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Biblical Justice

Featured Resource

“Justice” Bible Project video

Pastoral Preface: 
The word "Justice" has different shades of meaning depending on who is speaking—and who is listening. That is why we turn to the authoritative Word of God. We want to be formed by Christ, shaped by the Holy Spirit as we read the living and active word of God. What does the Bible say about justice? What is God's heart for justice? The biblical theology in this Bible Project video is strong, and the graphics powerfully reinforce the message. Make sure to watch it at least a couple of times to absorb the teaching.

 


The “Justice & Race” Series by Timothy Keller

This is a short overview of a four-part series of articles on justice and race by the Rev. Dr. Timothy Keller that includes: “The Bible and Race” (March 2020), “The Sin of Racism” (June 2020), “A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory” (August 2020), and “Justice in the Bible” (September 2020).

Guiding Thoughts from an FPC shepherding elder  
In The Bible and Race, Keller reviews the Old Testament and New Testament views on race, and concludes with a short discussion of Paul’s rebuke of Peter for refusing to eat with Gentiles (Galatians 2:14-15). Keller explains racism is the sin of refusing to love your neighbor, and that Paul identifies the spiritual roots of racism: a rejection of the gospel of salvation and a reliance on justification by our moral efforts—or by your association with a certain pedigree, race, tribe, etc. Racism is rooted in self-righteousness.

In The Sin of Racism,” Keller notes four reasons why racism is a sin, highlights that the Bible says there is both individual and systemic racism, and ends with discussion on repenting of racism both inside and outside the church.

In A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory, Keller argues that all the secular political options and justice theories (including Libertarianism, Liberalism, Utilitarianism, and Progressivism) do not provide a holistic view of justice and the needs of human society. He notes that each option is worth understanding, but Christians should not align themselves with any one of them. He says, “Only biblical justice is comprehensive enough to address the needs of the human condition.”

In Justice in the Bible, Keller first notes that Justice is a character trait of God, then identifies four aspects of Biblical justice: radical generosity, universal equality, life-changing advocacy, and asymmetrical responsibility (including both corporate and individual responsibility). He concludes with 12 points about how Christians can actually take part in efforts against injustice in our society; here he addresses the thorny topic of church leaders speaking out about politics.

Who would benefit from reading this series? It’s hard to think of anyone who would not benefit from reading these articles given the times we are living through.  They not only explain the Bible’s views on racism and justice but also provide guidance for action.

Keep in Mind: Keller is an ordained Presbyterian pastor who adheres to reformed theology and for many years led Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He is especially skilled at explaining the gospel to skeptics, answering their questions, and helping people understand how Biblical teaching and perspectives contrast with current world views. As always, his writing is clear, thoughtful, and draws on numerous sources. It should be said, however, that he writes from the understanding that racism exists. Readers who do not agree with this starting point would still benefit from reading these articles, but should not expect this series to “prove” the existence of racism. Keller accepts the existence of racism as a given; it is from this starting point that he builds this series.

Expect to Learn: Even beyond learning about justice and racism in the Bible and our society, readers might be surprised to learn that the Biblical views of these issues do not align with any specific political party, movement, or theory of justice. Rather, the Bible provides us with God’s views, which are more holistic, true, and actionable—when we are aligned with Him.


Grace, Justice, and Mercy: An Evening with Bryan Stevenson and Tim Keller

Guiding Thoughts from an FPC Covenant Partner: 
Unpacking Micah 6:8 in the context of discussing the US mass-incarceration reality, criminal lawyer Bryan Stevenson (author of Just Mercy) talks about what it looks like for Christians to “change the world” as we learn to offer right sacrifices to God: to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him through truthfully recognizing, remembering, and recovering from our history. 

If we want to do justice and love mercy, Stevenson offers a three-fold recommendation: 1) get proximate to the places where poverty and injustice prevail; 2) change the narrative of fear, anger, and racial difference that drives oppression; 3) stay hopeful of change, rooted in the power of God, to help us in reconciliation and redemption through confession and liberation from former sins.

Who would benefit from watching this lecture? What key questions does it seek to address? 
This dual lecture is an accessible entry-level introduction. Keller starts by addressing: “What does the Bible really say about justice? What is God’s expectation of me as a follower of Jesus? How does justice relate to worship?” Further, it connects the Bible to our modern everyday in addressing, “How can what the Bible teaches inform how I engage in the tension and work of our country in this moment?” Keller’s presentation presents a general biblical overview of justice (its absolute, central importance in the believer’s life) in prefacing Stevenson’s work on the particular manifestation of pursuing justice within the American prison system, rooted in a centuries-old history.

Keep in Mind: Inherent in this talk is the biblical call to get uncomfortable to witness God’s movement in us and through us. Be prepared not just for a TED talk on someone’s career experience but a call to examine and change our own narratives and actions to bring a right sacrifice before God.

Expect to Learn: How the church across the country (committed to the flourishing of its cities and nation) can live as ambassadors of reconciliation and justice in an age of mass incarceration and how biblical justice encompasses all—and more—than the various theories of enacting justice across ideologies. When we do these things, we see more clearly our own brokenness and overflow with grace—and justice.

A memorable quote: “In Proverbs 13:41, God says, ‘If you insult the poor, you insult Me.’ Proverbs 19:17 says, ‘If you give to the poor, you give to Me,’ which means God is identifying with the poor. He doesn’t identify with the rich...Do you realize how revolutionary this is?...our God identifies with the people at the bottom. [He] introduces Himself as the God of the people at the bottom; it’s central to what He does.” –Tim Keller

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