by Timothy Keller
Christians have some dirty words burned in their collective conscience that conjure up liberal danger: psychology, anthropomorphic, emergent, and of course, social justice. Dr. Timothy Keller unpacks the Christian duty to do justice in the world, including the reasons, motive, how-to, pitfalls, and results. It’s a daunting task that Dr. Keller tackles as easily as the alphabet. In both idealistic and realistic sweeps, the book paints a picture of restoration that the Gospel demands from every follower of Christ. It is a sensitive work without being preachy, an honest look that is not naive. Your safety zone will be challenged.
At some point in recent church history, it was deemed that social justice was a liberal cause void of eternal purpose. We can’t change the world, it was said, so let’s focus on ourselves. There was a prevalent fear that soup kitchens and thrift stores were replacing evangelism, that at the cost of the Gospel we were building temporary houses. It’s a valid fear, but Dr. Keller dispels the notion that both concerns must be exclusive. It is the outworking of our faith through justice that would call others to Jesus’ grace. It is also Jesus’ grace that compels us to do justice.
It sounds simple until we face the dizzying factors of our generation: every social disadvantage feeds into each other until entire groups are fundamentally crippled. Poverty affects literacy which affects job opportunities which leads to crime which ripples through city structures which keeps collapsing in on itself in a vicious cycle. It’s easy to throw our hands up and stick to preaching and teaching. But as Dr. Keller shows over and over, God cares a great deal for the poor, the orphan, the widow, the immigrant, the disadvantaged. Biblically, not caring for them is the same as injustice. Dr. Keller paves a familiar yet convicting groundwork on why and how we should go about real justice. Asides from the moral discussion, he also provides practical steps that will get you to your feet rolling up your sleeves.