Keller: How should we do justice?

“Doing justice necessitates … striking a series of balances. It means ministering in both word and deed, through the local church and as individual agents dispersed throughout the world. It means engaging in relief, and development, and reform.” (Timothy Keller, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just, p.146)

That’s how Keller ends his chapter titled, “How Should we do Justice?” There are many insights in the chapter dealing with the more practical aspects of doing justice. Here’s an excerpt about evangelism that I love:

“Deeds of mercy and justice should be done out of love, not simply as a means to the end of evangelism. And yet there is no better way for Christians to lay a foundation for evangelism than by doing justice.” (p.142)

Abraham Kuyper

One of the most thought-provoking sections is called Spheres of Justice, and Keller leans on the late, great Abraham Kuyper to make the basic point. Keller says Kuyper …

“… concluded that the institutional church’s mission is to evangelize and nurture believers in Christian community. As it does this work, it produces people who engage in art, science, education, journalism, filmmaking, business, in distinctive ways as believers in Christ. The church, in this view, produces individuals who change society, but the local congregation should not itself engage in these enterprises. …

“I believe Kuyper is generally right. … As we have said, churches under their leaders should definitely carry out ministries of relief and some development among their own members and in their neighborhoods and cities, as the natural and crucial way to show the world God’s character, and to love the people that they are evangelizing and discipling. But if we apply Kuyper’s view, then when we get to the more ambitious work of social reform and the addressing of social structure, believers should work through associations and organizations rather than through the local church. While the institutional church should do relief inside and around its community, the ‘organic’ church should be doing development and social reform.” (pp.145-146)

Kuyper’s approach, as you might expect, is not universally accepted within the Christian body. It sounds good and right to me, but I want to think about it some more.

(This is my seventh post on Keller’s book. I offer these posts in hopes to whet your appetite and to encourage you to read the entire book.)

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