This week we are starting a brand new sermon series called Seeking Justice. In this series we are going to be investigating how God wrote social justice* into the Old Testament Law by looking at:
- How we should interpret the Old Testament Law in light of the New Testament revelation
- The biblical relationship between justice and charity
- What the Law teach us about God’s heart for justice and the vulnerable
- Some practical ways the church can stand for social justice in our community
Some may be inclined to respond negatively to this topic for a couple of reasons:
1. The term social justice is one that has shamefully come to be associated with a loss of orthodox theology.
Notably, Walter Rauschenbusch, when confronted with the great distress of many in the inner city of New York in the1880’s abandoned a traditional understanding of the atonement for a more “social gospel”. Moreover, liberation theologians such as Gustavo Gutiérrez and Jurgen Moltmann tend to emphasize liberation from oppression over personal salvation at a loss of doctrinal accuracy. As a result, many Christians now associate social justice with a loss of sound theology.
This association, however valid, has led a great number of orthodox Christians to respond by pushing the envelope too far in the opposite direction, at the loss of charity and concern for the poor. The Bible is clear in its emphasis that sound doctrine and right thinking should lead to right action. The Scripture talks a great deal about both sound doctrine and caring for the poor. This dichotomy should not exist in the church. Certainly we can maintain sound doctrine and still do charity well. In fact, sound doctrine should make us more charitable.
2. This topic inevitably touches on political issues
The role of government in social justice and charity is a debated political topic. As a pastor, I’m not going to tell you which party to align yourself with or which candidate to vote for. However, your faith must inform your political positions. You are identified with Christ prior to every other identification in your life. I’m a Christ follower before I am a Cubs fan, pastor, dad, husband, friend, or anything else. Therefore, we as Christians must take what the Bible has to say and allow that to inform every other identification in our lives, even political identifications. This series aims solely to investigate what the Bible has to say about justice and charity for the poor and underprivileged… nothing more.
*What I mean by social justice is the impartial and proportional treatment of each person in a society as a necessary condition of their human dignity. This involves fighting injustice and discrimination against individuals based on their gender, religion, political affiliations, age, race, belief, disability, social class, location, or socioeconomic status.