Thoughts on Social Justice - Part 1

  • The term "social justice" is a bit like the term "fundamentalist." It can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different contexts. So, before you can use the word you have to define your use of the word, which ultimately makes the word unhelpful.
  • As a Christian, you can't use the word "justice" in the context of what we need to believe or do without understanding God's purpose for demanding and commanding justice in the first place. If what the Church is doing is disconnected from what God is ultimately up to in human history, the Church has a problem - even if the rest of the world responds positively to what the Church is doing.
  • When it comes to "social justice," we have to define our expectations. If we expect Christians to show love to their neighbor, that's one thing. If we expect pagan nations and their unregenerate leaders to show justice to the people they have trampled to get their power apart from the Holy Spirit working in their lives, we are insane.
  • The consistent purpose for Israel throughout the Old Testament (Leviticus 11:44) and the Church throughout the New Testament (1 Peter 1:15) is to different from the rest of the world because the God we serve is different from the gods of the rest of the world. Therefore, if what we do is not distinguishably, tangibly different from what the rest of the world does, we miss the point.
  • The book of Romans is clear that ultimate, eternal justice is found only in the cross of Jesus Christ. If we engage in any "social justice" that does not have the cross in the near view, we have missed both the true definition of justice and the purpose for which we exist.


Andy Rodriguez said...

Chris, this is fantastic stuff. Clear definitions are vitally important to this conversation. Loved your last point that any view of justice that does not incorporate the cross and eternal justice is not a Christian view of justice. Similarly I appreciate how you distinguish that Christian justice should by its very definition be different than the expectation of the world. As you said, it's one thing to expect Christians to show love to their neighbor (and their enemy), but how can we expect pagan nations and their unregenerate leaders to do such a thing?

I have had numerous conversations and read from enough people on both sides of the extreme of this issue that I almost brace myself to get ready to disagree with something they are about to say. It is refreshing to read someone who seems to be coming at this from a uniquely Christian perspective and from someone who allows his exegesis of texts to form his view on the topic. I look forward to Part 2.


Chris Freeland said...

Thanks Andy.

But hang in there - I've got 2 more of these coming. I'll try to be an equal opportunity offender at some point.

Unknown said...

I'm really interested in this also Chris. I had comment ready to post last night and realized that Mackenzie was logged into her Google account instead of me, so the comment would have been from her. When I tried to switch my login I lost me comment and didn't have the energy to rewrite it.

Part of my comment was that your feelings about social justice are going to depend on your definition. Another part was what I think of Glen Beck...maybe it's good I lost it.

Another part of social justice is what it does for the giver. We have a mission trip to Mexico going on right now. Those 100 or so kids from Oklahoma Christian University are going to get a much greater blessing than the 4 or 5 Mexican villages they are going to.

Jesus told the rich young ruler to go and give all his processions to the poor, not because it would help the poor, but because of what it would do for him. Poor Glen Beck is just flat missing out.

Looking forward to parts 2 and 3.