Often in the U.S. political conversation, social justice is confused with or made part of socialism. For political conservatives (who tend to emphasize smaller government and free markets), this can naturally lead to a rejection of social justice.
This 4th lesson in our series reviews the biblical material from our first week --
- in John 15, Jesus claims to be the true vine
- in doing so he is claiming to be the vine that Israel should have been (Isaiah 5:1-7)
- we are called to remain in Christ as a branch remains in a vine and thus bear fruit
- the fruit we are to bear, drawing from Isaiah 5, is righteousness & justice
- righteousness & justice as seen in Isaiah (e.g. chapter 58) includes what we today call "social justice"
As an application, which I didn't get to in class because of time limitations, I recommend turning off your favorite political commentary for the week. Instead, listen to social justice sermons from conservative Evangelicals ('gospel people') as a way to learn to think about political discussion from a biblical perspective. I've listed two samples below.
- instead of watching your favorite political talk show on FOX or MSNBC, take a walk and listen to N.T. Wright on your iPod or other MP3 player, or
- instead of listening to talk radio on your commute, listen to Tim Keller
WARNING: You may not be comforted in your current views in listening to these guys. I know I'm not.
Timothy Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, gave a sermon simply titled "Justice," based on Isaiah 58. Keller is thought provoking but easy to understand. You can reach it here. Or, "The Testimony of Justice" (given at Park Cities Presbyterian Church) is also a good one, though especially challenging (click here). Both are free.
N.T. Wright gave a sermon in chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky, in November 2007. He speaks of how Scripture should be used in political conversations. You can download it from iTunes at from the seminary's N.T. Wright Lecture Series site. It's untitled but it's the 4th audio from November 13, 2007, which runs for 33 minutes. You can reach it here. It's free.
Keller is a much easier to understand of the two. He's an American speaking as if you have no church traditions. Wright is a bishop in the Church of England. References to church history and traditions will sound unfamiliar to most of us, but not incomprehensible. It's worth listening to at least twice.
You can download the PowerPoint slides of the lesson here.