Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Christians & Justice in Society

Photo Credit: Cikd
As I process the results of the presidential election, the following words written by Tim Keller were brought to my mind. Keller points to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer as admirable models who sought to bring about a just society in God-honoring ways, even to the point of death.

Keller says this:
"When Martin Luther King, Jr. confronted racism in the white church in the South, he did not call on Southern churches to become more secular. Read his sermons and "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and see how he argued. He invoked God's moral law and the Scripture. He called white Christians to be more true to their own beliefs and to realize what the Bible really teaches. He did not say "Truth is relative and everyone is free to determine what is right or wrong for them." If everything is relative, there would have been no incentive for white people in the South to give up their power. Rather, Dr. King invoked the prophet Amos, who said, "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream" (Amos 5:24). The greatest champion of justice in our era knew the antidote to racism was not less Christianity but a deeper and truer Christianity
The famous Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer was pastoring two German-speaking churches in London when Hitler came to power. He refused to stay at a safe distance and returned to his country to head an illegal seminary for the Confessing Church, the Christian congregations that refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the Nazis. 
Bonhoeffer wrote the classic The Cost of Discipleship, in which he critiqued the religion and church of his day. In echoes of Jesus and the prophets, Bonhoeffer revealed the spiritual deadness and self-satisfied complacency that made it possible for so many to cooperate with Hitler and turn a blind eye to those being systematically marginalized and destroyed by the Nazis. Bonhoeffer was eventually arrested and hanged. 
In his last letters from prison, Bonhoeffer reveals how his Christian faith gave him the resources to give up everything for the sake of others. Marx argued that if you believe in a life after this one you won't be concerned about making this world a better place. You can also argue the opposite. If this world is all there is, and if the goods of this world are the only love, comfort, and wealth I will ever have, why should I sacrifice them for others? Bonhoeffer, however, had a joy and hope in God that made it possible for him to do what he did."
Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

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