Pursuing Justice, by Ken Wytsma provides an excellent foundation for a personal understanding of justice from a biblical perspective. Injustice is not simply a biblical, historical problem, rather one that devastates individuals, families, cities, states, and nations regularly. This issue is one that is at the heart of God and one that he deeply desires to rectify, therefore everyone must shift his/her understanding toward a just society. To accomplish this he/she must have “an encounter with the heart of God, and God’s heart beats with justice” (9).
Beginning with the idea of “Redeeming Justice”, Wytsma, establishes the parameters he will work between throughout his book. Paired with the understanding of truth, as a universal paradigm through which individuals look to see what is real, justice must be the other lens (8). When seeking to understand justice, from a biblical perspective, he/she will examine the word in the original biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek. In this examination process, he/she will identify that righteousness and justice are one in the same. Being the same word points him/her back to the character of God.
Chapter 2, “Dynamic Art”, explains how justice is a method of growing closer with God. By identifying the overlaps between justice, theology, and shalom the evidence for a needed paradigm shift is vast. When examining the need for justice in society, Christians must determine the connection between justice and the gospel. Dr. John M. Perkins, as quoted on page 37, stated, “Preaching a gospel absent of justice is preaching no gospel at all”. This concept points to the social gospel movement of the 60’s, when Dr. Perkins began his ministry known as Christian Community Development. Many today are fearful that this movement will result in the same outcome, but Pursuing Justice establishes a greater basis and depth for living justly and not simply meeting basic human needs.
Chapter 6, “Stained Glass”, discusses when religion gets in the way of justice. There must be a balance struck between meeting needs and submission to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8). Carried out through empathy, justice, completed only with the Great Commission added can provide long-term sustainable impact. By starting exposure to justice early, individuals will increase empathy and reduce materialism. From this point on, Wytsma, makes the clear call for individuals, both Christian and not, to live their life from the overflow of justice within his/her heart.
Through personal experiences, interludes, scripture, and quotes Ken Wytsma has written an exceptional manifesto for justice lived out. Recommended for anyone in ministry or not, anyone desiring to understand the modern justice movement, or someone who has struggled with doing justice in the past. The foundation established in Pursuing Justice will guide the reader on a personal journey through his/her prejudices regarding the need for justice and call him/her to live and die for bigger things.