime, their elders should say something like this.

This accusation could be true. We want to stay at peace with the people of your accuser’s community, so we want you to submit to a judge, and get things sorted. If you do not like the judge they suggested, we will find one we all recognise as being reliable and honest. If you refuse to submit to him, you will lose our spiritual protection and oversight and become an outlaw from your family and church.
The church leaders will urge the Christian to submit to a good and honest judge, so that the church can remain at peace with the rest of the society in which they live. If the judge declares the Christian is innocent, the church will provide them with protection from harassment.

If the judge convicts the accused and imposes a penalty, the leaders of the church will expect the Christian to pay the specified penalty. They may even loan the money and organise repayment over time. The price for this will be closer submission to the Christian(s) making the loan.

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