Thoughts on the Justice Project

November 12, 2009

activism / books / emergent / emerging church

Through the OOZE Viral Bloggers program, I recently got to read The Justice Project. You can learn about the book, and read more reviews, and there is also a 25 page excerpt (a PDF). The book is an anthology of justice with thirty-five different authors who each contributed a fairly small chapter. Many of the authors are well-known to those of us within Emergent, and many are not, but each is equally fascinating.

This variety makes the book really hard to review, but an amazing read. The book is divided into these sections: The God of Justice (theology, postmodernism, church history, etc.), The Book of Justice (justice throughout the Torah, the prophets, the Gospels, and the epistles), Justice in the U.S.A. (issues of race, politics, etc.), A Just World (a global perspective on justice), A Just Church (how the church can seek justice), and Conclusion (just what it says). I read the book straight through, but it could easily be read out of order.

I believe that by its very existence, this book can, and should, take the conversations about justice that occur in the emerging church to an entirely different level. It has done a number on my thoughts, expanding them and deepening them on all of these issues. None of the core issues here are new to me, but the voices and perspectives are often new to me, and more experienced in these stories, than any I’ve encountered before.

I hope many outside of emerging conversations will read this, especially evangelicals and Pentecostals as many of the stories and perspectives will be new to them, and are incredibly necessary for them to know about. Often the voices are people they will trust, and that’s a valid thing. There is a sad extent, though, to which many in these circles have no understanding of a biblical vision of justice – viewing it as simply punishment, retribution, or strictly in an eschatological sense. Really getting what this book is saying will not allow that to continue.

I think many within Emergent will have similar experiences with this book to mine: we know these issues and stories, but these perspectives and experiences can shake us, if we let them. Often we so badly want to be part of justice, and this gives us incredible things – theological resources, amazing people to learn from, stories to join, and a holistic vision of what God is doing in so many areas in the world so we can be a part of it.