St Isaac the Syrian: The Scandalous Injustice of God

Eclectic Orthodoxy

Workers in the Vineyard by Nelly Bube

That God is just is a truism of Christian faith. The Old and New Testament texts that speak of divine justice are innumerable. Theologians have unanimously claimed that justice is a relative divine attribute (Western tradition) or a divine energy (Eastern tradition). All have agreed that the God of the Bible is just … all, that is, except one. All have agreed that justice should characterize the Christian life … all, that is, except one.

“Mercy is opposed to justice,” declares St Isaac of Ninevah.

Mercy and justice in one soul is like a man who worships God and the idols in one house. Mercy is opposed to justice. Justice is the equality of the even scale, for it gives to each as he deserves; and when it makes recompense, it does not incline to one side or show respect of persons. Mercy, on the other hand, is a sorrow…

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