On Social Justice, Part I

I believe in social justice and that the church should be the leader in facilitating it.

At the same time, although I’ve used it, I’ve never been comfortable with the phrase, “social justice.”

According to the New York Times, a few weeks ago 400,000 people took to the streets of Israel to protest for “social justice.” These demonstrations were driven by demands for affordable housing, tax reform and for the creation of a welfare state.

Apparently then, social justice would include demands made by Socialists and the Tea Party, which proves the phrase has no meaning.

And that is just one of the problems with the phrase. Continue reading “On Social Justice, Part I”

The Source of Justice in the Kingdom

The Bible says the kingdom of God is established and upheld by justice and righteousness. (Isaiah 9:7).  Speaking prophetically of Jesus, Isaiah said, “He will faithfully bring forth justice.  He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”  (Isaiah 42:3-4). 

The most important question on the issue of justice is: What is the basis for justice?  The problem is we believe we innately know what is just.  We think:  “I am a just person.  Therefore, whatever I think is right in a situation is just.” 

However, none of us are free from the corrupting influence of sin.  It taints our motives, discernment and judgment.  That’s why revelation from God through the Bible is necessary to understanding justice.  Justice is not what you think is right, but what the Bible says is right, and what is just often differs from the prevailing opinions of the day.

Take the issue of capital punishment.  Conservatives believe it should be easier to convict violent criminals and that punishment should be severe (e.g. the death penalty).  Liberals believe it should be more difficult to convict violent criminals and that punishment should be lighter.  Both are wrong.  The Old Testament law would dictate that it be more difficult to convict for capital crimes but that the punishment be severe. 

The Old Testament law required two witnesses to a capital crime. (Deuteronomy 17:6).  To serve as a witness, the individual could not be guilty of the crime for which they served as a witness.  (Deuteronomy 19:15).  Note: this would prohibit the modern practice of relying on coconspirator testimony to obtain convictions.  Moreover, one of the witnesses had to be willing to initiate the execution. (Deuteronomy 17:7).  Yet, the Old Testament law endorsed capital punishment for more crimes than modern Western nations.

That the Bible has a different view of justice than the Republicans or Democrats should not really surprise us.  Neither political platform was formed using the Bible as a guide.  Both are humanistic and flawed.  All the more reason that as Christians we should not look to political parties to inform us on great issues like justice but instead should look at what God has revealed through the Bible. 

The coastlands “wait expectantly for His law”  (Isaiah 42:3-4) because the law of King Jesus is the basis for justice.  GS