Review of Pursuing Justice, by Ken Wytsma

ImagePursuing 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 of 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 to 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.

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Book Review for The Just Church, by Jim Martin

 

The Just Church, by Jim Martin of International Justice Mission, provides an excellent foundation for the local Church to carry out the Biblical command to seek justice. With the basis of social justice grounded in scripture, this book will reignite the Church’s passion for reaching those in need. Broken in two sections (Justice, Discipleship, & the Failure Point of Faith and The Justice Journey), The Just Church explores the journey from failure to joy while providing practical insight into the application of developing a just church structure.

In the first section, Justice, Discipleship, & the Failure Point of Faith, Jim Martin details the failure of faith through the story of Blair. In the quote below we can begin to understand the passionate pursuit that a true disciple of Jesus will take to expand his kingdom.

God‘s gracious call to us is an invitation to pursue him out of our comfort zones and into a place where failure is a real possibility–perhaps even an inevitability. It’s a call to follow God to places where dependence on him is a necessity. […] To accept this invitation is to discover the work of justice is significantly about our own discipleship” (p. 10).

The reason for our personal discipleship is not to simply obey a command of God (Matt. 28:18-20), but rather to build his kingdom, bring him glory, and bring justice in an unjust world. In order to accomplish this we must grow our faith. “Faith grows most profoundly when it regularly encounters the failure point (50)” and “we grow faith not by sitting alone and trying to flex our faith muscles. We grow faith by putting ourselves in situations that will require faith of us” (49-50).

In the second section, The Justice Journey, Jim Martin expands the readers understanding of the process of spiritual formation. Through fueling our work, encountering the just God, discovering ones talent, need & call, and stepping out in faith instead of fear this book will “invite you on the adventure with God, who is in the habit of using the pilgrimage to transform the pilgrim” (234). With this in mind, if you find yourself drawn to social justice, the hurting world around you, or you simply want to fulfill the purpose of God on this earth The Just Church will equip you with the necessary vision and passion to begin pursing the mission of God. Moreover, “if you muster the courage to be faithful, what you will witness is God’s unambiguously miraculous power to rescue and deliver. When that happens, a whole new kind of fear enters your soul–an awe-struck appreciation for the God of justice who is able to do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine” (192).