The Justification Hypothesis

Jul 10, 2024    Don Willeman


Hello, this is Pastor Don of Christ Redeemer Church. Welcome to The Kingdom Perspective!


Several years ago, Dr. Gregg Henriques of James Madison University wrote an article in Psychology Today that caught my attention. It was called “The Justification Hypothesis”. Dr. Henriques is known for his Unified Theory of Knowledge, which is an attempt to have a more interconnected vision of how science, psychology and philosophy are related. His theory consists of eight key ideas, the second of which he entitles Justification Systems Theory. Now, far be it from me to detail the intricacies of his theory. Nonetheless, a statement from the Psychology Today article is worth consideration. He writes:

“Look around and you will see systems and processes of justification everywhere in human affairs…. Other animals communicate, struggle for dominance, and form alliances. But they don't justify why they do what they do. We are the justifying animal.”

~“The Justification Hypothesis” by Gregg Henriques Ph.D. in Psychology Today; James Madison University


To me, this forces the question: Why are human beings unique among all creatures in our propensity to give justification—to give reasons for why we do what we do to provide defense for our motives and actions?


I think the Bible gives us the answer. It tells us that human beings are uniquely made in the image of God and given a unique moral duty before Him. Having this innate sense of moral duty to God’s Law, we intuitively know we are accountable to Him—that we will have to give an account of every thought, word, and deed. We will be required to justify our lives before the courtroom of heaven.


And that’s something to think about from The Kingdom Perspective.


“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”

~Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV)


“Once God has spoken;

 twice have I heard this:

 that power belongs to God,

 and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.

 For you will render to a man

 according to his work.”

~Psalm 62:11-12 (ESV)