The Law and Restitution

Just touching on Gary North’s work, Victim’s Rights

The Goals of Restitution

Economic. Proportional restitution is imposed by the civil government as God’s lawful representative on earth.

[The magistrate, as the one upholding public law, is to rule as a servant of God. The state and its sword exists to uphold the law of God. Not all of God’s law is to be enforced by God’s servant, the state, but some parts of the law are to be so upheld.]

The three economic goals of proportional restitution are these: 1) restoring full value to the victim; 2) protecting future potential victims by means of the deterrence effect of the penalty payment (Deut. 13:11): a) animals, especially those symbolic of man’s helplessness (sheep and oxen), and b) property owners; and 3) offsetting the lower economic risks of detection associated with certain kinds of theft – the slaughter or sale of specially protected edible animals. All of these are designed to protect the rights of victims. The innocent, not the guilty, are to be the recipients of protection from the civil government. The victim can agree to be lenient to the criminal by accepting a reduced restitution payment, but that decision is his, not the court’s.

[The biblical court is to insure that the victim is compensated. The victim, when he is unlawfully assaulted or robbed, “wears the face of God” [this blogger’s term, not North’s), and God demands that the victim be compensated for his loss by the victimizer.]

Civil. Biblical restitution also has at least three civil goals in addition to the three economic goals. The first civil goal of restitution is to make life easier for the law-abiding citizen by fostering external social conditions in which he can live in peace and safety. Peace and safety are the fully legitimate goals of all biblical justice, which God has promised to bring to pass in world history through His church during a future period of earthly millennial peace. The nations will come to God’s church (“the mountain of the house of the LORD”) in search of true justice (Mic. 4:1-5).

[This will not be today’s Christian Church, who manifestly hates God’s Law… and so, implicitly, hates God.

As the size and power of the God-hating Western Christian Church dwindles into nothingness, God will find a way to get access to obedient servants, servants who love His Law, and wants to see the kingdom of God expand across the world today. Some in the West, Some in the East. Some in the North, some in the South.

These servants — “covenant-keepers”, in North’s phrase — will be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and teach the nations (a.k.a. the various governments that rule the people who are alive today) to obey the commandments of Jesus Christ.

“In time, and on earth.”]

A second civil goal of biblical restitution is to make possible the full judicial restoration of the criminal to society after he has paid the victim what he owes him. The State is not to concern itself with the psychological restoration of the criminal, the victim, or society in general. The State’s jurisdiction is strictly limited to the realm of the judicial: restitution. The psychological state of the criminal is between himself and God, as is the psychological state of the victim. Nevertheless, as in the case of the salvation of any individual by God’s grace, judicial restoration is the first step toward psychological restoration.

[I would say spiritual restoration, myself.

On the other hand, using the word ‘psychological’ does point out the need to redeem the mind and the thinking of the criminal, not only the spirit.]

The modern U.S. practice of never again allowing convicted felons to vote is clearly immoral. Under biblical law, a convicted criminal becomes a former convicted criminal when he has made full restitution to his victims. In this sense, he is “resurrected” judicially. After he has paid his debt to his victims, he must be restored to full political participation. To segregate the former convicted criminal from any area of civic authority or participation is to deny judicially that full civil restoration is made possible by means of God’s civil law.

[A criminal that has served his sentence should be restored in full, including voting rights and the right to bear arms in the defense of his person, his family, his home… and the lives of the innocent.

If you paid your debt to society God and the Victim you harmed, then you are a Free Man. Both FREE. And a MAN, with all the duties of such.]

The third civil goal of biblical restitution is not intuitively obvious, but it may be the most important goal for the modern world. A system of biblical restitution is required in order to reduce the likelihood that citizens will come to view the civil government as an agency that lawfully initiates programs leading to personal or social transformation. The State’s task is to assess the economic damage that was inflicted on the victim and then impose judgment on the convicted criminal that will reimburse the victim for his loss, plus a penalty payment. Normally, this means double restitution. The State is not an agency of creative transformation. It is not to be regarded as a savior State. Men should not seek to make the State an agency of social salvation. It is supposed to enforce biblical civil law – no more, no less. The State is not supposed to seek to make men righteous; its God-assigned task is to restrain certain specified acts of public evil. Theft is one of these acts.

[The State is not our Saviour… no matter what the secularists say. It is only to restrain public evil, nothing more.]

Civil government is an agency of visible judgment in history. Justice demands judgment. The judgments handed down by civil government acknowledge the historic judgments of God, as well as point to the final judgment of God. The goal of civil justice is always restoration: restoration through restitution or restoration through execution. This two-fold system of civil judgment also characterizes God’s judgments, which are equally judicial.

[The civil government, to the extent that it is legitimate, is to follow down the road God marked out for it. It is not to puff itself up into a God, and it is not to weaken itself so much that the criminal laughs at it.]

Judgment unto Restoration

When God deals with His people in a harsh way in history, it is a means of restoration: judgment unto restoration, not judgment unto destruction. The atoning work of Jesus Christ at Calvary points the way to a better world in history; restitution has been made to God by the only possible ethically acceptable representative of man, the Son of God. The Christian’s expectation of better earthly times is therefore valid. Christ’s restitution payment has been made, on earth and in history.

[Christ’s Rule is not only in the afterlife, but in THIS life. So, it follows that His blessings are to be manifested in the lives of people and nations that follow His commands, in this life.]

One thing which is needed to translate His atonement into social reality is the progressive transformation of the criminal justice system in terms of biblical law, something which cannot take place until the humanistic theology which undergirds the existing system of criminal justice is replaced by biblical orthodoxy. This means comprehensive revival. Anyone who denies that such a progressive transformation of the criminal justice system is possible in history is thereby also denying that the atoning work of Christ can be manifested progressively in history. Anyone who denies that such a progressive transformation of the criminal justice system will actually take place in history is thereby also denying that the atoning work of Christ will be actually manifested progressively in history. People should therefore consider carefully the economic, social, political, and ethical implications of their eschatological views. When they make eschatological pronouncements, they are inescapably also making implicit economic, social, political, and ethical pronouncements. Eschatology and ethics cannot be successfully separated.

Either Christ rules right now, in this world, or He does not.

Either Christ’s laws are enforced right now, in this world, or they are not.

The faithful church will strongly press Christ’s claims, not only on the people, but on the government. The church is to insist on actual obedience to Christ’s Law-Word by the authorities in society, as well as by the people.

We are to disciple the nations: the government, as well as the people.

For if the public magistrate, the civil government, won’t enforce God’s public laws to the extent that the Bible demands, then God will do it Himself.

And being on the receiving end of God’s Wrath isn’t a pleasant experience for a man, a nation, or a civilization.

At all.

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