We used to believe that God was the final judge. God would decide, in the next world, who got punishment or reward.

Chair in spotlight2

Who sits in the seat of judgement? PICTURE: Allec Gomes/Unsplash

Such an idea is seen as quaint today.

Tom Holland in his epic book Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind shows that when society has abandoned this belief that God is our judge, such as during the French revolution, in Nazi Germany or under Communism, we have become convinced it is our job to bring punishment.

No-one else is going to punish the recalcitrant; we have to do it. And when we do it, we do it mercilessly, and all hell breaks loose - the reign of terror, the Holocaust, the gulags. Even the church has gone down this road.

No way. No way. We need to re-embrace this idea that God is the judge. "Vengeance is mine says the Lord." It stops us bringing hell to Earth.

Paul Clark’s musings can be heard on radio across Australia and at atthetop.org.au.