Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice (A Review)

There is a real divide in America today. A much bigger divide than their used to be. I miss the conversations I used to have with friends who saw the world in a different way and were willing to let me hear from their experiences and engage in constructive dialogue. I genuinely believe that those conversations helped me see a side of things I had never seen before and pray that my side of the conversation helped my friends as well. I hope to have those sort of conversations again and maybe this book can be a starting point for some construtive dialogue.

The church has always stood for justice. Obviously, not perfectly at every place and every time. But she has always stood for justice. Perhaps that is why so many of my friends in the Christian/ protestant/ evangelical camp (pick your descriptor) have so easily embraced social justice. We care about these issues! Yet, the approach that has been termed social justice is not rooted in a theology of biblical justice. It’s rooted in a humanistic worldview and it is pushing towards a cultural confrontation in which there doesn’t seem to be a peaceful resolution.

That’s why, Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice is a much needed book for our moment. Author Scott David Allen does an excellent job of demonstrating the differenced between social justice and biblical justice. He writes not just to critique what is often called social justice, but to compare it to a biblical worldview. He does a thorough job of bringing voices of individuals on all sides of the issue to the fore front to let them speak for themselves, often quoting at length. He exposes the essential worldview at work in social justice and critiques it from a biblical worldview. He is not afraid to call out the names of individuals who he believes have compromised their biblical integrity by either forsaking justice all together, or trying to hold in tension social justice and biblical justice (which he argues can’t be done).

If you are looking for a book to help put everything in a biblical perspective, this book is helpful. It was extremely helpful for me and it is a book that I plan on passing along to friends and others who have wrestled through the challenges of social justice. I’m currently reading books from a Christian perspective on all sides of the justice issue. I’ve ordered several from different backgrounds and perspectives. If you have a book that you think would be a good read or recommend on the topic of Justice from a Christian perspective, feel free to comment and let me know. (Our culture is shifting and that might not be a completely bad thing in a lot of ways, but we need to have real and honest conversations not just complaints we offer up on social media.

Something you should know about karma

So it’s become REALLY popular to talk about karma in our culture. We hear about “bad karma” and “good karma.” I’ve heard people make threats like “karma is going to get you.” I even had one friend tell me that he believed in karma because it offered a sense of justice. I countered that karma seems like its about justice when we see the bad guys suffer, but it looks a lot different when the bad guys see you suffer.

You see, karma is more than classical “cause and effect” or “sowing and reaping.”  It is a fatalistic understanding of the “universe,” in that those who suffer deserve their suffering because of the evil they have done in the past.  Inversely those who prosper have earned their prosperity due to the good they have done in the past.  This is certainly more than “what goes around, comes around,” especially when it is applied children. I mean pause for a moment to think about kids suffering with leukemia.  Do they deserve that? Karma says they do. What about children born into poverty who die of preventable diseases? You see in some places around the world, a belief in karma enables people to pass by those who are suffering and call it “justice” for the sins committed in past lives.

If you haven’t guessed already, I don’t believe in karma.  But I serve a growing population of young people who do “believe” in karma, at least on a surface level.  Most when challenged to lay the blame somewhere for children with leukemia come up woefully short and hopefully abandon the scheme.  The problem is that it is marketed on the show’s they watch.  (Turn on the TV tonight, pick a random sitcom and see how long it takes for the word “Karma” to pop up… It will happen more often than you think.) And while marketed, it is often presented in terms of “what goes around, comes around.”

In a sense, karma IS about justice.  The real problem is when it crosses over to answering why injustice happens in the world.  The night I typed this, there was a man on the news who killed his kids.  Karma says he’ll get what is coming to him.  However, it also says that those kids got what was coming to them as well.  But then you have to ask, “What did they do?” A belief in karma indicates that they must have done something terrible in a previous life. Karma answers injustice by calling it justice for something done previously.  Ultimately in the system of Karma, injustice does not exist.  We all get what we deserve.

Does a man reap what he sows? … sometimes, but that isn’t karma.  That’s more like a law of nature, not of life.   If you mess with a bee you, you might get stung.  If you plant and cultivate and apple orchard, you might get apples.  But if someone attacks me for my apples, nobody is reaping what they sowed… It’s injustice.  Isn’t it about time that we put karma aside and look at true justice which comes from God the giver of life and the avenger of those who have been wronged. (Romans 12:19).

If you have a chance read John 9 where Jesus refutes his disciples understanding of karma.

Before you Adopt… Know Orphans (A Review)

know orphans KnowOrphans: Mobilizing the Church for Global Orphanologyis a follow up book to Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care. Dr. Rick Morton seeks to continue to blaze a trial forward when it comes to mobilizing the church to global orphan care. In this book he addresses recent criticisms the movement has experienced and clarifies action steps that individuals and churches can take to become involved in the orphan movement. He also shares background from his own personal experience as well as advice for those who are working through an international adoption.

Know Orphans contains plenty of practical strategies of how to engage in the mission of the gospel as it concerns orphans. The scope goes well beyond adoption as Dr. Morton encourages the church and individuals to stand in the gap for various kinds of orphans. He does an excellent job of painting the picture that “not all orphans are equal” and “that each situation is unique” while at the same time providing tools and resources for the reader to become engaged.

On a personal note. I’ve had the honor of meeting Dr. Morton. He was one of my Professors for a Graduate Level Youth Ministry Seminar. While I didn’t have the opportunity to hear him speak about adoption I did have the opportunity to get a sense of him through his personal interaction with the students both in and out of class (it was a small class). His genuine concern for the Kingdom made a significant mark on me. I’m thankful for that class and I’m thankful for this book.

This is a must read for anyone interested in international adoption and a great read for anyone interested in understanding the Orphanology movement. Amazon’s got a great price on the Kindle Edition and the Paperback right now. If you haven’t already make sure you check out Orphanology.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse as part of their Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Best Book I have Read this year!

I get asked every once in a while, what’s the best book you have read lately.  Usually its a bit of a toss-up because as I have grown older and read more, I’ve become more skeptical of the books I read.  However, there is no toss-up here. Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller is by far the best book I have read in the last 365 days!  Go get a copy and read it!

Written with both the skeptic and believer in mind, Keller weaves a compelling argument for social justice.  While pointing out the inconsistencies of consumerism with the gospel imperative to “love your neighbor” he doesn’t get bogged down with emotional and baseless arguments.  Keller does an excellent job of navigating the scriptures, answering arguments and pointing a way forward.  This book is everything I had hoped Radical would be and so much more.

Keller takes a straight forward approach to the topic of social justice: He defines the term, explores the Old Testament, examines the teaching of Jesus, examines the ethic of “love your neighbor”, compels the reader into thought about social justice and then provides a way forward, with a view to all things beautiful in our Savior Jesus Christ…. Simply amazing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the social justice debate.  Seriously, Christian, skeptic, conservative, liberal, etc.  Go get a copy and read it.  Want to test drive it before you borrow or buy?  Go by the www.gernerousjustice.com and download the first chapter to read for free!

The retail price of Generous Justice is $19.95 (Hardcover), I purchased my copy from  Amazon.com for just under $12.00. I gave it five stars and would give it more… Its just that good!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”