Thursday, April 05, 2012

[God's partiality]

From Miroslav Volf's book Exclusion and Embrace:
Consider, second, God’s partiality. In the biblical traditions, when God looks at a widow, for instance, God does not see “a free and rational agent,” but a woman with no standing in society. When God looks at a sojourner, God does not see simply a human being, but a stranger, cut off from the network of relations, subject to prejudice and scapegoating. How does the God who “executes justice for the oppressed” act toward widows and strangers? Just as God acts toward any other human being? No. God is partial to them. God “watches over the strangers” and “upholds the orphan and the widow” (Psalm 146:7-9) in a way that God does not watch over and uphold the powerful.

Why is God partial to widows and strangers? In a sense, because God is partial to everyone—including the powerful, whom God resists in order to protect the widow and the stranger. God sees each human being concretely, the powerful no less than the powerless. God notes not only their common humanity, but also their specific histories, their particular psychological, social, and embodied selves with their specific needs. When God executes justice, God does not abstract but judges and acts in accordance with the specific character of each person. Do we not read, however, that God’s Messiah will “not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth” (Isaiah 11:3-4). But should we conclude that his eyes will be closed when executing justice? To the contrary. He will judge truly because he will not judge by appearances and hear-say. God treats different people differently so that all will be treated justly.
Volf, pp. 221-222

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