To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Justice is often listed as the first of the four cardinal virtues. It has been called the mother of all virtues by Lactantius and Leo XIII, but that title is also claimed for gratitude (Cicero), humility (Augustine and Cassian), charity (Jerome), prayer (Isaac the Syrian), discretion (Abba Moses and Benedict), obedience (Augustine—yes, again), sobriety (Origen), good will in the soul (Albert the Great), reverence (von Hildebrand), courage (Winston Churchill), patience (Hindu tradition), appreciation (Chinese tradition), jihad-patience-sacrifice (Islamic tradition), and frugality (inscription on the State National Bank Building in Houston, Texas).
Despite this disagreement over which is the greatest of the virtues, it is clear that justice holds civilized societies together. As Augustine said in City of God, “A republic cannot be administered without justice.” Nevertheless, justice is a very elusive thing. Justice is, in every country, more difficult to obtain if one is very poor and weak than if one is very rich and powerful. Presidents, kings, and rich young rulers can get away with scandalous things that peasants and paupers cannot. Hence, although it is our duty to live justly, we recognize that true justice for us will only be obtained in the Kingdom of Heaven.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Thomas S. Buchanan is the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has studied at UCSD, Northwestern University, and MIT, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Western Australia and the University of Aix-Marseille. He has served as department chairman, deputy dean, and institute director, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics. He is on the Board of Trustees of Saint Katherine College, the editorial board of Touchstone, and the board of The Fellowship of St. James.
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives