Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the (oft-overlooked) Christian pursuit of justice

Excerpts from Marvin Olasky's interview with Gary Haugen in World...

I appreciate Haugen's focus on "justice": it's a far more biblical angle for Christians pursuing government intervention. In his new book, Just Courage, Haugen recommends the pursuit of justice to, among other things, alleviate boredom!

Q: What is the cause of the subtle but deep discontent that you see among many Christians?

They feel this way because they thought that the Christian life would offer them something that was somehow bigger, more glorious—but at the end of the day, they find themselves wondering, Is this all there is? Christians seem to be yearning to be liberated from a life of accumulated triviality and small fears, and I see in Scripture a clear pathway to freedom—namely, in answering Christ's call to join Him in His struggle for justice in the world.

Haugen points to ignorance, despair and fear getting in the way of this avenue.

Q: You use cul-de-sacs as a metaphor concerning the search for safety...

When we began to build cu-de-sacs here in the United States, it was to address homeowners' fears about traffic in their streets....But now, studies reveal that cul-de-sacs are actually the most dangerous residential set-up for kids. Far more children are injured by cars backing up than by those moving forward. So, the safety we thought we were securing was just an illusion.

In the same way, I find we've built spiritual cul-de-sacs for ourselves, believing that when we feel safe and secure, we can most experience the fullness of God; but in this illusory safety, we instead find ourselves restless, longing for a way out, and somehow missing that closeness to our Maker we thought we would find....

Q: The term "social justice" is often used by the left. How can conservative Christians recapture that term without abandoning their political principles?

We must return to the basics. The pursuit of a just society is a very fundamental biblical calling and has always been a bedrock commitment of thoughtful conservatism. We are not talking about nuanced social engineering projects. We are talking about protecting the most basic liberties of poor people made in the image of God—the right not to be raped, illegally detained, assaulted, dispossessed, and enslaved. This is still a great struggle and Christians are called in this generation to fight as they always have in history.


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