The Place To Begin When Learning About Social Justice

Tim Challies: In recent days the topic of social justice has received much attention within the church and without. As Christians we are committed to living according to God’s Word, and so we have rightly been turning to the Bible to learn how it would guide us. We have been scouring its pages to see what it says about matters of justice. That is well and good, but I have become convinced that even as we’ve done this, we may have overlooked one important resource. In fact, we may have overlooked the one book that is explicitly and specifically intended to give us wisdom for this very topic. We may have skipped over the best place to begin when learning about social justice. The book of Proverbs is about training the mind in order to live a God-honoring life, for right living follows right thinking. It exists so the reader can “know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight”

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How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism?

D.A. Carson: (1) By doing evangelism. I know numerous groups that claim to be engaging in “holistic” ministry because they are helping the poor in Chicago or because they are digging wells in the Sahel, even though few if any of the workers have taken the time to explain to anyone who Jesus is and what he has done to reconcile us to God. Their ministry isn’t holistic; it’s halfistic, or quarteristic. (2) By being careful not to malign believers of an earlier generation. The popular buzz is that evangelicals before this generation focused all their energies on proclamation and little or nothing on deeds of mercy. Doubtless one can find sad examples of such reductionism, but the sweeping condescension toward our evangelical forbears is neither true nor kind. To take but one example: The mission SIM has emphasized evangelism, church planting, and building indigenous churches for a century—yet without talking volubly of holistic ministry it built, and still operates,

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Social justice and young evangelicals: encouragement and concern

Matt Smethurst:   Human trafficking. Racial prejudice. Health care. Immigration reform. Same-sex marriage. Environmentalism. Poverty. Abortion. What comes to mind when you think of social justice? In this new video, John Piper talks with Matt Chandler and David Platt about this trendy, vital, and often blurry topic. Piper has contended that Christians “should care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering,” Similar, Platt notes, is his own church’s informal motto: “As we work for justice in the world, we speak clearly about the Judge of the world.” Opportunities for social action will inevitably spring up as members are holistically discipled in the faith according to Matthew 28:19. “Church elders should so minister a robust gospel—a full-blooded, deep, sanctifying, transforming, humbling, radical-making gospel,” Piper says, “that these sorts of [social justice ventures] naturally happen.” As Platt adds, “A robust commitment to the gospel and the Great Commission will inevitably lead to encounters with the impoverished, the orphaned, and so forth.” “Be where

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Personhood, Grace, and the Sanctity of Human Life

Brian G. Hedges: This week marks the 41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on January 22, 1973.  Since that time over 55 million babies have been aborted in the United States. That’s about 8 times the number of people who live in Indiana (my state) and over a sixth of the total current population in the United States. Abortion is a polarizing issue in our culture: a moral, political, and religious dividing line that separates ethicists, citizens, and even professing Christians. And while many of my readers value the sanctity of human life and believe (as I do) that abortion is the unjust murder of a human being, it’s all too easy for us to caricature people of the opposing position as monsters who lack any moral conscience whatsoever. Even calling abortion murder will sound (to many) like inflammatory rhetoric that generates more heat than light. The problem, of course, is that while

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Grace And Activism

Tullian Tchividjian: Mark Galli of Christianity Today recently sat down with Jono Linebaugh of LIBERATE to discuss both the good and bad of Evangelicalism’s propensity toward activism. As a preacher, Mark’s comments about the unique and specific role of the pulpit in worship were especially enlightening. My prayer is that preachers all over the world will take what he said to heart.  

