Embracing Social Justice: Reflections From The Storyline Of Scripture -- By: Steven C. Roy
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Embracing Social Justice: Reflections From The Storyline Of Scripture
Steven C. Roy is Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
As I am finishing this article, the United States has completed the longest and most expensive presidential election campaign in its history. Barack Obama has been elected as the forty-fourth president of the United States. The hope and optimism that gripped many as a result of the election of the first African-American president in U.S. history has now turned to anticipation for the beginning of the Obama administration. Will it be able to deliver on the promises the President-elect made during the campaign? Central to these concerns are issues of justice. Both Barack Obama and John McCain spoke movingly about their goal of bringing about a more just society. And now President-elect Obama will have the opportunity to implement policies that bring about justice in areas of health care and tax policies, education funding and immigration reform, the response to terrorism and climate change, and more. But none of this will be easy. The challenges facing the incoming Obama administration are overwhelming. The economic crisis we are facing nationally and globally dwarfs almost everything else. But an additional challenge to bringing about a more just society is definitional. Virtually every American will say that he or she wants justice (who would want to oppose that?). But our understandings of what justice is vary widely. Should we understand justice to be primarily retributive (as in the criminal justice system) or primarily distributive? Or is there another view of justice that should take precedence? Only very rarely in contemporary political debate is the precise nature and character of the justice we seek made clear.
This lack of clarity can be seen not only in the realm of government. Ever since the publication of Carl F. H. Henry’s seminal work The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism in 1948,1 the evangelical movement has been marked by a desire for social involvement—often directed toward social justice. This emphasis is
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increasingly important to those whom Robert Webber has called “the younger evangelicals.”2 Yet evangelicals by and large have not developed a clear and well-accepted theology of social justice. For example, one prominent evangelical advocate for social justice, Jim Wallis, argues that at its core biblical faith is “compassionate in its social manifestation and just in its public expression.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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