Showing posts from April, 2012

The Grounds of Human Culpability in Divine Justice

On what bases does God hold humans morally responsible, i.e., culpable, for their actions? This question is at the heart of salvation. God, who is just, must be just in His justification of those who trust in Christ (Rom. 3:26) and in His condemnation of those who do not believe (John 3:18).

I see in Scripture three grounds upon which God holds men responsible: 1) capacity, 2) knowledge, and 3) intent. Of these three, intent is the most frequently mentioned and most obvious.

Determination of culpability on the basis of intention is evident from Num. 35:16-34 and Deut. 19:4-6. A man who "without knowledge" (bivli da'at) or unintentionally (bishgagah) slays his neighbor “does not deserve to die” (cf. Josh. 20:3). If the one who commits unintentional manslaughter is killed by the "avenger of blood," God regards it as the shedding of innocent blood (Deut. 19:10). While intentional manslaughter receives the death penalty, involuntary manslaughter receives no …