Chuck Colson Remembered

Justin Taylor: Charles Wendell (“Chuck”) Colson went home to be with the Lord this afternoon (April 21, 2012). He was 80 years old. The announcement is here. Some obituaries and reflections: Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Christianity Today; Emily Belz at World; Jonathan Aitken at CT; Tom Gilson at The Gospel Coalition; Ed Stetzer; Rich Lowry Mr. Colson’s memoir Born Again was published in 1975. Earlier that year he had been released from a seven-month stint in federal prison after pleading guilty of obstructing justice in the Watergate investigation. He had converted to Christianity in 1973 after serving four years as Special Counsel for President Richard Nixon. C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity was pivotal in his spiritual repentance and awakening. The memoir was made into a 1978 film starring Dean Jones. In 2005 Jonathan Aitken—himself a former politician turned prisoner turned convert to Christianity turned author—penned an authorized biography, Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed (WaterBrook Press). And here is Prison Fellowship’s video, “Remembering Chuck Colson”:  

An Interview with Duane Litfin on “Word vs. Deed”

From Justin Taylor: With a PhD in communication (Purdue University) and a PhD in New Testament (Oxford University), Duane Litfin—president emeritus of Wheaton College—is in a unique position to write on the relationship between words and deeds, between verbal and non-verbal communication. In his new book Word versus Deed: Resetting the Scales to a Biblical Balance (Crossway, 2012), he explores this issues, arguing that both are essential and must be understood in their proper relationship. In the video below I ask him a few questions about the project:

Thinking Through Your Church’s Mercy Ministry

Kevin DeYoung writes: It is not imperative that every church have an official “mercy ministry” program. It is essential, however, that every congregation be involved in mercy ministry. Several years ago, while sitting down with leaders in our church who had a vision for helping hurting people, I laid out some of my thoughts on mercy ministry. I started with a few foundational truths and then outlined several methodological missteps. Six Theological Foundations for Mercy Ministry 1. The rich are to be generous.  1 Timothy 6:17-18 “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” 2. We are not to get rich at the expense of the poor, nor are we to take advantage of the weak.  Amos 8:12 “For

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What Does Justification Have to Do with Social Justice?

This is excellent from Tim Keller: “Those who are all about justification by faith alone are usually not about justice. And those who are all about justice, usually are not about justification by faith alone. I think that is a big mistake.” So opened Tim Keller during the Christ+City post-conference event in Chicago at the TGC 2011 national conference. Keller drew on material from his book Generous Justice, aimed at solving this dilemma. Below you can watch the video [or download the audio] of Keller’s talk.

What Is the Mission of the Church?

Justin Taylor writes: Here is an hour-long panel discussion at The Gospel Coalition with Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, Jonathan Leeman, and Trevin Wax on the the Great Commission and the mission of the local church. Far and away the best thing I have read on these issues is the forthcoming book by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (forthcoming from Crossway in September). Here is a blurb from Matt Chandler about the book: In what appears to be a growing tension over what the mission of the church encompasses, DeYoung and Gilbert bring a remarkably balanced book that can correct, restore, and help—regardless of which way you lean or land on all things “missional.” I found the chapters on “social justice” and our motivation in good works to be especially helpful. Whether you are actively engaging the people around you with the Gospel and serving the

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The Influence of Excitement

There are some wonderful instances of ordinary Christians, not least the young, who are concerned to preach the whole gospel unabashedly and do good first to the household of God and then, as much as is possible, outside as well. That has got biblical mandate behind it. . . . My warning would be to those who are coming along and talking a lot about, “I want to be faithful to the gospel, but I also want to do social justice and good works.” My warning would be: it is not just what you do, it is what you are excited about. If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel. If the gospel—even when you are orthodox—becomes something

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Martyn Lloyd-Jones on social justice

It is not the task of the church to deal directly with these problems. The tragedy today is that while the church is talking about these particular problems and dealing directly with politics and economics and social conditions, no Christians are being produced, and the conditions are worsening and the problems mounting. It is as the church produces Christians that she changes the conditions; but always indirectly… The church cannot change conditions; and she is not meant to change conditions. And the moment she tries to do so she is in various ways shutting the door of evangelistic opportunity…My concern as a preacher of the Gospel is with the souls of men, my business is to produce Christians; and the larger the number of Christians the greater will be the volume of Christian thinking. It is the business of individual Christians to enter Parliament, as Wilberforce did, or to speak in the House of Lords as did the Earl of

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