Front Page Article
"The Lenses of Reformation Concerning Police Reform Laws"
by Dr. Patti Amsden
Justice is the concept that people are rewarded or punished as a result of their own specific actions, and the rewards or punishments are correctly and appropriately applied using a commonly accepted standard. When someone is trespassed against, their duly earned portion is diminished. Justice demands that the depleted portion be replaced. Justice, then, addresses the right of the victim to have restitution. God empowers men as His appointed agents to guard and to enforce justice by requiring the trespasser make restitution.
Reformation lens #1 – The police and officers of justice are, first and foremost, guardians of victims.
In biblical jurisprudence, the victim’s rights must always be upheld. In the social order of ancient Israel, the common man was instructed in the law because the Torah was basic to a child’s education (Deut. 6:4-9) and was read orally to all the citizens every seven years (Deut. 31:11). The law was the tool of self-governance, which was meant to be comprehended and applied by every citizen. That concept can be juxtaposed to our modern-day concept of law that includes an incredibly complex system with volumes of legal codes that can only be mastered by an elect segment of professionals. Self-governance under the law provides for every nation a foundation upon which a safe and secure society can be established. When the peace is shattered due to a trespass, the covenantal agents – the policy and courts – are charged to return the social peace by aiding the victim in attaining restitution and requiring the trespasser to pay the restitution.
Reformation lens #2 – Justice and the protection of victim’s rights helps to foster a just and godly social order where the citizens can live in peace and unity.
The modern state, having begun to turn aside from the bible and from biblical morality, has given to us tens of thousands of volumes of new laws whereby mankind and the social order can be saved. There seems to be no end to the salvationist laws. From a biblical perspective, law enforcements’ primary goal is not to save the populace nor to produce a state-envisioned and state-imposed Edenic paradise. Law with the power of the sword (Rom. 13:1-4) has the ability to restrain lawlessness but is without the power to convert the moral core of mankind. John Adams, the second President of the United States, made a clear connection between the Christian faith and government when he stated: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Reformation lens #3 – Salvation through the state is a humanistic attempt to replace God and to accomplish that which only grace and repentance can produce.
As reformers, we must comprehend and agree with the prophet Isaiah, who laments a condition in Israel when he states that truth had fallen in the streets and fairness could not enter into the city (Is.59:14). He says this to a nation whose beginning was birthed out of covenant and God’s moral standards. In that same text, Isaiah says, “Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men” (vs. 9-10). These same words apply to any people who replace man’s morals for God’s. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! … because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 5:20-24)
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